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Warriors of the Cloisters: The Central Asian Origins of Science in the Medieval World

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Warriors of the Cloisters tells how key cultural innovations from Central Asia revolutionized medieval Europe and gave rise to the culture of science in the West. Medieval scholars rarely performed scientific experiments, but instead contested issues in natural science, philosophy, and theology using the recursive argument method. This highly distinctive and unusual method of disputation was a core feature of medieval science, the predecessor of modern science. We know that the foundations of science were imported to Western Europe from the Islamic world, but until now the origins of such key elements of Islamic culture have been a mystery.

In this provocative book, Christopher I. Beckwith traces how the recursive argument method was first developed by Buddhist scholars and was spread by them throughout ancient Central Asia. He shows how the method was adopted by Islamic Central Asian natural philosophers--most importantly by Avicenna, one of the most brilliant of all medieval thinkers--and transmitted to the West when Avicenna's works were translated into Latin in Spain in the twelfth century by the Jewish philosopher Ibn Da'ud and others. During the same period the institution of the college was also borrowed from the Islamic world. The college was where most of the disputations were held, and became the most important component of medieval Europe's newly formed universities. As Beckwith demonstrates, the Islamic college also originated in Buddhist Central Asia.

Using in-depth analysis of ancient Buddhist, Classical Arabic, and Medieval Latin writings, Warriors of the Cloisters transforms our understanding of the origins of medieval scientific culture.

Synopsis:

"Building on a broad array of sources and studies, Beckwith highlights one of the early information circuits that crossed the Old World. Once again, Central Asia serves as the pivot of not only the political and military history of Eurasia, but of its intellectual development as well. Beckwith's erudite and wide-ranging study traces the complex paths via which these ideas and institutions spread, giving us a deeper understanding of the interconnections of Eurasian civilization and the underpinnings of modern science and thought."--Peter B. Golden, Rutgers University

"The insights contained in this book could not have come from anyone else but the inquisitive and resourceful Beckwith. Warriors of the Cloisters draws on research into an extraordinarily broad range of subjects and is certain to elicit debate."--S. Frederick Starr, Johns Hopkins University

"An outstanding and original contribution. Beckwith's interdisciplinary skills and linguistic versatility support a crucial and critical evaluation that challenges orthodox interpretations of the scholastic method as a solely European invention. Warriors of the Cloisters is likely to fuel scholarly debates and inspire new avenues of comparative research in Eurasian studies."--Georgios T. Halkias, Ruhr University

Synopsis:

Warriors of the Cloisters tells how key cultural innovations from Central Asia revolutionized medieval Europe and gave rise to the culture of science in the West. Medieval scholars rarely performed scientific experiments, but instead contested issues in natural science, philosophy, and theology using the recursive argument method. This highly distinctive and unusual method of disputation was a core feature of medieval science, the predecessor of modern science. We know that the foundations of science were imported to Western Europe from the Islamic world, but until now the origins of such key elements of Islamic culture have been a mystery.

In this provocative book, Christopher I. Beckwith traces how the recursive argument method was first developed by Buddhist scholars and was spread by them throughout ancient Central Asia. He shows how the method was adopted by Islamic Central Asian natural philosophers--most importantly by Avicenna, one of the most brilliant of all medieval thinkers--and transmitted to the West when Avicenna's works were translated into Latin in Spain in the twelfth century by the Jewish philosopher Ibn Da'ud and others. During the same period the institution of the college was also borrowed from the Islamic world. The college was where most of the disputations were held, and became the most important component of medieval Europe's newly formed universities. As Beckwith demonstrates, the Islamic college also originated in Buddhist Central Asia.

Using in-depth analysis of ancient Buddhist, Classical Arabic, and Medieval Latin writings, Warriors of the Cloisters transforms our understanding of the origins of medieval scientific culture.

About the Author

Christopher I. Beckwith is professor of Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. His books include "Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present" and "The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia: A History of the Struggle for Great Power among Tibetans, Turks, Arabs, and Chinese during the Early Middle Ages" (both Princeton).

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xv

Abbreviations and Transcription of Foreign Languages xvii

Chapter One

Introduction 1

Chapter Two

The Recursive Argument Method of Medieval Science 11

Chapter Three

From College and Universitas to University 37

Chapter Four

Buddhist Central Asian Invention of the Method 50

Chapter Five

Islamization in Classical Arabic Central Asia 76

Chapter Six

Transmission to Medieval Western Europe 100

Chapter Seven

India, Tibet, China, Byzantium, and Other Control Cases 121

Chapter Eight

Conclusion 147

Appendix A: On the Latin Translations of Avicenna's Works 167

Appendix B: On Peter of Poitiers 171

Appendix C: The Charter of the Collège des Dix-huit 186

References 187

Index 199

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691155319
Author:
Beckwith, Christopher I.
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Subject:
Medieval
Subject:
Archaeology and Ancient History
Subject:
Asian and Asian American Studies
Subject:
Middle Eastern Studies
Subject:
World History/Comparative History
Subject:
History of Science-General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20120931
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
232
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Education » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Medieval
History and Social Science » World History » Asia » General
History and Social Science » World History » European History General
History and Social Science » World History » Medieval and Renaissance
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

Warriors of the Cloisters: The Central Asian Origins of Science in the Medieval World New Hardcover
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Product details 232 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691155319 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Building on a broad array of sources and studies, Beckwith highlights one of the early information circuits that crossed the Old World. Once again, Central Asia serves as the pivot of not only the political and military history of Eurasia, but of its intellectual development as well. Beckwith's erudite and wide-ranging study traces the complex paths via which these ideas and institutions spread, giving us a deeper understanding of the interconnections of Eurasian civilization and the underpinnings of modern science and thought."--Peter B. Golden, Rutgers University

"The insights contained in this book could not have come from anyone else but the inquisitive and resourceful Beckwith. Warriors of the Cloisters draws on research into an extraordinarily broad range of subjects and is certain to elicit debate."--S. Frederick Starr, Johns Hopkins University

"An outstanding and original contribution. Beckwith's interdisciplinary skills and linguistic versatility support a crucial and critical evaluation that challenges orthodox interpretations of the scholastic method as a solely European invention. Warriors of the Cloisters is likely to fuel scholarly debates and inspire new avenues of comparative research in Eurasian studies."--Georgios T. Halkias, Ruhr University

"Synopsis" by , Warriors of the Cloisters tells how key cultural innovations from Central Asia revolutionized medieval Europe and gave rise to the culture of science in the West. Medieval scholars rarely performed scientific experiments, but instead contested issues in natural science, philosophy, and theology using the recursive argument method. This highly distinctive and unusual method of disputation was a core feature of medieval science, the predecessor of modern science. We know that the foundations of science were imported to Western Europe from the Islamic world, but until now the origins of such key elements of Islamic culture have been a mystery.

In this provocative book, Christopher I. Beckwith traces how the recursive argument method was first developed by Buddhist scholars and was spread by them throughout ancient Central Asia. He shows how the method was adopted by Islamic Central Asian natural philosophers--most importantly by Avicenna, one of the most brilliant of all medieval thinkers--and transmitted to the West when Avicenna's works were translated into Latin in Spain in the twelfth century by the Jewish philosopher Ibn Da'ud and others. During the same period the institution of the college was also borrowed from the Islamic world. The college was where most of the disputations were held, and became the most important component of medieval Europe's newly formed universities. As Beckwith demonstrates, the Islamic college also originated in Buddhist Central Asia.

Using in-depth analysis of ancient Buddhist, Classical Arabic, and Medieval Latin writings, Warriors of the Cloisters transforms our understanding of the origins of medieval scientific culture.

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