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Isaac Israeli’s ‘Philosophy’: An epistemic-ontological understanding of his description of ‘philosophy’ and its roots in the al-Kindī and the Ikhwān al-Ṣafā’ Open Access

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This study examines the nature of the term ‘philosophy’ in Isaac Israeli’s epistemic-ontological schema. In it we look at primary sources of Israeli’s thought, examining how he approached this term and the intellectual sources that had influenced his thought. This study is a contribution to the few, but important works done on this early, yet important Jewish Neoplatonic philosopher and seeks to uncover some of his sources that may have been overlooked with regards to his intellectual thought. In the first chapter, we review his biographical information and study the sources that he had available. It seeks to bring to light recent scholarship done by those we believe had influenced him and reminds the reader of the wide breadth of information that was available to Isaac Israeli. In the second chapter, we study his three descriptions of philosophy in light of the epistemic-ontological intelligible line of Plato. Here we examine the various sources of his intellectual thought through his examples and his descriptions. In the concluding chapter, we make clear the issues with his thought and allude to the works of later Jewish Neoplatonists who were also influenced by Muslim philosophers. This work is one of the few that has examined any aspect of this philosopher, and hopes to shed light on the nature of his understanding of the term ‘philosophy’ and its overall role in his philosophical and cosmological schema.

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