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
ʿAḍud al-dīn al-Ījī’s Mawāqif fī ‘ilm al-kalām and its commentaries were the most studied kalām texts of the Sunnī madrasa curriculum after the fourteenth century CE. On one level, the Mawāqif exemplifies what has been termed the “Avicennization of kalām.” On a deeper level, it reaffirms a commitment to the principles of classical Ashʿarī kalām and contests central falsafa positions, even as it utilizes falsafa terminology and concepts. This chapter examines this aspect of the Mawāqif through its discussion of key questions in Islamic intellectual history.
This chapter argues against the prevalent reductionist reading of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s criticism of Avicennan doctrines in his philosophical works as a mere theologically motivated refutation. It proposes that when read in context, his famous commentary on Avicenna’s Pointers (Ishārāt) emerges as a confluence of the two classical genres of exegetical commentary (sharḥ, tafsīr) and aporetic commentary (shukūk), and as such perfectly typifies its author’s method of critical investigation. Al-Rāzī contrasts this method with both the uncritical traditionalism promoted by mainstream Avicennists and the fixation on refutation among contemporary counter-Avicennists. To support this new reading, the chapter examines two discussions in the commentary: one on Avicenna’s theory of prime matter and corporeity, and another on his concurrentist account of creation.
Ali Sedad Bey’s (d. 1900), Kavâidu’t-Taḥavvülât fî Ḥarekâti’z-Zerrât (Principles of Transformation in the Motion of Particles)
This chapter presents and evaluates Ali Sedāt’s (d. 1900) Principles of Transformation in the Motion of Particles. In this work, Ali Sedad gives a detailed description of the working mechanism of the whole universe, including topics that range from the interaction of atoms to the emergence of animate bodies and the motion of heavenly bodies. In doing this, he introduces thermodynamics and Darwin’s theory of evolution for the first time to the Turkish-speaking community in a detailed way and discusses the laws behind natural phenomena in a philosophical way. Ali Sedāt’s Principles of Transformation is a unique work introducing the basic principles of the natural sciences in nineteenth-century European circles to the Ottoman world and interpreting them from an Ashʿarite perspective. It shows how an Ashʿarite scholar from the late Ottoman era followed modern science thoroughly but interpreted it critically from its own philosophical point of view.
Sajjad Rizvi and Ahab Bdaiwi
In modern Shiʿi intellectual history, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabāʾī (d. 1981) stands out as the most important and influential philosopher and exegete in the twentieth century. The chapter is divided into parts: the first an account detailing his career and the intellectual milieu in which he lived; the second an exposition of his philosophical ideas, showing that Ṭabāṭabāʾī (1) formulated a realist theory of epistemology to combat skepticism; (2) rehearsed the traditional ontological proof for the existence of God for the new-theology of post-war Shiʿi intellectual history; (3) went to great lengths to demonstrate how philosophy could contribute to a more rigorous theological response to modernity; (4) provided the philosophy of being, championed by Mullā Ṣadrā (d. 1635), with a new impetus by stressing above all else the rationalistic facet of the tradition; and (5) reoriented philosophy to augment theological positions articulated in response to the challenges of modernity.
John A. Tucker
This chapter examines the claim that the Ancient Learning School (kogakuha) presided over a revival of classical Confucian learning during the early-modern period of Japanese history, otherwise known as the Edo period (1600–1868). While questioning the claim’s validity, the study seeks to salvage the notion of kogaku by interpreting it as another expression of Neo-Confucianism. Kogaku thinkers criticized Zhu Xi and other Neo-Confucians, but doing so arguably reflected their involvement in the learning of Neo-Confucianism rather than something divorcing them from it. The study cites methodological, terminological, and philosophical similarities between the major kogaku thinkers and Neo-Confucian followers of Zhu Xi. The chapter concludes with a brief survey of subsequent, late-Tokugawa critiques of Sokō, Jinsai, and Sorai, prior to their revival in the late-Meiji by Inoue Tetsujirō in his efforts to define a philosophical tradition for modern Japan.
Anglophone philosophy in India is shaped by at least three distinct historical phenomena: Thomas Macaulay's “Minute on Education” in 1835 that makes English the medium of instruction in Indian education and Protestant missionary professors at the center of philosophical learning in Indian colleges and universities; the social and religious reform movements of the Arya and Brahmo Samaj that swept the country, resulting in a revaluation of the orthodox Hindu philosophical systems and a move to a return to the original, “purer” Vedas and Upaniṣads; and the presence of the British as an occupying force, which generates a politico-cosmopolitan awareness and a distinctive approach to imagining the modern Indian nation in academic and nonacademic philosophical circles. This article addresses some of the distinctly philosophical contributions in the fields of metaphysics and epistemology, comparative philosophy, aesthetics, ethics, and social and political philosophy that were generated as a consequence of the interface of these three axes in colonial India and thereafter.
Nalini Bhushan and Jay L. Garfield
Anukul Chandra Mukerji (1888–1968) was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Allahabad. His career reflects a preoccupation with the history of philosophy, and his systematic work is always situated both in the Western and Indian philosophical traditions. In the West his work focuses on the philosophy of Kant and Hegel. Mukerji approached Indian idealism through Advaita Vedānta. Mukerji, a specialist in the philosophy of mind and psychology, was a committed naturalist, in that he saw the deliverances of empirical psychology as foundational to an understanding of the mind. He paid close attention especially to the psychologists William James, John B. Watson, and James Ward. Mukerji wrote two substantial monographs: Self, Thought and Reality (1933) and The Nature of Self (1938). In each, Mukerji emphasizes the rational intelligibility of the world and the foundation role that consciousness and self-knowledge play in the edifice of knowledge more generally.
In his Decisive Treatise, Andalusian philosopher Averroes (1126–1198) analyzes the relation between philosophy and religion from an Islamic legal perspective. He emphasizes the obligation upon some Muslims to study philosophy and how philosophy can be considered one of the Islamic sciences. He mentions the significance of a nonliteral reading of the Qur’ān and defends the compatibility between Aristotelian philosophy and Islamic religion.
This chapter looks at the theory of knowledge of Bhartṛhari (c.5th cent.), the philosopher of language and grammarian, from the angle of perception and the awareness of oneself in the world. It is argued that, even though these topics are not systematically treated in Bhartṛhari’s work, in the context of his epistemology, which emphasizes the centrality of language, it is of crucial importance to show how language-based categories operate even in perception. After a brief introduction dealing with the role of grammar in the intellectual history of ancient India and Bhartṛhari’s place in the Pāṇinian tradition, the chapter examines a number of passages from his work that touch upon perception, its relation to the body, its intrinsic limitations in apprehending external objects, and the role of the mind in selecting and organizing the sense data, even when these remain at the periphery of individual awareness.
This chapter explains why aspects of the social philosophy of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891–1956) deserve sustained philosophical attention. Ambedkar lays bare the paradoxical relationship between the hegemony of Manu’s superman as an ideal and its logical opposite or repulsive real. Ambedkar asks the core question: if the Hindu ideal is ritually hierarchical rather than egalitarian, why is that it has so many supporters among the lower castes? The chapter’s final section discusses what constitutes Ambedkar’s conception of modern moral idealism, and what is the nature of constructivism that he seems to be invoking to envision a counter-ideal, the claim that moral and social ideals are to be constructed and are not pre-givens. Modern moral idealism is the framework within which it becomes possible for members of one group to develop a moral motivation to enter a struggle in favor of those not in that group.