Essays on Science and SocietyGLOBAL VOICES OF SCIENCE

Science in the Arab World: Vision of Glories Beyond

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Science  03 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5727, pp. 1416-1418
DOI: 10.1126/science.1114330


Of all its accomplishments, the West is perhaps most proud of its scientific revolution, which has been unfolding for the past half-millennium. In the centuries preceding this intellectual sea change, the Arab world played a pivotal historical role. Its own scholars studied nature and pushed the bounds of knowledge, while its scribes preserved the discoveries and insights of earlier thinkers whose works did not fit well with the prevalent Christian dogma of a world unfolding according to a divinely predetermined plan. In recent times, however, Arab and Muslim societies have turned away from science, precluding these societies from enjoying its many benefits. Wasim Maziak argues that all of us now should have a vested interest in advancing science and technology in the Arab and Muslim world. Not only can science and technology help to feed people, improve their health, and create wealth, but they can help reduce societal tensions and build international bridges for badly needed dialogue and mutual understanding. To usher science and technology more thoroughly into Arab culture and society, however, Maziak suggests that the West needs to acknowledge the Arab world's historical contributions, and he advises the Arab world to stop dwelling on its golden past by embracing lessons about science and technology that the West learned long ago.

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