Sakset/Fra hofta

En ny bok om hvor mye eller lite Europa skylder islamske mellommenn skaper kontrovers i Frankrike. Historikeren Sylvain Gougenheim hevder at oppfatningen om at araberne bevarte den greske kulturarven og dermed var broen tilbake til fortiden, som muliggjorde Renesssansen, er ifølge ham sterkt overdrevet. Han mener Vest-Europa alltid hadde direkte tilgang til de greske kildene.

Dette redgjør han for i Aristote au Mont Saint-Michel: Les Racines Grecques de l’Europe (Aristotle at Mont Saint-Michel: The Greek Roots of Europe), published by Univers Historique.

Men dette er så kontroversielt i Frankrike at hans kolleger og studentene ved det prestisjetunge Ecole Normale Supérieure-Science and Humanities Section har forfattet et opprop der de ber om at boken underkastes en vitenskapelig undersøkelse.

Fra omtalen i Le Monde:

The Muslim roots of Europe are as real as its lunar roots. Sylvain Gougenheim throws a monkey wrench into the pseudo cultural link between the Western world and the Muslim world. This professor of medieval history at the Advanced Normal School of Lyons refutes the preconceived idea that ancient Greek learning (philosophy, medicine, mathematics, astronomy), having completely disappeared from Europe, found refuge in the Muslim world, where it was translated into Arabic, appreciated and extended, before finally being retransmitted back to the West, thus permitting its renaissance and then the sudden expansion of European culture.

This vulgate is nothing but a tissue of lies. Even though they had become tense and rare, the ties with Byzantium were never broken: Greek manuscripts still circulated. During the so-called «dark ages», Greek scholars were never absent, especially in Sicily and Rome. From 685 to 752 there reigned a succession of Popes of Greek and Syriac origin! In 758-763 Pippin the Short had Pope Paul I send him Greek texts, notably Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Numerous Church Fathers, who quote Plato, saved entire sections of works of pagan writers. Europe, therefore, always remained conscious of its ties to ancient Greece, and continually exhibited a desire to locate the texts.

It was not the Muslims that did the bulk of the translations of Greek works into Arabic. Even those great admirers of the Greeks – Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroës – did not read one word of the original texts, but only translations into Arabic made by Christian Aramaens! Among these Syriac Christians, who mastered Greek and Arabic, Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (809-873) forged the essential Arabic medical and scientific vocabulary by transposing 200 works. A speaker of Arabic, he was in no way a Muslim, nor were the vast majority of the first translators of Greek into Arabic. A deformed vision of history causes us to erase the decisive role of Christian Arabs in the transmission of works of Greek Antiquity first into Syriac, then into the language of the Koran.

Now, Yves Daoudal posts a link to a petition drawn up by the faculty members of the ENS-LSH (Ecole Normale Supérieure-Science and Humanities Section) where Gougenheim teaches. The petition is in three parts followed by the first signatories. Here are some excerpts:

(…) The methodological bases and theories of this book are debatable and are currently being debated by the community of experts of this period, historians and philosophers.

It is perfectly legitimate for a researcher to defend and justify his point of view, especially when it is unexpected and iconoclastic. It is then up to the specialists to respond to his arguments and to question them if need be. And so we intend to continue this intellectual debate in seminars to be held at ENS-LSH in the autumn of 2008.

Unfortunately, the affair appears to go beyond the simple expression of scientific theories. The work by Sylvain Gougenheim contains a certain number of value judgments and ideological positions regarding Islam. It is currently being used as an argument by groups of xenophobes and Islamophobes who express themselves openly on the Internet. Furthermore, entire passages of his book were published at these blogs, almost word for word, several months before its release.

We also find on the Internet statements signed «Sylvain Gougenheim» (a commentary at Amazon dated April 16, 2002) or «Sylvain G.» (at Occidentalis, dated November 8, 2006). Now it is obvious, and we are certainly aware, that nothing that circulates on the Internet is automatically valid, but at the very minimum, these points merit an explanation, and if need be, an in depth inquiry. We are not at all convinced by the argument provided by Sylvain Gougenheim to the Monde des Livres: «For five years I’ve been giving excerpts of my book to many different people. I have no idea what they did with them afterwards.»

Det sier noe om situasjonen at en vitenskapelig – må vi tro – bok om Europas kulturelle røtter avføder et opprop med krav om granskning, som vi må ganske langt tilbake i tid for å finne maken til. På oppropet får vi nesten inntrykk av at Gougenheim er en slags revisjonist a la Roger Garaudy eller Fourisson. Men han er lærer ved Ecole Normale Supérieure, så vi finner dette vanskelig å tro.

Galliawatch er en blog som leverer info om galliske tilstander på engelsk.

Petition (or Fatwa?) Against Gougenheim