In this monumental new work, Frank Griffel seeks to overturn conventional wisdom, arguing that what he calls the "post-classical" period of Islamic philosophy has been unjustly maligned and neglected by previous generations of scholars.
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In recent decades, scholars have come to recognize the importance of classical Islamic philosophy both in its own right and in its preservation of and engagement with Western philosophical ideas. At the same time, the period immediately following the so-called classical period has often been seen as a sort of dark age, in which Islamic thought entered a long period of decline. In this monumental new work, Frank Griffel seeks to overturn this conventional wisdom,
arguing that what he calls the "post-classical" period has been unjustly maligned and neglected by previous generations of scholars.
The Formation of Post-Classical Philosophy in Islam is a comprehensive study of the far-reaching changes that led to a re-shaping of the philosophical discourse in Islam during the twelfth century. Earlier Western scholars thought that Islam's engagement with the tradition of Greek philosophy ended during that century. More recent analyses suggest that Islamic thinkers instead integrated Greek thought into the genre of rationalist Muslim theology (kalam). Griffel argues that
even this view misses a key point. In addition to the integration of Greek ideas into kalam, Muslim theologians picked up the discourse of philosophy in Islam (falsafa) and began to produce books on philosophy. Books in these two genres, kalam and philosophy, argue for opposing teachings on the nature of God, the
world's creation, and on the afterlife-even when written by the same authors. Griffel explains the emergence of a new genre of philosophical books called "hikma," works that stand opposed to Islamic theology and at the same wish to complement it. Offering a detailed history of philosophy in Iraq, Iran, and Central Asia during the twelfth century, together with an analysis of the way philosophy was practiced during this time, Griffel shows how works of falsafa, written by major
Muslim theologians such as al-Ghazali developed step-by-step into critical assessments of philosophy that try to improve philosophical teachings, and eventually become fully fledged philosophical summas in the work of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Griffel's examination of the different methods of kalam and hikma demonstrate
both the coherence and ambiguity of a Muslim post-classical philosopher's oeuvre.
A work of extraordinary breadth and depth, The Formation of Post-Classical Philosophy in Islam will be essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Philosophy or the history of Islam.