American Univesity of Beirut

Monthly Seminar

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Such seminars are intended to provide the opportunity to scholars to present and discuss research projects or works in progress in the fields of Islamic Philosophy and Science. Held once a month they aim at creating a space/ forum for discussion among researchers, graduate students and professors. 

SPRING 2020 – 2021

Wednesday, M​ay 12​, 2021 at 6:00pm, Farouk Jabre Center Seminar Room, Zoom meeting

unayn b. Isḥāq: A Translator of Galen’s Works or One of his Critical Interlocutors?

George Saliba, PhD​

Khwarzmi Chair in Arabic and Islamic Science
American University of Beirut 


​​ Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq (d. 873) is deservedly celebrated as one of the most able translators and transmitters of Greek thought into Arabic, and particularly the main conveyer of Galen's works. Through a close reading of extant copies of Ḥunayn's translations, this talk will give voice to Ḥunayn's misgivings and reactions to what he found was objectionable in Galen's works. Ḥunayn's inability to hold back his disapproval when he would find the Galenic text wanting are by their sheer number and extent startling to someone who has been schooled to think of Ḥunayn as a mere translator, and not as a commentator and critical interlocutor who finds Galen a worthy opponent to engage with. The talk will be illustrated with several pages from Ḥunayn's translations that exhibit this tendency and offer examples of what Ḥunayn's thought was not completely well covered by Galen in the very texts he was actually translating. 



George Saliba is the Founding Director of the Farouk Jabre Center for Arabic & Islamic Science and Philosophy and holder of the Khwarizmi Chair in Arabic and Islamic science, in the History department at the American University of Beirut. He is Professor Emeritus at Columbia University (NY). He has authored and coauthored more than twelve books and published close to 200 articles in refereed academic journals. He has delivered public lectures at academic venues on all four continents. He is internationally recognized and has won many awards and prizes including the chair of Distinguished Senior Scholar at the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress and was a Carnegie Scholar (2009-2010). Among his relatively recent publications include Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance, MIT Press, 2007, (Pbk 2011), and Ma'ālim al-aṣāla wa-l-ibdā' fī al-shurūḥ wa-l-ta'ālīq al-'ilmiyya al-muta'akhkhira. A'māl Shams al-Dīn al-Khafrī (956 h./1550 m.), al-Furqan, London, 2015. His most recent article is “Knowledge of Arabic at Padua and its Reflection in Vesalius' Works," Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph 68, (2019-2020), p. 21-57.​

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 6:00pm, Farouk Jabre Center Seminar Room, Zoom meeting

On the Discovery of Isḥāq b. Ḥunayn’s Lost Translation of Aristotle’s De anima I-II​​

Jawdath Jabbour​, PhD​

CNRS, Centre Paul-Albert Février (TDMAM UMR 7297)
PhASIF (DIM Région Île-de-France​)


​​ Avicenna’s annotations on the De anima, Ta‘līqāt ‘alā ḥawāshī Kitāb al-Nafs, were so far known through a unique manuscript in Cairo. In the framework of my collaboration with the PhASIF research program (labeled DIM by the Paris Region), I recently discovered another partial copy of the Ta‘līqāt. It shows several important variations with the Cairo copy, which allow us to see in it another recension of the text. More importantly, the copy contains the lemmata of Isḥāq b. Ḥunayn’s (d. c. 910) lost translation of Aristotle’s De anima, thus preserving almost the entirety of Book I and the first chapters of Book II. The lecture will present this manuscript and the texts it includes.



Jawdath Jabbour is a researcher at the French CNRS, Centre Paul-Albert Février (TDMAM UMR 7297) He graduated from the Ecole Normale supérieure de Lyon and is agrégé d’arabe. In 2016 he was awarded a PhD from the École pratique des Hautes Etudes. Since 2018 he is part of the research program “Le patrimoine manuscrit philosophique arabe et syriaque en Île-de-France et ailleurs : trésors à découvrir et circuits de diffusion” (PhASIF, label DIM Île-de-France) at the École normale supérieure de la rue d’Ulm. Within this framework he is an invited researcher at the Türk Yazma Eserler Müdürlüğü (direction des manuscrits de Turquie) for cataloguing manuscripts of Arabic philosophy.
His fields of interest cover Arabic philosophy and particularly al-Farabi; the Arabic reception of Galen and the relationship between philosophy and medicine; codicology and the history of Arabic manuscripts of philosophy.
He is the author of a monograph on the psychology and anthropology of al-Farabi: L’âme et l’unité de l’homme dans la pensée de Fārābī, Vrin, collection « Études musulmanes », Paris, 2020 and the editor of The Reception of Classical Arabic Philosophy in the Ottoman Empire. Proceedings of the Workshop of the International Associated Laboratory ‘Philosophie dans l’aire ottomane’, Istanbul, 2-4 November 2015, in Mélanges de l’Université Saint-Joseph 67, 2017-18. A selection of his articles include: "Catalogue détaillé des manuscrits arabes de la Bibliothèque Ulm-Lettres et sciences humaines à Paris", Mélanges de l’Université Saint-Joseph 68, 2019-2020 (with S. Maloberti,) ; "La traduction de la philosophie arabe en français au XXe siècle", in B. Banoun, J.-Y. Masson and I. Poulin (ed.), Histoire des traductions en langue française, XXe siècle, Verdier, 2019 ; "La structure du Contre Galien de Fārābī et son épître sur la médecine", Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale 29, 2018, p. 89-123 ; "The Reconstitution of the Circulation of Muḥammad al-Hindī’s Ǧumal al-falsafa through the Manuscript Notes", Journal of Islamic Manuscripts 9:2-3, 2018, p. 154-175.



Al​-Jāḥiẓ and Aristotle

Basim F Musallam, PhD​
King’s College, University of Cambridge​​​


Aristotle's three major biological treatises were translated into Arabic in the ninth century as one continuous text called Kitāb al-Ḥayawān (living beings). This was during al-Jāḥiẓ's (776-868) lifetime and it became one of the principal sources of​ his own Kitāb al-Ḥayawān. Although the two books share the same title, the Jāḥiẓ book is a very different kind of work. Al-Jāḥiẓ quotes Aristotle extensively; however, he does so in a strictly controlled way, to serve his own purposes rather than those of Aristotle.



Basim Musallam was educated at the American University of Beirut (BA and MA) and Harvard University (PhD, 1973). He has taught at the University of Cambridge since 1985 and was Visiting Professor of History at AUB in 1993-1994 and 1998-2000. He is currently Life Fellow at King’s College, University of Cambridge. His research focuses on the social structure of medieval Islam, and the history of ideas during this period. Among his publications are Sex and Society in IslamBirth Control before the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983; The Arabs: a Living History, London : Collins/Harvill, 1983. He co-edited The Transformation of Nomadic Society in the Arab East, Cambridge Univ.Press, 2000 (with Martha Mundy); as well as several articles among which a memorable entry on “Avicenna -Medicine” in the Encyclopaedia Iranica. In 1987 he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in Humanities.

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FALL 2020 – 2021​​​



T​​hursday, November 19, 2020 at 6:00pm, Farouk Jabre Center Seminar Room, Zoom meeting


Al-Rāzī's "​​Relative" Reading of Aristotle's Physics

​Peter Adamson, PhD​


Abū Bakr al-Rāzī (d. 925 CE) is admired for his medical works, but notorious for his cosmology, which posited five "eternal principles" for the making of the universe, with God named as only one of these principles. This talk will discuss the ancient Greek background of al-Rāzī's theory, arguing that he saw himself as following a Platonic account in his endorsement of "absolute" space, time, and matter, which he equates respectively with void, eternal duration, and atoms. He critiques Aristotle's physical theory as merely "relative," insofar as Aristotelian bodies, places, and times can be understood only against the background of the more fundamental eternal principles.



Peter Adamson is a Professor of Late Ancient and Arabic Philosophy at the Ludwig-Maxmilians University in Munich. He joined the Faculty of philosophy at LMU coming from King's College where he retains a professorial affiliation. His primary areas of interest are late ancient philosophy and Arabic philosophy.He is the author of three monographs, The Arabic Plotinus: a Philosophical Study of the “Theology of Aristotle" (London: Duckworth, 2002). Reprinted by Gorgias Press, 2017; Al-Kindī (Great Medieval Thinkers) (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); and Al-Rāzī (Great Medieval Thinkers) (New York: Oxford University Press, expected 2021) and of the A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps Book Series (Oxford: Oxford University Press) which includes so far five volumes.He has written numerous articles in Ancient and Arabic and Islamic philosophy, addressing philosophical figures ranging from al-Kindi, to Abu Bakr al-Razi, Yahya Ibn 'Adi, Miskawayh, Avicenna, and Averroes. He is also the editor and co-editor of several books, including, among others, The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy; several volumes for the Institute of Classical Studies including [with R. Hansberger and J. Wilberding] Philosophical Themes in Galen (London: Institute of Classical Studies, 2014);  further volumes on philosophy in the Islamic world for the Warburg Institute, and Interpreting Avicenna: Critical Essays for Cambridge University Press and more recently with E.G. Edwards, Animals: a History, for the Oxford University Press series Oxford Concepts in Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018). 

Peter Adamson is also the host of the History of Philosophy podcast (www.historyofphilosophy.net).

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​​​T​​hurs​day, October 22​, 2020 at 6:00pm, Farouk Jabre Center Seminar Room, Zoom meeting


Doubting Galen

Pauline Koet​schet, PhD ​​

​​​​ 

Pauline Koetschet (PhD, Paris-Sorbonne and the University of Warwick) is a researcher at the French CNRS and the Director of the Department of Medieval and Modern Arab Studies, Institut français du Proche-Orient (IFPO) since September 2019. An expert in Islamic medicine and Islamic philosophy, she is the principal co-investigator with Elvira Wakelnig (University of Vienna) of the joint project "Galen Into Arabic. More than a Translation», co-funded by FWF and ANR. She has published extensively on the Arabic reception of Galen. In addition to numerous articles among which, "Abū Bakr al-Rāzī et le signe: fragment retrouvé d'un traité logique perdu", Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 27, 2017, pp. 75-114, she is the author of a recent monograph on Abū Bakr al-Rāzī, Doubts About Galen (introduction, critical edition, French translation), De Gruyter, Berlin, 2019.​

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SPRING 2019 – 2020

Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 6:00pm, Farouk Jabre Center Seminar Room, Lower level of the Lee Observatory building (backyard entrance)​

Sense-Perception and Spiritualized Senses. The Case of Taste in Ghazali's Corpus

Loumia Ferhat, PhD

 

The talk investigates the intersection of epistemology and aesthetics through the concept of “taste" (dhawq) in Islamic thought, particularly in Ghazālī's corpus, both as a sense perception and as a means to achieve the highest kind of knowledge. My point is neither to argue for a literal meaning of “taste" nor to discard it as a mere placeholder for an otherworldly experience but rather to investigate what remains from its original meaning by paying attention to its singularity as a sense-perception.

 

Loumia Ferhat is currently Fellow of the Arab Council for Social Sciences and postdoctoral fellow at the Farouk Jabre Center, AUB. She obtained a PhD in Comparative Literature from the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University, and an MA in modern philosophy from the University of Sorbonne Paris I. Ancienne élève of the Ecole Normale Supérieure Ulm in philosophy, she also minored in Islamic Studies and Media Studies and has been working on a documentary on spoken word poetry in Baltimore for which she received the Saul Zaentz incubator. 

At the Farouk Jabre Center she is working on a book manuscript titled Ghazālī's Heart: Between Epistemology, Ethics and Aesthetics, which focuses on the notion of heart. Going beyond the body-soul dichotomy she contends that highlighting the operative function of the heart, at once the seat of cognition, insight and divine illumination – enables one to appreciate Ghazālī's original position at the crossroads of Sufism, theology and philosophy and highlights a conception of epistemology inseparable from ethics and aesthetics.

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