Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Avicenna (properly Ibn Sina, 980-1037), the second most learned scholar of the Middle Ages and probably the most brilliant.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

He belonged to the Persian half of the Moslem world, and from the fact that he was born and received his first lessons in a village of Bokhara we gather the wide spread of education in the Arab-Persian world. Except in places or at times when the Moslem fanatics got power, there was, from Spain to India during many centuries, a remarkable zeal for acquiring knowledge. The wandering scholars of mediaeval Europe, about whom so much is written, appeared two centuries after such scholars had appeared in Spain, and were tardily inspired by these. In the Moslem countries also the knowledge given in the higher schools was broader and more positive, and a master commonly had a command of four or five branches of learning. Avicenna is said to have practised medicine and read Aristotle forty times before he was eighteen, and he knew the Koran by heart at the age of ten. His works on medicine were standard authorities for centuries, and he wrote also on theology, philology, mathematics, astronomy, geology, physics, and music. To disarm the fanatics he professed the same vague Pantheism as Averroes, but Arab literature ascribes to him the popular saying that "the world is divided into men who have wit and no religion and men who have religion and no wit." It is curious that, while he was the most brilliant and most learned man of his age, he was also very sensual and dissipated, often leading his students in their revels. See S. P.Scott, The Moorish Empire in Europe, 3 vols., 1904.


Return to Joseph McCabe Selection

Back to Table of Contents

Scanning, HTML Rae West. First upload 98-06-15