Friday, September 03, 2010

A simple thought

For those who think that the Muslim world has nothing to do with the West or that the only relationship between Islam and the West is one of antagonism, of Crusades and Jihad, I have to repeat a thought oft-emphasized by Alasdair MacIntyre—no liberal or friend of relativism and a strong believer in the community and tradition—in classes with him oh so many years ago that without Islam and its efforts, there is no Aquinas (his synthesis of Aristotle and Christianity relied on the Islamic preservation of Aristotle), there is no university (centers of learning that granted doctorates/universal authority to teach are there in the Islamic world in Cairo and Fez and Baghdad before Paris or Bologna or Oxford), there is no intellectual tradition in the West that goes much beyond Plato. And without this tradition, there isn't a Western civilization, including that part that reacted to scholasticism and gave us the Enlightenment.
The Clash of Civilizations, pace Samuel Huntington, can only be conceptualized by those who think of civilizations and cultures in exactly the same simplistic way that leads those of shallow thought to relativism.

No comments: