The Scientific Revolution

Author: Ahmet Selami Caliskan

Why did the scientific revolution take place in the West and not in China or the Islamic world? How did humanity’s production of science and technology, which had been moving along at a relatively steady pace for tens of thousands of years, end up making such an unprecedented leap? These are the questions Ahmet Selami Caliskan seeks to answer in his book Bilim Devrimi: Homo Faber–Homo Economicus Dayanışması (The scientific revolution: Solidarity between Homo faber and Homo economicus). In his book, Caliskan subjects the history of thought and technology to a novel interpretation based on the relationship between theory and practice, arguing that the industrial revolution and modern science—and the scientific revolution that preceded both—did not alone suffice to sort out the philosophical problems of their day or to produce the institutions of the modern age. Both required a new sort of human: Homo economicus faber. Tracing the historical emergence of this figure and its persistence today, Caliskan’s book represents a holistic assessment of the economic, cultural, and political effects of interaction between East and West.

Professor Feza Gunergun – Head of the Department of History of Science at Istanbul University

Dear Mr. Selami Caliskan, thank you very much for being so kind as to send me your valuable work, Bilim Devrimi. So far, most of the studies published on the scientific revolution in Turkey have been translations. Your original and bibliographically rich account fills an important gap. It will be a valued resource both for me and for my students, to whom I will recommend it.

Associate Professor Kasim Muminoglu – Head of the Philosophy Department at Alparslan University

Sir, I have received your work Bilim Devrimi: Homo Faber–Homo Economicus Dayanışması.  I am a philosopher, and I am also conducting research in philosophy and religious sciences. I received your work yesterday and read part of it. I certainly believe that it is a work that will be added to our reading lists in our History of Science courses. I congratulate you on your work. In addition, I will advise our graduate students to read it as well.

Yilmaz Kolsan – Samgaz General Manager

This book is written by my dear friend Ahmet Selami Caliskan, the founder of Tekhnelogos and the owner of the program known in the natural gas sector as ZetaCAD. This book is the product of comprehensive research and significant effort, and in addition to providing answers to a number of scholarly questions, it also draws upon centuries-old philosophical thought to solve some of the problems of modern technology and practical life.

Many people, including myself, have a series of questions somewhere in the back of their mind: Why does technology always develop in the West? Is this merely a perception? Is Islam really an obstacle to technology and development, as it is portrayed? Should philosophy be the preserve of a few specialists at universities, or does it have a place in the cause-and-effect relationships of practical life, through which it might lead to new inventions? All of these questions find their answers in Caliskan’s book.

I mentioned practical life, for example. I’m a person with an interest in knives. When we look locally, the craftsmen of each region, each city even, have their own steel-processing techniques. When you speak to the craftsmen of handmade knives, you hear about various procedures and narratives on the processing of steel that have been passed down to them from father to son and from grandfather to grandson. These may not seem scientific, but technically they lead to the same place. In a sense, you are listening to the philosophy of the work. To harden steel, you quench the hot steel in water, which is something we all know. But what exactly does the water do? When you listen to these master craftsmen, who don’t usually have academic titles, some use water, while others use motor oil or sunflower oil; craftsmen in the Black Sea quench steel in dolphin oil. So, where does this diversity come from? Which one is best? Or are they all similarly effective? Human beings can determine this through technological experimentation. But to experiment you need diversity, and for diversity you need to think and try different things.  

The following text is a short excerpt from this book. I wanted to share this because the book has a narrative that coincides with a personal curiosity of mine. Let’s just say I won’t be criticizing my friends for waxing philosophical again.

“In the Middle Ages, it is works on metallurgy and mining that best exemplify the relationship between practical and theoretical knowledge. These works were strongly influenced by alchemy, and they promised better results than those obtained with normal methods. A blacksmith began one such work with the words “Now speaks Master Alchemy.” The blacksmith claimed that the conventional method used for the hardening of iron was immersion in cold water, but he also stated that this was insufficient for the production of high quality tools, which required plant- or animal-based additives to be added to the water—grease for a scythe, the blood of goats for a file, caterpillars for stone-quarry hammers—to achieve the desired hardness. The materials and additives mentioned in the instructions were not randomly selected examples: each had a list of characteristic qualities that were believed to pass on to the final product. The belief that the blood of a rutting billy goat could be used to produce a tool that would cut even diamond reflects a widespread belief that found expression in everything from ancient Western texts to the works of Pliny.”

Bilal Akgul – Deger Personal Development

Nothing is permanent that is not based on a philosophy. This book, written on the basis of a philosophy, will be the future for young people. Thank you, Dr. Selami Caliskan, for your work.

Bunyamin Kara – Painter/Artist

This is a significant and illuminating study on the formation of the West. What a nice feeling to be a student of one of our students. Congratulations and thanks, Selami Caliskan, for your quiet wisdom.

Ahmet Meral – Elementary School Director of Fazilet Private School

In his newly published book, Dr. Ahmet Selami Caliskan shows how the scientific revolution was achieved and describes the process, and philosophical background, of its evolution from theory to practice. I wish him continued success and congratulate him on this valuable work, the product of intense and meticulous effort.

Professor Berdal Aral – Medeniyet University

The book, titled Bilim Devrimi, traces the scientific revolutions that brought forth modern science and focuses both on the process of transformation of science and technology and on the intellectual and philosophical basis behind this process. The book argues that the scientific revolutions taking place in southern Europe in the 16th century were closely related to the ontological insecurities which had become evident in these societies at the time and to the solidarity that arose there between two dynamic groups: Homo economicus and Homo faber. These were the cause of the acceleration of scientific revolutions in Europe. The main purpose of this book, which is quite rich in sources, is to understand, make sense of, and give meaning to the connection between modern science and technology, the times, the environment, and the human imagination in a historical context. Anyone who would like to understand the modern mind and its conception of science and society should read this book, which knowledgeably blends together the history of science and art, scientific and technological inventions, and philosophy.

Professor Ali Durusoy – Marmara University

Modern science was born in the West in the 17th century. It has exerted its influence upon us from the days of the Ottoman Empire to today’s Turkish Republic, with science and technology raising us up and, sometimes, battering us down. It has drastically changed our social structure. We have tried to understand and take ownership of it, and we have even blessed it in a sense. Initially, we welcomed it in the guise of science. We had “scientific watchmakers,” “scientific opticians,” and even “scientific circumcisers”; our first university was the Darülfünun, “the Abode of the Sciences.” With the founding of the republic, many of our universities were again established as technical universities, and the term “science” occupied a prominent place in the names of many of our faculties and school courses. Modern science became synonymous with technology and the technical. But what was this science, this technology? How did it arise? How did it evolve? What mentality led to the transformations it has undergone? How did Homo economicus and Homo faber join in solidarity and create something new? Dr. Ahmet Selami Caliskan comprehensively analyzes these questions in his book Bilim Devrimi, unearthing the secret of this spell called technology and the mindset at its core. This book is an indispensable resource for those interested in this issue and is essential reading for everyone. After all, who isn’t in interested technology, which has now become such a crucial part of our lives?