From Persian Mythos to Islamic Logos: A New Narrative

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

This talk is co-hosted by UCF Department of Philosophy's Al-Ghazali Program in Islamic Studies and the Department of English

The talk is based on an ongoing project in which Dr. Sayeh Meisami challenges the Eurocentric separation of mythology from philosophy in relation to Zoroastrian and Avicennian metaphysical discourses. There is no question that the formative discourses of philosophy generated in Persia by Fārābī (d. 950) and Avicenna (d.1037) were heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, notably Aristotle's metaphysics, and partly by the Islamic creation narrative in the Quran; Yet, Dr. Meisami argues that the most pivotal conceptualization of reality, i.e. the binary interpretation of reality in terms of existence and essence in the metaphysics of Avicenna, was also shaped by the Zoroastrian polarized interpretation of the real in terms of light and darkness. He also argue that the polarity of light and darkness in Zoroastrian metaphysics was not only a discursive influence on the metaphysics of the formative period of Islamic philosophy, but also a catalyzing factor behind centuries of later philosophical debates over which of the two polar concepts of existence or essence applies to realities as such, and the oscillation between the two. The later development of the debate is best exemplified by the dialectical encounter between the metaphysical positions of Shihāb al-Dīn Suhrawardī (d. 1191) and Mullā Ṣadrā Shīrāzī (d. 1635-6).

Speaker Bio

Dr. Sayeh Meisami is Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of Dayton in Ohio. She studied at Universities of Tehran and Toronto for her postgraduate degrees. Before starting her position in Dayton, she taught Islamic philosophy in Iran and Canada. She has published several books and articles in the fields of philosophy and religion. She is the author of Mulla Sadra (2013), Knowledge and Power in the Philosophies of Ḥamīd al-Dīn Kirmānī and Mullā Ṣadrā Shīrāzī (2018), and Nasir al-Din Tusi: A Philosopher for All Seasons (2019). In line with her interdisciplinary interests, her most recent article demonstrates the significance of poetic techniques of thinking and writing in later Islamic philosophy, and her ongoing research is on the continuity of mythological and philosophical discourses in the Persianate context. 


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