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Aristotle's Children

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  495 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Europe was in the long slumber of the Middle Ages, the Roman Empire was in tatters, and the Greek language was all but forgotten, until a group of twelfth-century scholars rediscovered and translated the works of Aristotle. His ideas spread like wildfire across Europe, offering the scientific view that the natural world, including the soul of man, was a proper subject of s ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published September 20th 2004 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,676)
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Trevor
I’ve always been more than a little fond of Aristotle. In fact, I love just about everything about him. Look, I know he said horrible things about women and that he also thought slavery was ok – but then, so did Jesus, so it is probably a little much to expect him to be more politically correct than God was able to manage. At anytime between when he was kicking up the dust with his sandals in Athens until about the 15th Century if you wanted to know where the action was, where people were actual ...more
Peter
Oct 25, 2007 Peter rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: humans
Okay. A book about the middle ages, right? Uh-huh. But wait, not only about the (ugh!) middle ages, but about PHILOSOPHY in the middle ages? You're kidding, right? But, you say, there's more? It's not just about medieval philosophy and philosophers, but also about the intricate, and delicate balance between rationalism and faith in revelation, is that what you're telling me? And about how three distinct strains emerging? One that rejected faith for reason, one that rejected reason for faith, and ...more
George
This is a lively and interesting history of the conflict between reason and faith that began with Aristotle and continues to this day. It’s also the story of how Aristotle’s writings, after being lost to the West for almost a thousand years, were rediscovered in Muslim Spain and then made their way into the universities of Europe (especially Paris), setting off the reason/faith debate as well as many other debates in metaphysics, ethics, politics, science, law, logic, and more.

Full of suspensefu
...more
Fraser Kinnear
A great book - Rubenstein takes you through the middle ages, spendig most of his time in the very productive 1300s, explaining how the rediscovered teachings of Aristotle changed western culture (read: Catholic theology). I had no idea how much intellectual development occurred then - I thought our advance was stifled until the Rennisance. Key figures discussed were Aristotle (obviously), Augustine, Peter Abelard, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas (and Dominicans in general), William of Ockam (amd Fram ...more
Edwin B
In the 12th century, Latin translators from Arabic rediscovered the writings of the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, which had hitherto been lost to Christendom for 600 years. Aristotle's re-emergence fired the intellectual imagination of medieval scholars, who then embarked on a project to reconcile faith with reason. This book is that story of "Aristotle’s children."

Aristotle’s grounding in the specifics of the material world (in contrast to Plato’s preference for the other-worldly Forms), his co
...more
Stu Minnis
Rubenstein's book explores the impact that the rediscovery of Aristotle had on Western/Christian thought in the 13th and 14th centuries, and by extension to the present day. Though occasionally a bit dry in style, I found it to be an excellent survey of medieval scholasticism and its interrelationship with the Catholic Church. Inasmuch as I'd long been interested in learning more about the leading figures of this time such as William of Occam, Aquinas, Bonaventure, and Bacon--but had little tast ...more
Lynn Weber
Great intellectual history of the Middle Ages. The unifying theme of the book is Western Europe's incorporation of and reaction to the works of Aristotle, which were rediscovered in the West in the 11th century. It's so interesting to see that past generations wrestled with the same issues that we do. And it's always surprising to learn the little-known stories of the past.

I tended to think of the medieval period as largely and simply Catholic. But there was always, always, resistance and diver
...more
Elliott Bignell
This book reveals a paradox, and the thread of a continuity in Western European civilisation connecting it back to antiquity. Via Islam, the Church's acquisition of and obsession with Aristotle connects the reasoning half of the modern dichotomy between faith and reason with its foundations in classical Greece. The paradox is that while Aristotelian dialectic provides the foundations of reasoning enquiry, it was the struggle by Galileo and his contemporaries to pry Aristotle's dead hand from the ...more
Clif Hostetler
I read this before my Goodreads.com days so I didn't write my own review. I was reminded of it by the following review from the 2006 PageADay Book Lover's Calendar.

When I read it I thought it was ironic that 300 years before Spain turned into the most anti-Jewish and anti-Moslem country in the world, it served as an enlightened melting pot of scholarly exchanges between Jews, Christians and Moslems.

EYE OPENER
The fall of Rome caused Europe to tumble into the Dark Ages as the wisdom of ancient Gre
...more
Richard
If you like history and philosophy this is a wonderful read. Rubenstein presents the major European scholars of the late Middle Ages. They were religious, philosophical, and scientific thinkers. You probably did not learn this in school unless you went to divinity school.

One of Rubenstein's major theses is the European Renaissance did not spring sui generis but was built upon the foundational thinking of these men, such as William of Ockham, Peter Abelard and their contemporaries.
Todd Stockslager
I finish off a thread about the Dark Ages by reading about how the rediscovery and reinvention of Aristotle helped end them by stirring political, scientific and religious thinkers in more "modern" directions.

One of the keys to the explosion was that Aristotle was rediscovered not in isolation, but in conjunction with hundreds of years of commentary by Muslim philosophers and theologians, so that Aristotle arrived not as revealed truth, but as potentially reusable tools for European thinkers.

And
...more
Lee
A must read for anyone who wants to understand the spread of knowledge from the ancient world to the modern world. This book changed much of what I was taught in school and helps explain the complexities of our current world of 'knowledge'.
Kevin
A review of Aristotle's impact on western thinking.
This is an excellent read for history buffs, and those interested in Greek metaphysics.
Authors presentation is well organized and interesting.
Dan
I loved this book!

It opened for me a great interest in western philosophy. I think I've read books since then just as interesting but I was engrossed in this one.
Larry
This is a great book. It seems to focus more on the Catholic Church's relationship with Aristotle.

I wish the author talked more about the current effects of Aristotle on his "children." It would be interesting to explore how these beliefs affected the conflicts between the Catholics and the Protestants, for example.

Aristotle believed that God could not be physical, because material is correctable, and he does not have passions, because that sounds like he does not have control of his anger, etc
...more
Pat
There was a time when Muslims, Christians and Jews worked side by side to understand the world.
Linksbard
Superb history of philosophy and well reasoned exposition of western prejudice.
Eric Eisberg
Rubenstein provides an excellent account of how the rediscovery of Aristotle's work during the Reconquista revolutionized thought in Europe. He examines the reaction of the church, the gradual division between science and religion, and the profound changes in the intellectual atmosphere that eventually led to the Renaissance, Protestant Reformation and the scientific revolution. Throughout he manages to zoom in on individuals of importance and place them in a grand scheme. A great history on an ...more
Dan
Aristotle’s Children by Richard E Rubenstein is a five-star book marred by the last nine+ pages (below).

Rubenstein offers good descriptions of some of Aristotle’s philosophy, contrasting it well with other philosophical and religious systems with which it competed through the ages, and follows the particulars of the survival of many of his works (and later commentaries thereon) from ancient Greece through the Mediterranean Muslim world into Spain and then beginning about 12th century into Fran
...more
Hayward Chan
Prior to reading this book, I was only expecting a historical account of how the works by Aristotle got lost with the collapse of Western Roman Empire. This story is covered in the book, but only serves as a prelude to the much more interesting development of "Aristotelian Christianity", various schools of theology trying to marry thoughts by Aristotle with orthodox Christian doctrine. In fact, rediscovery of works by Aristotle dominates the intellectual development of what one calls the "Mediev ...more
Adam S. Rust
In Aristotle's Children Richard Rubenstein presents two major arguments. First, that we owe a substantial, unacknowledged, debt to the scholastic philosophers of the Middle Ages for our modern scientific worldview. Rubenstein amply supports this argument through well chosen and lively mini-biographies and historical examples from the Medieval period. The second argument is that we lost something when we abandoned the attempt to reconcile faith and reason and we should attempt to rehabilitate it. ...more
Dan
This book is among the very best that I have read in the last few decades. It was also an enjoyable read. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in philosophy, religion, European history, and Islamic history. But it is the ideas of philosophy - their tension, reconciliation, fusion, and outright conflict with religion over the centuries, that make this book a 'must read.'

The author begins, quite appropriately: "Scientific thinking in the West... [began] in the intellectual explosion that fol
...more
Anna
3.5 Stars

Interesting content, it was just so dense and full of details that it was hard to keep track of all the names and dates and events and groups of crazy people. I definitely got more out of the seminar discussion about the book than the actual reading experience but that may have been because it was the only homework I had over break. It was interesting to learn how Aristotle's works (and those of other classical philosophers) were and are so intertwined in Western culture, especially as
...more
Tresuiri
Oct 19, 2008 Tresuiri rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tresuiri by: Recoded Books, Inc.
This book was very good in giving an overview of Aristotle's work as it survived its passage of time. It did focus heavily on its affect on Christianity since it was the dominant form of religion for the past two centuries. I enjoyed the sewing together of religious history and prominent philosophical figures for a generous overview. I particularly enjoyed the highlight of various heretical views of rogue Christian factions through time as Mr. Rubenstein chronicled the Catholic Church's history. ...more
Dawn
Given the subtitle, I expected a bit more discussion of Muslims and Jews preserved and commented upon Aristotle's works, but the bulk of the book concentrates on Christian Europe's coming to terms with Aristotle's work. This, of course, would not have been possible with out the aforementioned preservation and commentary.

Overall, Rubenstein makes an excellent case for the Middle Ages as an intellectually fertile time. It was not, contrary to common contemporary belief, a backward, "dark" age whe
...more
Annis Pratt
Aug 27, 2013 Annis Pratt marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

Aristotle’s writings were gradually translated from Greek and Arabic into Latin to become resources for European learning in a high tide of intellectual ferment during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The scholasticism that emerged combined reason and faith to advance science without abandoning basic doctrines. “As a result, Europe’s first natural scientists were scholastic theologians, and its most innovative social thinkers were masters of arts in the new Catholic universities.”

Rubenstei
...more
Ross Gagnon
Aristotle's Children - How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages; by Richard E. Rubenstein (Harcourt 2003)

3 or 4 people have asked me about this in the past couple months, so I finally got around to it yesterday (I think the audiobook came out recently - otherwise, no idea why a 10-year old book would come up from several people). First off, recommendations - it's a very readable popular history, though one with some serious limitations - not man
...more
Jen
You know that class you took as a requirement in college. You left each class with your brain aching from having so many thoughts shoved around in it, but you didn't have any fun. It's not that the class wasn't interesting...but it wasn't interesting to you.

That's this book.

I got it thinking it would be a history book. It's not.

It's a evolution of religious thought throughout the middle ages book. Very interesting and cool stuff, just not my thing. If I was basing it on my own interest level, it
...more
Dave
Dec 24, 2007 Dave rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history or philosophy buffs
Shelves: non-fiction-read
I found this book a wonderful read. I had known about the preservation and commentary on Greek texts by Islamic and Jewish scholars and how the works and commentaries were discovered by Europeans after the invasion of Spain. I was not aware of the influence of Aristotle through the theological debates of the dark or middle ages. The book put several historical characters of whom I had heard only in passing into a more full and comprehensible context.

The book filled in gaps in my knowledge of th
...more
Steve
There is a lot of interesting material here in the first seven chapters--the author describes how Aristotle's work was largely lost in the West, how it was preserved in the Islamic world, and then translated in the 11th century in Muslim Spain and brought back to Latin Western Europe. He relates the development of Aristotelian thought in the high medieval Church, its impact on the growth of scholastic thought in the universities, its entanglement in controversies between the Dominicans and the F ...more
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