In a recent book, Sylvain Gouguenheim has caused a furore in claiming that European culture owes nothing to Arabic culture. The following article by Professor Charles Burnett, an eminent scholar in the intellectual context of the Middle Ages and of the intricacies of the Arabic-Latin transmission, explains the arguments of this debate and sheds light on salient aspects of the transmission of Islamic learning to Latin Europe. Concluding that we must acknowledge both Mont St Michel and Toledo as contributors to European culture, and warning that Gouguenheim's focus on the true roots of ‘Christian Europe' runs the danger of ethnicity, that is of replacing a racial purity of blood with a textual one, he shows how both Greek and Arabic sources enriched the intellectual world of the Middle Ages and in what way Islamic culture contributed to shape Western European civilization.
Mont Saint-Michel or Toledo: Greek or Arabic Sources for Medieval European Culture?
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