Publication

  • The Ikhwan al-Safaʾ (Brethren of Purity), the anonymous adepts of a tenth-century esoteric fraternity based in Basra and Baghdad, hold an eminent position in the history of science and philosophy in Islam due to the wide reception and assimilation of their monumental encyclopaedia, the Rasaʾil Ikhwan al-Safaʾ (Epistles of the Brethren of Purity).

    This compendium contains fifty-two epistles offering synoptic accounts of the classical sciences and philosophies of the age; divided into four classificatory parts, it treats themes in mathematics, logic, natural philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, and theology, in addition to didactic fables.

    This volume comprises the initial seven epistles on the natural sciences, which correspond to the corpus of Aristotle’s great works on the philosophy of nature, whilst also incorporating an Islamic interpretation of Neoplatonic ideas. Besides providing the necessary references to works by Aristotle and other Greek authors, this book deals with various doctrines of Ismaili origin echoed in the treatises, foremost of which is the hierarchical representation of the three natural kingdoms, reflected in the hierarchy of human beings.

    The basis of human salvation is here seen in the relation between divine Artisan and human artisan, both of whom accomplish their works by actualising their knowledge. Although moral behaviour is a necessary condition, salvation cannot be reached without a thorough knowledge of the sciences described progressively in the Rasaʾil Ikhwan al-Safaʾ.

    Foreword by Nader El-Bizri

  • Contents
    Acknowledgements xv
    Foreword xvii
    Introduction 1
    Technical Introduction 61
    Epistle 15: On Matter and Form 107
    Epistle 16: On the Heavens and the World 133
    Epistle 17: On the Explanation of Generation and Corruption 171
    Epistle 18: On the Explanation of Meteorology 185
    Epistle 19: On the Explanation of Minerals 223
    Epistle 20: On the Quiddity of Nature and the Quality
     of its Products 285
    Epistle 21: On Plants 315
    Appendix A: An Addition to Epistle 15 359
    Appendix B: An Addition to Epistle 20 371
    Appendix C: An Addition to Epistle 16 385
    Bibliography 393
    Subject Index 409
    Index of Ancient Names 429
    Index of Geographical Names 433
    Index Locorum 435
    Rasāʾil 15–21 (Arabic text and variants) [Arabic pagination 5]
    Arabic index [Arabic pagination 485]
    Epistles English 8th Proofs.indd 13 03/10/2013 06:57:44
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  • Prof. Carmela Baffioni

    English
    Carmela Baffioni is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, having previously been Professor of the History of Islamic Philosophy and of the History of Muslim Philosophies and Sciences at the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’ until 2012. Her publications include several monographs on the transmission of Greek thought into Islam; translations of works by the Ikhwan al-Safaʾ, al-Farabi, and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), as well as al-Shahrastani; in addition, she has written a monograph on Aristotle’s Meteorologica IV (1981) and books on the history of Muslim philosophy...Read more