For Research. For Berlin.

Dimitri Gutas


Dimitri Gutas is a Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Graeco-Arabic Studies at Yale University
As an Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Dimitri Gutas leads a working group to produce a multilingual critical edition and study of Aristotle's Poetics. 

 

“I study and teach classical Arabic and the pre-modern intellectual tradition in Islamic civilization from different aspects. At the center of my concerns lies the study and understanding of Arabic in its many forms as a prerequisite for the proper appreciation of the written sources which inform us about the history and culture of Islamic societies. I also have an abiding interest in the transmission of Greek scientific and philosophical works into the Islamic world through the momentous Graeco-Arabic translation movement in Baghdad during the 8th-10th centuries AD, and I have devoted a large part of my time to the edition and study of Greek philosophical texts translated into Arabic and their influence in the Islamic world. I have edited and translated Theophrastus, On First PrinciplesGreek Text and Medieval Arabic Translation, with an Excursus on Graeco Arabic Editorial Technique (Leiden 2010), and, in collaboration with Leonardo Taran, the first editio maior of the Greek text of Aristotle’s Poetics (Leiden 2012) on the basis of all available evidence, which includes the all-important Syro-Arabic translations. My current Einstein Stiftung project is based on and proceeds from this publication. The methodology of Graeco-Arabic studies and of textual criticism and editorial technique treated in these publications, as well as the significance of Graeco-Arabic studies for the history of science and civilization in the West, are the main area of concentration which is reflected and promoted in this project.

 

The significance of the Graeco-Arabic translation movement for Arabic letters and Islamic civilization in general led me also to investigate its position in the social history of the early Arab (Abbasid) caliphate in which it took place. This study led to the publication of my Greek Thought, Arabic Culture (London and New York 1998), which looked into the major social, political, and ideological factors that occasioned the translation movement. The social history of intellectual currents in early Islamic civilization, which includes an investigation of the multicultural elements that constituted it, is increasingly becoming the focus of contemporary research worldwide. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture has been translated into eight languages: Arabic, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, and Turkish.

 

The Greek philosophical texts that were translated into Arabic upon demand by interested scholars during the translation movement led to the development of a strong and long-lived philosophical tradition in Arabic. Within Arabic philosophy, I have concentrated in particular on its greatest exponent, Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in the medieval Latin world), on whom I wrote the fundamental Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition. Introduction to Reading Avicenna’s Philosophical Works (Leiden1988; second, revised and augmented edition, including an inventory of Avicenna’s authentic works, Leiden 2014). The book, which won the Book of the Year Award of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has introduced a new and scientifically productive period in the study of philosophy in the Islamic world.“


Dimitri Gutas, October 2018