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7-10-2015, 02:51


Falsafa is an Arabic term that renders the Greek philosophia and is used to describe the Greco-Arabic tradition of philosophy and the wider classical Islamic tradition. The impetus for philosophical speculation in Islam is a much debated issue. Whether one wishes to see solely Hellenic roots for philosophy in the ‘Abbasid period or whether one searches as a confessional statement for philosophical inspiration in the Qur’an and the tradition of the Prophet is largely a matter of ideology. The origins of philosophy are far too complex to be reduced to a singular causality. What is clear is that in the ‘Abbasid period the speculative desire to understand the nature of the Qur’an, and the relationship between believer and cosmos, was increasingly articulated in arguments of a systematic nature. The standards of argumentation, partly as a result of the need to find a neutral set of rules that could apply in disputation with non-Muslims who did not accept the validity of the Qur’anic revelation, was Aristotelian logic, especially the Topics (translated into Arabic in this period as the Book of Dialectic, or al-jadal). It has also been suggested that the ‘Abbasids encouraged philosophical and scientific speculation, complemented by translations from Greek works as an expression of their imperial ideology. A translation movement developed in the capital of Baghdad, fueled by money from the court and produced mainly by Arab Christian theologians familiar with Greek and with the Syriac tradition of translating the works of Aristotle, Plato, and other Hellenic thinkers into scholarly Near Eastern vernaculars. The works were kept in the library of the chancellery in Baghdad and named Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom). This movement intersected with a key intellectual circle associated with arguably the first Muslim philosopher, Abu Yusuf Ya‘qub al-Kindi (d. 870 CE). Thus translations and arguments that joined Hellenic debates and took them into fresh avenues of inquiry were largely coeval.