An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia - Vol. 1

An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia - Vol. 1

An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia - Vol. 1

An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia - Vol. 1


This is the first volume in a projected five-volume work covering the full expanse of Persian thought from the Zoroastrianism of the pre-Christian era up to the present day. Introducing this extensive body of work for the first time in English translation, these volumes will be of great interest to scholars of philosophy, religion, and Middle Eastern studies. Volume I includes the work of the earliest Zoroastrian writers and that of thinkers from the early Islamic period. The translators include many outstanding scholars from America, Europe, and the Islamic world.


In the 1970s, the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy was established under the directorship of Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, with the goal of better introducing the rich philosophical traditions of Persia to the scholars and students of other cultures, in particular Europe and North America. At the time, UNESCO proposed that an anthology of Persian philosophers be edited by Professor Nasr. The anthology that UNESCO had proposed, however, was of a much more limited scale than the present work upon which the editors have embarked.

Owing to the political upheavals of the late 1970s in Iran, the plan to produce the anthology was postponed until 1992, when we began work based on Professor Nasr's original plan but on a much more extensive and elaborate scale, as developed by him with my help.

The first and foremost issue of importance was to decide upon the use of the word philosophy and the sense in which this term was to be applied in our selection process. Islamic civilization, like many other great civilizations, has produced an array of intellectual thought under the rubric of philosophy. In selecting the materials to be included in our anthology, we have used philosophy not only in its limited rationalistic sense but also in a wider sense to include certain aspects of theological debate, philosophical Sufism, philosophical narratives, and even philosophical hermeneutics (ta'wīl). We did, however, exclude pure Sufi texts and other materials that cannot be classified as philosophy in terms of both their content and their format.

In addition to our concern for the nature of the materials selected, we had to decide whether we should include the writings of certain figures whose Persian identity was dubious. In this regard, we excluded a number of such figures, but included those who were clearly under the influence of Persian theological and philosophical thought, such as 'Allīf, Nām and F̄rīb. Needless to say, the borders of Persia in the last two thousand years have changed frequently and a classical Persian thinker such as Bīrūnī may not, strictly speaking, be considered . . .

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