Book Reviews 647 Chapters by Edith Dudley Sylla and Jamil Ragep make detailed cases for a technical genealogy between Islamic astronomy and the Copernican system, presenting the most concentrated and focused arguments available on this issue. Perhaps the most valuable chapter is the one written by Raz Chen-Morris and Rivka Feldhay on an essential epistemic foundation for Copernicus—the idea that astronomical observations do not necessarily speak for themselves, but should be interpreted according to the conditions of the observer. This volume’s significance for world history is best exemplified by essays such as Sally Ragep’s careful exploration of exactly what astronomy looked like in the fifteenth century Islamic world. These efforts are still, however, largely focused on establishing the conditions of transmission to Europe rather than valuing Islamic astronomy on its own terms. This is probably inevitable in a book titled Before Copernicus, and the task is done quite well—anyone interested in transmission of ideas and practices across cultural boundaries in this period will find this collection extremely valuable. It is illustrative of how to make complicated arguments about transmission when the documentary record is fragmentary. In addition to its value for scholars interested in transmission, Before Copernicus is essential
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Oct 30, 2019
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