The concept of ‘aql as both human reason and divine intelligence permeates all manifestations of the philosophical tradition of Shi‘ism. This paper examines Nasir Khusraw’s Ismaili concept of ‘aql in relation to mystical, theological, and peripatetic philosophical schools and thinkers in Twelver Shi'ism. It examines some of the writings of early Shi‘i thinkers on ‘aql, from the Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq to the School of Isfahan, discussing some of the problematic differences in interpretation of the role of human reason and its limitations, and the hierarchical degrees of ‘aql in terms of ontology, psychology, and cosmology.
Dr Hunsberger received her doctorate in Middle East Languages and Cultures from Columbia University in 1992, specialising in Persian and Arabic literatures. She has taught courses dealing with aspects of Islam as well as on the history of science at various universities in Iran and the USA, including Arya Mehr University of Technology in Isfahan, Iran and Hunter College, The City University of New York. Dr Hunsberger is the author of Nasir Khusraw, The Ruby of Badakhshan: A Portrait of the Persian Poet, Traveller and Scholar (London, 2000), and has contributed numerous papers to academic conferences and journals. Dr Hunsberger was a Visiting Research Fellow at The Institute of Ismaili Studies from 1999-2001.