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Al-Ghazali's Unspeakable Doctine of the Soul: Unveiling the Esoteric Psychology and Eschatology of the Ihya'
Timothy Gianotti
Brill / Hardcover / 2001-01-01 / 9004120831
History / Philosophy
price: $202.50 (may be subject to change)
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This text marks a radical rethinking of the soul and the afterlife in the writings of al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111), particularly within his magnum opus, Reviving Religious Knowledge (Ihya’ulum al-din). Attending closely to variations of genre and discourse mode within his works, it attempts to resolve some of the major ambiguities that have vexed al-Ghazali’s readers for nearly nine hundred years.
Beginning with his theory of multi-level, multi-genre writing and working through his theological, philosophical, and mystical positions on the soul’s true nature, the study culminates in an exploration of al-Ghazali’s mystical “psycho-cosmology”, where some startling conclusions are drawn regarding his most intimate thoughts on the “secrets” of the soul and the Hereafter.

Meticulously researched and yet engagingly written, this study speaks to both the specialist and the amateur intellectual historian.

"...this study [...]contains excellent biographies of canonical writers, synopses of their works, and overviews of historial periods...the book represents a contribution to ecumenism by making little-studied Byzantine and Eastern canonical authors more comprehensible to a wider audience and inviting a proper assessment of their work."
Patrick Viscuso, Speculum, 2004.

Table of contents

Introduction, Methodology and Overview

1. All Things to All People? Deciphering al-Ghazali’s Doctrine of Discourse
2. Al- Ghazali’s Dogmatic/Theological (kalami) Formulation of the Soul
3. Al- Ghazali’s Condemnation of the Philosophical Psychology and Eschatology in the Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahafut al-falasifa)
4. The Heart (al-qalb) and al- Ghazali’s Mystical Discussions of the Soul
5. Through a Looking Glass: The Heart Reflected in al- Ghazali’s Mystical Cosmology
6. The Wayfarer’s Final Journey: al- Ghazali’s Esoteric Eschatology (conclusion)

Appendix: Translation and Commentary: The Epistle of Presence

Index of Topics, Terms, and Proper Names

About the Author:

Timothy J. Gianotti, Ph.D. (1998) in Medieval Islamic Philosophy and Theology, University of Toronto, is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Penn State University, where he teaches a variety of courses in Islamic Intellectual History, Mysticism, and Comparative Religion. His primary research interests involve classical Islamic understandings of psychology, epistemology, and eschatology.

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