Pre-colonial modernity

From Refashioning Iran, p 10:

[Francois] Bernier (a student of the philosopher Gassendi and a recipient of a “Doctor of Medicine” in 1652), who is considered as a founding figure of modern Orientalism, was an employee of Mirza Shafi’a, who was granted the title “Danishmand” (scholar/scientist) for his intellectual endeavours… Danishmand Khan, who is known to have espoused and “disseminated many of the innivating principles of that [European] community” desired to know “European sciences” (ilm-i ahl-i farang) at a time when Europe was still plagued with religious wars… It was within the dynamic intellectual community around Danishmand Khan that Bernier became familiar with Persian translations of classical Sanskrit texts, including the Upanishads, which he brought back to Paris. But the writings of Danishmand Khan and his cohorts who trained Bernier – this pedagogue of the “educated society in the seventeenth century” Eruope – have remainde virtually unknown.

P 11:

During the same period Francois Martin, a friend of Bernier who visited Iran in 1669, observed that Persians “love the sciences, particularly mathematics.” Contrary to received ideas, Martin reported: “It is believed that they [the Persians] are not very religious.” Likewise, Pietro ella Valle (1586-1652) could still confide that the Persianate scholar Mulla Zayn al-Din Lari, who has remained unknown to historians of Iran, “was comparable to the best in Europe.”

The scholarly efforts of Raja Jai Singh (1668-1743) provide another precolonial example fo Persianate scholars’ engagement with the modern sciences. Jai Singh build the observatories of Delhi, Banaris, and Jaipur, and based on new observations prepared the famous Persian astronomical table Zij-i-Muhammad Shahi of 1728.

P 11-12:

Works of Tafazzul Husayn Khan (d. 1800), well known to his Iranian friends and associates, are among other homeless texts that are elided from both Indian and Iranian annals of modernity. Hailed as an ‘Allamah‘ (arch-scholar), he was an exemplary figure of the late eighteenth century who interacted closely with the first generation of British Orientalists in India and actively promoted local inquiry into modern science. In the 1780s he translated Isaac Newton’s Principia, Emerson’s Mechanics, and Thomas Simpson’s Algebra.

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