The Worldview of Islamic Philosophy

William C. Chittick

in The Heart of Islamic Philosophy

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780195139136
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834075 | DOI:
The Worldview of Islamic Philosophy

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Despite the opinions of those who would define the Islamic tradition in narrow terms, most of the Muslim practitioners of Hellenistic philosophy found it perfectly compatible with their religion. They looked upon the first principle of Islamic faith – tawhîd or the assertion of divine unity – as a universal truth that underlies every sound understanding of the nature of things. Those who want to grasp their outlook, however, need to put aside the scientism that governs modern thought and to look upon the universe as they saw it. They established their perspective first by conceptualizing the qualities that infuse the universe and the soul, but their purpose in doing so was to conform themselves to the First Real by perfecting their understanding and their character. They integrated the intellectual disciplines into one grand vision rooted in wujûd, a term that is commonly translated as “existence” but is explained correctly by Bâbâ Afdal to mean both “being” (bûd) and “finding” or “perception” (yâft). Drawing from both the understanding and the experience of wujûd, the philosophers engaged with both ontology and epistemology and drew appropriate conclusions for psychology (the knowledge of soul and intellect), cosmology (the descent of apparent reality from the First Real and its reintegration into its source), and ethics (the diversity of human souls and the normative principles that guide people to the actualization of virtue).

Keywords: Arabic; cosmology; epistemology; ethics; Greek; intellect; intelligence; Islam; ontology; philosophy; spiritual psychology

Chapter.  22834 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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