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Author Topic: The Renaissance of the 12th Century  (Read 1210 times)
Beet
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« on: June 21, 2012, 01:25:18 am »
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Real? Imagined? What are the reasons why there was a sudden surge in interest in classical writings, the founding of universities, and general atmosphere friendly to academic inquiry at this time? Were the universities a natural outgrowth of the knowledge nurtured by the Benedictine monks? Or was it something new?
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2012, 01:41:08 am »
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Part of a continuing effort to fight the idea of "Dark Ages" by extending the Renaissance back further and further rather than just pointing out that the Dark Ages were a flawed and propagandistic concept to begin with?  (See also: Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century)
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It is very advisable to examine and dissect the men of science for once, since they for their part are quite accustomed to laying bold hands on everything in the world, even the most venerable things, and taking them to pieces.

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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2012, 01:53:08 am »
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Part of a continuing effort to fight the idea of "Dark Ages" by extending the Renaissance back further and further rather than just pointing out that the Dark Ages were a flawed and propagandistic concept to begin with?  (See also: Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century)

It depends on where you were how much of an effect thee was. After all, the Roman empire lasted until 1453 in Constantinople.
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2012, 04:59:05 am »
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Part of a continuing effort to fight the idea of "Dark Ages" by extending the Renaissance back further and further rather than just pointing out that the Dark Ages were a flawed and propagandistic concept to begin with?  (See also: Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century)

Considering that no one speaks Latin or (ancient) Greek now, I suppose we are still in The Dark Ages. Good thing too.
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2012, 10:57:06 am »
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Certainly no more imagined than the real "renaissance".
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2012, 01:47:36 pm »
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Certainly no more imagined than the real "renaissance".

You mean the 'autumn of the Middle Ages'?
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2012, 04:11:08 pm »
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Certainly no more imagined than the real "renaissance".

You mean the 'autumn of the Middle Ages'?

That would be a better term, yes.
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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2012, 07:35:48 pm »
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Part of a continuing effort to fight the idea of "Dark Ages" by extending the Renaissance back further and further rather than just pointing out that the Dark Ages were a flawed and propagandistic concept to begin with?  (See also: Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century)

Ok. From Aristotle until the mid-12th century, is 15 centuries, during which Western thought stagnated in the natural sciences. Clearly, there was some kind of Dark Ages or great decline, or else a great long stagnation, between the height of classical Greek philosophy and the Scientific Revolution. The 12th century is as good a point as any to mark when the stagnation began to end, but if you propose a different date that is fine. But to say there is no Dark Ages, leaves the question of why there was such a long stagnation in the natural sciences after Greek philosophy.
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2012, 04:51:07 am »
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Late Antiquity actually could be seen as more of a 'Golden Era' (and is certainly a much more fascinating era) than the classical era of the 4th Century BC. To say that 'the natural sciences stagnated after Aristotle' is pretty much the same as saying that the natural sciences have been stagnating ever since Einstein.

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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2012, 08:15:06 pm »
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Late Antiquity actually could be seen as more of a 'Golden Era' (and is certainly a much more fascinating era) than the classical era of the 4th Century BC. To say that 'the natural sciences stagnated after Aristotle' is pretty much the same as saying that the natural sciences have been stagnating ever since Einstein.

What was known in Europe about the natural sciences in 1100 A.D. that wasn't known a thousand years prior?
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« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2012, 02:57:35 pm »
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Late Antiquity actually could be seen as more of a 'Golden Era' (and is certainly a much more fascinating era) than the classical era of the 4th Century BC. To say that 'the natural sciences stagnated after Aristotle' is pretty much the same as saying that the natural sciences have been stagnating ever since Einstein.

What was known in Europe about the natural sciences in 1100 A.D. that wasn't known a thousand years prior?

Lots of things. Filling in the gaps in an existing model is just as much science as producing a new paradigm.
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2012, 08:11:44 pm »
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Part of a continuing effort to fight the idea of "Dark Ages" by extending the Renaissance back further and further rather than just pointing out that the Dark Ages were a flawed and propagandistic concept to begin with?  (See also: Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century)

Ok. From Aristotle until the mid-12th century, is 15 centuries, during which Western thought stagnated in the natural sciences. Clearly, there was some kind of Dark Ages or great decline, or else a great long stagnation, between the height of classical Greek philosophy and the Scientific Revolution. The 12th century is as good a point as any to mark when the stagnation began to end, but if you propose a different date that is fine. But to say there is no Dark Ages, leaves the question of why there was such a long stagnation in the natural sciences after Greek philosophy.

Except this revival of Greek and Latin and traditional culture led to a stagnation of the vibrant culture of the High Middle Ages?  While brilliant early humanists like Petrarch managed to use classical knowledge to complement the existing language, later humanists would insist on a straitjacket imposition of the style of Cicero etc. on the Latin language, strangling one of the most vibrant languages of knowledge by forcing it to conform to first century writing styles, and killed it by turning it into a museum piece?  The way art and architecture abandoned flourishing Byzantine and Gothic styles and embraced the tyrannical boredom of domes, pediments, and columns?  The outflow of Greek literature was never "lost" (Aquinas was quite familiar with Aristotle well before the Renaissance) and was the inspiration for many of the brilliant philosophers of the Medieval era from Avicenna to Averrones, and the Ottomans, especially, had many, many, many experts on the classics on hand well before the "Renaissance." 

The cultural and artistic life of the Middle Ages gets totally short shrift because people with contempt for monasticism and the Church ignore their vibrant intellectual culture in this period and focus on their Renaissance heroes (many of whom were employed by aforementioned Church, from the book hunters to the artists).  Similarly, the continued presence and relevance of Greek literature in Islamic Spain and Anatolia (and responses to those Arabic works throughout all of Latin Christendom) is inconvenient to notions of seeing Europe as an isolated entity when it was part of a vast system stretching thousands of miles eastwards (see all the Chinese knowledge the Mongols bring west, including gunpowder, not to mention the safe overland trade routes).
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It is very advisable to examine and dissect the men of science for once, since they for their part are quite accustomed to laying bold hands on everything in the world, even the most venerable things, and taking them to pieces.

-Friedrich Nietzsche
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2012, 10:06:58 pm »
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Yes, I get all of that. The Middle Ages have been unfairly disparaged.

I am just trying to think of the origins of the Scientific Revolution here. For example, taking just Copernicus, he studied at Krakow University, which was founded in the 14th century. Hence, without Krakow University, there would likely have been no Copernicus. Or perhaps he might have made it to another University. But before the founding of the University of Bologna in 1088, there were no Universities in Europe. Additionally, he studied under teachers who were experts in Aristotlean and Ptolemaic writings. He read textbooks written by previous Middle Age University scholars which were commentaries Aristotle and Ptolemy. These writings were translated from Greek and Arabic to Latin in the 12th and 13th centuries, with some Arabic commentaries and additions.

The question remains though, the Arabs had Aristotle and Ptolemy since the Hellenistic era, as did the Romans (until they fell) and the Byzantines (for all time). I believe some of their writings also reached India and influenced Indian astronomy (for example, the notion that the world is round). The Byzantines and the Arabs had this knowledge for 1500 hundred years and very little progress was made. A disproportionate amount came from Spain in the 10th and 11th centuries. After that, fundamentalists took over Islamic Spain and religious authorities cut off all further study.

However, Western Europe, once the translations arrived after the 12th century, made steady progress and this led to Copernicus and Galileo within 4 centuries. Why did the Romans, Byzantines, Greeks, Arabs, and Indians have this knowledge for well over 4 centuries, in some cases nearly 2000 years, and made very slow progress? While Western Europe saw Universities sprout like jackrabbits and got to the heliocentric universe within 400 years? What was so unique and magical about Western Europe at that time? Was it the nature of the Catholic Church-- that it was less opposed to scientific / philosophic inquiry than the Caliphate, Orthodox Church, and so on? Or something else?
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Brian Schweitzer '16
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« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2012, 11:47:56 am »
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Part of a continuing effort to fight the idea of "Dark Ages" by extending the Renaissance back further and further rather than just pointing out that the Dark Ages were a flawed and propagandistic concept to begin with?  (See also: Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century)

It depends on where you were how much of an effect thee was. After all, the Roman empire lasted until 1453 in Constantinople.

And, I am getting rather annoyed pointing out to people, till 1461 in Trebizond.
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« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2012, 12:44:05 pm »
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Part of a continuing effort to fight the idea of "Dark Ages" by extending the Renaissance back further and further rather than just pointing out that the Dark Ages were a flawed and propagandistic concept to begin with?  (See also: Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century)

It depends on where you were how much of an effect thee was. After all, the Roman empire lasted until 1453 in Constantinople.

And, I am getting rather annoyed pointing out to people, till 1461 in Trebizond.

You forget Mistra/The Roman Empire still lasts untill today in Moscow!
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« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2012, 03:51:51 pm »
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Part of a continuing effort to fight the idea of "Dark Ages" by extending the Renaissance back further and further rather than just pointing out that the Dark Ages were a flawed and propagandistic concept to begin with?  (See also: Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century)

It depends on where you were how much of an effect thee was. After all, the Roman empire lasted until 1453 in Constantinople.

And, I am getting rather annoyed pointing out to people, till 1461 in Trebizond.

You forget Mistra/The Roman Empire still lasts untill today in Moscow!

No -- Mystras fell to the Ottomans in 1460, a full year before Trebizond did. And Moscow is the center of something even more crazy/bizarre than Byzantium.
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« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2012, 03:54:36 pm »
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Part of a continuing effort to fight the idea of "Dark Ages" by extending the Renaissance back further and further rather than just pointing out that the Dark Ages were a flawed and propagandistic concept to begin with?  (See also: Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century)

It depends on where you were how much of an effect thee was. After all, the Roman empire lasted until 1453 in Constantinople.

And, I am getting rather annoyed pointing out to people, till 1461 in Trebizond.

You forget Mistra/The Roman Empire still lasts untill today in Moscow!

No -- Mystras fell to the Ottomans in 1460, a full year before Trebizond did. And Moscow is the center of something even more crazy/bizarre than Byzantium.

Mistra/Mystras is more authentically Byzantine, though, actually having a direct link to the last Emperors and not being separated from the Empire untill 1453, whereas Trebizond didn't necessarily recognize the legitimacy of the Emperors in Nicaea and later Constantinople, and as such can only be counted as Roman if we count the Western Empire as well. 
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