This is already very interesting: it’s another example of the collaboration between people of different religions. It’s a book that I definitely wouldn’t have picked up. So you’d have maybe a Jewish Arabic speaker and a Christian Latin speaker and they would collaborate to produce a translation. He tries to eliminate philosophy’s ability to judge on that question. 4 But this is also problematic in various ways. In early Islamic philosophy, logic played an important role. If there was a problem, the problem was using ideas from non-Christians generally or even just using ideas that weren’t in the Bible. That’s interesting, because it’s using philosophy to come down on the side of truth by authority. Tariq Ramadan. As soon as you have the massive expansion of the Islamic caliphate in the generations following the death of Mohammed, you have this enormous empire that stretches from Spain in Europe all the way to central Asia. Because it drew from Greek philosophy, and then contributed to Latin and medieval philosophy, people say that we know where this fits—it fits a gap; whereas Indian and Chinese philosophy aren’t really on the map at all for Western Philosophy. by Dimitri Gutas His Falsafatuna (Our Philosophy) is a collection of basic ideas … He has been a lecturer in philosophy in Lebanon and the UK, as well as in the US. by Dag Nikolaus Hasse He’s not saying it necessarily happened, but he says that, in theory, it could happen. This site has an archive of more than one thousand interviews, or five thousand book recommendations. “The Stoics died out, the Epicureans died out, the Sceptics died out, and the only thing left was Platonism”. One of them, which is really cool and that you and I have discussed before for a Philosophy Bites podcast, is Avicenna’s famous Flying Man Argument. It gets into some areas that some introductions don’t, where McGinnis is particularly strong. Select the department you want to search in, A Treasury of Rumi's Wisdom: Guidance on the Path of Wisdom and Unity, The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy, Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sūfism of Ibn 'Arabī, Early Philosophical Shiism: The Isma'ili Neoplatonism of Abu Ya'qub al-Sijistani, Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect: Their Cosmologies, Theories of the Active Intellect, and Theories of Human Intellect, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, Vol. $0.00 Tax. The study of Islamic philosophy has entered a new and exciting phase in the last few years. But they couldn’t necessarily have ordered soldiers to come down and arrest you and execute you. There are a lot of good books about Maimonides, just as there are about Avicenna, but I thought it was worth singling this one out because the author really nails this point about Maimonides as a representative of a multi-religious Mediterranean cultur—hence the title of the book. This, by the way, was very controversial. You’ve already mentioned that there is a flow from the translation of Greek philosophy into philosophy in the Islamic world. Philosophy flourished in the Islamic world for many centuries, and continues to be a significant feature of cultural life today. I’m really oversimplifying here of course—imagine someone trying to describe what happened in European philosophy between 1300 and 1900 in a few sentences. Astrology could legitimate the rule of certain political rulers. Still, when I say ‘Islamic world’ what I mean is what all these other scholars mean by ‘Islamicate’. One of the good things about this book is that Shihadeh figures out when they were all written and talks about his biography and helps you navigate your way through this enormous corpus—almost none of which, by the way, is translated. That is amazing because Aristotle was so revered he was sometimes just known as ‘the philosopher.’. A young man is learning the Torah, learning the Jewish Law, and then he gets exposed to Avicenna and Aristotelian philosophy. Highlighting key individuals, movements, concepts and writings, Fakhry also explores the conflicts and controversies between anti- and pro … Ideas from the classical Islamic tradition have continued to be important. Read One thing he mentions, for example, is that both Greek and Indian texts gave them access to astrology. Maimonides goes through the main points of tension and tries to resolve them for the reader. I could exist, I could not exist, I used to not exist, there could be no humans at all. If you move ahead to philosophy in the Safavid period, there was a really important figure called Mulla Ṣadrā—if I had had a sixth book to choose, I would have picked something on him. I wanted to pick a book about a non-Muslim philosopher to make the point that philosophy in the Islamic world is not all by Muslims. Yes, that’s right. Using the language and conceptual apparatus of contemporary Anglo-American ‘Analytic’ philosophy, this book represents a novel and creative attempt to rejuvenate Islamic Philosophy for a modern audience. Customer … 2013 Averroes and His Philosophy. It’s ironic because people often think that there was this break or collapse of Islamic philosophy. That shows how important these Syriac Christians were in the process. This causes confusion and people are always complaining about that and, even though they’re wrong to complain about it, it’s still worth avoiding this misconception. Yes, that’s right. Rāzī managed to reconcile the two ideas by saying that good and bad is pleasure and pain, but God’s commands are still crucial because we will survive our death and then we will either go to hell or not. Sometimes they translated first from Greek into Syriac, and then from Syriac into Arabic. Was a side effect of this translation movement the preservation of texts that got lost in the Greek world? What Is Islam? It’s only if reason can’t figure it out that you then appeal to the Bible to settle the issue. Yes. He was very contentious. We have huge numbers of texts and a lot of the texts are very long. It wasn’t a permanent state of affairs: eventually they started reading Aristotle over Avicenna; but Avicenna really never stopped being important. This book is an introduction to Islamic Philosophy, beginning with its Medieval inception, right through to its more contemporary incarnations. It’s difficult to encapsulate a philosopher’s ideas in a few sentences, but could you give a flavour of his ideas? This was way out west, far away from the centres of power. In fact, I should say that he has published two very important books that I was tempted to choose. Although that is not entirely wrong—because Avicenna and Averroes were very influential on people like Aquinas, something is really wrong about that as well, because it implies that philosophy in the Islamic world really was contemporary with medieval philosophy and then stopped at the end of the medieval period. The Teleological Ethics of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī Read Why would you risk death or agony to save someone else? I think many analytic philosophers would see the history of philosophy, insofar as it is relevant to them, as beginning with Kant, because everything that came before him was rendered superfluous by the fact that his concepts and agenda set the stage for what came after. $24.69 . Ibn Rushd was a remarkable thinker. 1 As the world went into lockdown early in 2020, many of us without frontline jobs and lucky enough not to fall sick with Covid-19 found more time to read than usual. And then—bam!—enter Kant. Fast, FREE delivery, video streaming, music, and much more. The point of that, Hasse thinks, is that it’s not really supposed to be a demonstration that your soul is immaterial, so much as an indication that you could imagine someone being aware of their own soul without being aware of their body and that can help you see that the two things are not necessarily the same. Is there the equivalent now? Even in otherwise very good introductions to the history of philosophy, you’ll see this idea that philosophy in the Islamic world dies after Averroes, that it all becomes mysticism or whatever. Effectively, what he did was take Aristotle’s questions and give them new answers. $10.69 . 2 Be the first video Your name here. It wasn’t the first study of the Translation Movement. Prime members enjoy Free Two-Day Shipping, Free Same-Day or One-Day Delivery to select areas, Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Reading, and more. This defines a very clear context for philosophy and it turns out that that is, more or less, a good way of thinking about a certain philosophical culture. Both the received canon of Islamic philosophers and the narrative of the course of Islamic philosophy are in the process of being radically questioned and revised. Everyone said ‘no no this is a terrible thing to say!’ They didn’t like the idea that natural processes could give rise to humans, the way flies did (they thought that flies spontaneously generated from rotting meat). One other interesting thing to mention here is that this sort of dissemination of texts was, in part, possible because these were the first generations that had access to paper rather than parchment. Avicenna really became the main figure for subsequent generations. You did have people like al-Ghazālī, a theologian who lived into the early 12th century. You can read through that and get a vivid sense that some of the philosophers also made a living by copying the texts that they were working on. “You’ll see this idea that philosophy in the Islamic world dies after Averroes. There are some works of ancient philosophy that are only extant in Arabic, but they’re not by the most famous figures. It is a mature, healthy, full-grown human being, not a baby (if you don’t like the God part, you don’t need God to be involved, you could just say a human being appears in mid-air). Islamic Philosophy: Selected full-text books and articles. Books related to Islamic Philosophy. There was a period in the late 19th century where many figures in the late Ottoman Empire became materialist atheists because they were influenced by ideas from France. No products. “The Abbasids tried to enforce a theological doctrine that the Qu’ran was created and not eternal”. Read There’s been a debate about how to refer to the field. If you lived in tenth century Iraq, you could pretty much read all of the Aristotle we can read. So, presumably it was out of this intellectual movement that Avicenna emerged as a very significant philosopher in his own right? A comprehensive examination of the struggle to reconcile philosophy and Islam. That’s a good question. And now, we, the Muslims, will recapture this original Greek wisdom and do it in a way that the Byzantines are failing to do.’ So there’s a kind of oneupmanship there. An obvious choice would be ‘Islamic philosophy.’ Some people have preferred to say ‘Arabic philosophy’. People who are familiar with Avicenna might think that that is his main legacy, but actually he has legacies in many areas of philosophy. Where that occurs now, you often have repressive societies. This is a very interesting idea, which I personally am persuaded by, though it is admittedly harder to prove. Gutas also talks about how they traced some of this wisdom back to pre-Greek sources, which were originally from the Middle East, and were, in a way, saying ‘this is originally our wisdom which was taken by the Greeks and now we’re taking it back.’ That’s another kind of polemic. From the introduction of Greek Philosophy into the Muslim world in the eighth century, right through to modern times, Majid Fakhry charts the evolution and interaction of philosophy, theology, and mysticism in the Islamic context. He was extremely influential; he provoked lots of responses in the following generations—people were always attacking him, quoting him, using him to understand Avicenna and so on. In contrast, for Avicenna, metaphysics needs to handle the idea of God giving existence to everything else. But they didn’t have a real restart as happened in modern Europe. Philosophy in the Islamic World: A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, vol. The problem with ‘Islamic philosophy’ is that some of the philosophers that we’re interested in weren’t Muslims. Stroumsa’s book is interesting and worth reading. It’s true that in medieval philosophy, even in Latin, there is a lot to do. Two terms traditionally used in the Islamic world are sometimes translated as philosophy—falsafa (literally: "philosophy"), which refers to philosophy as well as logic, mathematics, and physics; and Kalam (literally "speech"), which refers to a rationalist form of Islamic … $13.29 . It grows out of the translation movement from Greek. For instance, Rāzī asked why is it that we sometimes do things where we sacrifice our own pleasure—or undergo pain—for the sake of someone else, for the sake of a child, for example. Avicenna says that his eyesight is veiled, but if you want you could just say he’s in the dark. And in fact, in that respect, it shares the fate of Indian philosophy, Chinese philosophy, African philosophy, and Latin American philosophy. For example, in Syria there was a culture of speaking Greek and also in Egypt. Another issue that Stroumsa talks about is whether the body is resurrected after death, because this was a standard Jewish belief, and it’s very clear—and Stroumsa argues that it’s very clear—that Maimonides did not believe this. That was my main motivation. Yes. How did you get involved in this area of philosophy? That means that it could be written by Christians and Jews—it often was—because they lived in the Islamic world, and, for the most part, it was easier for them to engage in intellectual endeavour than it would have been, for example, for Jews working in Christian medieval Europe. There is actually a word, ‘Islamicate,’ which was invented to refer to the same idea. We’ll just say ‘he’ because Avicenna seems to think of it as a man. If you're enjoying this interview, please support us by donating a small amount. That doesn’t mean that everybody read all of it, but it was an incredibly successful undertaking. “Imagine someone trying to describe what happened in European philosophy between 1300 and 1900 in a few sentences”. So, the Islamic world would be the Islamicate. He sounds very like a utilitarian. If you think about really late thinkers like Mulla Ṣadrā who was active much, much later in Safavid Iran—almost a millennium after the Greek translation movement—it seems a bit strange to say that we’re still thinking about the translation movements. The only real problem was what you were supposed to do if one of these people like Aristotle or Averroes or Avicenna taught something unacceptable. God is the source of existence. There’s also a common confusion that people have: they are always saying, ‘how can you call it Arabic philosophy when most of these thinkers were not Arabs?’ That, to me, is a spurious objection because there’s a difference between Arabic and Arab: to my ear Arabic is a language and Arab is an ethnicity. Yes, especially for him because he is a follower of the Ashʿarite school of theology, and the Ashʿarites were famous for thinking that all ethics is founded in God’s commands. This is a very powerful way of rethinking what God is and how God relates to everything else. This is a book about Avicenna’s influence. He has worked extensively on natural philosophy, so he covers that quite well. So my take on the Islamic tradition is that it’s continuous. And he says, ‘well it’s because you’re following a general rule which tells you to help other people because that maximises pleasure.’ So he even sounds like what nowadays we would call a rule utilitarian: you don’t just evaluate things on a one-off basis, you follow general policies that are designed to maximise utility. Islamic Philosophy A Beginner's Guide. Are you saying that Rāzī’s ethics should be studied? It seems to me that this is a huge and important tradition in philosophy, with many different philosophers involved, yet it’s almost completely neglected in courses that are described as ‘philosophy’. So he’s not saying ‘forget philosophy, just believe the Bible.’ He’s saying: ‘philosophical arguments are indecisive here.’ There are other cases where he does think they are decisive. A translator would make a translation, and then you would hire scribes to copy that. Trade Paperback. Customer Favorites. There was a later Kabbalistic thinker who said many good Jews have believed that God had a body, including better ones than Maimonides. In this book, Dag Nikolaus Hasse talks about the translations: who did them, and how they were done. There was actually quite a bit of warfare between Byzantium and the Islamic world in the ninth century. They were able to produce enormous amounts of literature very quickly, in part just because they had this material that they could write on that was a lot cheaper to produce than parchment was. He mentions, for example, that one of earliest works to be translated was on dialectical argumentation, for exactly that reason. Can you tell us a bit about the phenomenon he is exploring? He made lots of very important changes. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is hard. He then made a distinction between God as the necessary existent—i.e. Getting into Arabic philosophy was the same idea. There are certainly very significant philosophers in the early twentieth century, people like Mohammed Iqbal who died in 1938. That definitely was a source of contention and debate. One nice example that Hasse mentions is that Avicenna said that, in theory, humans could be spontaneously generated like flies and worms. Although Islamic philosophy represents one of the leading philosophical traditions in the world, it has only recently begun to receive the attention it deserves in the non-Islamic world. If you are the interviewee and would like to update your choice of books (or even just what you say about them) please email us at email@example.com, Peter Adamson is professor of late ancient and Arabic philosophy at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The reason he says that is that Kabbalah often depicts God as if God had a body and describes the dimensions of his limbs. Many Jewish figures worked in Spain. So they had a Latin translation of an Arabic translation of what was perhaps a Syriac translation of the Greek. It’s a very readable, solid, reliable introduction that is also very interesting. Whether they would admit that or not is another matter. Let’s go to the final choice. Absolutely. It’s not introductory in quite the same sense as McGinnis’s book on Avicenna, but it’s a well-rounded portrait of Maimonides as a thinker in his culture. Majid Fakhry is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. Shopping cart 0 item(s)-$0.00 . He also published one of the most important books on Avicenna, who we will be getting onto soon. Some Muslim historians have described the modern enlightened West as the imagination of Averroes. Routledge, Mar 7, 2013- Philosophy- 800 pages 0Reviews Islamic philosophy has often been treated as being largely of historical interest, belonging to … He and some other scholars had already been working quite a bit on the Greek-Arabic translations. He actually has some calculations about how much it cost and how much they had to pay translators to do the work. “There were generations in the Latin world where they were reading Avicenna and thinking about Avicenna more than they were thinking about Aristotle”. Arabic philosophy was hugely influential during the Islamic Golden Age; at one point, the Persian polymath Avicenna’s influence outstripped that of Aristotle. 3, Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker, The Teleological Ethics of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, Philosophy in the Islamic World: A Very Short Introduction, Classical Philosophy: A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, vol. And there had been work done even earlier by people like Rosenthal, who was Gutas’s teacher. From our conversation so far it is clear there was a rich history of Islamic philosophy in the medieval period. This is why I picked my second book, which is Jon McGinnis’s Avicenna (2010)—a straightforward title. Read, That leads to the next book, which is Avicenna’s De anima in the Latin West: The Formation of a Peripatetic Philosophy of the Soul, 1160. the book.1 Sir Chaudhary Muhammad Zafrulla Khan ra Sah ib’s translation was first published in the U.K by the London Mosque in 1979 and since then it has been reprinted four times (1989–1992–1996–2007) by Islam International Publications Ltd, U.K. In addition to that, he then tells you what all the Latin philosophers thought about it and how they thought the example worked. Originally a hybrid of Greek philosophy and early Islamic theology, its technical language consisted of a number of words translated from the Greek. Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker From the introduction of Greek Philosophy into the Muslim world in the eighth century, right through to modern times, Majid Fakhry charts the evolution and interaction of philosophy, theology, and mysticism in the Islamic context. It’s a very well-rounded, rich picture of his thought. They were innovative; they made progress in logic, metaphysics, psychology, and so on. For me, he’s the most important medieval thinker of any religious persuasion. Also, some works in the philosophical tradition are not in Arabic: there’s quite a bit in Persian later on, there are Hebrew works too. What I like about ‘philosophy in the Islamic world’ is that, in a way, it’s a neutral designation. On the other hand, there are fairly significant figures like Galen—the most important ancient doctor, along with Hippocrates—and Alexander of Aphrodisias—a famous commentator on Aristotle—whose works are only extant in Arabic. by Ayman Shihadeh You have to remember that the Arabic-Latin Translation Movement happened around 1200, and he lived all the way out in Central Asia and Persia. By Majid Fakhry. For example, he made big leaps forward in logic. 2019 The Qur'an: A Philosophical Guide. So, in a way, Hasse is one of the interpreters who tries to lower the bar on what Avicenna is doing, to make the argument more successful. $0.00 Total. He thinks: ‘These don’t say the same thing at all. For example, take me: if you analyse my essence—I’m a human and you analyse what it means to be human—you’ll see that there’s nothing about being human that guarantees existing. In general, he makes the point that Arabic philosophy was hugely informative and influential in the Latin medieval world. His analysis of the argument is well worth reading: it’s one of the most lucid and philosophically impressive discussions of the Flying Man Argument that you get in the secondary literature. To some extent, it seems that a distinctive and separate philosophical culture emerged in Spain and that culture was expressed by both Averroes and Maimonides, as well as by several other figures. For instance, the Bible is telling me that the world is created and Aristotle is telling me that the world is eternal. Robert R. Reilly. Or if you think about Plotinus in Late Antiquity, he came up with such a powerful new way of understanding Platonism that it swept away all of the other rival schools: the Stoics died out, the Epicureans died out, the Sceptics died out, and the only thing left was Platonism. eBook; LIST PRICE $14.99 PRICE MAY VARY BY RETAILER. Avicenna says, ‘if you include flies and worms, then in principle why not humans?’ And although the Christian philosophers were unanimous in rejecting that, as far as I know, (and Averroes too thought that it was a ridiculous idea) they didn’t then say ‘forget Avicenna.’ They took the 99% of him that was useful and said on this one point he was completely wrong. But he was just saying this should happen in theory; there was no political apparatus that made it happen; there was no Inquisition; there was nothing that could be compared to the way that scholastic philosophers and theologians could be hauled before a trial and put on charges on heresy by the church. “In certain times and places in the Islamic world, there was fruitful interchange and cooperation between people of different religions”. This was before we get to more famous figures like Aquinas. But it didn’t happen the other way because European intellectuals didn’t learn Arabic and Persian so they couldn’t read what the Islamic intellectuals were doing. In the context of courses on medieval philosophy, you might cover Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Avicenna, Averroes, Aquinas, and Scotus. So we need to start from existence in thinking about how metaphysics works.’. This book represents the culmination of Gutas’s own work on this area. #892 in Islam (Books) #4,592 in Religious Philosophy (Books) Customer Reviews: 4.3 out of 5 stars 5 ratings. At the time, was there just a single copy of each translation or were they making them to circulate? The first comprehensive survey of Islamic philosophy from the seventh century to the present, this classic discusses Islamic thought … Authors. We won’t enforce this anymore.’ And maybe, because that policy was a failure, you didn’t see Abbasid Caliphs after that trying to require obedience to any particular theological dogma. One complaint I do have is that, although philosophy in the Islamic world is covered sometimes, it is usually only in passing. Read. Read Five Books aims to keep its book recommendations and interviews up to date. Five Books interviews are expensive to produce. But actually there were several generations in the Latin world where they were reading Avicenna and thinking about Avicenna more than they were thinking about Aristotle, or where they were thinking about Aristotle through Avicenna. As far as I can tell, the real change happens in the period of colonialisation. 1, Philosophy in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds: A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, vol. It’s definitely something that experts should read but it’s something that you could read as an introduction to Maimonides as well. For example, like I said, he thinks you can prove that God doesn’t have a body, and so you are not allowed to interpret the Bible as if it says that God does have a body. What we’re really studying here is this shared culture of philosophical work in the Islamic world. With entries on over 300 thinkers and key concepts in Islamic philosophy … It was fabulously expensive to have these books translated. His conception of the soul became a kind of touchstone for scholastic medieval philosophy, even to the point that it was more important than Aristotle’s own psychology in the early thirteenth century. Islamic philosophy is a development in philosophy that is characterised by coming from an Islamic tradition. I totally agree with her way of setting up the book though, because what she says is that we need to think about Maimonides from several different points of view—not just as a Jewish legal scholar, but also as someone who was responding to the culture of Islamic Spain where he was born, and who moved to Egypt because his family was chased out by anti-Jewish Muslim forces called the Almohads. 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