Course Syllabus


Arabic / Islamic Philosophy

Prof. Richard C. Taylor

Course Syllabus:

Texts required for purchase by all students indicated by asterisk*.

Primary sources:

• *Classical Arabic Philosophy. An Anthology of Sources, Jon McGinnis and David C. Reisman, tr. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2007) CAP

  1. Other materials in translation provided by the instructor : click on this link and then open the folder “KUL Arabic : Islamic Philosophy.”

Recommended secondary sources on the history of Arabic / Islamic philosophy:

*The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, Peter Adamson and Richard C. Taylor, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) CCAP

The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, Tim Winter, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). CCCIT

Selected articles in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (on-line resource: SEP. But click here.

Selected articles from the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy REP

Selected articles from History of Islamic Philosophy, Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman, ed. London & New York: Routledge, 1996. HIP

Massimo Campanini, An Introduction to Islamic Philosophy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008)

Dimitri Gutas, Greek Thought, Arabic Culture (London; NY: Routledge, 1998).

Other valuable sources will be mentioned in class and indicated on the course website.

Detailed Syllabus for 13 class meetings of two hours

(14.02.2011 - 30.05.2011)

Class topics and assignments

1. (14.02.2011) Introduction to Islam and Philosophy: course overview; brief account of the Qur’an, Islam and early developmental issues.

1.1.1. Course overview and resources

1.1.2. A brief account of Islam: Qur’an, Hadith, Sura, the Rashidun caliphs, more.

1.2.1. Islamic Kalâm (philosophical theology) & Primary Causality

Suggested readings:

On Islam:

  1. (i);

  2. (ii)

  3. (iii)On the philosophical context for those not familiar with Ancient philosophy, I recommend “Greek Background to Medieval Philosophy” available as a PDF at and open the folder “KUL Arabic / Islamic Philosophy”.

(iv) For a recent overview of Islamic philosophy (mostly of the classical era) see “Philosophy” in the New Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 4, Robert Irwin, ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. 532-63, 825-30. This is available at GBIB: Godgeleerdheid Shelf number: B297 NEW

On Islamic Kalâm (philosophical theology):

(i) selections from al-cAshcari & cAbd al-Jabbar, by the instructor via the link;

  1. (ii)CCCIT, Introduction and ch. 4 The Developed kalâm Tradition;

  2. (iii) CAP Introduction; and

  3. (iv) Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy REP: “Islamic Theology” and “Ashcariyya and Muctazila.”

  1. 2.(21.02.2011) Greek into Arabic: the Foundations of Arabic / Islamic Philosophy

2.1. The translation and transformation of Greek philosophy into the Arabic / Islamic intellectual and cultural setting;

2.2. Pseudo-Aristotelian works: the Theology of Aristotle and the Book of Causes.

Required readings:

  1. (i)Cristina D’Ancona, “Greek Sources in Arabic / Islamic Philosophy,” in SEP 

  2. (ii) selections from the Theology of Aristotle and the Book of Causes, provided by the instructor.


(i) Cristina D’Ancona, “The Origins of Islamic Philosophy,” in The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity, L. P. Gerson, ed., v. 2 (Cambridge 2010), pp. 869-893 & 1170-1178.  FDWM: Antieke en middeleeuwse filosofie.  Shelf number: Ca 99.47

(ii) “The Theology of Aristotle,”

  1. 3.(28.02.2011) al-Kindî (d. 870): the equity of religion and philosophy in the human pursuit of the Divine; tawhid; the First Cause and the True Agent; the human intellect; ethics.

Required readings:

  1. (i)selections from al-Kindi’s Metaphysics provided by the instructor;

  2. (ii) CAP 1-35;

  3. (iii) CCAP ch. 3.

Recommended: SEP

  1. 4.(07.03.2011) al-Fârâbî (d. 950) and the primacy of philosophy over religion in the human pursuit of the Divine; intellectual thought; the nature of metaphysics; political philosophy and ethics.

Required readings:

  1. (i)selection from al-Farabi’s Book of Religion;

  2. (ii) CAP 63-119;

  3. (iii) CCAP ch. 4.

Recommended: “al-Farabi” in Alfred L. Ivry, “Arabic and Islamic Psychology and Philosophy of Mind,” in SEP

5. (14.03.2011) Ibn Sînâ / Avicenna (d. 1037): logic and demonstration; intellectual reasoning in the human pursuit of the Divine: metaphysics.

Required readings:

  1. (i)CAP 146-156. Note a change in the assigned reading.

  2. (ii) selections on metaphysics from Avicenna. The Metaphysics of The Healing, Bks. 1 & 8, Marmura, tr. provided by the instructor on TOLEDO;

  3. (iii) CCAP ch. 6.

6. (21.03.2011) Ibn Sînâ / Avicenna, continued: the nature of the human soul; an interpretation of Aristotelian epistemology.

Required readings:

  1. (i)CAP 175-209;

  2. (ii) selected readings on epistemology provided by the instructor;

  3. (iii) Michael Marmura, “Avicenna's 'Flying Man' in Context,” Monist 69 (1986), 383 -95


“Avicenna” in Alfred L. Ivry, “Arabic and Islamic Psychology and Philosophy of Mind,” in SEP

7. (28.03.2011) al-Ghazâlî (d. 1111): the primacy of the religious in the human pursuit of the Divine; and the critique of philosophy.

Required Readings:

  1. (i)Deliverance from Error, available at;

  2. (ii) CAP 241-254;

  3. (iii) CCAP ch.7.

Recommended: SEP:

8.1. ( 02.05.2011) Ibn Bâjja (d. 1139) and Aristotelian thought under the influence of Neoplatonism; the philosopher in society.

Required readings:

  1. (i)CAP 266-283;

  2. (ii) selection from On the Governance of the Solitary provided by the instructor;

  3. (iii) CCAP ch. 8.

Recommended: SEP:

8.2. Ibn Tufayl (d. 1185-6) and the natural worship of the enlightened philosopher.

Required readings: CAP 284-293; CCAP ch. 8.

9. (09.05.2011) Ibn Rushd / Averroes (d. 1198) and the culmination of Classical Rationalism in the Arabic / Islamic milieu: religion and philosophy; human knowing; the philosophical conception of God.

Required readings:

  1. (i)CAP 309-330;

  2. (ii) CCAP ch. 9.

10. (16.05.2011) The Influence of Classical Arabic Philosophy on Latin Europe: Arabic into Latin; phases in the entrance of Arabic philosophy and condemnations in the Latin West; Thomas Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’.

Required readings:

(i) CCAP ch. 18;

  1. (ii)Text of Aquinas displaying the influence of the Arabic tradition on his conception of the Christian notion of beatitude: available at:,_Q.2,_A.1.html

Recommended: “Influence of Arabic and Islamic Philosophy on the Latin West,” by Dag Hasse in SEP at

11. (23.05.2011) Philosophy as Islamic: Suhrawardî (d. 1191) and the Illuminationist tradition; Ibn cArabî (d. 1240) and Sufism (Islamic mysticism); and Mulla Sadrâ (d. 1631): wisdom and the holy life.

Required readings: Suhrawardi selections on illumination available at

Also at SEP: (i) Mysticism in Arabic and Islamic Philosophy; (ii) Suhrawardi; (iii) Ibn Arabi; and (iv) Mulla Sadra.

12. (30.05.2011) Historical, social and political movements in the development of social philosophy in the 19th & 20th centuries:  Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1838-1897); Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966); Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989) and modern Iran; Radicalism, Peace, the Future, and Reform. Viewing of “The Rise of Intellectual Reform in the Islamic World,” via


(i) Q. Wiktorowicz and J. Kaltner, “Killing in the Name of Islam: al-Qaeda’s Justification for September 11,” Middle East Policy Council X (2003), available at

(ii) “A Common Word,” abbreviated version at;

  1. (iii) John L. Esposito, ”The Future of Islam,” one-hour video recording at


  1. (i)Abdolkarim Soursh, “The Goals of Iran’s Green Movement,” January 2010, available at and “The Social Sciences have been Iran’s Most Bloodied Martyr over the past 30 Years. Interview with Abdulkarim Soroush,” by Farid Abid-Hashemi, January 2010 at;

  2. (ii) Tariq Ramadan, What I Believe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).