Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.


Islamic philosophy: transmission into Western Europe

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H056-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 19, 2024, from

Article Summary

The Arabs took on the mantle of late antique philosophy and passed it on to both Latin scholars and Jewish scholars in Western Europe in the Middle Ages. The debates among Islamic scholars between rationalism and fideism also provided texts and models for Christian and Jewish debates. In this assimilation of Islamic thought, several stages can be observed. First, there was an interest in Neoplatonic cosmology and psychology in the latter half of the twelfth century, which fostered the translation of texts by al-Kindi, al-Farabi, the Ikhwan al-Safa’ and, especially, Avicenna (Ibn Sina). Second, the desire to understand Aristotle’s philosophy resulted in the translation of the commentaries and epitomes of Averroes (Ibn Rushd) in the second quarter of the thirteenth century. Jewish scholars participated in both these movements, and from the second quarter of the thirteenth century they took the initiative in translating and commenting upon Arabic texts. Thus when, in the late fifteenth century, a renewed interest in the ancient texts led scholars to search out the most accurate interpretations of these texts, it was to Jewish scholars that they turned for new translations or retranslations of Avicenna and, in particular, Averroes. From the early sixteenth century, Arabic philosophical texts were again translated directly into Latin, Arabic speakers began to collaborate with Christian scholars and the foundations for the teaching of Arabic were being laid. With the establishment of Arabic chairs in European universities, the rich variety of Islamic thought began to be revealed. This process has lasted until the present day.

Citing this article:
Burnett, Charles. Islamic philosophy: transmission into Western Europe, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-H056-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Searches



Related Articles