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So here's my reply about the origins of Western learning etc.


I'm presupposing here that you aren't talking about the work of ancient Rome and Greece because you skipped to the tenth century.


Europe's history in the liberal arts (grammar, rhetoric, logic and arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) can be traced to the resurgence during the Carolingian Rennaissance. The first Carolingian king was Charlmagne who ruled 768-814 and through his son Louis the Pious (regined 814-840).


Under the Carolingians the emphasis in learning was placed on teaching correct Latin (so to be able to understand and build on the works that still existed from ancient Rome) and to create curricula which follwed the seven traditional liberal arts of Rome (as noted above). Under Charlemagne schools and institutions of learning where constructed and encourgaed throughout his empire and were based around Cathedrals (where those who had gone through more formal training: the monks and priests were stationed)


One of the central figures of this renaissance was Alcuin, who was also a teacher of Charlemagne.


One of the great achievements of the Carloiginian rennaissance was the creation of "carolingian lower-case" a legible and standardized was of writing which included upper and lower-case letters, spacing and punctuation. All of course necessary to the transmission of knowledge through the standard forms of learning we are familiar with today, and which have their roots in Charlemagne's efforts.


As far as Math and science goes. There was certainly some math beign done by Muslim scholars but it by and large leaned very heavily on the source materials that they had without creating much in the way of waves. And Science was often attacked and undermined by Muslim clerics and theologians because positing a rational and knowable universe (necessary to what Science is and does) is antithetical to a traditional and orthodox view of Muslim theology. It infringes on God's omnipotence because it says that the universe runs without his diret intervention and explicit will. For science to emerge as we know it today, it was utterly necessary for the Christian view of a rational and ordered universe as created by a God who was outside of nature (not pantheistic or pagan) who had ordered and ordained all things by weight and measure according to Divine Plan.




While you seemed to puzzle greatly at my misspelling of the word "inculturation" I can explain it simply by noting that where local custom is not contrary to Faith and Morals, it can be incorporated (within guidelines) to make the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries more releveant and/or more easily comprehensible. A good example would be the Churches in communion with the Pope who do not use the Roman Rite of the Holy Mass. Some of them would be (but this isn't a complete list, there's about 12 I think) Byzantines, Melchites, Chaldean etc.

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A well thought-out and reasonable response, James. However the beginning of the arousal of European thought from its long and death-like sleep during the dark ages was really just a beginning. But it was an important movement towards the establishment in Europe of a scholarly class of individuals who could openly teach the knowledge handed down to them from their predecessors.


I guess what I am really aiming at is the establishment of secular learning institutions such as we have today, which really began in Italy and France around the tenth century. Your own admissiion is that the Carolingian rebirth was tied closely to the church which was very controlling as to the knowledge taught to the people and how it was to be used in society.


Whereas, as I pointed out previously, the Muslims held open classes in their institutions with less overt control over the subject matter and the use of taught information by the people, especially when it came to science and mathematics. I guess you could term it as secular teaching and learning in the muslim model, and mostly ecclesiastical teaching and learning in the European rebirth of the Carolingian period.


Keep in mind that the East contained the needed technical information regarding material sciences since alchemy had been practiced in India and China as far back as the third millenium b.c. There were complex and functioning observatories in the Indus River valley of India three thousand years ago long before the church sought to repress the novel ideas of Copernicus and Galileo. Engineering and knowledge of complex construction techniques were prevalent in Egypt, Sumer, China, and India, long before even Rome and Greece began their rise and began to use such knowledge.


It was simply the coincidence of the muslim culture being in the correct place at the correct time to pass along the great bulk of this technical information through their educational practices including apprenticeships. The European beginnings of educational revival prepared a fertile planting bed for the arrival of this sort of knowledge, which was largely transferred to the world through the muslim culture not long after the Carolingian arousal, probably through their influential presence in Spain.


So I believe that we are both somewhat correct in our assertions. However, since I am a firm believer that G-d is the author of history, I do not believe it has been an accident that we have all ended-up benefitting from this learning and sharing of useful knowledge over the ages.


flow.... :)

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I forgot to respond to one thing that you raised in your initial post which I wanted to note. The case of Gallileo Galilei is especially interesting as most people view it as the Church attacking and silencing someone simply because they put forth a theory which the Church was at odds with. This is a half-truth. The Church for example did not put Copernicus through the same process because he was content to leave his theories as theories. Gallileo insisted on his theories as laws (which of course we have seen are not so, at least not in the way he proposed them) after having been warned by the authorities not to, because his proofs ere too weak and after he had promised that he would only advance his ideas as theories and not insist on their perfect veracity. Having broken his own promise by going back on his word he was subject to further sanctions. It would appear difficult to defend the Church's action in putting Gallileo under house arrest, it should be noted that in non-Christian countries (like the Caliphate) his sentence for offending against the revelation of God would have been death. In fact, these sentences are still regularly carried out in places like Pakistan, Indonesia and Nigeria.


While the certain institutions of the Church were involved in education and science I think that your assertion of a secularisation of learning in the Caliphate is suspect. Given the way in which Muslim countries of the present deal with suspected heresy I'm not terribly inclined to go along with you here. In fact, the Church did offer much freedom to those involved in learning and didn't restrict it to a sliver of the elite. Universities had lowish tuitions and students who could demonstrate promise and ability were eligible for scholarships from the Church, religious orders and wealthy patrons. Given what had come before (and what was elsewhere in the world) the university system that was burdgeoning in Europe was excedingly egalitarian and free.


I'm not sure where you wanted to go with the alchemy meme. Alchemy is not a real science and has been throughly debunked.


Whether or not there were skills in things like construction extant in other parts of the world that predate Rome (and necessarily Europe) doesn't affect my main thrust because it was the mathematical and scientific work of (mostly) clergy throughout Europe who analysed these sorts of techiniques to create more than the ability to build a great structure, but rather into the analytic aspects of physics and higher maths.


But enough of this, at some point (I think probably right now even) we'll just end up talking in circles.

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As an aside, I think it's difficult for our generation to understand how recently, and how quickly, the authoritarian and fundamentalist resurgence within Islam has occured. From the Middle Ages well into the twentieth century, Islam has been among the most progressive religions on the planet, politically and scientifically. Sure, it's always had a conservative pocket, but it wasn't until the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran in the 1970's that we've seen anything resembling "Islamic fundamentalism." Before then, you never even saw the traditional Muslim garb, headdress, etc. This resurgence is a very recent phenomenon, and can't be retrojected back into the past, to make judgments about the Muslim approach to education.

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Despite what the rationalizations for the persecution of Galileo may be, the only reason that he was punished for his work was that he wrote his compendium of findings in Italian and not in the language of the church, Latin. It was this threat of providing novel scientific information to the masses in their everyday language that so thoroughly threatened the powerful status quo at the time.


Galileo, besides being a paramount theorist designed and tested experimental techniques to prove his theoretical suppositions. As such he is considered to be one of the founders of modern scientific practice; which, by the way, is an evolutional step forward in scientific progress based, in part, upon the ancient practices of alchemy. The Holy Father's apology for the church's role in Galileo's persecution some years ago should have put the entire matter to rest, but obviously it hasn't.


I agree that recursive discussions always lead to bickering which is divisive and unproductive, as I have stated elsewhere here. I am not inclined to further participate in such discussions.


flow.... <_<

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