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The Popularization of Philosophy in Medieval Islam, Judaism, and Christianity

M. Abram, S. Harvey, L. Muehlethaler (eds.)
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465 p., 156 x 234 mm, 2022
ISBN: 978-2-503-57783-8
Languages: English, Arabic, Hebrew
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Online content: https://www.brepolsonline.net/action/showBook?doi=10.1484/M.PATMA-EB.5.123994

This pioneering volume is the first of its kind to bring together scholars of medieval Islamic, Jewish, and Christian thought to discuss the popularization of philosophy in these three religious traditions of philosophy.

This volume explores attempts at the popularization of philosophy and natural science in medieval Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Medieval philosophers usually wrote their philosophical books for philosophers, so the desire to convey psychological, cosmological, metaphysical, or even physical teachings to the ‘vulgus’ may seem surprising. This disdain for the multitude and their weak intellectual capabilities is expressed most clearly in the medieval Islamic and Jewish Aristotelian traditions of philosophy, but is certainly found among the Scholastics as well. Yet philosophy was taught to non-philosophers and via a variety of literary genres. Indeed, scholars have argued that philosophy most influenced medieval society through popular forms of transmission. Among the questions this volume addresses are the following: Which philosophers or theologians sought to direct their philosophical writings to the many? For what purposes did they seek to popularize philosophy? Was the goal to teach philosophical truths? Were certain teachings not transmitted? Which teachings were transmitted most often? For whom exactly were these popularized texts written? Were the authors of popularized philosophy always aware they were writing for non-philosophers? How did they go about teaching philosophy to a wide audience? How successful were these attempts? In what ways did popularized philosophy impact upon society? To what extent were the considerations and problems in the medieval popularization of philosophy the same or different in the various religious traditions of philosophy? How philosophical was the popularized philosophy?

In addressing these questions, this pioneering volume is the first of its kind to bring together scholars of medieval Islamic, Jewish, and Christian thought to discuss the popularization of philosophy in these three religious traditions of philosophy.

Marieke Abram

(PhD, University of Freiburg, 2017) is a Research Fellow at the University of Freiburg in the DFG-project ‘Making Mysticism’. In addition, she offers philosophical counselling and mediation at Hypatia CMP.

Steven Harvey

(PhD, Harvard University, 1977) is Professor Emeritus of Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy at Bar-Ilan University. He is President of the Commission for Jewish Philosophy of the S.I.E.P.M.

Lukas Muehlethaler

(PhD, Yale University, 2010) is Professor for Jewish Philosophy and Aesthetics at Freie Universität Berlin. His research focuses on Jewish intellectual history in the Islamicate world and its modern reception.
Table of Contents

General Introduction — Marieke Abram and Steven Harvey

PART I: INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

1. Philosophy as Literature: Appraisal, Defence, and Satire of Rational Thought in Classical Arabic Poetry and Prose — Gerhard Endress

2. Broadening the Audience for Philosophy Among Medieval Jews — Charles H. Manekin

3. Popularization of Philosophy in the Latin West: The Philosophical Opportunities of Popularization — John Marenbon

PART II: POPULARIZATION OF PHILOSOPHY VIA THE MEDIEVAL ENCYCLOPEDIAS

4. Introduction — Steven Harvey

5. Anonymous Philosophical Compendia: An Attempt at Vulgarization? — Elvira Wakelnig

6. Levels of Philosophical Sophistication in Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias of Philosophy and Science — Resianne Fontaine

7. The Summa dictorum: A Theological-Philosophical Encyclopedia for Monks — Guy Guldentops

PART III: POPULARIZATION OF PHILOSOPHY VIA BOOKS OF INSTRUCTION

8. Introduction — Sarah Stroumsa

9. Between Popularity and Marginality: al-Baṭalyawsī’s Book of Imaginary CirclesAyala Eliyahu

10. Ruaḥ Ḥen: An Early Popular Hebrew Introduction to Science — Ofer Elior

11. Medieval Philosophy of Nature Popularised? Albert the Great’s De animalibus — Katja Krause

PART IV: POPULARIZATION OF PHILOSOPHY VIA MYSTICAL LITERATURE

12. Introduction — Yossef Schwartz

13. Popularization of Philosophy in the Sufi Milieu: The Reception of Avicenna’s Doctrine of the Origination of the Human Soul in ʿAyn al-Quḍāt al-Hamadānī’s Writings — Salimeh Maghsoudlou

14. Myth and Metaphysics: The Popularization of Platonic and Neo-Platonic Motifs through Kabbalistic Theosophy — Tanja Werthmann

15. Popularized Philosophy in Hendrik Herp’s Mystical Guide, the Spieghel der volcomenheitMarieke Abram

PART V: POPULARIZATION OF PHILOSOPHY VIA SCRIPTURAL EXEGESIS AND SERMONS

16. Introduction — Howard Kreisel

17. The Conception of Philosophical Problems in Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s Qurʾān Commentary (Mafātīḥ al-ghayb) and the Popularization of Philosophy — Lukas Muehlethaler

18. Fifteenth-Century Synagogue Sermons — Chaim Meir Neria

19. Approaching Wisdom: The ‘Anonymous of Tegernsee’ and his Translation of Bernard’s Sermones super Cantica Canticorum — Lydia Wegener

PART VI: POPULARIZATION OF PHILOSOPHY VIA POETRY

20. Introduction — Anne Eusterschulte

21. Intellectual Poetry in the Medieval Islamicate World: Verse and the Popularization of Philosophical Knowledge — M. A. Mujeeb Khan

22. The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Philosophers: The Ladder of Knowledge in Immanuel of Rome’s Hell and HeavenYehuda Halper

23. ‘Donna gentile’: Philosophy in and around the Vita nuova — Myrtha de Meo-Ehlert

PART VII: CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS

24. Religious Critique as a Popularization of Philosophy — Frank Griffel

25. Jewish Averroists contra the Popularization of Philosophy: The Case of the Philosophists — Shalom Sadik

26. Popular Philosophy is the True Philosophy — Warren Zev Harvey

27. The Modern Popularization of Medieval Philosophy — Peter Adamson

28. Some Remarks on Vulgarization of Philosophy in the Middle Ages — Loris Sturlese

INDICES

Index of Names, Ancient and Premodern

Index of Names, Modern and Contemporary

Index of Books, Ancient and Premodern

Index of Subjects

Interest Classification:
Philosophy
History of Philosophy (general)
Scholastic Philosophy (c. 1200-1500)
Religion (including History of Religion) & Theology
Christian Theology & Theologians
Scholastic (c. 1200-1500)
Judaism
Islam
Medieval & Renaissance History (c.400-1500)
Medieval European history (400-1500) : main subdisciplines
Cultural & intellectual history
Religious history

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