Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Aristotle

The more eccentric, the weirder, the more successful an entrepreneur?

Almost everytime someone famous or glamorous dies, you have to brace for a stream of articles under the title of “The more eccentric, the weirder, the more successful…”.

Invariably, you have to expect the caption: “The incidence of strange behavior by highly creative individuals (and other non successful individuals?) seems too extensive to be the result of mere coincidence….”

And you are taken back to ancient Greece with Plato and Aristotle “making comments about the peculiar behavior of poets and playwrights: Aristotle make the link between creativity and depression, an association that has been substantiated by modern research…

For example, an article in the daily The Independent” went as far as stating: “The latest findings in brain imaging, creativity research and molecular biology, suggest that these perceptions are not just based on a few anecdotal accounts of “weird” scientists and artists. Apparently, creativity and eccentricity often go hand in hand, and researchers now believe that both traits may be a result of how the brain filters incoming information…”

The article resumes:

Dean Kamen, the eccentric inventor dresses almost exclusively in denim: He harnessed 100 patents to his name and invented the Segway scooter…  Kamen spent five years in college before dropping out, does not take vacations and has never married. Kamen presides over the Connecticut island kingdom of North Dumpling, which has “seceded” from the U.S. and dispenses its own currency in units of pi. Visitors are issued a visa form that includes spaces on which to note identifying marks on both their face and buttocks. Kamen presides Ministers of Ice Cream, Brunch, and Nepotism: He inspires kids to pursue careers in science and engineering….”

And I wonder: “What is so weird in dressing almost exclusively in denim and rejecting ties and formal suits…? Many billion have nothing to wear on their backs or in their feet…Certainly Kamen must look weird wearing that many cloths…

And I wonder “Why the section on Kamen covered a third of the article?  Did the writer and the daily received substantial sum of money for this implicit ad, far more potent than ads that read: “What you are reading is an ad…”)

“Albert Einstein picked up cigarette butts off the street to get tobacco for his pipe…” (I have seen many people picking up stuffs from streets and dumpsters and then spending $100,000 on a split-second decision… and I didn’t appreciate them Einstein quality…)

Howard Hughes spent entire days on a chair in the middle of the supposedly germ-free zone of his Beverly Hills Hotel suite….” (You certainly witnessed many members in your relatives exhibiting these symptoms…)

“The composer Robert Schumann believed that his musical compositions were dictated to him by Beethoven and other deceased luminaries from their tombs….” (You heard so many kinds of stories…though the end results were not of genius caliber…)

Charles Dickens is said to have fended off imaginary urchins with his umbrella as he walked the streets of London…” (Psychologists make bundles listening to these kinds of people and categorizing them with precision in the Psychoanalysis Medical Book…)

Michael Jackson was preoccupied with rhinoplasty…” (That is a low jab)

Salvador Dalí had affection for dangerous pets…” (So were the boys of Qadhafi, traveling with pet lions and tigers to attend universities in Vienna and London…?)

Icelandic singer Björk dressed for the Oscars as a swan.

“Average Joes perceive highly creative individuals as eccentric. These individuals often see themselves as different and unable to fit in.

Even in the business world, there is a growing appreciation of the link between creative thinking and unconventional behavior, with increased acceptance of the latter…” (Listen, many billion are depressed and these Average Joes are not in the humor of perceiving the famous and glamorous as creative individuals…)

“More than a century ago, Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso classified the bizarre behavior of creative luminaries in his book “The Man of Genius” and attributed this behavior to the same hereditary “degeneration” that marked violent criminals….” (What! creative luminaries dumped in the same basket as violent criminals…?)

“In the past few decades, psychologists and other scientists have explored the connection using empirically validated measures of both creativity and eccentricity. To measure creativity, researchers may look at an individual’s record of creative achievements, his or her involvement in creative activities or ability to think creatively (for example, to come up with new uses for ordinary household items). To measure eccentricity, researchers often use scales that assess schizo-typical personality….”

These measuring variables are not that convincing in “valid scientific experiments”, especially using the scale gimmick and counting subjective “creative activities” for data…

“Schizo-typical personality can appear in a variety of forms, including :

1. Magical thinking (fanciful ideas or paranormal beliefs…)

2. Unusual perceptual experiences,

3. Social anhedonia? (a preference for solitary activities—Emily Dickinson, Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton, for example, favored work over socializing),

4. Mild paranoia (unfounded feelings that people or objects in the environment may pose a threat…”

Are the more eccentric, the weirder, the more successful an entrepreneur, scientist, inventor, musician…?

I should think again and be suspicious of such kind of articles, meant to focus on a particular individual under the smokescreen of brushing the bigger picture...

The written language has been invented seven thousand years ago in southern Iraq and the kingdoms of Sumer, Babylon, Akkad and Assyria managed to have sophisticated administrative systems, precise calendars, and astronomic knowledge.  The alphabet was discovered five thousand years ago in the City-State of Byblos (Phoenicia, and current Lebanon).  

The Phoenicians instituted a maritime civilization and were the masters of the Mediterranean Sea for over 6 centuries (1300 to 600 BC) in trades, commerce and artisanal skills; they established “democratic” City-States where the City-State inhabitants would elect representatives in the noble and aristocratic classes.  The Phoenicians built trading centers or villages along the coasts and in all the Islands.

The Canaanites, of which the Phoenicians were the maritime branch, had established City-States along the main rivers (Euphrates and Al Assy rivers) such as Marie, Homs, Hama, Jerusalem, Antiochus…The Phoenicians built Thebes in Greece, centuries before Athens existed.  Alexander would completely destroy Thebes before leading his army to current India’s borders.

Pre-Socratic philosophers immigrated from the eastern part of the Mediterranean City-States (current Turkey, Syria, and lebanon) to Athens in order to educate its noble citizens to the art of rhetoric, dialectic, and math in order for the aristocratic class to having an edge for successfully running to political positions. They were paid handsomely as teachers and that is why they flocked to Athens:  Democratic Athens had high demand of the intellectual and administrative skills of the Phoenicians.

In China, Confucius was instituting his moral system for good governance and the raising of the “good man”: “Practice good morality in society before studying sciences and acquiring knowledge.”

Socrates battled with the sophism (wise attitudes) of these teachers who turned philosophy into an art of rhetorical clever communication; Socrates instituted a school of rational dialogue.  Platon, a disciple of Socrates, transcribed the dialogues and instituted his own school of philosophy in Athens.  Aristotle, was a student at Platon’s school for 18 years and he established the experimental method (empiricism) for rational investigations (into cause and effects phenomena and categorized matters and scientific fields of studies, backed by advances in arithmetic and geometry.

Aristotle’s works would have gone into oblivion, as so many manuscripts of famous scholars, if not for the Phoenician scholars who translated, commented, interpreted Aristotle’s works into their Aramaic language (spoken by Jesus), later called Syria.  The newly built city of Alexandria became a lighthouse of knowledge; scholars translated scientific, religious, and philosophical manuscripts and invented new fields of sciences.

In India of the 3rd century BC, the monarch Asoka ruled for 35 years and sent missionaries and delegates to all the known civilized world such as Syria, Egypt, Greece, and Persia and resurrected the Buddhist religion that was verging into oblivion amid the Hindu continent.  Asoka chiselled in 84,000 huge stone columns the principles and laws of Buddhism and his laws (dharma) dispersed thousands upon thousands of these columns at every major road intersections.  The island of Sri Lanka became Buddhist at that period.

Hundreds of Christian sects dominated the landscape of the Near East, from Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece. Every sect had its particular religious books for sources of belief and a style of living.  Mostly, they relied on the Jewish laws and differed on the nature of Jesus.  The Virgin Mary was rarely mentioned as source of devotion or as a saint.  

In Alexandria around 320, a priest known as Arius explained that Jesus is a distinct entity than God and that the Holy Ghost proceeds only from God.  This line of theology is accepted by the Goths, the Ostrogoth, and all the people in Germany and in Eastern and central Europe.

In 325, Emperor Constantine decided that Christianity (barely representing 10% of the population) should be the official religion of the Byzantium Empire, though he remained pagan.  The New Christian Church was modified to include three Gods (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for Virgin Mary) as the pagans were accustomed to worshiping trinity of  Gods.  The pagan symbolism and pageantry were included in Catholicism after the conclave of Nicaea.  

Since this conclave, the Roman/Byzantium Empire was wracked in civil wars among dozens of Christian sects or schisms known as heretics and supported by various monarchs and princes.  Among those sects we have the Homeans, the Anomoean, the Monophysitism, the Nestorians (that would advance with its message into China and translate its version of the New Testaments into Chinese), … One of the schism settled in Mecca (Arabic Peninsula); the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad was the Patriarch of the sect and Muhammad was his closest assistant. The Roman/Byzantium Empire would wage internal religious/political battles ways into the 13th century.  Frequently, two Popes would be elected, backed by a coalition of monarchs.  Then another cycle of internal religious wars would restart in the 16th century with Protestantism, Calvinism, and Huguenot.

In the 6th century AC, the Roman scholar and politician Anicius Boethius (Boece) translated and commented Aristotle’s works into latin.  Aristotle’s works had to wait the Arab/Islamic Empire to settle in Damascus (around 660) before his works are resurrected from oblivion. Why?

Prophet Mohammad had encouraged and demanded that Moslems seek knowledge, even from China. Muhammad said that many verses in his message are confusing and needed the interpretation of scholars.  Muhammad said: “Science is more meritorious than prayer.  A single man of  science has more power over demon than a thousand devotees.  Among the servants of God, only scholars fear God.”  Thus, Moslem scholars undertook to translate available knowledge into the Arabic slang of Mecca from the Syriac manuscripts relying heavily on the “Syrian” scholars and later, on the persian scholars during the Abbassid dynasty.  

There is this anecdote told by Calif Al Maamun: “I met Aristotle in my dream and I ask him “What is considered good?”  Aristotle replied: “What is good to reason.”  I asked: “And after reason?  He replied: “What is shown as good in revelation”  I said: “And after?”  He replied: “Good is what consensus agrees on” I said: “And after?”  Aristotle said: “There is no more of what after.”

The Syrians, Christians and Moslems, endeavored to translating the works of Platon, Aristotle, Galen, Plutarch, and Plotin (the Enneades that summarize Aristotle’s theology).  Geometry of Euclides, astronomy and medicine are taught in freshly built Arabic universities.  In the 7th century, Al Kindi wrote: “Though the Greek scholars fell short in sciences, they opened up the instruments for acceding to multiple types of knowledge.”   Al Farabi insisted on the necessity of separating intellectual speculation from rational reflection.  Ibn Sina (Avicenna) wrote in the 10th century, 300 manuscripts, of which 50 are in scientific fields and 40 in medicine; one particular medical book, the  “Canon of medicine” was taught in western Europe as a fundamental course till the 18th century.  The physician Ibn Zhur (Avenzoar), living in Andalusia, is reputed in all Europe.  The geographer Al Idrissi is considered in Europe as the “geography professor”.  Ibn Bajja made the apology of sciences and learned people; he said: “Ignorant people see the world as if they lived in a cavern and the only light they received was a diffused one:  They could discriminate among colors, and thus, have no coherent knowledge of the real nature.”

In the 12th century, many tribes in Central Asia and the Caucasus converted to Islam and were the backbone of the Islamic army by then.  These new converts believed literally in the Koran and refused any rational interpretations or commentaries.  Islamic civilization started its steady decline since then, except in Iran and Andalusia (Spain).

Papal Rome, backed by rich merchants, galvanized the Christians into a series of crusading campaigns in the Near East.  The official purpose was to liberating Jerusalem from the Moslem “infidels”; the tacit goal was capturing Egypt for direct maritime route for the spice and aroma trade coming from Far Eastern Asia Islands.  The rich merchant families and nobility in Europe got addicted to spices and aromatic products and prices were increasing by frequent wars along the land caravans in Moslem Kingdoms.  Three targeted campaigns to invading Egypt failed and the merchants were reluctant to investing in the established mini Christian Kingdoms in the Near East.  The fourth crusading campaign in 1204 sacked Constantinople and reduced the Byzantine Emperors to figure heads.

Then Ibn Rushd was born in the 12th century in Cordoba (Islamic Andalusia) and wrote: “Have no fear searching for truth in sciences.  Truth cannot contradict truth; sciences is in accord with God’s revelations; God has nothing to fear when you use your rational intelligence to discovering the universe and the causes of phenomenon”:   That is basically what Ibn Rush (known as Averroes) tried to convey to civilization through his abundant writings in medicine, sciences, astronomy, philosophy, jurisprudence, and theology.  Ibn Rush, known as “Al hafid” (the grandson of the famous judge of the city) published abundant books; among them, 88 volumes on Aristotle’s works in 20,000 pages supplied with commentary and interpretation.

Moise ibn Maimuna (Maimonides), 12 years younger than Ibn Rushd and originally from Cordoba, was at the period settled in Cairo and was the official physician of the Caliph.  Maimonides was the direct beneficiary of Ibn Rushd rational and scientific works.  He wrote: “We may dispense of Platon’s works:  Aristotle’s works suffice since they are the foundations and roots of scientific rational methods.  Aristotle’s works cannot be comprehended without the commentaries of Ibn Rushd.”

In 1497, Papal Rome encouraged the institution of a university in Padoua (Italy) to teaching Aristotle’s works and be translated directly from ancient Greek.  It was a strategy of ignoring the influence of Islamic culture that was spreading in Catholic Europe.  The Renaissance scholars dared not communicate the sources and references of their knowledge and learning. Since then, European scholars have continued this custom of deliberately ignoring seven centuries of Islamic civilizations when accounting for western Europe civilization.

“Why the Arab World is not free?” : Reactions

Note: I decided to post a reply to the comments on my book review “Why the Arab World is not free?” by Moustapha Safouan https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/why-the-arab-world-is-not-free-by-moustapha-safouan/

            One of the commentarors wrote: “I am the son of two civilizations that have formed a happy marriage. The first civilization is seven thousand years old of Pharaonic Egypt; the second is Islamic of one thousand four hundred years old.  One day the great Pyramids will disappear but Truth and Justice will remain for as long as Mankind has a reflective mind and a living conscience.

            A Moslim Caliph returned prisoners of war to the Byzantium Empire in exchange of ancient Greek manuscripts in philosophy, medicine and mathematics. This is a testimony of value for the human spirit in its demand for knowledge; the believer in One God demanded the fruits of a pagan civilization.

            It was my fate to be born in the lap of these two civilizations and to feed on their literature and art. The truth of the matter is that Evil is a loud and boisterous debaucherer, and that Man remembers what hurts more than what gives pleasure. Our great poet Abul-3Alaa2 al Ma3ari was right when he said: “A grief at the hour of death is more than a hundred-fold Joy at the hour of birth.”

            When the Moslem’s Armies extended their territories from Spain to Persia, they took possession of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Archimedes, and other Greek thinkers. One of the prime reasons attributed to Moslims’ intellectual enhancement in the Middle Ages is the considerable influence of Greek philosophy to a rational new religion. Up to the nineth century Muslim intellectuals valued reason in their interpretation of the Koran and Hadith.  Our present day Moslem heroes associate with the rational past.

            In early Islam there was a philosophical debate that started with al-Ghazali and resumed by Ibn Rushd and led the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II (1451-1481), the conqueror of the Capital Byzantium, to order two of the Empire’ scholars to compile books to summarize the debate between Ghazali and Ibn Rushd.  The philosophy of al-Ghazali was attacking the ideas of Avicenna or Ibn Sina (980-1037) and Farabi who were inspired by Aristotle, Plato, and Plotinus.  Avicenna is known as al-Sheikh Rais (Leader among the wise men); in the west, he is also known as the “Prince of Physicians” for his famous medical text Qanun “Canon”. In Latin translations, his works influenced many Christian philosophers, most notably Thomas Aquinas. The spread of Hellenistic philosophy in the Moslim world was expounded by the first Arabic philosopher Kindi (800-865) who wrote many works on Greek science and philosophy. As a mathematician Kindi realized the importance of Aristotelian logic. Farabi’s ideal rulers would be chosen for their intelligence and educated in science, philosophy, and religion. According to Farabi, the best ruler for this Muslim state would be a “philosopher-king”, a concept described in Plato’s Republic. One of the most important contributions of Farabi, beyond his political views and scientific philosophies, was to make the study of logic easier by dividing it into two categories – Takhayyul (idea) and Thubut (proof). He wrote several sociological books, including his famous work – Al-Madina al-Fadila (The Model City).  In Andalusia (Spain) Ibn Rushd commented on Al Ghazali argument by argument defending the power of rational and investigative thinking; his work became the foundation for Europe Renaissance in understanding Aristotle.

            This part of history needs to be written; there are no takers yet. Orthodoxy in Islam rarely allows the treatise of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980-1037), Kindi (800-865) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) to become the syllabus of mainstream thought process.  A Moslem student might revere Avicenna and Averroes but he is not offered the opportunity to read their works. If Avicenna and Averroes’s thinking were part of the dialogue within Islam then the sun of the golden era would have never set. We cannot cite Khayyam as an example of a great poet and completely forget the message he gave. We may disagree with Khayyam but introducing his thinking will help us to determine what pluralism is all about. The works of our thinkers need to be revisited and their books should form an integral part of our academia. Khayyam is described as an atheist, philosopher, and naturalist.

            The constant themes of Khayyam’s poetry are the certainty of death, the pointlessness of asking unanswerable questions, the mysteriousness of the universe, and the necessity of living joyfully the present. This is clearly reflected in the verses taken from Rubaiyat: “…How much more of the mosque, of prayer and fasting? Better go drunk and begging round the taverns. Khayyam, drinks wine, for soon this clay of yours will make a cup, bowl, one day a jar….”

            The Iranian Shirin Ebadi is another Nobel laureate suffering at the hands of the radicals. Shirin Abadi, Islam’s most famous civil rights activists and a Nobel Prize winner, said in her acceptance speech: “Allow me to say a little about my country, region, culture and faith. I am an Iranian. A descendent of Cyrus The Great. The Charter of Cyrus the Great is one of the most important documents that should be studied in the history of human rights. I am a Muslim. In the Koran the Prophet of Islam has been cited as saying: “Thou shalt believe in thine faith and I in my religion”. That same divine book sees the mission of all prophets as that of inviting all human beings to uphold justice. Since the advent of Islam, Iran’s civilization and culture has become imbued and infused with humanitarianism, respect for the life, belief and faith of others, propagation of tolerance and compromise and avoidance of violence, bloodshed and war. The luminaries of Iranian literature, in particular our Gnostic literature, from Hafiz, Mowlavi [better known in the West as Rumi] and Attar to Saadi, Sanaei, Naser Khosrow and Nezami, are emissaries of this humanitarian culture.”

            The dark ages within any civilization is characterized with dogmatic extremism that denies civil liberties, including freedom of religion and justice or the right to a fair trial. ‘Golden age’ on the other hand should be about the freedom of expression and availability of justice for the downtrodden. A society is judged not by its standards of the richest but by the way the under privileged and the poorest live. A minor renaissance within the regions under the influence of Islam can be traced but the conditions that help ‘seeds of reason’ to take roots that are essential for freethinking were just not allowed to be nurtured.

            Unfortuntely, in the current Arab world, the true values are rarely ever discussed freely. During the ‘Golden Age’ periods there was particularly strong tradition of rationalism known as the Mu3tazalah. They stressed that man is inherently free and were skeptic on the predestination concept that everything was foreordained. The Mu3tazilat carefully cultivated an ‘enlightened moderation’ and allowed for the growth of knowledge and actively promulgated the Sciences as a part of the religion doctrine.

            Muslim countries supply 70 per cent of the world’s energy requirements and 40 per cent of its raw material exports. With all of their oil wealth, two-thirds of the world’s poorest people live in Muslim countries. This state of misery is unparalleled; Islam’s inability to translate its economic prowess into general good has baffled the intelligentsia of the world. In the last 20 years over one million people died in conflicts involving intra Muslim wars. Why are democracy and the rule of law nonexistent in most Moslim states? Why are most of the worst acts of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam? Whenever wicked fundamentalists have taken over reins of affairs they have gone for the jugular. Extremists have a single point agenda whereby ‘worldly decadence’ needs to be abolished for blessings and rewards in the after world. No devotion can gratify the extremists; every strain of deviancy over times has its own brand of virtuous approach; these anarchists at one point have inflicted devastation on embryonic societies of Islam.

            Renaissance cannot be tainted with colour of ideology, it cannot be “Islamic or Christian”,  it is a collective effort of minds to seek freedom from dogma and seek answers to complex questions of purpose of existence on this planet. Free thinking, logic and rationalism have to be the corner stone of any serious attempt to induce renaissance in the Islamic world. Pluralism of ideas and the prosperity of any land are intertwined. Freedom of minds and skill to ‘think the unthinkable’ is how humanity has progressed; when minds are incarcerated nothing endures.

            Renaissance within all three monolithic religions was built around norms of free mind; Renaissance was about literature, architecture, arts and chiseling of marble to exquisite forms. The statue of David could only be created by the love of the free labor of Michelangelo: an enslaved mind could never be an artist or a creator. Physically enslaved men with free minds led revolutions and changed the world: they were ready to accept death instead of compromise with totalitarian or dogmatic despotism.

            The first and foremost challenge that Islam has to face is freedom of intellectual enquiry, ability to ask the unthinkable and still be able to live in peace within a society. Prof. Ahmad Zewail’s use of the fast laser technique can be likened to Galilei’s use of his telescope that he directed towards everything that lit up the vault of heaven. Zewail tried his femtosecond laser on literally everything that moved in the world of molecules. He turned his telescope towards the frontiers of science. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry because he was the first to conduct experiments that clearly show the decisive moments in the life of a molecule – the breaking and formation of chemical bonds. He has been able to see the reality behind Arrhenius’ theory.

            Prof. Ahmad Zewail acceptance speech like Ebadi’s referred to his richness of twin civilisations that of Islam and Egypt; he said: “Let me begin with a reflection on a personal story, that of a voyage through time. The medal I received from his Majesty this evening was designed by Erik Lindberg in 1902 to represent Nature in the form of the Goddess Isis – or eesis – the Egyptian Goddess of Motherhood. She emerges from the clouds, holding a cornucopia in her arms and the veil which covers her cold and austere face is held up by the Genius of Science. Indeed, it is the genius of science which pushed forward the race against time, from the beginning of astronomical calendars six millennia ago in the land of Isis to the femtosecond regime honoured tonight for the ultimate achievement in the microcosmos. I began life and education in the same Land of Isis, Egypt, made the scientific unveiling in America, and tonight, I receive this honor in Sweden, with a Nobel Medal which takes me right back to the beginning. This internationalization by the Genius of Science is precisely what Mr. Nobel wished for more than a century ago.”

            Professor Ahmed H. Zewail, the only Arab to ever win a Nobel Prize for science and, since the death of the Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam, the only one among the 1.2 billion Muslims with that honor.  Dr. Taha Hussein in his Nobel acceptance speech said: “The end will begin when seekers of knowledge become satisfied with their own achievements.” Unfortunately the embryonic renaissance in the late 700’s to 1300 of Islam was not extinguished by the satisfaction of its scientist’s queries; rather it was killed on the altar of dogma.

            Abdus Salam once wrote: “The Holy Koran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah’s created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart.” Sad and tragic is the reality that this scion of Pakistan was not allowed to be buried in his homeland; an orphaned son of a nation thanked the luminaries on behalf of a nation who had disowned him. In his acceptance speech Abdus Salam said: “… I thank the Nobel Foundation and the Royal Academy of Sciences for the great honor and the courtesies extended to us, including the courtesy to me of being addressed in my language Urdu. Pakistan is deeply indebted to you for this. The creation of Physics is the shared heritage of all mankind. East and West, North and South have equally participated in it. In the Holy Book of Islam, Allah says: ‘Thou seest not, in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection, Return thy gaze, seest thou any fissure. Then Return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze comes back to thee dazzled and aweary.”

            On the global stage, it is these “heretical” scientists who are disowned by the Moslem orthodox clergy who have earned the greatest respect for Islam. Historically, we have distorted our real heroes into heretics, and the witch-hunt still continues. Dr. Abdus Salam is not the only one treated as heretic; we have the modern rationalist, Naguib Mahfouz – Nobel laureate in literature. Citation of his work, ‘Awlad Haratina,’ in the Swedish Academy’s declaration of award of the Nobel Prize to Mahfouz in 1988 greatly angered the Islamicists. His novel appeared in English under the title, “The Children of Gebelawi.” Shortly after the eruption of the Rushdie affair, the leading fundamentalist, Omar Abd al-Rahman currently imprisoned in the US for his role in the attack on the World Trade Centre—declared that if they had killed Mahfouz in 1959 for writing ‘The Children of Our Alley,’ Rushdie would never have dared write his novel. This was taken as a fresh fatwa to kill Mahfouz.

            In 1994 a failed attempt on his life leaft Mahfouz paralysed in his right arm. The crime of association of present day heroes of Islam with their past intellectual ancestors has marginalised them. It was the same Mahfouz who presented the case of his twin civilisations so adequately in the forum of ‘Swedish academy of sciences’ and quoted the great Muslim rationalist poet Abul-‘Alaa’ Ma’ari who asserted everywhere “the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.”

            The world cannot remain hostage to medieval concepts; this modern fight has to be seen in its intellectual, historical and geographical context.  The Islamic world today is trying to re-ignite its lost “renaissance” but is led by demented people with medieval minds; they are supposed to cure our ills but are out in the open to slaughter and maim thousands. Respect of life is the first sign of an educated mind.

            The Arabic language was synonymous with learning and science for 500 hundred years; a golden age that can count among its credits the precursors to modern universities, algebra, and the names of the stars and even the notion of science as an empirical inquiry. Science flourished in the Golden Age of Islam because there was within Islam a strong rational tradition of inquiry. This tradition stressed human free will.  Under the Mut3azalah (enlightened moderation) knowledge grew. Moslim conventional Puritanism, led by Ghazali, reawakened in the twelfth century.  The Moslem puritans championed revelation over reason, predestination over free will. The Imam Ghazali described mathematics and medicine as (Fard-E-Kefaya) placing these knowledge secondary to religious knowledge.

            A few Islamic clergies are trying to introduce elements of bigotry and fanaticism in mainstream Islamic thought. Our modern day laureates depict equally a sense of great connectivity to the rich past and that has to become a standard. Most likely the Islamic Renaissance that was about to be born 1000 years ago did not. We shall never know the extent of the harm that some celebrated religious zealots caused to mankind and civilization. We are once again at the crossroads; the only ways forward is to connect with the world and help make ours a true charitable society, the only way prosperity of mind can be ensured is through pluralism of ideas.

Cases of “Historical Dialectics” of human and knowledge development; (Dec. 23, 2009)

            Dialectics is not only used to comprehend historical development of human or knowledge development but is basic in discussions and effective dialogues. Hegel was first to introduce “dynamic logic” and used the term of historical dialectics as the interaction of an extreme opinion (thesis) that generates an opposite extreme counter opinion (antithesis) which results in a consensus (synthesis).  Historical dialectics is a macro method for long range study and it does not explain the individual existential conditions (survival situations).  Hegel offered dialectics as a method for explaining how human knowledge developed by constant struggle between contradictory concepts among philosophical groups. The purpose of his method was to demonstrate how the “universe of the spirit” or ideas managed to be raised in human consciousness.

            Before I offer my version of knowledge development it might be useful to giving a few examples of historical dialectics. In Antiquity, the pre-Socratic philosophers were divided between the Eleatics or philosophers who claimed that change of primeval substances was impossible: we cannot rely on our senses.  Heraclites reacted with his position that we can rely on our senses and that everything in the universe is in a state of flow and that no substance remains in its place.  The synthesis came Empedocles who claimed that we can rely on our senses but that what flow are the combination of substances but the elementary particles do not change. 

            The Sophists during Socrates were the paid teachers of the elite classes and tore down the mythological teaching of the period and focused on improving individual level of learning.  They were in effect in demand by a nascent City-State democracy of Athens that relied on a better educated society to participate in the political system. Socrates reacted by proposing that there are fundamental truths and knowledge is not an exercise in rhetorical discourse. The same dialectics worked between the world of ideas of Plato and the empirical method counterpoint of Aristotle.

            In the Medieval period the Catholic Church set up a barrier or distance between God and man and forced people to believe that all knowledge emanates from God.  The Renaissance man (wanting to be knowledgeable in many disciplines) reacted by promoting the concepts that God is in every element, that man is a complete microcosm of the universe, and that knowledge starts by observing nature and man.

            Another example is the position of Descartes who established that rationalism was the main source for knowledge.  David Hume responded by extending that empirical facts generated from our senses are the basis for knowledge. Kant offered the synthesis that the senses are the primary sources for our impressions but it is our perceptual faculties that describe and view the world: there is a distinction between “matter” of knowledge or the “thing in itself” and “form” of knowledge or the “thing for me”. Kant became the point of departure for another chain of dialectical reflections.

            Many philosophers used the dialectic methods to explaining other forms of development.  Karl Marx wrote that Hegel used his method standing on its head instead of considering human material conditions. Marx claimed that “philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it”; thus, he defined three levels as basis of society: condition of production (mainly the geographic, natural resources, and climatic conditions), means of production (such as machineries and tools), and production relations (such as political institutions, division of labor, distribution of work and ownership). Marx claimed that the main interactions are among the working class (the new slaving method of production) and the owners of the means of productions or the ruling class: it is this struggle that develop the spiritual progress.  Another dialectical process is the extreme feminist political claims of equality between genders which brought about a consensus synthesis for a period.

            My view of progress is based on the analogy of combination of two schemas:

            The first schema is the coexistence of two strings of evolution (picture a DNA shape): the knowledge development (mainly technological) and the moral string (dominated mainly by religious ideologies).  The second schema is represented by historical dialectic evolutions in the shape of helical cones. The time lengths of cycles for the two strings are not constant: the technological progress phase has shorter and shorter cycles while the moral string has longer cycles.

            The two strings are intertwined and clashes frequently.  When one string overshadow the other string in evolution then there are a slow counter-reaction culminating in stagnate status-quo phases between the two forces. Technological or level of sustenance period has time length cycles that is shrinking at the top of the cone before the cone is inverted on its head so that the moral time length cycles start to increase and appears almost invariant (that what happened in the long Medieval period that stretched for over 11 centuries in Europe); then the cone is reverted on its base for the next “rebirth” cycles (for example the Renaissance period that accelerated the knowledge string ascent).

First “mathematical” philosopher: Descartes; (Dec. 20, 2009)

Theoretically, Descartes started by doubting all previous knowledge handed down since Antiquity. The philosophical structures of Plato and Aristotle were good historical knowledge, but were of no use in comprehending the universe, the natural world, and the connection between body and mind.

Obviously, the mathematician Descartes of the 17th century could not doubt everything, otherwise, he would have no ground to start his modern “philosophical system”.

Philosophical systems, like mathematics, must be constructed from fundamental building blocks or propositions that we are certain that are real and exist. A few fundamental evidences or axioms had to be established:

The first evidence was that he doubted. Since he doubted, then Descartes proved that he was a thinking man: “I think, thus I exist”

The second evidence is that we cannot trust our senses for certainties: Since our dreams are more real and more vivid than our waking impressions then the conscious senses should not be trusted.  This evidence was known by most philosophers but they failed to go any further in their investigations.

The third evidence is that Descartes had a distinct idea of a “perfect entity” since childhood. His question was “how can an idea of a perfect entity be generated by an imperfect man”?  (I would be interested if someone can mail me an experiment that shows at what age a child construct an idea of a “coherent world”.  For me, that would be the stage when the brain has already built the main structure for perceiving the universe as a perfect entity.)

The fourth evidencewhat we grasp with our reason is more real and tenacious than what we grasp with our senses”: we know that, as individual men, we are more real than the material world since we feel and sense a wide array of pains and emotional experiences.

The fifth evidence is that the outside world (example, sun, moon, and stars) is real when we can quantitatively measure the properties and characteristics of the outside world which is the realm of reason and not of perceptual senses. Galileo was the first scientific empiricist when he wrote “Measure everything that can be measured. What is not measurable then make it measurable”

When you work out a mathematical problem you are guided by rules of thinking that symbols help redirecting the correctness of our logical system.  In philosophy, there are no symbols that can be used mathematically.

Descartes started coherently, but got diverted from pursuing his logical reasoning out of loss of patience or because he died at the age 54 and could not re-think his system: he jumped to the conclusion that God exists and he is the reason why we recognize the universe as a perfect entity.

From then on, Descartes was just stating corollaries; for example that mind is a distinct substance than the body.

Testing 3,000 years of babbling

Goethe said “he who cannot draw on 3 thousand years is living from hand to mouth.”  

Philosophers have been arguing how man acquired knowledge, what he did with all that knowledge, and for what purpose.

Plato position was that there is nothing in the natural world that has not first existed in the world of ideas and that “the soul yearns to fly home on the wings of love to world of ideas. It longs to be freed from the chain of the body.”

The Irish bishop, George Berkeley (1685-1753), recaptured Plato concept and ventured even further “our sense perceptions proceed from God” and denied the existence of the material world beyond the human mind.

Aristotle countered Plato and wrote “nothing exist in consciousness that has not first been experienced by the senses; Plato is doubling the number of things.”

David Hume, the contemporary of Berkeley, Voltaire, and Rousseau (the Enlightenment Age in Europe), fine tuned the philosophy of Aristotle in what is called the empirical method for acquiring knowledge and said “no philosophy will ever be able to take us behind the daily experiences or give us rules of conducts that are different from those we get through reflections on everyday life.”

I propose that we test the two seemingly “opposing” hypothesis.

It is theoretically feasible to do the set of experiments, though we might face difficult ethical problems and a few confounding effects.

For example; we may select an experimental group of children, aged less than one year, and confine each child in separate rooms.  The only connection to the real world would be a wide screen showing all kinds of objects, animals, plants, people, sceneries of the environmental and geographic varieties on earth, along with all kinds of functions and relations of “laws of nature”. 

Color and audio sounds may or may not accompany the movies, depending on the experimental designs.

Consequently, the senses of touch, odor, and temperature will be reduced to the bare minimum; the senses of hearing and seeing of real objects will be restricted to the family member or nurse delivering food and health care.

There are several confounding variables that are difficult to control.

First, the child has to be fed and cared for.  A task that will inevitably get the child in contact with many real world “objects” and psychological diversities.

How this experimental group will fair compared to a control group of children in constant and free contact with the real world?

Obviously, the prime test should first focus on brain association processes before venturing in testing other forms of intelligence.

The experiments will vary in the age groups of children, the duration of the experiment, the programs on the screen, the duration of projections and their frequencies per day, the type of human contacts for caring to the well being of the child, and so on.

In any event, these experiments will provide directions to the strength of the theory that says “it is contact with real objects and the real world that is the foundation for acquiring knowledge.” 

They might provide better insight on the most advantageous age for exposing children to real world “objects”.

Second confounding factor that cannot be controlled and which is “Do genes, through a couple of million years of evolution, have any effect in supplying or overcoming deficiencies from lack of contact with the real world?”

If Plato is correct, then a human child, born say on planet Mars and then relocated to earth while still a child, will not be able to build a coherent world more complex than earth born children; simply because his “set of ideas” were confirmed in environments richer and more varied in objects and conditions; the assumption is that the child born in Mars had no time enough to build all the relevant associations in his brain.

I think that each object has many images in our mind or definitions, and depends on our mood, circumstances, and environment.

People who are intelligent in one form or another had brain mechanism of better association capabilities when they were children than do deficient children.

“War on Rhetoric”; (Nov. 28, 2009)

The romantic period in literature of the 19th century imposed conventional styles and modes of grammars that restricted clear discourse. Victor Hugo wrote “war on rhetoric” in 1858. Three decades later, rhetoric was scraped from the curriculum in the public schools in France till mid 20th century.  Victor Hugo was following in the footsteps of Plato who condemned the oratory techniques of the Sophist philosophers: they were the main teachers of the elite class destined to politics and city administration.

Basically, the Sophist philosophers used techniques of argumentation, controversial dialogue, and emphatic discourse to win over the audience to their programs. Plato contended that the Sophists’ pedagogy manipulated the truth, the good, and the beautiful; that they didn’t account for reason, dialectic method, and the art of dialogue, and that they encouraged speeches to be wrapped up in myths.

Aristotle categorized the art of rhetoric and distinguished among the political deliberate discourses with the objective of saying “what is good”, the demonstrative judiciary discourse targeted to rendering justice or “what is just”, and the epidictic discourse to enhancing the values of individuals. The Roman Quintillion marked the western rhetoric tradition in academia via his book “The Oratory Institutions”.

Rhetoric is currently hotly applied to various fields of interests and businesses; it has been diversified to specialties such as amorous “how to seduce”, pedagogic “how to convince students; or how to win students over in class”, gastronomy so that the text of menus in restaurants read like poems with plenty of metaphoric expressions, exotic inventions, analogy with high fashion, and figure of speeches evoking thinness and lightness. The military, religious sects, advertising, and artistic fields are heavily reliant of rhetoric or “communication” specialists.

There are two major rhetorical sets of values: the collective and the individual values. The discourse links three entities: Ethos (Identity), Logos (the world), and Pathos (the others). In the collective values we recognize examples of the Ethos such as (respect of the dead), (health, age, and body), and (hope and intellectual satisfaction). These collective values of Ethos are recursively linked respectively to the Logos values of (primal religion), (economic acquisition, and (extreme end results). The Logos values are recursively linked respectively to the Pathos values of (family), (political gains or respect for norms), and (social purpose or general interest).

In the individual sets of values we have: in the Ethos (status), (rights such as freedom), (desires), (virtues), and (opinion).  The ethos values correspond respectively to the Logos values of (revenue), (power), (needs), (capacities), and (facts).  The Logos values correspond respectively to the Pathos values of (Power), (responsibilities), (demands), (passions), and (questions).

Consequently, we can generate a cyclical adjustment in rhetoric from the projective ethos or “what the audience imagines” to the effective ethos (the speaker), to the projective pathos or “how the speaker imagines his audience”, to the effective pathos (the individuals in the audience asking questions).

The late Fernand Hallyn published “The rhetoric structures of science” in 2004; he demonstrated that classical physics is fundamentally metaphorical and analogical figures of speeches. Thus, most instances of discoveries or “Eureka” of great minds were generated by analogical pictures that were registered in personal experiences.

Rhetoric was the primary tool or excuse for the elite classes to acquiring whatever knowledge that was available at the time such as literatures, poetry, and geometry. You may talk to an audience on empty stomach (that would be recommended to shorten a speech and get to the point quickly but you cannot talk with an empty mind! You have got to have, at least, a few subjective notions of what you are conveying.

My contention is that our frontal brain developed a specialty of sorting out and categorizing mind’s associations and images in what was called “scientific methods” in the 18th century.  For example, the processes of identifying qualities and attributes among objects, living species, or phenomena and then establishing coherent taxonomies of relationship in each field of sciences.

I may go even further and claim that the techniques of induction, deduction, and various logical systems were not created but they are a long process of describing the rhetorical mind that generated metaphors, metonym, and analogies by the processes of associations among our various memories.

The barbaric Catholic Church;(October 13, 2009)

There is a resurgence of Islamophobia in France couched under the pretext of discovering the origins of European civilization as a combination of Greek and Christian cultures. It would be worthwhile to set the historical facts straight for any meaningful reply.

By 324 AC, the Roman Emperor Constantine had defeated the three other co-Emperors and is the sole ruler of the Mediterranean Sea Empire, including England, France, northern Africa, Egypt, Turkey, and the Near East to the Euphrates River. Emperor Constantine ordered the Bishops of all the Christian sects in his Empire (they were a dozen at least) to meet in Nicea (Turkey) to adopt a unifying “dogma” for a central Orthodox Church based in Constantinople. By a slight majority, bishops who agreed to Constantine’s radical abstract dogma (he was a new convert) started to persecute the “heretic” Christian sects who fled to the western side of the Euphrates River that was under Persia Empire.

From 325 AC to around 700 AC there was a Christian Empire dominated by Byzantium with Capital in Constantinople. This empire was to the east of the Euphrates River, crossing Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, all the way to England and including North Africa. To the west of the Euphrates River there was a Persian Empire, mostly under the Sassanid Dynasty.  For four centuries, the Christians of the Orient under the central power of the Church of Constantinople shied rational thinking and sciences were halted.

The Arabic Empire, around 650 AC, did not conquer the western part of Turkey which remained with the Byzantium Empire until 1450 when the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad 2 entered Constantinople and spread all the way to the borders of Vienna in Austria. The Christians of the Orient, especially the heretic sects, converted to Islam that represented a pragmatic common denominator religion away from the Orthodox Church. Rational thinking got a boost; translation of foreign knowledge and Greek manuscripts to the Syriac and Arabic languages got underway; it was about time.

In around 1000 a major schism in Christianity split the Catholic Church of Rome with the Christian Orthodox Church of Constantinople. Actually, the initial Crusade campaigns had for objective to conquer Constantinople and coerce the Orthodox Church into uniting with Rome. That is what took place and Constantinople was ransacked and burned before the Crusading forces marched on toward Jerusalem. The other successive Crusading incursions had for objective to capture Egypt and free the spice routes directly to Europe without paying taxes to the Moslem Kingdoms along the maritime and land caravan routes.

The Koran was translated in Constantinople in the 9th century. It was translated in Toledo (Spain) in the 12th century but was not disseminated in Europe.  Europe got aware of Islam’s concept of decentralized religious power in the 16th century when printing made it feasible; this was the period when the Catholic Church of Rome experienced its decline on holding on absolute religious and civilian power.

Thus, from 325 to 1450 Europe was Christian.  Why Greek civilization, if Europe insists on taking the source of its culture from antique Greece, was not prevalent during over 11 centuries?  Why Europe remained barbaric till the 15th century?  Is it because the Christian dogma of Rome was barbaric and refused other civilizations and cultures to infiltrate Europe?

Certainly the Christian clerics were at least bilingual, mostly Latin and Greek, and consequently, if Greece had any culture it would have been translated into Latin. Some would give the lame excuse that the scholars in Europe, mostly the clerics, could read the Greek manuscripts in their original forms and had no need to translate any manuscripts into Latin or other live languages; this would be another proof that the Catholic Church of Rome was barbaric and refused philosophical and scientific disciplines to penetrate into Europe.

Europe experienced a demographic surge around 1000 AC; it is after getting in contact with the Near East culture and civilization (under Arabic/Islamic kingdoms) during the Crusading campaigns that culture entered Europe from the open door.  Even after the total defeat of the Crusaders in 1200 the Near East culture permeation would continue via Andalusia in southern Spain. The Arabic/Moslem civilization in Spain was the main source for the transfer of sciences into Europe until the “Christian” Spanish monarchs conquered completely Spain in around 1400 and chased out Moslems and Jews from its territory.

Greece after Aristotle did not produce much in culture.  It was just a brilliant century for the City-State of Athens during Pericles period, as so many glorious periods for a dozen other City-States that dotted the Mediterranean shores and the Euphrates River, from Mary, Harran, Edessa, Ugarit, Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, and much later Alexandria, Antiochus, and Ephesus, and on that scholars and archeologists have to start focusing on for the origins of civilizations.  The proof is that the Byzantium Empire that was established in Greece for over 11 centuries is no where mentioned as source for any worthwhile civilization.

Macedonian warriors under Alexander conquered the Near East.  It is not because the Near East people, from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and coastal Turkey, who assimilated the Greek language and spread their own culture and civilization in the Greek language that Europe has to claim its civilization to Greece. Europe should not.

It is the Near East culture and civilization that assimilated the languages of the various conquerors (Mesopotamians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs from the Arabic Peninsula, Ottomans from the Turkish Plateau, and the most recent French colonialism, and English colonialism) that absorbed and disseminated the fundamental cultures and civilizations to its neighboring environment.

It is not because of the invasion of nomadic warriors from the Arabic Peninsula that Arabic civilization should be labeled Arab.  Why the Mogul Empires that lasted longer than many Empires and stretched much further than many are not given any civilization?  It is a shame that Europe still feels the urge to attribute civilization to military conquering warriors.

Europe would have remained barbaric if it was not superseded as a superpower by the USA and Russia after WWII. The recent colonial dominations and the slaughtering of indigent people is a striking proof.  The single streak that the USA inherited mostly from Europe is its barbaric pre-emptive wars against smaller nations and its racist tendency for hegemony whenever the chance knocks.

Thus, the break up of the “heretic” protestant sects with the Catholic Church of Rome opened the way for Europe’s renaissance and the transfer of Islamic scientific discoveries and scientific methods with sound mathematical discipline. Strong with new sciences the “heretic” Protestant sects created models of nationalism to civilize the “barbarians” of the world.  Renaissance of Europe turned out not to be driven toward humanitarian purposes but based on exclusive nationalism proprietary that exhibited its brutal and ugly racist behavior for many decades.

After the 18th century, Papal Rome tried hastily to catch up with the scientific trend and put up a face of progress and the conservator of scientific investigation.  This obscurantist religious central power initiated and backed all European invasions; it supervised the extermination of aborigines under the guise of “Christianize” the pagan barbarians.

Note: I use shock titles to lure readers; those who patronize my blog comprehend that my posts are highly rational: They are the work of much analysis and reflection. I have no zeal to dwell into religions of any kinds. I would like readers to refer to my recent post “Damascus saved the Greek culture and language”.

The barbaric Catholic Church; (October 13, 2009)

 

            There is a resurgence of Islamophobia in France couched under the pretext of discovering the origins of European civilization as a combination of Greek and Christian cultures. It would be worthwhile to set the historical facts straight for any meaningful reply.

            Since 325 AC to around 700 AC there was a Christian Empire dominated by Byzantium with Capital in Constantinople. This empire was to the east of the Euphrates River, crossing Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, all the way to England and including North Africa. It was basically a Mediterranean Sea Empire.  To the west of the Euphrates River there was a Persian Empire, mostly under the Sassanide Dynasty.  The Arabic Empire did not conquer the western part of Turkey which remained with the Byzantium Empire until 1450 when the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad 2 entered Constantinople and spread all the way to the borders of Vienna in Austria.

            In around 1000 a major schism in Christianity split the Catholic Church of Rome with the Christian Orthodox Church of Constantinople. Actually, the initial Crusade campaigns had for objective to conquer Constantinople and coerce the Orthodox Church into uniting with Rome. That is what took place and Constantinople was ransacked and burned before the Crusading forces marched on toward Jerusalem. The other successive Crusading incursions had for objective to capture Egypt and free the spice routes directly to Europe without paying taxes to the Moslem Kingdoms along the maritime and land caravan routes.

            Thus, from 325 to 1450 Europe was Christian.  Why Greek civilization, if Europe insists on taking the source of its culture from antique Greece, was not prevalent during over 11 centuries?  Why Europe remained barbaric till the 15th century?  Is it because the Christian dogma of Rome was barbaric and refused other civilizations and cultures to infiltrate Europe?  Certainly the Christian clerics were at least bilingual, mostly Latin and Greek, and consequently, if Greece had any culture it would have been translated into Latin. Some would give the lame excuse that the scholars in Europe, mostly the clerics, could read the Greek manuscripts in their original forms and had no need to translate any manuscripts into Latin or other live languages; this would be another proof that the Catholic Church of Rome was barbaric and refused philosophical and scientific disciplines to penetrate into Europe.

            Europe experienced a demographic surge around 1000 AC; it is after getting in contact with the Near East culture and civilization (under Arabic/Islamic kingdoms) during the Crusading campaigns that culture entered Europe from the open door.  Even after the total defeat of the Crusaders in 1200 the Near East culture permeation would continue via Andalusia in southern Spain. The Arabic/Moslem civilization in Spain was the main source for the transfer of sciences into Europe until the “Christian” Spanish monarchs conquered completely Spain in around 1400 and chased out Moslems and Jews from its territory.

            Greece after Aristotle did not produced much in culture.  It was just a brilliant century for the City-State of Athens during Pericles period, as so many glorious periods for a dozen other City-States that dotted the Mediterranean shores and the Euphrates River, from Mary, Harran, Edessee, Ugharite, Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, and much later Alexandria, Antiochus, and Ephesus, and on that scholars and archeologists have to start focusing on for the origins of civilizations.  The proof is that the Byzantium Empire that was established in Greece for over 11 centuries is no where mentioned as source for any worthwhile civilization.

            Macedonian warriors under Alexander conquered the Near East; it is not because the Near East people, from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and coastal Turkey, who assimilated the Greek language and spread their own culture and civilization in the Greek language that Europe has to claim its civilization to Greece. Europe should not. It is the Near East culture and civilization that assimilated the languages of the various conquerors (Mesopotamians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs from the Arabic Peninsula, Ottomans from the Turkish Plateau, French colonialism, and English colonialism) that absorbed and disseminated the fundamental cultures and civilizations to its neighboring environment.  

            It is not because of the invasion of nomadic warriors from the Arabic Peninsula that Arabic civilization should be labeled Arab.  Why the Mogul Empires that lasted longer than many Empires and stretched much further than many are not given any civilization?  It is a shame that Europe still feels the urge to attribute civilization to military conquering warriors.

 

Note: The title was meant to be catchy to drive through the purpose of the topic. I have no zeal to dwell into religions of any kinds. I would like readers to refer to my recent post “Damascus saved the Greek culture”.

Damascus saved the ancient Greek culture; (October 10, 2009)

 

            The German philosopher Heidegger stated: “Philosophy is purely Greek” and thus, the European love to believe that philosophy is purely a western conception. In “Aristotle at mount St. Michel”, the latest book of Sylvain Guggenheim, it is said in substance that Europe would not have needed the Arab civilization to accede to the Greek heritage in philosophy and sciences and that it is the Christian “Arabs” who introduced Hellenisms in the Islamic-Arab world. It goes on “As a religion, Islam didn’t offer anything to the European civilization, neither textual reference nor theological argument. It goes also in the legal and political domains.”

           

I got into thinking.

            The Islamic armies defeated the Byzantium forces of Heracles in Syria and the Persian Sassanide forces in Iraq and expanded into Egypt during the second Caliphate Omar Ibn Khattab.  Within five years, the Umayyad dynasty of Moawiyat decided on Damascus for Capital of the new Arab Empire.

            Damascus was the hotbed of most of the Orthodox Christian sects that paid allegiance to the center in Byzantium and they were learned in the Greek language along with the Aramaic popular language.  The “heretic” Christian sects had fled beyond the Euphrates River to the kingdom of Persia.

            The Arab Umayyad dynasty relied on the Orthodox Christian educated people to translate Greek philosophy, medicine, mathematics, and science manuscripts into the Arabic language; the Aramaic language was the root language for the spoken Arabic language in the Arabic Peninsula and thus it was easy for the Syrian to adopt Arabic and translate the Greek and Roman manuscripts.

            It is not that the Near East people just loved the ancient Greek manuscripts of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euripides, and Sophocles. It is more likely that most of the Greek schools of sciences, philosophy, and medicine were erected by Greek speaking scholars born on the Mediterranean shores from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey; those famous scholars span from Euclid, Thales, Heracles, Plotine, Zenon, Ptolemy, and passing by the great law givers and founders of the Roman Empire located in Beirut.

            If the new Islamic Empire failed to settle on Damascus as Capital and opted to stay in Medina then it is very likely that the Greek manuscripts and culture would have vanished during the hegemony of the Arabic Empire.

 

I got into thinking.

            If in the nick of time, the fourth Caliphate Ali ibn Abi Taleb decided not to defeat and pursue the army of Mouawiyat then the Capital of the Islamic Arab Empire would have been Koufa in Iraq.  The ancient culture of Persia would have been the civilization of the land from the confine of China to England.  What the European scholars love to label their race as Indo-European would have been a more fitting name: the Persian-Indian culture and civilization.

 

I got into thinking.

            If the Prophet Muhammad did not adopt the Jewish Bibles and the Christian New Testaments as integral part of Islam in an attempt of consolidating common denominators among these monotheist religions then what kind of Christianity Europe would be having today?

            Damascus saved the ancient Greek language. Damascus saved its culture.  Like it or not, the European should be proud of their real Near Eastern heritage along the eastern Mediterranean shores. (More on that topic in following posts).


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adonis49

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