The story of reason that we in the Christian west tell ourselves is that from around the 5th century BC from the pre-Socratics and then the trio of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, reason was born in ancient Greece from which the civilized world emerged. Despite serious omissions in the story (for example China, India and Persia) this lineage interlaced with more ancient scriptural accounts is the one we imbibe through our culture and is traced through the history of philosophy and ideas taught in our universities. Very, very crudely, reason passes through Rome, onwards through Christ, gets lost in the ‘Dark Ages’ emerges in the Renaissance, gets reworked through the Reformation, Descartes and Newton before arriving at the ages of Enlightenment, Revolution and Modernity. Phew!
John Issitt is the author of Agents of Reason.
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