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al-Farabi, Muhammad  

Abdul Karim Bangura

Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn al-Farakh al-Farabi, or Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Tarkhan ibn Uzalagh al-Farabi, was born in 870 c.e in Kazakhstan or Persia or Afghanistan Also known in the West as Alpharabius he is considered by many to be the greatest philosopher scientist and musicologist of his era and perhaps one of the greatest Muslim philosophers in all of history As a political philosopher al Farabi sought out answers to many of the most difficult questions facing the Islamic world during his lifetime He questioned the relations between humankind and God the role of the intermediary the influence of the divine law in private life and the limitations of the human mind He went beyond the divine law and searched for humankind s place in the universe and our relationship with nature society and the divine law He inquired about the different types of political institutions ...



Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Rushd, more commonly known as Averroës, was born in Córdoba, Spain. His father, a judge in Córdoba, instructed him in Muslim jurisprudence. In his native city he also studied theology, philosophy, and mathematics under the Arab philosopher Ibn Tufayl and medicine under the Arab physician Avenzoar. Averroës was appointed judge in Seville in 1169 and in Córdoba in 1171; in 1182 he became chief physician to Abu Yaqub Yusuf, the Almohad caliph of Morocco and Muslim Spain. Averroës's view that reason takes precedence over religion led to his being exiled in 1195 by Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur; he was restored to favor shortly before his death.

Averroës held that metaphysical truths can be expressed in two ways: through philosophy, as represented by the views of Aristotle and through religion which is truth presented in a ...



Stanley M. Burstein

Stoic philosopher and the last important ancient historian of Egypt, was the son of Leonidas. Unfortunately, the evidence for his biography is confined to a handful of literary and papyrological texts. The most important of these texts is a letter of the Roman emperor Claudius dated to November 41 CE, in which Chaeremon is listed among the ambassadors to the emperor, who had defended the role of the Greeks in the anti-Jewish riots that had taken place in Alexandria three years earlier. His selection for such a responsible role indicates that Chaeremon was already an important figure in the Alexandrian Greek community at this time, suggesting that he was probably born no later than c. 10 CE. Although his prominence might suggest that Chaeremon belonged to one of the city’s aristocratic Greek families, the fact that he was also a hierogrammateus that is a sacred scribe one of the ...


Clement of Alexandria  

Annewies van den Hoek

Christian philosopher lived and taught in Alexandria toward the end of the second century In spite of his topographic nickname Clement did not originate in Alexandria but was born elsewhere possibly in Athens and was of non Christian origin He left a considerable body of writing not all of which survives His official name Titus Flavius Clemens may indicate that his family descended from a freedman of the household of T Flavius Clemens who was consul in 95 CE Before coming to Alexandria Clement traveled around looking for mentors but the only teacher whom he mentions by name is Pantaenus According to Eusebius Pantaenus headed a school of sacred learning in Alexandria and Clement was his successor Other information indicates that Clement left Alexandria in 202 203 perhaps to avoid persecution He may have gone to Palestine as some have argued or to Cappadocia as tradition has it Clement displays ...



Georgia L. Irby-Massie

Academic Skeptic philosopher from Carthage, son of Diognetus, was born in Carthage (near present-day Tunis) in 187/186 BCE. Carthage was a colony founded by Phoenicians from Tyre, the culture was Punic, and Clitomachus was originally called by the Punic name Hasdrubal (he may have adopted or received the Greek name upon arriving in Athens). Well educated in Academic, Peripatetic, and Stoic tenets, he taught philosophy in Carthage in the Punic language.

Clitomachus traveled to Athens to study philosophy either at age forty 147 146 BCE or twenty four 163 162 BCE For nineteen years he studied under Carneades of Cyrene the Skeptic 214 130 129 BCE who fostered Clitomachus s renowned diligence and industry Carneades s most famous pupil he remained his mentor s companion into old age In 140 139 BCE he founded a school in the Palladium which he maintained for a decade Returning to the Academy he ...



Troy Leiland Sagrillo

Egyptian grammarian and philosopher from Phenebythis in the Panopolite nome of Upper Egypt, was teaching in Alexandria by c. 485, during the reign of the Eastern Roman emperor Zeno (reigned 474–475 and again 476–491). He was active during the episcopacy of Patriarch Peter III “the Stammerer” of Alexandria (in office 480–488) and still active under Athanasius II (in office 488–494). His father was Asclepiades, a pagan grammarian who taught in the mouseion of Alexandria and himself the probable author of several works concerning pharaonic history and religion; his mother is unknown. Horapollon’s grandfather may have been the earlier grammarian also named Horapollon, who lived during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II and taught in Alexandria and Constantinople.

According to the Syriac Life of Severus written by Zachariah of Mytilene Zacharias Scholasticus c 465 to after 536 Horapollon and several of the leading Neoplatonist philosophers of Alexandria were publicly mocked ...



Michael A. B. Deakin

Alexandrian astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher, was the first woman mathematician of whose life and work we have reasonably detailed and secure knowledge. She was active as a public figure, taking a leading part in the civic affairs of Alexandria and also delivering popular lectures on philosophy: a Neoplatonist philosophy heavily influenced by mathematics. She also taught students the intricacies of technical mathematics and astronomy. Her public profile alone was probably distinguished enough to earn her a place in history, but this has been cemented by the lurid nature of her death. She died in 415, murdered by a crowd of Christian zealots who seized her, stripped her, and proceeded to dismember her and to burn her mangled corpse. Undoubtedly this further circumstance has served to keep her name alive.

Hypatia was the daughter of the mathematician Theon and taught both mathematics and philosophy in the then Greek city of Alexandria ...


Ibn Rushd  

Allen J. Fromherz

philosopher, scientist, and theologian, was born Abu al Walid Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Rushd. Known in the Medieval Latin West as Averroes, he was one of the most influential commentators on Aristotle and on Plato’s Republic. A philosopher, scientist, and theologian of remarkable ability, Ibn Rushd famously stated that there was no inherent inconsistency between Greek rational thought and Islam. Born in 1120 in Cordoba Ibn Rushd wrote and studied in North Africa as well as in Muslim Spain al Andalus Although his life has often been portrayed as a struggle between rational thought and the tyranny of the African Almohad rulers who reigned in al Andalus Ibn Rushd s thinking was influenced as much by his time in Africa as his time in Spain Popular depictions of Ibn Rushd as an oppressed liberal thinker and as a European stifled by the close mindedness of the ...


Ibn Tufayl  

Stephen Cory

North African philosopher and physician who worked in the court of the North African Almohad dynasty, which ruled North Africa and Islamic Spain from the mid-twelfth century through the early thirteenth century. Ibn Tufayl was probably born in the city of Guadix in southern Spain during the second decade of the twelfth century. His full name was Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Tufayl al-Qaysi. The exact date of his birth is unknown, and very little is known about his family background or childhood. A supporter and friend of the philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Ibn Tufayl is best known as the author of Hayy ibn Yaqzan a philosophical tale about a man raised on a desert island The story was later translated into Latin Dutch and English among other languages It is thought to have influenced such philosophers and writers as Daniel Defoe John ...


Isaac Israeli ben Solomon  

Joab Eichenberg-Eilon

Jewish neo-Platonic philosopher active in Egypt, was born in Qayrawan (present-day Tunisia). Other forms of his name are Yitzhaq ben Shelomo ha Yisraeli, Ishaq al-Israʿili, Abu Yaʿqub Ishaq ibn Sulaiman al-Israʿili, Isaac Judaeus, and Isaac Israeli the elder. He was a predecessor of Solomon Ben Judah Ibn Gabirol, Moses ben Jacob ibn Ezra, and the early kabbalists of the Geronese school. The originator of the emanation theory (Atziluth) in Jewish thought, he is also known for his theory of prophecy in relation to philosophy.

He was the physician of the founder of the Fatimid dynasty, Caliph ʿAbd Allah al-Mahdi Billah; and many of his medical books, written originally in Arabic, were translated into Latin, Spanish, and Hebrew and used in medical education. They include Kitab al Hummayat, on fevers; Kitab al adwiya al mufrada wa al aghdhiya (Latin Diaetae universales et particulares; Hebrew Tivʾei haMezonoth ...


Maimonides, Moses  

Allen J. Fromherz

philosopher, physician, and rabbinical scholar, was born around 1135 in that ornament of the world the city of Córdoba in Muslim controlled al Andalus In fact Maimonides would spend his whole life in lands under Muslim control mainly in Morocco and Egypt Also known as Rambam and Ibn Maymun he and his thought were fundamentally influenced by the Islamic and mainly Arabic speaking civilization in which he lived At the same time he had a profound knowledge of Jewish literature and scriptural commentary as well as Greek thought In this way Maimonides integrated the major historical and cultural traditions of the Mediterranean the Middle East and Africa Faced with powerful attacks on Judaism from Christian and Muslim scholars such as Petrus Alfonsi and Ibn Hazm attacks based on a use of Greek reason and logic Maimonides was able to respond with his own application of reason to Jewish theology ...



Andrew Smith

Hellenistic philosopher, founder of Neo-Platonism, was born probably in Lycopolis in Egypt. He took up the study of philosophy relatively late in life at the age of twenty-seven and attended the philosophical schools of Alexandria, where he was particularly impressed by Ammonius Saccas, about whom little is known. After the failure of the military expedition of the Emperor Gordian to Persia, which he had joined in order to make contact with the Brahmans, he moved to Rome where he founded his own school in a private house. His philosophical treatises, the Enneads, were composed late in life and represent his mature thought.

As a follower of Plato he considered his task to be the careful exposition of Plato s real meaning To this end he creatively adopted many Aristotelian ideas as well as Stoic concepts His interpretation of Plato led him to identify Plato s Good with a principle ...



Prudence Jones

was an ancient Alexandrian astronomer geographer and philosopher Almost nothing is known about the life of Claudius Ptolemy or as he would have called himself Claudius Ptolemaeus From astronomical observations he made in Alexandria we know he was active between 127 and 141 CE As a scientist in Alexandria he was probably connected with the Library of Alexandria His name indicates that he was a Roman citizen and that citizenship was probably conferred upon him or upon one of his ancestors by someone named Claudius perhaps even the emperor Claudius He shares the name Ptolemy with the rulers of the Ptolemaic dynasty which controlled Egypt from 323 to 30 BCE although there is no evidence that he was related to that family The name Ptolemaeus could indicate that he was born in the Egyptian city of Ptolemais but it is not known whether he was born there or at Alexandria ...


Synesius of Cyrene  

Eric Fournier

philosopher and Christian bishop, was a member of the elite society of the late Roman province of Cyrenaica (present-day Libya). He was a highly educated traditionalist devoted to Neoplatonist philosophy, which did not prevent him from becoming bishop of the metropolitan city of Ptolemais at the beginning of the fifth century CE. Synesius is known through his own writings, and especially his corpus of 156 Letters, an important source of knowledge for the daily life of late antique Cyrenaica. This dependency on his own writings to establish his biography, however, renders the chronology of his life vexingly uncertain.

Born around 370 CE from a well to do family Synesius was sent to complete his education in Alexandria c 390 along with his beloved brother Evoptius There the two brothers attended the school of the famous Hypatia who initiated them to the mystical aspects of Hellenic philosophy Scientific observations including ...