Book: Exploring Islamic Philosophy
Chapter: Essence and Existence
Islamic philosophy is one of the longest standing and richest of non-Western philosophical traditions. To date, we have a number of fine introductions to Islamic philosophy and its historical dimensions, yet we lack a well-rounded, straightforward account of its major issues, themes, and ideas. This introductory text explains what is unique about Islamic philosophy by focusing on five main dimensions of Islamic philosophical theory and praxis as developed over the past thousand years. The book begins with some basic definitions of the subject matter and then moves into a careful but light presentation of Islamic philosophy’s explication of the nature of existence and the cosmos, proofs for the existence of God, and the nature of knowledge and perception. Then follows an exposition of the mind-body problem in Islamic philosophical contexts, which paves the way for a discussion of the cultivation of virtue and the pursuit of beauty as envisioned by Islamic philosophers, and finally Islamic philosophical concepts of death, dying, and the afterlife. The conclusion suggests some ways in which Islamic philosophical ideas can and do inform contemporary debates in religion, philosophy, science, and even popular culture.