Medieval & Renaissance Times

The Greeks invented logical thinking and they extended it a bit through geometry and mathematics, but for the most part, logical thinking lay fallow for more than a thousand years. The Arabs pushed it a bit further through the invention of algebra, and great thinkers from all three of the main religions "of the book" (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) attempted to reconcile their religions with Aristotelian logic. But progress was slow; logical thinking just didn’t seep into the pores of civilization. It remained a plaything of philosophers rather than a standard tool of all human thought. The growing conflict between faith and logic led to the upheaval of the Reformation.

You can’t think logically without the right vocabulary, and we have two means of examining how logic began to penetrate language. The first is to compare cognates across languages; the second is to examine the etymology of various logical conjunctions. Both of these analyses produce the same conclusion: logical thinking began to find linguistic expression after 1000 AD.

The crucial factor that differentiated Western European civilization from Indian, Islamic, and Chinese civilization was the development of the Western educational system, based on the trivium, the quadrivium, and the university system.

Old habits die hard, and logical thinking still had a long ways to go. Even during the sixteenth century, logic played a small role in European life.
Criminal trials were still carried out without the benefit of logic. It wasn’t until the Enlightenment that logical thinking began to penetrate further into European civilization.

The Late Medieval Paradigm Shift


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