By Richard E. Rubenstein
Richard Rubenstein recounts with strength and energy this exceptional tale of the highbrow ferment that planted the seeds of the clinical age in Europe and displays our personal struggles with religion and reason.
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Additional info for Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages
What evoked joy and wonder in the old man was the conviction that behind the façade of deceptive sense impressions and turbulent emotions was a realm of pure thought that gave mundane experience whatever intelligibility and value it had. That is why he saw art as a window to eternity, and why he pictured God as an artisan. What most pleased and excited Aristotle, on the other hand, was his conviction that the "real world" perceived by the senses—our only home, however much one might wish for another—contains within itself the sources of intelligibility and value.
It was a senile manifestation of a system that, in its prime, revolutionized European thinking and gave it many of its boldest and most dynamic characteristics. With the further progress of science, the growth of secular power, and the fragmentation of the Church, Aristotle's work lost its standing as the key to universal knowledge. Simultaneously, among European intellectuals, the divorce of faith and reason became final. Driven by a need to liberate their thinking from religious constraints, the apostles of the Enlightenment engineered a separation between subject and object, values and facts, religious beliefs and scientific knowledge, which still commands widespread acceptance.
There were several reasons for this, but one, surely, is the degeneration of scholasticism. Once the source of creative speculation and rollicking, no-holds-barred debate, the universities now combined an arid orthodoxy in matters of doctrine with absurd theological hairsplitting. " ("We're taking due precautions against hunger and thirst while there's still time," he remarked dryly. 7) With the Church on the defensive against Protestant rebellion and the growth of secular power, Aristotle's followers had become knee-jerk conservatives, slavishly defending their master's every conclusion, even in the face of newly discovered evidence to the contrary.
Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages by Richard E. Rubenstein