İslam ve Osmanlı Dönemi Bilim Tarihi Yazımı için İhtarlar: Ahmed Midhat Efendi’nin Tarih-i Ulûm’una Cevdet Paşa’nın TenkitleriKenan Tekin
Son dönem Osmanlı’da bilim tarihiyle ilgili yazılan birçok eser alandaki ilk eser olarak değerlendirilmiştir. Kanaatimizce son dönem Osmanlı bilim tarihinin ilkleri arasında zikredilmeye değer iki yazar ve eserleri göz ardı edilmiştir. Bunlar İbn Haldun’un (ö. 1406) Mukaddime’sinin bilimlerin tanıtımı ve tarihiyle ilgili altıncı bölümünü özgün katkılarıyla tercüme eden Ahmed Cevdet Paşa (ö.1895) ile John Draper’ın (ö. 1882) din ve bilim arasındaki ilişkilere bilim tarihi merkezli yaklaşımını kendi katkılarıyla Nizâ-ı İlm u Dîn adıyla tercüme eden Ahmed Midhat Efendi’dir (ö.1912). Bu makalede, her iki düşünürümüzün bilim tarihiyle ilgili katkılarını buluşturan Ahmed Midhat Efendi’nin Tarih-i Ulûm adlı eserine Cevdet Paşa’nın T.C. Cumhurbaşkanlığı Devlet Arşivleri Başkanlığı Osmanlı Arşivi’nde müsvedde halinde bulunan değerlendirmelerini incelemekteyiz. Cevdet Paşa’nın değerlendirmelerinin ilim, fen, maarif, ve sanat gibi kavramların yerinde kullanımı, Osmanlı bilim tarihi yazımında katkıları olan ilim adamlarının atlanmaması, bilim tarihiyle ilgili önemli kaynakların dikkate alınması gibi günümüz bilim tarihi yazımı için bile geçerliliğini sürdüren bazı ihtarlar içerdiğini ortaya koymaktayız. Cevdet Paşa’nın değerlendirme yazısı üzerinden, son dönem Osmanlı bilim tarihi literatürü üzerine yapılan taramalarda kitap değerlendirmelerinin de dikkate alması gerektiğine işaret etmekteyiz. Makalenin ekinde, incelenen değerlendirmenin çeviri yazısını neşretmekteyiz.
Admonitions for Writing History of Science in the Islamic and Ottoman Period: Cevdet Pasha’s Critique of Ahmed Midhat’s Tarih-i UlûmKenan Tekin
Various late Ottoman contributions to the history of science have been identified as pioneering works in the field. However, contributions from two late Ottoman intellectuals, namely Ahmed Cevdet Pasha (d.1895) and Ahmed Midhat Efendi (d.1912), have hitherto been neglected. In fact, both wrote works that dealt with the history of science. Cevdet Pasha translated the last chapter of Ibn Khaldun’s (d. 1406) Muqaddimah, which he considered as a kind of history of science and made original contributions to the account, while Ahmed Midhat translated John Draper’s (d.1882) History of the Conflict between Religion and Science, which contains Midhat’s own addendums. This paper, however, draws attention to one work that brings together Ahmed Cevdet’s and Ahmed Midhat’s interest in the history of science, Cevdet’s review of Ahmed Midhat’s unpublished work titled Tarih-i Ulûm [The History of the Sciences]. Cevdet Pasha’s draft review of Tarih-i Ulûm is actually preserved in the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul. By considering Cevdet’s acute analysis of some concepts such as ‘ilm [science], fann [discipline], ma‘ârif [knowledge of particulars], sınâ‘at [arts], and san‘at [crafts] and his still relevant warnings for writing about the history of science in the Islamic and Ottoman periods, I closely analyze the review and provide a transcription of the document in the addendum. I conclude that Cevdet Pasha’s review indicates that late Ottoman laudatory and many times critical reviews (taqrīds) contain narratives about the history of science and thus should be placed within that literature.
This paper aims to analyze Ahmed Cevdet Pasha’s (d. 1895) review of Ahmed Midhat Efendi’s (d. 1912) unpublished work titled Tarih-i Ulûm. A draft of this review is preserved in the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul. The review deserves attention for several reasons. First, it brings together contributions Cevdet Pasha and Ahmed Midhat made to the history of science. While Ahmed Midhat is known to have written a history of the sciences through his correspondence with Fatma Aliye Hanım (d.1936), Cevdet Pasha’s daughter, the review contains specific references to the introductory section Cevdet Pasha was sent, thus providing further information about Midhat Efendi’s work. Secondly, the review contains Cevdet Pasha’s brief account of the history of science and his warnings on historiography that are still relevant. Cevdet Pasha’s brief mention of the rise and decline of sciences in Islamic history and their growth in Europe indicates that he continued to hold to a similar account he had provided in his translation of the sixth chapter of Ibn Khaldun’s (d.1406) Muqaddimah, which contain the translator’s original additions.
Cevdet Pasha criticized Midhat’s Tarih-i Ulûm (1) for not being inclusive enough, (2) for misusing concepts, (3) for not making use of some important sources, and (4) for improperly using the Turkish language. As for the first, Cevdet Pasha pointed out how Ahmed Midhat’s history of late Ottoman science was not comprehensive as it lacked mention of some important figures who had played a role in the transmission and development of modern science in the Ottoman domain, including İsmail Gelenbevî (d. 1791), Hüseyin Rıfkı Tamânî (d. 1817), Şânîzâde Mehmed Atâullah (d. 1826), and Hüseyin Tamânî’s son Emin Pasha (d. 1851), as well as Hoca İshak Efendi (d. 1836) whom Ahmed Midhat had noted. Cevdet spends most of the review on the second critique, pointing out some problematic uses of concepts such as ‘ilm [science/knowledge], fann [discipline], ma‘ârif [knowledge of particulars], san‘at [crafts], and sinâ‘at [arts]. Cevdet vehemently rejected a division of sciences into religious and worldly sciences, pointing out that he had never heard of such a division and that it was inconsistent due to religious sciences including worldly matters and worldly sciences such as metaphysics including religious matters such as discussions on the existence of the Necessary Existent and matters of the afterlife. Also, a noteworthy analysis of the concept of ‘ilm is that this concept terminologically refers to the sciences, while ordinarily signifying knowledge in general. Thus, Cevdet warned Midhat, as well as the reader, against confusing these two meanings of ‘ilm, which has commonly occurred to refer to science in modern times when interpreting religious texts that contain the word ‘ilm in reference to knowledge. Cevdet’s analysis of the words san‘at and sinâ‘at also showed again how the modern period uses the first meaning in place of the second, which has since become a well-established misuse in Turkish. Nevertheless, Cevdet painstakingly pointed out that san‘at refers to occupations, while sinâ‘at refers to crafts that require knowledge.
Although Cevdet’s notes on the third critique on significant sources for history or science and on the fourth critique on the proper use of Turkish and Turkification of scientific terminology take up less room in his review, both are items that he had dwelled on in his previous work on the history of the sciences. On two occasions, Cevdet’s review emphasizes al-Filāḥa l-Nabaṭiyya, as a crucial source for the history of ancient sciences, particularly regarding the 19th-century obsession with the origins of science. In this regard, Cevdet believed India to be the cradle of civilization, while giving precedence to Babylon over Egypt regarding the development of civilization. As for the proper use of language, Cevdet praised Turkish for its fine features and suggested inventing scientific terms by benefitting from Arabic lexicons while also hinting at reforming Ottoman Turkish script for better dictation.
All in all, Cevdet’s review of Midhat’s ultimately unpublished work titled Tarih-i Ulûm shows that book reviews have contained substantial narratives on the history of the sciences. This is not the only review in which Cevdet provided an account of the sciences. As noted in the paper, several of Cevdet’s laudatory reviews (takrîz) actually include narratives on the history of the sciences. As a result, these reviews all show that Cevdet had made use of such occasions to propagate his narrative on the development of sciences. Hence, I argue that these book reviews should be included in the Turkish literature on the history of science and mined for their succinct accounts of developments.