The Renaissance started in Baghdad

13 april 2023, 19:30 - 21:00

Koert Debeuf will talk about how in most history books the European Renaissance is described as a revival of Greek and Roman literature, architecture and philosophy, after old manuscripts had been found back in monasteries. However, Koert shows that the truth is more complex, and actually more interesting. Aristotelean, Platonic and Neoplatonic ideas moved from Athens and Alexandria to Harran, in today’s Turkey. From there, they moved to Baghdad, where these pagan ideas had to be made compatible with a monotheistic religion: Islam. These new ideas then travelled to Cairo and Cordoba in Al Andalus. The Latin translations of these Arabic works caused an intellectual revolution in Paris, from where it moved to Italy where they triggered the philosophical Renaissance.

The idea that many cultures have contributed to philosophy was recognised during the Renaissance. One proof is the painting of Raphael, The School of Athens, (1513), where we not only find Greek philosophers, but also Hermes Tresmegistes, Plotinus, Averroes, and most probably also Zoroaster. The idea of philosophia perennis, or eternal philosophy, was at the heart of Renaissance philosophical thinking. The aim of the lecture is to show how these ideas travelled and eventually shaped the European mind. The intellectual journey will end in The Netherlands, with Spinoza and his friends, who triggered the European Enlightenment.

The regular ticket costs €15,-. Read more and order tickets here!