I just read a wonderful book: The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain, by Maria Rosa Menocal. Abd Al-Rahman I's Cordoba was described as 'the ornament of the world' by a certain nun whose name escapes me. Menocal means it to apply more generally to Islamic Spain under the Ummayads and in the post-Ummayad but pre- Almodovar period of the "taifas," where various city-states competed for power. She calls Islamic Spain in this period a "first-rate" place, citing F. Scott Fitzgerald (in The Crack-Up): " the mark of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time."
Speaking of which, Brad Delong, one of my favorite bloggers, recently did another of many periodic posts featuring Edmund Burke. I have always wondered how he squares his evident admiration for Burke's thought (which I share) with his otherwise by-the book utilitarianism (which I don't share!) I suspect Brad is a first-rate intelligence! Me, not so much.