History of Philosophy in Islam (PART ID) continued from 2.10.17,end


1. To the victor belongs the bride. In the wars which were waged in Spain between Christians and Muslims, the former had often come under the influence of the attractions of Moorish fair ones. Many a Christian knight had celebrated “the nine-days’ religious rite” with a Moorish woman. But besides material wealth and sensual enjoyment, the charm of intellectual culture had also its effect upon the conqueror. And Arab Science thus presented the appearance of a lovely bride to the eyes of many men who felt their want of knowledge.

It was the Jews especially who played the part of matchmakers in the transaction. The Jews had participated in all the transformations of Muslim intellectual culture: many of them wrote in Arabic, and others translated Arabic writings into Hebrew; not a few philosophical works by Muslim authors owe their preservation to the latter circumstance.

The development of this Jewish study of philosophy culminated in Maimonides (1135-1204), who sought, chiefly under the influence of Farabi and Ibn Sina, to reconcile Aristotle with the Old Testament. In part he expounded the doctrines of philosophy from the text of revelation, and in part he restricted the Aristotelian philosophy to what belongs to this earth, while a knowledge of that which is above it, had to be gained from the Word of God.

In the various Muslim States, at the time when they were most flourishing, the Jews had shewn an interest in scientific work, and they had not only been tolerated, but even regarded with favour. Their position, however, was altered, when those States were together overthrown, and when the decline of their civilization ensued. Expelled by fanatical mobs they fled for refuge to Christian lands, and particularly to Southern France, there to fulfil their mission as the disseminators of culture.

2. The Muslim world and the Christian world of the West came into contact at two points,–in Lower Italy and in Spain. At the court of the Emperor Frederick II in Palermo, Arab science was eagerly cultivated and made accessible to Latinists. The Emperor and his son Manfred presented the Universities of Bologna and Paris with translations of philosophical works, partly rendered from the Arabic, and partly direct from the Greek.

Of much greater importance and influence, however, was the activity of translators in Spain. In Toledo, which had been re-captured by the Christians, there existed a rich Arabic Mosque-library, the renown of which, as a centre of culture, had penetrated far into the Christian Countries of the North. Arabs of mixed lineage and Jews, some of them converts to Christianity, worked together there, along with Spanish Christians. Fellow-workers were present from all countries. Thus co-operated as translators, for example, Johannes Hispanus and Gundisalinus (first half of the twelfth I century), Gerard of Cremona (1114–1187), Michael the Scot and Hermann the German (between 1240 and 1246). We are not yet in possession of sufficiently detailed information regarding the labours of these men. Their translations may be called faithful, to the extent that every word in the Arabic original, or the Hebrew (or Spanish?) version has some Latin word corresponding to it; but they are not generally distinguished by an intelligent appreciation of the subject matter. To understand these translations thoroughly is a difficult thing, for one who is not conversant with Arabic. Many Arabic words which were taken over as they stood, and many proper names, disfigured beyond recognition, flit about with the air of ghosts. All this may well have produced sad confusion in the brains of Latinist students of Philosophy; and the thoughts, which were being disclosed afresh, had themselves at least an equally perplexing tendency.

The activity of translators kept pace generally with the interest shewn by Christian circles; and this interest followed a development similar to that which we had occasion to observe in Eastern and Western Islam (cf. VI, 1 § 2). 4 The earliest translations were those of works on Mathematical Astrology, Medicine, Natural Philosophy, and Psychology, including Logical and Metaphysical material. As time went on, people restricted themselves more to Aristotle and commentaries upon him; but, at first, a preference was shewn for everything that met the craving for the marvellous.

Kindi became known chiefly as a physician and an astrologer. Ibn Sina produced a notable effect by his ‘Medicine’, and his empirical psychology, and also by his Natural Philosophy and his Metaphysics. Compared with him, Farabi and Ibn Baddja exercised a less considerable influence. Lastly came the Commentaries of Ibn Roshd (Averroes); and the reputation which they gained, along with that which was secured by Ibn Sina’s Canon of Medicine, has been longest maintained.

3. What then does the Christian Philosophy of the Middle Ages owe to the Muslims? The answer to this question lies properly outside the scope of the present monograph. It is a special task, which necessitates the ransacking of many folios, none of which I have read. In general terms it may be affirmed that in the translations from the Arabic a twofold novelty was disclosed to the Christian West. In the first place men came to possess Aristotle, both in his Logic and in his Physics and Metaphysics, more completely than they had hitherto known him. But still this circumstance was only of passing importance, though stimulating for the moment, for erelong all his writings were translated much more accurately, direct from the Greek into Latin. The most important result, however, was–that from the writings of the Arabs, particularly of Ibn Roshd, a peculiar conception of the Aristotelian doctrines, as constituting the highest truth, came to the knowledge of men. This was bound to give occasion for contradiction, or for compromise, between theology and philosophy, or even for denial of the [paragraph continues]Church’s creed. Thus the influence of Muslim Philosophy upon the scholastic development of Church dogma was partly of a stimulating, partly of a disintegrating character; for, in the Christian world, philosophy and theology were not yet able to proceed side by side in an attitude of mutual indifference, as doubtless happened in the case of Muslim thinkers. Christian Dogmatic had adopted too much Greek Philosophy already in the first centuries of its development, to admit of such an attitude: it could even assimilate a little more. It was therefore relatively easier to get the better of the simple teachings of Islam than the complicated dogmas of Christianity.

In the twelfth century, when the influence of the Arabs commenced to operate in that field, Christian Theology exhibited a Neo-Platonic, Augustinian character. That character continued to be kept up with the Franciscans, even in the thirteenth century. Now the Pythagorean-Platonic tendency, in Muslim thought, harmonized well with this. Ibn Gebirol (Avencebrol, v. VI, 1 § 2) was, for Duns Scotus, an authority of the first rank. On the other hand, the great Dominicans, Albert and Thomas, who decided the future of the doctrine of the Church, adopted a modified Aristotelianism, with which a good deal out of Farabi, but especially out of Ibn Sina and Maimonides, agreed quite well.

A more profound influence emanates from Ibn Roshd, but not till about the middle of the thirteenth century, and, in fact, in Paris, the centre of the Christian scientific education of that time. In the year 1256 Albertus Magnus writes against Averroes; and fifteen years later Thomas Aquinas controverts the Averroists. Their leader is Siger of Brabant (known from 1266), member of the Parisian Faculty of Arts. He does not shrink from the rigorous, logical results of the Averroist system. And just as Ibn Roshd censures Ibn Sina, so Siger criticizes the great Albert and the saintly Thomas, although in terms of the utmost respect. It is true that he asseverates his submission to Revelation; but still, his reason confirms what Aristotle,–as he is expounded, in doubtful cases, by Ibn Roshd,–has taught in his works. This subtle intellectualism of his, however, does not please the theologians. At the instance of the Franciscans, it would seem, who perhaps wished also to strike at the Aristotelianism of the Dominicans, he was persecuted by the Inquisition, till he died in prison at Orvieto (circa 1281-1284). Dante, who possibly knew nothing of his heresies has placed Siger in Paradise as the representative of secular wisdom. The two champions of Muslim Philosophy, on the other hand, he met with in the vestibule of the Inferno, in the company of the great and wise men of Greece and Rome. Ibn Sina and Ibn Roshd there end the series of the great men of heathendom, towards whom succeeding ages, like Dante, have so often lifted up their eyes in admiration.


by T.J. de Boer [1904],


Abdallâh ibn Maimûn 82.

Abdallâh ibn Masarra 174.

abu Abdallah al-Khwarizmi 171.

Abdalmasikh ibn Abdallâh Naima al-Himsi 18.

Abdalwâhid 201.

Abderrakhmân ibn Moawiya 172.

Abderrakhmân III 173 sq.

Abharî 171.

Abraham 84.

Abubacer, v. ibn Tofail.

Akhmed ibn Mohammed al-Tayyib al-Sarakhsî 105.

Adudaddaula 128.

Agathodaemon 13170.

Alâ addaula 132.

abu-l-Alâ al-Maarî 66.

Albertus Magnus 212 sq.

Alexander of Aphrodisias 18104189.

Alexander the Great 721.

Alhazen, v. ibn al-Haitham.

Alî 2 sq., 22337385.

Alî, the Almoravid 176.

abu Alî, v. ibn Sinâ.

abu Alî Isâ ibn Ishâq ibn Zura 19.

Anaxagoras 22525978.

Apollonius of Tyana 175.

Aristotle 13151821285872788998104106109 sq., 117121 sq., 127 sq., 130132135149 sq., 159170187190194197200203209211213.

Aryabhata 146.

Asharî 56 sq., 181.

abu-l-Atâhia 65.

al-Aufi 84.

Augustine 157163.

Avempace, v. ibn Baddja.

Avencebrol, v. ibn Gebirol.

Averroes, v. ibn Roshd.

Avicenna, v. ibn Sinâ.

ibn Baddja 175 sqq., 182189211.

Bakhya ibn Pakuda 174.

Behmenyar 146 sq.

abu Bekr 2.

abu Bekr ibn Ibrâhîm 176.

Bêrûnî 133145 sq.

abu Bishr Mattâ ibn Yûnus al-Qannâî 19108.

Brahmagupta 9.

Cardan 101.

Cleopatra 21.

Dante 116148188213.

David 23.

Democritus 78.

Dionysius Areopag. 1663.

Djâhîz 345153 sqq.

ibn Djebril 19.

Djuzdjânî 146.

Duns Scotus 212.

Empedocles 22 sq., 5278127.

Euclid 1872.

Fârâbî 106 sqq., 133136139142145149156 sqq., 170174177179189199209211 sq.

Fazârî 9.

Firdausî 133155.

Frederick II 201209.

Galen 131821727578128148194.

Gazâlî 3996154 sqq., 177,181198.

ibn Gebirol 174212.

Gerard of Cremona 210.

Gundisalinus 210.

ibn al-Haitham 148 .sqq.

al-Hakam II 173.

al-Hakim 149.

abu Hâmid, v. Gazâlî.

abu Hanîfa 36 sq.

al-Haramain, Imam 156.

Harîrî 67.

Hârûn 4965.

abu-l-Hasan Ali ibn Hârûn al-Zandjânî 84.

abu-l-Hasan Behmenyar ibn al-Mazzubân, v. Behmenyar.

abu Hâshim 55.

Hermann the German 210.

Hermes Trismegistus 1323170.

Hippocrates 131872148.

Hobaish ibn al-Hasan 18.

Homer 21.

Honain ibn Ishâq, v. abu Zaid.

abu-l-Hudhail al-Allâf 4953.

Ishâq ibn Honain 18.

Jacob of Edessa 15.

Jerome 157.

Joannes Hispanus 210.

John Philoponus 18159.

John, St., 15.

Kakhtân 98.

abu-l-Khair al-Hasan ibn al-Khammâr 19.

ibn Khaldûn 200 sqq.

Khâlid ibn Yezîd 17.

Khalîl 34.

Khosrau Anosharwân 1416.

Lessing 191.

Loqman 723.

Mahmud of Ghazna 6.

Maimonides 153209212.

Mâlik 36173.

Mamûn 4174365.

Manfred 209.

Mâni 78.

Mansûr 49171965.

Mansûr ibn Ishâq 77.

abu Mashar 105.

ibn Maskawaih 128 sqq., 145.

Masûdî 32697399145149203.

Michael the Scot 210.

Moawiya 2 sq.

Mohammed 2222836538594123144164185.

Mohammed ibn Akhmed al-Nahradjûrî 84.

Mohammed ibn Tumart 181.

— ibn al-Moqaffa 91734.

— Muammar 54 sq.

Muqaddasî 69.

Mustandjid 148.

Mutadid 105.

Mutanabbî 66.

Mutawakkil 4498.

abu Nasr, v. Fârâbî.

al-Nazzâm 5153.

Nizâm al-Mulk 156.

Noah 84.

Nûkh ibn Mansûr 132.

Omar 2.

Othmân 2.

Paul, St., 15.

Paulus Persa 16.

Peter the Cruel 201.

Peter, St., 15.

p. 216

Plato 1518222527 sq., 7884104109121123127 sq., 186 sq., 189197203.

Plotinus 1825.

Plutarch 161821.

Porphyry 152189113190.

Probus 16.

Proclus 27159.

Ptolemy 91872.

Pythagoras 722 sq., 7378106.

Qazwînî 171.

Qostâ ibn Lûqâ al-Balabakkî 1820.

Râzî 77 sqq., 97105.

ibn Roshd 179,187 sqq., 200211213.

ibn Sabin 201.

Saif addaula 108.

al-Sarakhsi, v. Akhmed.

Scaliger 148.

Sergius of Rasain 15.

Shafiî 37.

Shems addaula 132.

Sibawaih 33 sq.

Siger of Brabant 212 sq.

ibn  inâ 3389128131 sqq., 156158161 sq., 170174182185188 sq., 191194199209211 sqq.

Socrates 15 sq., 22 sqq., 8495104127146189.

Solomon 23.

Spinoza 191.

Stephen bar Sudaili 63.

abu Sulaimân Mohammed ibn Mushîr al-Busti 84.

abu Sulaimân Mohammed ibn Tâhir ibn Bahrâm al-Sidjistânî 126 sqq., 174.

Tamerlane 201.

Tauhîdî 127.

Thâbit ibn Qorra 34.

Themistius 132189195.

Thomas Aquinas 212 sq.

Thucydides 21.

ibn Tofail 181 sqq., 187.

Uranius 13.

Vitello 150.

abu-l-Wafâ Mubasshir ibn Fâtik al-Qâid 153.

abu-l-Walîd, v. ibn Roshd.

Wâthik 77.

Yakhyâ ibn Bitrîq 18.

abu Yaaqûb Yûsuf 181187.

Yaunân 98.

Yesdegerd II 8.

Yohannâ ibn Hailân 107.

abu Yûsuf Yaaqûb 181188.

Zaid ibn Rifâa 84.

abu Zaid Honain ibn Ishâq 18.

abu Zakariyâ Yakhyâ ibn Adî al-Mantiq 19108126.

Zoroaster 84173.

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