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Thursday, October 15, 2015
John C. Wright is not being honest
You have no doubt heard that there was a Golden Age of Islam, where Muslim scholars preserved the works of Aristotle and the ancients, invented the zero, or made great strides in astronomy and mathematics. This is all an outrageous lie, the precise opposite of the truth. There were certain Spanish scholars, mostly Jews and Christians, conquered by Muslims, but who preserved the ancient texts despite the Muslim program of destroying them. The Byzantine Empire preserved what we have of ancient learning, and scholars fleeing the downfall of one Byzantine theme, province, or city after another in the relentless onslaught of Mohammed reintroduced them into the West. The Moslems not only were not the preservers of the knowledge of the ancient literature, they were the main force destroying it.
The only way to interpret this paragraph is that the Jews and Christians preserved those texts under cover of darkness, and that they did so the whole time. This is untrue.
We learn from Tannous that very highly-placed Muslims sponsored the Christians in translating philosophical and medical texts. How highly? As in, Muḥammad b. ‘Abd al-Malik the Wazīr of the caliphs - he sponsored Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq (p. 50). Yes, Christians were on their own in copying explicitly Christian texts - including histories. But I think we may allow the Muslims that lapse, given how Christians tended to copy explicitly Muslim texts, to refute them.
I'm sure Wright hadn't read Tannous. Fine; I hadn't either, before last night. But I know Wright'd read about al-Biruni and al-Khwarizmi, and of several other Muslims (however nominal and Mutazilite) who had built on the Syriac / Arabic translation efforts under the 'Abbasids. He might even have read about Firabi's own (admittedly wrongheaded) account about how he had found out about Aristotle (Tannous, p. 341). I know this of Wright because he refers to the overall summary - and because he mentions Islamic thinkers later on, like Firabi's ultimate heir Avicenna. Wright does so just to dismiss it all as a trope which he can deny. Or DISQUALIFY, if you like.
MORE: Vox Day quoted this post and, in the comments, defended it:
There is, in "dialectic", this little thing called the onus probandi, "Burden Of Proof". I find no exception for the case of electronic communications; and in any case, a "blog post" of 1886 words (according to Microsoft Word's count) has the length of a week's work for an undergraduate's history-essay. It is not "damn lazy" of a critic to demand that proof; it is damn lazy - at best - of the original blogger to omit that.
Wright then showed up in the comments, peeved that someone had the temerity to doubt his word, and provided some evidence. Which undercut his all-or-nothing statements made earlier. Which - more so - implied an admission that his white-knight Vox Day was in the wrong to dismiss onus probandi in his special case. So much LOL.
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