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Better the Sultan's turban than the Pope's tiara - Part 2


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Better the Sultan's turban than the Pope's tiara - Part 2

I am really talking about a Caliph rather than a Sultan, and I don't think the Pope had much in the way of a tiara yet.
A page from Al-Khwārizmī's The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and BalancingBut the rather late Byzantine viewpoint of the title of this blog (probably due mostly to the sacking of Constantinople in 1204 by the Venetians) could easily be applied much earlier, when it was clear that the real source of learning and intellectual life in Late Antiquity, at least in the sciences, lay in the Near East, not in the moribund West.
By the 9th Century, Byzantine scholars had become convinced that one should only pick from the past those intellectual fruits that were pragmatic and indispensable. After all, the Kingdom of Heaven would soon be upon one! So why bother with raising questions that would take many lifetimes to answer, or invest in scientific inquiry that would be largely pointless if it did not bring one closer to the God, or generally do much else with one's mental spare time other than pray or fight?
The late 800s saw a flowering of culture and learning in Constantinople that was more focussed perhaps on the humanities.
 Witness how the Byzantines brought literacy to the slavic peoples and kept alive the great texts of the ancients. And an institution of higher learning was refounded in Constantinople. But where did a lot of the inspiration come from? I would say Baghdad!
Find out more on my newpage: Intellectual Life of the 9th Century. And read a related excerpt from Queen of Lies.

1 Comment to Better the Sultan's turban than the Pope's tiara - Part 2:

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inter part 2 results on 12 September 2013 10:05
It's really pleasure to read your post. Thank you so much for writing such a nice post.
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