IIS Research Associate Dr Toby Mayer presented a paper at a workshop at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, USA entitled Greco-Arabic Rationalism in Islamic Traditionalism. The workshop comprises an ongoing series of seminars which are expected to run for a few years. The series is dedicated to tracing the reception of philosophy into Islamic culture.

Dr Toby Mayer was part of the first seminar entitled Rationalist Sciences I: Logic, Physics, Metaphysics, and Theology in the Post-Classical Period. The seminar brought together a number of scholars in order to achieve a deeper understanding of the major system-wide transformations, critiques, and shifts in the focus of post-classical rationalist disciplines such as logic, physics, metaphysics, and theology.

Dr Mayer’s session concerned texts of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi in defence of the Avicennan cosmological principle “only one emanates from the One”, particularly focusing on Tusi’s attempt to defend the principle against Shahrastani. In his Ismaili texts, Tusi is content to refer the problem of how multiplicity arose from God’s transcendent unity back to the intermediate reality of the Command (al-Amr), which is a mystery that is simultaneously God and ‘not-God’. However, in several works of his, written as a defender of Ibn Sina and his philosophy, such as Tusi’s critique of Shahrastani, he suspends this solution and instead develops a complex calculus which attempts to trace the world’s multiplicity back to the absolute unity of God Himself. Tusi’s use of these mathematical models probably represents the most sophisticated and elaborate presentation of the principle “only one comes from the One” in the history of this cosmological problem.

The investigations carried out in the various workshops will be published in one or more co-edited volumes in the form of articles. The workshop was intended to allow scholars in the history of Islamic philosophy the opportunity to engage deeply with each other’s ongoing research projects and provide comments and suggestions on their work. The strong focus was on each participant’s chosen texts which were provided well in advance of the workshop to allow all involved to prepare. The series of seminars are an excellent opportunity for scholars to meet, share ideas and learn from each other.

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