Cantemir and the 'order of things' in Ottoman society

Sözen Z.

Cogito, vol.13, no.3, pp.22-30, 2021 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 13 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Journal Name: Cogito
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.22-30
  • Keywords: Dimitrie Cantemir, Ottoman Empire, Principalities
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


The source of inspiration for this paper is Cantemir's book on musical theory, Kitâb-i 'ilm al-musîqî 'ala vechi'l Hurûfât (Book of the Science of Defining and Performing Music with Letters), written in Turkish somewhere between 1703 and 1705, followed by a Collection of melodies. The two works are known as Kantemiroğlu Edvarı, which is a massive attempt to impose order on what seemed to be a chaotic mess based on oral transmission through a notation system invented by Cantemir himself. In a similar vein, Cantemir's History was far more than a passive narration of the Rise and Fall of the Ottoman Empire; it was a search for a taxonomic system by graphing and codifying Ottoman society for the purpose of understanding and communicating the logic of transformation.