Last weekend's conference at the Warburg Institute gathered top scholars and researchers of several fields to discuss the astrologer and philosopher Abu Ma'shar.
The two pre-conference workshops took place on Friday afternoon. The first lead by Liana Saif and Charles Burnett was dedicated to the study of passages of the Great Introduction in Arabic and Latin. The second was a presentation of the main concepts of medieval astrological doctrine by Helena Avelar and Luís Ribeiro
After the welcome remarks and the excellent opening lecture by Professor Charles Burnett, the morning was dedicated to the influence of Abu Ma'shar on Philosophy and Magic. Dr. Carmela Baffioni discussed several philosophical aspects of Abu Ma'shar's works such as his views on determinism. It was followed by Liana Saif's study on possible links between Abu Ma'shar and magic, and by the studies of Sâqib Bâburî, Bink Hallum, and Michael Noble, also focusing the influence of the philosopher in the practice of magic.
The first afternoon segment opened with the Coffin Lecture by Peter Adamson, with the title ‘Why Should Historians of Philosophy Care About Astrology?’. In it professor Adamson discussed several topics of philosophy which intercept with the history of astrology such as celestial influence and determinism.
The second part of the afternoon was mainly dedicated to Abu Ma'shar and astrology. Dag Nicholas Hasse discussed matters of translation of Abu Ma'shar's work while Dorian Greenbaum addressed the astrological doctrine of Lots in Abu Ma'shar's Great Introduction. Professor Shlomo Sela showed that despite Abraham Ibn Ezra's criticism of Abu Ma'shar, several passagens of Ezra's astrological works are copied from The Great Introduction. Lastly, Stephan Heilen gave very interesting examples of the application of Abu Ma'shar's astrological doctrine of great conjunctions in predictions of two late fifteenth-century European astrologers.
It was not possible to have available the recent translation of The Great Introduction by Charles Burnett and the late Keiji Yamamoto, due to delays in the publishing process. However, the proofs made available for consultation during the conference showed the magnitude of this great contribution for the history of astrology.