Quotation for the week: al-Haytham

Some advice this week from the mediaeval Arabic scholar Ibn Al-Haytham (better known in the West as Alhazen), the founder of what became the modern theory of optics:

The duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side.

(Al-Shukūk ‛alā Batlamyūs / Doubts Concerning Ptolemy)

Al-Haytham’s advice can also, of course, be applied with profit to textbooks, lecture notes and all other sources of scientific and mathematical authority.


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