Religious Studies

Al-Kindī (Great Medieval Thinkers) by Peter Adamson

By Peter Adamson

Al-Kindi used to be the 1st thinker of the Islamic international. He lived in Iraq and studied in Baghdad, the place he turned connected to the caliphal court docket. sooner or later he might turn into a tremendous determine at courtroom: a teach to the caliph's son, and a primary determine within the translation flow of the 9th century, which rendered a lot of Greek philosophy, technology, and medication into Arabic. Al-Kindi's wide-ranging highbrow pursuits incorporated not just philosophy but additionally track, astronomy, arithmetic, and medication. via deep engagement with Greek culture al-Kindi built unique theories on key matters within the philosophy of faith, metaphysics, actual technological know-how, and ethics. he's particularly identified for his arguments opposed to the world's eternity, and his leading edge use of Greek principles to discover the belief of God's harmony and transcendence.Despite al-Kindi's ancient and philosophical value no publication has offered an entire, in-depth examine his idea previously. during this available creation to al-Kindi's works, Peter Adamson surveys what's recognized of his existence and examines his procedure and his perspective in the direction of the Greek culture, in addition to his refined dating with the Muslim highbrow tradition of his day. exceptionally the booklet makes a speciality of explaining and comparing the information present in al-Kindi's wide-ranging philosophical corpus, together with works dedicated to technological know-how and arithmetic. all through, Adamson writes in language that's either severe and interesting, educational and approachable. This ebook should be of curiosity to specialists within the box, however it calls for no wisdom of Greek or Arabic, and can also be aimed toward non-experts who're easily drawn to one of many maximum of Islamic philosophers.

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A final consideration to be raised about al-Kindı¯’s sources is the question of how he used them. It has sometimes been wondered whether al-Kindı¯ added much to his sources, or whether his own treatises are just pastiches of Greek material in translation. 13 Certainly some Kindian works do seem to fit this description. For instance On the Sayings of Socrates may be culled entirely from a Greek source or from several sources, with nothing of alKindı¯’s own added. But when we do know al-Kindı¯’s sources it is clear that he selects, manipulates, and combines them in surprising and philosophically interesting ways, as well as adding arguments of his own.

G. the Divine Names of the Pseudo-Dionysius, the Optics of Ptolemy, and the Commentary on the De Anima of Philoponus, to name just a few. Space does not permit me to explore the range of questions that arise here. But it is worth making the general point that, just as we today have many texts al-Kindı¯ did not, so he knew Greek works that are lost to us. For instance, it is clear that he knew summaries and epitomes of Greek works or overviews of Greek authors, which probably came down to him from the Alexandrian philosophical schools.

His rhetorical tour de force includes a viciously funny parody of al-Kindı¯ and his writing style. He refers to al-Kindı¯ as a ‘‘compatriot [s. ib]’’ of Abu¯ Bishr, which is interesting in its own right because it shows that opponents of falsafa at least 18 a l - k i n d ı¯ sometimes failed to distinguish between the Baghdad school and those I have been calling the Kindians. 8). 54 Al-Sı¯ra¯fı¯ remarks that things are told of al-Kindı¯ ‘‘that would make a bereaved mother laugh, that would make an enemy gloat and a friend grieve.

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