Book review: Philosophy in the Islamic World: A history of philosophy without any gaps, Volume 3

“Philosophy in the Islamic World” is the third in a series of books based on Peter Adamson’s popular “A history of philosophy without any gaps” podcasts. Examining the development of philosophical traditions in the Islamic world, it offers a good overview of the works of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim philosophers active there.

The podcasts are fun and easy listen to, and their tone has been retained in the book. Adamson makes frequent use of the first person and tongue-in-cheek sarcasm which the reader may find somewhat irritating, but these points are worth overlooking. They do not detract from how well he has presented bite-sized, well-indexed chapters on key philosophers, movements, and developments which took place in the Islamic world.

The Mu’tazilites, al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Ash’arites and Sufis are all covered, along with Ibn Taymiyya the some of the great modern revivalists (‘Abduh and Iqbal).

However, Adamson does not only discuss Islamic philosophy. Whole chapters are dedicated to Rav Sadiyya Gaon, Yehudah HaLevy, Rambam and the medieval Kabbalists. Works such as the Kuzari, Emunot v’Deot, and Moreh Nevuchim are well explained, and placed within their historical context. With this in mind, Adamson’s book would make an excellent desktop companion for the student of Jewish philosophy, or any reader interested in developing their knowledge of classical Islamic philosophy and theology.

About the Author
Daniel J. Levy is a graduate of the University of Leeds and Oxford, where his academic research primarily focused on Iranian proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. He is the Founding Director and Lead Consultant of the Ortakoy Security Group, and has contributed editorial pieces to The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and Israel Policy Exchange. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, and cooking. He can be followed on Twitter @danielhalevy.