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Workshop in Pisa, November 12-14, 2012

The transmission of Greek philosophy into Arabic: an European research project. Report from the 2nd Workshop of the ERC project Greek into Arabic

Even before the rise of Islam, a multi-secular tradition of learning had already accomplished in Syria the transition “from antagonism to assimilation” of the Greek philosophical culture, especially but not exclusively Aristotelian. Later on, many Greek scientific and philosophical works were translated into Arabic. This activity resulted in the incorporation and reorganization of the classical heritage in the new Islamic civilization that spread with Arabic language. Already in Damascus, under the Umayyads, some philosophical writings had been translated into Arabic; however, the main centre of the translations was the ‘Abbasid Baghdad. The Christian physician and scientist Hunayn ibn Ishaq (d. 873), his son Ishaq ibn Hunayn (d. 911) are the most prominent translators. However, a decisive step in the formation of the philosophical thought of the Muslim world had been made before them: the translation of Aristotle's Metaphysics together with the Neoplatonist metaphysics of Plotinus and Proclus. Thus, the Aristotelian science as a systematic whole ruled by demonstration crowned by the Neoplatonic metaphysics paved the way for philosophers like al-Farabi, Avicenna, and then Averroes, in the Muslim West.

This is the field of research that must be explored, in order to get a complete picture of the process of the transmission of learning and culture from past to present times.

The European Research Council Ideas project Greek into Arabic coordinated by Cristina D'Ancona (Università di Pisa), Gerhard Endress (Ruhr-Universität, Bochum) and Andrea Bozzi (Istituto di Linguistica Computazionale, CNR Pisa). This research project brings together complementary skills, knowledge, and resources in order to jointly address the search for manuscripts in extra-European libraries, the of a comprehensive thesaurus of the Graeco Arabic translations, and computational resource that will serve as a tool for the study of philosophical and scientific works translated from one ancient language into another.

Especially through the development of this open source system, Greek into Arabic contributes to make the community of researchers more prepared to respond to the needs of a knowledge-based society. Learned users and young researchers will be provided with a tool for frontier research necessary to meet global challenges.

The 2nd workshop of Greek into Arabic has been held in Pisa, November 12-14. 

Full program

Now available in print: Studia graeco-arabica  >
< Averroes' Tahâfut al-Tahâfut Online by Marc Geoffroy