Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/761

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739
SCHOLASTIC PRELUDE TO MODERN SCIENCE.

retired from the field. Three thousand disciples carried Abélard's fame and doctrine into every country of Europe. But the rage for definition and dialectics led Abélard into the heresies of Berengar and Roscelin, and he was silenced and consigned to the cloister.

These controversies had fairly roused the spirit of metaphysics, and several champions appeared on either side: when an unexpected discovery added tenfold fuel to the flame.

Athens had been for centuries the university of the Roman world. The narrow policy of Justinian closed her schools, and the teachers were scattered throughout the world. A learned colony had settled at Edessa on the borders of Syria and Mesopotamia, and founded a flourishing school of Greek science and philosophy. In process of time Edessa fell before the conquering Moslem. The dynasty of the Abassides came from Khorassan, where learning had long been held in honor. Almanzor, and his successor Haroun-al-Raschid, founded schools at Bagdad, and diligently sought out the monuments of Greek learning, and caused them to be translated into Arabic; and its literature was enriched by translations of the Greek works on mathematics, astronomy, mechanics, Euclid, Ptolemy, Hippocrates, Galen, Dioscorides, and especially Aristotle and the neo-Platonists.

Africa and Spain rejected the Abasside dynasty, but equally cultivated the arts and sciences. Colleges and schools were founded in every city of Spain. Magnificent libraries contained translations of all the Greek masterpieces. Thus for three centuries, while Europe was plunged into the lowest depth of barbarism, the arts and the sciences flourished in the Mohammedan world from Khorassan to the Ebro. Then arose a great series of Moslem doctors and philosophers, Alkendi, Alfarabi, Gazali, and especially Ibn-Sina, Ibn-Badja, Ibn-Thofail, and Ibn-Roshd, known to the infidels respectively as Avicenna, Avempace, Abubazer, and Averroes. These men annotated and commented upon the entire works of Aristotle.

The same spirit of inquiry agitated the Jewish world. In the eighth century the Karaites broke away from the Talmud, and asserted the right of reason to judge faith. To combat the growing heresy, the school of Sora was founded near Bagdad, and they were equally obliged to cultivate dialectics. Saadia (892-943) made a strong effort to reconcile reason and revelation.

The Jews in Spain were equally active, and the philosophy of Ibn-Gebirol (Avicebron), rejected by his own nation, convulsed the Christian schools. In the twelfth century an orthodox reaction began. Juda Hallevi denied the power of reason to judge religious mysteries. Jewish philosophy reached its highest point in Moses Maimonides.

Thus, by a curious coincidence the Jewish, the Christian, and the Mohammedan worlds were simultaneously immersed in dialectics, and agitated and convulsed by the perennial conflict between reason and faith.