Let us remember the controversy of the year 2008 which had ignited the very austere environment of French medievalists: Sylvain Gouguenheim, a specialist of the Teutonic Order, affirmed in his work “Aristote au Mont Saint-Michel”, that the The West did not owe much to Muslims in the Greek knowledge transfer. He went much further by emphasizing, according to him, the incompatibility between the Arabic language and a possible understanding of Greek philosophy in all its complexity ...
The debate had been lively but the unease certain: after being published in a large house (at Le Seuil), Gouguenheim was first ardently defended by a significant part of the media, and not only from the right, before being taken over by the far right without it seeming to bother him more than that! He was hailed for putting an end to a so-called myth, imbued with "good thinking", which saw in Islam a kind of ideal and tolerant messenger to whom we owed everything in our knowledge of Greek wisdom ... , who made a platform on a platform to protest but also to try to respond to Gouguenheim's thesis were most often despised. They were only obtuse and "Stalinist" bookworms (even Le Goff lambasted the attacks on Gouguenheim!), While at last the martyred historian brought down the legend of this Enlightenment to which we were indebted.
The Greeks, the Arabs and us
This collective work Above all, intends to respond to Gouguenheim, but also to return to the controversy and what it has shown far beyond the sometimes somewhat dusty (or seen as such) domain of the medievalists.
Available in Three parties ("Tabula Rasa", "From Mahomet to Benedict XVI", "The historical discipline"), he first details the controversy itself, by showing that the issues go much further than dark debates between specialists, going beyond 'to ideology and politics, where science is instrumentalised for more than doubtful ends. Then, the authors set out to dismantle Gouguenheim's “theses” point by point (while showing that he also opened many doors), ending with the issues and difficulties of teaching the history of France. Islam today and the questioning of certain concepts set in stone, such as Braudel's notion of civilization.
While some articles may seem particularly sharp or even harsh to non-connoisseurs, do not hesitate to make the effort because the stakes are high, especially in the current context.
Because in the future, the risk is that other "popular" works such as "Aristotle at Mont Saint-Michel" will be published and disseminate this "learned Islamophobia" referred to in the subtitle of this book. We conclude with a joke: "The Greeks, the Arabs and Us: An Investigation of Scholarly Islamophobia" has been as well received by critics as the book to which it responds. Hopefully he will have the same success ...
Extract from the preface:
« Aristotle at Mont-Saint-Michel develops a vision of the world which fits very precisely into the philosophy of Sarkozy history at the meeting of three major axes: (1) exaltation of completely Christian France, that of the “long coat of the Church ”thrown over our countryside; (2) assumed claim of the "positive work" of colonization - since science is, in essence, European; (3) desire to definitively “liquidate” May 68. And we find ourselves confronted with this paradox, typical of our time, where the author most in tune with the doxa of official ideologists - we think of the one who, at first days of the Restoration (July 26, 2007), composed the unforgettable Dakar speech - is described as a paragon of independence and courage by various media rattles. (...)
Arabs are Arabs, says scholarly Islamophobia, lest they too be Greeks, as we will argue. It is only said in the third person: “them the Arabs,” those we refer to from afar, from the suburbs to the universities, all the way through scholarly Islamophobia. Who today can say, "We Arabs" without attracting the worst suspicions? All the more reason today for us to do it. The Greeks, the Arabs. And U.S ? We Greeks, of course. We Arabs no less. But we Latins, as well as us Jews, all of us absent from the new Restoration, all of us others, we who do not enter into the “syntheses”, “Hélléno-Christians” or whatever we like, we composites them. »
"The Greeks, the Arabs and Us: Investigation of Scholarly Islamophobia", directed by Philippe Büttgen, Alain de Libera, Marwan Rashed, Irène Rosier-Catach, Fayard, 2009, 373 p, available in our shop
Read also : “Aristotle at Mont Saint-Michel. The Greek roots of Christian Europe ", Sylvain Gouguenheim, Seuil, 2008, 277 p.
"Medieval Islam in Christian Lands: Science and Ideology", dir. Max Lejbowicz, Septentrion, 2009, 177 p.