Reason Unbound

On Spiritual Practice in Islamic Peripatetic Philosophy

By Mohammad Azadpur

Subjects: Philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, Islam, Religion, Middle East Studies
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9781438437620, 187 pages, July 2012
Hardcover : 9781438437637, 187 pages, August 2011

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Table of contents

Introduction: Islamic Philosophy and the Crisis of Modern Rationalism
1. Beyond Orientalism and Academic Rationalism: A Critique of the Standard Readings of Islamic Philosophy
1. 1. Philosophy as Practice of Spiritual Exercises
1. 2. Standard Readings of Islamic Philosophy
2. To the Things Themselves: Corbin and Heidegger on Phenomenological Access
2. 1. Phenomenology According to Henry Corbin
2. 2. Heidegger’s Phenomenology
2. 3. Two Contemporary Approaches to Heidegger’s Phenomenology
2. 4. Back to Corbin
3. From the Things Themselves to Prophecy: Philosophical Cultivation in Islamic Peripateticism
3. 1. The Ethical Foundations of Islamic Philosophy
3. 2. Alfarabi’s Appropriation of Islamic Ethics
3. 3. Alfarabi’s Philosophical Appropriation of Islamic Prophetology
3. 4. The Reception of the Notion of Active Intellect in the Islamic Philosophical Tradition
3. 5. Alfarabi on Religion and Politics
3. 6. Avicenna on Philosophical Felicity
3. 7. Avicenna on Intellectual Prophecy
4. Disciplining the Imagination: Intellect, Imagination, and Prophecy
4. 1. Prophetic Imagination
4. 2. The Beautiful and the Sublime
4. 3. Before and After Kant
4. 4. Avicenna on the Poetic Cultivation of Imagination
5. The Theologian’s Dream: Imagination and Intellectual Heresy
5. 1. Ghazali on Dreams
5. 2. Ghazali and Avicenna on the Interpretation of Prophetic Symbols
5. 3. Ghazali’s Charge of Heresy Against Islamic Peripatetics and Averroes’ Reply
6. On Human Finitude, Conscience, and Exemplarity: A Comparison between Islamic Philosophy and Phenomenology
6. 1. Being-Toward-Beyond-Death: On the Immortality of the Soul in Islamic Peripateticism
6. 2. Conscience and the Active Intellect
6. 3. Paradigms of Emulation: Divine Exemplars and Existential Heroes
Conclusion: Importance of Islamic Peripateticism for Modern Philosophy in the West and Its Impact on Later Islamic Philosophy
1. Islamic Peripateticism and the Predicament of Modern Western Philosophy
2. Peripateticism in Later Islamic Philosophy

A critique of the modern receptions of Islamic Peripatetic philosophy and a validation of the importance of Islamic philosophy for modern philosophy


This intriguing work offers a new perspective on Islamic Peripatetic philosophy, critiquing modern receptions of such thought and highlighting the contribution it can make to contemporary Western philosophy. Mohammad Azadpur focuses on the thought of Alfarabi and Avicenna, who, like ancient Greek philosophers and some of their successors, viewed philosophy as a series of spiritual exercises. However, Muslim Peripatetics differed from their Greek counterparts in assigning importance to prophecy. The Islamic philosophical account of the cultivation of the soul to the point of prophecy unfolds new vistas of intellectual and imaginative experience and accords the philosopher an exceptional dignity and freedom. With reference to both Islamic and Western philosophers, Azadpur discusses how Islamic Peripatetic thought can provide an antidote to some of modernity's philosophical problems. A discussion of the development of later Islamic Peripatetic thought is also included.

Mohammad Azadpur is Associate Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University.


"Reason Unbound is a clearly articulated work which will be of interest to students and scholars of the history of Islamic philosophy and to those interested in exploring how the Islamic and European philosophical traditions may benefit from each other. " — Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies

"Reason Unbound provides an excellent synthesis of Islamic philosophy and the continental tradition of European philosophy. The author presents a persuasive argument and backs it up well with evidence from both Islamic and Western philosophy. " — Oliver Leaman, author of Islamic Philosophy: An Introduction