Other Free Encyclopedias » Science Encyclopedia » Science & Philosophy: Adrenoceptor (adrenoreceptor; adrenergic receptor) to Ambient » African Philosophies - The Islamic Past, The Beginning Of A Discipline, Major Themes, The Controversy About The Meaning Of Philosophy

African Philosophies - The Islamic Past

century tradition intellectual philosophy

To detach North Africa from the rest of the continent also meant to take out of it the chapters in the history of philosophy written in cities such as Alexandria, Carthage, or Hippo, where St. Augustine, "the most celebrated African thinker in history" as D. A. Masolo presents him, was a bishop in 396. It also meant ignoring the intellectual consequences of the penetration of Islam into Africa, starting in the eighth century, when the graphic rationality of the Muslim religion became part of African life. It is true that, by the end of the thirteenth century, the period of development of philosophy (falsafa in Arabic), which started in the ninth century, was coming to an end in the Sunni world. Still, Aristotelian logic was studied and philosophical thinking remained part of religious disciplines such as theology (kalam), commentary (tafsir), and mysticism (Sufism). In many learned centers in the Islamized regions of Africa, scholars in these disciplines have created and developed an African written intellectual tradition, partly concerned with philosophical speculation. The legendary city of Timbuktu is the most famous of such centers. Ahmad Baba, who lived at the end of the sixteenth and in the early seventeenth century, was the best representative of the scholarly elite of Timbuktu. For Muslim scholars, the Saharan desert was not the wall Hegel supposed; they traveled in the Islamic world, North Africa, Egypt, and Arabia for intellectual purposes, often taking the opportunity of the pilgrimage to Mecca to do so. There is in the early twenty-first century a need to assess the importance of a written tradition of African philosophy in Arabic and in Ajami, that is, in African languages using Arabic script. This tradition is still widely unknown because many manuscripts kept in private family libraries are yet to be exhumed, restored, cataloged, and eventually published.

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