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1 Rocky-in-Connecticut  Thu, Dec 1, 2011 5:10:09am

I think what any research will find is the culture that is the more liberal and secular at any given human period of reference is the one who sets the historical example and carries the torch of “enlightened” philosophy. During Europe’s Dark Ages, it was ruled by oppressive religious forces who had complete dogmatic control.

Meanwhile the 9th Century Islamic world centered in Baghdad was comparatively more liberal- less like the Saudi/ Wahabbi dominant Islam we see malignant throughout the world today. Within limits, scholars and artists were allowed freedoms lost in Europe in regards to Science, Art, and humanities. Compared to today’s Western world, the 9th Ce Islamic world would have still been considered oppressive, but nothing compared to Europe at the time.

Thank goodness for progress, because we now live in a new Golden Age where freedom of thought is historically the most abundant it has ever been- a freedom that must at all times be fortified and fought for. ..and we can still do better.

2 RoadWarrior  Thu, Dec 1, 2011 6:24:15am

It is my supposition, without having studied the early Arab work on Aristotle, that its focus was to co-opt, rather than to learn (how Aristotle could be repositioned as a Muslim and how his views could have presaged the Koran).

This would be consistent with the Muslim interpretation of Jesus.

So do your homework before you wax nostalgic over some imagined Golden Age of Islam and remember that during one of these Golden Ages of Islam, Maimonedes fled from a series of Muslim rulers in several countries until one of those rulers needed his medical services…and Maimonedes was very Aristotle-focused, himself.

3 Bob Levin  Thu, Dec 1, 2011 8:05:15am
Eventually, however, the center shifted—first to the western part of the Islamic world in northern Africa and southern Spain, and then north to Christian Europe. What we call the Middle Ages was, in Islam, the great classical era of philosophy and science. After several centuries of flourishing, however, the study of philosophy and science faded in Muslim countries, even while it was being pursued with increasing vigor in the Latin West.

What happened? How did Western Europe, by the late Middle Ages, become the prime locus for philosophical and scientific research?

I don’t think the answer is terribly complex. Look at the architecture of Muslim Spain. Besides the arches and the cobalt, what is the salient feature? Water. They had enough water for fountains, personal gardens, sanitary conditions. I think we greatly underestimate the significance of water in the formation of consciousness and the desire for knowledge and progress.


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