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Alice #3 - Fien

(Re)Thinking Science

In the third episode of Alice in Wonderlab we talk about History of Science with Fien De Block, Guest Professor of Islamic Studies and Post-Doctoral Researcher in Islamic Intellectual History at Ghent University.

Fien has a BA and an MA both in Philosophy and in Islamic Studies. She combined her fascination for epistemology and her interest for the Islamic world by studying Islamic intellectual history. For her PhD research she explored the blurred lines between astronomy, astrology, mathematics, philosophy, religion and magic in Medieval Islam.

The disciplines she studies are called in the sources "Science of Time-keeping" and "Science of the Rules and Regulations of the Stars".

Her "Wonderlab" is full of manuscripts in Arabic containing horoscopes and schematic rappresentations of the sky, like the one you see here.

For her research, Fien had to see these manuscripts in person, to look at the paper, the ink, the marginal notes...

For this reason, she travelled to libraries all over Europe, the US, and the Middle East. And she spent four months in Cairo, to work at the "Dar al-Kutub", the Egyptian National Library.

The texts she studied do not fall exactly into our modern scientific categories. Her thought-provoking research invites us to reflect on those very categories, and on how they affect the way we look at science today and in the past, in our own culture and outside of it.

So... are you ready to have your ideas about science shaken up a bit?

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