Philosophy written in Arabic and in the Islamic world represents one of the great traditions of Western philosophy. Inspired by Greek philosophical works and the indigenous ideas of Islamic theology, Arabic philosophers from the ninth century onwards put forward ideas of great philosophical and historical importance. This collection of essays, by some of the leading scholars in Arabic philosophy, provides an introduction to the field by way of chapters devoted to individual thinkers (such as al-Farabi, Avicenna and Averroes) or groups, (...) especially during the 'classical' period from the ninth to the twelfth centuries. It also includes chapters on areas of philosophical inquiry across the tradition, such as ethics and metaphysics. Finally, it includes chapters on later Islamic thought, and on the connections between Arabic philosophy and Greek, Jewish, and Latin philosophy. The volume also includes a useful bibliography and a chronology of the most important Arabic thinkers. (shrink)
The first book in the Great Medieval Thinkers series to focus on an Islamic philosopher. It offers a brief, accessible introduction to the thought of the philosopher al -Kindi (died roughly 870 AD). His works, though brief, are of great historical importance. Al-Kindi was the first philosopher of the Islamic world. PeterAdamson will survey what is known of al-Kindi's life, examine his thought on a wide range of topics, and consider the relationship of al-Kindi's work to his (...) Greek sources. (shrink)
Al-Kindi was the first philosopher of the Islamic world. He lived in Iraq and studied in Baghdad, where he became attached to the caliphal court. In due course he would become an important figure at court: a tutor to the caliph's son, and a central figure in the translation movement of the ninth century, which rendered much of Greek philosophy, science, and medicine into Arabic. Al-Kindi's wide-ranging intellectual interests included not only philosophy but also music, astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. Through (...) deep engagement with Greek tradition al-Kindi developed original theories on key issues in the philosophy of religion, metaphysics, physical science, and ethics. He is especially known for his arguments against the world's eternity, and his innovative use of Greek ideas to explore the idea of God's unity and transcendence. Despite al-Kindi's historical and philosophical importance no book has presented a complete, in-depth look at his thought until now. In this accessible introduction to al-Kindi's works, PeterAdamson surveys what is known of his life and examines his method and his attitude towards the Greek tradition, as well as his subtle relationship with the Muslim intellectual culture of his day. Above all the book focuses on explaining and evaluating the ideas found in al-Kindi's wide-ranging philosophical corpus, including works devoted to science and mathematics. Throughout, Adamson writes in language that is both serious and engaging, academic and approachable. This book will be of interest to experts in the field, but it requires no knowledge of Greek or Arabic, and is also aimed at non-experts who are simply interested in one of the greatest of Islamic philosophers. (shrink)
The paper discusses al-Kindi's response to doctrines held by contemporary theologians of the Mu‘tazilite school: divine attributes, creation, and freedom. In the first section it is argued that, despite his broadly negative theology, al-Kindi recognizes a special kind of “essential” positive attribute belonging to God. The second section argues that al-Kindi agreed with the Mu‘tazila in holding that something may not yet exist but still be an object of God's knowledge and power (as the Mu‘tazila put it, that “non-being” is (...) a “thing”). Also it presents a new parallel between al-Kindi and John Philoponus. The third section gives an interpretation of al-Kindi as a compatibilist, in other words as holding that humans may be free even though their actions are necessitated. In all three cases, it is argued, al-Kindi is close to the Mu‘tazilite point of view, though he departs from them in the arguments he gives for that point of view. (shrink)
This paper studies the first metaphysical theory in Arabic philosophy, that of al-Kindi, as found in "On First Philosophy" and other of his works. Placing these works against the background of translations produced in al-Kindi's circle (the "Theology of Aristotle," which is the Arabic version of Plotinus, and the "Liber de Causis," the Arabic version of Proclus' "Elements of Theology"), it argues that al-Kindi has two conceptions of being: "simple" being, which excludes predication and derives from Neoplatonism, and "complex" being, (...) which is based on Aristotle's notion of substance. At the end of the paper the "simple" notion of being is seen to anticipate in some respects Avicenna's distinction between existence and essence. (shrink)
Al-Kindi was influenced by two Greek traditions in his attempts to explain vision, light and color. Most obviously, his works on optics are indebted to Euclid and, perhaps indirectly, to Ptolemy. But he also knew some works from the Aristotelian tradition that touch on the nature of color and vision. Al-Kindi explicitly rejects the Aristotelian account of vision in his De Aspectibus, and adopts a theory according to which we see by means of a visual ray emitted from the eye. (...) But in the same work, al-Kindi draws on Philoponus. (shrink)
Avicenna's notorious claim that God knows particulars only 'in a universal way' is argued to have its roots in Aristotelian epistemology, and especially in the "Posterior Analytics". According to Avicenna and Aristotle as understood by Avicenna, there is in fact no such thing as 'knowledge' of particulars, at least not as such. Rather, a particular can only be known by subsuming it under a universal. Thus Avicenna turns out to be committed to a much more surprising epistemological thesis: even humans (...) know particulars only in a universal way. (shrink)
We should see a very close connection between two fields of philosophy which are nowadays kept well apart, namely ethics and epistemology. Indeed, if the good life and virtue consist in knowledge, then the study of knowledge just is the study of ethics.