The origin of higher education in the West

Below are your Sunday morning cogitations on aspects of phenomena by Ozodi Osuji


       Twenty-five hundred years (2500) ago, Greeks studied their world informally; thereafter, Plato began his Academy where young people were taught philosophy (philosophy meaning knowledge-based on pure reasoning, not religious beliefs). Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 300 BC and a city was established in his honor, Alexandria. Alexandria in Egypt became the center of Greek classical learning. It had a great Library where most of the books written by Greeks, Romans and Indians and Chinese were stored.

     Around 475 CE the Roman empire fell. The fall of the Roman empire meant the replacement of classical Greco-Roman learning with faith, Catholic based learnings and Catholic monasteries came into being as centers where the bible was studied.

     Mohammed (570-632 CE) established his Islam around 610 CE. Arabs were converted to Islam; subsequently, Muslim Arabs embarked on a mission to conquer and convert the entire world to Islam. They conquered Palestine in 638 CE and Egypt in 643 CE and most of the Mediterranean world and now have control over Greek classical learning and Asian learning.

      In 711 CE Muslim Arabs conquered the Iberian Peninsula and conquered India around the same time; they brought Greek learning and Indian mathematics back to Southern Europe.

      By the 1000s hitherto Catholic monasteries began teaching Greek classics, Greek, Latin languages and even Arabic, and mathematics. The great Catholic monasteries at Bologna, Paris, Cambridge, Oxford, and elsewhere in Western Europe became centers for the formal studies of Greek classics, philosophy and mathematics.

     In the 1500s, philosophy established a branch called natural philosophy to study nature objectively, not through belief; William Harvey,1578-1657 (he discovered the function of the heart and blood circulation at Cambridge University) Isaac Newton (at Cambridge university, he discovered the three laws of motion, gravitation, and with the German, Leibniz co-invented Calculus) and others benefited from the transformation of aspects of philosophy to studying nature as it is, not as God supposedly made it.

     In the early 1800s Universities began transforming their selves into centers of science, which is not   

just philosophy (rational thinking) but experimental science.

     In the early 1900s the Scientific method defeated religion and philosophy and chased them out of universities. Now, it is only knowledge based on observation, verification, experimentation and falsification that is seen as the domain of universities. Technology, in the mid twentieth century, was added to the domain of universities.

     Science has prevailed in the Western world, so much so that most people nowadays do not even know that the great Universities, such as Paris, Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard were centers for the study of the bible!

    In the 1900s Marxists tried to seize control of the study of social science at universities except that Marxism is mostly talk and cannot be demonstrated as productive; moreover, the capitalists had taken over control of the Western world and their universities, especially American universities, and those chased Marxists out of universities.

     Religion and spiritual science are not verifiable so they are now not welcomed at universities and religious folks established their churches to teach them, such as Christian Science, Unity Church, Church of Religious Science (A course in miracles is taught informally not at learning centers, its teaching cannot be verified so it is of no relevance to universities).

     Universities accept only verifiable facts and are not interested in beliefs, religion, and spirituality.

     As of today, October 31, 2021, science is the West’s primary epistemological approach to knowledge and that is as it should be.

Ozodi Osuji October 31, 2021

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