time to argue about culture


Today, in European cultures, and in other cultures that have borrowed it, science per se is strictly peripheral at best. It is not only inseparable from technology; it is all but completely divorced from philosophy. This is a far cry from the Middle Ages. The centrality of science in all spheres of Western European culture was ensured when the crucial elements — all of them — were borrowed during the Crusades, more or less simultaneously, from Classical Arabic civilization. There, science had never become integrated into Islamic culture, but was considered “foreign” to Islam, and so fell to the onslaught of anti-intellectualism that swept the Islamic world at its peak in the Middle Ages. By contrast, Western Europeans were enthralled by science from the 13th century down to the 20th, when Humanism — now redefined specifically as a collection of ‘non-scientific fields’ — replaced science as the default mode of higher education. Science has come under attack not only by fundamentalists, but even by philosophers and other scholars, who seem not to understand science. What happened?

more from Christopher Beckwith at Berfrois here.