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School of Illumination

Sunday 19 March 2006 21:30-22:15 (Radio 3)

Writer and singer Shusha Guppy tells the fascinating story of how Islamic philosophers brought the treasures of classical Greek thought to the West.

By the 9th Century, the works of philosophers like Plato and Aristotle had largely been lost in the Latin West. In the Islamic East it was a very different story. For centuries they had been translating these and other Greek philosophical school works, harvesting the knowledge they contained and in turn, writing their own commentaries. As the Islamic empire spread to Europe, that knowledge travelled with it.


45 minutes



The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy ( Cambridge Companions to Philosophy)
Peter Adamson (Editor), Richard Taylor (Editor) 2004: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 052152069X

general works and collections of articles

Booth, E. Aristotelian Aporetic Ontology in Islamic and Christian Thinkers ( Cambridge : 1983).
Burrell, D. Knowing the Unknowable God: Ibn Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas (Notre Dame: 1986).
Burrell, D. Freedom and Creation in Three Traditions (Notre Dame: 1993).
Corbin, H. History of Islamic Philosophy , trans. L. Sherrard ( London : 1993).
Craig, E. (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( London : 1998), has entries on numerous Arabic philosophers.
Davidson, H.A. Proofs for Eternity, Creation and the Existence of God in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy ( Oxford : 1987).
Druart, T.-A. "Philosophy in Islam," in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Philosophy , ed. A.S. McGrade ( Cambridge : 2003), 97-120.
Encyclopedia of Islam , 2nd ed., 11 vols. (Leiden: 1960-2002).
Fakhry, M. A History of Islamic Philosophy , 2nd ed. (New York: 1983).
Fakhry, M. Philosophy, Dogma and the Impact of Greek Thought in Islam ( Aldershot : 1994).
Gutas, D. "Classical Arabic Wisdom Literature: Nature and Scope," Journal of the American Oriental Society 101 (1981), 49-86.
Hourani, G. (ed.), Essays on Islamic Philosophy and Science ( Albany : 1978).
Hyman, A. and Walsh, J.J. Philosophy in the Middle Ages ( Indianapolis : 1973), includes translations of several Arabic philosophical texts.
Kraemer, J.L. "The Islamic Context of Medieval Jewish Philosophy," in Frank and Leaman [234], 38-68.
Leaman, O. An Introduction to Classical Islamic Philosophy ( Cambridge : 2002).
Marmura , M.E. (ed.), Islamic Theology and Philosophy ( Albany : 1984).
Maróth, M. (ed.) Problems in Arabic Philosophy (Piliscsaba: 2003).
Morewedge, P. (ed.), Islamic Philosophical Theology ( Albany : 1979).
Morewedge, P. (ed.), Islamic Philosophy and Mysticism (Delmar: 1981).
Morewedge, P. (ed.), Neoplatonism and Islamic Thought ( Albany : 1992).
Nasr, S.H. and Leaman, O. (eds.), History of Islamic Philosophy , 2 vols. ( London : 1996).
Qadir , C.A. Philosophy and Science in the Islamic World ( London : 1990).
Rosenthal, F. The Classical Heritage in Islam , trans. E. Marmorstein and J. Marmorstein.
Rosenthal, F. Greek Philosophy in the Arab World ( Aldershot : 1990).
Sharif, M.M. A History of Muslim Philosophy, 2 vols. (Wiesbaden: 1963-6).
Stern, S.M., Hourani, H. and Brown, V. (eds.), Islamic Philosophy and the Classical Tradition ( Oxford : 1972).
Stern, S.M. Medieval Arabic and Hebrew Thought , ed. F. Zimmermann ( London : 1983).
Watt, M.W. Islamic Philosophy and Theology (Edinburgh: 1962, revised ed. 1985).
Wolfson, H.A. Studies in the History of Philosophy and Religion , ed. I. Twersky, G.H. Williams, in 2 vols. (Cambridge, MA: 1973, 1977).
Wolfson, H.A. The Philosophy of the Kalam (Cambridge, MA: 1976).
Ziai, H. "Islamic Philosophy," in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. T. Honderich ( Oxford : 1955), 419-421.
Gutas, D. "The ' Alexandria to Baghdad ' complex of narratives. A contribution to the study of philosophical and medical historiography among the Arabs," Documenti e Studi sulla Tradizione Filosofica Medievale , 10 (1999): 155-193.
Gutas, D. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: the Graeco-Arabic Translation movement in Baghdad and early society (2nd-4th / 8th-10th centuries) ( London : 1998).
Gutas, D. Greek Philosophers in the Arabic Tradition ( Aldershot : 2000).

al-kindî and the reception of greek philosophy

Adamson, P., "Al-Kindî and the Mu'tazila: Divine Attributes, Creation and Freedom," Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 13 (2003), 45-77.
Adamson, P., "Before Essence and Existence: al-Kindî's Conception of Being," The Journal of the History of Philosophy 40 (2002), 297-312.
Atiyeh, G.N. Al-Kindî: the Philosopher of the Arabs ( Rawalpindi : 1966).
D'Ancona, C. "Aristotelian and Neoplatonic Elements in Kindî's Doctrine of

avicenna and the avicennan tradition

Druart, T.-A. "The soul and body problem: Avicenna and Descartes," in Arabic Philosophy and the West: Continuity and Interaction , ed. T.-A. Druart (Washington, D.C.: 1988), 27-49.
Gohlman, W.E. The Life of Ibn Sina: A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation ( Albany : 1974).
Goodman, L.E. Avicenna ( London : 1992).
Gutas, D. Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition ( Leiden : 1988).
Janssens, J. An Annotated Bibliography on Ibn Sînâ (1970-1989) ( Leuven : 1991); First Supplement (1990-1994) (Louvain-la-Neuve: 1999).
Janssens, J. "Creation and Emanation in Avicenna," Documenti e Studi sulla Traduzione Filosofica Medievale 8 (1997), 455-477.
Janssens, J. and de Smet, D. (eds.), Avicenna and His Heritage ( Leuven : 2002).
Marmura , M.E. "Avicenna's Proof from Contingency for God's Existence in the Metaphysics of the Shifâ' ," Medieval Studies 42 (1980).
Rahman, F. "Essence and Existence in Avicenna," Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies 4 (1958), 1-16, continued in "Essence and Existence in Ibn Sînâ: the Myth and the Reality," [103] Reisman, D. (ed.) Before and After Avicenna ( Leiden : 2003).
Wisnovsky, R. (ed.) Aspects of Avicenna ( Princeton : 2001).
Wisnovsky, R. Avicenna's Metaphysics in Context ( London : 2003).
Yarshater, E. (ed.), "Avicenna," in Encyclopaedia Iranica (New York: 1999), vol.III, 66-110.


Aertsen, J. A. and Endress G. (eds.), Averroes and the Aristotelian Tradition ( Leiden : 1999).
Averroes, Averrois Cordubensis Commentarium Magnum in Aristotelis De Anima Libros, ed. F. S. Crawford ( Cambridge :1953).
Averroes, Faith and Reason in Islam: Averroes' Exposition of Religious Arguments , trans. I.Y. Najjar ( Oxford : 2001).
Averroes, Ibn Rushd's Metaphysics: a Translation with Introduction of Ibn Rushd's Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, Book Lâm , trans. C. Genequand ( Leiden : 1984).
Averroes, On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy: a translation, with introduction and notes, of Ibn Rushd's Kitâb fa s l al-maqâl with its appendix ( D amîma) and an extract from Kitâb al-kashf fî al-manâhij al-adilla , trans. G. F. Hourani (London: 1967).
Taylor, R.C. "Averroes on Psychology and the Principles of Metaphysics," The Journal of the History of Philosophy 36 (1998), 507-523.
Taylor , R.C. "Improving on Nature's Exemplar: Averroes' Completion of Aristotle's Psychology of Intellect" in P. Adamson, H. Baltussen, and M.W.F. Stone (eds.), Philosophy, Science and Exegesis in Greek, Arabic and Latin Commentaries ( London : forthcoming).
Taylor , R.C. " Cogitatio , Cogitativus and Cogitare : Remarks on the Cogitative Power in Averroes," in L'élaboration du vocabulaire philosophique au Moyen Age , ed. J. Hamesse and C. Steel (Louvain-la-Neuve: 2000), 111-146.
Taylor , R.C. "'Truth does not contradict truth': Averroes and the Unity of Truth," Topoi 19 (2000), 3-16.

suhrawardî and illuminationism

Aminrazavi, M. Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination (Richmond, Surrey: 1996).
Corbin, H. Sohravardî et les Platoniciens de Perse (Paris: 1971-72); this is vol. 2 of Corbin [170].
Nasr, S.H. Three Muslim Sages ( Cambridge : 1964).
Suhrawardî, The Philosophy of Illumination , ed. and trans. J. Walbridge and H. Ziai ( Provo : 1999).
Suhrawardî, The Philosophical Allegories and Mystical Treatises, trans. W.M. Thackson, Jr. (Costa Mesa, CA: 1999).
Walbridge, J. The Science of Mystic Lights: Qutb al-Din Shirazi and the Illuminationist Tradition in Islamic Philosophy ( Cambridge : 1992).
Walbridge, J. The Leaven of the Ancients: Suhrawardi and the Heritage of the Greeks ( Albany : 2000).
Walbridge, J. The Wisdom of the Mystic East: Suhrawardî and Platonic Orientalism ( Albany : 2001).
Yazdi, M.H. The Principles of Epistemology in Islamic Philosophy: Knowledge by Presence ( Albany : 1992).
Ziai, H. Knowledge and Illumination: A Study of Suhrawardî's H ikmat al-Ishrâq ( Atlanta : 1990).
Ziai, H. "The Source and Nature of Authority: a Study of al-Suhrawardî's Illuminationist Political Doctrine," in Butterworth [187] , 304-44.

mysticism and philosophy: ibn 'arabî and mullâ s adrâ
Chittick, W.C. The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn 'Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination ( Albany : 1989).
Corbin, H. En Islam Iranien , 4 vols. (Paris: 1971-2).
Hadot, P. Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault , ed. A. Davidson, trans. M. Chase ( Oxford : 1995).
Ibn 'Arabî, Fu s û s al- h ikam , ed. 'A. 'Afîfî, ( Cairo : 1946).
Ibn 'Arabî, al-Futû h ât al-Makkiyya , 4 vols., ( Cairo : n.d.; reprinted Beirut : n.d.).
Morris, J.W. "Ibn 'Arabî and his Interpreters," JAOS 106 (1986), 733-56.
Mullâ S adrâ [ S adr al-Dîn Shîrâzî], al- H ikma al-muta'âliya fî al-asfâr al-'aqliyya al-arba'a , ed. R. Lu t fî, I. Amînî, and F. Ummîd, 3rd ed., 9 vols. (Beirut: 1981); new ed. with scholia of H asanzâda Âmulî, 2 vols. so far (Tehran: 1995-).
Rahman, F. The Philosophy of Mullâ S adrâ ( Albany : 1975).
Rizvi, S.H. Mullâ S adrâ Shîrâzî: Philosopher of the Mystics ( Cambridge : forthcoming).
Rosenthal, F. "Ibn 'Arabî between philosophy and mysticism," Oriens 31 (1988), 1-35.

arabic into latin: the reception of arabic philosophy into western europe

Burnett, C. "The Coherence of the Arabic-Latin Translation Program in Toledo in the Twelfth Century," Science in Context 14 (2001), 249-88.
Butterworth, C.E. and B.A. Kessel, (eds.), The Introduction of Arabic Philosophy into Europe ( Leiden : 1994).
Cranz, F.E. "Editions of the Latin Aristotle Accompanied by the Commentaries of Averroes," in E.P. Mahoney (ed.), Philosophy and Humanism: Renaissance Essays in Honor of Paul Oskar Kristeller ( Leiden : 1976), 116-28.
Jolivet, J. "The Arabic Inheritance," in A History of Twelfth-Century Western Philosophy , ed. P. Dronke ( Cambridge : 1988): 113-47.

recent trends in islamic philosophy

Corbin, H. and Âshtiyânî, S.J.D. (eds.), Anthologie des philosophes iraniens depuis le XVIIe siecle jusqu'a nos jours , 4 vols. (Tehran: 1972-).
Mohaghegh, M. and Landolt, L. (eds.), Collected Papers on Islamic Philosophy and Mysticism ( Tehran : 1971).
F. Rahman, "The Post-Formative Developments in Islam," Islamic Studies 1 (1962), 1-23, and 2 (1963), 297-316.
Sadra Islamic Philosophy Research Institute, Islam-West Philosophical Dialogue. The Papers presented at the World Congress on Mulla Sadra , vol.1, Mulla Sadra and Transcendent Philosophy ( Tehran : 2001).
M. Sadughi, Post-Sadr-ul-Muti'allihin Mystics and Philosophers [sic] ( Tehran : 1980).
Schmitdke, S. The Theology of al-'Allâma al- H illî ( Berlin : 1991).
Schmitdke, S. Theologie , Philosophie und Mystik im zwölferschiitischen Islam des Hossein Ziai, "Knowledge and Authority in Shî'î Philosophy," in Shiite Heritage: Essays in Classical and Modern Traditions , ed. L. Clarke (Binghampton, 2001), 359-373.

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