30 years after Richard M. Frank: Al-Ghazali and Avicenna in Post-Classical Islam

April 7, 2023 - April 8, 2023
Department of Religious Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Yale University

New Haven
United States

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Sponsor(s):

  • Council on Middle East Studies (CMES)

Speakers:

University of Missouri, St. Louis

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In 1992 and 1994, Richard M. Frank published two books that would change the study of Islamic intellectual history. In Creation and the Cosmic System: al-Ghazālī & Avicenna, Frank portrays Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī as a thinker who was deeply influenced by the philosophy of Avicenna. He thus deconstructed the myth of the Ashʿarite theologian’s ferocious and uncategorical animosity to philosophy. Two years later, Frank followed up with his monograph Al-Ghazālī and the Ashʿarite School where he analyzes several of al-Ghazālī’s late works and sheds new light on his complicated relationship with his fellow Ashʿarite theologians. The two books’ novel approach and ground-breaking theories initiated a conversation among scholars of falsafa and kalām in the West that resulted in a paradigm shift away from the narrative of decline espoused and popularized by 19th and 20th centuries orientalists. In addition to their special place within Richard M. Frank’s oeuvre, these two books denote one of the earliest instances of a neoteric disciplinary habitus that continues to undergird much of today’s vanguard research in the fields of Ghazalian studies and post-classical falsafa and kalām.

2023 marks three decades since the publications of Creation and the Cosmic System as well as Al-Ghazālī and the Ashʿarite School. In celebration of these books and of Richard M. Frank's contributions to the field of Islamic Studies Yale University’s Departments of Religious Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, together with the Council on Middle East Studies (CMES), is pleased to host a conference April 7-8, 2023, on the reception of Avicenna and, more emphatically, of al-Ghazālī in Post-classical Islam. This call for papers solicits contributions on the impact of al-Ghazālī and Avicenna on post-classical Arabic and Islamicate intellectual history, especially within the domains of falsafa and kalām and their intersection with Sufism, the natural and occult sciences, and the philosophy of law (uṣūl al-fiqh).

The conference will host a special panel featuring leading scholars in the field to discuss the contribution of Richard M. Frank to the study of Islam in Western scholarship.

Abstracts of no more than 350 words should be submitted to either Michael Lessman ([email protected]) or Aseel Alfataftah ([email protected]) by April 15, 2022. Invitations for selected participants will be sent out by July 15, 2022.

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