Islamic philosophy

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H057-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved August 06, 2020, from

5. Islamic philosophy in the modern world

After the death of Ibn Rushd, Islamic philosophy in the Peripatetic style went out of fashion in the Arab world, although the transmission of Islamic philosophy into Western Europe started at this time and had an important influence upon the direction which medieval and Renaissance Europe was to take (see Averroism; Averroism, Jewish; Translators; Islamic philosophy: transmission into Western Europe). In the Persian-speaking world, Islamic philosophy has continued to follow a largely Illuminationist curriculum right up to today; but in the Arab world it fell into something of a decline, at least in its Peripatetic form, until the nineteenth century. Mystical philosophy, by contrast, continued to flourish, although no thinkers matched the creativity of Ibn al-‘Arabi or Ibn Sab‘in. Al-Afghani and Muhammad ‘Abduh sought to find rational principles which would establish a form of thought which is both distinctively Islamic and also appropriate for life in modern scientific societies, a debate which is continuing within Islamic philosophy today (see Islamic philosophy, modern). Iqbal provided a rather eclectic mixture of Islamic and European philosophy, and some thinkers reacted to the phenomenon of modernity by developing Islamic fundamentalism (see Islamic fundamentalism). This resuscitated the earlier antagonism to philosophy by arguing for a return to the original principles of Islam and rejected modernity as a Western imperialist instrusion. The impact of Western scholarship on Islamic philosophy has not always been helpful, and Orientalism has sometimes led to an overemphasis of the dependence of Islamic philosophy on Greek thought, and to a refusal to regard Islamic philosophy as real philosophy (see Orientalism and Islamic philosophy). That is, in much of the exegetical literature there has been too much concern dealing with the historical conditions under which the philosophy was produced as compared with the status of the ideas themselves. While there are still many disputes concerning the ways in which Islamic philosophy should be pursued, as is the case with all kinds of philosophy, there can be little doubt about its major achievements and continuing significance.

Citing this article:
Leaman, Oliver. Islamic philosophy in the modern world. Islamic philosophy, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-H057-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2020 Routledge.

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