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Platonism in Islamic philosophy

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H001-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 14, 2024, from

Article Summary

Plato seems to have been more an icon and an inspiration than an authentic source for Islamic philosophers. So far as is known, the only works available to them in Arabic translation were the Laws, the Sophist, the Timaeus and the Republic. His name was often invoked as a sage and an exemplar of that wisdom available to humankind among the Greeks before the revelation of the Qur’an. This in itself could represent a kind of affront to orthodox Islam, which tended to view the human situation before the Qur’an’s ‘coming down’ as one of pervasive ignorance (jahaliyya). However, the rise of humanist culture in Baghdad during the ninth and tenth centuries ad, which involved Syriac Christian translators, presupposed a gradual acceptance of Greek wisdom in which Plato figured paradigmatically, even though far fewer of his works were made available in translation than those of Aristotle.

Citing this article:
Burrell, David. Platonism in Islamic philosophy, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-H001-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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