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The Arabic Tradition

Directed by T. Kukkonen

When it comes to the Arabic reception of Aristotle’s psychology, Western scholars have by and large concentrated on Avicenna and Averroes, whose most extensive psychological works became massively influential among the scholastics from the mid-12th century onwards (in the case of Avicenna) and from the second half of the 13th (for Averroes). In the case of Avicenna’s De anima and Averroes’ commentary on De anima, paraphrase on De anima and epitome on De anima, disproportionate attention has been paid to the issue of intellection, with the other cognitive faculties receiving comparatively little light.

All these works have been edited to a reasonably high standard. However, Avicenna wrote numerous other psychological treatises, and the same goes very much for the Arabic translations of Greek works preceding Avicenna (Aristotle, Alexander, and Themistius above all) and for the Arabic works to which Avicenna and Averroes are responding (Kind, Fârâbî, Yahyâ Ibn ‘Adî et al.). What the Nordic experts on Arabic philosophy can most fruitfully contribute in this project is to engage in ‘deep’ philosophical studies, in association with our
more advanced colleagues in Greek and Latin Aristotelianism, so that these mutually informed investigations will be the absolute best and most challenging that they can be.

It is now rightly recognized that Arabic philosophy did not end with Averroes’s death; to the contrary, the entire period at least up to Mullâ Sadrâ (d. 1640) saw an extremely fertile appropriation and extension of the Avicennian project in the Islamic east. Largely lost in the scholarship, however, has been how these debates tied in with Avicenna’s original intention of providing a unified model for all cognition, from everyday apprehension to the most refined scientific understanding. The whole notion of ‘knowledge by presence’, the hallmark of the so-called Ishrâqî school, needs to be brought into this longer perspective afforded by the Aristotelian tradition as a whole. The task will be appointed to the second postdoc to be recruited within the programme (‘NN2’).

Page Manager: Andreas Ott|Last update: 10/28/2016
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