Publication

  • The major civilisations of the world have all had philosophical traditions cultivated in the bosom of that civilisation, if we understand philosophy in its traditional and universal sense. Only a few, however, have borne witness to a continuous tradition that has left behind written texts as well as an oral transmission. Among these few civilisations, one can name the Chinese, the Indian, the Western and the Persian, which in its later phase became integrated into Islamic philosophy and embraced lands beyond Persia. The Persian people were given to philosophical speculation from the beginning of the historical period as we see in accounts of many Greek philosophers and thinkers.

    In the larger sense of the term, philosophia, and not in its analytical sense only, the Persian philosophical tradition extends back into the dawn of history and continues to this day. For the purposes of this volume, we divided the long history of Persia into the pre-Islamic, beginning with Zoroaster, and the Islamic. The pre-Islamic segment of this volume introduces sections of major works of Zoroastrian and Manichaean traditions, which contain important philosophical and cosmological ideas that also influenced the Greek as well as the Christian worlds. As for the Islamic period, it is divided into distinct schools. The historical development of philosophical thought was the basis for the division of the time period under consideration and was also the framework for the selections.

    The texts translated and introduced are limited to Persia proper, excluding works written in Persian in India, the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere. In some cases, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, it is difficult to draw the boundaries due to close intellectual interactions and the philosophers who have lived all sides of the so called “border.” Within Persia, both Persian and Arabic works are included, the latter being the scholarly language of most Muslim scholars.

    In the pre-Islamic period, one does not draw an exact boundary between philosophy and religious cosmology, or between philosophical and religious ethics. In the Islamic period the matter becomes even more difficult because of the flowering of intellectual activity with so many diverse schools of thought. There is first of all the distinct discipline called falsafah, which is obviously at the heart of the philosophical tradition that is the subject of these volumes. It must be pointed out that the term philosophy, understood in English, is not exactly the equivalent of falsafah. Moreover, even traditionally understood, philosophy is also to be found in disciplines distinct from falsafah such as theology (kalaminfo-icon) and gnosis (irfaninfo-icon). The boundary between philosophy and theology or philosophy and doctrinal Sufisminfo-icon in Muslim Persia and in Islamic thought in general are not as distinct as is the case in modern Western philosophy.

    This volume, in the form of an anthology, is the first in English, to deal with several centuries of philosophical thought in Persia stretching from the lesser known pre-Islamic period to the Islamic era. It encompasses such philosophical schools as the Peripatetics and its major exponents, figures like Farabi, Avicenna, as well such independent philosophers as Razi, Biruni and Khayyam.

    The Anthology is expected to fill a gap in the field of Islamic philosophy and Persian thought, and to demonstrate that Islamic philosophy is a living tradition in Persia and did not come to an end in the 7th century after Ibn Rushd, as some have argued. Furthermore, the Anthology provides a variety of writings by Persian philosophers and demonstrates how rich and diverse Persian philosophical edifices are, both in content and format. The first volume of An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia in a sense provides the first chapter of a living philosophical tradition that stretches over several thousand years and remains a living tradition up until today.

  • Preface M. Aminrazavi xiii

    List of Reprinted Works xvii

    Note on Transliteration xix

    List of Contributors xxi

    Prolegomenon S. H. Nasr 1 

    PART I. EARLY PERSIAN PHILOSOPHY: ZOROASTRIAN THOUGHT

     

    Introduction M. Aminrazavi

    1. Original Creation (from Bundahisn) 16

    2. Greater Bundahisn 27

    3. The Answers of Manuskihar (from Dadistan-i Dinik) 35

    4. Opinions of the Spirit of Wisdom (from Dina-i Mainog-i Khirad) 44

    5. Selected Readings 53

    6. Exegesis of the Good Religion (from Denkard VI) 88

    PART II. EARLY PERSIAN PHILOSOPHY: MANICHAEISM

     

    Introduction M. Aminrazavi 105

     

    7. Central Principles (from the Kephalaia) 108

    PART III. EARLY ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY: THE PERIPATETICS

    Introduction S. H. Nasr 127

    8. Abu’l ‘Abbas Muhammad Iranshahri 130

    Introduction M. Aminrazavi

    The Ideas of Iranshahri (from Zad al-musafirin) 132

    9. Abu Nasr Farabi 134

    Introduction S. H. Nasr 134

    A Paraphrase of Aristotle’s Analytica Posteriora (from Kitab al-burhan) 137

    A Reconciliation of the Opinions of the Two Sages, Divine Plato and Aristotle (from Kitab al-jam' bayn ra’yay al-hakimayn Aflatun al-ilahi wa Aristu) 155

    The Perfect State (from Mabadi’ ara’ ahl al-madinat al-fadilah) 164

     

    10. Abu’l-Hasan Amiri 180

    Introduction S. H. Nasr 180

    Knowledge and the Religious Sciences (from al-I'lam bi manaqib al-Islam) 182

    On the Soul and its Fate (from al-Amad 'alal-abadi) 207

    11. Abu Sulayman Sijistani 216

    Introduction M. Aminrazavi 216

    Philosophical Treatises (Musannafat) 218

    12. Ibn Sina 243

    Introduction S. H. Nasr  243

    Metaphysics (from Danish-namah-yi 'ala’i) 247

    Creation Ex-Nihilo and Immediate Creation (from al-Isharat wa’l-tanbihat) 269

    On Theodicy and Providence I (from al-Shifa’) 277

    On Theodicy and Providence II (from al-Isharat wa'l-tanbihati  289

    On Time (from al-Shifa') 292

    The Stations of the Knowers (from al-Isharat wa’l-tanbihat) 303

    Living Son of the Awake (from Risalah Hayy ibn Yaqzan) 312

    Introduction (from Mantiq al-mashraqiyyin) 321

    13. Abu ‘Ali Ahmad ibn Muhammad Miskawayh 323

    Introduction S. H. Nasr 323

    Perennial Philosophy (Wisdom) (from al-Hikmatinfo-icon al-khalidan or jawidan-khirad) 326

    The Health of the Soul'(from Tahdhib al-akhlaq) 356

    14. Bahmanyar ibn Marzban 388

    Introduction M. Aminrazavi 388

    Author’s Foreword (from Kitab al-tahsil) 390

    PART IV. EARLY ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY: THE INDEPENDENT PHILOSOPHERS

    Introduction S. H. Nasr 409

     

    15. Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya’ Razi 411

    Introduction M. Aminrazavi 411

    Of the Excellence and Praise of Reason (from al-Tibb ai-ruhani) 414

    The Book of the Philosophic Life (from al-Sirat al-falsafiyyah) 424

     

    16. Abu Rayhan Biruni 434

    Introduction S. H. Nasr 434

    The Belief of the Hindus in God (from Tahqio ma li'l-Hind) 437

    Questions and Answers (from al-As’ilah wa’l-ajwibah) 459

     

    17. ‘Umar Khayyam 474

    Introduction M. Aminrazavi 474

    The Necessity of Contradiction, Free Will and Determinism (Darurat al-tadadd fi’l-‘alam wa’l-jabrinfo-icon wa’i-baqa’) 476

    Universals of Existence (Kulliyyat-i wujudinfo-icon) 481

    Select Bibliography 485

    Index 496
     
     
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  • Seyyed Hossein Nasr

    English
    Seyyed Hossein Nasr received his early education in Iran and completed his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Nasr is the author of over three hundred articles and 30 books. He has taught at a number of universities, both in the Middle East, especially Tehran University, and in the United States; and he has lectured widely on Islamic philosophy. Nasr is currently the University Professor of Islamic Studies at The George Washington University.Read more

    Mehdi Aminrazavi

    English
    Mehdi Aminrazavi received his early education in Iran and completed his master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Washington and his doctorate in the philosophy of religion at Temple University. He is the author and editor of numerous articles and books, and is currently Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Mary Washington and Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program.Read more