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Islamic Atomism and the Galenic Tradition

Tzvi Langermann

Bar-Ilan University


History of Science, Vol. 47, pp. 277- 295, 2009

The rationalist speculative theologians who were active in the early centuries of Islamic civilization were atomists. Scholars have labored for decades to find the most appropriate sources for the transmission of atomism to Islamicate civilization. The paper argues that the Galenic corpus is likely to be the most promising source: Galen was well-known, if only as the author of despicable, eternalist theories; his On the Elements is a very rich source for the different strands of classical atomism; and Galen's refutation of atomism, which is based on the sensation of pain, fits well with the interest of the Islamic theologians in the physiology of pain.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 19

Keywords: Galen, Atomism, Islam

JEL Classification: B30

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Date posted: February 22, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Langermann, Tzvi, Islamic Atomism and the Galenic Tradition (2009). History of Science, Vol. 47, pp. 277- 295, 2009 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2009618

Contact Information

Tzvi Langermann (Contact Author)
Bar-Ilan University ( email )
Ramat Gan
HOME PAGE: http://biu.academia.edu/TzviLangermann
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