Al-Kindi (Great Medieval Thinkers) by Peter Adamson

By Peter Adamson

Al-Kindi used to be the 1st thinker of the Islamic international. He lived in Iraq and studied in Baghdad, the place he grew to become connected to the caliphal court docket. in the end he may develop into a massive determine at court docket: a show to the caliph's son, and a principal determine within the translation stream of the 9th century, which rendered a lot of Greek philosophy, technology, and medication into Arabic. Al-Kindi's wide-ranging highbrow pursuits incorporated not just philosophy but additionally track, astronomy, arithmetic, and drugs. via deep engagement with Greek culture al-Kindi constructed unique theories on key matters within the philosophy of faith, metaphysics, actual technology, and ethics. he's specifically recognized for his arguments opposed to the world's eternity, and his leading edge use of Greek rules to discover the belief of God's solidarity and transcendence.

Despite al-Kindi's ancient and philosophical significance no booklet has awarded an entire, in-depth examine his suggestion in the past. during this obtainable advent to al-Kindi's works, Peter Adamson surveys what's identified of his existence and examines his strategy and his perspective in the direction of the Greek culture, in addition to his sophisticated dating with the Muslim highbrow tradition of his day. principally the booklet specializes in explaining and comparing the guidelines present in al-Kindi's wide-ranging philosophical corpus, together with works dedicated to technological know-how and arithmetic. all through, Adamson writes in language that's either critical and fascinating, educational and approachable. This publication may be of curiosity to specialists within the box, however it calls for no wisdom of Greek or Arabic, and can be geared toward non-experts who're easily drawn to one of many maximum of Islamic philosophers.

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Extra resources for Al-Kindi (Great Medieval Thinkers)

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It seems unlikely that al-Kindı¯ is thinking of such a broad and varied phenomenon in this passage, and more likely that he has in mind a 24 a l - k i n d ı¯ specific group of theologians. Who these might be is a matter for guesswork, not certainty. 3 In any case, what seems to be distinctive about the opponents is not so much that they are influential theologians, but that they are detractors of the philosophical inheritance of the Greeks. This is why al-Kindı¯ attacks them just after praising the Greeks for their pursuit of truth.

As a method of philosophical argument, the dichotomous argument has the advantage that it claims to explore all the possibilities—in the example just given, (1a–d) are logically exhaustive. So such an argument rules out any unexplored avenues. But the method also has disadvantages. First, the whole argument is only as strong as the sub-arguments used to rule out the options on the false side of the dichotomy. So in this example, we must accept al-Kindı¯’s arguments against each of (1a–d); in al-Kindı¯ these subarguments are sometimes also by dichotomous reductio.

34 Here let me say only what is relevant for present purposes, which is that On Definitions seems to have been compiled from various texts known to al-Kindı¯’s circle. It may have been compiled by al-Kindı¯ alone, or (more likely, in my view) by him together with his translators and/or his students. Alternatively it may even have been a resource produced by these associates without al-Kindı¯’s direct involvement. But the important point is that the definitions were culled, by someone in al-Kindı¯’s circle, from Greek texts.

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