Islamic philosophy

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H057-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved September 21, 2020, from

2. Philosophy in Spain and North Africa

A particularly rich blend of philosophy flourished in al-Andalus (the Islamic part of the Iberian penninsula), and in North Africa. Ibn Masarra defended a form of mysticism, and this type of thinking was important for both Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Bajja, for whom the contrast between the individual in society and the individual who primarily relates to God became very much of a theme. The argument was often that a higher level of understanding of reality can be attained by those prepared to develop their religious consciousness outside of the framework of traditional religion, a view which was supported and became part of a highly sophisticated account of the links between religion and reason as created by Ibn Rushd. He set out to defend philosophy strenuously from the attacks of al-Ghazali, and also to present a more Aristotelian account than had been managed by Ibn Sina. He argued that there are a variety of routes to God, all equally valid, and that the route which the philosopher can take is one based on the independent use of reason, while the ordinary member of society has to be satisfied with the sayings and obligations of religion. Ibn Sab‘in, by contrast, argued that Aristotelian philosophy and logic were useless in trying to understand reality since those ideas fail to mirror the basic unity which is implicit in reality, a unity which stems from the unity of God, and so we require an entirely new form of thinking which is adequate to the task of representing the oneness of the world. A thinker better known perhaps for his work on history and sociology than in philosophy is Ibn Khaldun, who was nonetheless a significant philosophical writer; he presents an excellent summary of preceding philosophical movements within the Islamic world, albeit from a conservative (Ash‘arite) point of view.

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

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