Inter-cultural Transmission of Intellectual Traditions in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. A comparative perspective


Mykhaylo Yakubovych

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Jan Latosz (1539 – 1608) and his Natural Philosophy: Reception of Arabic Science in Pre-Modern Poland

A notable Polish astronomer, astrologer and philosopher Jan Latosz (1539 – 1608), a graduate of the Cracow Academy and the University of Padua, is not a well-studied figure in modern research. Famous mainly for his opposition to the calendar reform of Pope Gregory XIII (1582), Jan Latosz wrote more than ten scientific treatises, devoted to astrology, astronomy, medicine and various areas of Renessaince philosophy. A significant part of this heritage is constituted by so-called “prognostics”, i.e., astrological predictions of the future. Beside these predictions, “prognostics” of Jan Latosz contain also scientific matters, related to the theories of natural philosophy. Following the methods of another notable Cracovian astrologer, Jerzy Kotermak (Drohobycz) (1450 – 1494), and, especially, Kopernik, Latosz was interested in some works of Arabic philosophers and scientists like Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi (787 – 886), Muhammad al-Battani (858 – 929), ibn Yunis (950 – 1009) and others. Some of his works (for instance, “Prognosticon”, printed in Cracow at 1594) provide an account of ideas, borrowed from the works of Arabic scientists mainly through available Latin translations. Features of the usage of Ptolemy’s “Tetrabiblos” (Arabic al-Kutub al-Arba’) shows influence of Arabic natural science and philosophy. These influences on Jan Latosz are related to the theory of celestial spheres, heavenly intellects, geography, astrological significators and some other issues. My research topic is dedicated to in-depth study of all existing works of Jan Latosz in relation to his reception of Arabic science and philosophy. Since all preserved works are old prints, research also includes the exploration of these texts from the perspective of the preparation of critical Latin and Polish editions with commentary.
The primary aim of my research is the analysis of the sources Latosz used in his Polish and Latin works. Thus, I am trying to reconstruct all the sources related to Arabic philosophy and natural science in some way mentioned by Latosz. My second aim is to determine whether Latosz used primary sources or the heritage of Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi and others was actually known to him only by some intermediary works of other scholars. Thirdly, I would like to study the new interpretations of Arabic science and philosophy which Latosz proposed, relating to astronomy, astrology, medicine and natural philosophy in general. Finally, I hope to show the scientific value of Latosz's heritage in the context of European Renaissance and its features in Poland. The role of Arabic natural sciences and philosophy in these achievements seems to be very significant.
Mykhaylo Yakubovych is affiliated with the National University of Ostroh Academy (Ostroh, Ukraine) as a doctoral student, lecturer and research fellow. His PhD thesis deals with the attitudes of medieval Muslim authors towards the developments of rationality in other religions. Graduated from the Faculty of Humanities of Ostroh Academy, he conducted his research projects during fellowships in the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies “Artes Liberales” (University of Warsaw) and the Academic Department of King Fahd Qur’an Printing Complex in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Since the beginning of his doctoral program he participated in international conferences in Poland, Saudi Arabia and Iran. He specializes in the transmission of science and philosophy from the Middle East to Europe. Apart from this, he is also interested in Qur’anic Studies and finished the first annotated translation of the Qur’an into Ukrainian language. His latest publications are dedicated to the cultural interactions between Slavic countries and the Muslim World.