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The Islamic Foundation of the Renaissance

Copyright: Hugh Bibbs, B.A., 1999


All rights reserved
First Edition
1999

Foreword

The scholasticism of medieval Catholic Europe, focussed


entirely as it was upon ancient authority, was unable to inform
scientific inquiry until the revolutionary libraries of Islam were
made available to the Catholic world.
All western advances in civil engineering, mathematics,
chemistry, medicine and astronomy were founded upon the
medieval sciences of Islam, which were themselves built upon
the classical traditions lost to the west during the Germanic
destruction of the Roman Empire.
This text details the massive contribution of medieval Islamic
learning upon the history of western science, and upon the
Renaissance itself.

Prelude to the Early Renaissance


In early medieval Europe, all education, other than the passing along of iron-age trade skills, was controlled entirely by the
Roman Catholic Church for the express purpose of assisting the clergy in establishing the superiority of the universal
Christian religion promoted from Rome.
What is now called the scientific method was then being followed to some extent by artisans and craftsmen. By trial and error
they gained some knowledge of how things behave, but medieval Germanic Europe never achieved on its own the
sophistication of classical Mediterranean science.
The Church s singularly most useful skill, offered only to clergymen, was literacy, but it was only used towards two ends.
Firstly, to promote scholarship in service of the world view of the Catholic hierarchy, which was a world view of narrow scope.
Secondly, to fix the status quo which was enforced by a King, by recording in writing all royal charters, land grants, criminal
codes (such as the Salic law of Francia) and taxes collected from vassals. But, this record keeping on the King s behalf was of
secondary interest to the universal Church.
The Church s focus on scholarship was intended to assist the promotion of the Christian faith, not to increase knowledge as
such. So, the scholarship of medieval Europe prior to the eleventh century consisted of a study of religion, and the natural
sciences were confined to a search for the moral qualities in man and nature. Morality was a continuous theme in the
scholastic tradition inherited from the early Roman Christianity of Empire.
As the engine driving all serious study in Europe, the Roman Catholic version of natural philosophy had not been significantly
derailed at any time between its formative years during the reign of Constantine, just prior to the Council of Nicaea in A.D.
325, and the end of the first millenium six hundred years later. Between the years A.D. 1050 and 1250, however, a great
change took place, after which all serious scholarship had irreversibly adopted a new emphasis upon empirical evidence. The
goals of knowledge became more materialistic and less esoteric. Interestingly, during the same period, Europe had come into
full contact with the people of Islam. It may be possible that the impact of Arabic knowledge can be credited with having
brought about such a change in European thought.

Islamic Contact with Europe


The introduction of Arabic texts into the studies of the West divides the history of science and philosophy in the middle ages
into two distinct periods. Before the advent of Islamic learning, the Western mind had to be satisfied with fragments of the
Roman schools which had been heaped together by Marianus Capella, Bede, Isidore, and a few technical treatises. In the
scheme of Medieval education, there were seven kinds of study, or seven faculties of scholarship. These were grammar,
rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.
Four of these, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music, were considered mathematical. As seen in the textbooks of
Boethius and Bede, the arithmetic was elementary.
Gerbert of Aurillac acquired fame for going somewhat beyond these masters. However, Gerbert was a student of Arab
learning.
The Muslim expansion into Spain in A.D.1085 brought with it a new world view and new learning previously unknown in
Europe, such as the technology of papermaking. The scholars of Islam in Spain also brought with them a vast body of
empirical studies in natural science developed by generations of men from traditions ancient and contemporary who all spoke
from outside of the narrow world view of the Catholic Church articulated by St. Augustine of Hippo.
Included in the Arabic libraries were a fully developed mathematics of physics and astronomy, and the ancient Greek medical
texts of Hippocrates and Galen, as well as the entire body of Aristotle's writings. The Arabs massive written record of nonChristian discussion included new ideas supported by incontrovertible proofs of evidence or logic, and some of these valid
new ideas contradicted outright their corollary forms as taught by the Roman Catholic Church.
The recovery of this ancient learning, supplemented by what the Arabs had gained from the Orient and from their own
observations, constituted the intellectual rebirth of Europe. The Theocentric world view of Europe was further
shaken throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as the Europeans who went east to fight in the crusades discovered for
themselves that their infidels had a higher civilisation. The Muslims had hospitals, sewers, irrigation, and for battle, heavy
artillery in the form of great iron cross bows. In debate, the Muslims were more sensible, with their background in Aristotle.
For Europeans, it was the worst form of culture shock: the discovery of their own backwardness.
Disease also served to weaken the faith that Christians had the higher power on their side. The armies of the Pope s
crusaders were decimated, more by diseases than by Saracen warriors. Taking into account the epidemics of bubonic plague
which were also sweeping Europe, the terror of disease reduced the credibility of the Church by introducing pessimism and
scepticism of miracles and religion.
As ancient trade networks reopened along the seaways of the Mediterranean because of the bustle of activity under way for
the crusades, a coinciding rise of commercial enterprises encouraged a revival of the cash economy, and cities which had been
abandoned for centuries were reopened as centres of trade and shipping.
Ecclesiastic authority shifted from the Abbots of monastic estates who had limited fixed wealth in the land, to the bishops of
those towns which controlled ever-increasing cash flow. The feudal soldier-nobility similarly lost power to the new banking
and merchant families of the cities. Centres of learning opened up in those cities, as in Naples where Saint Thomas of
Aquinas went to study. It was at Naples that Aristotle's philosophy was first taught by the Church.
As St. Thomas rewrote Christian philosophy in the light of Aristotelian philosophy, the age of Catholic reliance upon
Augustinian thought drew to a close. Building upon Plato, Augustine had said that through meditation we gain knowledge of
unchanging truth; that divine illumination enables lasting, knowing statements to be made. Aquinas wrote that knowledge
depends on sense perception, since senses are the primary source of knowledge.
Augustine taught of an agent intellect which acts universally, giving our minds the abstractions of universal truth so that we
may understand the truth. Aquinas said it is our own intellect which has the power of abstraction. We don't necessarily
depend on God for knowledge, since human reason is autonomous.
Augustine had it that conscience was the voice of God within, upon which we are directly dependant. Aquinas saw conscience
as a natural law flowing from practical reason. Augustine saw the purpose of the human community as tending towards the
sanctification of all souls. Aquinas saw the purpose of the state as the common good of all. His philosophy clearly reflected
the new reliance upon reason as the guiding light rather than upon tradition. He even used the fact of the Muslims to
demonstrate the shortcomings of traditional Catholic authority:
It is difficult to proceed against each particular error, because some of the gentiles, as Mohammedans and Pagans, do not
agree with us in recognising the authority of any scripture available for their conviction, as we can argue against the Jews
from the Old Testament, and against heretics from the New. But these receive neither; hence it is necessary to have recourse
to natural reason, which all are obliged to assent to.

Science is a word derived from the Latin Scientia ,


meaning knowledge. Today it means a particular kind of knowledge, of the physical world, arrived at through reason and
empirical evidence. The language of Science has been the mathematical model, which has provided a suitably abstract and
well defined framework for theoretical discussion. The value of mathematics as a modelling tool was known to the ancients
of Babylon, who used primitive algebraic geometry and arithmetic to describe the motions of the planets accurately enough
to be able to predict lunar eclipses.
But, all of this Muslim science was only brought into the
ken of Europeans through the efforts of scholars, often Jewish, who translated the Arabic documents. Many of the Jewish
translators did not know Latin, so they turned the Arabic into Hebrew, and then Latin scholars turned the Hebrew into
Latin. While the Muslims were being driven out of Spain, scholars tagged along behind the Spanish armies in search of
texts. For them, Toledo was an intellectual jackpot, being the seat of scholarship in Spain under the Arabs.
The following list of a few of the Greek and Arabic
works which were translated from the Arab manuscripts during the twelfth century will indicate the extent of the scientific
revival that took place at that time:
Euclid s Elements, Optics, Catoptics, and Data Apollonius preface to his Conic Sections Archimedes Measurement of the
Circle Ptolemy s Almagest, Optics, Planisphere, and Quadripartitum
Heron s Pneumatics
Hippocrates Aphorisms
Aristotle s Meteorologica I-IV, Physics, De Caelo, De Generatione et Corruptione,
Posterior Analytics, Parva Naturalia, Metaphysics I-IV, and De Anima
Theodosius Spherics,
Alexander of Aphrodisias De Motu et Tempore Proclus De Motu
Various medical treatises of both Hippocratus and Galen and their respective medical schools,
as well as the extensive Arabic contributions advancing their medical traditions
Al-Kwarismi s trigonometric tables and his Algebra

The Translators
The great translators involved in this work were Adelard of Bath, Plato of Tivoli, Tobert of Chester, Hermann of
Carinthia, with his pupil Rudolf of Bruges, and Gerard of Cremona, while in Spain itself were Dominicus Gondisalvi,
Hugh of Santalla, and a group of Jewish scholars including Petrus Alphonsi, John of Seville, Savasorda, and Abraham ben
Ezra.
Much of the work of translation was carried out at Barcelona, Tarasona, Sagovia, Leon, Pamplona, as well as beyond the
Pyrenees at Toulouse, Beziers, Narbonne, and Marseilles, in the first quarter of the twelfth century.
Later, after 1116, the chief centre became Toledo, due to the patronage of Raymond, the archbishop of Toledo. The
hospitality of the Spanish King, Frederick II (also the Holy Roman Emperor) to Arab learning certainly sped up the flow
of Arab thought into Christendom. Gerbert of Aurillac, born into the tenth century, was one of the first to profit from the
Arab learning. Through Bishop Lupitus of Barcelona, he acquired instruments and books on Arab mathematics and
science, apparently amazing his contemporaries with the skills he learned. Early in the twelfth century the whole of Euclid
s Elements of Geometry was translated, then his Data and Optics and Algebra.The Arabs had also ruled in Sicily from 902
until 1091, and there the Muslim population remained largely intact after the Norman conquest. There, in the middle of
the twelfth century, Edrisi wrote his compendium of Arabic geography, and Eugene of Palermo translated the Optics of
Ptolemy from the Arabic. North Africa was the source of additional books on mathematics. From this foundation, the
mathematician Leonard of Pisa was able to write his Liber Abaci along with solutions of quadratic and cubic equations.
Astronomical texts were mainly copies of Bede and Helperic in Europe. As late as 1119, Philippe de Thaon wrote his
Cumpoz from the latin tradition. The next year, Walcher of Malvern began to figure in degrees, minutes, and seconds, as
he had learned to do from a Spanish Jew, Petrus Alphonsi. In 1126, Adelard of Bath translated the tables of Al-Kwarizme,
then those of Al-Battani, Al-Zarkali, and Al-Fargani. Adelard of Bath was a translator of both Arabian and Greek works.
The range of his interests can be judged from his writings, which include texts on trigonometry, astrology, Platonic
philosophy, falconry, and chemistry. What he acquired from the Arabs was a rationalist s mentality, what we would call
secular thinking. He developed a feel for observation and experiment. In a letter to his nephew, he wrote:
It is hard to discuss with you, for I have learned one thing from the Arabs under the guidance of reason; you follow
another halter, caught by the appearance of authority, for what is authority but a halter? If reason is not to be the
universal judge, it is given to each to no purpose.

Constantine the African, a Benedictine monk of Monte Cassino, was at work in the eleventh century translating important
medical works, which inspired a revival of studies at the first modern medical school in Europe, at Salerno. Advances in
medical science required the medical knowledge of the ancient world, especially Hippocrates and Galen. Constantine the
African translated some of their teaching, his versions constituting most of the twenty six treatises of the medical library of
Hildesheim in 1161. Most of their writings came to the west, however, in the later twelfth century through the Arabic
versions translated by Gerard of Cremona.
In Islamic thought, there were three schools which
dominated. Firstly, there was the Peripatetic school which followed Aristotle. Secondly, was the school which followed
Plato, called the Aprioristic school by Pines. Thirdly was the school of the Mathematicians. Of course, the
mathematicians placed a great emphasis upon the validity of the mathematical description of the world. The other two
schools shared an interest in phenomena and in the description of phenomenon, seeking knowledge of experience rather
than knowledge of causes. The main reason that the Apriorists could become so concerned with phenomenon was that
many of their leading spokesmen, like Al-Rhazi, were physicians whose medical attitude was dependant upon observation.
It must be emphasised that the natural sciences,
medicine, geography, alchemy, mathematics, and other such pursuits were utterly peripheral to the whole mainstream of
Islamic scholarship. Mohamedanism was not hostile to these sciences, and so they developed normally, but they developed
only as a means of further glorifying the whole culture, religion, philosophy, and vision, of Islam. Al-Rhazi s, Ibn-Hayyan
s, Al-Biruni s Al-Haitham s, Al-Khazini s, Ibn-Sina s (Avicenna), Ibn-Rushd s (Averroes), scientific works are largely given
over to philosophical outbursts and religious insights. Their scientific work was valid in their own eyes only because it fit
well with the whole truth, which was their vision of God and His universe.
The science of the Arabs was chiefly Greek in origin, either by being direct translations of Greek works, or through Syrian
or Hebrew copies. However, this body of ancient works was improved upon, developed, by the Arabs under the patronage
of generations of benevolent Caliphs.
Many of our scientific words in the West are derived from the Arab manuscripts. The medical works which were
translated often came with glossaries of botanical terms in Greek and Arabic. Ophthalmology first developed in Egypt,
where such words as Retina and cataract originated. The words algebra, zero, cipher, almanac, zenith, azimuth, alchemy,
alcohol, alkali, elixir, syrup, bazaar, tariff, arsenal, and the Arabic numerals, all come to us from Islam.
As far as the other natural sciences are concerned, the Arabs made their contributions in each field of study. Al-Biruni
was especially perceptive of geological processes as he saw them indicated in natural formations. Referring to having
found sea fossils inland, he wrote:

Medieval Islamic Science


In a similar way, sea has turned into land, and land into sea; which changes, if they happened before the existence of man,
are not known and if they took place later they are not remembered because with the length of time the record of events
breaks off especially if this happens gradually. This only a few can realise.

Islamic learning in the middle ages was so far in advance


of the European traditions that the usage of Islamic knowledge by Europe cannot be seen as other than a wholesale
adoption of an entire foundation of knowledge upon which the Later Renaissance was constructed. In addition to the
scholastic contributions, such as the philosophy of Aristotle, there are four specific areas of scientific specialisation which
merit particular attention, in the form of a specific review; the four most telling fields of Arabic science being medicine,
astronomy, physics and chemistry.

1. Medicine
Medicine is the most celebrated of the Islamic sciences.
They excelled in this field, their observation and knowledge of
anatomy and diseases being far superior to anything known in
the West at that time. Islamic medicine combined the
observational and concrete experimental approach of the
Hippocratic school with the theoretical method of Galen, and
added the theories and experiences of the Persian and Indian
physicians, especially in pharmacology. Islamic medicine
remained for the most part empirical, seeking the causes for
individual phenomena.
The two most influential physicians of Islam were
Avicenna (Ibn-Sina) and Rhazes (Al-Rhazi). The ninth century
Rhazes, who entered the study of medicine late in life, was the
greatest clinical and observational physician of Islam. He
became the director of the main hospital at Baghdad, thus
gaining much practical experience. An illustration from his
own notes demonstrates his grasp of medicine:

Abdullah Ibn-Sawada used to suffer from attacks of mixed fever Only a short time elapsed ere the patient passed
pus in his urine. I thereupon informed him that these feverish attacks would not recur, and so it was.
The only thing which prevented me at first from giving it as my definite opinion that the patient was suffering from
ulceration of the kidneys was that he had previously suffered from other mixed types of fever When he passed the
pus, I administered to him diuretics until the urine became free from pus, after which I treated him with terra
siglata, boswellia thurifera, and Dragon s blood, and his sickness departed from him. That the ulceration was slight
was indicated to me by the fact that he did not complain to me at first of weight in the loins. After he had passed
pus, however, I inquired of him whether he had experienced this symptom, and he replied in the affirmative. Had
the ulceration been extensive, he would of his own accord have complained of this symptom. And that the pus was
evacuated quickly indicated a limited ulceration. The other physicians whom he consulted besides myself, however,
did not understand the case at all, even after the patient had passed pus in his urine.

Rhazes Continens is the most voluminous medical work


ever written in Arabic. It was studied avidly in the western

world from the twelfth to the seventeenth century, when Rhazes


and Avicenna were held in higher esteem than even
Hippocrates and Galen. According to Nasr, the greatest
Muslim surgeon, ever, was the tenth century Al-Zahrawi, who
wrote the Concessio translated by Gerard of Cremona.
The best known physician , however, for being widely
read, was Avicenna. His book, The Canon of Medicine, is the
most widely read of all Islamic medical texts. It was translated
into five volumes of Latin text by Gerard of Cremona. The
German edition of the Canon, written in the thirteenth century,
remained the standard encyclopaedia of the medicine of the
Muslim world until modern times.
Typical of scholastic reverence for written authority,
these texts were interpreted literally and dogmatically rather
than experimentally in clinics. In Islamic territories, teaching in
clinical medicine was done in hospitals. Doctors had theoretical
and practical training, wrote a thesis which had to be accepted
by their masters, and took the Hippocratic oath before they
were given a permit to practise medicine.
The Semitic tradition of excellence in executing surgical
procedures was a very old one, especially in the region which
fell under the political control of Baghdad. The responsibility
was serious, as was the skill involved. The Hammurabic code
of ancient Mesopotamia included a provision that:
If a surgeon has opened an eye-infection with a
bronze instrument and so saved the man s eye, he
shall take ten shekels. If a surgeon has opened
an eye-infection with a bronze instrument and
thereby destroyed the man s eye, they shall cut off
his hand.
Progress was made in Western medical schooling as a
direct result of the Arabic learning. A saner attitude towards
the problem of medicine was inculcated, and the professional
status of a physician was later established. Jewish and Arab
physicians were in great favour wherever they could be had.
So, not only during the middle ages were the Muslim
physicians studied seriously in the West, but even until the
seventeenth century their teaching remained authoritative. In
the East, they remained the supreme medical authorities until
modern times.
2. Astronomy
The twelfth century opened in the West with the manuals
of Bede, Isidore, Hyginus and Heiric of Auxerre being the chief
texts on Astronomy. Beginning a Chartres, there was a revival
of Platonic philosophy, so that there was evidence of the
platonic influence in the first interest in Arab learning.
As the Aristotelian physics began to filter in through
Arabic writers, the conflict of this with Plato and Ptolemy
brought confusion in the minds of the scholastics. The
Questiones of Adelard of Bath and the De Essentiis of Hermann
of Carinthia were followed by translations of Al-Fargani and
Al-Battani, the tables of Al-Kwarizme and Al-Zarkali, and a
mass of astrological literature. The new knowledge, the new
controversies, the more exact observations, and the contrast
between the scientific writings at the beginning of the century

and those at the end, give a good indication of the intellectual


ferment, and progress, of the age.
Al-Battani in the latter ninth century made some of the
most accurate observations in Islamic astronomy. He
discovered the motion of the solar apsides, as indicated by the
change in the sun s apogee since Ptolemy, when the sun s
farthest distance from the earth was at a point some seventeen
degrees different than in his own time. His major work
became known in the West as De Scientia Stellarum. It was
one of the basic works of astronomy until Galileo, Copernicus,
and Kepler overtook it in the Later Renaissance.
Of the many attempts to estimate the distance and size of
the planets in relation to the earth, none became as well known
as that of Al-Farghani, the ninth century astronomer from
Transoxiana. His Elements of Astronomy was translated and
the distances given by him became universally accepted in the
West up to the time of Copernicus. His estimates of the moon s
dimensions are remarkably accurate. He gave the maximum
distance of the moon from the earth as 256,000 miles, while it
is in fact 252,000 miles, and he gave its volume as being twenty
six percent that of the earth s, while it is in fact twenty point
four. He gave as the earth s diameter a distance of 7,980 miles,
and it is actually 7,926 miles.
In the twelfth century, the astronomer Jabir Ibn Aflah
criticised the Ptolemaic system, as did the philosophers
Avempace and Ibn Tufail. Their criticisms were used as
effective instruments by Later Renaissance astronomers against
Ptolemy.
The construction of observatories as distinct scientific
institutions owes its origin to Islam. Many fine observatories
were built in Islam from Spain to India, and instruments such as
the astrolabe were invented by the Muslim astronomers.
3. Physics
The Arabs built their physics upon Aristotle, but they
added some sophisticated concepts of their own, such as inertia,
time, and space, as constants. Generally, however, their
physics was rationalistic, and not subjected to experiment.
Nonetheless, some groups did work in experimental physics.
Al-Biruni established tables of specific weights for all the
known compounds and elements.
Al-Khazini worked with densities and gravity theory.
Al-Haitham began with the Optics of Euclid and studies
of refraction by Ptolemy, and went on to do experiments to
determine the rectilinear motion of light, the properties of
shadows, and the use of the lens. He invented the camera
obscura, which he studied mathematically. He had a lathe on
which he turned lenses and ground mirrors for his experiments,
and he studied spherical and parabolic mirrors, applied the
rectangle of velocities at the surface of refraction centuries
before Newton, studied atmospheric phenomenon, determined
that the twilight ends when the sun is nineteen degrees below
the horizon, and analysed vision as being light travelling from
object to eye which employs a lens like his camera. His work,
the Opticae Thesaurus in Latin, was printed in the sixteenth
century and his influence is to be seen in the optical studies of
Kepler.
In his Process of Calculation, Al-Kharazmi used the

word al jabr, meaning compulsion , for the first time.


Algebra, cultivated by the Muslims, had its roots in Greek and
Indian mathematics. This union of Greek and Indian
mathematics began in the ninth century with the work of AlKhwarazmi.
In the tenth century, the Arabs translated further Greek
mathematics into Arabic, and came up with some elaborations
of their own. Ibn Qurrah calculated the volume of a paraboloid,
and produced geometrical solutions for third degree
polynomials.
By far the greatest bulk of the Arabic contribution to
mathematics, though, was in their development and mastery of
trigonometry.
Viewing medieval Arabian science in hindsight, it can be
seen that the concepts of the sciences could have been further
developed to the point of Newtonian physics. Al-Rhazi s and
Abu l-Barakat s conceptions of time and space and Alhazen s
concept of inertia could have been rendered mathematically.
The great mathematician Al-Biruni was fascinated by AlRhazi s physics, but he did not accept it. This synthesis of
concepts and skills which Newton possessed did not take place
in Islamic science.
4. Chemistry
The most important works written on the chemistry of
Islam were by Ibn-Hayyan, who became the greatest authority
on the subject, not only in the Islamic world, but also in the
West, where as Geber he became universally accepted as the
leading authority. In the twelfth century, following the
translation of alchemy texts from Arabic into Latin, interest in
alchemy grew in the West.
Ibn-Hayyan s grasp of the chemical nature of matter was
quite profound. Taking the example of mercuric sulphide,
which he calls cinnabar, he writes:
When mercury and sulphur combine to form one
single substance, it is thought that they have
changed essentially, and that an entirely new
substance has been formed. That facts are
otherwise, however. Both the mercury and the
sulphur retain their own natures; all that has
happened is that their parts have become
attenuated, and placed in close approximation to
one another, so that to the eye the product appears
uniform.
If one could devise an apparatus to separate the
parts of one sort from those of the other, it would
be apparent that each of them has not been
transmuted or changed. We say, indeed, that such
transmutation is not possible.
He also demonstrates how the mercuric sulphide can be
produced by heating mercury and sulphur together in the same
vessel. His interpretation of this phenomenon is likened to
modern acid-base theory. Indeed, Ibn-Hayyar is reckoned to be
the first to fully outline the acid-base theory of chemical
reactions.

Conclusion
There was plenty of inspiration and example for further
study and experimentation within the Arabic learning.
Aristotle s descriptions of animals often reach the limits
attainable without a microscope. Hippocrates observed diseases
with accuracy. Surgical experiments, physical calculations,
empirical study abounds in the Arab literature. But, initially the
Europeans took the results of Greek and Arabic science rather
than its methods. Medicine became the study of the texts
interpreted scholastically. Physics became the interpretation of
Aristotle. Geography, which the well-travelled cartographers of
Islam had fully pursued, became in the West the study of books.
Nevertheless, there were a few minds who grasped the
scientific lesson in the Arab learning. A great English scholar,
the Franciscan monk, Robert Grosseteste, brought the Arabic
and Greek works on mathematical and experimental science to
Oxford, and his pupil of the thirteenth century, Roger Bacon,
began rewriting the natural sciences, at the same time as
Thomas Aquinas was rewriting Christian philosophy. Bacon
wrote:
Experimental science has one great prerogative in
respect to all other sciences, that it investigates
their conclusions by experience. For the principles
of the other sciences may be known by experience,
but the conclusions are drawn from these
principles by way of argument. If they require
particular and complete knowledge of those
conclusions, the aid of this science must be called
in. It is true that mathematics possesses useful
experience with regard to its own problems of
figure and number, which apply to all the sciences
and experience itself, for no science can be known
without mathematics. And if we wish to have
complete and thoroughly verified knowledge, we
must proceed by the method of experimental
science.

The influence of Islamic scholarship effected changes


which eventually resulted in the secularisation of European
scholarship. This is due to the fact that, since the religious
philosophy and doctrine of Islam was of no interest to the
Catholic world, the important works which Latin Europe
adopted from Arabic Islam were mainly scientific.
The subtle shift away from rationalism and scholasticism
towards empiricism and experiment had by no means become
obvious by the end of the Medieval period. Traditionalists still
held sway. However, the great influence of the Arab literature
remained. The Christian world had changed in light of the
Muslim world, and the new learning offered possibilities where
the old learning failed. Indeed, the old learning had failed, so
there was no way of recovering the mentality of the tenth
century.
After contact with the Arabs, the Later Renaissance and
the Scientific Revolution were perhaps inevitable in Europe.

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