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2168RE: [neoplatonism] List of Islamic Platonists and Neoplatonists

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  • Adamson, Peter
    Jul 15, 2008
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      Dear all,

      Yes, good point -- when I talked about explicit followers of Plato being scarce I meant in the earlier, pre-Avicennan period. I think we could add Suhrawardi as an explicit follower (in the sense that he tells us he's a follower of Plato), and perhaps this would therefore also be true for many Illuminationists though it isn't a tradition I know well, so I can't be sure.

      Best wishes,
      Peter Adamson


      Philosophy Dept.
      King's College London
      London WC2R 2LS
      From: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com [neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tzvi Langermann [ytl@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:36 PM
      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] List of Islamic Platonists and Neoplatonists

      For reasons that are still unclear, there seems to have been a surge in the
      interest in, and acceptance of, Platonic teachings in the period after
      Avicenna. One very important thinker who meets the criterion of a declared
      preference for Plato, as opposed to Aristotle, is Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (12th
      century). To my knowledge, the best studies of these thinkers are still
      those by the late Shlomo Pines, who incorporated much of this into his
      masterful work on Abu-l-Barakat al-Baghdadi; no one matches him for breadth
      of coverage and depth of insight. Pines pointed out that in the west, Plato
      was studied mainly as a foil for Aristotle (Aristotle would have been
      pleased about this); but in the Islamic East, there were not a few who took
      Plato to be the preferred alternative.

      Then again, there is the question, how much Plato must one accept in order
      to be properly labeled (if it is not improper to label) a Platonist? Fakhr
      al-Din certainly accepted Plato's theory of time (as he understood it),
      perhaps other things as well; but overall I am not sure that he would have
      liked being called a Platonist, or even being called a philosopher.
      Similalry, how much of Plato can one reject without being booted from the
      club? I should imagine that more than one Platonist does not quite accept
      the view of the afterlife, transmigration of the soul, etc., that is
      presented in the Phaedo.

      Y. Tzvi Langermann
      Department of Arabic
      Bar Ilan University
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