The AMME seminar offered views to Islamic Philosophy and Scholarship

The second AMME (Ancient and Medieval Middle East) Research Seminar held on October 30th 2018 in the University of Helsinki had two interesting talks on Islamic Philosophy and Scholarship.

The Seminar consisted of two presentations by visiting scholars, Nathan Spannaus (Postdoctoral Researcher of Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä) and Jari Kaukua (Professor of Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä.)

The first presentation was given by Nathan Spannaus on Change and Periodization in Islamic Intellectual History. Spannaus gave a historical overview of the different periods of Islamic scholarship, structured with a timeline on the development of tradition of different schools of thought. He covered a broad span of time from Muhammad's death (632 AD) until the 20th century, and provided key ideas of the different periods of Islamic scholarship; formative, classical, post-classical and modern periods. Previous to the modern period, the tradition of scholarship had been building on preceding periods and ideas of past scholars. Spannaus finished his presentation with a look towards the modern period and the consequent end of traditional Islamic scholarship, no longer supported by the infrastructure.

The seminar continued with Jari Kaukua’s presentation on Empiricism in Islamic Philosophy. Kaukua focused on the philosophy of Avicenna and his contemporaries, looking for evidence of empiristic ideas in their texts which obviously precede John Locke. Kaukua presented the criteria for empiricism as defined by Lockean philosophy, and proceeded to analyze texts of Avicenna, Ibn al-Haytham and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Kaukua concluded that, albeit traces of ideas that can be considered empiristic are present in Islamic philosophy, they appear too sporadically to be considered the conceptualization of empiricism in Avicenna’s texts.

As usual, the presentations were followed up with a short discussion and questions from the audience.

The next AMME seminar will be held on 27th November on topic New Year rituals in Ancient Near East, see more information here.