Duhem, the arabs, and the history of cosmology

Synthese 83 (2):201 - 214 (1990)
Duhem has generally been understood to have maintained that the major Greek astronomers were instrumentalists. This view has emerged mainly from a reading of his 1908 publication To Save the Phenomena. In it he sharply contrasted a sophisticated Greek interpretation of astronomical models (for Duhem this was that they were mathematical contrivances) with a naive insistence of the Arabs on their concrete reality. But in Le Système du monde, which began to appear in 1913, Duhem modified his views on Greek astronomy considerably; his more subtle understanding included the recognition that many Greeks subordinated mathematical astronomy to physical theory. But he could not completely repudiate his earlier views about Greek astronomy in part because his extreme nineteenth century prejudices led him to continue to insist on a clear-cut demarcation between Greek and Arabic astronomy. The inevitable result is a certain unevenness in the Système and some glaring inconsistencies.
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DOI 10.1007/BF00413757
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References found in this work BETA
Stanley L. Jaki & Pierre Duhem (1987). Uneasy Genius: The Life and Work of Pierre Duhem. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (3):406-408.
G. E. R. Lloyd (1978). Saving the Appearances. Classical Quarterly 28 (01):202-.

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