Post-Classical Islamic Philosophy – a Contradiction in Terms?


This paper engages critically with Dimitri Gutas’ recent characterization of post-classical Islamic philosophy and theology as a form of paraphilosophy or intellectual activity that merely simulates philosophy. I argue that this view arises from a misguided understanding of the concept of philosophy that should provide the standard for its historiography. In order to avoid a number of problematic consequences, such as gaps in historical continuity or a disconnection from what we understand by philosophy today, we must take our cue from a sufficiently uncontroversial contemporary concept of philosophy instead of any particular historical concept, such as the Peripatetic amalgam of metaphysics, theory of science, and the empirical sciences. Such a strategy provides a sound basis for the inclusion of post-classical thinkers, as well as many classical thinkers who are not falāsifa, in the history of Islamic philosophy without vicious circularity or loss of a normative concept of philosophy.


Concept of philosophy Dimitri Gutas historiography of Islamic philosophy paraphilosophy