Islamic Thought in the Dialogue of Cultures: A Historical and Bibliographical Survey
ISLAMIC THOUGHT IN THE DIALOGUE OF CULTURES – Book Sample
Contents – ISLAMIC THOUGHT IN THE DIALOGUE OF CULTURES
- Abbreviations . ix
- Introduction . 1
- Chapter One: The Qurʾānic Background of Rationalism in
- Early Islam . 5
- Chapter two: Theocracy Versus Individuality: The Dispute on Man’s Free Will and its Impact on a new Rational
- World-View in the 8th/9th Century . 21
- Chapter Three: The Encounter of Islamic Rationalism with Greek Culture: The translation Period and its Role in the
- Development of Islamic Philosophy . 43
Motives and Principles for the Selection of translations from Greek into Arabic . 43
- The Syriac Share in the Early Greek-Arabic translations . 44
- The Iranian Share and the Role of the nestorians in
- the translation Movement . 48
- Ways of transmission of Greek Sciences to the Arabs:
- From Alexandria to Baghad . 49
- 3.5. Themes of Early Arabic translations . 52
- 3.6. Ḥunayn Ibn Isḥāq and his “School” . 54
- Qustā Ibn Lūqā . 55
- Greek natural Philosophy and Islamic World-View . 56
- From translation to Commentary and the Role of the Alexandrian School . 59
- Chapter Four: The Autonomy of Philosophy in Islam . 65
- Chapter Five: The Encounter of Islamic Philosophy with European Thought: Latin translations and translators of Arabic Philosophical texts and their Importance for
- Medieval European Philosophy. Survey and State of the Art . 89
- 5.1. Introduction . 89
- vi contents
- 5.2. Indispensable Research Material . 91
- 5.3. The Arabic Aristotle in the Middle Ages . 94
- 5.3.1. Aristoteles Arabico-Latinus . 94
- 5.3.2. Aristoteles Semitico-Latinus . 95
- 5.3.3. Arabic-Islamic Determinants of the Picture
- of Aristotle in the Middle Ages . 101
- 5.4. Qustạ̄ Ibn Lūqā in Latin transmission . 102
- 5.5. Liber de causis . 103
- 5.6. The Arabic-Latin Alexander of Aphrodisias . 107
- 5.7. Other Channels of Philosophy from Islam to
- Europe . 109
- 5.8. The Latin transmission of Kindī . 112
- 5.9. The Latin transmission of Fārābī . 114
- 5.10. Ibn Sīnā in the Latin Middle Ages . . 118
- 5.10.1. The Latin transmission of Ibn Sīnā . 118
- 5.10.2. “Avicennism” . 122
- 5.11. Ghazālī in the Latin Middle Ages . 132
- 5.11.1. The Latin transmission of Ghazālī . 132
- 5.11.2. Ramon Llull . 136
- 5.12. Ibn Rushd in the Latin Middle Ages . 138
- 5.12.1. The Latin transmission of Ibn Rushd . 138
- 5.12.2. “Averroism” . 143
- 5.12.3. Critique of “Averroism” and trends of
- Research . 158
- Chapter Six: Assimilation of Islamic Philosophical Thought
- and Dissociation in the Latin Middle Ages . 167
- The Arabic-Latin translations as Mediator of the
- Cultural Heritage of Islam . 167
- A Pioneer of Alexandrian Exegesis of Aristotle:
- al-Kindī, the “Philosopher of the Arabs” . 168
- An Interlude: The Peripatetic Fārābī . 170
- The Consolidation of Philosophical Doctrines about God, Soul and Intellect: The Contribution
- of Ibn Sīnā . 172
- The Islamic Criticism of Philosophy: the Example
- of Ghazālī . 177
- Ibn Rushd’s Return to the “Pure Aristotle” . 179
- 6.7. Latin “Averroism”? . 185
- contents vii
- 6.8. The Role of Islamic Philosophizing in the
- Middle Ages . 187
- Chapter Seven: Islamic Roots of Knowledge in Europe . 191
- Chapter Eight: Manifestations of Islamic Thought in an
- Intertwined World: Past and Future tasks of their Study . 215
- Bibliography . 233
- Index of names and Subjects . 245
- Index of Ancient and Medieval titles . 257
Introduction – ISLAMIC THOUGHT IN THE DIALOGUE OF CULTURES
It is difficult to define Islamic “philosophy” ( falsafa), as it is an alternative term for “Islamic thought”, a complex of ideas related to what the member of the Islamic society within the context of its Islamic culture and shaped by its religion1 considered as desirable knowledge and “wisdom” (ḥikma). This explanation follows the etymology of the Greek term filosofía “love of wisdom”. It includes only a part of the truth, insofar as philosophy is also the result of the curiosity of man, who seeks to know new things.
Philosophy as a complex of theoretical insights and practical experiences is, however, also the result of the encounter of persons with differing views and experiences; moreover, it is the result of the dialogue between differing societies and cultures.
Philosophy and philosophers thus become participants in a dialogue between different cultures and centuries; philosophers mediate between the knowledge of the past and the present, between the cultures of the past and the present, between one nation and the other.
Therefore, we cannot talk about the encounter of Islamic philosophy with European thought, without discussing its preceding encounter with Greek thought. Greek ideas found their way into Islamic thought and became assimilated within the frame of the Qurʾānic world-view of Islam.
Scholastic philosophers of the European Middle Ages found Islamic philosophical thought attractive for their own christian theology, in a similar way as Muslim theologians recurred to logical argu- ments and thoughts of the Greeks, following the model of hellenized Syriac speaking christians.
The selection from Greek ideas on both sides, the Muslim and the medieval christian culture, was determined by the specific demands of both; each culture selected what seemed to be somehow familiar and agreeable; each culture created its own picture of the other. The resulting mirror-picture is philosophy and the interpretations of philosophers, who contribute to philosophy by their way of understanding and also misunderstanding.
They are participants of a dialogue, which in the case of Islamic philosophy gives us the chance, to investigate the conditions of inspiration, reception, assimilation and reorientation of philosophical thought between antiquity and European Middle Ages. It will become clear, that Latin scholasticism is not a mirror-picture of Islamic philosophy, just as little as Greek philosophy, their common inspirative source, is uncritically taken over.
The Greek philosophical tradition common to Islam and Medieval European scholasticism requires a discussion of the way in which Greek thoughts passed to the Arabs, before we discuss the impact of Islamic philosophers on European scholastics. only such a discussion will reveal the new orientation of Greek thoughts in Islam and its specific impact on medieval European thought.
However, before we look at Islamic philosophical thought, we should examine the Islamic background that became a fertile soil for the reception of Greek philosophical and scientific thought.
We start with a chapter on the Qurʾānic background of rationalism in early Islam. After this chapter we continue with a chapter on the appraisal of individuality in early Islam, as precondition of the development of a new rational world-view in the 8th/9th century. This rational world-view and the following period of translations from Greek into Arabic facilitated the assimilation of Greek thought during the development of an essentially Islamic world-view, which was shaped by Qurʾān, Qurʾānic eschatology and the Islamic concept of revelation.
This Islamic world-view became known in medieval Europe through Latin translations. Its influence challenged Europeans to critical reflexions. Appropriation and critical distance became elements of a thought process, which became manifest in an exemplary manner in Islamic thought between antiquity and Middle Ages and created an impressive picture of Islamic thinking. This can be informative for our present view of Islamic culture and can help to avoid still existing prejudices and misconceptions.
Islamic philosophy is the most beautiful example of a multicultural dialogue. Its richness of ideas can be understood as an indication of plurality as mirrored in the manyfold shapings of Islam during its his- tory. This implies to a certain extent a plurality of values, which should be understood as a constructive bridge between the cultural heritage of Islam and the requirements of modern plurality.
The consciousness of the plurality of any culture including the complexity of Islam can generate new identities and thus meet the requirements of an intercultural dialogue in multicultural countries and in a global age. Here, Islamic philosophy becomes a symbol of the multiplicity of ideas resulting from the intercultural dialogue and at the same time of the universality of ideas as a common ground for a better understanding between differing cultures.
“Love for wisdom” can become a bridge between differing religions, between differing civilizations, between differing ideologies, between past and present, between tradition and modernity. This could create a human society in the peaceful coexistence of transnational identities, of world-cultures which in an everlasting process of cultural transfer stimulate each other to new insights.
The chapters were originally delivered in 2001 as lectures in English at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and civilization (IStAc), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. These lectures appeared in 2008 in Sarajevo as “Islamic Thought in the dialogue of cultures.
Innovation and Mediation between Antiquity and the Middle Ages”, together with a German version (by the author) and with a Bosnian translation by nevad Kahteran, all versions published by the publisher KuLt-B. As this publication in fact is not available in any public library, we decided to republish the English text in a revised and supplemented version.
We omitted the preface by tamara Albertini and the epilogue by nevad Kahteran on “comparative considerations as a new Paradigm: the idea of cross-cultural or multicultural philosophy”; instead we added chapters on “Islamic roots of Knowledge in Europe”, on “The Study of Islam in an Intertwined World: past and future tasks” and indices. We are extremely grateful to Jessie owen for her meticulous revision of the English version and to my wife Helga daiber for her as always indispensable final correction.
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