From Loss to Enlightenment

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The idea that Persians and Arabic speakers would seriously consider, discuss and follow Aristotle seems unthinkable today though with the rise of Postmodernism the West is again rejecting the old dead white man. Will Dura Outstanding, The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Islamic World was not as forthcoming in the collapse of Islamic high read: "westernized" culture, relegating the fact to one sentence, and replacing it with a long series of genealogies.

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I suppose it is not politically correct to point out that the mullahs and imams in charge are denying their own culture and enslaving their own people. The West should at least advocate that the immense learning of Islam, still held in libraries in mosques, but cut off from ordinary citizens where is Sean Connery when you need him? But, alas, to do so once again unleashes the forces of reason, which no Diktat can stand. Read the book, take your heart pill, and enjoy the fact that for a while great thinkers existed in Central Asia, while we in the West were holed up in our cold castles, suffering from our own form of mullahs and imams.

Apr 22, Maged Zeineldin rated it it was amazing Shelves: best-books-i-read.

From Loss To Enlightenment

It is a great book that covers a highly unknown history. As the author indicated, in the West, people tend to think about middle ages as dark ages with no contribution to the current civilization. The book shows how this idea is simply wrong. However, the author, probably as a bias to central Asia or a bias against Arabs and Islam, tried hard to separate the civilization in central Asia and Arabic civilization.

He tried to find roots for "Central Asian" civilization in the local history with lit It is a great book that covers a highly unknown history. He tried to find roots for "Central Asian" civilization in the local history with little or minor evidences for that. The author also minimized or completely discounted the role of Abbasid caliphates when discussing the scientific and cultural life in Bagdad trying to give all the credits to Barmaks or Bano-Musa rather than Haron Al-Rashed and AlMamon.

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The author also over-emphasized any action of the central Asian scientists and thinkers that does not go with Islam, like if one of them drank wine, as if the author trying to make a case that this enlighentment has no relation to islam. Of course the history, political and social structure of the region had roles in this enlightenment.

However, it is clear that this enlightenment boomed years after arab conquest of the region these are just examples. The stars of this enlightenment not only wrote in arabic but have arabic names "signifying the effect of Arab". Finally but most important, although the enlightenment was boomed in central Asia, other parts of Arabic-Islamic civilization showed clear signs of enlightenment too with great scientists and thinkers as Alhazen, Ibn Alnafees, Alzahrawy, Averroes, etc in Bagdad, Damascus, Cairo, Cordova and other centers for this middle ages civilization.

This does not diminish the fascinating the role of central Asia but putting it in the context of the whole region from borders of China to Iberia. Sep 08, Daniel Polansky added it. Pretty much as the subtitle says — an intellectual history of Central Asia during that period when it was dominating the philosophical, mathematical, medical and scientific firmaemnt.. Always interesting to read about a part of the world of which I know only a little, of which Central Asia is at the top of the list. Really made me want to take off on my do-before-I-die trip through the 'stans.

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Somewhat dry, but that's to be expected given the nature of the work. It also gave a lot of pushback to Pretty much as the subtitle says — an intellectual history of Central Asia during that period when it was dominating the philosophical, mathematical, medical and scientific firmaemnt.. It also gave a lot of pushback to the Mongols-as-civilization-builders meme which has gotten a lot of play in academic circles in recent years, though to be blunt I have absolutely no capacity to mediate in this particular dispute. Interesting if you have the time. Feb 21, Laila rated it did not like it.

This region of central Asia was a part of Persian Empire up until the time of Muslim Invasion subsequently it became a part of Abbasid Empire who inherited the Persian Administrative System. The language of the people is Persian Farsi. These central Asians called themselves Iranians. View 2 comments. Feb 29, Patricia rated it it was amazing Shelves: islamic-history-culture , classical-and-medieval-history , central-asia , steppe-history. Absolutely outstanding. The other reviewers have said it all. Comprehensive but brief, inspiring and challenging, provocative.

Every Central Asian should read this seminal work regardless where they live and what nationality the identify with.

Loss on the Way to Enlightenment

Jan 15, Sabastian Hunt rated it it was amazing. This book reminded me of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in the way that it is a sort of compendium of scientific advancements. This book covers philosophy, religion, art, governance, war and so many more topics that occurred in Central Asia between the 7th century through the Timur reign of the 14th century.


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This book is definitely not for the casual reader. It has a ton of details Wow. It has a ton of details and jumps around chronologically a bit more than I would've liked but I don't really know how better the author could've organized this work on such an expansive and unwieldy topic.

However, the author did do a fair job relating this period earlier and later times. If you're really interested in history: read this in conjunction with The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan and if you're really into history definitely read this before reading The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn.

If you haven't read much Aristotle this book will definitely make you want to do that which is in my queue. Aristotle was referenced probably times and in Islam he is referred to as "The First Teacher" with Abu Al-Nasr Al-Farabi being "The Second Teacher" for his work expounding on Aristotle and reconciling philosophy and Sufi mysticism when he wasn't doing experiments on space vacuums and formalizing logic or writing about the ideal city.

Reading this book will definitely put into perspective the idea of European Dominance.


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This incredibly dynamic land that was bound by the Middle East, Europe, China and India led the world in innovation and culture for a long while - none of the advancements of the Enlightenment are guaranteed without this period of Central Asian flowering. From this book you get introduced to famous ancient cities like Samarkand, Merv, and Balkh which were among the most populous in the world during this period. You'll get a look into how these cities functions and you'll hear about how each of these cities employed hundreds of hydraulic engineers who designed and managed sophisticated systems to pipe in water to sustain the cities.

You'll also get introduced to the people who anticipated Freud, Jane Jacobs, and Darwin. We learn about Razi the rational logician and heretical scientist who is considered the first father of psychology and psychotherapy. We learn about the Barmak Clan which seemed to be a family of rich patrons like the Medici of Italy centuries later who financed innovation. Other notable figures of the era are Al-Kwarazmi who codified algebra and is the namesake for the term "algorithm.

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The history of this region is so much greater than we'll ever know because the Islamic invasion, and the resulting orthodoxy quashed some of the progress at times. Thousands of books during this time are thought to have been destroyed. The Seljuk reign and Gazali with his work "The Incoherence of the Philosphers" and t he Mongols were among the final nails in the coffin of the Central Asian Enlightenment. All in all this is a bear of a book and it should be expanded on and maybe put in a more digestible form for readers.

I would actually really like to see this book adapted into a historical fiction Netflix series.

The dynamic people of Central Asia with rich traditions and bright ideas deserve to have their stories told to the world so that we can understand their true contribution to the world of science, culture, philosophy, governance, etc. Mar 19, Kalle Nordenstorm rated it really liked it. Fine book.

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From Loss to Enlightenment - AbeBooks - Corinne Beth Gravenese:

Pre Islam at least some ordinary people could read. Hence no pictures in national geographic, zero tourists, zero marketing and little knowledge of the civilization. The region had unsustainable agriculture, slowly Fine book. The region had unsustainable agriculture, slowly turning the land salt and infertile.

Hence it is semi-dead today. The region also touched upon China and India, making it the hub of all civilization.

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