III: Philosophy and Liberal Arts

History of Rational Philosophy among the Arabs and Turks

Johann Peter von Ludewig

Johann Peter von Ludewig was born in 1668 at Schwäbisch Hall in Hon-hardt and, at an early age, he attended Latin school in Crailsheim, a town in modern Baden-Württemberg. He studied theology and humanities at Tübingen in 1688; then at Wittenberg he studied theology and philosophy and received his Master’s degree in 1690, before attending the University of Halle in 1693 to study law. After studying law and lecturing on the history of philosophy at Halle, Ludewig took up a professorship position there in theoretical philosophy in 1695. During his studies at Wittenberg and Halle, Ludewig was influenced by one of the most important figures in the evolution of German law, the jurist Samuel Stryk (d.1710). In this disputation written in 1699, Ludewig presents his ideas in a juristic systematic fashion by giving arguments and counterarguments before expressing his own judgment. Ludewig became the chair in history at Halle in 1703. A year later, he became the Court Historiographer and received his doctorate in law, and then in 1705 he took up the legal professorship position at Halle, which he held for the rest of his life. In 1722, he was appointed Chancellor of the University of Halle. Ludewig was also involved in politics, being appointed to the Privy Council in 1718 and becoming the Chancellor of the Duchy of Magdeburg in 1741. He died in Halle in 1743 ?

Variant Names: loh. Petr. Ludovico, Johann Peter Ludewig, Joan. Petrus de Ludewig, loannes Petrus Ludewig, Johannes Petrus Ludewig, Johann Petrus Ludovic, and Johann Peter Ludovici

Summary and Analysis

In his disputatio, Ludewig provides a history of rational philosophy among the Arabs and sets out to contextualize the Turks’ attitude to it. Like many Lutheran scholars of the time, Ludewig believed that Islam, as a religion, impeded the development of rational philosophy in the Arab world. However, unlike those philosophers, he examines external influences that may have fed the interest of Arab Muslims in rational philosophy, especially dialectic. He begins by suggesting that before Islam Arabs contributed to Greek philosophy and argues that the prevalent depiction of pre-Islamic Arabs (jahiliyya) as barbarians fails to account for their being not only exposed to, but also contributing to, literature and philosophy.2 Ludewig provides several arguments to support the claim that Arabs cultivated wisdom. For example, he argues that, during his journeys to the East, Pythagoras studied with teachers in Arabia descended from Abraham; they were exceptional teachers in divination and augury, and witnesses to Abraham’s philosophy, contributing to its survival. Thus, Ludewig argues that the pre-Islamic Arabs practiced the art of disputation, even though they developed different modes of thought than the Greeks. He explains that the inhabitants of ancient Arabia were eager to learn their own language, the properties of speech, poetic arts, the composition of orations, and knowledge of the stars. These five focal points of study coincide with and, therefore, lend themselves to the development of an Arabic philosophical system based on five disciplines: grammar, dialectic, poetry, rhetoric, and astronomy.

Ludewig’s focus, however, is on the dialectic, a form of rational inquiry based on a dialogue consisting of arguments and counter-arguments (advocating propositions and counter-propositions) in the quest for truth. According to the seventeenth-century travel writer Johannes Cotovicus (d. 1629), who wrote an account of a journey to Jerusalem and Syria, the pre-Islamic Arabs placed considerable emphasis on practicing dialectic and rhetoric because it was rooted in ancestral customs. Ludewig uses the biblical story of Job as an example of dialectic from Arabic ancestry, arguing that the art of dialectics begins for the Arabs with the Jewish Holy Scripture. Rather than attribute the philosophical development of dialectics to the Jews, Ludewig makes the strenuous argument that Job was in fact of Arab descent. With this example of Job, who Ludewig claims is an Arab, it seems he is excluding Judaism from the creation of dialectic.

Ludewig argues that philosophy assumed a different form after Muhammad, who initially declared war on the liberal arts by issuing grave and serious exhortations to every follower who pursued these endeavors. He argues that Muhammad was illiterate and in order to remain in control, he ensured that all Muslims who studied the liberal arts would be criminally charged. According to Ludewig, for Muslims, the focus of study was the Qur’an, and no additional time was allotted to the blasphemous learning of liberal philosophy. Because of Muhammad’s attempt to protect the authority of his religion, Arabs became unaccustomed to learning and the ancient Arabic philosophers were lost to them. Ludewig considers the time of Muhammad and the inception of Islam as a time of ignorance because Islam’s doctrines and dogmas replaced the intellectual flexibility he associated with rational modes of thought.

Ludewig goes on to suggest that philosophy was reborn among the Arabs because of Christian influence, arguing that Christian and Arab

Muslim business relations re-exposed the Arab Muslims to Greek philosophy. In fact, Arab Muslims recognized the value of dialectic when they disputed with Christians. Ludewig explains that to keep his followers in harmony, Muhammad ordered them to refrain from disputations and to act in accordance with his sacred dogmas, not by reason but by faith. However, when this order was not fully observed, the result was the creation of a multitude of Islamic sects that sought to use rational philosophy to make their faith intelligible to others or to correct logic errors in Islamic theology.










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Figure 7.1 Johann Peter von Ludewig, Disputatione inaugurali historiam rationalis philosophiae apud Arabes et Turcas, 1699 (Courtesy of the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden).

In short, Ludewig presents Islam as antithetical to modern philosophical developments and points to Muhammad’s obsession with control over his populace as the reason behind the general reluctance of many Muslims to study liberal arts. In contrast, Ludewig presents rational philosophy as the natural conclusion of Christian thinking (referring to the Christian God as rational “logos”) and claims that exposure to Christian intellectuals and ideas would lead to the re-emergence of rational philosophy among Muslims as he believed it had done before. Unlike Orthodox Lutherans, such as Pfeiffer and Kromayer, in his conclusion, Ludewig prays that Muslim philosophers cultivate reason to overcome the deceit of Muhammadanists toward rational worship. The use of the contentious and seemingly oxymoronic phrase “rational worship” (logikê latreia: XoyiKij Xatpeia, from Rom. 12:1), combining “rationality” and “worship” together reflects, to a certain extent, the Enlightenment belief that reason could be used to understand the nature of God against any type of irrational religiosity. The idea of worshipping God rationally and equating God with reason shows the intellectual engagement of Protestant scholars with Enlightenment rationalism.3

Inaugural Disputation on the History of Rational Philosophy among the Arabs and Turks (Halle, 1699)

Every Discipline Needs a History

Although the history of geniuses [in rational philosophy] is synonymous with the name of [Gilles] Ménage, others such as [Lilius Gregorius] Gyraldus, [Peter] Criniti, Vergil, Renecci, Peirerius, Patritius, Crispus, Lipsius, Lavnoius, Adami, Heurnius, Vossius, Lambecius, Johnston, [Georg] Hornius, [Johannes] Schefferus, [Pierre] Gassendi, Stanley, Theophilus [Gale], and Thomasius pioneered annals of art and literature, dealing with the greatest minds of this and earlier ages. By periodically studying these annals closely, these geniuses compared them with the writings of ancient authors. After reading so many and such great names, one might ask oneself whether anything remains today that has not been influenced by the studious work of these men. Some have written on the general history of philosophy, others have shown what has been done in individual schools of philosophy; but none of them have focused on a specific discipline [of philosophy]; I should think this Sparta yet awaits a leader and a man. I want the history of logic—that is, its beginnings, its progress, its methods, its authors, its practice, and transformation—to be written fully and comprehensively. One could do the same with the other disciplines of philosophy; this would greatly benefit the Republic of Letters.4 Indeed, I know that [Petrus] Ramus and [Bartholomaus] Keckermann attempted something in the history of rational philosophy; Gassendi was also successfully engaged in tracing

Philosophy among the Arabs and Turks 185 out certain schools of dialectics. But no one has put each of these histories together, added in what was missing, or explained completely what one wished to know—no such person has yet appeared. Therefore, I determined that my hard work would contribute as well. I conceived of writing the Polyhistor Logicus, where I seek to present the history of logic and diligently follow up on it in chronological order, for I wanted to leave the glory to others, either to fulfill or increase the thousands of Logica that have already been published, with the thought that it would be better if I covered the full history of logic which began in rational philosophy. But whether the hardship at this time in my life (not to speak too gravely) hindered my discipline and very nearly extinguished it or a certain event drew my studies elsewhere, it so happened that my mind became a little disaccustomed to this practice, and my first efforts failed. Since I wanted most of the material that I had researched not to perish among the various authors of greater renown, I decided to break up these sections into individual topics and thus, to have a systematic rationale for this undertaking. [...]. Therefore, I do not offer here something fully fleshed out, but I give you only an outline of a dialectic of the Turks, which neither permits nor endures revision until I return to this study and create a more substantial body of work.

Division of the Work

As I am going to write the history of rational philosophy among the Turks, I shall divide up this work so that I may first delve into certain elements of the ancient dialectic of the Arabs; then I shall explain the current state of this discipline among the Turks with as much faith and diligence as I can.

On Rational Philosophy among the Ancient Arabs: Were the Arabs Aware of Literature? A Confirmation and Response to Initial Doubts

The fact that wisdom was not born in Greece is acknowledged among the Greeks themselves; it is no less certain that it was summoned from the East. Rather, the Arabs contributed to Greek philosophy, although philosophy was studied by a few, as it seems they had more of an interest. Those who consider the Arabs barbarians are guilty of the same fault as those who are ignorant of geography. For just as the latter consider unknown lands to be deserts, so the former find fault with those peoples whose customs are unknown to them, and do not consider them a people worthy of acquaintance. But even the Arabic writers themselves called the times in Arabia before Muhammad “ages of ignorance” [jahiliyya], such that foreigners [non-Muslims] imposed letters on them in vain and indigenous witnesses called them ignorant in the arts.

They offer Gregory Abu al-Faraj of Malatya [as evidence], who said the following about ancient Arabia:

As for the Arabs who remain, a double state is suitable for them: one of ignorance, the other of Islam. But the state of the Arabs in their times of ignorance is famous among the nations for its resiliency and might.

Many people cite these words, as though the study of letters was exiled from Arabia; but ignorance is not in opposition here with the arts, but with religion, for he writes that light drew near the divine culture with the dogmas of Muhammad, when previously the Arabs had been wrapped up in the shadows of idolatry. So, I think that the author is right, but that letters existed among the Arabs before. So why did Abu al-Faraj call them ignorant? He immediately declares that the Arabs are versed in rhetoric, logic, astronomy, and poetry. This raises a doubt that Abu al-Faraj considers the character of the Arabs to be unsuitable for the liberal arts. But he either does not say the same thing about the Arab nation as a whole, or he contradicts himself. For who would call men unfit for studies who were already considered skilled in the arts? Why? Because the opposite is rather agreed upon, based on the reasoning and character of that atmosphere. Edmund Castellus argues as follows:

Has the East always been considered the most favorable to the Muses? Why not also its kingdoms? I will not have it. Look at Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, Ctesias, who assure us at every point with offered examples that everything is prettier, finer, and better in Asia [Castellus is talking about Arabia] than that which is found in Europe. Minerals and metals in the earth, plants and trees above, more pure and healthier air, a much clearer and calmer sky.

Thus Holdsworth, a man most skilled in philology, gave proof with examples that Asiatic authors always surpassed European ones. Additionally, among the feeble spirits of the Thebans one would find men like Epaminondas. Yet they say that he was buried in everlasting oblivion, although the Arabs know something of his arts. For thus Abu al-Faraj says about the ancient inhabitants of Arabia, “the nations have been destroyed, we are deprived of accurate historical memory of them, and their reasoning has utterly vanished (i.e., because their historical works have vanished), with which we could seek after traces of them.” Yet this itself is what we shall now investigate.

Arguments for the Fact that Arabs Do Not Lack Literature/Philosophy

Since the Arabic [historical] writings did not survive, non-indigenous sources have had to be used, and when they themselves are insufficient

Philosophy among the Arabs and Turks 187 we must use reasoning if we are to have any hope of pursuing this matter in our conjectures.

Argument 1: Many sources have shown that Pythagoras undertook journeys to the East for the sake of his studies, but Porphyry recalls that he also found teachers in Arabia. According to Diogenes: “Pythagoras reached both the Egyptians and the Arabs.”

Argument 2: Schefferus argues that he learned divination [the augural art] while he was among the Arabs: divinations based on the flight and squawking of birds, and the knowledge of augury as Philostratus claims that the Arabs were outstanding in both. It is believed that Moses had the same experience, because when he was fleeing from Egypt he preferred to stay in Arabia more than anywhere else. Since he was a godly man, soundly trained in every wisdom, it is not likely that he would have wished to rot in idleness among barbarians and dimwits if all the inhabitants of Arabia had been illiterate.

Argument 3: The origin of that people does not allow us to question the literacy of the Arabs. With marvelous agreement, the Arabs say that they are the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, if they are plain witnesses of Abraham’s philosophy, how shall we say that his descendants snuffed out his light once it was lit? Especially since we know, citing al-Shahrastani, that the Arabs believe themselves to be descended from Abraham. In fact, they say that the writings of Abraham himself survive in Arabia.

Argument 4: There is also what the author of the Book of Kings says about Solomon, that his wisdom was greater “than everyone’s in the Orient.” We do not doubt this fact about the Arabs, as it is presented by men who were skilled in the Holy Tongue, with an indubitable argument again of Arabic learning.

Argument 5: Actually, it is the opinion of learned men that the Queen of Sheba came from Arabia for an audience with the wisest King, standing strong and not lacking in reasoning skills.

Argument 6: Why? Because the most outstanding men argue that the Magi from the East were themselves Arabs, such that, Pliny and Ptolemy, two very bright men, considered Arabia rightly and properly the home of the Magi. Although almost everyone considers them a stupid and wretched people, whoever reads this will grant that the ancient Arabs were in fact cultivators of wisdom.

The Arabs Proved to Be Rational and Zealous Philosophers

After examining the philosophy of the Arabs, I must ask if they were also trained in that part of philosophy that is engaged in argumentation. One may wonder whether the ancient Arabs valued dialectic. However, [by dialectic], I mean here not a natural but a customary ability, as I do not want the same art [dialectic] to be restricted solely to the pleasures of the Greeks, nor indeed to those of a single citizen of Stagira. Because if one asks about the Greeks’ logic or about the Aristotelian Organon, itis obvious that the ancient Arabs knew nothing of his school. But there is not one road to truth, nor are all the lessons concerning the art of argumentation the same; for I agree here with a certain man’s famous bon-mot: “Men have argued before Aristotle, the God of syllogisms, was born.” Yet it suffices only to prove this here: that the ancient Arabs, just like the rest, practiced the art of disputation. These are my arguments, which prove the matter.

Argument 1: Abu al-Faraj himself is a witness in this matter, for he writes about the ancient inhabitants of Arabia: “The learning of the Arabs, for which glory they were particularly eager, was as follows: knowledge of their language, property of speech, poetic arts, the composition of orations, and knowledge of the stars.” Also, Arabic philosophy was formed of five disciplines; namely, grammar, dialectic, poetry, rhetoric, and astronomy. Only one of these concerns us here: dialectic. Others shall have to look into the rest. There are many reasons that suggest that this “property of speech” means the “dialectical art.” Certainly this “property of speech” about which Abu al-Faraj speaks either pertains to grammar or is a part of oratory or of dialectic. But it can be called neither the first [grammar] nor the second [oratory], for the author wants it to be distinct from the others. Therefore, I must necessarily advocate this last one [dialectic].

Argument 2: Johannes Cotovicus writes that the Arabs of this age, who have not changed their old manner of living and teaching, while ignoring all other studies, practice dialectic and rhetoric, which, in my opinion, seems to be due to the ancient customs of their ancestors.

Argument 3: For the wisest of the ancient Arabs have an example of dialectic in Job, the first man who was clearly outstanding in the literate world in this skill. They make a good many convincing arguments that Job was an Arab, which the experts most skilled in Eastern philology also confirm. But they so far miss the mark that Job disputed, argued, answered, regressed, made exceptions, limited terms, which is clear chiefly in his speeches with his customary friends, such that we prefer to think he is right and is among the dialectical princes of his time. We have many men among the ancients who agree on this matter, among whom Jerome, Ambrose, and Cassiodorus suffice to mention at this point. Not to mention more recent figures who also reached the same conclusions by their own calculation. So, what if Job, the prince of dialecticians, was an Arab? Should we doubt that the study of dialectic flourished in Arabia? [...]. Leaving behind the rest of Arabia’s ancient inhabitants, let us now examine more recent men to reveal the fate of rational philosophy among the Turks.

Arab Philosophy in the Post-Muhammad Era

(From the Year 650) and the Decline of Ancient Philosophy

Indeed, philosophy after Muhammad took on quite a different appearance; for those people who think that the study of letters began among the Arabs are mistaken as has been shown, although it is beyond doubt that the philosophy of the Greeks first became known to the Asiatic people and the Arabs as well after these times [post-Muhammad era]. I pray that my perception in this matter may be keen, and that I may discern the cause of this change to letters that took place in Arabia. Muhammad had declared war on the belles-lettres, issuing grave and serious exhortations to every follower of his school against the culture of letters. Lest they should perhaps have free time to steep their minds in philosophy, after he wrote a book of his teachings, called the Qur’an, which they were to read, learn, understand, and resort to their strength and blood, he so engaged their better characters that no time would seem to be left to them for other sorts of studies. Then too, whatever was useful for his followers to know he kept in that book so they could be persuaded, but he considered the rest to be superfluous or useless. Either he did this to protect the authority of his religion, which was founded in fraud and from the bits and bobs of superstitious men (as he required faith from his followers, not knowledge), or he had another reason. Yet it came to pass that the Arabs became disaccustomed to letters, and those arts of Abraham, Job, the Sabean woman [the Queen of Sheba], and the Magi, were lost to them, although they had been cultivated by their ancestors with such great zeal, as we have shown. Therefore, as all men do, I consider the times immediately after Muhammad to be times not of knowledge, but of ignorance.

Birth of a New Philosophy among the Arabs

Once Muhammad’s doctrine made the Arabs disaccustomed to good letters, like some sort of couch of ignorance, by some kindness of fate they were at last roused again to their culture and natural skills. This did not occur all at once; there were many factors that led them to better understanding.

Reason 1: Christians often conducted business among the Arab Muslims. When the Arabs saw that the Christians were trained in Greek philosophy, they came to understand how much honor lay in letters.

Reason 2: When Muslims ever came into conflict with Christians— which happened often—then they understood the use dialectic provided in disputes.

Reason 3: Then Muslims turned their minds toward the other sciences, for understanding and explaining—and more so, for defending— the Qur’an.

Reason 4: They also recognized the value of the art of dialectics further when differences of opinion arose among themselves concerning the head of the Muslim religion.

Reason 5: When one considers that, after so many peoples were conquered, they frequently found libraries and other books of letters they wanted (as tends to happen) to be trained in the use of dialectics. So, at last I believe the Arabs also acquired Greek philosophy, which had long ruled in the world.


Moreover, it is agreed that dialectic was among the first arts that the Arabs cultivated. Whether because they believed that, without dialectic, there were no means to convince the others [non-believers]; or because the individual reasons I have stated above seemed to commend it to them. Now I will investigate the success the Arabs enjoyed in learning and cultivating this art of debate.

History of the Birth and Progress of Rational Philosophy among the Muhammadans

I have found three authors, who have mentioned Turkish philosophy in our day. Baptista Donatus, the Venetian Senator; Samuel Schelwig, the overseer of the people of Danzig; and Abraham Hinckelmann; the overseer of the people of Hamburg. But perhaps their works had another aim. I know that their work did not help me in any way at all in my little work: there was nothing about the literature of the ancient Arabs, nothing about the cause, time, or history of Greek philosophy being brought to Arabia. There is so much missing concerning the history of logic among the Arabs though one of these authors makes some mention of it in order to deny that the study of dialectic flourished among the Turks.5 Therefore, as I am the first to write on this subject, I shall endeavor to make up for the deficiencies of these authors in my own work.

I have read that for roughly a hundred years and more after the death of Muhammad, the Arabs were in ignorance, being disaccustomed to the ancient discipline that we Christians have restored for them for the most part. But afterwards, I think that they began to struggle out of this shameful laziness. I will now demonstrate how this was done. Indeed, I have shown above that the Christian Arabs had studied Greek literature, but the Muslim Arabs had many obstacles preventing them from taking part. First, the caliphs avoided Greek philosophy, partially so that the Arab Muslims would not become familiar with these works, and partially so they would not be associated with Christians, and second, because of the foreignness of the Greek language in which these works were taught. The Arab Muslims had to labor to remove both obstacles. I have shown in paragraph 7 how they overcame the first obstacle. For the second obstacle, there was no better solution than to translate the writers from Greek to Arabic. After this I read in Abu al-Faraj that caliph Walid ordered the Christians, in about the year 710, to use Arabic instead of Greek. Fifty years or so after this, there were also clear signs that caliph al-Mansur wanted to translate the works of the Greek

Philosophy among the Arabs and Turks 191 philosophers into Arabic. We know that under his successor al-Mahdi, the works of Homer were translated from Greek to Syriac. But under Harun al-Rashid’s rule (810 AD), who succeeded this caliph, not only were schools in Greek philosophy founded among the Muslims, but he also had the chief practitioners of every kind of learning with him in his entourage at home and abroad. But whatever remnants of Greek philosophy had sometimes been welcomed among the Muslims up to this point was soon dismissed again. Under caliph al-Ma’mun, Greek philosophy had finally so insinuated itself into the Arab court that it seemed it had flown from Greece across the sea into Arabia for this caliph was most praiseworthy, and he himself was learned. Al-Ma’mun drew scholars who knew Greek philosophy and provided them with large earnings; he eagerly searched for books from all places, especially Greece, and paid great remunerations, and he ordered the most excellent to be translated from Greek to Arabic. Finally, he commended the philosophers to his subjects because of their excellent maxims, so that belles-lettres could be nurtured in Arabia in the schools that had opened far and wide. This ought to be a source of immortal glory to the great caliph.

The Progress of Philosophy among the Muslims and their Studies, Especially of Dialectic

This finally brought about that true age of Greek philosophy to Muslim Arabia, in a fortunate and blessed beginning. Philosophy sunk such deep roots after those times that it could not be torn up by the tyranny of one man or another. [...]. I will now consider the chief philosophers among the Muslims and Arabs, but especially those who had a regard for the art of dialectic. In the time of caliph al-Mutawakkil (850 AD), a school of Greek philosophy flourished among the Muslims, which Yuhanna ibn Masawayh had opened. We even read that there was a renowned philosopher among them called Ishaq ibn Hunayn. The foremost dialectician among the Muslims, Ya'qub al-Kindi, and also Qusta ibn Luqa, not much his junior, lived not long after Ishaq ibn Hunayn. In the early tenth century, many were celebrated with praise for their philosophy, so that there was a mention of the Muslim Academy in history (940 AD). Thabit ibn Qurrah, a writer of dialectic, also lived in this time. About ten years after him, there was the celebrated Matta b. Yunus, who was called a dialectician because of his brilliance in logic. Afterwards al-FarabT revealed the secrets of the art of analytics to the Muslims. Afrihi ibn ‘Adi, close to him in age, was just as highly praised. Not long afterwards, they prevailed over the Islamic scholars, who confessed that theology was mixed with error, which could not be corrected, except through logic. Muhammad al-Buzjani, a renowned dialectician, lived at the same time, and in this art, there was no less praise for al-Farabi, Abu Bakr al-Razi, and al-Baqillani. Abu ‘Abd Allah would have been unknownif he had not acted as the logic teacher for the great Avicenna. Everyone knows what Avicenna’s reputation for medicine was like. Avicenna, writing about himself, says that though he had an incompetent teacher, God himself made the art of dialectic clear to him in dreams. So, what do they know—who claimed he was philosophically blind? Abu al-Faraj ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Tayyib was near him in age, and he himself was an eminent dialectician.

In the following century (1150 AD), the distinguished men were Abul-Chais, al-Ghazali, al-Tughrai, al-Sharif, Saighus, Abu al-Barakat al-Baghdadi, Ibn al-Husayn, Abu’l Helmus, al-Maghribl, Ibn Tufayl, Ibn al-Baytar, and others; some in medicine; some in astrology; and some in math; but all the most celebrated among their own people in the art of dialectic. Also, the thirteenth century was not barren in wise men either. For we read that Averroes, the philosopher, theologian, jurist, doctor and astrologer, who was the most skilled in all these disciplines, was attended by great fame and renowned for his writings and teachings, not only among his own people but among any learned nation. So much so that though the others I have mentioned were translated among Muslims alone, many, though obviously in error, gave credit to this man for translating Greek philosophy into Arabic. Near contemporaries or successors to him were ‘Abd al-Salam, Yahya ibn Sa‘id, Sa‘id b. Hibatullah, Muhammad, Maimonides, al-Razi, al-MasThi, al-Yusuf, al-Hasan, Ya‘qub, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, and Najm al-Din al-Qazwini, who was not only skilled in logic like the others, but also made a great addition to this discipline with new tenets he had devised. The fourteenth century produced men no less praiseworthy in this same discipline. Among them, since I now pass over those from lesser nations, Nasir al-Din al-TusT and Najm al-Din al-Qazwini deserve special mention, but of these two, and certainly of all the rest, al-Tusi deserves first place, if not for his teachings then for his fame and kindnesses, for he was a man of stupendous learning and the most translated writer in all fields of knowledge. Also, al-Tusi was considered the best prefect and the universal head teacher of all the schools and universities in the kingdom of the Mongols, though there were so many. He is now in the vanguard of Arabic philosophy. Thus, it followed, with literary studies ordered so well and wisely, that the Muslims easily transmitted them to posterity and entrusted them to the centuries to come, so that we now know that the Muslims are not without these councilors of wisdom.

Muslim Universities

We have considered the main practitioners and teachers of the art of dialectic. I will now touch upon the teachings of the academies among Muslims. From the beginning, experts in these skills were free to discover stores of wisdom wherever they wanted; their literary education

Philosophy among the Arabs and Turks 193 was not fixed to one location. There were more cities that sustained men who taught youth. I have given examples to prove this. Indeed, among those cities, Baghdad had a literary school built at the prerogative of the universities. At that time, professors of all orders were celebrated and each had their own rank and office, their own wages, and six thousand young students of belles-lettres. It seemed that the university lacked no perfection or fame in the literate world.

The Enemies of Philosophy among the Muslims

Although wiser men would have understood that it was a gift of God that belles-lettres came to Arabia from Greece, madness and insanity drove some of them the other way. Under a false pretense of peace, some scholars and teachers defended their old laziness, so that they filled the lazy minds of the dreaming and sleepy youth with superstition, under the guise of religion, while men with acute intelligence roused their minds and spirits. They did not allow themselves to be led by the well-ordered authority of the magistrates, to be enveloped in too much religion, and to be bewitched and ensnared by the charms of the Mufti, but rather sighed in the depths of their hearts so that they could worship God, who is in truth the Christian God, with logic, that is to say logical worship. So, the sum of my prayers is that they [Arab/Muslim rational philosophers] finally uncover and recognize the deceit of the Muhammadanists toward rational worship (logike latreia) by cultivating reason with the assistance of God.


  • 1 Ludewig’s biography was compiled from the following sources: Johann Heinrich Zedler (ed.), “Ludewig, Joh. Peter von,” Grosses vollständiges Universal-Lexicon aller Wissenschafften und Künste, vol. 18 (Leipzig, 1738), 954-9; Reinhold Koser, “Ludewig, Johann Peter von,” in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, vol. 19 (Leipzig, 1884), 379-81; Notker Hammerstein, Jus und Historie. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des historischen Denkens an deutschen Universitäten im späten 17. und 18. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1972), 169-204; and Bernd Roeck, “Ludewig, Johann Peter von” in Neue Deutsche Biographie, vol. 15 (Berlin: Bürklein-Ditmar, 1987), 293-5; Flood, Poets Laureate in the Holy Roman Empire, 1208-10.
  • 2 [MK] On the pre-Islamic period as Islam’s past, see Michael Cook and Carol Bakhos (eds.), Islam and Its Past: Jahiliyya, Late Antiquity and the Qur’an (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).
  • 3 [MK] The idea of worship that comes from knowledge or of a rational service to God (logike latreia) was an important concept among Reformed and Anglican scholars in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. See two examples, Reformed and Anglican works respectively; Wilhelmus ä Brakel, Logike latreia, dat is Redelyke godtsdienst, in welke de goddelyke waer-heaen des genaden-verbondts worden verklaert, tegen partyen beschermt,

en tot de practyke aengedrongen (Rotterdam: Hendrik vanden Aak, 1715) and Ireneus Freeman, Logike Latreia: The Reasonablenesse of Divine Service: Or Non-conformity to Common-prayer, Proved, Not Comfortable to Common Reason (London: Thomas Basset, 1661).

  • 4 [MK] On the Republic of Letters, see Marc Fumaroli, The Republic of Letters, trans. Lara Vergnaud (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018).
  • 5 Among the Lutheran authors, Ludewig is the one who noticed the importance of the study of dialectic among the Turks. Dialectic was not only significant for the study of law or as a theory, it permeated in all fields of knowledge, including the Ottoman divan poetry, and even up until the early twentieth century. See Mehmet Karabela, "Lovers in the Age of the Beloveds: The Classical Ottoman Divan Literature and the Dialectical Tradition,” in Beloved: Love and Languishing in Middle Eastern Literatures and Cultures, eds. Alireza Korangy, Hanadi al-Samman and Michael Beard (London: LB. Tauris, 2018), 285-99; idem, “The Dialectical Discourse in Classical Ottoman Literature: The Beloved between Lover and Rival in the Game of Love,” The Journal of Turkish Literature 10 (2013): 7-19; and "Be^ir Fuad and His Opponents: The Form of a Debate over Literature and Truth in Nineteenth-Century Istanbul,” The Journal of Turkish Literature 8 (2011): 96-106.
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