Commenting on this modification is closed; the modification is accepted.
Enable comment auto-refresher
I agree with this modification. Given the lack of textbooks, encyclopedias, etc. it is perfectly reasonable to rely on authoritative texts to determine what was a part of the MASM. There seems to be no immediate or obvious alternative and insofar as clarity goes, as mentioned by the author, there is a strong lack of historical evidence required to take our usual indicators in forming an opinion. Using licenses to teach to determine which texts were, in fact, authoritative is also a very intuitive and wise solution to the distinction. This modification entirely fits within the margins of the scientific laws, and there doesn't seem to be anything that explicitly disallows representation of the beliefs of a community through authoritative texts. Further inquiry into the MASM would greatly benefit from this modification.
Overall, I agree with Max that this modification fits well within (what I believe ought to be) the purview of observational scientonomy. Even if this isn't an in-depth, comprehensive review of the MASM, I feel that this modification is worth accepting by virtue that this modification and this paper serves as an exemplar for future work in observational scientonomy.
I do wish to address a point raised in arriving at this modification, however. On pg. 21, Fatigati objects describing MASM as crossing the religious-foreign sciences divide on the grounds that "the abundance of sects on a purely religious level may require at least as many mosaics as religious sects," part of the evidence for using ijazat as an indicator for a cohesive MASM. Yet I think we should take the idea of the MASM as a monolithic community with a grain of salt (and Fatigati does — see the discussion of essentialism on pg. 22).
That is to say, I think there may be scientonomic value in investigations into these small communities, for a number of reasons. The origin of very-small scale communities may allow us to (optimistically) bring some observational evidence into the discussion of Necessary Elements, and looking into communities such as those Fatigati describes, formed around religious and legal interpretation, might prove of interest for future scientonomists interested in exploring the Role of Sociocultural Factors in Scientific Change. And of course, communities localized around a sole teacher bring into question the role of Authority Delegation to an individual.
We've said numerous times in the seminar (at least in 2017) that theoretical scientonomy provides a toolbox for historians, and I'm of the belief that using this toolbox generously to describe the manifold complexity of science in distant times will undoubtedly prove fruitful in showcasing the potential for endeavours in observational scientonomy, and generous interpretation ought to inform our theoretical considerations. I've just listed a handful of the potential questions above.
I believe that this modification is well-informed and, hopefully, spurs further interest in studies of scientific mosaics outside of the immediate Western tradition.
Far from limiting the agreed upon ‘scope’ of science to a more modern conception of what the discipline entails by deeming it to have originated in earnest around the time of the Enlightenment - a view modern scientists are often guilty of holding - scientonomy takes a broad, universal view of science. As Fatigati mentions, Barseghyan (2015) has previously discussed the challenge this approach poses for the observational side of scientonomy. As we look to understand scientific mosaics from further into the past, our tools of investigation often see their utility reduced. Our so-called ‘standard’ indicators may not tell the whole story. They may not even be the most effective way of shedding light on past mosaics. Such a finding fits all too naturally in scientonomy, given the discipline’s appreciation for the diversity of notions of science throughout history. In his paper, Fatigati tackles one specific instance of this phenomenon pertaining to the medieval Arabic scientific mosaic (MASM).
Standard indicators, as Fatigati notes, include encyclopedias, textbooks, and university curricula. However, as far as the MASM goes, either these are extremely hard to come by, are inconsistent, or, like the potentially millions of volumes of works once stored in medieval Arabic public libraries, they are far too numerous to be relied upon to represent the community’s accepted beliefs.
Through careful research, Fatigati is able to put together a compelling case for the power of ‘authoritative texts’ to serve as indicators of accepted theories in MASM. Fatigati goes on to further develop his argument for the utility of his novel approach by successfully arguing for the ability of ‘licenses to teach’ to indicate which texts can be considered to have been ‘authoritative’. The result, the ‘Teaching License Method’, serves as a significant advancement in the development of a toolbox capable of piecing together accepted propositions in the MASM.
Fatigati concedes this method is not perfect, but he convincingly shows its utility is significant enough to allow such imperfections to be overlooked. Whatever merit such counterarguments hold, the status quo with regard to indicators used to reconstruct MASM is far inferior.
This type of research will need to be carried out on a very large scale if observational scientonomy is to achieve its lofty goals. Fatigati’s paper represents an important first step in that direction, and, along the way, compellingly presents its own novel indicator for a specific historical scientific community, a sample of the types of useful discoveries to eventually result from this line of research in observational scientonomy.
You are not allowed to post comments.