Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 1st, 2016

Theory of evolution: 600 years older than Darwin

Nasīr al-Dīn Tūsī was a Persian polymath and prolific writer: An architect, astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, theologian and Marja Taqleed.

He was of the Ismaili, and subsequently Twelver Shī‘ah, Islamic belief. The Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) considered Tusi to be the greatest of the later Persian scholars

Tusi has about 150 works, of which 25 are in Persian and the remaining are in Arabic, and there is one treatise in Persian, Arabic and Turkish. (Most scientific works were written in Arabic, the scientific language of the period)

During his stay in Nishapur, Tusi established a reputation as an exceptional scholar. Tusi’s prose writings represent one of the largest collections by a single Islamic author.

Writing in both Arabic and Persian, Nasir al-Din Tusi dealt with both religious (“Islamic”) topics and non-religious or secular subjects (“the ancient sciences”). His works include the definitive Arabic versions of the works of Euclid, Archimedes, Ptolemy, Autolycus, and Theodosius of Bithynia

In his Akhlaq-i-Nasri, Tusi put forward a basic theory of the evolution of species almost 600 years before Charles Darwin was born.

He begins his theory of evolution with the universe once consisting of equal and similar elements. According to Tusi, internal contradictions began appearing, and as a result, some substances began developing faster and differently from other substances.

He explains how the elements evolved into minerals, then plants, then animals, and then humans. Tusi then goes on to explain how hereditary variability was an important factor for biological evolution of living things:

“The organisms that can gain the new features faster are more variable. As a result, they gain advantages over other creatures. […] The bodies are changing as a result of the internal and external interactions.”

Tusi discusses how organisms are able to adapt to their environments:

“Look at the world of animals and birds. They have all that is necessary for defense, protection and daily life, including strengths, courage and appropriate tools [organs] […]

Some of these organs are real weapons, […] For example, horns-spear, teeth and claws-knife and needle, feet and hoofs-cudgel. The thorns and needles of some animals are similar to arrows. […]

Animals that have no other means of defense (as the gazelle and fox) protect themselves with the help of flight and cunning. […] Some of them, for example, bees, ants and some bird species, have united in communities in order to protect themselves and help each other.”

thevintagenews.com

Tusi recognized three types of living things: plants, animals, and humans. He wrote:

“Animals are higher than plants, because they are able to move consciously, go after food, find and eat useful things. […] There are many differences between the animal and plant species, […]

First of all, the animal kingdom is more complicated. Besides, reason is the most beneficial feature of animals. Owing to reason, they can learn new things and adopt new, non-inherent abilities.

For example, the trained horse or hunting falcon is at a higher point of development in the animal world. The first steps of human perfection begin from here.”

Tusi explains how humans evolved from advanced animals:

“Such humans [probably anthropoid apes] live in the Western Sudan and other distant corners of the world. They are close to animals by their habits, deeds and behavior. […]

The human has features that distinguish him from other creatures, but he has other features that unite him with the animal world, vegetable kingdom or even with the inanimate bodies. […]

Before [the creation of humans], all differences between organisms were of the natural origin. The next step will be associated with spiritual perfection, will, observation and knowledge. […] All these facts prove that the human being is placed on the middle step of the evolutionary stairway.

According to his inherent nature, the human is related to the lower beings, and only with the help of his will can he reach the higher development level.”

Face to face with dying: I am not finished with living. Oliver Sacks

A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health.

At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver.

Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. The radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye.

But though ocular melanomas metastasize in perhaps 50 percent of cases, given the particulars of my own case, the likelihood was much smaller. I am among the unlucky ones.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can.

In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

Maya Terro shared this link. August 30, 2015 ·

The New York Times

“There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

See More

I am now face to face with dying. But I am not finished with living.
nytimes.com|By Oliver Sacks

Hume wrote: “I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution. I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love.

In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.

Writing by Oliver Sacks in The Times

Hume continued, “I am … a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”

Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential.

I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries.

My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced.

They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

Correction: February 26, 2015
Because of an editing error, Oliver Sacks’s Op-Ed essay last Thursday misstated the proportion of cases in which the rare eye cancer he has — ocular melanoma — metastasizes. It is around 50 percent, not 2 percent, or “only in very rare cases.” When Dr. Sacks wrote, “I am among the unlucky 2 percent,” he was referring to the particulars of his case. (The likelihood of the cancer’s metastasizing is based on factors like the size and molecular features of the tumor, the patient’s age and the amount of time since the original diagnosis.)

Current Oldest Spoken Languages?

(Apparently, the mentioned languages are also written)

Language evolution is like biological evolution – it happens minutely, generation by generation, so there’s no distinct breaking point between one language and the next language that develops from it. (There are breaking points in evolution)

Therefore, it’s impossible to say that one language is really older than any other one; they’re all as old as humanity itself. That said, each of the languages below has a little something special—something ancient—to differentiate it from the masses. (How many current spoken languages there are to talk about masses?)

Hebrew

Hebrew is a funny case, since it essentially fell out of common usage around 400 CE and then remained preserved as a liturgical language for Jews across the world.

Along with the rise of Zionism in the 19th and 20th century, Hebrew went through a revival process to become the official language of Israel. While the modern version differs from the Biblical version, native speakers of Hebrew can fully comprehend what is written in the Old Testament and its connected texts.

As the earliest speakers of Modern Hebrew often had Yiddish as their native language, Modern Hebrew has in many ways been influenced by this other Jewish language. (Hebrew is a subset language of the Aramaic language, as is Arabic and Syriac. Aramaic is still spoken in a few towns in Syria and its written text are being revived)

Tamil

Tamil, a language spoken by about 78 million people and recognized as an official language of India, Sri Lanka, and Singapore, is the only classical language that has survived all the way through to the modern world.

It is a member of the Dravidian language family, which includes a number of languages native mostly to southern and eastern India. Researchers have found inscriptions in Tamil dating back to the third century BCE, and it has been in continuous use ever since.

Unlike Sanskrit, another ancient Indian language that fell out of common usage around 600 BCE and became mostly a liturgical language, Tamil has continued to develop and is now the 20th most commonly-spoken language in the world.

Lithuanian

The language family that most European languages belong to is Indo-European, but they started splitting apart from each other probably around 3500 BCE. (Indo-European term is a faked colonial invention).

They developed into dozens of other languages like German, Italian, and English, gradually losing the features that they had all shared. One language, however, up in the Baltic language branch of the Indo-European family, retained more of the feature of what linguists call Proto-Indo-European (PIE), which is the language that they postulate was spoken around 3500 BCE.

For whatever reason, Lithuanian has kept more of the sounds and grammar rules from PIE than any of its linguistic cousins, and can therefore be called one of the oldest languages in the world.

Farsi

In case you haven’t heard of Farsi, it’s a language spoken in modern day Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, among other places.

You’ve probably heard of Persian, and it probably conjures up pictures of genies coming out of bottles. They’re actually the same language, under a different name. Farsi is the direct descendant of Old Persian, which was the language of the Persian Empire.

Modern Persian took form around 800 CE, and one of the things that differentiates it from many modern languages is that it has changed relatively little since then. Speakers of Persian today could pick up a piece of writing from 900 CE and read it with considerably less difficulty than an English speaker could read, say, Shakespeare.

Icelandic

Icelandic is another Indo-European language, this time from the North Germanic Branch (just for comparison, English is also a Germanic language, but from the West Germanic branch).

Many Germanic languages have streamlined themselves and lost some of the features that other Indo-European languages have (you’ve probably never heard of a case, for example, unless you’ve studied Latin or a Slavic language), but Icelandic has developed much more conservatively and retained many of these features.

Danish governance of the country from the 14th to the 20th century also had very little effect on the language, so it has mostly gone unchanged since Norse settlers brought it there when they came to the country, and Icelandic speakers can easily read the sagas written centuries ago.

Macedonian

The Slavic language family, which includes Russian, Polish, Czech, and Croatian, among others, is relatively young as far as languages go.

They only started splitting off from their common ancestor, Common Slavic (or Proto-Slavic), when Cyril and Methodius standardized the language, creating what is now called Old Church Slavonic, and created an alphabet for it.

They then took the language north with them in the 9th century as they went to convert the Slavs to Christianity. They came from somewhere just north of Greece, probably in what is now Macedonia, and Macedonian (together with its very close relative Bulgarian) is the language that is most closely related to Old Church Slavonic today.

Following the comments concerning the intricate historical relationship between Macedonia and Bulgaria, we at The Culture Trip would like indicate that, despite the complexities, the prevailing academic consensus outside of the region is that Bulgarian and the language known as Macedonian are autonomous and have separate dialectical bases.

Basque

The Basque language is the ultimate linguistic mystery. It is spoken natively by some of the Basque people who live in Spain and France, but it is completely unrelated to any Romance language (which French and Spanish are) or indeed any other language in the world.

Linguists have postulated over the decades about what it could be related to, but none of the theories have been able to hold water. The only thing that’s clear is that it existed in that area before the arrival of the Romance languages – that is, before the Romans got there with the Latin that would eventually develop into French and Spanish. (Have the linguists compared it to the language spoken by Carthage?)

Marj Henningsen shared this link
theculturetrip.com|By Lani Seelinger

Finnish

Finnish may not have been written down until the 16th century, but as with any language, it has a history that stretches back far earlier than that. It is a member of the Finno-Ugric language family, which also includes Estonian, Hungarian, and several smaller languages spoken by minority groups across Siberia.

Despite that, Finnish includes many loan words, which were adopted into Finnish from other language families over the centuries. In many cases, Finnish has retained these loan words closer to their original form than the language that they came from.

The word for mother, aiti, for example, comes from Gothic – which, of course, is no longer spoken. The word for king, kuningas, comes from the old Germanic word *kuningaz – which no longer exists in any Germanic language.

Georgian

The Caucasus region is a real hotbed for linguists. The main languages of the three south Caucasian countries, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, come from three entirely different language families – respectively Indo-European, Turkic, and Kartvelian. Georgian is the biggest Kartvelian language, and it is the only Caucasian language with an ancient literary tradition.

Its beautiful and unique alphabet is also quite old – it is thought to have been adapted from Aramaic as far back as the third century AD.

While not a language island in the same sense as Basque, there are only four Kartvelian languages, all spoken by minorities within Georgia, and they are all unrelated to any other languages in the world.

Irish Gaelic

Although Irish Gaelic is only spoken as a native language by a small majority of Irish people nowadays, it has a long history behind it. It is a member of the Celtic branch of Indo-European languages, and it existed on the islands that are now Great Britain and Ireland well before the Germanic influences arrived.

Irish Gaelic was the language from which Scottish Gaelic and Manx (which used to be spoken on the Isle of Man) arose, but the fact that really lands it on this list is that it has the oldest vernacular literature of any language in Western Europe. (Check with the Phoenician language who first occupied most of these islands))

While the rest of Europe was speaking their own languages and writing in Latin, the Irish decided that they wanted to write in their own language instead.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2016
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Blog Stats

  • 1,384,192 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 731 other followers

%d bloggers like this: