This article provides an introduction to Abhidharma philosophy. The Abhidharma is a collection of texts intended to deal with what the Buddha taught. It is one of the three collections that make up the Buddhist canonical scriptures (the other two are the sūtras, the Buddha' discourses, and the vinaya, the rules of monastic discipline). All three are usually referred to as the “three baskets,” indicating the way in which the original palm-leaf manuscripts were stored. The discussion found in the Abhidharma texts comprises two main elements: categorizing lists and explicatory discussion of points of doctrine. This article focuses on three topics that are of particular philosophical interest and relate to questions in ontology, the philosophy of time, and metaphysics.
This chapter offers an overview and analysis of an important ethical work by the early thinker Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyāʾ al-Rāzī (251/865–313/925). In keeping with his main occupation as a medical doctor, this work approaches ethics as “spiritual medicine,” echoing the ancient idea of ethical improvement as a kind of regime the soul. The chapter shows how al-Rāzī drew on Galen in developing this idea, and explores the central idea of the treatise (taken ultimately from Plato, by way of Galen), which is that reason must rule the lower parts of the soul. Consideration is also given to whether the teaching of The Spiritual Medicine can be reconciled with another work of al-Rāzī’s, The Philosophical Life, and with his infamous cosmological theory.
Rodney C. Roberts
“Affirmative action” is a term that has come to be associated with a variety of social policies that typically concern opportunities for employment or admission to institutions of higher learning. Such policies require that, in the process of hiring or admission, particular attention be paid to individuals who are members of groups thought to have been disadvantaged in the past. Although sometimes referred to as “preferential treatment” or “reverse discrimination,” many philosophers have found these labels problematic, even fallacious. A necessary part of doing Africana philosophy is having the problems facing the Black community at the forefront of one's thinking. Since Bernard Boxill and Albert Mosley exemplify the importance of this perspective through the issue of affirmative action, and since they are two of the most prominent philosophers of African descent in the affirmative action debate, this article focuses largely on their ideas.
John H. McClendon III and Stephen C. Ferguson II
This article provides an introduction to African American philosophy. African American philosophy is intimately tied to African American intellectual history and culture. There are two salient, opposing (yet dialectically related) traditions within African American political and intellectual culture: one of accommodation and another of resistance to exploitation and oppression. Recent African American philosophical perspectives and trends include investigations into the philosophical ideas associated with particular Black thinkers, research in the area of Black Studies, and African American Marxists' dialectical materialist philosophical perspective on the Black experience.
This article provides an introduction to African philosophy. As time passes African philosophy becomes increasingly difficult to summarize. This is due as much to new discoveries about or orientations toward its past as it is to the ever-increasing publications of contemporary African philosophers concerned primarily with issues relevant to the present and future. This article discusses ethnophilosophy and the postmodern, phenomenology and analytic philosophy, and Marxism and feminism.
From the fifteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, victimized by the slave trade and colonial dismemberment, Africa was relegated to nonexistence. The Continent was immersed in darkness and its varied people, in the sight of Europe, were seen and presented as an arcane and exotic “prelogical” humanity in need of “development” in every sphere of human existence. During this period, the existence of Africa was negated and blotted out of history. But starting from 1957 Africa bit by bit established its political freedom, and the early 1990s, with the demise of Apartheid South Africa, finally saw the fulfillment of Africa's struggle for political sovereignty. This article addresses the following question: what is the philosophic situation of the present regarding the “ideas” and “conceptions” that, until recently, sanctioned supremacy and subjection? It looks at recent developments in Continental philosophy and the fruitful confluence of these developments with the prospects and possibilities of the contemporary practice of Africana philosophy.
This article begins with a brief discussion of what makes one an Afro-Caribbean philosopher. To be classified as an Afro-Caribbean philosopher does not require that one satisfy racial or ethnic essentialist criteria. Being an Afro-Caribbean philosopher is a matter of being intimately grounded in the tradition of Afro-Caribbean philosophy and, more broadly, the Afro-Caribbean intellectual tradition. Being grounded in the tradition of Afro-Caribbean philosophy requires that one critically engage the canonical texts constituting this tradition and the problems and questions that constitute this tradition. The article then turns to a multidimensional exploration of Afro-Caribbean philosophy in an attempt to review some of the main elements constitutive of this tradition of thought.
Aḥmad al-Mallawī (d. 1767): Commentary on the Versification of the Immediate Implications of Hypothetical Propositions
The Egyptian scholar Aḥmad al-Mallawī (d.1767) penned perhaps the most detailed treatment of the topic of the immediate implications of hypothetical propositions since the fourteenth century. His work, written when he was a mere eighteen years old, is a commentary on his own versification of the relevant section of a fifteenth-century handbook on logic. This often critical work highlights a number of historically significant points: that the Arabic logical tradition in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries cannot be dismissed as dogmatic and uncritical exposition of received views; that interest in the formal implications of disjunctions and conditionals was alive and well in North Africa, at a time when interest in that topic has largely ceased in the eastern parts of the Islamic world; and that the literary genres of versification and commentary do not preclude critical reflection on received scholarly views.
Al-Fārābī’s (d. 950) On the One and Oneness: Some Preliminary Remarks on Its Structure, Contents, and Theological Implications
This chapter examines al-Fārābī’s (d. 950 CE) treatise On the One and Oneness (Kitāb al-wāḥid wa-l-waḥda), a work that focuses exclusively on the metaphysical themes of unity and multiplicity, and which represents one of the master’s less well-known and studied works. After some general observations concerning the treatise’s contents, structure, and style, the present chapter addresses some specific metaphysical and theological implications this work has in the context of al-Fārābī’s philosophy. It shows that On the One and Oneness is aligned with al-Fārābī’s other works and thoroughly inscribed within his metaphysical program and that its main purpose was to provide a theoretical framework and elucidation for concepts lying at the core of his cosmological and theological system. Accordingly, the treatise reveals its true purpose and scope only if it is read in light of al-Fārābī’s more descriptive theological and cosmological works, such as The Principles of Existents (Kitāb Mabādiʾ al-mawjūdāt).
In his Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahāfut al-falāsifa) al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111) addresses in twenty discussions teachings of the falāsifa and tries to show that these are not proven demonstratively. The falāsifa in al-Ghazālī’s book are mostly Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna, d. 427/1037) and his followers. By exposing the nondemonstrative character of these teachings, al-Ghazālī aims at destroying the conviction of the falāsifa that their sciences are superior to revelation. Al-Ghazālī argues that many teachings handed down from one generation of falāsifa to the next are merely based on the blind emulation (taqlīd) of authorities such as Aristotle. Thus he creates the impression of falsafa as a quasi-religious tradition that lies outside of Islam. In the Incoherence of the Philosophers he applies numerous strategies of integrating the movement of falsafa into Islam. Part of that strategy is his condemnations of three key teachings as unbelief and apostasy from Islam. Incoherence