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Names, Natures and Things

The Alchemist Jābir ibn Hayyān and his Kitāb al-Ahjār (Book of Stones)

  • Syed Nomanul Haq

Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 158)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xx
  2. Errata; Names, Natures and Things

    1. Syed Nomanul Haq
      Pages 1-2
  3. Names, Natures and Things

  4. The Text of the Kitāb Al-Ahjār

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 109-109
    2. Syed Nomanul Haq
      Pages 111-116
    3. Syed Nomanul Haq
      Pages 163-248
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 249-284

About this book

Introduction

Jabir ibn Hayyan, for a long time the reigning alchemical authority both in Islam and the Latin West, has exercised numerous generations of scholars. To be sure, it is not only the vexed question of the historical authorship and dating of the grand corpus Jabirianum which poses a serious scholarly challenge; equally challenging is the task of unraveling all those obscure and tantalizing discourses which it contains.
This book, which marks the first full-scale study of Jabir ever to be published in the English language, takes up both challenges. The author begins by critically reexamining the historical foundations of the prevalent view that the Jabirian corpus is the work not of an 8th-century individual, but that of several generations of Shi'i authors belonging to the following century and later. Tentatively concluding that this view is problematic, the author, therefore, infers that its methodological implications are also problematic. Thus, developing its own methodological matrix, the book takes up the second challenge, namely that of a substantive analysis and explication of a Jabirian discourse, the Book of Stones. Here explicating Jabir's notions of substance and qualities, analyzing his ontological theory of language and unraveling the metaphysics of his Science of Balance, the author reconstructs the doctrinal context of the Stones and expounds its central theme. He then presents an authoritative critical edition of a substantial selection of the text of the Stones, based on all available manuscripts.
This critical edition has been translated in its entirety and is provided with exhaustive commentaries and textual notes -- another pioneering feature of this book: for this is the first English translation of a Jabirian text to emerge in print after a whole century. An outstanding contribution is that it announces and presents an exciting textual discovery: the author has found in the Stones a hitherto unknown Arabic translation of part of Aristotle's Categories. Given that we have so far known of only one other, and possibly later, classical Arabic translation of the Greek text, Haq's discovery gives this book an historical importance.

Keywords

Book of Stones Jabir ibn Hayyan Kitab al-Ahjar Science of Balance alchemy metaphysics ontological theory of language theory

Authors and affiliations

  • Syed Nomanul Haq
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Middle Eastern StudiesHarvard UniversityUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-011-1898-9
  • Copyright Information Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-0-7923-3254-1
  • Online ISBN 978-94-011-1898-9
  • Series Print ISSN 0068-0346
  • Buy this book on publisher's site