Pilgrimage of Philosophy, The

978-1-58731-657-9
New Books
Paper $26
294 pages, 6" x 9", paperbound, introduction, preface, notes, bibliography, publishing by Charles E. Butterworth

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Pilgrimage of Philosophy, The

A Festschrift for Charles E. Butterworth

Paddags, Rene M., El-Rayes, Waseem; and McBrayer, Gregory A. (editors)

The Pilgrimage of Philosophy: A Festschrift for Charles E. Butterworth intends to introduce readers to the work of Charles E. Butterworth, and thereby to introduce students to Medieval Islamic political philosophy, of which Butterworth is one of the world’s most prominent scholars. In a wider sense, the Festschrift introduces its readers to the current debates on Medieval Islamic political philosophy, related as they are to the questions of the relationship between Islam and Christianity, the Medieval to the Modern world, and reason and revelation.

Butterworth’s scholarship spans six decades, primarily translating, editing, and interpreting the works of the Muslim political philosopher Alfarabi (d. 950) and Averroes (Ibn Rushd, d. 1198). He began his studies of Muslim political philosophy at a time when the Middle East and Islam did not have the political salience they have acquired in more recent years. Instead, Butterworth’s reason for engaging with Islam was rooted in the question of the relationship between reason and revelation. While one possible answer was pursued in the Christian, Latin West, the Islamic borderlands of Greek, Roman, and Muslim civilization offered another. By exploring Averroes, who provides the possibility of an Aristotelian-Islamic political philosophy, and Alfarabi, who pursues a Platonic-Islamic political philosophy, Butterworth showed how Islamic civilization provided a viable alternative to the theologico-political question reason v revelation, as well as serving as an inspiration to the Latin West.

The contributors to the Festschrift are Butterworth’s students, colleagues, and, above all, his friends. Among them are David Burrell (University of Notre Dame), Christopher Colmo (Dominican University), Miriam Galston (George Washington University), Jürgen Gebhardt (Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nüremberg), Steven Harvey (Bar-Ilan University), and Joshua Parens (University of Dallas). The sixteen essays are divided into four sections, arranged by the text, author, or topic they address. Beginning with discussions of the foundational texts of revealed divine will, the Bible and the Quran, the essays move on to discuss Alfarabi, the founder of Islamic political philosophy. From there, another group of authors elaborates on the diverging paths which Islamic political philosophy took after Alfarabi, namely the crucial debates between al-Ghazali and Averroes. The final group of essays traces the development of religion in modernity and ends with the suggestion that it is rather philosophy of religion than political philosophy which provides an answer to the crisis of the West. The essays thereby come full circle as they conclude at the point at which Charles Butterworth took up studies.

The contributors to this volume offer challenging, and often competing accounts of the major issues in medieval political thought, and their healthy disputes encourage the reader to wrestle with the current debates directly. Thus the Festschrift, in keeping with Butterworth’s aim to foster an intellectual community, is dedicated to keeping alive the possibility of genuine philosophical conversation.