The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 32 July 2020 - Page 34

given the fact that he is more inclined to use mathematics than logic for the solution of scientific problems. The curtain-raiser to the subsequent scientific debates that led to our modern position was a philosophical debate between Descartes and Hobbes which in its turn polarised into a conflict between Empiricism and Rationalism, a debate that haunts philosophical and psychological debates to this day. Kant attempted to intervene in this train of events and produced a brilliant synthesis of the positions: a synthesis that led more towards Aristotelian rationalism than to British Empiricism. Some commentators have likened Alhazen's contribution to this debate in terms of being a precursor to empiricism. An interesting observation to make in this context is that Alhazen's experiments were restricted to the material physical world where it is relatively simple to control and manipulate variables( e.g. his spot of light experiment) and where the description of what is occurring is relatively unproblematic. Aristotle we know was one of the first biological scientists and whilst he engaged in scientific activities such as the dissection of the bodies of dead animals in order to investigate their organ systems, there was no attempt by Aristotle to conduct animal experiments perhaps because he realized that in order to control all the necessary variables one would need to place the animals in unnatural environments which would negate the purpose of acquiring knowledge about the animal. Kohler, the Gestalt psychologist, for example, experimented with apes in captivity but even in these restricted circumstances encountered problems with giving theory-free behavioural descriptions. Even a simple matter such as giving a description of a place was a problem for Alhazen because of his anti-Aristotelian commitment to what some critics called his "geometrisation of space". It is hardly surprising therefore that in spite of Alhazen being regarded as a polymath there is nothing of biological significance in his writings. Given the fact that the Aristotelian concept of psuche or soul as a principle of living movement is nowhere to be found in Alhazen's writings, it is a fair criticism to point out that he was not by any stretch of the imagination a philosophical psychologist. The only region of the mind or consciousness he was concerned with was perception, the lower of the cognitive faculties. Averroes, Ibn Roshd,(1126-98) was a member of the Spanish Arabian School and according to Bertrand Russell, was an unorthodox Muslim who objected to the Neoplatonism that dominated the philosophical debate: of the time