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Andalus and SefaradOn Philosophy and Its History in Islamic Spain$
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Sarah Stroumsa

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691176437

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691176437.001.0001

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Intellectual Elites

Intellectual Elites

(p.81) Chapter 3 Intellectual Elites
Andalus and Sefarad

Sarah Stroumsa

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on Andalusian philosophers. Philosophers, in al-Andalus as elsewhere in the medieval Islamicate world, were committed to what can be called “the philosopher's life,” namely, the unremitting effort to attain human perfection. At the same time, as intellectuals integrated into their own societies, they could significantly shape their communities' cultural, communal, and even political profiles. Philosophers in al-Andalus truly shared a common philosophical tradition. Jews and Muslims alike read scientific and philosophical works translated from Greek into Arabic, as well as books by earlier Muslim and Christian thinkers. Being a small minority within their respective religious communities, and sharing the same education, interests, concerns, and ideals, philosophers constituted, in some ways, a subculture of their own. While they lived fully within their own religious community and adhered to the boundaries between it and other religious groups, they were acutely aware of the commonality of philosophy. The chapter then evaluates the philosophical curriculum which guided the advancement of students to become philosophers, as well as the friendships formed between philosophers. It illustrates the inherently elitist nature of the philosophers' life qua philosophers.

Keywords:   Andalusian philosophers, al-Andalus, intellectuals, Jewish philosophers, Muslim philosophers, religious communities, philosophical curriculum

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