Tuesday, April 1, 2014

518: Quran and Greek Philosophy

With regard to Arabic or Islamic, I will first take a philosophical stand in this matter. My general principle is that we only have our brains and that everything thought, said or written is solely the product of our brain.

This being said implies, that there are no sources of information outside our brain. It is us, thinking and sentient beings, who make up every theory about our world.

This , of course, brings me in conflict with the following: Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed from God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibril), 

gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE, when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death. This contrary to the Bible, which is said to be written by men, who were only inspired by their god.

Consequently it is easier to do  historical and linguistic research on the bible texts that on those of the Quran. Yet, to understand Arabic philosophy it is important to get the whole historical picture, the landscape in which all emerged.

For instance, there is a link between the Bible and the Quran, for it contains references to over fifty people and events also found in the Bible.

Some suggest that the Quran has developed out of an Aramaic text, the Peshitta, translations from Hebrew and Greek texts in the 2nd Century in the area now called Syria.


Interesting subject for personal research. You will be surprised to see what is all going on in the debates about  questions like “What is the original language of the Quran, Aramaic or Arab?” and “Quran versus Bible”.

My most amusing find was the answer to the question “Which of the two is the most violent book, The Bible or the Quran?”

If you count the verses, the bible wins by being twice as violent as the Quran. But the bible contains some 84.000 verses while the Quran only some 850.

So if you take proportions into account, the result is the opposite. About 2.4% of the Bible verses refer to violence, while about 5.7% of Quran verses do.

But back to more serious issues. When you look at the historical maps, you see that in the days that the Quran was written and thereafter a lot of wars occurred in the Arabic world.

Let me quote Karen Armstrong here, born 14 November 1944, a British author and commentator known for her books on comparative religion. This is from her book “Islam”:

The Kharajites were extremists but they forced Muslims to consider the question of who was and who was not a Muslim. So important was the political leadership as a religious idea that it led to discussions about the nature of God, predestination and human freedom.

The Kharajites were always a minority group, but their position was important, since it was the first instance of an important Muslim trend, whereby the politics that affected the morality of the ummah (muslim community) led to a new theological development.

From time to time, Muslims who protested against the behaviour of the reigning caliph would retreat from the ummah, like the Kharajites, and summon all true Muslims to join them in a struggle (jihad) for higher Islamic standards.
-end quote-

This was about 657 CE. As you see, in my opinion it seems that little has changed. We still may recognize the same patterns. The Quran was the dominating factor in history and in that world we see strong influences of Greek philosophy, which was much more developed than Arabic thinking of those days.

To some extent, scholars disagree about the role of the Greek sources in Arabic and Islamic philosophy . While acknowledging the existence of a Greek heritage, those who consider the Quran and the Islamic tradition as the main source of inspiration for philosophy

claim that the latter did not arise from the encounter of learned Muslims with the Greek philosophical heritage: instead, according to them philosophy stemmed from the Quranic hikma (“wisdom”). 

As a consequence, the Greek texts in translation are conceived of as instruments for the philosophers to perform the task of seeking wisdom.

However, most scholars frequently side with the opinion that what gave rise to the intellectual tradition of Arabic philosophy was the so-called movement of translation from Greek.

In the next lecture we’ll investigate what this means.


The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: Thank you ^_^
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Professor
[13:21] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...plz feel free
[13:21] Oceane: thank you herman, nice tuition
[13:21] Gemma Allen: no names yet buy mohammed
[13:21] Gemma Allen: but
[13:21] herman Bergson: You want names Gemma?
[13:21] Gemma Allen: just wondered
[13:22] herman Bergson: There are a number of Arabic philosophers.....great names
[13:22] Gemma Allen: i will go look at the wiki
[13:22] herman Bergson: For Europe Avicenna and Averoes were the greatest...
[13:22] Gemma Allen: homework
[13:22] Gemma Allen: ah ok
[13:23] herman Bergson: Bu that was around 1050 or so if I am not mistaken.....
[13:23] herman Bergson: They brought in fact Aristotle to Europe
[13:24] herman Bergson: Arab philosophy began in fact with studying and translating the Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle
[13:24] Gemma Allen: ahah
[13:24] herman Bergson: But one must be careful in what you say......all pretty sensitive issues.....
[13:24] Merlin: I am a bit confused
[13:25] herman Bergson: the big problem in the debate is the Quran.....
[13:25] herman Bergson: What confuses you Merlin?
[13:25] Merlin: Are you saying it is possible that the Koran was NOT written by Mohammed Herman?
[13:25] herman Bergson: I wouldn’t dare.....
[13:25] Merlin: hehe
[13:26] herman Bergson: But the point is....
[13:26] Merlin: ok
[13:26] herman Bergson: in muslim belief the quran is directly the word of god....
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:26] Daruma Boa: °°
[13:26] herman Bergson: while the bible is just written by men
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: more like a storybook from when they met god or similar
[13:27] Gemma Allen: but considered the word of god
[13:27] herman Bergson: and for instance....historical and linguistic research on the texts of the Quran is not appreciated everywhere
[13:27] Oceane: not everybody likes the hard and merciless light of enlightenment...
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: i guess so
[13:28] Merlin:
[13:28] herman Bergson: For instance this link with the Aramaic text of the Peshitta...from the 2nd century
[13:28] herman Bergson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyDTnPYWc4U
[13:28] herman Bergson: Part of a documentary about this subject.....
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:29] Lizzy Pleides: I read that the greek philosophy was almost forgotten in the middle ages and that it was saved be the muslim universities
[13:29] herman Bergson: the posted reactions are perfect examples of how things are today...how people think about such an issue....
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes Lizzy.....
[13:30] Gemma Allen: i think i did hear that once also
[13:30] Gemma Allen: now that you say it
[13:30] herman Bergson: That was the great contribution of Avicenna and Averoes to scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages
[13:30] Gemma Allen: ah
[13:31] herman Bergson: The Arabs brought Aristotle to Europe around 1000 - 1100
[13:32] herman Bergson: When you do some research on the internet....it is amazing what you all find on these issues....
[13:32] Daruma Boa: oh thats true^^
[13:32] Daruma Boa: and not everything is true
[13:32] Gemma Allen: considering that Greece is part of Europe
[13:33] herman Bergson: just a search on Quran vs Bible gives you at least 3.8 million hits with in a second
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:33] Gemma Allen: lol\
[13:33] Gemma Allen: life work
[13:33] Lizzy Pleides: Averoes we can see on Raphael’s picture behind us btw
[13:33] Merlin: oh no
[13:33] Daruma Boa: ;-)
[13:33] Gemma Allen: ah??
[13:33] Merlin: Those google counts include all sorts of mismatches too
[13:33] herman Bergson: Ahh...I didnt know :-)
[13:33] Daruma Boa: rofl
[13:33] Lizzy Pleides: on the left side with a yellow turban
[13:33] Daruma Boa: herman, now u know^^
[13:34] herman Bergson: Well actually I never took the trouble to find out who all are portraited there :-)
[13:34] Gemma Allen: lo
[13:34] Gemma Allen: there is a place i saw that names them all
[13:34] Gemma Allen: a few years ago
[[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes I have seen such maps too :-)
[13:35] Oceane: well to me both sources.. are texts, and all you can do is work on the texts, and both of them are some of the great narrations, II guess mankind needs those narrations to help them making sense in their life....
[13:35] Lizzy Pleides: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_School_of_Athens
[13:35] herman Bergson: Well Oceane...I was thinking about that all the time preparing for this lecture....
[13:36] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:36] Oceane:
[13:36] herman Bergson: Bible and Quran are said to come from god....but that happend centuries ago...
[13:36] herman Bergson: why then....and why has god never spoken again ?
[13:36] Gemma Allen: no one listens :-)
[13:37] herman Bergson: Doesn’t he needed an update of his Bible for instance?
[13:37] Daruma Boa: that is the question for all
[13:37] Merlin: lol
[13:37] Daruma Boa: or better everything
[13:37] Daruma Boa: perhaps 42 is the answer
[13:37] Merlin: lol Daruma
[13:37] Daruma Boa: ^^
[13:37] herman Bergson: on the other hand it is not surprising that these two books still are part of our culture....
[13:37] Merlin: Ive been following that just recently
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: indeed seems god wrote these books to hide again forever someplace
[13:38] herman Bergson: When you look behind me....
[13:38] Lizzy Pleides: We can't understand the quran anyway, they say it can only be read correctly in arabic language
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: cause who can say today they’ve seen god for real?
[13:38] herman Bergson: all those wars among arabs was caused by their Islam....
[13:38] Merlin: "Who is this God person anyway?"
[13:38] Daruma Boa: i guess there is no god. we all are god.
[13:39] herman Bergson: this god is named POWER....
[13:39] Daruma Boa: my opinion
[13:39] herman Bergson: the books got connected with the political power of rulers and used for all kinds of political justifications
[13:39] Gemma Allen: oh
[13:39] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:39] Oceane: Well nowadays we have the postmodern age with the vanishing of signs, and values and collective items that making sense, the political subject seems to vanish in the public context, and if you are asking what is the common ground for a society , alot of people might shake their had... because certain values didn´t get transported.. I don´t know if this is the flipside of modern freedom...
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: indeed, and with terrible results
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: war war and more war plus oppression of people, esp women
[13:40] herman Bergson: and because they showed to be very useful in controlling the masses we still have them
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: thats the result of this
[13:40] Lizzy Pleides: rulers have used the bible for their interests
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: and justification to kill people that think different , are homosexual ect
[13:41] Gemma Allen: still do
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: thats really awful
[13:41] MerlinMerlin smiles to self
[13:41] Daruma Boa: yes all think there is one god who will lead me and give me advice. but everyone has the power to do and lead all on his own. they all forget that.
[13:41] Daruma Boa: forget
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: seems so
[13:42] Daruma Boa: it is so^^
[13:42] herman Bergson: What seems to be a fact is that the human brain on the one hand generates these religious ideas and on the other hand seems to need them to understand his life and world
[13:43] Daruma Boa: yup
[13:43] Oceane: well if one thing gets through the masses is that every individual seems to be made responsible for failures that are produced by our system... and even if its a collective fault it gets transported as an individual mistake, this system produces next to exconomical good a lot of psychic illnesses
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: thats for sure
[13:44] Daruma Boa: but the "system" are we
[13:44] Daruma Boa: everyone can get out and change things.
[13:44] herman Bergson: One thing should be observed here.....
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: indeed, but they dont since they are to tied up in religious beliefs and thing the great master will save them
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: wont happen
[13:45] herman Bergson: I imply that eventually human rationality should be the prevailing quality of the human mind
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: they have to do that themselves
[13:45] Daruma Boa: true
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: and the first they can do is stop blowing everyone up with these damn bimbs
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: bombs
[13:46] herman Bergson: and that will take some more centuries...to complete that process of mental growth
[13:46] Daruma Boa: thats a political thing...
[13:46] Daruma Boa: the bombs
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: but its sunni vs shia ect bombing each other all the time for ex
[13:47] herman Bergson: While studying the old sources of our (religious) behavior we may learn what we still have to achieve :-)
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: different thinking groups kill each other and lot of bystanders
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: for nothing¨
[13:47] Daruma Boa: i thought about ukraine or iraq right now
[13:48] Daruma Boa: and mostly its about resources, when they use those things
[13:48] Daruma Boa: when
[13:48] herman Bergson: I suggest that we look how Greek philosophy became part of Arabic thinking and what it meant.....
[13:48] Gemma Allen: ok
[13:48] herman Bergson: Good for another lecture ^_^
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: hmm thats inersting since its 2 way different cultures
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: look forward to that
[13:49] Daruma Boa: yes,there is so much to talk about!
[13:49] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation again :-)
[13:49] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:49] Bejiita Imako:
[13:49] Gemma Allen: always
[13:49] Lizzy Pleides: Thanks to you professor
[13:49] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:49] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes Daruma.....that is the nicest and most dangerous issue here :-)
[13:49] Daruma Boa: hope to be here thursday
[13:49] Gemma Allen: hope to be here Thursday
[13:49] Daruma Boa: ;-)
[13:50] herman Bergson: SO I'd say...Class dismissed ^_^
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: cu soon again
[13:50] Gemma Allen: Bye, Bye   
[13:50] Gemma Allen: for now
[13:50] Bejiita Imako:

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