2nd Arabo-Greek Workshop: Connections between Byzantine and Islamic Philosophy

2nd Arabo-Greek Workshop: Connections between Byzantine and Islamic Philosophy lead image

2nd Arabo-Greek Workshop: Connections between Byzantine and Islamic Philosophy, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz and Zoom, June 9–10, 2023

Scholars have long drawn sharp demarcations between the dual inheritances of the ancient philosophical tradition in the Eastern Mediterranean within the medieval Greek and Arabic-speaking worlds. While figures within medieval Islamic Philosophy who wrote in Arabic and Persian like al-Bīrūnī, Ibn Sīnā, and Ibn Rushd have become part of the philosophical canon, Byzantine philosophy has been relegated to the margins. Based on post-Enlightenment definitions of philosophy, the possibility of philosophy occurring in Byzantium has been dismissed. This workshop hopes to blur many of these sharp boundaries that have been drawn between the Byzantine and Islamic intellectual worlds and consider connections between Byzantine and Islamic philosophy. It will ask what Byzantine philosophy was, how we should define it, and what role philosophy played in diverse Byzantine contexts chronologically and geographically. Instead of treating the Baghdad Greco-Arabic translation movement as a break between the Arabic and Greek-speaking intellectual worlds, this workshop will consider instances and ways by which the Islamic and Byzantine worlds came together over philosophical issues. It will take a wide view on considering what philosophy is, taking into account a diversity of both modern and contemporary medieval understandings.

This workshop will build on last year’s workshop on Arabo-Greek translation. It will ask how Arabic texts and ideas were transmitted into medieval Greek-speaking contexts, and how ideas and thinkers working in the Byzantine and Islamic traditions interacted and influenced each other. Finally, it will examine the role played by intermediaries between the Islamic and Byzantine worlds, in particular multilingual Melkites and other Christians.

A Mainz History Talks workshop organized by Joe Glynias (Cambridge, MA) and Zachary Chitwood/Johannes Pahlitzsch (Mainz) under the auspices of the Gutenberg International Conference Center.