The Arabic Version of Tusi's Nasirean Ethics: With an Introduction and Explanatory Notes.

Author:Vasalou, Sophia
Position:Book review

The Arabic Version of Tusi's Nasirean Ethics: With an Introduction and Explanatory Notes. By JOEP LAMEER. Islamic Philosophy, Theology, and Science, vol. 96. Leiden: BRILL, 2015. Pp. ix + 550. $189, [euro]136.

The volume under review is an edition of an early Arabic translation of the Persian Akhlaq-e Naheri, one of the most acclaimed compendia of philosophical ethics in the Islamic tradition and one of the best-known works of the polymath Nasir al-Din Tusi (d. 672/1274). In this work, composed at the behest of the Ismaili governor of Quhistan, Nasir al-Din 'Abd al-Rahim b. Abi Manzur (d. 655/1257), Tusi drew on the writings of Miskawayh alongside a number of additional sources to offer a synthetic account that went beyond Miskawayh's narrower focus on ethics, and included detailed treatments of ethics, economics, and politics. The work enjoyed a vibrant afterlife, spawning a plethora of summaries, commentaries, and adaptations in both Persian and Arabic in the centuries after Tusi's death. The Arabic translation presented here is a reflection of this lively afterlife, and opens a welcome door to closer investigation of the reception of Tusi's work and the development of Arabic philosophical ethics. The translation was the work of Rukn al-Din Jurjani (alive in 728/1327), one-time student of the Shi[??]ite theologian al-hallama al-Silli, author of numerous works, and self-confessed admirer of Tusi's writings; Akhlaq-e Naheri was one of several to have been translated by him.

This edition is based on the sole manuscript identified to date, which is housed at Leiden University Library and was copied in or before 768/1366. The manuscript appears to be in excellent condition and is written in a clear legible script; among its distinctive features are the numerous marginal and interlinear glosses it incorporates. Lameer prefaces the edition with an introduction that provides helpful context for the author, translator, content, and sources of the work, as well as useful orienting remarks on the quality of the translation and on his own editing method. One of the special challenges of this work derives from its linguistic character, and more specifically from its numerous deviations from Classical Arabic, which Lameer identifies as features of Middle Arabic. His approach to editing the text is based on the (persuasive) argument that these features were part of the original text and were not introduced by a copyist's hand, and it involves the decision to amend the text according to the norms of Classical Arabic only selectively, rectifying...

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