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A New History of the HumanitiesThe Search for Principles and Patterns from Antiquity to the Present$
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Rens Bod

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199665211

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665211.001.0001

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The Middle Ages: The Universal and the Particular

The Middle Ages: The Universal and the Particular

(p.74) 3 The Middle Ages: The Universal and the Particular
A New History of the Humanities

Rens Bod

Oxford University Press

It is hard to tell when the humanities of the ancient world became the medieval humanities. Usually the ‘end’ of Graeco-Roman humanities is marked by the flight to Persia of the last followers of Plato’s academy when it was closed by Emperor Justinian in 529. The expansion of Islam established a flourishing culture of learning and science that extended from Persia to Africa, and reached the European world via Sicily and Spain. The humanities were at their most vigorous in this Islamic civilization. Although China and India seem to have gone their own way, they exerted noticeable influence on Islamic culture, with al-Biruni acting as a pivot between India and the Arabic world, and Buddhist monks fulfilling the same role between India and China. There was also interaction between China and Islamic civilization in Samarkand that reached Europe by way of Byzantium.

Keywords:   Fragmentation, Continuation of Antiquity, Rule-based versus example-based, Religious revolution

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