Highlights of 500 CE to 1500 Assessment

Pages: 5 (1543 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Drama - World

Ancient Societies and Their Philosophies

The Influence of the Arab World

As Daren Lin (2008) states, the Arab world did not discover humoral pathology on its own, but inherited it from the Greeks: "The knowledge of the earlier Greek medical teachings came to Islam through Nestorian Christians driven out of Byzantine and settling in Persia" (p. 41). The Greek texts were translated into Arabic (which served as the common language for all scholarship in that area). While the originals are gone, many Arabic translations still survive. The Greeks had perhaps the most humane and sensitive forms of medical treatment of the ancient world. It is Plato who "wrote that '…to think about curing the head alone, and not the rest of the body also, is the height of folly…'" (Kyziridis, 2005, p. 43). This connection between the mind and the spiritual, appearing as it does in the culture of Israel, not surprisingly is seen in Islamic culture: "The word Majnun is the Muslim word for mad or possessed while a jinn is a supernatural spirit. According to Koran a jinn may lie behind a mental illness" (Kyziridis, p. 43).

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Byzantium likewise produced some treatises on mental disorder -- but so did Islam -- which gave the medieval world a Muslim take on illnesses similar to modern day schizophrenia: "The Arabic physician Ibn Rabban at-Tabari (9th c. A.D.) wrote a medical book containing a separate chapter on diseases of the brain" (Kyziridis, p. 44). Unfortunately, as Albert S. Lyons (2011) observes, "many [scholars] have characterized Arabic contributions to medicine as principally preservation and compilation. As one historian commented, 'Certainly they contributed no original or novel ideas to develop Hippocratic thought'."

TOPIC: Assessment on Highlights of 500 CE to 1500 CE Assignment

However, the contribution of Islam to humoral pathology may be more indeed. As Lyons states, "The Arabists (which included Nestorian Christians, Persians, and Jews, who were not ethnic Arabs) did much more than merely hold safe the traditions of the past." The Arabists, as they have come to be called, helped extend the boundaries of pharmaceutical science, introducing the use of new drugs that would ultimately be incorporated into the "material medica" (Lyons). Likewise, "Arabist techniques of distillation, crystallization, solution, sublimation, reduction, and calcinations were to become the essential processes of pharmacy and chemistry" (Lyons).

As Daren Lin states, "Medieval Islam was responsible for translating and preserving many medical works into Arabic, allowing an international community of scholars to improve on inherited knowledge" (p. 44).


The rise of neo-Confucianism in several different dynasties such as the Song Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty may be attributed to the rationalist sort of reaction to the more superstitious elements of Buddhism. By taking the old laws of Confucianism and secularizing them to a degree whereat they became divorced from the spiritual context in which they had been established, neo-Confucianism attempted to keep what was rational without having to apply itself to the more spiritual side of man (Blocker 64-65). Neo-Confucianists preferred a system of ethics based on rationality rather than on spirituality and they opposed themselves to the Buddhism of the past which saw the world as unreal -- or as a dream.

In Ancient Greece there were likewise many different philosophies that grew up in opposition to one another: for example, there was the Aristotelian school of thought, which was based on using the intellect to come to knowledge. In opposition to this there was the school Zeno, who taught on porches called Stoa, from which his teaching takes its name -- Stoicism (a system to encouraged his followers to "live simply, and learn to be neither fond of pleasure nor cast down by sorrow" (Haaren 240). And then there was even a rival to Zeno and this was Epicurus. He also had a school in Athens. He also believed in simple living but he did not try to get men to shun pleasure -- instead he promoted peace of mind and used the word pleasure synonymously with this. And then there was Diogenes who taught cynicism and would simply make fun of everyone (Haaren 241)!

The Role of Women in the Middle Ages

As Judith Bennett advises, "It is past time for us to see the poet as either as the Wife of Bath's kind friend or her sarcastic enemy. Let us hear Chaucer exploring…the humbling, complex and incoherent challenges of what it meant to try to be a woman in Chaucer's England (27)." Women's roles were changing throughout England as a result of the Renaissance. Just as the Wife of Bath indicates, they were vying for independence both socially and economically. In the cities and guilds where trade was flourishing, women were becoming wealthy patrons of the arts as can be seen all over Italy J.J. Jusserand notes that "during the fourteenth century the foreign trade of England had greatly increased" (130). In any foreign trade, more is exchanged than mere goods -- the interaction with other environments always leads to a flux of cultural attitudes. By bartering with Flanders, Bruges, the Rhine country, Lombardy, Venice, Spain, and the East, England was in prime position to inculcate varying ideas and attitudes. Therefore, customary beliefs of the middle ages were certain to be challenged as Europe saw the birth of the modern age with its humanistic and scientific Renaissance leanings and Church authority-questioning, Protestant ideologies. The role of women could not possibly have remained untouched, and Chaucer goes to great lengths to show it so.

Still, women had a religious role to fulfill: "Medieval men thought of women in extreme terms. On the one hand, they revered ideal women: the impossibly perfect Virgin Mary who was both virgin and mother…on the other hand, medieval men also relished tales of wicked women, especially Eve…In the York mystery plays, Adam's first cry after biting the apple fixes all responsibility on his companion, 'Alas, what have I done, for shame!...Ah, Eve, you are to blame'" (Bennett 8).

The Bantu

One reason the Bantu people migrated was the fact that they required more land. Their technology had improved, what with the iron blade which allowed them to reap more -- and as a result they increased in population, sparking the migration for more territory in the south. Essentially, some 60 million Bantu Africans moved from equatorial Africa into the southern part of the country. As a result of this, a few things happened, changing the course of African history: 1) language groups now emerged: Swahili (which was itself influenced by the Arab countries in the north) now became the common language of traders along the coast where Bantus settled and thrived; 2) the Bantus brought with them their knowledge of technology, redirecting the cultures of the south.

Language and tools were the biggest concepts the Bantus passed on to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. These concepts helped shape the new chiefdoms and organized social groups in new ways.

Humanism and Other Philosophies of the World during the Time of the Renaissance

Michelangelo was the greatest sculptor of the High Renaissance and his interest was in the human form. (He despised paintings that emphasized landscape). To him, the human being was the greatest creation of God, and Michelangelo's art reflects the idealism with which the artist imbues this creation (Johnson, 2003, p. 281). David, for example, is eloquently and confidently poised; he is relaxed and proud in his bearing, yet contemplative of the greatness of the foe he must encounter. The whole of the Renaissance is reflected in the mighty personage of David: kingly in his aspect, he is the apotheosis of human dignity, and the reflection the Renaissance's obsession with humanism -- an obsession that would help in the upheaval of medieval mores and set the stage for the modern Protestant world.

Other societies of the time were less obsessed with the individual than the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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