History of Philosophy in Islam, by T.J. de Boer , at sacred-texts.com
1. In a history of scholarly Education as conducted in the Muslim nations, this subject would necessarily have a larger space assigned it: but here we shall dismiss it in a few words.
That Gazali has annihilated philosophy in the East, for all time to come, is an assertion frequently repeated but wholly erroneous, and one which evidences neither historical knowledge nor understanding. Philosophy in the East has since his day numbered its teachers and students by hundreds and by thousands. The teachers of the Faith have no more discontinued their dialectical arguments in support of Doctrine than the teachers of Morals have abandoned their hair-splitting casuistry, General culture too has adopted an element of philosophical learning.
But it is true that Philosophy did not succeed in conquering for itself a commanding position, or in retaining the consideration which it once enjoyed. According to an Arab anecdote a Philosopher, who had been thrown into prison, on being asked what he was fit for, by a man who wanted to purchase him as a slave, is said to have replied: "For freedom". Philosophy needs freedom. And where was this Freedom to be met with in the East? Freedom from material cares, freedom to exemplify unprejudiced thinking, tended continually to dwindle away from regions where no enlightened despots were to be found, able to warrant and protect it. But that is just a symptom of the general decay of civilization. And although travellers from the West in the twelfth century praised highly the culture of the East, it had, in comparison with earlier times, at least begun to decline. In no department
did they pass the mark which had been reached of old: Minds were now too weak to accomplish such a feat. Literary production became stagnant, and the only merit which belongs to the voluminous compilers of the following centuries is that of elegant selection. Ethical and religious doctrine had ended in Mysticism; and the same was the case with Philosophy. After the time of Ibn Sina, the Prince of Philosophy, no one felt called upon to come forward with independent views. The day had come for Abridgements, Commentaries, Glosses, and Glosses upon Glosses. The learned world occupied their time in school with work of that nature, while the believing multitude placed themselves more and more under the guidance of the Dervish orders.
2. That which general education borrowed most from philosophical Propaedeutics was a little Mathematics &c., naturally exceedingly elementary as a rule. By sectaries and mystics a good deal was taken over from Pythagorean-Platonic wisdom. In particular these doctrines had to be drawn upon in order to support the belief in saints and miracles; and a barren syncretistic Theosophy was tricked out therewith. The system even enrolled Aristotle among its teachers, of course the spurious Aristotle, but it turned him into a disciple of Agathodaemon and Hermes.
The more sober-minded thinkers, on the other hand, kept to Aristotelianism, so far as it agreed with their own views or with the orthodox Faith. The system of Ibn Sina was almost universally followed by them; and it was only a few that went back to Farabi, or that endeavoured to combine the two. Very little notice was taken of Physical and Metaphysical doctrines: Ethics and Politics were rather more attended to. Logic was the only subject universally
studied; for it could be admirably conveyed in scholastic form; and, as pure Formal Logic, it was an instrument which every one was able to make use of. In fact with the resources of Logic everything might be proved; and even if the demonstration should be recognized as faulty, there was this consolation that the averment might still be true, although its demonstration had not been properly conducted.
Even in the Encyclopaedia of Abu Abdallah al-Khwarizmi, a production of the last quarter of the tenth century, a larger space was assigned to Logic than to Physics and Metaphysics. The very same thing was done in many later encyclopaedias and compilations. The Dogmatists also commenced their system with logical and epistemological considerations, in which a traditional eulogy was pronounced over "knowing". And from the twelfth century onwards there arose a whole multitude of separate arrangements of the Aristotelian Organon. Here may be mentioned only,--as being much used, commented on, and so forth,--the works of Abhari († 1264), who gave a short summary of the whole 'Logic' under the title of "Isagudji" (εἰσσγωγή); and the works of Qazwini († 1276).
At the greatest University in the Muslim world, that of Cairo, the Epitomes of the 13th and 14th centuries are used, up to this day. There the word still is, as for a long time it was with ourselves: "First of all a College of Logic", and, we need scarcely add, with no better result. They indulge themselves, within the limits of the. Law, in the luxury of studying the rules of thinking discovered by the ancient philosophers, but all the while they smile at these men and at the Mutazilite Dialecticians, who "believed in Reason!"