Palimpsests of Themselves is an intervention in current discussions about the fate of philosophy in postclassical Islamic intellectual history. Asad Q. Ahmed uses as a case study the most advanced logic textbook of Muslim South Asia, The Ladder of the Sciences, presenting in English its first full translation and extended commentary. He offers detailed assessments of the technical contributions of the work, explores the social and institutional settings of the vast commentarial response it elicited, and develops a theory of the philosophical commentary that is internal to the tradition. These approaches to the commentarial text complicate presuppositions upon which questions of Islam’s intellectual decline are erected. As such, Ahmed offers a unique and powerful opportunity to understand the transmission of knowledge across the Islamic world.
“This is a transformative work of historical scholarship. With empathy and rigor, Asad Ahmed succeeds brilliantly in recreating the intricate logical theories and exegetical practices of South-Asian Muslim logicians and commentators, who up to now have been entirely neglected in Islamic studies and in the history of philosophy.” ROBERT WISNOVSKY, J. McGill Professor of Islamic Philosophy, McGill University
“A stunning piece of work. The historical detective work on the commentaries and their interconnections is truly extraordinary, as is the marriage of philological and philosophical skills that went into the translation and commentary.” PETER ADAMSON, Professor of Philosophy, LMU Munich
“Both the amount of hitherto unstudied material excavated by Ahmed, and the care and sophistication with which he handles it, are remarkable and put scholarship on Indo-Muslim philosophy and logic on an entirely new footing.” KHALED EL-ROUAYHEB, J. R. Jewett Professor of Arabic and of Islamic Intellectual History, Harvard University
ASAD Q. AHMED is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies and Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
Ahmed, A. 2022. Palimpsests of Themselves: Logic and Commentary in Postclassical Muslim South Asia. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.127
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