Aristotle’s Children : How Christians, Muslims, And Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom And Illuminated The Dark Ages by Richard Rubenstein and Rubenstein
View book: Aristotle’s Children : How Christians, Muslims, And Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom And Illuminated The Dark Ages
During the Dark Ages, Europe was in a deep slumber. The once mighty Roman Empire lay in ruins, and the Greek language had faded into obscurity. However, a remarkable event occurred when a diverse group of Arab, Jewish, and Christian scholars rediscovered and translated the writings of Aristotle. The impact of this intellectual revival was nothing short of extraordinary.
Aristotle’s ideas quickly spread like wildfire across Europe, challenging the existing beliefs and offering a scientific perspective. He argued that the natural world, including the human soul, was a legitimate subject of study. This paradigm shift caused a tremendous upheaval within the Catholic Church and triggered riots at prestigious academic institutions like the universities of Paris and Oxford.
Richard Rubenstein brilliantly captures the essence of this thrilling story, depicting the fervor and vitality that characterized this intellectual ferment. The rediscovery of Aristotle’s works planted the seeds of the scientific age in Europe, paving the way for remarkable achievements and advancements. Rubenstein’s account not only narrates a historical event but also draws parallels to our own ongoing struggles with the conflict between faith and reason.
Aristotle’s Children by Richard Rubenstein – Book Review
Hey, what’s going on everybody? Just in here on Crumpled Reeds, and in this article, we’re going to be reviewing a philosophy book. Lately, I’ve been trying to incorporate more philosophy into my reading, aiming for about one book per month. Admittedly, I haven’t been very successful, as this is only my third or fourth book this year. Nevertheless, I decided to give this book a try because I studied philosophy in college and wanted to revisit that subject.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing “Aristotle’s Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages” by Richard Rubinstein. The book explores how all three faiths utilized Aristotle’s teachings during the Middle Ages. But before we delve into that, let’s start with my favorite part of the book: the biography of Aristotle. The author brilliantly depicts Aristotle’s life, drawing evidence from various sources. It provided the most comprehensive account of Aristotle’s life and writings that I have come across, making it truly remarkable.
The book also covers interesting events in the early Middle Ages, particularly in Spain, which served as a melting pot of cultures. This included the convergence of Moors, Christians, and Jews, who collaborated in translating Greek texts, many of which were works of Aristotle. Witnessing how these three faiths worked together on translations and commentaries in various languages was fascinating.
As I progressed further into the book, it increasingly focused on Western European medieval philosophy and religious thought, predominantly influenced by Christianity. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the limited coverage of how Islamic and Jewish scholars interpreted Aristotle’s teachings. In each chapter, there were brief mentions, but no dedicated focus. I was particularly interested in learning more about figures like Avicenna and Maimonides, but their mentions were too brief to satisfy my curiosity.
Instead, the book mainly explored medieval European figures, such as Peter Abelard, who, interestingly, exchanged letters with Héloïse, a nun, which was frowned upon at the time. While it was enlightening to learn about lesser-known historical figures, I was expecting a more comprehensive exploration of how various cultures interpreted and applied Aristotle’s philosophy over time.
Throughout the book, there were glimpses into the infighting among universities and the clergy over doctrinal matters. While this provided an understanding of the intellectual climate, it sometimes overshadowed Aristotle’s philosophy, making it feel like a secondary topic. I had hoped for a deeper exploration of how different cultures shaped their understanding of Aristotle’s ideas.
That being said, I did learn a lot from the book. It offered insights into university dynamics, such as students organizing themselves to demand a more robust education. This was a refreshing perspective, highlighting the students’ desire for knowledge. Overall, I would give “Aristotle’s Children” three and a half stars. It provided an exceptional introduction to Aristotle, but I wished the focus would have remained on him throughout the book.
If you have any recommendations for books on Islamic or Jewish philosophy of the Middle Ages, please leave a comment below. I’m eager to explore these topics further. And remember, regardless of what you choose to read, always pursue knowledge victoriously.