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A critical study of Jabir ibn Hayyan's "Kitab al-Ahjar 'ala Ra'y Balinas"

Haq, SN; (1990) A critical study of Jabir ibn Hayyan's "Kitab al-Ahjar 'ala Ra'y Balinas". Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Some fifty years ago, the German scholar Paul Kraus declared that the well-known corpus of Arabic alchemical writings traditionally attributed to Mir ibn tlayyan was not written by a single author. Kraus concluded that these writings, with the possible exception of one treatise, were collectively produced by several generations of Qarmatf-Ismaili authors who lived no earlier than the latter half of the 9th century AD. Kraus' conclusions, already a scholarly orthodoxy, are reexamined by the present thesis. The thesis argues that Kraus' conclusions drastically affect the methodology of the historian's approach to Jabirian texts; therefore, these conclusions ought not to be presupposed uncritically. Thus, both Kraus' evidence as well as his reasoning are subjected to an investigation and tentatively dismissed. Several grounds are adduced for this dismissal, one of them being the present work's discovery of a hitherto unknown Jabirian translation of the eighth discourse of Aristotle's Categoriae, a translation too archaic to support Kraus' dating. The thesis then develops its own methodological guidelines and moves to its main task: a critical study of Jabir's Kitab al-Atijar 'ala Ra'y Ballas (Book of Stones According to the Opinion of Barmas). Studying Jabir in his own terms, the thesis identifies certain fundamental notions of the Jabirian system and examines how they operate within the framework of the author's cosmological and alchemical doctrines as these latter are developed in the Ahrff. It has been demonstrated that when Jabif s ideas are treated in this manner, they appear to embody a distinct philosophical structure and their notorious incoherence largely vanishes. The work reconstructs the substantive context of the Atjjar, expounds its central theme, and includes a critical edition of most of its text. With the discovered Arabic rendering of the Categoriae as its integral part, the edition has been translated in its entirety and is provided with extensive commentaries and textual notes.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: A critical study of Jabir ibn Hayyan's "Kitab al-Ahjar 'ala Ra'y Balinas"
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10125139
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