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Old May 15th, 2018, 07:19 PM   #1
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Why are there relatively few Pre-Islamic Persian scholars?


I am well aware that Pre-Islamic Persia had universities (such as that of Gondashipur), or even a few scholars (a few one's of Greek extraction, and a few others)

Regardless, compared to Chinese, Indian, or Greco-Roman civilisation (or the later Islamicate), Pre-Islamic Persia doesn't seem to have had a lot of notable scholarship for such an affluent society.

Could it be that (like the Babylonians), Pre-Islamic Persia is an extinct civilisation? And thus somehow left less scholarship behind?

But to call Classical Persia extinct might be some sort of possible overstatement, given the affluence of Zoroastrianism?

Even pre-ptolemaic Egypt seems to have left over some scholarship (maybe not that many scholars, but some notable scholarship was written on their papyrus.)

Last edited by Piccolo; May 15th, 2018 at 07:31 PM.
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Old May 15th, 2018, 11:56 PM   #2

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Could you shed light on those few Persian scholars? Names perhaps?
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Old May 16th, 2018, 01:40 AM   #3

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Because the Middle East had a completely different societal structure than Greece and Rome.

I'm going to put India and China to the side for this argument, since there wasn't as much societal interaction between them as there was between Middle Easterners and Hellenes.

The Middle East was never a ground for philosophical development, mostly because of their religious practices and worshiping of kings as sacred. In a society where criticism of most things is taboo, there isn't much freedom for philosophical development.

It's not just the Middle East. Can you name any Spartan scholars? You can't, because criticism of the Spartan lifestyle and societal structure was frowned upon, if not punishable in Sparta, degenerating any development of human thought.

That's why Athens was, on the other hand, much more prosperous when it comes to philosophy, because you were allowed to criticise the country and the state of society, and such behavior was only punished in the most extreme cases like with Socrates.

It is to me no surprise that philosophy started dying out during the Hellenistic period, a period of mixing between Hellenistic and eastern culture.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 07:13 AM   #4
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Why are there relatively few Pre-Islamic Persian scholars?


Your premise is flawed because:

A: You seem to leave out the Chinese beacuse Chinese authoritarianism might refute your premise (though perhaps, China being a frontier society might have made up for it?)

B: Some of Greece's (heck most) greatest thinkers were post-classical (Archimedes, Plutarch, Epictetus. Even Epicurus was arguably from the hellenistic period,was non-Athenian, and live after the Athenian if not Greek golden age had already ended. )

C: Eastern? The xenophobic, self-aggrandizing Greeks probably already had more eastern influences than they let on.

D: And then there are the Islamic caliphates of a later period (regardless of your opinion on the quality of the scholarship, a ton of notable scholars came out of the Dar-Al-Islam, to the to the point of making the Islamic golden age look like it lasted longer than it actually did.) These were not democracies...(or were they, considering tribal traditions of Arabs and Berbers??)

E: And Germany, among other authoritarian societies of a later period.......you're premise really seems flawed, given how rare democracies are (if they ever existed in the first place!)

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Originally Posted by Draki View Post
Because the Middle East had a completely different societal structure than Greece and Rome.

I'm going to put India and China to the side for this argument, since there wasn't as much societal interaction between them as there was between Middle Easterners and Hellenes.

The Middle East was never a ground for philosophical development, mostly because of their religious practices and worshiping of kings as sacred. In a society where criticism of most things is taboo, there isn't much freedom for philosophical development.

It's not just the Middle East. Can you name any Spartan scholars? You can't, because criticism of the Spartan lifestyle and societal structure was frowned upon, if not punishable in Sparta, degenerating any development of human thought.

That's why Athens was, on the other hand, much more prosperous when it comes to philosophy, because you were allowed to criticise the country and the state of society, and such behavior was only punished in the most extreme cases like with Socrates.

It is to me no surprise that philosophy started dying out during the Hellenistic period, a period of mixing between Hellenistic and eastern culture.

Last edited by Piccolo; May 16th, 2018 at 07:27 AM.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 08:15 AM   #5

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Could you shed light on those few Persian scholars? Names perhaps?
Mani and Borzuya, for example.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 11:03 AM   #6

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Quote:
A: You seem to leave out the Chinese beacuse Chinese authoritarianism might refute your premise (though perhaps, China being a frontier society might have made up for it?)
Not at all really. I'm hear to gather and share knowledge, not to confirm my previous biases . The reason I leave China and India out is because, as I've said, they're completely different to Western and Mideastern societies at the time. Chinese philosophy focuses more on improvement of self and lifestyle, whereas Greek philosophers were also political speakers and societal critics.

Quote:
B: Some of Greece's (heck most) greatest thinkers were post-classical (Archimedes, Plutarch, Epictetus. Even Epicurus was arguably from the hellenistic period,was non-Athenian, and live after the Athenian if not Greek golden age had already ended. )
Only one of the people you named was actually a philosopher. As I will explain in my next point, Eastern people weren't good at philosophy, but excelled in many other fields. Besides that, I named Athens as an example of free-thinking society. Obviously not all philosophers were from Athens, Thales, who is probably the most important pre-Socratic philosophers is from Milettus. My point is that authoritarian societies usually don't produce many philosophers.

Quote:
C: Eastern? The xenophobic, self-aggrandizing Greeks probably already had more eastern influences than they let on.
The things Greeks picked up from Easterners are definitely not philosophy. However, as many Greek scholars like Pythagoras and Eratosthenes have said, the Egyptians were amazing at mathematics. Middle Easterners excelled at physics and other such sciences as well.

Quote:
D: And then there are the Islamic caliphates of a later period (regardless of your opinion on the quality of the scholarship, a ton of notable scholars came out of the Dar-Al-Islam, to the to the point of making the Islamic golden age look like it lasted longer than it actually did.) These were not democracies...(or were they, considering tribal traditions of Arabs and Berbers??)
This is not in any way relevant. Like, at all.

Quote:
E: And Germany, among other authoritarian societies of a later period.......you're premise really seems flawed, given how rare democracies are (if they ever existed in the first place!)
You're obviously misunderstanding my premise. I don't even get how you can misunderstand me this badly. The exact government type is not in any way relevant here, it's how liberal a society is to free thought. Medieval and post Medieval Europe was a land where nobles would literally rebel and kill thousands of people just to be forgiven by the end of the war, so the ruler wouldn't seem too authoritarian. It definitely wasn't a place of complete rulership, even during absolutism.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 11:32 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by Swagganaut View Post
Mani and Borzuya, for example.
It was plural. I know of Borzuya only. As the translation of Kaliala wa Dimna from Indian texts is attributed to him by al-Muqaffa'. As for Mani, he was a prophet, religious leader.
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Old May 16th, 2018, 11:48 AM   #8

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It was plural. I know of Borzuya only. As the translation of Kaliala wa Dimna from Indian texts is attributed to him by al-Muqaffa'. As for Mani, he was a prophet, religious leader.
Mani was also a highly educated intellectual. Perhaps it is wrong to call him a scholar though.
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