“Oh no, he didn’t”

Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872–1970)

Bertrand Russell, whom I hold in high regard, reportedly dismissed Arabic philosophy:

‘Arabic philosophy is not important as original thought. Men like Avicenna and Averroes are essentially commentators’

This is written in Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy (1945), according to Peter Adamson.

Peter Adamson is a professor of philosophy at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

I have no knowledge of the context in which Russell made this seemingly dismissive statement. I know, however, that Ralph Waldo Emerson didn’t share that sentiment.

In his Divinity School Address at Harvard (in 1838), Emerson spoke about the minds of “men in the devout and contemplative East;”

not alone in Palestine, where it reached its purest expression, but in Egypt, in Persia, in India, in China. Europe has always owed to oriental genius, its divine impulses. What these holy bards said, all sane men found agreeable and true. And the unique impression of Jesus upon mankind, whose name is not so much written as ploughed into the history of this world, is proof of the subtle virtue of this infusion.