"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Monday, March 13, 2006

The Muslims of Invention

Referring to an article published in The Independent,, TigerHawk gets around to quoting Oriana Fallaci on Ibn Rushd Averros, an Andalusan Arab who translated Aristotle and proposed the compatibility of Aristotelian philosophy, the foundation of Western scientific achievement, and Islam. He "singularly informed" Thomas Aquinas so that Aquinas referred to Averroes as "The Commentator":

Getting around to Oriana:

Islam has always persecuted and silenced its intelligent men. I remind you of Averroes who for his distinction between Faith and Reason was accused of heterodoxy by the caliphs and forced to flee. Then, imprisoned like a criminal. Then, confined to his home and humiliated to such a degree that when rehabilitated he no longer had any desire to live and died within a few months. Not without good reason, in his famous lecture held in 1883 at the Sorbonne, Ernest Renan said that attributed the merits of Averroes to Islam would be like attributing the merits of Galileo to the Inquisition.


The dirty little secret of the Renaissance is that it and all that followed might not have happened without Muslim scholars such as Averroes. The much dirtier secret of Islam is that it never learned to reconcile faith and reason. It persecuted its geniuses. Christianity did too, but the Inquisition was a losing rearguard action against the Age of Reason, which had already been ratified by Saint Thomas Aquinas and other theologians. Islam's own inquisition persists to this day.


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