Open to Reason

Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with the Western Tradition

Souleymane Bachir Diagne. Translated by Jonathan Adjemian.

Columbia University Press

Open to Reason

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Pub Date: August 2018

ISBN: 9780231185462

136 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $26.00£20.00

Pub Date: August 2018

ISBN: 9780231546171

136 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $25.99£20.00

Open to Reason

Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with the Western Tradition

Souleymane Bachir Diagne. Translated by Jonathan Adjemian.

Columbia University Press

What does it mean to be a Muslim philosopher, or to philosophize in Islam? In Open to Reason, Souleymane Bachir Diagne traces Muslims’ intellectual and spiritual history of examining and questioning beliefs and arguments to show how Islamic philosophy has always engaged critically with texts and ideas both inside and outside its tradition. Through a rich reading of classical and modern Muslim philosophers, Diagne explains the long history of philosophy in the Islamic world and its relevance to crucial issues of our own time.

From classical figures such as Avicenna to the twentieth-century Sufi master and teacher of tolerance Tierno Bokar Salif Tall, Diagne explores how Islamic thinkers have asked and answered such questions as Does religion need philosophy? How can religion coexist with rationalism? What does it mean to interpret a religious narrative philosophically? What does it mean to be human, and what are human beings’ responsibilities to nature? Is there such a thing as an “Islamic” state, or should Muslims reinvent political institutions that suit their own times? Diagne shows that philosophizing in Islam in its many forms throughout the centuries has meant a commitment to forward and open thinking. A remarkable history of philosophy in the Islamic world as well as a work of philosophy in its own right, this book seeks to contribute to the revival of a spirit of pluralism rooted in Muslim intellectual and spiritual traditions.
This is a remarkable and interesting book. Open to Reason is tremendously valuable on two levels: first, as an account of the place of philosophy in Muslim history; and, second, as a philosophical proposal of some depth and substance that could orient Muslims and others in understanding Islam today. Charles Taylor, author of A Secular Age
This remarkable book asks questions that only a philosopher could ask: How does a religion yield a vast and long and rich philosophical tradition? How do its doctrines and practices come to require one to develop a philosophical temperament so as to ask rather than shun a wide range of philosophical queries? How does its language evolve to become the carrier of such a philosophical quest? With his immense learning, his wise judgment, and his probing analytical skills, Souleymane Bachir Diagne does not merely provide answers to these questions in relation to Islam, he—in doing so—also reveals something of the highest importance: that a proper pursuit of these questions can offer to us today critical possibilities in two opposing directions. On the one hand, to probe and question from the point of view of our modernity the fixities of our doctrinal past, but equally to present how Islam and the philosophy it has yielded over the centuries may offer critical resources by which to understand and criticize many aspects of our modernity. Akeel Bilgrami, Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
This elegant and enjoyable book neatly summarizes the importance of philosophy in Muslim civilization, both in medieval times and in the present. Vividly written and framed with illuminating encounters, Open to Reason is highly recommended for anyone interested in the intellectual history of Islam. Carl W. Ernst, William R. Kenan Distinguished Professor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Diagne’s animated presentations of seminal Islamic philosophers range across centuries, continents, and languages as creative Muslim voices from Damascus, Baghdad, Spain, South Asia, and Mali reject 'closure' and 'literalism' and continue to offer the resources for a reconstructed Islamic intellectual tradition able to meet contemporary challenges of personal faith, ecological ethics, and political and social justice. Marcia Hermansen, Loyola University Chicago
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. And How to Not Philosophize?
2. How a Language Becomes Philosophical
3. What Does It Mean for a Philosophy to Be Islamic
4. Against Philosophy?
5. A Lesson in Ecological Philosophy
6. The Obligation to Philosophize
7. The Need for Philosophy
8. The Philosophy of Reform
9. The Philosophy of Movement
10. Pluralism
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Souleymane Bachir Diagne is a professor in the departments of French and philosophy at Columbia University. His books in English include African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the Idea of Negritude (2011) and The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa (2016).