[ExI] technology and culture dynamics in Islam

painlord2k at libero.it painlord2k at libero.it
Thu Apr 16 16:20:55 UTC 2009

Il 14/04/2009 6.41, John Grigg ha scritto:

> My question for the list members is why did Islamic culture, which in
>  medieval times had a technological and cultural heyday that greatly
>  surpassed Europe, fall so short in the intervening centuries that
> lead up to the present era?

First, Islam come from Arabia on the back of warriors of many tribes
united for the first time in history. The technological, cultural and
economic level of the region was very low.
The breakthrough was, IMHO, possible only because the Persian and the
Byzantine had mauled each other for over a century of wars. Byzantine
was the winners of these war, but their religious politics made the
populations of Syria, Egypt and Mesopotamia not very supportive of their
rule. The populations of the places considered the invasion a way to
free themselves from external rulers and heavy taxes.

With the conquest of Persia and all the M.E., the Arabs controlled many
large urban centres where technology and science and culture at large
were very developed for the standard of the times.

They don't tried very hard to islamicize the dhimmified populations,
because this would severely reduce the taxes they could levy of them.
This happenend in the East as in the West, with the Hindus. They were
too much to be all killed and killing them all (as they are heathens and
not "people of the Book") would make the conquest worthless (no slaves,
no taxes). This lasted until the Crusades, when the Turks migrated in
the M.E. and adopted Islam. The Turks take on the Byzantine (that called
for help in the West Europe causing the Crusades and large migrations
there) and the Hindus again (Tamerlane conducted many military campaigns
that spanned from Byzantium to India and destroyed many "not enough
Islamic" muslims in his path).

After centuries of this pressure, the Christians and the Jews under
Islam domination were always more impoverished and in lower numbers.
This caused the reduction of free / unorthodox thinkers.

The more famous were Avicenna and Averroe, but their attempt to
reconcile Islam and Reason was rejected and Al-Ghazali with "The
Incoherence of the Philosophers" won the argument rejecting Reason.

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incoherence_of_the_Philosophers#Legacy

> Al-Ghazali's insistence on a radical divine immanence in the natural
> world has been posited as one of the reasons that the spirit of
> scientific inquiry later withered in Islamic lands. If "Allah's hand
> is not chained", then there was no point in discovering the alleged
> laws of nature. For example:
> ...our opponent claims that the agent of the burning is the fire
> exclusively;’ this is a natural, not a voluntary agent, and cannot
> abstain from what is in its nature when it is brought into contact
> with a receptive substratum. This we deny, saying: The agent of the
> burning is God, through His creating the black in the cotton and the
> disconnexion of its parts, and it is God who made the cotton burn and
> made it ashes either through the intermediation of angels or without
> intermediation. For fire is a dead body which has no action, and what
> is the proof that it is the agent? Indeed, the philosophers have no
> other proof than the observation of the occurrence of the burning,
> when there is contact with fire, but observation proves only a
> simultaneity, not a causation, and, in reality, there is no other
> cause but God.

> I have read it was among other things, the Mongol invasions that
> devastated entire kingdoms, and also the rise of Muslim theocracies
> over the secular states.

The problem within Islam is that is based on the Quran and Mohammed life 
(Hadit, Sira, Shaaria). These are so full of contradictions that it is 
impossible to rationalize them.

The main problem is that the Quran is considered the "Word" of Allah, 
increated like Allah. But Mohammed had not a good memory (like many 
liars), so he introduced the sura about "The abrogator and the 
abrogated" that, to put it simple, say that what came after is better 
that what came first, Allah know best, don't ask more or else...
So, the only way to rationalize this was to use dualism.

But dualism is not very conductive to science.
Science is about truth. And the truth must be one and not self 

The Muslims conquered so many rich civilizations and their wealth, but 
they was not able or willing to upkeep them. Rothbard wrote that capital 
goods are like other goods that need to be replaced with the time as 
they are consumed. The intellectuals are like capital goods, if you 
don't invest enough resources in them your capital decrease with the 
time (as the goods are consumed). So, with the time, the intellectual 
capital of Islam depleted itself.


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