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Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews ... Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 15. Oktober 2003

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  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 384 Seiten
  • Verlag: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Auflage: 1 (15. Oktober 2003)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 140256872X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402568725
  • ASIN: 0151007209
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 15,6 x 2,4 x 23,4 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 874.279 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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"A splendidly dramatic story . . . Rubenstein has turned one of the great fights of history into an engrossing story." - - Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography

"A flesh-and-blood encounter of real people that reads like an
adventure story."-The Christian Science Monitor


Traces the rediscovery and translation of the works of Aristotle at the height of the Dark Ages, chronicling the rapid spread of the intellectual's philosophies and the ensuing backlash on the part of the Catholic Church.

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THERE ARE FEW stories more appealing than tales of ancient knowledge long lost, then astonishingly found. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von James Gallen am 28. August 2009
Format: Taschenbuch
"Aristotle's Children" provides the reader with an interesting blend of philosophy and history. Author Richard E. Rubenstein follows the European rediscovery and study of Aristotle's writings beginning in Reconquered Spain and continuing into modern times. As the reader goes through this book he or she is introduced to a succession of philosophers who studied Aristotle's teachings and applied them to the problems and thought of their days. We are introduced to the blend of Christianity, Judaism and Islam which transmitted the works that shaped Christendom in later centuries. Names that we recognize we begin to know, and understand their relationships to one another. Boethius, Sts. Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure and Roger Bacon are just a few who we meet along this journey. This book explains how the teachings of Aristotle were used to define and shape the interplay between faith and reason, philosophy and science. At the end, Rubenstein suggests a role that a proper appreciation of Aristotle could enrich our world today.

Although this book deals with philosophical thought, it is easy to follow, at least enough to obtain a better understanding of the importance of this philosophy in our world and to our own thoughts. Although philosophy is not a major interest of mine, this book has given me a better understanding of how it has affected the world view into which we were born and grow. I recommend it for anyone who ever ponders why our culture has developed the way it has and where it is likely to be going.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 52 Rezensionen
85 von 91 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Great book, but no "road map" to conflict resolution. 2. Februar 2004
Von Thomas H. Lynch - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This book covers an enormous amount of intellectual history and is worth reading for its summary of thinkers from Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Boethius, Avicenna, Aquinas, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, to William of Ockham. The book sets out the theme that the intellectual turn that led to scientific understanding actually started, not with Copernicus and Galileo, but much earlier, at least by the 12th Century as Aristotelean works on natural phenomena began to flood the libraries of Europe's scholars. Aristotle's work on logic had been long known, thanks to Boethius' 6th Century translations. But this was all the West had until the Christian gradual retaking of the Iberian Peninsula made possible rediscovery of his other works. The libraries of the Muslims and Jewish scholars there had Aristotle's works, and Latin scholars eagerly translated them with help of the Jews and the Muslims.
The impact of Aristotle's natural philosophy derived from his outlook that human reason, not tradition, revelation or sentiment, is the road to uncover objective truths about the universe. This outlook regularly leads to conflicts with a faith-based outlook. So what were the Muslims doing with these time-bombs? Rubenstein traces the route that preserved Aristotle's work. The Nestorians translated much of Greek philosophy, not only Aristotle, into Syriac, and these got further translated to Persian, and therefore they fell into the hands of the Arabs with their 7th Century conquest of Persia. These treasuries, at least initially they were seen this way, resulted in the arabic translations and Muslim philosophy flourished. However, by the 11th Century the Muslim religious establishment banished Aristotle from the universities concluding his outlook was inimical to their faith, just before Aristotle was rediscovered in the West. Many religious scholars, both Muslim and Christian, were so fascinated with Aristotle's knowledge of the natural world that they tried hard to spiritualize or "correct" Aristotle's outlook in the hope that then it would not endanger faith. Both Muslim and Christian religious authorities were wary of Aristotle's outlook and in the long run both concluded his outlook could not be papered over. The Muslims were both quicker and more vigilant, the Christians more dilatory and divided and at the same time enthralled by Aristotle's knowledge. Attempts to ban his thought in the West were made in the 13th Century, but it was too late. Modern secular thought was let out of the bottle in the West; even though it still struggles to emerge for many Muslims and well as Christians. In the West, there are still many who would like faith to dominate reason. Currently, only 23 percent of Americans, for example, believe biological evolution to be correct. The story is far from over.
Another theme Rubenstein pursues is how Plato and Aristotle differ, even though they agree on many things. The Aristotelian Stance is one of "...unabashed admiration for the material and a distaste for mystical explanations of natural phenomenon..." plus an "optimism about human nature" (page 8). The Platonic attitude is that the "really real" are abstractions such as Beauty, Goodness, Justice -- Eternal Forms or Ideas. The sensate natural world Aristotle rejoiced in only reminded Plato "of a much better place" (page 29). Mystery was Plato's meat. Rubenstein feels some periods of history favor one stance over the other. In times of economic growth, political expansion, optimism and the like, the Aristotelian stance fits in. In times of discomfort and longing, where personal and social conflicts seen all but unresolvable, the Platonic stance kicks in. Plato, with mystery and supernaturalism, may be where many will cling to now. Rubenstein would like to go beyond these tendencies. He would like to restore a creative, rather than destructive, tension between reason and faith. They cannot be fused, but perhaps there can be a integration in which technology, using reason, is guided by a new, global morality based on a "mature and expanded" faith, a faith not threatened by reason. However he offers no road map for such startling developments, let alone any evidence that those of faith see any need to "mature." On the other hand we can see many road maps and much evidence for the outcome he fears, namely, that powerful elites will use both faith and reason for keeping and extending their power.
51 von 56 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Intellectual history that reads like an adventure novel 7. Oktober 2003
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This book is a knockout. As hard as it may be to imagine a book about the "Aristotelian Revolution" of the Middle Ages being a page-turner, I could not put this one down.
To begin with, the story itself is incredibly interesting and important. When Aristotle's complete works, lost to the West for 700 years, were rediscovered in "reconquered" Spain, European thinking was changed forever. As Rubenstein says, it was as if some document discovered in our own time were found to contain the science of the future -- the secret of time travel, or a cure for AIDS.
Catholic officials were therefore forced to decide whether to ban the new learning, which contained all sorts of ideas at odds with traditional Christian thought, or to try to reconcile faith with reason. Surprisingly, after a ferocious struggle involving "superstars" of Christian learning like Peter Abelard, Saint Bernard, Bonaventure, Aquinas, and William of Ockham, they opted for reconciliation. The result was Europe's first Scientific Revolution -- and a creative dialogue between reason and religion that, Rubenstein suggests, might serve as a model for us modern folk.
What makes this book so appealing is the author's ability to make complex debates crystal-clear to ordinary readers, and his gift for vivid historical narrative. We are there when Peter Abelard goes on trial before his nemesis, Saint Bernard;
when Pope Innocent III calls down the fires of Crusade upon the heretical Cathars; and when Aquinas fights it out with enemies to his left and right at the tumultuous University of Paris.
You don't have to know much about medieval history to enjoy this story, but reading it made me want to learn more about the origins of modern Western thinking -- and about ways of healing the split between what Rubenstein calls "the culture of the heart" and "the culture of the head."
67 von 80 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Obscuring the Dark Ages 7. November 2004
Von R. Wood - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Aristotle's Children costs $18 or less - not unreasonable, perhaps, for history light. Even that price, however, is perhaps too high to pay for the truths it correctly states: "The Aristotelian Revolution transformed Western thinking and set our culture on a path of scientific inquiry that it has followed ever since the Middle Ages (ix-x);" Aristotle's newly recovered Natural Books (libri naturales) did provide "the most comprehensive, accurate, well-integrated and satisfying account of the natural world that medieval readers had ever encountered" (80). "Europe depended upon Muslim and Jewish scholars for the recovery of its classical heritage (7)."

It may be a mistake to buy the book because the evidence Rubenstein offers for these truths is too often unreliable. Some of the mistakes Rubenstein makes are so obvious that they could be corrected on the internet, including its opening: The book begins with a paean to the Christian churchmen working in formerly Muslim Toledo rediscovering the bulk of Aristotle's writings. The first chapter begins with a sort of medieval medallion labeled: De anima by Aristotle. Then in chapter one bishop Raymond (d. 1187) holds the "new translation of De anima -- Aristotle's lost book on the soul" (12); the translators are Gundissalinus and his friend Avendauth. Much about what Rubenstein reports about the two is controversial, but one thing is certain: They did not translate Aristotle's De anima. Aristotle's De anima was first translated in the first half of the 12th century, not in the second half; it was first translated not in Muslim Spain from the Arabic, but by James of Venice from the Greek. What Gundissalinus and company translated was Avicenna's influential Liber de anima and Algazel's Logica et philosophia. These were immensely influential works, but they were not works by Aristotle.

This is annoying because there's a great truth here -- namely, that we owe a great debt to Muslim Spain -- but the proof offered is bogus. What is worse, the book gets wrong the questions we should be asking. It ignores, for example, important questions about the translations Western scholastics used.

When Western scholastics began lecturing on psychology they did not lecture on texts translated from Arabic; they carefully kept to the dauntingly difficult and very hard to understand translations from the Greek. They went to the great Muslim commentators, above all Averroes, to understand what the text meant, but they commented on the Muslim text only when the Greek based translation was unavailable (as it was for most of Aristotle's Metaphysics). Early commentators did not say why only their Metaphysics commentaries were based on the new translation (nova translatio) from the Arabic by Michael Scot. Why didn't they use this new translation that was so much easier to understand and came with an authoritative commentary? Not because they were great linguists. As their irate contemporary, Roger Bacon, pointed out, his contemporaries were no great shakes as philologists. So we should be asking what accounts for their continued allegiance to the Greek Aristotle and their unwillingness to use new translations based on Arabic.

Another problem is that difficult questions are described as if they were settled: Rubenstein waxes enthusiastic over the publicly supported universities of Muslim Spain (13). But it is by no means clear that there were universities as we know them in Muslim Spain. An important medieval Western contribution is the emergence of universities as independent corporations of masters and students. Again, it's not certain what the relationship between Aquinas and Moerbeke was (22). William of Auvergne based claims on his reading of Avicenna, very seldom Aristotle etc. etc.

Real questions are obscured by phony answers. It is not likely that "Farsighted popes and bishops ... [decided to marry] Christian Theology to Aristotelian science ..." The teaching of the so-called libri naturales comprised by the Metaphysics, Physics, De anima etc. was repeatedly banned at Paris, but permitted in the provinces, until the University of Paris went on strike -- not over freedom to teach, but because students were being beaten by local law officers. One provision in the agreement that brought them back was that the libri naturales would be bowdlerized, so that an edifying remainder could be taught. The committee appointed to do the job may never have met, but in any case the teaching went on, since the penalties for disobeying the ban were countermanded. The pope directed that any one who had incurred such penalties be absolved.

Again there's a real and important question: It is not about the decisions reached by men with ecclesiastical authority, it is about Christian Europe's intellectual leaders. Why did the most influential teachers at medieval Paris from Alexander of Hales and Philip the Chancellor to William of Auvergne (bishop of Paris) think that Aristotle could be safely taught? Why no great worry about heterodoxy?

Here are some answers that might be right: The exponents of the new Aristotelianism were personally devout, exemplary Christians. The extent of the challenge was not understood. Western Scholastics did not know for decades after they began reading Aristotle on the topic that he held views incompatible with creation. As late as 1266, in his Opus maius, Roger Bacon, claimed it was a mistake to hold that Aristotle denied creation. This was an intellectual question, not a matter for enlightened rulers, however farsighted. The intellectual leaders of the Muslim world reached the opposite conclusion and not without considering the question carefully. So this is perhaps the single most important question about the foundations of Western civilization, and it is an important disservice to obscure it.

Then there's the talk about the degeneration of scholasticism and the absurd hair-splitting of late scholasticism (9-11). But no names of deficient authors are provided -- and with good reason: Jacobus Zabarella (1538 - 1589), for example, is a contemporary of Galileo and no slouch. The only proof Rubenstein offers for his claim about scholasticism's "senile manifestations" (11) is that silly questions are debated such as whether we eat and drink after the resurrection. To this there are two replies: firstly, such questions were debated throughout the period (in eras Rubenstein praises as well those he deprecates), and secondly, the questions are not silly or trivial. Supposing we're interested (and I don't suppose we should be) in what kind of bodies the resurrected will have, then it's a pressing question whether there's eating and drinking in the afterlife. If resurrected saints have corporeal bodies, then probably the answer must be yes. Moreover, in debating these questions medieval philosophers raised important questions about personal identity and considered the kind of issues that continue to preoccupy philosophers today.

In short, I did not like the book, and I would not recommend it. I could continue this polemic, but there's no reason to think you'd enjoy its continuance.
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Aristotle's Children in current perspective. 1. Mai 2006
Von Gene C. Bammel - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
GNPR XXVIII: "Aristotle's Children."

A good book review should accomplish two things: it should accurately summarize the basic themes of the book, and it should help the reader determine if they need to read the book. Richard E. Rubenstein's Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages is a great book, which will richly reward all those who read it. The last chapter, "Aristotle and the Modern World," is alone worth the price of admission, being a brilliant statement of how a balance between faith and reason, so critical to today's global problems, might be restored, if only we could re-awaken the great Aristotelian vision.

The book is a superb study of how Aristotelian wisdom developed, was lost, and then rediscovered in the Middle Ages, initially by Moslem scholars, then by Jews, and finally by Christians. The book's principal weakness is that while it is long on medieval Christian philosophy, it skips too lightly over the Moslem sages, from Al-Farabi to Al-Ghazzal, and does not give Moses Maimonides, the greatest of medieval Jewish sages, nearly the attention he deserves.

There are, however, good reasons for the selections Rubenstein has made. The Christian writers had the advantage of the Herculean labors of their predecessors, and not only did Christian teaching benefit from seeing how a variety of philosophical and theological problems had been formulated by Moslems and Jews, they also had the benefit of seeing how proposed solutions had fared in the various marketplaces of ideas.

Rubenstein also wishes to focus on how the medieval synthesis of religion and science, faith and reason, fell apart, and this happened most visibly in the hands of Christian philosophers like William of Ockham. William epitomizes the ills that befell Moslem and Jewish philosophy. Here is Rubenstein's summary: "(Ockham) liked to argue that God could, if he wished, condemn the innocent and reward the guilty, or make two solid objects occupy the same place at the same time. The point was to demonstrate that God's absolute freedom and power are not limited by our notions of justice or common sense." (p. 260).

The point of Rubenstein's book is that it is always a mistake to give up on the power of human reason. Does this put him in the camp of those who say faith has had its day, and scientific rationalism precludes all religious views? Hardly. Without being nostalgic for the Middle Ages, Rubenstein suggests that it is once again time for rationalist thinkers and people of faith to engage each other in a "continuous dialogue productive of new insights for both sides."

Far from the pessimism that has prevailed in the aftermath of Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations, Rubenstein asserts that a return to the healthy Aristotelian vision offers a favorable pathway into a much better future. "The West's destiny, it seems clear, is to become part of a diverse, yet integrated global civilization." (p. 291). Other books may do a better job of illuminating certain parts of the medieval heritage, but no other book is as good at pointing to the current relevance of the Medieval Synthesis to our current dilemmas. Rubenstein is professor of Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, and this book is a superb expression of how Conflict Resolution might be applied to our most current and pressing problems. This is a brilliant book. If you choose to read it, do not be put off by the lengthy analysis of the development and decline of Christian theology in the Middle Ages. Every single fact fits into the crossword puzzle of the solution proposed in the final chapter. This is a brilliant book, and you should read it.
20 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Science versus Religion 11. Februar 2005
Von George R Dekle - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Once upon a time not so very many centuries ago, Europe was the "third world" and the Islamic world stood at the pinnacle of civilization. How did Western culture transform itself from uncivilized backwater to what it is today, while Islamic culture became the modern "third world"? Rubenstein doesn't set out to answer this question, but his work stands as authority for the proposition that ancient wisdom, specifically the works of Aristotle, changed the balance in favor of the West.

During the early Middle Ages, while Europeans were beating each other over the heads with poorly forged swords, Islamic civilization was at its zenith, and Arabic "falsafa" (philosophy) was the reason. Europe had completely forgotten Aristotle, but the Arabs knew his works and studied them earnestly.

During the 1200 to 1400's, the "Reconquista" recovered both Spain and Aristotle from the Arabs. Over the next few centuries, both cultures struggled to reconcile science with religion. Religion won an unconditional victory in the Moslem world and Islamic civilization went into decline.

Rubenstein records the initial enthusiastic acceptance of science by Europe, the uneasy truce that developed between science and religion, and the ultimate "victory" of science over religion. Ironically, the men whose work formed the foundation for that victory were almost uniformly men of religion. Rubenstein argues for a modern detente between science and religion similar to Stephen Jay Gould's concept NOMA (which is described in Gould's book "Rocks of Ages"). Zealots from the camps of both science and religion would do well to read these two books.

Since reading this book, I have read Rodney Stark's "The Victory of Reason" and "How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization" by Thomas Woods. Taken together, these books give a quite different perspective on Aristotle, Christianity, and the Middle Ages. Stark also wrote "One True God" and "For the Glory of God," which further elaborate some of the ideas put forth in "The Victory of Reason" and "How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization."
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