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To: forkinsocket
Islam didn't really have anything to do with the Renaissance.

Basically the economies of North Central Italy (Venice, Florence, Bologna) and the Low Countries (Amsterdam, Antwerp) recovered from the long economic decline that followed the Carolingian Empire's dissolution - and this economic recovery came about largely because the population grew to a critical mass that repopulated the cities.

The economic recovery spurred aggressive regional trade, and the rise of the mendicant orders (Franciscans and Dominicans) in the rejuvenated city centers renewed theological debate and disputation - which led to a flowering of scholarly research of all kinds.

Theologians like William of Moerbeke (A Dutchman living in Italy) began to seek out Greek texts of the ancient philosophers and acquired them from Jewish merchants and the Byzantine colony at Ravenna.

The Vatican still owns a copy of Archimedes translated from the Greek in William's own handwriting from 1269.

If one argues that the Renaissance began in Italy in the 13th/14th century, what were the major cultural developments?<1>(1) Art. Giotto introduced perspective in painting in the 1290s. His paintings, of course, were figural. Figural painting was banned in Islam and this development owes nothing to Islam.

Donatello arguably resuscitated the art of naturalistic sculpture. Again, in Islam, sculpting images of people was forbidden. This development owes nothing to Islam.

(2) Literature. The Renaissance is characterized by two literary movements.

The first was the return by intellectuals to the high style of Golden Age Latin with Cicero as a stylistic model. Cicero was more or less unknown among Muslims, and Islam had nothing to do with the reintroduction of Latin style.

The second literary movement is the development of vernacular literature - the most important theoretician and practitioner of vernacular literature as a legitimate cultural expression was Dante and his masterwork The Divine Comedy is the cornerstone of European vernacular literature. Nothing in Dante's work bears any debt to Islam. Islam had nothing to do with the rise of vernacular literature - it should be remembered that in Islam, all literary production was supposed to be in the "classical" Arabic of the Koran, not local dialects or vernacular languages.

The only substantial vernacular literature in Islam was Persian poetry, which was unknown in Europe at the time of teh Renaissance.

(3) Philosophy. There were two major developments in philosophy: the rise of Neo-Platonism and the resurgence of Aristotelianism.

The rise of Neo-Platonism was sparked by William of Moerbeke's translation of Proclus from the original Greek, not by any Muslim source.

Aristotle was an obscure thinker to most Europeans in the 1200s because the exiting Arabic translations of his work were spotty and inadequate - even misleading. He was considered a minor figure for this reason. It was not until more readable translations from the Greek were made by friars like Moerbeke in the 1260s that the full range of Aristotle's thought became better appreciated. Here is the one slight Muslim influence: Thomas Aquinas - the greatest European expositor and commentator on Aristotle used the commentaries of the Muslim Averroes as one of his scholarly sources. It should be noted, however, that Averroes was considered by Muslim authorities to be an apostate and a heretic and his works were condemned and destroyed. Averroes' philosophical works exist today only in the Latin translations of them made by Christian priests.

(4) Music. The great musical development of the Renaissance was polyphony - the singing of multiple vocal lines in complex harmony and counterpoint. This was the foundation of all art music in the West and led directly to instrumental counterpoint and fugue forms that Bach and his contemporaries made into the baroque music that was the precursor of the golden age of European classical music.

Polyphony had nothing to do with Islam whatever - it was derived from the folk forms of part singing among the Franco-Germanic peoples of Europe. Strict Islam banned singing and music in general -and especially the kind of secular music like madrigals that were the heart of polyphony.

(5) The Sciences.

In mathematics, it is claimed that Fibonacci's groundbreaking introduction of non-Roman calculation was a Muslim contribution.

While Fibonacci learned the basics of the system in North Africa as a trader, the number system he learned was actually Hindu - as he himself acknowledges in his book as the modus indorum "The Indian method" of calculation.

Islam did not invent this system, but adopted it from India.

In physics and astronomy, the Renaissance reintroduced the work of the classic Greek thinkers like Aristotle mentioned above, as well as Archimedes and Ptolemy.

In medicine and biology, the sources were again Greek: Aristotle and Galen.

In sum, the only elements of the Renaissance that can be traced to Islam are that an apostate Muslim was a useful commentator on Aristotle (but he was so effective a commentator on Aristotle mostly because he rejected Islamic theology as philosophically false) and the Muslim use of Hindu mathematical notation.

In otehr words, no indigenous product of Muslim theology or Muslim culture had anything to do with the Renaissance.

38 posted on 01/15/2008 6:06:25 AM PST by wideawake (Why is it that those who call themselves Constitutionalists know the least about the Constitution?)
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To: wideawake

I understand that there are political points to be made, but Fibocacci published the Liber Abaci based upon what he learned from Arabs. So in 1250 Europe is still using Roman numerals and by 1700, we’re doing calculus.

Also, though I am sure your specific citations are accurate, my understanding is that some of the Greek texts, especially in mathematics, were eventually translated into Latin and vernacular from Arabic translations. There was a contribution.


45 posted on 01/15/2008 6:26:20 AM PST by swain_forkbeard (Rationality may not be sufficient, but it is necessary.)
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To: wideawake

And I thank you for your very interesting and informative post.


55 posted on 01/15/2008 7:05:19 AM PST by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: wideawake

Bookmarking this thread for your reply.


97 posted on 01/16/2008 8:13:07 AM PST by denydenydeny (Expel the priest and you don't inaugurate the age of reason, you get the witch doctor--Paul Johnson)
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