A look at developments in the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain and Portugal) while it was under Islamic rule. This part of the podcast takes in such great figures as Averroes, Maimonides, Ibn 'Arabi, Ibn Khaldūn, and Gersonides, and includes extensive coverage of philosophy among Jews as well as Muslims. Interviews feature Charles Burnett, Gad Freudenthal, Dag N. Hasse, Sarah Pessin, Sarah Stroumsa, and Richard C. Taylor. (A big thank you to Daniel Davies for his helpful comments on the scripts on philosophy among Jews.) 

book version of these podcasts is available from Oxford University Press.

Further Reading

• P. Adamson, Philosophy in the Islamic World: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: 2015).

• A.K. Bennison, The Almoravid and Almohad Empires (Edinburgh: 2016).

• M.R. Cohen, Under Crescent and Cross: the Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton: 1994).

• M. Di Giovanni, "Averroes and Philosophy in Islamic Spain," in J. Marenbon (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy (Oxford: 2012), 106-29.

• D.H. Frank and O. Leaman (eds), History of Jewish Philosophy (London:1997).

• D.H. Frank and O. Leaman (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy (Cambridge: 2003).

• R. Haliva (ed), Scepticism and Anti-Scepticism in Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Thought (Berlin: 2018).

• L.P. Harvey, Islamic Spain 1250 to 1500 (Chicago: 1990).

• S. Harvey (ed.), The Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias of Science and Philosophy (Dordrecht: 2000).

• V. Mann, T.F. Glick and J.D. Dodd, Convivencia: Jews, Muslims and Christians in Medieval Spain (New York: 1992).

• E. Schweid, The Classic Jewish Philosophers: From Saadia Through the Renaissance, trans. L. Levin (Leiden: 2008).

• C. Sirat, A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: 1985).

Episodes 146 - 170: Andalusia

146 - Philosophy's Reign in Spain: Andalusia

Posted on 20 October 2013

A look at the culture and historical context that made possible a flowering of philosophy among Muslims and Jews in al-Andalus (Muslim-controlled Spain and Portugal).

147 - Laying Down the Law: Ibn Ḥazm and Islamic Legal Theory

Posted on 27 October 2013

The development of Islamic law and jurisprudence (fiqh), and the many-sided output of the legal theorist Ibn Ḥazm.

148 - Fantasy Island: Ibn Bājja and Ibn Ṭufayl

Posted on 2 November 2013

Intellect and alienation in Ibn Bājja and Ibn Ṭufayl, author of the philosophical desert island castaway tale Ḥayy Ibn Yaqẓān.

149 - Back to Basics: Averroes on Reason and Religion

Posted on 10 November 2013

An introduction to “the Commentator” Averroes, and his defense of philosophy in the Decisive Treatise

150 - Charles Burnett and Dag N. Hasse on Arabic-Latin Translations

Posted on 17 November 2013

A special 150th double interview episode on the transmission of philosophy from Arabic into Latin.

151 - Single Minded: Averroes on the Intellect

Posted on 24 November 2013

You know what I'm thinking: Averroes' rather surprising notion that all humankind shares a single intellect.

152 - Richard Taylor on Averroes

Posted on 1 December 2013

Averroes scholar Richard C. Taylor joins Peter to talk about Averroes' views on the relation between Islam and philosophy.

153 - A Matter of Taste: Ibn ʿArabī and Mysticism

Posted on 8 December 2013

Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam, unites with philosophy in the work of Ibn 'Arabī.

154 - The Philosophy of History: Ibn Khaldūn

Posted on 15 December 2013

The historian Ibn Khaldūn applies the methods of philosophy to understand the rise and fall of political regimes.

155 - Matter over Mind: Ibn Gabirol

Posted on 22 December 2013

Neoplatonism returns in Ibn Gabirol (known in Latin as Avicebron), who controversially holds that everything apart from God has both matter and form.

156 - Sarah Pessin on Jewish Neoplatonism

Posted on 29 December 2013

Peter chats with Sarah Pessin about the Neoplatonism of Jewish philosophers such as Isaac Israeli, Ibn Gabirol, and Maimonides.

157 - Choosing My Religion: Judah Hallevi

Posted on 5 January 2014

Judah Hallevi argues that Judaism has a better claim to belief than philosophy, Christianity, or Islam.

158 - Born Under a Bad Sign: Freedom and Astrology in Jewish Philosophy

Posted on 12 January 2014

Abraham Ibn Ezra, Ibn Daud and Maimonides consider the philosophical implications of astrology as science flourishes in the Jewish culture of Andalusia.

159 - With All Your Heart: Ethics and Judaism

Posted on 19 January 2014

Baḥya Ibn Paquda and Maimonides explore the ethical dimension of the Jewish scriptures and legal tradition.

160 - The Great Eagle: Maimonides

Posted on 26 January 2014

The great Jewish thinker and legal scholar Maimonides, and the philosophical ideas in his Mishneh Torah and Guide for the Perplexed.

161 - He Moves in Mysterious Ways: Maimonides on Eternity

Posted on 2 February 2014

Peter tests different approaches to interpreting Maimonides, focusing on his discussion of the eternity of the world, which tries to settle the debate by declaring a draw.

162 - Sarah Stroumsa on Maimonides

Posted on 9 February 2014

Sarah Stroumsa tells Peter about Maimonides' cultural surroundings and attitudes towards philosophy and the Islamic tradition.

163 - Burnt Offerings: The Maimonides Controversy

Posted on 16 February 2014

Maimonides’ works provoke a bitter dispute among Jews in France and Spain over the relation of philosophy to Judaism.

164 - Man and Superman: Gersonides and the Jewish Reaction to Averroes

Posted on 23 February 2014

The super-commentator Gersonides and other Jews digest the ideas of Averroes.

165 - Neither the Time Nor the Place: Hasdai Crescas

Posted on 2 March 2014

Ḥasdai Crescas shows Aristotelian physics who’s boss, by defending alternative conceptions of time, place and infinity.

166 - Tamar Rudavsky on Gersonides and Crescas

Posted on 9 March 2014

Tamar Rudavsky joins Peter to talk about the two great medieval Jewish thinkers after Maimonides: Gersonides and Crescas.

167 - When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Suffering in Jewish Philosophy

Posted on 16 March 2014

The Book of Job provokes Saadia, Maimonides, Ibn Tibbon and Gersonides to reflect on why God allows suffering.

168 - Chariot of Fire: Kabbalah

Posted on 23 March 2014

The rich symbolism of the Zohar and the spiritual practices of Abraham Abluafia feature in the mystical movement known as Kabbalah.

169 - A Matter of Principles: Albo and Abravanel

Posted on 31 March 2014

Joseph Albo and Isaac Abravanel critique Maimonides’ attempt to lay down foundations for the Jewish law.

170 - Gad Freudenthal on Jewish Philosophy and Science

Posted on 6 April 2014

Leading scholar of medieval Jewish thought Gad Freudenthal joins Peter in a concluding episode on Andalusian thought.