Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work C.1.11

Ibn al-Haytham
الشكوك على بطلميوس
al-Shukūk ʿalā Baṭlamyūs

An extensive collection of various types of criticisms of three works of Ptolemy, namely the Almagest (specifically Books I, V, VI, IX, X, and XIII), the Planetary Hypotheses, and the Optics. Ibn al-Haytham criticizes, among other things, Ptolemy’s methods of calculation, his models of planetary motion, and contradictions within one work or between two works. He works with frequent literal citations and juxtaposes statements from the Almagest with statements from the Planetary Hypotheses or the Optics. The text has no explicit subdivisions, but is textually divided into three parts dealing respectively with the three works. According to Rashed (‘The Celestial Kinematics’), al-Shukūk was written between 1028 and 1038 CE. The two extant manuscripts are incomplete, but complement each other so that together they transmit the entire treatise.

Origin: If Rashed’s thesis is correct, namely that the works that are ascribed to Ibn al-Haytham have to be distributed between works written by the philosopher Muḥammad Ibn al-Haytham and the mathematician al-Ḥasan Ibn al-Haytham, this treatise belongs to the latter (Rashed, ‘The Configuration’; in contrast, see Sabra, ‘One Ibn al-Haytham’ and ‘One Ibn al-Haytham. Conclusion’).

Text: [ed. Sabra and Shehaby]

[Incipit] (p. 3) الحقّ مطلوب لذاته وكلّ مطلوب لذاته فليس يعني طالبه غير وجوده ووجود الحقّ صعب والطريق إليه وعر والحقائق منغمسة في الشبهات وحسن الظنّ بالعلماء في طباع جميع الناس. [On the Almagest] (pp. 5–42) أمّا كتابه الموسوم بالمجسطي فإنّا وجدناه ذكر في الفصل الثالث من المقالة الأولى منه وهو في أنّ السماء كرية. — لأنّه ليس يصحّ أن توجد حركة محسوسة دائمة حافظة لنظام وترتيب إلّا ولها هيئة صحيحة في أجسام موجودة. وهذا جميع ما نقوله فيما يتعلّق بكتاب المجسطي. [On the Planetary Hypotheses] (pp. 42–64) فأمّا كتابه في الاقتصاص فإنّه يرتّب في المقالة الأولى منه لحركات الكواكب دوائر تتحرّك تلك الحركات. — وإذ قد تبيّن جميع ذلك فقد تبيّن أنّ بطلميوس عجز عن تقرير هيئات حركات الكواكب التي قرّرها قي كتاب المجسطي. وهذا آخر ما نقول من كتاب الاقتصاص. [On the Optics] (pp. 64–70) فأمّا كتابه في المناظر فإنّ فيه مواضع تنتقض عند تحرير المعاني التي ذكرها فيها. إنّه يعدّد في أوّل المقالة الثانية من كتابه في المناظر المعاني التي يدركها البصر. [Explicit] (p. 70) وهذا آخر ما نقوله في كتاب المناظر وهو الخبر الذي نختمّ فيه هذه المقالة وحسبنا الله ونعم الوكيل تمّت المقالة.

Bibl.: Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīkh al-ḥukamā (ed. LippertJulius Lippert, Ibn al-Qifṭī’s Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamā, Leipzig: Dieterich, 1903, p. 168); Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ (ed. MüllerAugust Müller, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī l-ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ li-ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, 2 vols, Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Wahbiyya, 1882, vol. II, p. 98; ed./tr. Savage-Smith et al., no. 14.22). — DSBCharles C. Gillispie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 14 vols plus 2 supplementary vols, New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1970–1990 article ‘Ibn al-Haytham’ by Abdelhamid I. Sabra, esp. pp. 198–199 and 207 (III 63); GAS VIFuat Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums. Vol. VI: Astronomie bis ca. 430 H., Leiden: Brill, 1978, pp. 258–259; MAOSICBoris A. Rosenfeld and Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Mathematicians, Astronomers, and other Scholars of Islamic Civilization and their Works (7th–19th c.), Istanbul: Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), 2003, pp. 130–138 (no. 328, A13). — Shlomo Pines, ‘Ibn al-Haytham’s Critique of Ptolemy’, in Henry Guerlac et al. (eds), Ithaca. Actes du Dixième Congrès International d’Histoire des Science, 1962 / Ithaca. Proceedings of the Xth International Congress of History of Science, 1962, Paris: Hermann, 1964, pp. 547–550; A. I. Sabra, ‘Ibn al-Haytham’s Criticisms of Ptolemy’s Optics’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 4 (1966), pp. 145–149; Abdelhamid I. Sabra, N. Shehaby and I. Madkour, Ibn al-Haytham: al-Shukūk ʿalā Batlamyūs (Dubitationes in Ptolemaeum), Cairo: The National Library Press, 1971; Abdelhamid I. Sabra, ‘An 11th-Century Refutation of Ptolemy’s Planetary Theory’, in Science and History: Studies in Honor of Edward Rosen, Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1978, pp. 117–131; Don L. Voss, Ibn al-Haytham’s Doubts Concerning Ptolemy. A Translation and Commentary, PhD dissertation, University of Chicago, 1985; Abdelhamid I. Sabra, ‘One Ibn al-Haytham or Two? An Exercise in Reading the Bio-bibliographical Sources’, Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften 12 (1998), pp. 1–50; Julio Samsó, ‘Ibn al-Haytham and Jābir b. Aflaḥ’s Criticism of Ptolemy’s Determination of the Parameters of Mercury’, Suhayl 2 (2001), pp. 199–225; Abdelhamid I. Sabra, ‘One Ibn al-Haytham or Two? Conclusion’, Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften 15 (2002–2003), pp. 95–108; Roshdi Rashed, ‘The Celestial Kinematics of Ibn al-Haytham’, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 17 (2007), pp. 7–55, here p. 10; Roshdi Rashed, ‘The Configuration of the Universe: A Book by al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham?’, Revue d’Histoire des Sciences 60 (2007), pp. 47–63; Hassan Tahiri, ‘The Birth of Scientific Controversies. The Dynamics of the Arabic Tradition and its Impact on the Development of Science: Ibn al-Haytham’s Challenge of Ptolemy’s Almagest’, in Shahid Rahman, Tony Street and Hassan Tahiri (eds), The Unity of Science in the Arabic Tradition. Science, Logic, Epistemology and their Interactions, Dordrecht: Springer, 2008, pp. 183–225.

Ed.: Edition in Sabra & Shehaby. Based on this edition, the treatise was translated into English and commented upon by Voss.