Al-Kindī (Great Medieval Thinkers) by Peter Adamson

By Peter Adamson

Al-Kindi used to be the 1st thinker of the Islamic international. He lived in Iraq and studied in Baghdad, the place he turned hooked up to the caliphal court docket. sooner or later he may develop into a tremendous determine at courtroom: a train to the caliph's son, and a relevant determine within the translation circulation of the 9th century, which rendered a lot of Greek philosophy, technology, and medication into Arabic. Al-Kindi's wide-ranging highbrow pursuits incorporated not just philosophy but in addition track, astronomy, arithmetic, and medication. via deep engagement with Greek culture al-Kindi built unique theories on key concerns within the philosophy of faith, metaphysics, actual technological know-how, and ethics. he's particularly identified for his arguments opposed to the world's eternity, and his cutting edge use of Greek principles to discover the belief of God's team spirit and transcendence.Despite al-Kindi's historic and philosophical value no ebook has awarded an entire, in-depth examine his idea formerly. during this obtainable creation to al-Kindi's works, Peter Adamson surveys what's recognized of his existence and examines his procedure and his angle in the direction of the Greek culture, in addition to his sophisticated courting with the Muslim highbrow tradition of his day. primarily the ebook specializes in explaining and comparing the guidelines present in al-Kindi's wide-ranging philosophical corpus, together with works dedicated to technological know-how and arithmetic. all through, Adamson writes in language that's either severe and interesting, educational and approachable. This booklet can be of curiosity to specialists within the box, however it calls for no wisdom of Greek or Arabic, and can be aimed toward non-experts who're easily attracted to one of many maximum of Islamic philosophers.

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Alternatively it may even have been a resource produced by these associates without al-Kindı¯’s direct involvement. But the important point is that the definitions were culled, by someone in al-Kindı¯’s circle, from Greek texts. Yet the terms being defined are Arabic; it is only rarely that the underlying Greek word is even mentioned. On Definitions thus embodies the project of creating an Arabic version of the Greek philosophical vocabulary.

He may also have known texts produced by other early translators. ya¯ b. al-Bit. rı¯q (fl. ca. g. the Divine Names of the Pseudo-Dionysius, the Optics of Ptolemy, and the Commentary on the De Anima of Philoponus, to name just a few. Space does not permit me to explore the range of questions that arise here. But it is worth making the general point that, just as we today have many texts al-Kindı¯ did not, so he knew Greek works that are lost to us. For instance, it is clear that he knew summaries and epitomes of Greek works or overviews of Greek authors, which probably came down to him from the Alexandrian philosophical schools.

16 However, as we have seen in our survey of his sources, al-Kindı¯ had much less access to works on practical philosophy than he did to works on theoretical philosophy. His own writings reflect this, as do his treatments of the structure and methodology of philosophy. For him the question of philosophy’s structure is primarily the question of how the theoretical side of philosophy is structured. The central difficulty to be confronted here turns out to be al-Kindı¯’s attitude towards mathematics—which he considers to be a philosophical science—and how it relates to the rest of philosophy.

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