Throughout Western universities, ancient Greek philosophy is seen as the oldest tradition of wisdom, yet the Zoroastrian way of life can be traced back to the second millennium BC. The Gathas – a collection of hymns or songs attributed to Zarathustra – contain an existential and practical philosophy avant la lettre, based on mental exercises and rituals passed down through Zoroastrian religious communities. These texts not only demonstrate the Persian thinker’s wisdom, they also introduce an important ecological focus and social practice. In Thus Replied Zarathustra, Ann Van Sevenant presents a cosmopolitan dimension to Zarathustra’s proto-philosophy that applies to all of us on an intimate level.
Ann Van Sevenant (1959), PhD in Philosophy (Brussels, 1987), is the author of eighteen books on philosophy published in Dutch, French, English and Italian. As well as being an international guest speaker, she was previously Professor of Philosophy at the University College of Antwerp and is currently an independent researcher associated with the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels.
Editor’s note: Ann Van Sevenant’s is an unusual book for us to announce. It is not philological in scope, and its treatment of the oldest Zoroastrian texts is rather unusual for our philologically dominated discipline. But perhaps therein lies the charm and challenge of this book which has not been seen by us. AZ
The history of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study dates back to 1935, and it is the one area of scholarship that has been continuously represented at the Institute ever since. The volume opens with a historical sketch of the study of the Near and Middle East at the Institute. The second part of the volume consists of essays and short studies by IAS scholars, past and present, covering fields such as the ancient Near East and early Islamic history, the Bible and the Qurʾān, Islamic intellectual history within and beyond denominational history, Arabic and other Semitic languages and literatures, Islamic religious and legal practices, law and society, the Islamic West, the Ottoman world, Iranian studies, the modern Middle East, and Islam in the West.
The second volume of the Handbook of Iranian Studies follows the concept of the first volume and develops it further. It follows the division of the first volume (for the first Volume see here) into eight discipline-defined sections and completes the research overview of the first volume in a comprehensive way with about 50 articles. Thus, in the second part, the few gaps of the first volume are closed in eight sections, and the “Iranian Philosophy and Sciences” are added in a ninth section. The view is also directed increasingly at the geographical periphery of the Iranian world. Several articles deal with the history, culture and present of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kurdistan and other regions. The second volume of the handbook of Iranian Studies, in addition to the first volume, also provides research reports. In the second volume, specialized research reports on certain areas are added in the second volume, such as “Persian Literature”: Contributions to Iranian exile and travel literature, current innovative topics such as gender, bio-ethics, the Internet and new media.
You can see the table of the contents of this volume here.
About the Editor:
Ludwig Paul is professor of Iranian Studies at the Asien-Afrika-Institut, Universität Hamburg. He is a scholar of Iranian Linguistic, dialektology as well as Iranian modern history.
A short editorial note: This book offers a very useful overview, as the title suggests, of philosophy in the Islamic world rather than Islamic philosophy as such. To that end, Part II of the book is dedicated to philosophy in Andalusia, including Jewish philosophy. One chapter deals with the so-called translation movement while others discuss Islamic philosophy developed by “Iranian” philosophers in different eras. I can highly recommend this book as an introductory volume to philosophy in the Islamic world.
The latest in the series based on the popular History of Philosophy podcast, this volume presents the first full history of philosophy in the Islamic world for a broad readership. It takes an approach unprecedented among introductions to this subject, by providing full coverage of Jewish and Christian thinkers as well as Muslims, and by taking the story of philosophy from its beginnings in the world of early Islam all the way through to the twentieth century.
Priscian of Lydia was one of the Athenian philosophers who took refuge in 531 AD with King Khosroes I of Persia, after the Christian Emperor Justinian stopped the teaching of the pagan Neoplatonist school in Athens. This was one of the earliest examples of the sixth-century diffusion of the philosophy of the commentators to other cultures.
Tantalisingly, Priscian fully recorded in Greek the answers provided by the Athenian philosophers to the king’s questions on philosophy and science. But these answers survive only in a later Latin translation which understood both the Greek and the subject matter very poorly. Our translators have often had to reconstruct from the Latin what the Greek would have been, in order to recover the original sense.
The answers start with subjects close to the Athenians’ hearts: the human soul, on which Priscian was an expert, and sleep and visions. But their interest may have diminished when the king sought their expertise on matters of physical science: the seasons, celestial zones, medical effects of heat and cold, the tides, displacement of the four elements, the effect of regions on living things, why only reptiles are poisonous, and winds. At any rate, in 532 AD, they moved on from the palace, but still under Khosroes’ protection. This is the first translation of the record they left into English or any modern language.
This English translation is accompanied by an introduction and comprehensive commentary notes, which clarify and discuss the meaning and implications of the original philosophy. Part of the Ancient Commentators on Aristotle series, the edition makes this philosophical work accessible to a modern readership and includes additional scholarly apparatus such as a bibliography, glossary of translated terms and a subject index.