The origin of a change

7 de abril de 2014 | Por | Categoría: Café de sastre

Por Carlos Usón.

In the Xth century, The Big Massoudy, a Muslim geographer, wrote: European people have a dull mind and a heavy way of talking. The more to the North that  they live, the more stupid and ruder they are.

 Six centuries later, those Europeans went ahead in Mathematics and mechanical innovations. They were developing the first stage of scientific and technological creation, which became their most important weapon for their imperialistic expansion. How did those bumpkins achieve such success?

An important part of the answer to this question was in Spain, and in three main characters: Aristotle, Averroes and Saint Thomas Aquinas. The idea was born out from the Jewish and Muslim idea: It’s possible to reach God through reason. When we hear about the Middle Ages period, we automatically think about a very dark moment for culture. But it wasn’t like that in Spain (Al Andalus and Sefarad).

cuAristotle’s works were unknown in the Western world during the Middle Ages). Avempace (born in Zaragoza, Saraqusta, around 1085) made the Western first comments about Aristotle’s thoughts. Meanwhile, in Orient, Al-Gazzali (1058-1111) was writing “The destruction of Philosophers”. This work put an end to Aristotle’s influence and imposed the conclusion: Only it’s possible to reach God through faith and prayer.

Ibn-Arabi (born in Murcia in 1165), in al-Andalus, tried later to be the Western reply to Al-Gazzali. He would have succeeded if Averroes (born in Cordoba in 1126) hadn’t written “Destruction of destruction”, rejecting Al-Gazzali and Ibn-Arabi’s opinions and adopting Jewish-Muslim ideas about faith.

Miguel Escoto, who worked in Toledo School of Translators, and Aragonian Jews translated Aristotle and Averroes’s works, burning down European philosophical thought. Although the Catholic Church, clung to Neoplatonism, forbade some Aristotle and Averroes’s opinions, theirs ideas spread in the Universities of Toulouse and Paris.

Students’ enthusiasm went up despite Alberto Magno, who suggested translating all Aristotle and Averroes’s works in 1245, and Thomas Aquinas, who was his pupil, had written against Averroes. Pope Gregorio IXth decided to absolve a numberless amount of excommunicated students for reading Aristotle’s books. Averroes’s theses were having more and more supporters and the different popes tried in vain to fight against them with bans.

Some Aquinas’s propositions were qualified as heretical and Thomas Aquinas had to escape to Naples and use Aristotle’s propositions to prove God’s existence. In 1567, Pope Pio Vth nominated him doctor of Catholic Church and Pope León XIIIth declared him worldwide patron of all Catholic Church in 1879.

The way to research was opened. However, Aquinas and Aristotle would become its most important impediment and the next obstacle to get over. The travel to real separation between science and faith has been marked by a lot of dead and hounded scientists. Nicolas Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Miguel Servet, Giulo Vannini, Galileo, … were only the most famous.

Carlos Usón Villalba (2nd of Intermediate level)

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