World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010

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MEDIEVAL ARABIC PHILOSOPHY - 2/2 (459-b) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel
 

· NOT_DEFINED date: FRI 23, 11.30 am - 1.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

Chair: Kevin Gray (Instructor, American University of Sharjah, UAE)

Paper Presenter: Murat Erten (Research Assistant, Ankara University, Turkey) “Islamic Philosophical Tradition”
This is a well-known expression that the two concepts of East and West have not only geographical but also another and deeper meaning. The Mediterranean Sea, as a focus of the three old continents which known as the old world and accomplish the roots of present cultures, looks like a field for those cultures and populations come in touch, change and develop with the other cultures effects. This process can take a sort of evolution of culture. Evolution can be possible by the power of existence or in general the thing need to vary, with another words the power of the thing is potentially all there from the beginning. This means that in an Aristotelian way, thing continues the adventure of being and goes forward to make itself real. Changing means covered turns to uncovered and potential turns to actual. So the relationship of the Islamic world and the other cultures especially European cultures should understand by this way. By the beginning of commercial relationships of Ancient Greek philosophy and Islamic thought, Islamic thinkers effected from the Ancient Greek thought and endeavoured to compile their religious and cultural background with this new and different tradition. At the end of the day muslim thinkers achieved to create a specific philosophical tradition. Although today Western thought leads on science and technology even social sciences but during the eighth and thirteenth centuries, Islamic civilization was on that position. On the most important scientific branches like mathematics, astronomy and philosophy Islamic researchers got original inventions and wrote out serious books. Some of those philosophers are al-Ghazal, Alfarabi, Avicenna and Averrose. So we can say that Islamic philosophy is a product of an old and serious tradition of thinking. Muslim thinkers take part in the history of philosophy with their original works. And these works made higher additions to the tradition of thinking to change and develop.
My paper will be about philosophical actions in islamic world. Historically, philosophy passes into islamic world from the ancient greeks because of meeting of muslim and other cultures, but the effect of greek thought could not lasted forever. Muslim thinkers added some new and original thoughts on it. I am planning to tell some examples about this like Al-Farabi's political thought (its different from Plato’s by the ethical way); Avicenna’s theory of knowing himself (not by the way of ethics like Socrates but epistemologically) and some others for giving information about tradition of philosophy in islamic civilization. The paper will also contain some compares and contrasts with greek thought. Because I think islamic thought has the philosophical peculiarity of itself and it's roots feed from other ancient thoughts like iranian, indian and especially greek thought. This could show us that tradition of philosophical thought passes away culture to culture or civilization to civilization; it's not belonging to only one culture.

Paper Presenter: Inka Nokso-Koivisto (PhD student of Arabic and Islamic studies, University of Helsinki, Finland) “The Human Body as the Microcosm in the Islamic Medieval Thought”
The idea of human being as the microcosm (lam aghr), a miniature of creation, takes various forms in the Islamic medieval thought. Islamic elaborations of the idea form a synthesis of the early Iranian, Middle Eastern and Greek mythological and philosophical traditions. In this paper, the focus is on the idea of the human body as the microcosm. The study pertains to the field of intellectual history. The main purpose is to explore, what does the use of the microcosm-macrocosm analogy reveal of the idea of corporeality in the Islamic medieval thought? The microcosmic idea is present in various branches of Islamic philosophy. In the mainstream falsafa tradition, the idea is mainly approached from the perspective of the human soul. In the esoteric branches of the Islamic philosophy and science, the microcosmic idea has been taken more literally and it is more often connected with the corporeal aspect of human being. In this paper, the focus is on texts pertaining to the Islamic Hermetic tradition, such as Sirr al-Khalqa, Rasil Ikhwn a-af and Ghyat al-akm. In this study, the microcosmic idea is primarily examined as a part of the philosophical idea of man. In addition to their philosophical significance, the corporeal comparisons between human being and the universe also serve for stylistic purposes of the texts. Hence, the literal value of the analogies is one dimension of the study. The idea is also connected with certain scientific disciplines. The analogy holds an essential methodological position in some nowadays pseudo-scientific disciplines, for instance, in astrology and alchemy. On the other hand, the aesthetic value of the human body, explained by means of the microcosm-macrocosm analogy, forms a part of the discussion on harmony as a criterion for beauty. The use of the analogy in its different forms reveals some essential cosmological ideas of the Islamic Hermetic texts. It is connected with the question of the dichotomy between the spiritual and material. Different elaborations of the microcosmic idea implicate quite positive attitudes towards the human body, which is rather surprising taking into account the strong Neoplatonic influence in the texts. The mythological idea of Adam as the summary of creation has its central position in the conception of the physical universe and, as will be seen, the scientific meaning given to the microcosmic idea is found amalgamated with the spiritual one.

Paper Presenter: Mariam al-Attar (Faculty, King's Academy), “Comparison between the principle of utility and the doctrine of al-Maslaha”
The purpose of my paper is to compare between the doctrine of al-Maslaha as articulated by Arab-Muslim scholars and the principle of utility in utilitarian ethics. My research assumes that the concept of ‘rational obligation’ (al-taklif al-‘aqli) as articulated by the Mu’tazilite scholar of the 11th century ‘Abd al-Jabbar (d. 415 /1025) paved the way for post-Mu’tazilite scholars to contribute to the field of philosophical ethics, in a way that is compatible to some modern secular ethical theories. My research paper is mainly related to ’Islamic Ethics which is also the title of my upcoming book. In that book I have shown that theories of value and theories of obligation were developed by scholars whose work was usually classified under jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) and theology (‘ilm al-kalam). The present paper aims at investigating some similarities and differences between utilitarianism and an Islamic ethical theory which is based on the doctrine of al-maslaha (public interest) and the purposes of law (maqasid al-shari’a). This will be done by analyzing and comparing the meanings and the various definitions given to some essential moral terms such as obligation, right, wrong, good and evil in both Arabo-Islamic tradition and in utilitarian ethics. The paper also focuses on analyzing and appraising the normative ends of moral actions as defined in both utilitarian and Islamic ethics. It will be shown that a teleological theory developed by some Muslim scholars can avoid some classical criticisms that were raised against utilitarianism. My main references are the 20 volumes book of ‘Abd al-Jabbar al-Mughni as a starting point for exploring concepts and terms related to teleological ethics in Arabo-Islamic tradition besides al-Mustasfa by Abu Hamed al-Ghazali (d. 450/,1111) and al-Muwafaqat by al-Shatibi (d. 790/1388), Qawa’id al-Ahkam by ‘Izz al-Din bin ‘Abd al-Salam (d. 660/1262) and various works of some modern Muslim scholars. Utilitarianism, written by Mill (d. 1873) will be the main reference for the utilitarian theory in ethics besides various books on utilitarianism and articles from the journal of Ethics, the international journal of social, political and legal philosophy and other scholarly journals. My main references are the 20 volumes book of ‘Abd al-Jabbar al-Mughni as a starting point for exploring concepts and terms related to teleological ethics in Arabo-Islamic tradition besides al-Mustasfa by Abu Hamed al-Ghazali (d. 450/,1111) and al-Muwafaqat by al-Shatibi (d. 790/1388), Qawa’id al-Ahkam by ‘Izz al-Din bin ‘Abd al-Salam(d. 660/1262) and various works of some modern Muslim scholars. Utilitarianism, written by Mill (d. 1873) will be the main reference for the utilitarian theory in ethics besides various books on utilitarianism and articles from the journal of Ethics, the international journal of social, political and legal philosophy and other scholarly journals.