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Alexander Key on Medieval Islamic thought

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
About Guest: 

Professor Alexander Key received his Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in May 2012 and started working at Stanford that same year.

Professor Key is a scholar of Classical Arabic literature whose interests range across the intellectual history of the Arabic and Persian-speaking worlds from the seventh century onwards. In Language Between God and the Poets (Berkeley: 2018), he reads four major eleventh-century scholars and asks how the conceptual vocabulary they shared enabled them to create theory in lexicography, theology, logic, and poetics. These scholars' ideas engaged God and poetry at the nexus of language, mind, and reality. Their core conceptual vocabulary carved reality at the joints in a manner quite different from Anglophone and European thought in any period. Their vocabulary centered around the words maʿnā and ḥaqīqah, two concepts for which Key develops a translation methodology with the help of Wittgenstein and Kuhn.