A Recommendation: God and Logic in Islam

I want to take a moment to praise a book I have been reading recently. It's a new book by a professor at Indiana University named John Walbridge, entitled God And Logic in Islam: The Caliphate of Reason.

In his introduction he writes that he had three readers in mind: the educated Westerner who may not be fully aware of Islam's intensely rational and scholastic history, but only of the Islam they see on the news; the Muslim reader who is troubled by the crisis of his faith; and the scholar of Islamic studies. He asks these readers to be patient with each other's needs -- the Islamic scholar with the careful spelling out of terms, for example, or the Western reader with the brief history of Western philosophical thought and its effect on modern politics in the West.

His second chapter -- entitled "The Diversity of Reason" -- is surely the chapter that ought most to require my patience, and yet I found it to be extremely insightful reading. I don't think I've ever read such a successful attempt to explain the roots of the clashes in the modern West in concise, brief strokes. The whole chapter is fourteen pages long, and well worth reading even for the educated Westerner who is well aware of the history and accustomed to studying it in much greater detail.

Neither was I disappointed in the rest of the work, which touches on an area I am becoming more and more interested in as time goes along. In any case, for those you seeking a good book for understanding the intellectual tradition of Islam, I must recommend this as an excellent introduction to the subject. Those of you who do not need an introduction, but are ready for more advanced thoughts, will likewise not be disappointed. Well done, Dr. Walbridge.


Tom said...

This sounds pretty good. I'll add it to my list (though it will fall after my current projects, and then my study of Aristotle).

Grim said...

This actually might be good to read along with your study of Aristotle. Aristotle was very important to Islamic philosophy. Seeing how they understood him might help you to understand how to think about him yourself.

Tom said...

That's a good point. Wasn't Averroes 'The Commentator' (on Aristotle) in medieval times?

Grim said...

That's right. He lived in the 12th century, in the post-Caliphate taifa states, chiefly Seville. For a long time, actually, his commentaries were the primary way that Christian students of Aristotle approached the works. It's a respectable approach even now, although there are additional commentaries worth reading today.