The origin and early development of philosophy in tenth-century al-Andalus: the impact of ill-defined materials and channels of transmission
The objective of PhilAnd is to conduct a large-scale exploration of how, and under which form, philosophy appeared for the first time in al-Andalus. This issue is pivotal to understanding the history of sciences and ideas, and the role of the Arab-Muslim world in this transfer to Medieval Europe. Its relevance today also lies in the fact that it addresses questions of cultural and religious identities, since the formative stage of philosophy in al-Andalus proved decisive in shaping the intellectual background of many later authors from the Peninsula, whether Muslims, Jews, or Christians.
At the crossroads of several major lines of enquiries in modern scholarship and in line with recent discoveries having important chronological implications, PhilAnd focuses on the 10th century, a period usually disregarded by historians on the assumption that philosophy as such was not cultivated in the Iberian Peninsula before the 11th-12th centuries. Its originality is also to put emphasis on ‘ill-defined’ materials and channels of transmission, a field which remains largely unexplored.
This project consists of five individual topics designed for highly-specialised scholars working in close interaction, and of another three transversal types of exploration conducted in the form of conferences convened with leading experts in the world (see below). A substantial part of the project will be conducted in close collaboration with the Warburg Institute (School of Advanced Study, University of London), a centre of worldwide reputation in the field of cultural history and the transmission of sciences and ideas in pre-modern times.
The final objectives of PhilAnd are to test the hypothesis: 1) that the emergence of philosophy in al-Andalus significantly predates the currently accepted time; and 2) that the impact of this formative stage was considerably wider than commonly acknowledged. This project also seeks to provide a better evaluation of the originality of the first Andalusī philosophers with respect to their Oriental forerunners.
This cutting-edge investigation is likely to stimulate major changes in our perception of how this primeval stage of philosophy in al-Andalus determined the subsequent developments of rational speculation among the three monotheistic communities of the Peninsula and, through them, the cultural and intellectual formation of Europe.
The five individual sub-projects
- SP1: ‘Jābir ibn Ḥayyān’
- SP2: ‘Ikhwān al-Ṣafā’
- SP3: ‘Ibn Waḥshiyya’
- SP4: ‘Ibn Masarra’
- SP5: ‘Maslama Ibn Qāsim al-Qurṭubī’
The three transversal sub-projects
- SP6: Power, Religion and Wisdom: Bāṭinism between orthodoxy and heterodoxy in tenth-century al-Andalus
- SP7: Interconnections between Jewish and Islamic rationalistic forms of thought during the tenth century
- SP8: Science and Craft: the relations between the theoretical and practical sides of esoteric disciplines in al-Andalus and their link with craft
PhilAnd is an Advanced grant ERC project funded by the European Research Council under the European Union's H2020 ERC MGA Programme (ERC Grant Agreement number 740618).