University of Denver and Marquette University


Seventh Annual Summer Conference 2014 at

Marquette University

11-13 June 2014


For information on projected Workshops 2015-2027, click HERE.


Philosophy in the Abrahamic Traditions

International Live Video Workshop on


11-13 June 2014

Presented by the Departments of Philosophy at

the University of Denver and Marquette University


the University of Denver’s Center for Judaic Studies

with funding assistance from the office of the

Dean of Marquette University’s Klingler College of Arts and Sciences


Prof. Sarah Pessin, University of Denver


Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University

First held at Marquette University in 2008, this Summer Conference alternates between the University of Denver and Marquette University.

Starting in summer 2014 the format will change to an annual Workshop.

Workshop Format & Schedule

Workshop non-presenting registrants

Dr Kevin Gray, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Dr Mercedes Rubio, Polis Institute of Languages and Humanities, Jerusalem

Dr Owen Goldin, Marquette University

Dr David Twetten, Marquette University

Jamal Salma, MU undergraduate student

Traci Phillipson, MU graduate student

Catherine Peterson, University of St Thomas, Houston, graduate student

Mark Schulz, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, graduate student

This 11-13 June 2014 workshop on al-Farabi was our initial use of recorded video and Skype technology for this series of meetings with international expert  scholars on key figures working in the Arabic and Latin traditions.

The effort was not altogether successful due to technical difficulties of various sorts in the recording of the discussions. The recording of the discussion of the paper by Prof. Butterworth failed and the discussion with Prof. Martini Bonadeo was only partially successful.

Those problems were solved for the 8-10 June 2015 workshop on Avicenna held in Denver. The Denver video presentations should be available in late Summer 2015.

Featuring three expert keynote presentations:

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Charles E. Butterworth (Washington)

“Al-Fārābī’s Political Regime”

For video presentation, click HERE*.

(Discussion omitted due to technical difficulties.)

For abstract, bibliography and more, click HERE.

Thursday 12 June 2014

Cecilia Martini Bonadeo (Padua)

The Debated Question of al-Fārābī’s Authorship of Harmony of Plato and Aristotle (Kitāb al-Ğam‘ bayna ra’yay al-Ḥakīmayn Aflāṭūn al-ilāhī wa Arisṭūṭālīs). A question of method.”

For video presentation, click HERE*.

For video of the discussion, click HERE*.

For abstract, bibliography and more, click HERE.

Friday 13 June 2014

Philippe Vallat (Geneva)

“The Doctrine of the Two Entelechies of the Soul from Aristotle to Farabi: a First Inquiry”

For video presentation, click HERE*.**

For video of the discussion, click HERE*.

For abstract, bibliography and more, click HERE.

**Regarding his presentation, Dr Vallat has requested that it be noted here that “In this video some remarks on Aristotle and translations of Aristotle’s works are drawn from David Bradshaw’s work, Aristotle, East and West (Oxford, 2004).”

Afternoon Presentations

Wednesday 11 June 2014

2:00-2:55 pm: Mohammed Azadpur, San Francisco State University,

“Alfarabi on Intentionality”

(break 3-3:10)

3:00-3:45 pm: Mustafa Younesie, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran

“Some Speculations on Fārābī’s Reception of Thrax Tekhne Grammatike

3:50-4:45 Luis López-Farjeat, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City, “Al-Fārābī on the ‘Language’ of Non-Human Animals”

Thursday 12 June 2014

2:00-2:55 pm: Janis Esots, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, UK, “Al-Fārābī and Ismā’īlī Thought: Tracing Mutual Influences”

(break 3-3:15)

3:15-4:10 pm: Nicholas Oschman, Marquette University,

“The Risalah fī’l-‘aql in light of the Fārābīan Corpus: Saving the Doctrine of Abstraction”

(break 4:10-4:25)

4:25-5:30 Mark Schulz, Loyola Marymount University, “Being and God as Subjects of Metaphysics in al-Farabi and Duns Scotus”

Abstracts for Afternoon Presentations

Mohammad Azadpur (San Francisco)

“Alfarabi on Intentionality”

It is argued that "intentionality" is a translation of the Arabic manā, especially as this term is employed in the philosophy of Islamic Peripatetics. Franz Brentano, a modern Aristotelian philosopher, in his Psychology from An Empirical Standpoint, introduces “intentionality” to contemporary philosophy and claims that every mental phenomenon is characterized by intentionality, that is, by the inclusion of an object within itself (88). In his habilitationshcrift titled the Psychology of Aristotle, Brentano claims that Avicenna, Alfarabi’s successor, loses Aristotle’s insight that the soul does not think without an image, or to put it as Brentano does: “the sensory ceases to be the source of intellectual cognition.” I will address the inadequacy of this critique of Avicenna elsewhere. Here I want to show that Brentano’s critique does not apply to Alfarabi either.  Now there is some pressure in contemporary philosophy to adopt the view that Brentano criticizes. In “Being and Being Known,” for example, Wilfrid Sellars argues that Thomas Aquinas hastily placed the senses in the intentional order, when in fact they, the senses, have only a “pseudo-intentionality, which is easily mistaken for the genuine intentionality of the cognitive order.” Sellars's positive view, then, seems to accord with the reading of Avicenna that is championed by Brentano and others. In this essay, I dispute the Sellarsian position that may make it attractive to hold the position Brentano attributes to Avicenna.  I then show that Alfarabi, Avicenna’s precursor, already formulates a view of intentionality that includes the sensory thoughts as possessing genuine intentionality.

Janis Esots (London)

“Al-Fārābī and Ismā‘īlī Thought: Tracing Mutual Influences”

My paper will deal with the mutual influences of al-Fārābī and Ismā‘īlī thinkers, particularly in political philosophy, cosmology and eschatology.

As argued by Daiber, al-Fārābī appears to have developed the principal thesis of his political philosophy –that religion is a picture and imitation of philosophy – from the seminal remarks of the Ismā‘īlī dā‘ī Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī. I will reassess the claim, examining the relevant passages. In turn, al-Fārābī’s influence on the Ismā‘īlī thought is believed to have occurred mainly through Ḥamīd al-Dīn al-Kirmānī’s works, in which he reproduces al-Fārābī’s cosmological hierarchy of the ten intellects. I intend to critically examine De Smet’s hypothesis of the radically different role of the hierarchy in both systems. Finally, I will compare the structure of the Ismā‘īlī eschatological Column of Light with that of al-Fārābī’s Excellent City.

Luis López-Farjeat (Mexico City)

“Al-Fārābī on the ‘Language’ of Non-Human Animals”

In the De interpretatione Aristotle distinguished between articulate and inarticulate voices. While articulate voices are a combination of vowels and consonants, an inarticulate voice would be any sound uttered by non-human animals. Nevertheless, al-Fārābī debated this view. In his Long Commentary on the De Interpretatione, al-Fārābī amends Aristotle’s position and develops an argumentation that takes into account some considerations regarding non-human animals’ behavior found in Aristotle’s treatises on animals. After presenting al-Fārābī’s view concerning the ‘language’ of non-human animals, I briefly discuss to what extent non-human animals’ capacities to express and communicate themselves, broadens our comprehension of what Mediaeval Islamic philosophers understood by language.

Nicholas Oschman (Milwaukee)

“From the Agent Intellect: Interpreting the Agent Intellect's Role in Human Knowledge in al-Farabi”

It has been argued by certain scholars, e.g. Herbert Davidson, Th. Anne Druart, and Damien Janos, that al-Fārābī's Risalah fi-l-'aql represents an immature and unfinished stage of al-Fārābī's thought in light of more mature works like his al-Siyāsah al-Madaniyyah and al-Madīnah al-Fādilah. Druart even goes so far as to suggest that the Risalah, while written by al-Fārābī, does not represent his own position, but is merely the exercise of a dutiful commentator of Aristotle. Janos cites al-Fārābī's inconsistent use of terminology, particularly the term for form (ṣuwar) as proof of the immaturity of the Risalah, while both Davidson and Druart note that the Risalah identifies the Active Intellect as the giver of sublunary forms while his more mature works seem to credit form-giving to the Celestial bodies. That said, the Risalah contains within it al-Fārābī's most robust account of the human intellect and the only full account of his doctrine of abstraction. In this paper, I will argue that while the Risalah represents a less mature work of al-Fārābī, he maintains the same doctrines in both the Risalah and his mature works. The differences between their doctrines are primarily cosmetic, brought about by the shift in terminology identified by Janos. In light of this consistency, al-Fārābī's doctrine of abstraction found within the Risalah may be viewed as an informative supplement to his less complete, but more mature, discussions of epistemology.

Mark Schulz (Los Angeles)

“Being and God as Subjects of Metaphysics in Al-Farabi and Duns Scotus”

In The Aims of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Al-Farabi presents a conception of metaphysics on which being is its primary subject and God is discussed as cause of being and the goal of its inquiry. This view of metaphysics went on to be highly influential in the subsequent medieval Arabic and Latin philosophical tradition. Less well known is that Al-Farabi understands immaterial being as a secondary subject and takes metaphysics in some way to be divine science. In this paper I will look at how Duns Scotus similarly treats both being and God as subjects of metaphysics in his Questions on Metaphysics, and how he takes metaphysics to be divine science. Although Scotus never read Al-Farabi’s Aims, Scotus’ position is developed precisely in reaction to Avicenna as criticized by Averroes. Whereas Averroes sees God rather than being as the subject of metaphysics, as for Avicenna, Scotus, not unlike Al-Farabi, finds a way to say that both God and being serve as subject. So, this paper investigates various ways in which for Scotus, as for Al-Farabi, ontology and theology may be seen as aspects of the Aristotelian science of metaphysics.

Mustafa Younesie (Tehran)

“Some Speculations on Farabi’s Reception of Thrax Tekhne Grammatike

The relation of language and logics is one of those subjects which knows no place and time and can be discussed anew with things unsaid before. And in the ancient and medieval understanding and mentality about this relationship Aristotle and those who are inspired by and followed him shape a suitable forum.

With regard to this background and the salient role, position and effects of Dionysus Thrax Tekhne Grammatike (TG) as a classical and traditional guiding hand book in the field of ancient Greek morphology and syntax, about Farabi’s direct or indirect reception of the so-called TG (as it is extant and available for him) in the First and Second Discourses of his Arabic treatise اللافاظ المستعمله في المنطق  Utterances Used in Logic (LMM) some speculations will be made.

As the title of Farabi’s treatise shows, his main concern is about the complex and disputed issue of the relation between logic and language / grammar. Accordingly, it is normal and logical that he begins his writing with a discussion about grammar and it is in this broad context that in his mainly two first discourses he considers kinds of meaningful words and their divisions. Therefore the initial titles of TG about Readingup to Syllables” which have no relation with his main concern are unavailable. As a result the main issue is about word and its divisions that in TG cover about eight titles. And it is here that Farabi makes his contribution in the following way.

Farabi considers the parts of speech: Noun, Verb, and Particle. In contrast to Thrax, in about one page he gives a short and rather more descriptions about noun and verb respectively. But when reaches to particles we can see his “partial” reception of TG for according to his words, “Arabic grammarian did not distinguish between different kinds of hurūf, and he – Farabi- has therefore had to borrow names for these different hurūf from Greek grammatical scholars …. “(Versteegh, P. 51. Emphasis is added). Accordingly in about six pages he classifies particles in five broad genera with different kinds: Substitutions; Connectives; Mediators; Peripheries (more detailed than the other four); and Conjunctions.

After this primary image, there will be quantitative and content comparison between these two texts in order to see in which points and where Farabi makes his reception. For example, such a logical / conceptual title as “substitutions / الخوالف has the first order in LMM, but in TG under the title of Pronoun / αντονυμια it has fifth. In Farabi text substitutions are divided into two personal and demonstrative kinds in short lines with Arabic examples but Thrax writes longer about pronoun under six brief titles which contains the personal pronouns but there is no mentioning to demonstrative ones.


al-Farabi  Avicenna  Averroes  Maimonides  Gersonides  Ibn Gabirol  Augustine  Aquinas  Scotus

Our sincere thanks to Drs. Butterworth, Martini Bonadeo and Vallat for their fine contributions and for the rich discussions following their presentations.

We also extend our thanks to Nicholas Lajoie and Nicholas Oschman for technical assistance. Finally, our thanks to the afternoon presenters for their stimulating papers and to the audience for their participation in discussions during the question periods.