An Introduction to Classical Islamic Philosophy by Oliver Leaman

By Oliver Leaman

Even if Islamic philosophy represents essentially the most vital philosophical traditions on this planet, it has in simple terms really lately began to obtain recognition within the non-Islamic international. this can be a new version of a winning introductory booklet, improved and up to date to take account of modern scholarship. It specializes in what's considered as Islamic philosophy's golden age, and may attract scholars and to any normal reader attracted to this philosophical culture.

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At this stage in the hierarchy of emanation, we reach a level of reality which is no longer powerful enough to generate an intelligence and soul. Rather, emanation generates from the Active Intellect a multiplicity of human beings and sublunary matter. Our souls emanate from the Active Intellect, and its illumination (ishr¯aq) of our souls makes possible the kinds of knowledge which can turn towards it. As we shall see in the last chapter, this idea was taken up by ishr¯aqi or Illuminationist philosophy to create an entirely new school of Islamic philosophy.

The First Intellect also thinks about its own essence and as a result produces the body and soul of the First Heaven. The consequent sequences of emanated Intellects are linked with the generation of other celestial things such as the Fixed Stars, the planets, the sun and the moon. A particularly important role is played by the Tenth Intellect, the intermediary between the celestial and the terrestial worlds, between the higher and the lower worlds. This Intellect, which is the Aristotelian nous poietikos, the Active or Agent Intellect, is responsible both for making human thought actual and making form available to humanity and the sublunary world.

The dispute between al-S¯ır¯af¯ı and Matt¯a over the respective merits of kal¯am and falsafa brings to the surface an important explanation for the problematic nature of Greek philosophy in the Islamic community. Many of the questions which philosophy applied itself to already had answers provided within the context of Islam. For example, the question of how people ought to live and act had been answered in the Qur’¯an, which contains everything in the way of information required to ensure salvation and concerning religious and social behaviour.

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