The Story of Reason in Islam

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Sari Nusseibeh
Cultural Memory in the Present
  • Palo Alto, CA: 
    Stanford University Press
    , November
     2016.
     288 pages.
     $29.95.
     Paperback.
    ISBN
    9781503600577.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Description

In The Story of Reason in Islam, leading public intellectual and political activist Sari Nusseibeh narrates a sweeping intellectual history—a quest for knowledge inspired by the Qu'ran and its language, a quest that employed Reason in the service of Faith. Eschewing the conventional separation of Faith and Reason, he takes a fresh look at why and how Islamic reasoning evolved over time. He surveys the different Islamic schools of thought and how they dealt with major philosophical issues, showing that Reason pervaded all disciplines, from philosophy and science to language, poetry, and law. Along the way, the best known Muslim philosophers are introduced in a new light. Countering received chronologies, in this story Reason reaches its zenith in the early seventeenth century; it then trails off, its demise as sudden as its appearance. Thereafter, Reason loses out to passive belief, lifeless logic, and a self-contained legalism—in other words, to a less flexible Islam. Nusseibeh's speculations as to why this occurred focus on the fortunes and misfortunes of classical Arabic in the Islamic world. Change, he suggests, may only come from the revivification of language itself.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Sari Nusseibeh is professor of philosophy at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. His most recent book is What's a Palestinian State Worth? (2011) .

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