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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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Neoplatonist Inroads

Neoplatonist Inroads

(p.102) Chapter 4 Neoplatonist Inroads
Andalus and Sefarad

Sarah Stroumsa

Princeton University Press

This chapter analyzes how the attraction to Neoplatonism unfolded in al-Andalus in the fifth/eleventh and sixth/twelfth centuries. Until the middle of the twelfth century, philosophy in al-Andalus was almost entirely dominated by Neoplatonism. It ranged from mystical philosophy and Sufi-inspired pietism, via compositions dedicated to the occult, to comprehensive, sometimes highly abstract Neoplatonist systems. In itself, this Neoplatonist near-monopoly in al-Andalus is hardly surprising: different shades of Neoplatonism were also prevalent in the Islamic East in this period. Remarkable, however, are the relative parts played by Muslims and Jews in Andalusian philosophy. Within the overarching Andalusian Neoplatonism, one can clearly detect a two-pronged development, the two branches of which progress in the same direction. They do so, however, at a drastically different pace and with different levels of self-confidence. Thus, beginning with Isaac Israeli in the tenth century, Jewish philosophy emerged in an uninterrupted vigorous tradition. In contrast, since Ibn Masarra in the first half of the tenth century, Muslim al-Andalus witnessed a decidedly sporadic growth of Neoplatonism, one that alternately ducked and surfaced. It was the political map of al-Andalus, and the different ways it impacted on Muslims and Jews, that determined this difference.

Keywords:   Neoplatonism, al-Andalus, mystical philosophy, Sufi-inspired pietism, Andalusian philosophy, Andalusian Neoplatonism, Isaac Israeli, Jewish philosophy, Ibn Masarra, Muslim philosophy

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