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The Battle over Reason in the Islamic World (and How It Was Lost)

Barry Wood

Presented at: OCON 2012

Date: Jun 30, 2012

Both the Islamic world and the medieval West went through periods of intense interest in Greek philosophy, and especially in Aristotle. Yet the West experienced a Renaissance, while the Islamic world devolved into a culture of mysticism and coercion. What explains this difference?

This course will explore the men and ideas that made up the battle over reason in the Islamic world. We will not only meet some of the interesting personalities involved—including a precocious gardener, a disgruntled academic with a lethal grudge, and a highly industrious bookseller—but also examine, in non-specialist terms, the philosophical concepts over which these men fought. We will also see why, despite a truly heroic last effort, the Aristotelians were doomed to defeat. The course is intended for beginners; no previous knowledge of history or philosophy is required.


Parts: 4

Handout: none