By Gregory B. Stone (auth.)
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Additional info for Dante’s Pluralism and the Islamic Philosophy of Religion
Thus Dante includes, in the place of honor that is his Limbo, “modern” Muslims (Saladin [who, in recapturing Jerusalem from and INTRODUCTION: A COMEDY FOR NON-CHRISTIANS 25 winning a series of great victories over the Crusaders, effectively put an end to their hopes of conquest], Avicenna, Averroes) alongside such “ancients” as Plato, Aristotle, Virgil, and Aeneas. And, when considering the question of salvation, in a passage that I will examine near the end of part II, he shows particular concern for the fate of non-Christian (non-European) contemporaries such as Hindus (Asians) and Ethiopians (Africans).
In the case of Dante’s indebtedness to the Arabo-Islamic rationalist tradition, it is clear that there is a more-or-less direct influence at work. This is not only because such an influence was inescapable (“Considering,” says Khaled Abou El Fadl, “the numerous cultural interactions and intellectual transmissions between the Muslim world and Europe, it is highly likely that every significant Western value has a measure of Muslim blood in it”92), but also because Dante was especially concerned with one of the main questions treated by that tradition—the question of the relation of religion and philosophy.
Although a peaceful society is certainly better than a violent one, living amidst violence does not in any way inhibit the philosopher from attaining his primary goal, the actualization of his potential intellect—provided that he turns his back on that society. True, it may be tremendously difficult for a philosopher caught up in the chaos of warfare to philosophize properly—since he will likely be first of all concerned with basic survival—but we would hardly say that it is absolutely impossible.
Dante’s Pluralism and the Islamic Philosophy of Religion by Gregory B. Stone (auth.)