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marnixR
Post  Post subject: the decline of arabic science  |  Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:48 pm
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been reading a book by Robin Dunbar, where in one of his chapters he draws a parallel between the decline of science in the arabic world after the 15th century and the danger that creationism could draw the western world in a similar direction

so started to try and investigate and found the following online commentary, which appears rather well-informed and balanced : Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science

the following passage appears to show how anti-rationalism driven by a fundamentalist adherence to religion gradually eroded the standing of science until it plays virtually no part in present-day muslim countries (apart from its more practical implementations)

Quote:
Just as there is no simple explanation for the success of Arabic science, there is no simple explanation for its gradual — not sudden, as al-Afghani claims — demise. The most significant factor was physical and geopolitical. As early as the tenth or eleventh century, the Abbasid empire began to factionalize and fragment due to increased provincial autonomy and frequent uprisings. By 1258, the little that was left of the Abbasid state was swept away by the Mongol invasion. And in Spain, Christians reconquered Córdoba in 1236 and Seville in 1248. But the Islamic turn away from scholarship actually preceded the civilization’s geopolitical decline — it can be traced back to the rise of the anti-philosophical Ash’arism school among Sunni Muslims, who comprise the vast majority of the Muslim world.

To understand this anti-rationalist movement, we once again turn our gaze back to the time of the Abbasid caliph al-Mamun. Al-Mamun picked up the pro-science torch lit by the second caliph, al-Mansur, and ran with it. He responded to a crisis of legitimacy by attempting to undermine traditionalist religious scholars while actively sponsoring a doctrine called Mu’tazilism that was deeply influenced by Greek rationalism, particularly Aristotelianism. To this end, he imposed an inquisition, under which those who refused to profess their allegiance to Mu’tazilism were punished by flogging, imprisonment, or beheading. But the caliphs who followed al-Mamun upheld the doctrine with less fervor, and within a few decades, adherence to it became a punishable offense. The backlash against Mu’tazilism was tremendously successful: by 885, a half century after al-Mamun’s death, it even became a crime to copy books of philosophy. The beginning of the de-Hellenization of Arabic high culture was underway. By the twelfth or thirteenth century, the influence of Mu’tazilism was nearly completely marginalized.

In its place arose the anti-rationalist Ash’ari school whose increasing dominance is linked to the decline of Arabic science. With the rise of the Ash’arites, the ethos in the Islamic world was increasingly opposed to original scholarship and any scientific inquiry that did not directly aid in religious regulation of private and public life. While the Mu’tazilites had contended that the Koran was created and so God’s purpose for man must be interpreted through reason, the Ash’arites believed the Koran to be coeval with God — and therefore unchallengeable. At the heart of Ash’ari metaphysics is the idea of occasionalism, a doctrine that denies natural causality. Put simply, it suggests natural necessity cannot exist because God’s will is completely free. Ash’arites believed that God is the only cause, so that the world is a series of discrete physical events each willed by God.


any thoughts on whether this an acceptable and historically correct point of view, and whether the extension to the dangers of creationism is warranted ?

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Ascended
Post  Post subject: Re: the decline of arabic science  |  Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:00 pm
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Don't hold me to this entirely because it's been along time since I read about it, but many of the major advances made by the various Greek states ended up with the Arabs many centuries later, having arrived via the rise of the Roman Empire taking away Greek writings and inventions, and although Rome being an advanced civilisation for it's era it was still not advanced enough to really understand or progress many of the Greek innovations, and them then ending up in the Eastern Empire after the Roman Empire was split, then over the intervening centuries my Arab Scholars had time to study and learn from the wisdom of the Greeks, and then also having access to the knowledge from the library of Alexandria. This gave Arabs a considerable advantage to progress their science, bearing in mind much of Europe spent centuries in the dark ages whilst the Arabs were learning and advancing. At least that is as much as I can remember without having to do some research to check the details.

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15uliane
Post  Post subject: Re: the decline of arabic science  |  Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:32 pm
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I don't think the trend is towards anti-rationalism at all - sure, there are creationists and crazies, but there are hundreds of thousands less than in 1950, and millions less than in 1700. In fact, in the US, 60% of 18-24 year olds and 60% of 24-29 year olds voted for Democrats, rather than for traditionalist conservatives, who tend to lean more towards religious fanaticism and creationism.


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: the decline of arabic science  |  Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:40 am
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why is it then that In the U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins ? clearly voting democrat and believing in creationism are not mutually exclusive

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15uliane
Post  Post subject: Re: the decline of arabic science  |  Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:37 pm
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Wikipedia:
Quote:
A Gallup poll reported that percentage of people in the U.S. who believe in a strict interpretation of creationism had fallen to 40% in 2010 after a high of 46% in 2006. The highest the percentage has risen between 1982 and 2010 was 47% in 1994 and 2000 according to the report.


Gallup:
Quote:
Gallup has been asking this three-part question about the origin of humans since 1982. Perhaps surprisingly to some, the results for the broad sample of adult Americans show very little change over the years.


Democrats are else much less likely to be creationist than republicans:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/108226/repub ... onism.aspx

In addition, the voting statistic that I cited was focused on younger people, who are the future of all countries and best represent which trends will be prevalent in the future.


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Ascended
Post  Post subject: Re: the decline of arabic science  |  Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:56 am
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But the if the original Arab knowledge was not their own and just borrowed weren't they bound to come to a point where they couldn't keep up with West?

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15uliane
Post  Post subject: Re: the decline of arabic science  |  Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:29 pm
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Quote:
But the if the original Arab knowledge was not their own and just borrowed...


Where did you get that idea?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_in ... amic_world

Sure they transcribed a few Classical texts but for the most part they were original or they built off previous discoveries like people have been doing since the dawn of time.


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Ascended
Post  Post subject: Re: the decline of arabic science  |  Posted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:11 pm
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15uliane wrote:
Quote:
But the if the original Arab knowledge was not their own and just borrowed...


Where did you get that idea?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_in ... amic_world

Sure they transcribed a few Classical texts but for the most part they were original or they built off previous discoveries like people have been doing since the dawn of time.


Well you'll have to excuse me if that's not entirely accurate it has a long time since I had to read anything about the arabs technological development.

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