Pagans in East Asia in early modern Dutch sources
The contacts between paganism and Christianity have, since antiquity constituted by far one of the main pivots in intercultural relations. The discussion on pagans and foreign peoples introduced into European culture by Aristotle has served as a basis for the discourse developed in the following centuries. According to the Greek philosopher, the human soul is a form struggling with the limits of matter to realise its potential. Thus he proved that the souls of white people have fully achieved their goal, while in the case of black people and Indians their souls had to face greater obstacles. His thoughts have been fundamental for the Medieval scholastic such as represented by Thomas Aquinas and later on developed by the Renaissance humanists. These issues became even more important in the era of great geographical discoveries and the discussion on the problem whether the Indians actually have a soul or not, being a basis for the way of treating the natives encountered in the New World. [...]
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