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Thread: First universities?

  1. #1 First universities? 
    Forum Freshman Crimson_Scribe's Avatar
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    I read somewhere that West Africa had the first universities. Is there a historian out there who could correct or verify this for me?


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  3. #2  
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    This could be true but I always thought I was the Greeks. The University system we have today is still primarly the same system used in the Middle Ages.


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    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    What is a university? :P

    If you look at a university as a place where highly valued 'wisdom' (valued by society) is being transfered to other people, than the elaborate system of islamic schools that has existed in northern and western Africa for centuries would certainly comply. The 'wisdom' transfered was religious philosophy, which in my opinion is no true knowledge (hence the quotation marks) but was then certainly percieved as such.

    The early universities of Europe are in most ways the same as the islamic schools of Africa, with the difference that at many places scientific methods coexisted with theology from an early moment on. So if you'd make the definition of a university a bit more strict, by including modern scientific methods, they would have been the only in the world at the time. The stricter definition could be that universities are places where real knowledge was produced and transferred.

    So my main point is that it's very hard to say what a university really is, depending on all kinds of definitions. People have been teaching each other things for ages at all places of the world, so the awnser lies in the way you value these forms of information.
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I attended one of the new Universities. The University of Glasgow was not founded till 1451, and so was clearly preceded by Oxford and Cambridge. (It wasn't even the first in Scotland!)
    However, In Fez in Morocco, during the 10th century, the Kairaouine settlers built the imposing Kairaouine University, the western world's first university, which still remains the major intellectual center of North Africa. .
    Source: http://www.globaladrenaline.com/africa/morocco/
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  6. #5  
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    i always assumed it was pythagoras who was the original starter of "universities" thats where the pentagram originates. he had a school of geometry that was actually like a secret society and there emblem was a geometric shape - the pentagram.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Islamic universities in Africa would not be in West Africa but in North Africa. The question was about WEST Africa.

    Anyway, the question is irrelevant because there is no practical way to define the word "university" in this context---as several have already pointed out.

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  8. #7  
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    The first universities - that would be simililar to those that we have today - weren't really about until the mid/late nineteenth century (or so). That was when you could start going to school to study ... say ... geology so that you could be a geologist, etc.
    It is not so much that I have confidence in scientists being right, but that I have so much in nonscientists being wrong. --- Isaac Asimov
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