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Cross-Cultural Scientific Exchanges in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1560–1660

Avner Ben-Zaken

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Avner Ben-Zaken reconsiders the fundamental question of how early modern scientific thought traveled between Western and Eastern cultures in the age of the so-called Scientific Revolution.

Through five meticulously researched case studies—in which he explores how a single obscure object or text moved in the Eastern world—Ben-Zaken reveals the intricate ways that scientific knowledge moved across cultures. His diligent exploration traces the eastward flow of post-Copernican cosmologies and scientific discoveries, showing how these ideas were disseminated, modified, and applied to local cultures...

Avner Ben-Zaken reconsiders the fundamental question of how early modern scientific thought traveled between Western and Eastern cultures in the age of the so-called Scientific Revolution.

Through five meticulously researched case studies—in which he explores how a single obscure object or text moved in the Eastern world—Ben-Zaken reveals the intricate ways that scientific knowledge moved across cultures. His diligent exploration traces the eastward flow of post-Copernican cosmologies and scientific discoveries, showing how these ideas were disseminated, modified, and applied to local cultures.

Never before has a student of scientific traffic in the Mediterranean taken such pains to see precisely which instruments, books, and ideas first appeared where, in whose hands, by what means, and with what implications. In doing so, Ben-Zaken challenges accepted views of Western primacy in this fruitful exchange. He shows not only how Islamic cultures benefited from European scientific knowledge but also how Eastern understanding of classical Greek texts informed developments in the West.

Ben-Zaken’s mastery of different cultures and languages uniquely positions him to tell this intriguing story. His findings reshape our understanding of scientific discourse in this critical period and contribute to the growing field of cross-cultural Christian-Muslim studies.

Reviews

Reviews

Each chapter is meticulously researched and includes a bibliography divided into primary, secondary, and reference sections.

Ben-Zaken sheds new light on our understanding of cross-cultural scientific exchanges... The book demonstrates... the crucial part played by the ottoman Empire in the fashioning of a global world, not only in terms of its dialogues with the European empires, but also it conflicts.

A fruitful way to explore how it was that the new scientific theories and methods produced in early modern Europe became the globally practiced science of the 21st century.

This is a serious, and remarkable, work of scholarship, and as such it very much deserves to be the starting point for further debate. Ben-Zaken does an excellent job of showing how and why the to and fro of information exchange, and of enterprise, results not just in distortion but sometimes in embellishment or enhancement.

An exciting book that will be the archetype of the new generation of scholarship... Ben-Zaken presents his stories in a robust narrative... and offers many brilliant plot lines that incorporate a very diverse body of scholarship. He goes a long way toward establishing that the Mediterranean was a well-integrated cultural zone and that the main factor that divides the histories of science in this area is language.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
256
ISBN
9780801894763
Illustration Description
30 halftones
Table of Contents

Introduction: Incommensurable Cultures?
1. Trading Clocks, Globes, and Captives in the End Time
2. Exchanging Heliocentrism for Ur-Text
3. Transcending Time in the Scribal East
4. Converting Measurements

Introduction: Incommensurable Cultures?
1. Trading Clocks, Globes, and Captives in the End Time
2. Exchanging Heliocentrism for Ur-Text
3. Transcending Time in the Scribal East
4. Converting Measurements and Invoking the "Linguistic Leviathan"
5. Exchanging Heavens and Hearts
Conclusion: From "Incommensurablility of Cultures" to Mutually Embraced Zones
Acknowledgments
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
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Avner Ben-Zaken, Ph.D.

Avner Ben-Zaken is the chair of the humanities program at Ono College, Israel. He specializes in the cross-cultural history of science and is the author of Cross-Cultural Scientific Exchanges in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1560–1660, also published by Johns Hopkins.
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