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One function of the first paragraph is to
The first paragraph explains the common view of the Early Middle Ages, which forms the basis for the Late Antiquity School's criticism of this view expressed in the second paragraph.
Although the idea of the Early Middle Ages as a dark age is questioned in the second paragraph, it is not disproved in that paragraph or in the passage as a whole.
The first paragraph describes, not casts doubt upon, the popular view of the Early Middle Ages.
The author does not express his or her opinion about the nature of the Early Middle Ages in the first paragraph but rather describes the popular view of this time period.
Although the information in the first and second paragraphs suggest opposing viewpoints on the same topic, it is the second paragraph which questions the information in the first paragraph, not vice versa.