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 SCIENCE AND SCHOLARSHIP IN AL-ANDALUS 5

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PostSubject: SCIENCE AND SCHOLARSHIP IN AL-ANDALUS 5   Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:09 am

Innumerable scholars in al-Andalus also devoted themselves to the study of history and linguistic sciences, the prime ''social sciences" cultivated by the Arabs, and brought them to a high level. Ibn al-Khatib, for example, who distinguished himself in almost all branches of learning, produced more than fifty works on travel, medicine, poetry, music, politics, and theology, as well as writing the finest history of Granada that has survived. The most original mind of the period, however, was undoubtedly Ibn Khaldun, the first historian to develop and explicate general laws governing the rise and decline of civilizations. In the Prolegomena, an introduction to a huge, seven volume universal history - an introduction longer than some of the volumes - Ibn Khaldun approached history as to a science and challenged the logic of many accepted historical accounts. In a sense, he was the first modern philosopher of history.

Another great area of Andalusian intellectual activity was philosophy, where an attempt was made to deal with intellectual problems posed by the introduction of Greek philosophy into the context of Islam. One of the first to deal with this was Ibn Hazm, who as the author of more than four hundred books has been described as "one of the giants of the intellectual history of Islam." There were other philosophers too, such as Ibn Bajjah, known to the West as Avempace, who was also a physician and Ibn Tufayl, the author of Hayy ibn Yaqzan, the story of a child growing up in complete solitude on a desert island who, entirely by his own intellectual efforts, discovers for himself the highest physical and metaphysical realities. It was however, Averroes - Ibn Rushd - who earned the greatest reputation. He was an ardent Aristotelian and his works had a lasting effect, in their Latin translation, on the development of Western philosophy.

The list of Islamic Spain's contributions to the West, in fact, is almost endless. In addition to Islamic Spain's contributions in mathematics, economy, medicine, botany, geography, history, and philosophy, al-Andalus also developed and applied important technological innovations: the windmill and new techniques in the crafts of metalworking, weaving, and building

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