2168RE: [neoplatonism] List of Islamic Platonists and Neoplatonists
- Jul 15, 2008Dear 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.
King's College London
London WC2R 2LS
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com] On Behalf Of Tzvi Langermann [ytl@...]
Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:36 PM
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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