A translator would make a translation, and then you would hire scribes to copy that. Arabic philosophy was hugely influential during the Islamic Golden Age; at one point, the Persian polymath Avicenna’s influence outstripped that of Aristotle. Some people have even suggested saying ‘Islamicate philosophy’, but I resist that because I don’t think that ‘Islamicate’ is a word that most people know. “In certain times and places in the Islamic world, there was fruitful interchange and cooperation between people of different religions”. He also published one of the most important books on Avicenna, who we will be getting onto soon. 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. The Byzantines were their main military and political rivals in this period. In a way, the most powerful thing that comes out of Gutas’s book is an appreciation of the sheer enormity and success of the Translation Movement, in addition to all these issues about why it was done. If you think, for example, of what Plato and Aristotle did—they effectively rendered the pre-Socratics irrelevant by co-opting their ideas, to the point where their texts are now almost entirely lost. Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes. by Dag Nikolaus Hasse He commented on the Qur’an, he wrote huge theological treatises on every area of philosophy fundamentally within an Avicennan framework. Can you tell us a bit about the phenomenon he is exploring? If they’re in apparent conflict, you have to figure out where the philosophy leads, and then interpret the Bible accordingly. Great Medieval Thinkers: Avicenna “If you lived in tenth century Iraq, you could pretty much read all of the Aristotle we can read”. 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. Actually, something that I’ve discovered now that I’m doing the podcast [History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps] on Indian philosophy as well, is that Islamic philosophy actually gets more attention than these other traditions because Islamic philosophy has one advantage the other traditions don’t, which is that it’s very closely connected to the history of European philosophy. As I’ve said, in some cases, Avicenna’s influence even outstripped that of Aristotle. For him, metaphysics was the study of substances that came to be through the changing of other substances—like blood being brought together to form a foetus, which becomes a human. He is a good example of the kind of figure who, if you’re just following the tradition of philosophy in the Islamic world, would seem to be incredibly important. It’s a continuing tradition. by Dimitri Gutas He has a famous argument—a sort of anti-argument argument—where he goes through the proofs for and against eternity, and he says that none of the proofs work one way or the other, so you can’t tell—except the Bible says that the world is not eternal, so you should believe that. He thinks: ‘These don’t say the same thing at all. Then, in addition to that, he points out a lot of the practical benefits that you would have got from the Translation Movement. Of the five books, this is probably the one that would be most challenging for the average reader. Still, when I say ‘Islamic world’ what I mean is what all these other scholars mean by ‘Islamicate’. This was done in Spain and it involved Muslims, Jews, and Christians—especially Jews and Christians—working together. It’s only if reason can’t figure it out that you then appeal to the Bible to settle the issue. 4 Tao Te Ching book. What should I do?’, “A distinctive and separate philosophical culture emerged in Spain and that culture was expressed by both Averroes and Maimonides”. There were religious scholars but they were independent of political institutions. They clashed and then more intellectual developments grew out of that, like, for example, radical Islam and Salafism which have been inspired, in part, by European 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. The sudden change to a slower gear also left more room to reflect on the state of the world and our place as humans in it. The Arch and the Butterfly tells the tale of left-wing, … Especially in certain times and places in the Islamic world, you actually had very fruitful interchange and cooperation between people of different religions. This site has an archive of more than one thousand interviews, or five thousand book recommendations. Can anyone suggest any good books on middle eastern philosophy? A young man is learning the Torah, learning the Jewish Law, and then he gets exposed to Avicenna and Aristotelian philosophy. His primary areas of interest are late ancient philosophy and Arabic philosophy, and is the author of books including The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy and Philosophy in … Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings, Meditation's Secret Treasure, Awakening to the Mystic World (American Tao #1), Going Back to Zen: Where to Find Peace So You Can Live Like Mad, Embracing the Best of East and West: My Spiritual Journey through Hinduism and Non-Duality to the God Self Within, Tao Te Ching: The New English Version That Makes Good Sense, Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life, The Sword of No-Sword: Life of the Master Warrior Tesshu, The Tao of Success: The Five Ancient Rings of Destiny, The Tao of Daily Life: The Mysteries of the Orient Revealed The Joys of Inner Harmony Found The Path to Enlightenment Illuminated, 32 Short, New Books to Help You CRUSH Your Reading Challenge. Read. I knew that there are books that you can go and read, but I had to learn Arabic for that. “There were generations in the Latin world where they were reading Avicenna and thinking about Avicenna more than they were thinking about Aristotle”. I even co-edited a Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy before I changed my mind about the right way to describe it. 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. But this is also problematic in various ways. There has, of course, been a lot of complaining about this recently. Mazdakism. You have to read those passages in a figurative or allegorical way. Because of reasons, google isn't being very helpful on this. Paper: 978-0-87220-826-1: $14.00. Was there nothing sacrilegious, nothing blasphemous in doing that? But the Islamic intellectuals did learn to read English, French and German. He mentions, for example, that one of earliest works to be translated was on dialectical argumentation, for exactly that reason. 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. Tell the Publisher! Was a side effect of this translation movement the preservation of texts that got lost in the Greek world? Getting into Arabic philosophy was the same idea. There is actually a word, ‘Islamicate,’ which was invented to refer to the same idea. This is a very interesting idea, which I personally am persuaded by, though it is admittedly harder to prove. But, at the same time, he was very self-consciously original. He then made a distinction between God as the necessary existent—i.e. This is already very interesting: it’s another example of the collaboration between people of different religions. In fact, there is a book called The List—in Arabic, the Fihrist—by a tenth century bookseller who worked in Baghdad.