IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 1617: Empiricism in a Theological World: Contrasting Concepts of Natural Science

Thursday 10 July 2008, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Baudouin van den Abeele, Département d'histoire, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve
Paper 1617-aThe Concept of 'Nature' in Avicenna and Averroes
(Language: English)
Catarina Belo, Department of Philosophy, American University in Cairo
Index terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies, Philosophy, Theology
Paper 1617-bPerceptions of Nature in the Prologues of 13th-Century Scientifical Texts
(Language: English)
Dulce Oliveira Amarante dos Santos, Faculdade de História, Universidade Federal de Goiás
Index terms: Medicine, Science
Paper 1617-cAnimals of Virginity: Nature and the Adoration of the Virgin in the Defensorium of Franz of Retz
(Language: English)
Romedio Schmitz-Esser, Abteilung für Mittelalterliche Geschichte, Historisches Seminar, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Index terms: Art History - Painting, Epigraphy, Monasticism, Sexuality

Paper -a:
Aristotle lays down his understanding of nature at the opening of Book II of the Physics, establishing a famous distinction between nature and art, and contrasting natural, living beings, and man-made objects. In addition he defines nature as principle of motion and rest. This paper analyses the commentaries on the Physics passages on nature by Muslim philosophers Avicenna (d. 1037) and Averroes (d. 1198), two foremost exponents of Islamic Aristotelianism in the Middle Ages. It lays an emphasis on their understanding of the Aristotelian concept of nature within the context of medieval Islamic philosophical and theological debates.
Paper -b:
The paper seeks to analyse the perceptions of nature in the prologues of two 13th-century scientifical texts: Thesaurus pauperum of Peter Spain (Petrus Hispanus, after Pope John XXI) and the Lapidary of Alphonzo X, the learned, of the Castille kingdom. The first book encompass medicine and pharmaceutics and the second mineralogy, astrology, and medicine. In both prologues, the discourse on natural world was at same time dominated by Christian religion, classical natural philosophy (Aristotle), and Muslim thought (Avicena). There is an effort to understand nature by conciliating reason and faith. Thesaurus pauperum is a list of recipes for clinical situations and diseases from head to feet, which results of a careful research on various medicines. The four treatises of the Lapidary (Tratado de las piedras) were translated form Arabic to Spanish (vernacular language) and Latin. In the prologue, there is the seek to understand nature by comparison between the celestial bodies motion in the zodiac and the occult virtues and properties of the minerals and metals. The work was influenced by the pseudo-Aristotle´s book, On Minerals. It´s interesting to compare two perceptions on nature in 13th-century scientifical works.
Paper -c:
What links Nature with virginity? From a medieval perspective the answer is quite simple: If Christ’s virgin birth is part of God’s creation, this concept is most likely found in Nature as well. Therefore medieval authors looked out for such prefigurations of virginity, and theological dispute on this issue became intense in the early 15th century. The authorities (e.g. Isidor of Seville, the Physiologus, or Albertus Magnus) were giving rich examples for virginal creation in Nature and the Dominican preacher Franz of Retz used this pseudo-scientific argumentation for his Defensorium, which will be the main focus of this paper. Therein the contrast between christological interpretation of Nature and scientific observation of the human’s environment come to the fore. Moreover it is shown how the argument of Mary’s virginity has been linked to monastic chastity.