Iranian philosophy

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Iranian philosophy (Persian: فلسفه ایرانی) or Persian philosophy [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] can be traced back as far as to Old Iranian philosophical traditions and thoughts which originated in ancient Indo-Iranian roots and were considerably influenced by Zarathustra's teachings. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, the chronology of the subject and science of philosophy starts with the Indo-Iranians, dating this event to 1500 BC. The Oxford dictionary also states, "Zarathustra's philosophy entered to influence Western tradition through Judaism, and therefore on Middle Platonism."

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Iranian languages language family

The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Iranian peoples.

Indo-Iranians

Indo-Iranian peoples, also known as Indo-Iranic peoples by scholars, and sometimes as Arya or Aryans from their self-designation, were an ethno-linguistic group who brought the Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, to major parts of Eurasia.

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Throughout Iranian history and due to remarkable political and social changes such as the Arab and Mongol invasions of Persia, a wide spectrum of schools of thoughts showed a variety of views on philosophical questions extending from Old Iranian and mainly Zoroastrianism-related traditions, to schools appearing in the late pre-Islamic era such as Manicheism and Mazdakism as well as various post-Islamic schools. Iranian philosophy after the Arab invasion of Persia, is characterized by different interactions with the Old Iranian philosophy, the Greek philosophy and with the development of Islamic philosophy. The Illumination School and the Transcendent Philosophy are regarded as two of the main philosophical traditions of that era in Persia.

History of Iran aspect of history

The history of Iran, which was commonly known until the mid-20th century as Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also to an extent known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia, the Bosphorus, and Egypt in the west to the borders of Ancient India and the Syr Darya in the east, and from the Caucasus and the Eurasian Steppe in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the south.

The Mongol invasion of Central Asia occurred after the unification of the Mongol and Turkic tribes on the Mongolian plateau in 1206. It was finally complete when Genghis Khan conquered the Khwarizmian Empire in 1221.

Zoroastrianism Ancient Iranian religion founded by Zoroaster

Zoroastrianism, or Mazdayasna, is one of the world's oldest religions that remains active. It is a monotheistic faith, centered in a dualistic cosmology of good and evil and an eschatology predicting the ultimate destruction of evil. Ascribed to the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster, it exalts a deity of wisdom, Ahura Mazda, as its Supreme Being. Major features of Zoroastrianism, such as messianism, judgment after death, heaven and hell, and free will may have influenced other religious systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.

Ancient Iranian Philosophy

See also Ancient Iranian Philosophy

Zoroastrianism

The teachings of Zarathustra (Zoroaster) appeared in Persia at some point during the period 1700-1800 BCE. [6] [7] His wisdom became the basis of the religion Zoroastrianism, and generally influenced the development of the Iranian branch of Indo-Iranian philosophy. Zarathustra was the first who treated the problem of evil in philosophical terms. [7] He is also believed to be one of the oldest monotheists in the history of religion[ citation needed ]. He espoused an ethical philosophy based on the primacy of good thoughts (andiše-e-nik), good words (goftâr-e-nik), and good deeds (kerdâr-e-nik).

Zoroaster Persian prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism

Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, Zarathushtra Spitama, or Ashu Zarathushtra, was an ancient Iranian prophet, spiritual leader and ethical philosopher who taught a spiritual philosophy of self-realization and realization of the Divine. His teachings challenged the existing traditions of the Indo-Iranian religion and later developed into the religion of Mazdayasna or Zoroastrianism. He inaugurated a movement that eventually became the dominant religion in Ancient Iran. He was a native speaker of Old Avestan and lived in the eastern part of the Iranian Plateau, but his exact birthplace is uncertain.

Iranian peoples diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group

The Iranian peoples, or the Iranic peoples, are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that comprise the speakers of the Iranian languages.

Monotheism is defined as the belief in the existence of only one god that created the world, is all-powerful and intervenes in the world. A broader definition of monotheism is the belief in one god. A distinction may be made between exclusive monotheism, and both inclusive monotheism and pluriform (panentheistic) monotheism which, while recognising various distinct gods, postulate some underlying unity.

The works of Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism had a significant influence on Greek philosophy and Roman philosophy. Several ancient Greek writers such as Eudoxus of Cnidus and Latin writers such as Pliny the Elder praised Zoroastrian philosophy as "the most famous and most useful"[ citation needed ]. Plato learnt of Zoroastrian philosophy through Eudoxus and incorporated much of it into his own Platonic realism. [8] In the 3rd century BC, however, Colotes accused Plato's The Republic of plagiarizing parts of Zoroaster's On Nature, such as the Myth of Er. [9] [10]

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.

Eudoxus of Cnidus was an ancient Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar, and student of Archytas and Plato. All of his works are lost, though some fragments are preserved in Hipparchus' commentary on Aratus's poem on astronomy. Sphaerics by Theodosius of Bithynia may be based on a work by Eudoxus.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Zarathustra was known as a sage, magician and miracle-worker in post-Classical Western culture, though almost nothing was known of his ideas until the late eighteenth century. By this time his name was associated with lost ancient wisdom and was appropriated by Freemasons and other groups who claimed access to such knowledge. He appears in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute ("Die Zauberflöte") under the variant name "Sarastro", who represents moral order in opposition to the "Queen of the Night". Enlightenment writers such as Voltaire promoted research into Zoroastrianism in the belief that it was a form of rational Deism, preferable to Christianity [ citation needed ].

<i>The Magic Flute</i> opera by Mozart

The Magic Flute, K. 620, is an opera in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue. The work was premiered on 30 September 1791 at Schikaneder's theatre, the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna, just two months before the composer's premature death.

Age of Enlightenment European cultural movement of the 18th century

The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy".

Voltaire French writer, historian, and philosopher

François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plumeVoltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and separation of church and state.

In 2005, the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy ranked Zarathustra as first in the chronology of philosophers. [11] [12] Zarathustra's impact lingers today due in part to the system of rational ethics he founded called Mazda-Yasna. The word Mazda-Yasna is Avestan and is translated as "Worship of Wisdom" in English. The encyclopedia Natural History (Pliny) claims that Zoroastrians later educated the Greeks who, starting with Pythagoras, used a similar term, philosophy, or “love of wisdom” to describe the search for ultimate truth. [13]

Avestan East Iranian language used in Zoroastrian scripture

Avestan, also known historically as Zend, refers to two languages: Old Avestan and Younger Avestan. The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, from which they derive their name. Both are early Iranian languages, a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages within the Indo-European family. Its immediate ancestor was the Proto-Iranian language, a sister language to the Proto-Indo-Aryan language, with both having developed from the earlier Proto-Indo-Iranian. As such, Old Avestan is quite close in grammar and lexicon with Vedic Sanskrit, the oldest preserved Indo-Aryan language.

<i>Natural History</i> (Pliny) encyclopedia published circa AD 77–79 by Pliny the Elder

The Natural History is a book about the whole of the natural world in Latin by Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and naval commander who died in 79 AD.

Pythagoras ancient Greek philosopher and mystic

Pythagoras of Samos was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism. His political and religious teachings were well known in Magna Graecia and influenced the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and, through them, Western philosophy. Knowledge of his life is clouded by legend, but he appears to have been the son of Mnesarchus, a seal engraver on the island of Samos. Modern scholars disagree regarding Pythagoras's education and influences, but they do agree that, around 530 BC, he travelled to Croton, where he founded a school in which initiates were sworn to secrecy and lived a communal, ascetic lifestyle. This lifestyle entailed a number of dietary prohibitions, traditionally said to have included vegetarianism, although modern scholars doubt that he ever advocated for complete vegetarianism.

Greco-Persian Era

Little is known of the situation of philosophy during the time of the ancient Greek philosophers. We know that the Persian culture had influence on the creation of Stoic school of thought, but nothing has been left in Persian writings.

Manichaeism

Manichaeism, founded by Mani, was influential from North Africa in the West, to China in the East. Its influence subtly continues in Western Christian thought via Saint Augustine of Hippo, who converted to Christianity from Manichaeism, which he passionately denounced in his writings, and whose writings continue to be influential among Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox theologians. An important principle of Manichaeism was its dualistic cosmology/theology, which it shared with Mazdakism, a philosophy founded by Mazdak. Under this dualism, there were two original principles of the universe: Light, the good one; and Darkness, the evil one. These two had been mixed by a cosmic accident, and man's role in this life was through good conduct to release the parts of himself that belonged to Light. Mani saw the mixture of good and bad as a cosmic tragedy, while Mazdak viewed this in a more neutral, even optimistic way.

Mazdakism

Execution of Mazdak The Iranian prophet Mazdak being executed.png
Execution of Mazdak

Mazdak (d. 524/528 CE) was a proto-socialist Persian reformer who gained influence under the reign of the Sassanian king Kavadh I. He claimed to be a prophet of God, and instituted communal possessions and social welfare programs.

In many ways Mazdak's teaching can be understood as a call for social revolution, and has been referred to as early "communism" [14] or proto-socialism. [15]

Zurvanism

Zurvanism is characterized by the element of its First Principle which is Time, "Zurvan", as a primordial creator. According to Zaehner, Zurvanism appears to have three schools of thought all of which have classical Zurvanism as their foundation:

Aesthetic Zurvanism

Aesthetic Zurvanism which was apparently not as popular as the materialistic kind, viewed Zurvan as undifferentiated Time, which, under the influence of desire, divided into reason (a male principle) and concupiscence (a female principle).

Materialist Zurvanism

While Zoroaster's Ormuzd created the universe with his thought, materialist Zurvanism challenged the concept that anything could be made out of nothing.

Fatalistic Zurvanism

Fatalistic Zurvanism resulted from the doctrine of limited time with the implication that nothing could change this preordained course of the material universe and that the path of the astral bodies of the 'heavenly sphere' was representative of this preordained course. According to the Middle Persian work Menog-i Khrad: "Ohrmazd allotted happiness to man, but if man did not receive it, it was owing to the extortion of these planets."

Classical Islamic period

The intellectual tradition in Persia continued after Islam and was of great influence on the further development of Iranian Philosophy. The main schools for such studies were, and to some extents still are, Shiraz, Khurasan, Maragheh, Isfahan, Tehran. [16]

Avicennism

Manuscript of Avicenna's Canon of Medicine . IbnSinaCanon1.jpg
Manuscript of Avicenna's Canon of Medicine .

In the Islamic Golden Age, due to Avicenna's (Ibn Sina's; born near Bukhara) successful reconciliation between Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism along with Kalam, Avicennism eventually became the leading school of Islamic philosophy by the 12th century. Avicenna had become a central authority on philosophy by then, and several scholars in the 12th century commented on his strong influence at the time: [17]

"People nowadays [believe] that truth is whatever [Ibn Sina] says, that it is inconceivable for him to err, and that whoever contradicts him in anything he says cannot be rational."

Avicennism was also influential in medieval Europe, particularly his doctrines on the nature of the soul and his existence-essence distinction, along with the debates and censure that they raised in scholastic Europe. This was particularly the case in Paris, where Avicennism was later proscribed in 1210. Nevertheless, his psychology and theory of knowledge influenced William of Auvergne and Albertus Magnus, and his metaphysics influenced the thought of Thomas Aquinas. [18]

Illuminationism

Illuminationist philosophy was a school of Islamic philosophy founded by Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi in the 12th century. This school is a combination of Avicenna's philosophy and ancient Iranian philosophy, along with many new innovative ideas of Suhrawardi. It is often described as having been influenced by Neoplatonism.

Transcendent theosophy

Transcendent Theosophy is the school of Islamic philosophy founded by Mulla Sadra in the 17th century. Mulla Sadra bought "a new philosophical insight in dealing with the nature of reality" and created "a major transition from essentialism to existentialism" in Islamic philosophy, several centuries before this occurred in Western philosophy. [19]

Contemporary Iranian philosophy

Philosophy was and still is a popular subject of study in Iran. Previous to Western style universities, philosophy was a major field of study in religious seminaries. Comparing the number of philosophy books currently published in Iran with that in other countries, Iran possibly ranks first in this field but it is definitely on top in terms of publishing philosophy books.

On the diversity and expansion of philosophy in Iran, Khosrow Bagheri has stated "One part of philosophical endeavor in Iran today, and perhaps the main one, is concerned with the local philosophy which is dominated by the school of Mulla Sadra. He has provided a philosophy in line with the old metaphysical inclination but in the feature of a combination of mysticism, philosophy, and the Islamic religious views. On the other hand, a relatively strong translation movement has been shaped in which the Iranian readers are provided by some of the important sources of contemporary philosophy in Persian including both the analytic and continental traditions. In the former, Wittgenstein, Searle, and Kripke, and in the latter, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Foucault can be mentioned. There have also been concentrations on a local polar contrast between Popper and Heidegger, and, due to the religious atmosphere, on philosophy of religion." [20]

Among journals being published in Iran on philosophy there are FALSAFEH-The Iranian Journal of Philosophy [ permanent dead link ] published by the department of philosophy of the University of Tehran since 1972 and Hikmat va Falsafeh published by Allamah Tabataba'i University in Tehran, Ma'rifat-e Falsafeh published by the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute in Qom, and many others. Also worthy of mention is the journal, Naqd o Nazar published by Daftar Tablighat in Qom, which often includes articles on philosophical topics and other issues of interest to religious thinkers and intellectuals.

It is important to note that Sufism has had a great amount of influence on Iranian/Persian philosophy.

List of schools and philosophers

Ancient Iranian philosophy

See also: Ancient Iranian philosophy in article Ancient philosophy

Islamic period

In the history of Islamic philosophy, there were a few Persian philosophers who had their own schools of philosophy: Avicenna, al-Farabi, Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi and Mulla Sadra. Some philosophers did not offer a new philosophy, rather they had some innovations: Mirdamad, Khajeh Nasir and Qutb al-Din Shirazi belong to this group. Some philosophers had new narration of existing philosophies: Agha Ali Modarres is an example of such philosophers.

Iranian Bahá'í philosophy

`Abdu'l-Bahá, son and successor of the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, has explained the Bahá'í philosophy in the work Some Answered Questions . This text has been analyzed by Bahá'í scholars Ian Kluge [21] and Ali Murad Davudi. [22]

See also

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References

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  3. Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Mehdi Amin Razavi, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, Volume 2: "Ismaili Thought in the Classical Age", I.B. Tauris/Ismaili Studies, October 2008 ISBN   978-1-84511-542-5
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  7. 1 2 Whitley, C.F. (Sep 1957). "The Date and Teaching of Zarathustra". Numen. 4 (3): 219–223. doi:10.2307/3269345.
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  11. Blackburn, S. (2005). p 409, The Oxford dictionary of philosophy. Oxford University Press.
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  15. Manfred, Albert Zakharovich, ed. (1974). A Short History of the World. 1. (translated into English by Katherine Judelson). Moscow: Progress Publishers. p. 182. OCLC   1159025.
  16. Seyyed Hossein Nasr,"Islamic Philosophy from Its Origin to the Present: Philosophy in the Land of Prophecy", SUNY Press, 2006, ISBN   0-7914-6799-6, Chapters 10-13.
  17. Nahyan A. G. Fancy (2006), p. 80-81, "Pulmonary Transit and Bodily Resurrection: The Interaction of Medicine, Philosophy and Religion in the Works of Ibn al-Nafīs (d. 1288)", Electronic Theses and Dissertations, University of Notre Dame.
  18. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Avicenna/Ibn Sina (CA. 980-1037)
  19. Kamal, Muhammad (2006). Mulla Sadra's Transcendent Philosophy. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 9 & 39. ISBN   0-7546-5271-8.
  20. http://eepat.net/doku.php?id=interviews:islam_philosophy_and_education%5Bpermanent+dead+link%5D
  21. Kluge, Ian (2009). Some Answered Questions: A Philosophical Perspective , in Lights of Irfan, Volume 10.
  22. Davudi, Ali Murad (2013). Human Station in the Bahá'í Faith: Selected Sections: Philosophy and Knowledge of the Divine. Juxta Publishing Co., Hong Kong.