About the book (by JB Hare):
The transmission of ancient Greek philosophy to the forerunners of the Renaissance was through the Islamic world. This book details each of the steps along that path, identifying the Syriac writers of the late classical period as introducing Hellenic philosophy into the Middle East. The book details the growth of Islam, including the major branches such as the Shia, Sunni, and Sufi, and many minor as well, and their relation to the schools of Islamic philosophy. From the Baghdad of the Arabian Nights, we pass to Islamic Spain, where Arabic philosophy was increased by both Muslim and Jewish scholars. Finally, we see how Plato and Aristotle were re-introduced into Europe through Christian scholars, and became one of the precursors of the Italian Renaissance. The equivalent of a college-level course on the history of Islamic thought, this book is essential background reading if you want to understand this topic.
About the book (from the foreword):
The culture of modern Europe derives from that of the Roman Empire, itself the multiple resultant of many forces, amongst which the intellectual life of Hellenism was most effective, but worked into a coherent system by the wonderful power of organization, which was one of the most salient characteristics of that Empire. The whole cultural life of mediæval Europe shows this Hellenistic-Roman culture passed on, developed, and modified by circumstances. As the Empire fell to pieces the body of culture became subject to varying conditions in different localities, of which the divergence between the Greek-speaking East and the Latin-speaking West is the most striking example. The introduction of Muslim influence through Spain is the one instance in which we seem to get an alien culture entering into this Roman tradition and exercising a disturbing influence. In fact, this Muslim culture was at bottom essentially a part of the Hellenistic-Roman material, even the theology of Islam being formulated and developed from Hellenistic sources, but Islam had so long lived apart from Christendom and its development had taken place in surroundings so different that it seems a strange and alien thing. Its greatest power lay in the fact that it presented the old material in an entirely fresh form.
It is the effort of the following pages to trace the transmission of Hellenistic thought through the medium of Muslim philosophers and Jewish thinkers who lived in Muslim surroundings, to show how this thought, modified as it passed through a period of development in the Muslim community and itself modifying Islamic ideas, was brought to bear upon the culture of mediæval Latin Christendom. So greatly had it altered in external form during the centuries of its life apart, that it seemed a new type of intellectual life and became a disturbing factor which diverted Christian philosophy into new lines and tended to disintegrate the traditional theology of the Church, directly leading up to the Renascence which gave the death-blow to mediæval culture: so little had it altered in real substance that it used the same text-books and treated very much the same problems already current in the earlier scholasticism which had developed independently in Latin Christendom. It will be our effort so to trace the history of mediæval Muslim thought as to show the elements which it had in common with Christian teaching and to account for the points of divergence.
Chapter I. The Syriac Version of Hellenism
Chapter II. The Arab Period
Chapter III. The Coming of the ‘Abbasids
Chapter IV. The Translators
Chapter V. The Mu‘tazilites
Chapter VI. The Eastern Philosophers
Chapter VII. Sufism
Chapter VIII. Orthodox Scholasticism
Chapter IX. Western Philosophy
Chapter X. The Jewish Transmittors
Chapter XI. Influence of the Arabic Philosophers on Latin Scholasticism