Dimitri Gutas | The Qur'an of the Elite: Avicenna's "Isharat" and the Development of Paraphilosophy as "Islamic" Philosophy

Lecture | April 9 | 5-7 p.m. | 340 Stephens Hall

 Dimitri Gutas, Yale University

 Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Near Eastern Studies

Avicenna's Isharat constitutes a turning point in the history of philosophy in Islam. It was at one point labeled as "the Qur'an of the elite," and Avicenna himself was dubbed as "the seal of the philosophers." The significance of these developments and the contents of the Isharat are analyzed in an effort to understand the direction which scientific thought took after Avicenna toward the creation of an alternative philosophy which was called "Islamic philosophy" by some and understood as such by all. A genre of theological writing itself, as it eventually blended with kalam, it is historically understood as paraphilosophy.


Dimitri Gutas is Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations and Professor of Arabic and Graeco-Arabic at Yale University.
He completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Yale in Classics, History of Religions, and Arabic and Islamic Studies, earning his PhD in 1974. He studies and teaches classical Arabic and the pre-modern intellectual tradition in Islamic civilization from different aspects. At the center of his concerns lies the study and understanding of Arabic in its many forms as a prerequisite for the proper appreciation of the written sources which inform us about the history and culture of Islamic societies. He also has an abiding interest in the transmission of Greek scientific and philosophical works into the Islamic world through the momentous Graeco-Arabic translation movement in Baghdad during the 8th-10th centuries AD (2nd-4th Hijri).
Within Arabic philosophy, Gutas has concentrated in particular on its greatest exponent, Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in the medieval Latin world), on whom he wrote the fundamental Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition: Introduction to Reading Avicenna’s Philosophical Works (Leiden 1988; second, revised and augmented edition, including an inventory of Avicenna’s authentic works, Leiden 2013).

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Near Eastern Studies and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

 dkhanaka@berkeley.edu