News story

New IIS Publication on Philosophy in Persia

4th June 2009

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a well known Muslim scholar, is professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University. Mahdiinfo-icon Aminrazavi is professor of philosophy and religion at the University of Mary Washington and the Director of its Middle Eastern Studies programme.

The texts translated and introduced here are limited to Persia proper, and exclude works written in Persian in India, the Ottoman Empire, and elsewhere. The four volume anthology will seek to bring out in a chronological fashion the continuous tradition of philosophical reflection and writing in Persia. It is perhaps this long tradition, which contributed to the fact that a large number of philosophers in Islamic milieu came from Persia, where a lively philosophical tradition was retained in the centuries after Ibn Rushd.

Beginning with some of the Zoroastrian texts with philosophical import, the anthology stretches from the lesser known pre-Islamic period to the Islamic era, encompassing the falsafah tradition as well as texts from kalaminfo-icon (theology) and irfaninfo-icon (gnosis) traditions. Works of major figures like Farabi, Avicenna, Razi, Biruni and Khayyam are included. The themes covered in various selected texts include creation stories, character of divinity, happiness, political organisation, knowledge, theodicy, time, and the status of reason. Each section in the anthology consists of an introductory essay and translation of a text from an important philosopher. The introductions provide brief biographical information about the author and situate the selected texts in the context of the author’s overall philosophical contributions.

In addition to providing a rare opportunity for the English speaking world to get familiar with the philosophical tradition in one of the oldest civilisations of the world, this Anthology will also serve as a contribution to the ongoing shift in the humanities towards recognising the value of non-western philosophical traditions.