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Medieval Islamic Philosophy - Essay Example

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Medieval Islamic Philosophy

that had been transmitted from Greece into these countries.
In, 323-43 BC Greek classical philosophies experienced a drastic change. From being a fundamentally Greek product, it developed into an international and eclectic cultural movement in which Greek, Egyptian, Phoenician and other Near Eastern religious and ethical elements came together. This change is best represented by the role Alexandria played as the centre of varied streams of notions making up the new philosophy.
At the same time as the Abbasid Caliphate was set up in Baghdad in 750 AD, the centre of learning progressively moved to the Abbasid capital, which became later the heir of Athens and Alexandria as the new cultural city of the medieval world. Nearly two centuries later Cordoba, capital of Muslim Spain, began to contend with Baghdad as the centre of 'ancient learning'. From Cordoba, Greek-Arabic philosophy and science were spread across the Pyrenees to Paris, Bologna and Oxford in the twelfth and the thirteenth centuries.
During the time of the Abbasi'd Khalifah (Caliph) Mamun-al-Rashid who had established a Bait-el-Hikmah (House of Wisdom) in Baghdad, the influence of the foreign thought seeped into Islamic culture. Works of Greek philosophy and natural sciences were available in Alexandria, Egypt, and some other Syrian cities. Mamun-al-Rashid employed scholars of all religions, Jewish, Christianity, Islam, etc. for the purpose of translating these works into Arabic. Regardless of the strong hold of Islamic theological doctrine on the minds of the Arabs, skepticism and rational thinking increasingly developed and flourished under the encouragement and protection provided by the Khalifah.

The first reception of Greek-Hellenistic philosophy in the Islamic world was mixed. It was rejected in the beginning as being distrustfully foreign or pagan, and was thus scorned by conservative theologians, legal scholars and grammarians as harmful or unessential. By the middle of the eighth century AD the image had changed to some extent, with the appearance of the rationalist theologians of Islam known as the Mu'tazilites, who were utterly inclined by the methods of discussion or dialectic supported by the Muslim philosophers. Of those philosophers, the two exceptional persons of the ninth and tenth centuries were al-Kindi and al-Razi, who welcomed Greek philosophy as a form of freedom from the fetters of doctrine or blind imitation (taqlid). For al-Kindi, the objectives of philosophy are rightly well matched with those of religion, and, for al-Razi, philosophy was the highest expression of man's intellectual goals and the noblest achievement of that noble people, who were incomparable in their quest for wisdom (hikma).

Later scholars used this device with mixed results. For instance, Ibn Rushd stated (11),
"Since the religion (Islam) is true and summons to the study which leads to knowledge of the Truth, we the Muslims know definitely that demonstrative study does not lead to (conclusions) conflicting with what Scripture has given us; for truth does not oppose truth but accords with it and bears witness to it."

Thus it was a given that the Scripture was perfect and true, every ...Show more

Summary

The Arabs did not have philosophy, mathematics, or any rational sciences as part of their culture and tradition before the arrival of Islam. Despite the fact that they were conscious of Jewish and Christian religions since Jews and Christians lived among them, they themselves were idolaters…
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