Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/749

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ARABIAN


G7o


ARABIAN


about A. D. 750 of the Abassides, an enlightened line of Caliphs WHO encouraged learning, and patronized the representatives, chielly Syrian and IVrsiaii, of foreign culture. The introduction of foreign ideas resulted first in a twofold movement among the followers of Mohammed. There was on the one hand a movement in the direction of heterodo.xy, a kind of rationalistic questioning of the authority of the Koran, which led to the rejection of the current anthropomorphism and fatalism. The representatives of this move- ment were called ".Motazilites" or " Di.ssiilents ". They were the first heretics of Islam. Opposed to this movement was the orthodox current, tending to emphasize more and more the autliorily of the Koran, while, at the -same time, it attempted to do this by the aid of Greel^ philosophy and science. The repre- sentatives of thi.s movement were called the ".Mota- oalliinin ", or "profas.sors of the word". They were rationalists, it is true, in so far as they fell back on Cireek philosophy for their metaphysical and physical explanations of phenomena; still, it was their aim to keep within the limits of orthodox belief. In this they bore a close resemblance to the first Schoolmen of Christian Euro|x;. In reaction again.st both the "Motazilites"and ".Motacallimin" arose the "Sufis ", or "Mystics", who flourished chiefly in the Persian portion of the Arabian Empire. They represented the most extreme phase of protest against all phil- osophical inquiry; they condenmed the use of Greek philosophy even within the limits of orthodoxy, and taught that whatever truth there is can be attained by reverent reading of the Koran and meditation on the words of the sacred text. They placed con- templation above observation and inquirj', and set more value on ecstatic meditation than on the -study of I'lato and .\ristotle. From the conflict of these divergent forces there arose, about the ninth century, the tendency of tliought represented by the philoso- phers of Islam. These philo.sophers had more in common with the Dissidents and the Theologians than with the Mystics; they made ample use of Greek philo.'iophy, and in their free inquiry into the secrets of nature, in which they soon outstripped the Greeks themselves, they paid little attention to the authority of the Koran. For this reason they fell into disrepute with the rulers both in North Africa and Spain, as well as in the East, and instances of persecution, exile, and death inflicted by the Caliphs on the philosophers of Islam were of fre- quent occurrence from the ninth century to the tnirtcenth.

Taking its origin from the neo-Platonic schools of SjTia and Persia, the philosophy of the Arabians was at first Platonic in spirit and tendency. The Ara- bians translated the " Timicus ", the " Republic ", and the "Laws", and when, attracted by the medical treatises of Galen, they were led to the study of Aristotle, they translated not only the genuine writ- ings of the Stagirite, but also the so-called "Theolo- gia Aristotelis" which wiis merely a compilation from the "Enneads" of Plotinus, and the famous "Liber de Causis" which was a compilation from the "Elements of Theology" of Proclus. Thus, from the beginning, they imparted to Aristotclean teaching a neo-Platonic meaning, and even those among them who came to be recognized as the most faithful exponents of Aristoteleanism were not en- tirely free from the influence of tlic nco-Platonists. Plotinus 's view of reality, as a kind of pvramid «nth God at the apex and material things at the Iwise, and Proclus's view of hypostatized imiversals as con.stitut- ing a hierarchy of "Causes ", mediating between God and matter, came to l)e the recognize<l views in the philosophical schools of Eastern and Western Islam.

Among the mo,st famous of the Arabian philoso- phers of the East were Alkendi or Alkindi (d. about the year syo), .\lfarabi (d. about 950), Avicenna, or I.— 43


Ibn Sina (980-1037), the astronomer Alhazeo (eleventh century), and Algazel, or Gazali (1059- 1111). In the West, that is in Northern Africa and in Moorish Spain, the most celebrated philosophc/s were Avempace, or Ibn Badslia (d. 1138), Abubacer, or Abn Uekr, also called Ibn Tofail (1100-85), and Averrocs, or Ibn Roshd (irj()-9S). Of these Avem- pace, A\icenna, and Averroes were Ijest known to the Scholastics. Avicebrol, whom the Schoolmen regarded as an Arabian, was in reality a Jewish pliilosophcr and iM)ctic writer named SaUnnon ben Gabirol. The philosopliy of the Arabians is not dis- tinguished by its originality; in point of fact, it is merely an interpretation of Greek nliilosophy and, even xs an interpretation, adds little to the inter- pretations already given by Plotinus, Proclus, Sim- Klicius, and the Syrian neo-Platonists. It is Ara- ian only in the sense that it was written in Arabic — the greatest of its representatives, Avicenna and Averroes, were not natives of the Arabian peninsula at all. In one respect only did the Arabians develop tjreek philosophy, namely, in its relation to medicine, and it wsis in this regard that they exerted the most far-reaching influence in Euro|>e.

Like the neo-Platonists from whom they borrowed their interpretation of Aristotle, the Arabians were pantheists or semi-pantheists. Aristotle taught that matter is the eternal substratum of movement; in eternity, taught the Araliian commentators, there is no distinction l)etween the actual and the possible, between the substratum, or subject, of movement and the Mover. Therefore, whenever the Arabians liad the courage of their convictions they taught more or less openly that God, the First Mover, is really the subject of movement, that He and the Universe are suletantially identical. The various teachers, however, compromise more or less success- fully between philosophical pantheism and the mono- theism of the Koran. With regard to the govern- ment of the universe, the Arabians taught that Divine Providence is concerned only with the uni- versal, not with the particular. The world, says Averrocs, is a city which is governed from the centre by a ruler whose immediate authority extends only to his own palace, but who, through his sulxjrdi- nates, rules each and everj' district of the city subject to his sway. This doctrine implie<l the mediation of numlierless beings from the Highest InteUigence down to the lowest material creature. From God, Who is indeed the Author, though He cannot be called the Creator, of the I'niversc, there emanates in the first place, the First IntelliKcnce (akin to the \6iyos of Pliilo), then the Second Intelligence, and so on, down to the lowest of all the cosmic intelligences, the intelligence which animates and directs the sphere of the moon. Each of these intelligences is incorporated in, or inhabits, a heavenly sphere^ hence the close deix-ndcnce of nledie^•al astrologj' on the Arabians, and on their immediate disciples in astronomy, as, for instance, Roger Bacon (q. v.). The lowest intelligence, to which reference has just been made (the intelligence which rules the sphere of the moon), plaj-s an important part in the i)sy- cliology of the Arabians. In treating of intellectual knowledge .\ristotle (.sec Ahistotle .\xn the .-Vnis- TOTELE.tN School) taught that in the acquisition of ideas a twofold mental principle is involved, the one active and the other ptussive. The text of .Vris- totle lieing obscure at this point (Ue Anima, Book III), the c.ommenfators were at a loss to know what the Stagirite meant by the "active intellect". The .\rabians here, as efsewhere, took up the tradi- tion of the neo-Platonists. The latter liad taught that the "active intellect" is something physically distinct from the indiviilual soul; an intelligence, namely, that is. .somehow, common to all men. The Arabians adopted this monopsychisiu and made it