Editing classics of islamic philosophy, late 19th and early 20th centuries

By Ahmed El Shamsy
Submitted to Session P4780 (Making Falsafa: Towards a Modern History of Arabic Philosophy, 2017 Annual Meeting
19th-21st Centuries;
LCD Projector without Audio;
The Arab scholars who worked to publish philosophical treatises in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are largely unknown, even among experts of Islamic philosophy in Western academe. This is partly due to the challenges of identifying editors who worked at a time in which editorial and philological conventions differed from today’s practices. This paper introduces three important Syrian editors (Tahir al-Jaza’iri, Abd al-Rahman al-Qasimi, and Mustafa al-Qabbani) who played important roles in the publication of works by Avicenna, Averroes, al-Akfani, and al-Ghazali - from identifying and locating relevant manuscripts to producing editions and securing publishers and the necessary funding. An appreciation of their contribution reveals an important element in the history of modern Arabic philology, and it sheds light on the functions that the discovery and popularization of these philosophical texts served for intellectual-activist visions of Arabic modernity.