Fakultät für Philosophie, Wissenschaftstheorie und Religionswissenschaft

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Lehrveranstaltungen Sommersemester 2014


Metaphysics in Islam

Veranstaltungsnummer 10050

Mo. 16:00 bis 18:00 c.t. woch 07.04.2014 bis 07.07.2014 Geschw.-Scholl-Pl. 1 (E) - E 206

The course offers an introduction to metaphysics in the Islamic world. The flowering of an “Islamic” metaphysics was a unique event in the history of ideas. Islamic thinkers appropriated the best intuitions at work in the classical philosophies of Plato and Aristotle; they blended them together creatively and produced an entirely new, all-round and all-encompassing synthesis from different visions of the world. One view that Muslim thinkers generally shared is that reality, including God, is known through metaphysics as a rational/secular endeavor. In contrast to this, Islam teaches that God is revealed by religion and prophecy. The encounter between philosophy and more traditional culture raised a fondamental question: Is metaphysics legitimate within Islam? The seminar addresses some controversial aspects of the debate concerning the notion of metaphysics as rational knowledge of God, God and creation, the connection between heavens and earth, the cosmic order and natural phenomena, and the explanation of nature in terms of hylomorphic constituents. Key notions and philosophical ideas will be extracted from the texts where they are encapsulated as a way to emphasize the importance of interrogating primary sources. At the same time the class will strike a balance between primary texts and secondary literature so as to acquaint the student with the interpretative problems posed by medieval philosophical texts and strategies employed by scholars to reach a clear understanding thereof. The student will find in the present course a concise survey of, and a stimulus to thinking through, major problems and figures in Islamic metaphysics.

Literatur: Primary readings include al-Kindī’s On First Philosophy, al-Fārābī’s Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, Avicenna’s Metaphysics of the Healing, and Averroes’s Long Commentary on the Metaphysics. Supplementary readings will be integrated as the occasion presents itself in connection with the discussion conducted in class. All texts will be read in English translation, so that no knowledge of either Arabic or Greek is required. Reading knowledge of French and Spanish is welcome but not required.

Voraussetzungen: Knowledge of English required. Reading knowledge of French, Spanish, Italian is welcome. Proficiency in Ancient Greek and/or Classical Arabic desirable but not required.



Übung zum Essaykurs "Metaphysics in Islam"

Veranstaltungsnummer 10056

Do. 16:00 bis 18:00 c.t. woch 10.04.2014 bis10.07.2014 Schellingstr. 3 (S) Vg. - 242 Seminarraum


Al-Ghazālī, The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahāfut al-Falāsifa)

Veranstaltungsnummer 10081

Do. 14:00 bis 16:00 c.t. woch 10.04.2014 bis 10.07.2014 Leopoldstr. 13, Haus 2 - 2202

This seminar features a classic of Arabic philosophy that will be read in the original language and commented upon both linguistically and philosophically. The work selected is the Tahāfut al-Falāsifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers) by the greatest theologian of Islam: Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (d. 1111). In this refutation of various philosophical claims and attendant excommunication (takfīr) of philosophers al-Ghazālī appropriates notions and argumentative patterns used by his opponents, and his critique turns out to be so elaborate as to compete with the level of sophistication demonstrated by professional falāsifa. At the same time the Tahāfut al-Falāsifa lies at the crossroads of philosophy and theology (kalām) insofar as it provides a philosophical description of Ghazālian standards for ‘orthodoxy’ and, conversely, apostasy from Islam. Concurrent with doctrinal analysis, the text of al-Ghazālī will be subjected to linguistic and grammatical examination. Participants must read Classical Arabic, appreciate its fundamental phonological, morphological and syntactical principles, as well as recognize the formal structures which underlie the Arabic language. Knowledge of Classical Arabic at an intermediate level or higher is a prerequisite for the class along with active participation in analysis and translation. The course may ideally - but need not - be taken as a complement to the Essaykurs "Metaphysics in Islam".

Literatur: Algazel, Tahafot al-falasifat. Texte arabe établi et accompagné d’un sommaire latin et d’index par Maurice Bouyges. Frankfurt am Main, Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, 1999 (selected passages)

Voraussetzungen: Knowledge of English and Classical Arabic (intermediate) required.