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In this last point, the third of the great monotheistic religions, Mohammedanism, is more favourable to Materialism. This, the youngest of them, was also the first to develop, in connection with the brilliant outburst of Arabian civilisation, a free philosophical spirit, which exercised a powerful influence primarily upon the Jews of the middle ages, and so indirectly upon the Christians of the West.
Even before the communication of Greek philosophy to the Arabians, Islam had produced numerous sects and theological schools, some of which entertained so abstract a notion of God that no philosophical speculation could proceed further in this direction, whilst others believed nothing but what could be understood and demonstrated; others, again, combined fanaticism and incredulity into fantastic systems. In the high school at Basra there arose, under the protection of the Abbassides, a school of rationalists which sought to reconcile reason and faith.15
By the side of this rich stream of purely Islamitic theology and philosophy, which has not unjustly been compared with the Christian Scholasticism, the Peripatetics of whom we usually think when the Arabian medieval philosophy is mentioned, form but a relatively unimportant branch, with little internal variety; and Averroes, whose name was, next to that of Aristotle, the most frequently mentioned in the West, is by no means a star of the first magnitude in the heavens of the Mohammedan philosophy. sition to the transcendental theism and Dante describes as lying in fiery pits ascetic gmatism. While the Epiku- (comp. Renan, Averroès, pp. 123 and rean school (see above, p. 125), among 227). A similar vulgarisation has, of all the ancient philosophical schools, course, befallen also the name of the preserved the most distinctive stamp"Stoics.' and the most self-contained system 15 Renan, Arerroès, p. 76 ff., shows of doctrines, the Talmud already how the most abstract shape of the describes Sadducees and Freethinkers idea of God was essentially promoted generally as Epikureans. In the by the opposition waged against the twelfth century there appears in Christian doctrines of the Trinity and Florence a sect of · Epikureans,' the incarnation of the Deity. Tho which can scarcely be considered so mediatising school of the 'Motazein the strict Scholastic sense, any lites' is compared by Renan with the more than the Epikureans wh school of Schleiermacher. VOL. I.
His true importance lies much rather in the fact that it was he who gathered together the results of the ArabicoAristotelian philosophy as the last of its great representatives, and delivered them to the West in a wide range of literary activity, and especially by his commentaries on Aristotle. This philosophy was developed, like the Christian Scholasticism, from a Neo-Platonically coloured interpretation of Aristotle; only that while the Scholastics of the first period possessed a very slender stock of Peripatetic traditions, and those thoroughly intermingled and controlled by the Christian theology, the springs flowed to the Arabians through the channel of the Syrian schools in much greater abundance, and thought was with them developed with greater freedom from the influence of theology, which pursued its own paths of speculation. So it resulted that the naturalistic side of the Aristotelian system (cf. above, p. 85) could develop itself amongst the Arabians in a manner which remained quite foreign to the earlier Scholasticism, and which later made the Christian Church regard Averroism as a source of the most arrant heresies. There are three points in particular here to be regarded: the eternity of the world and of matter in its opposition to the Christian doctrine of creation; the relation of God to the world, according to which he influences either only the outermost sphere of the fixed stars, and all earthly things are only indirectly governed by God through the power of the stars, or God and the world run into each other in pantheistic fashion ; 16 finally, the doctrine of the unity of the reason, which is the only immortal part of man--a doctrine which denies individual immortality, since the reason is only the one divine light which shines in upon the soul of man, and makes knowledge possible.17
16 To the first of these views Avi- soon as we place ourselves at the cenna gave his adhesion, while the standpoint of eternity, the distinction second, according to an opinion start- between potentiality and actuality ed by Averroes, is supposed to have disappears, since in the course of eterbeen his real view. Averroes himself nity all potentialities become actualimakes all change and movement in ties. But thus disappears also from the world, and especially the becoming the highest standpoint of observation and perishing of organisms, poten- the opposition, too, of God and the tially inherent in matter, and God world. Cf. Renan, Averroès, pp. 73 has nothing to do but to turn this and 82 foll. poteutiality into actuality. But as
It is intelligible enough that such doctrines must have exercised a mischievous interference in the world under the sway of Christian dogma, and that in this way, as well as through its naturalistic elements, Averroism prepared the way for the new Materialism. For all that, the two tendencies are fundamentally different, and Averroism became a chief pillar of that Scholasticism which, by the unconditional reverence for Aristotle, and by the strengthening of those principles which we shall examine more closely in the following chapter, rendered so long impossible a Materialistic consideration of things.
But besides its philosophy, we have to thank the Arabian civilisation of the middle ages for still another element, which stands perhaps in yet closer relation to the history of Materialism; that is, its achievements in the sphere of positive inquiry, of mathematics and the natural sciences, in the broadest sense of the term. The brilliant services of the Arabians in the field of astronomy and of mathematics are sufficiently known.18 And it was these studies particularly which, connecting themselves with Greek traditions, again made room for the idea of the regularity and subjection to law of the course of nature. This happened at a time when the degeneracy of belief in the Christian world had brought more disorder into the moral and logical order of things than had been the case at any period of Græco-Roman heathenism; at a time when everything was regarded as possible and nothing as necessary, and an unlimited field was allowed for the discretion of beings, which were ever endowed by the imagination with fresh properties.
17 This view, which rests upon the cf. 582. Draper, Intellectual DeveAristotelian theory of the volls Troum- lopment of Europe (ed. 1875), ii. 36 TLKÓS (De Anima, iii. 5), has been de- foll. The author, who is best quali. signated “Monopsychism,” that is, fied to speak in the matter of natural the doctrine that the immortal soul science (cf. above, note 4), complains (in distinction from the perishable (p. 42) of “the systematic manner in animal soul) in all beings that partake which the literature of Europe has of a soul is one and the same.
contrived to put out of sight our 18 Comp. Humboldt’s Kosmos, ii. scientific obligations to the Moham258 foll. E. T.; Bohn's ed., ii. 592, medans."
The mingling of astronomy with the fantasies of astrology was, for this very reason, not so disadvantageous as might be supposed. Astrology, as well as the essentially related alchemy, possessed in every respect the regular form of sciences,19 and were, in the purer shape in which they were practised by the Arabian and the Christian savants of the middle ages, far removed from the measureless charlatanry which made its appearance in the sixteenth and especially in the seventeenth century, and after austerer science had rejected these fanciful elements. Apart from the fact that the impulse to inquiry into important and unfathomable secrets through that early connection caine to the aid of the scientific discoveries in astronomy and chemistry, in those deep mysterious studies themselves was implied, as a necessary presupposition, the belief in a regular progress of events following eternal laws. And this belief has formed one of the most powerful springs in the whole development of culture from the middle ages to modern times.
19 Comp. Liebig, Chemische Briefe, experiment is indeed still active 3 and 4 Br. The remark, “ Alchemy enough in our modern chemistry, and was never anything more than che- the authority of general theories, if mistry,” goes, of course, a little too not in our own days, at all events in far. As to the caution against con- a period not very far behind us, was founding it with the gold-making art very great. Yet the real principle of of the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- modern chemistry is the empirical; turies, it must not escape us that this that of alchemy, despite its empirical is only alchemy run wild, just as the results, was the Aristotelo-scholastic. nativity delusion of the same period The scientific form of alchemy as well is astrology run wild. The most im- as of astrology rests upon the conportant contrast between the spirit of sistent carrying out of certain axioms modern chemistry and of medieval as to the nature of all bodies and alchemy may be most clearly shown their mutual relations-axioms simple in the relation between theory and in themselves, but capable of the experiment. With the alchemists utmost varieties in their combinathe theory in all its main features tions.
As to the furtherance stood unshakably firm ; it was ranked of the scientific spirit by means of above experiment; and if this gave astrology in its purer forms, compare, an unexpected result, this was forced further, Lecky, Hist. of Rationalism into an artificial conformity with the in Europe, i. 302 foll. ; where also, in theory, which was of aprioristic origin. note 2 to p. 303, several instances It was therefore essentially directed are given of the bold ideas of astroto the production of this previously logical freethinkers.
Comanticipated result rather than to pare also Humboldt's Kosmos, ii, 256 free investigation. This tendency of foll.
We must here also have special regard to medicine, which in our days has become in a certain measure the theology of Materialists. This science was treated by the Arabs with especial zeal.20 Here too, whilst attaching themselves chiefly to Greek traditions, they nevertheless set to work with an independent feeling for exact observation, and developed especially the doctrine of life, which stands in so close a connection with the problems of Materialism. In the case of man, as well as in those of the animal and vegetable worlds, everywhere, in short, in organic nature, the fine sense of the Arabians traced not only the particularities of the given object, but its development, its generation, and decay—just those departments, therefore, in which the mystic theory of life finds its foundation.
Every one has heard of the early rise of schools of medicine on the soil of Lower Italy, where Saracens and the more cultivated Christian races came into such close contact. As early as the tenth century, the monk Constantire taught in the monastery of Monte Cassino, the man whom his contemporaries named the second Hippokrates, and who, after wandering through all the East, dedicated his leisure to the translation from the Arabic of medical works. At Monte Cassino, and later at Salerno and Naples, arose those famous schools of medicine, to which the seekers for knowledge streamed from the whole Western world. 21
Draper, Intell. Develp. of Eu- cales (Paris, 1870). Yet their great rope, i. 384 foll. Less favourable activity in this department is shown judgments of Arabian medicine will clearly enough even in these acbe found in Häser, Gesch. d. Med. counts. (2 Aufl., Jena, 1853), 173 foll., and in 21 Comp. Wachler, Handb. der Daremberg, Hist. des Sciences Médi. Gesch. d. Liter., ii. S. 87. Meiners,