The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 32 July 2020 - Page 33

"was the first to make a systematic use of the method of varying the experimental conditions in a constant and uniform manner."(Habilitationsschrift, Ibn al Haythams Weg zur Physik(Steiner, Wiesbaden, 1963) quoted by Rudger Thiele Historia Mathematica(2005) 32, 271. The experiment in question concerned a light spot formed by moonlight through two small slits diminishes in intensity when one slit is progressively sealed. Bronowski in his work "The Ascent of Man" claimed Alhazen to be the only original mind produced by Arab science. Bronowski claims that Alhazen was the first to recognize that the visual field was structured by an awareness of distance which is given by what happens when the cone of rays that come from the outline of an object grows narrower and narrower as the object retreats in the visual field and grows larger as it advances toward the perceiver in such a field. According to Bronowski, scientists paid no attention to this discovery for 600 years and it was left to Renaissance artists like Ghiberti to "rediscover " this idea. The use of what the artists of the Renaissance were to call "Perspective" was used by Ghiberti, for example in his plans for the bronze doors which were to be placed in the Baptistry in Florence. The discovery of perspective for the painter enabled painted space to display the third dimension of depth thus providing it with a space for life. Once distance is represented in the form of depth everything suddenly appears to occur in an arena of movement thus increasing the "life" of the painting. All this was possible, according to Bronowski, because "The Greeks had thought that light goes from the eyes to the object. Alhazen first recognized that we see an object because each point of it directs and reflects a ray into the eye. The Greek view could not explain how an object, my hand, say, seems to change in size when it moves." As mentioned above Alhazen was in fact influenced by Aristotle in this matter but it is not the first time in history that a scientist has misunderstood Aristotle's role in the history of science. This point would, of course, become more significant if it were the case that Aristotelian hylomorphic theory eventually proves to be more important than one suspected as science develops in the future, i.e. if and when science develops beyond the materially oriented method obsessed activity we are witnessing today. Aristotelian hylomorphic theory is certainly a part of the Kantian metaphysical foundations of natural science. This observation indicates the problem with understanding exactly Alhazen's contribution to the history of science since we cannot attribute a complex understanding of Aristotle's metaphysics to him,