Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
3Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
The Study of Arabic Philosophy in the Twentieth Century - Dimitri Gutas

The Study of Arabic Philosophy in the Twentieth Century - Dimitri Gutas

Ratings: (0)|Views: 67|Likes:
Published by Samir Al-Hamed
"Philosophy is considered a recalcitrant subject, and Arabic philosophy particularly so, both by historians of philosophy in general and by scholars of Arabic and Islamic studies in particular. Though naturally I disagree with this view, there would appear nevertheless to be good reasons for its prevalence.

In the former case, the historian of ancient and medieval philosophy, at home with Greek and Latin, finds nothing in his education to help alleviate the estrangement that he inevitably feels when confronted with what is taken to be the impenetrable barrier of the Arabic language and the perceived otherness of Islamic culture; and when he tries to approach the subject through the mediation of the secondary literature by Arabist historians of philosophy, he finds little there to whet his appetite for more, as I will soon explain.

In the case of the scholar of Arabic and Islamic studies, traditional education has taught him that philosophy in Islamic civilization was at best a fringe activity which ceased to exist after the death blow allegedly dealt to it by al-Ghazali in the eleventh century, was anyway frowned upon by a presumed orthodoxy, and, being therefore largely inconsequential—a feeling further corroborated through casual perusal of the unappetizing specialist secondary literature I just referred to—could be safely disregarded."

Dimitri Gutas, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Graeco-Arabic Studies, Yale University.

Professor of Arabic and Graeco-Arabic (Ph.D. Yale 1974) did his undergraduate and graduate work at Yale in classics, history of religions, and Arabic and Islamic studies.

Dimitri Gutas studies and teaches medieval Arabic and the medieval intellectual tradition in Islamic civilization from different aspects. At the center of his concerns lies the study and understanding of classical Arabic in its many forms as a prerequisite for the proper appreciation of the written sources which inform us about the history and culture of Islamic societies. He also has an abiding interest in the transmission of Greek scientific and philosophical works into the Islamic world through the momentous Graeco-Arabic translation movement in Baghdad during the 8th-10th centuries AD (2nd-4th Hijri).

Out of these two interests grew the longstanding project to compile, in collaboration with Professor Gerhard Endress of Bochum University, Germany, A Greek and Arabic Lexicon, which provides “materials for a dictionary of the medieval translations from Greek into Arabic” (Leiden 1992 and ff.). The Lexicon is compiled in fascicles that appear in regular intervals, and interested graduate students in the Department have the opportunity to participate in the continuing project and sharpen their linguistic skills in both classical Arabic and classical Greek.

http://www.yale.edu/nelc/dgutas.html
"Philosophy is considered a recalcitrant subject, and Arabic philosophy particularly so, both by historians of philosophy in general and by scholars of Arabic and Islamic studies in particular. Though naturally I disagree with this view, there would appear nevertheless to be good reasons for its prevalence.

In the former case, the historian of ancient and medieval philosophy, at home with Greek and Latin, finds nothing in his education to help alleviate the estrangement that he inevitably feels when confronted with what is taken to be the impenetrable barrier of the Arabic language and the perceived otherness of Islamic culture; and when he tries to approach the subject through the mediation of the secondary literature by Arabist historians of philosophy, he finds little there to whet his appetite for more, as I will soon explain.

In the case of the scholar of Arabic and Islamic studies, traditional education has taught him that philosophy in Islamic civilization was at best a fringe activity which ceased to exist after the death blow allegedly dealt to it by al-Ghazali in the eleventh century, was anyway frowned upon by a presumed orthodoxy, and, being therefore largely inconsequential—a feeling further corroborated through casual perusal of the unappetizing specialist secondary literature I just referred to—could be safely disregarded."

Dimitri Gutas, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Graeco-Arabic Studies, Yale University.

Professor of Arabic and Graeco-Arabic (Ph.D. Yale 1974) did his undergraduate and graduate work at Yale in classics, history of religions, and Arabic and Islamic studies.

Dimitri Gutas studies and teaches medieval Arabic and the medieval intellectual tradition in Islamic civilization from different aspects. At the center of his concerns lies the study and understanding of classical Arabic in its many forms as a prerequisite for the proper appreciation of the written sources which inform us about the history and culture of Islamic societies. He also has an abiding interest in the transmission of Greek scientific and philosophical works into the Islamic world through the momentous Graeco-Arabic translation movement in Baghdad during the 8th-10th centuries AD (2nd-4th Hijri).

Out of these two interests grew the longstanding project to compile, in collaboration with Professor Gerhard Endress of Bochum University, Germany, A Greek and Arabic Lexicon, which provides “materials for a dictionary of the medieval translations from Greek into Arabic” (Leiden 1992 and ff.). The Lexicon is compiled in fascicles that appear in regular intervals, and interested graduate students in the Department have the opportunity to participate in the continuing project and sharpen their linguistic skills in both classical Arabic and classical Greek.

http://www.yale.edu/nelc/dgutas.html

More info:

Published by: Samir Al-Hamed on Jan 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

11/22/2012

pdf

text

original

 
 British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (2002)
,
29
(1), 5–25
The Study of Arabic Philosophy inthe Twentieth Century
An Essay on the Historiography of Arabic Philosophy
1
DIMITRI GUTAS*
Aucun grand moment de la pense´e humaine n’a sansdoute e´te´—et ne reste—plus injustement traite´ par les historiensde la pense´e que la philosophie islamique.
2
Introduction
Philosophy is considered a recalcitrant subject, and Arabic philosophy particu-larly so, both by historians of philosophy in general and by scholars of Arabicand Islamic studies in particular. Though naturally I disagree with this view,there would appear nevertheless to be good reasons for its prevalence. In theformer case, the historian of ancient and medieval philosophy, at home withGreek and Latin, nds nothing in his education to help alleviate the estrangementthat he inevitably feels when confronted with what is taken to be the impen-etrable barrier of the Arabic language and the perceived otherness of Islamicculture; and when he tries to approach the subject through the mediation of thesecondary literature by Arabist historians of philosophy, he nds little there towhet his appetite for more, as I will soon explain. In the case of the scholar of Arabic and Islamic studies, traditional education has taught him that philosophyin Islamic civilization was at best a fringe activity which ceased to exist after thedeath blow allegedly dealt to it by al-Ghaza¯l
õ
¯ in the eleventh century, wasanyway frowned upon by a presumed orthodoxy, and, being therefore largelyinconsequential—a feeling further corroborated through casual perusal of theunappetizing specialist secondary literature I just referred to—could be safelydisregarded.In both cases this (mis)perception may be justied, but the fault lies not withArabic philosophy
3
itself but with its students and expositors: Arabist historiansof philosophy themselves have not done their job properly and they have failed,
* Professor Dimitri Gutas is Professor of Arabic at Yale University.
1
A lecture deliveredon 4July 2000, at a plenarysessionof theannual BRISMES Conference held at Cambridge.Apart for some minor revisions and the addition of full references, the text of the lecture has been retained asdelivered.
2
Mohammed Abed al-Jabri,
Introduction a` la critique de la raison arabe
(Paris: E´ditions La Decouverte, 1995),p. 77.
3
I say ‘Arabic’ and not ‘Islamic’ philosophy for the reasons discussed later in the section IlluminationistApproach.ISSN1353–0194print/ISSN 1469–3542online/02/010005–21
Ó
2002BritishSociety for Middle EasternStudiesDOI: 10.1080/1353019022012404 3
 
DIMITRI GUTAS
by and large, to present the results of their research, rst, to historians of philosophy in a systematic and rationalized way that will exploit the commonpoints of reference and contact, and second, to their colleagues in Arabic andIslamic studies in a way that will make manifest the relevance of Arabicphilosophy to Islamic intellectual life in general. It is not sufcient, at the turnof this millennium, with the multicultural sensibilities of much Western aca-demic discourse, that the historian of medieval scholastic philosophy and theIslamics expert be prepared to acknowledge the massive and decisive inuenceexerted by Arabic philosophy on medieval Christendom and Islam respectivelysimply because of the weight of incontrovertible historical evidence;
4
thehistorian of Arabic philosophy is obliged at the same time to present his materialin such a way that will convince his audience that the study of Arabic philosophyis indeed worthwhile and potentially benecial to their own work.I will now try to present the case of how it is that we, that is, historians of Arabic philosophy, have failed to present the subject to our colleagues, bothwithin and without Islamic studies, in a way that would have gained itacceptance as part of our common discipline long time ago—after all, the studyof Arabic philosophy has been more or less constant since Ernest Renan’sepoch-making
Averroe`s et l’Averro
õ
¨sme
, which rst appeared a century and ahalf ago in 1852. For even a cursory look at Fernand van Steenberghen’s veryuseful
Introduction a` l’e´tude de la philosophie me´die´vale
5
will tell us that thescholarly study of Latin and Arabic medieval philosophy has roughly the sameage—and yet how vastly unequal the accomplishments of the two elds havebeen! It is obvious that much more substantive work on the history of Arabicphilosophy could have been accomplished in the last century and a half and thatconsequently the reasons that it has not have to be sought in other factors whichhave been impeding its progress. I will survey the various types of error, of bothcommission and omission, which have accompanied its study in the course of thepresent century. By avoiding these errors in the next, Arabic philosophy willperhaps nally gain the position of eminence it deserves both within Arabic andIslamic studies and, more generally, within the history of Western philosophy.To begin with, let me make a few statements of fact to dispel some of themisconceptions I referred to earlier. Arabic philosophy did not die after al-Ghaza¯l
õ
¯ (d. 1111) and it was not a fringe activity frowned upon by a so-called‘orthodoxy’. It was a vigorous and largely autonomous intellectual movementthat lasted a good 10 centuries—some would say it is still alive in Iran—andplayed a crucial role in shaping high culture both before and, especially, afterAvicenna (Ibn S
õ
¯na¯), its greatest exponent. The accompanying chart sketches ina necesarily simplied way its progress from the ninth to the eighteenthcenturies.The problem is, briey put, that Arabic philosophy has been very unevenlyinvestigated, with some periods and personalities receiving the lion’s share of 
4
Such acknowledgement is increasingly the case in general textbooks of medieval Latin philosophy. See, forexample, the statements of a leading scholar in the eld, K. Flasch: ‘Die zivilisatorische und damit auch diephilosophische Entwicklung des lateinischen Westens seit dem 13. Jahrhundert ist ohne den Einuss der Arabernicht zu verstehen’, in his
Das philosophische Denken im Mittelalter 
(Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam jun., 1986), p.262; a similar sentiment is also to be found in his
Einfu¨hrung in die Philosophie des Mittelalters
(Darmstadt:Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1987), p. 95. Admittedly, the actual coverage of Arabic philosophy in suchtextbooks is perfunctory, but this is precisely for the reasons that form the subject of this talk.
5
(Paris/Louvain: Publications Universitaires, 1974), pp. 42–43.
6
 
ARABIC PHILOSOPHY
7

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->