Aristote au mont Saint-Michel  

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"Gouguenheim attacks the "thesis of the West's debt" as advanced by the historians Edward Said, Alain de Libera and Mohammed Arkoun. He says it replaces formerly dominant notions of cultural superiority advanced by Western orientalists, with "a new ethnocentrism, oriental this time" that sets off an "enlightened, refined and spiritual Islam" against a brutal West."[1]


'Sigrid Hunke describes a pioneering, civilizing Islam to which "the West owes everything." Gouguenheim replies that, in deforming reality, her work from the 1960s continues as a reference point that unfortunately still "shapes the spirit of the moment."'[2]


"In the spasm of western Islamophilia that followed the terrorist attacks of 2001, the myth of medieval Muslim learnedness and medieval European illiteracy gained strong new power for the Left whose acolytes have disseminated it with vigor from their ensconcement in the colleges and universities."[3]-- Thomas F. Bertonneau


"Long before the late Edward Said invented “Orientalism” to exalt Arab culture and Islamic society at the expense of the West, bien-pensants like Voltaire inclined to express their rebellion against the dwindling vestiges of Christendom by representing Europeans as bigots or clowns and raising up exotic foreigners – Voltaire himself wrote about Turks and Persians of the Muslim fold – to be the fonts of wisdom and models of refined life in their tracts and stories. The sultan and dervish look with amused tolerance on the gaucherie of the European rubes. The rubes swing their elbows and knock over the pottery. It was the Eighteenth-Century philosophes and illuminati who coined the pejorative term Dark Ages to refer to the centuries immediately following the collapse of the Roman imperial administration in the West under pressure of the Gothic assertions of the Fifth Century. Liberal discourse often casually extends the same term to apply it to all of medieval European civilization up to the Renaissance. Specialist historians have, however, long since demonstrated that no such absolute discontinuity as the term Dark Ages insinuates ever existed, which means that the Enlightenment version of history is at least partly wrong. And yet the usual story retains its currency, as an item in a kind of liberal folklore."[4]-- Thomas F. Bertonneau


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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Aristote au mont Saint-Michel : les racines grecques de l'Europe chrétienne (2008, English: Aristotle at Mont-Saint-Michel: The Greek roots of Christian Europe) is a book-length essay by French historian Sylvain Gouguenheim in which the author proposes to re-evaluate the contribution of the Muslim world in the transmission of the ancient Greek cultural heritage to the medieval West. Taking the opposite view of contemporary historiography, he aims to demonstrate that the Christian West owes much of this transmission and assimilation to its own translators and translation workshops, notably that of Mont Saint-Michel.

The book, which was hailed by the philosopher and journalist Roger-Pol Droit but criticized by many specialists, gave rise to intensive debates, notably in the general and political press, as well as in a few works published since. The medievalist Jacques Le Goff deplored the "vehemence" of the criticisms addressed to Sylvain Gouguenheim, while judging his thesis "interesting but debatable".

On the cover is folio 195[5] of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.

As of 2017, the book was untranslated to English.

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