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Learned PatriotsDebating Science, State, and Society in the Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Empire$
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M. Alper Yalçinkaya

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226184203

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226184340.001.0001

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Debating Science in the Late Tanzimat Era

Debating Science in the Late Tanzimat Era

Themes and Positions

(p.124) Five Debating Science in the Late Tanzimat Era
Learned Patriots

M. Alper Yalçinkaya

University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes the key themes of the emergent alternative discourse on sciencein the 1870s. It shows that for the litterateurs of the 1870s, an awareness of the scientific knowledge of Europe did not necessarily make one virtuous, and those who spoke in the name of science had to prove their loyalty to the community. The tone of such criticisms got increasingly harsher in this period, and the portrayal of the superficial science enthusiast as a treasonous buffoon became common. However, this emphasis on community had an unintended consequence, as it required defining this community. Whether the scientific works of early Muslim scholars still mattered, and if they could truly constitute a legacy for Turkish-speaking Ottoman Muslims if they were written in Arabic became hotly debated issues. Thus, while the alternative discourse firmly established moral virtue and loyalty to the community as the criteria to be used to evaluate a man of science, it also irreversibly rendered the debate on science also a debate on the identity of the community.

Keywords:   Ottoman Empire, science, scientist, Islam, virtue, morality

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