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Viewing: NELC 437 C1: Islam Intellect Traditio

Last approved: Tue, 02 Oct 2018 19:47:02 GMT

Last edit: Thu, 27 Sep 2018 20:21:52 GMT

First Name Last Name Userid Title Home School Org Short Name
Diane Moderski moderski ADMIN COORDINATOR School of Arts and Sciences Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
Spring 2019
Fall 2018
Islam Intellect Traditio
This comprehensive survey of the traditions of rational thought in classical Islamic culture is distinguished by its attempt to contextualize and localize the history of what is best described as philosophy in Islam, including not only the Islamic products of the Hellenistic mode of thought but also religious and linguistic sciences whose methodology is philosophical. The course examines the influence of these different disciplines upon each other, and the process of the Islamic "aspecting" of the Greek intellectual legacy. The readings thus include not only the works of Hellenized philosophers (falasifa) of Islam, but also those of theologians (mutakallimun), legists (fiqh scholars), and grammarians (nahw/lugha scholars). No prerequisites. Additional advanced-level assignments can be given for graduate credit.

Foundational Approach

Course not offered every year
Cross Cultural Analysis
Standing Faculty

Methods of Assessment


Cross Cultural Analysis

NELC 437 is based on extensive readings in primary sources (in translation) from a wide variety of intellectual disciplines in premodern Islamic societies. The texts that we read offer systematic approaches to theological problems such as God's existence, God's justice, the creation of the world, and so on, as well as 'philosophical' approaches to those and analogous questions that are given on the basis of the Islamic reception of Hellenistic philosophy. A conscious attempt has been made in the selection of the readings to show how the Islamic religious sciences and Hellenistic philosophy in Arabic are in a complex dialog. The course is very much concerned with reconstructing the interactions among ideas as presented by the authors of the primary sources
Although the course does not deal with representational art, it does attempt to show how, on the one hand, the so-called Islamic sciences ideas present an integrated (if diverse) palette of ideas about language, literature, law, and systematic theology. It also attempts to show, on the other hand, how Hellenistic philosophy was received and understood in an Islamic context. Processes of intellectual assimilation and exchange and also intellectual 'othering' are explored.
NELC 437 reads Hellenistically inspired philosophical texts against the background of more traditional theologically tinged literature while also showing how that theologically tinged literature incorporated elements of Hellenistic philosophy, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. The contexts and social backgrounds of individual authors are explored so that the complexity of the interaction of ideas can be fully appreciated.
NELC 437 attempts to get beyond the critical aporias of previous secondary literature by trying to understand what counts as 'philosophical' in the broadest possible sense, by exploring the sophisticated ideas about language and meaning found in traditional Islamic sources, and by considering the internal logics and polemical usefulness of various authors' positions on burning questions of metaphysics, belief, ethics, language, history, and so on. Through close reading of primary sources, simplistic dichotomies such as between theology and philosophy or traditionalism and rationalism are critically scrutinized. In addition, students are encouraged to reflect on the perennial nature of certain questions dealt with in the readings and on the intellectual relevance of many of the debates that are explored in the readings.

Cultural Diversity in the US


Quantitative Data Analysis


Formal Reasoning


Administrative Fields

Key: 815