Avicenna’s Legacy in the Philosophy of the Modern Islamic(ate) World. Continental and Analytic Perspectives


Lectures by Prof. Nader El-Bizri (Sharjah) and Prof. Seyed N. Mousavian (Chicago) on tuesday, 18 April 2023, 6 pm, online.

More than one thousand years have passed since Avicenna’s time, yet his philosophical reputation continues to grow. Not only did he have a revolutionary impact on the Islamic world, but recent research has revealed his deep influence on medieval Christian and Jewish philosophical traditions, which subsequently impacted modern philosophy. In this session of the lecture series, we are especially interested in two, in a certain sense contrasting, readings of the Avicennian legacy in the philosophy of the modern Islamic(ate) world, that is, on the one hand, the continental traditions, and, on the other hand, analytical perspectives. Nader El-Bizri is recognized as one of the leading authorities on the Heideggerian approach to Avicenna, as demonstrated in his seminal work, The Phenomenological Quest Between Avicenna and Heidegger (2000). Through this book, he offers a critical examination of Heidegger’s ontological difference from an Avicennian perspective, while also providing an interpretation of Avicenna through a Heideggerian lens.

Although there have been notable engagements with Avicenna within the analytic tradition, one particularly noteworthy group of scholars from Iran has emerged in recent decades, with individuals and institutions supporting and sustaining this approach. Seyed N. Mousavian is one prominent member of this group, who has written extensively on various aspects of Avicenna’s philosophy from an analytic perspective.

In this session, both scholars have been invited to provide an historical overview, an explanation of the underlying assumptions, methods, and textual preferences of their respective approaches. Additionally, they will consider the possibility of dialogue and exchange between the two ways of reading Avicenna, highlighting potential areas of overlap and divergence. The titles of their lectures are:

Nader El-Bizri: Interpreting Avicenna’s Ontology from the Standpoint of Modern Continental Philosophy

Seyed N. Mousavian: Avicenna and The Letter on the Soul

Nader El-Bizri is Dean at the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences of the University of Sharjah, UAE. He taught and conducted research at the universities of Nottingham, Lincoln, Cambridge, Durham, Harvard, the London Consortium, the Institute of Ismaili Studies (London), the American University of Beirut, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. He specialized in Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, Architectural Humanities, and Phenomenology. He published The Phenomenological Quest between Avicenna and Heidegger (Binghamton: Global Publications SUNY, 2000) and most recently edited On Being and Time. The Section on Heidegger in Charles Malik’s 1937 Harvard Thesis (Baden-Baden: Ergon, 2022). Moreover, he serves on various editorial boards of academic publishers internationally, including a General Editorship of the compendium Epistles of the Brethren of Purity, published by Oxford University Press.

Seyed N. Mousavian is associate professor in the Philosophy Department of the Loyola University Chicago. He earned his PhD in analytic philosophy from the University of Alberta, Canada and received a traditional Islamic education (including Islamic Legal Theory, Theology or Kalām, and Philosophy) at Marwī Seminary, Tehran. Before moving to Chicago, he was associate professor at the School of Analytic Philosophy at IPM, Tehran, likely the first institutional home of analytic philosophy in Iran, and a six-year research position at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science at the University of Gothenburg within the project “Representation and Reality: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Aristotelian Tradition,” which resulted, among other publications, in three collected volumes on “Forms of Representation in the Aristotelian Tradition.” In the third volume, Seyed has published two important articles on the intriguing and difficult issues of “maʿnā” and “maʿdūm” in Avicenna’s thought.

The lectures will be held via Zoom

Please consult the flyer and the links for more information on the venue and on other talks in this series.

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