Charles Freeman makes a spirited case for why we should peer backwards in his sumptuous work ... The Reopening of the Western Mind picks up velocity once Freeman pivots to the Italian Renaissance; and while this is well trampled ground, he lays out his arguments in dazzling detail ... Freeman connects all the dots in The Reopening of the Western Mind, opening many doors, many minds, in this meticulous, illuminating book.
Mr. Freeman’s contention is tendentious. The first problem is that he vastly overstates Augustine’s dependence on Plotinus and Plato ... The larger problem with Mr. Freeman’s account is its epistemological naivete. He seems to believe that the 'Western mind,' informed by the classical authors and particularly by Aristotle, existed in a state of happy neutrality until about the fourth century ... Some readers, especially those who see religious commitments as evidence of a closed mind, will find this thesis attractive.