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Abstract

In the course of the 9th and 10th centuries, the Arabo-Islamic world acquired a massive amount of knowledge from the antique and late antique traditions. In order to reconstruct the historical circumstances in which this transfer of knowledge took place, we are often forced to rely on the narratives that frequently accompany technical texts. The frame tale attached to The Treasure of Alexander (Ḏaḫīrat al-Iskandar) is a complex narrative that glues together an anthology of technical texts in ten chapters. Its alchemical section contains, among other things, instructions for preparing four different ‘sharp waters’, characterized by an increasing degree of intensity. Such ‘waters’—possibly acid and corrosive substances—were supposed to be used in the treatment and dyeing of different minerals and metals. This paper offers a critical edition and English translation of the passages dealing with the four ‘waters’ and their role in different alchemical procedures in The Treasure of Alexander. Special attention is paid to those textual clues that may link the contents of The Treasure to the Graeco-Egyptian alchemical tradition of ‘divine water’.

Open Access
In: Nuncius

Abstract

This article explores some of the marketing strategies associated with the British tobacco industry’s sponsorship of sport during the 1960s and 1970s. It focuses on the British cigarette and tobacco manufacturer John Player & Sons and the firm’s pioneering initiative to sponsor one-day cricket, which began with the John Player League in 1969. The league was enormously popular and gained significant broadcast coverage, becoming an invaluable means of increasing public exposure for the company, in the context of the ban of cigarette advertising from British television. At a time when the link between smoking and disease was making headlines, John Player & Sons nimbly deflected attention away from the health issue, and instead consciously repositioned the tobacco company as a generous benefactor of the nation’s sport and leisure. Less conspicuously, but even more powerfully, spokespeople for the tobacco industry actively mobilised influential opinion behind the scenes in political circles. We show particularly how Denis Howell, Minister for Sport from 1964 to 1969 and from 1974 to 1979, became a valuable ally, acting as a bulwark against more restrictive government interventions into the sponsorship of sports by the tobacco industry. This alliance exposes changing industry–government relations and presents new historical context to better understand the way British tobacco manufacturers proactively sought to elide restrictions on their advertising activities from the 1980s onwards.

Open Access
In: European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health
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Abstract

In 1741, Jacques Gautier d’Agoty asserted his position as the inventor of tri-color mezzotint, advertising his process in the pages of the Mercure de France December 1741, with an image of a Drap d’or shell. This article takes the shell as a case study to demonstrate one way in which Gautier’s early artistic experimentation with print processes fed his later natural philosophical theorizing, which he published in the pages of his new scientific journal, the Observations (1752–1757). The burr of the Drap d’or’s copperplate, the stratigraphy of its tonal inking, and the corrosive action of its mordant informed Gautier’s conception of shell discoloration as a process based on the collapse of a mollusk’s surface texture and the movement of salts in and out of its pores. His first-hand experience of achieving mechanical color impressions with mezzotint furnished him with an artistic metaphor with which he could then comprehend a natural process.

Open Access
In: Nuncius

Abstract

It is commonly accepted that the definition of knowledge is not among the main epistemological concerns of the period between Plato and Edmund Gettier. Kalām is an exception to the rule. Kalām scholars provide a detailed philosophical analysis of the difference between knowledge and mere true belief. In this article, I am focusing on the analysis of knowledge in one tradition of kalām, Bahšamite Muʿtazilism. I will argue that knowledge is a factive mental state for the Bahšamites. I will also show that the Bahšamite definition of knowledge is a combination of internalism and externalism with respect to justification.

Open Access
In: Oriens
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Abstract

Rudolf Schuessler has argued that sixteenth-century thinkers developed a concept of equal probability that was virtually absent before 1500 and that may have contributed to the birth of mathematical probability shortly after 1650. This note uses additional textual evidence to argue that the concept of equal probability was in fact generally available to medieval thinkers. It is true that ascriptions of equal probability are comparatively rare in medieval texts, but this can be explained without positing a conceptual blind spot.

Open Access
In: Early Science and Medicine
Author:

Abstract

When the former Danish colony Greenland obtained Home Rule in 1979, becoming an autonomous region within the Danish Realm, it faced the challenge of having to establish a comprehensive social welfare system. This article looks at disability care and its interrelations with post-colonialism and national identity formation, as previous practices of medical care and accommodation in Danish institutions were replaced with local solutions. Frame analysis reveals the outlines of the responsibilities of Danish experts for disabled Greenlanders under colonial rule and during the modernization period until 1979. The transition phase of the early 1980s was a central arena for Greenlandic national discourse wherein care responsibilities in welfare policies, disability care institutions, advocacy organizations and the media were framed and renegotiated. The ‘Greenlandization’ of disability care and the respective shift in responsibilities was a highly uneven process that continued to be suffused with Danish norms and practices.

Open Access
In: European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health
In: Why Translate Science?
Author:

Abstract

Although overshadowed by his celebrated commentaries on Ibn ʿArabī and Ibn al-Fāriḍ, Dāwūd al-Qayṣarī’s (d. 750/1351) treatise on the philosophy of time – the Nihāyat al-bayān fī dirāyat al-zamān (The Utmost Elucidation Concerning Knowledge of Time) – is a notable milestone in the history of Islamic conceptions of temporality. Composed around the start of Qayṣarī’s tenure as head of the first Ottoman madrasa, the Nihāyat al-bayān rejects the Aristotelian definition of time as the number of motion in favor of Abū l-Barakāt al-Baghdādī’s concept of zamān as the measure of being. Challenging, likewise, portrayals of time as a flux or succession of fleeting instants, Qayṣarī propounds instead an absolutist vision of time as an integral, objectively existent whole. Qayṣarī’s reassessment of dominant medieval theories of temporality – including kalām atomism and the Neoplatonic distinction between time, perpetuity, and eternity – is thus shown to be a key early example of what was to become an abiding Ottoman interest in time and timekeeping.

Open Access
In: Oriens
Author:

Abstract

In recent decades, historians have made significant contributions to the understanding of the production and circulation of knowledge in the early modern period. This article aims to go further, by demonstrating how a non-medical expert acquired and applied new medical knowledge, and how chronicles can be used as a source to study the reception of (medical) knowledge in the early modern period. To do this, I have used the corpus of the research project Chronicling Novelty which contains 311 early modern chronicles from the Low Countries, written by a heterogenous group of authors from the ‘middling’ ranks of society. The farmer and alderman Lambert Rijckxz Lustigh (1656–1727) tried to make sense of the rinderpest outbreak that spread across the Low Countries in 1713. In contrast to most of his contemporaries, he combined a corpuscular theory of medicine with other forms of knowledge to demonstrate how God’s ‘invisible particles’ caused an epidemic. This paper presents how expert knowledge became part of a complex chain of cultural translation and retranslation in society. Moreover, by examining Lustigh’s explanations in relation to his contemporaries and other chroniclers, this paper offers an additional perspective on the preconditions for the acceptance of new knowledge and change among the middling ranks of society.

Open Access
In: European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health