146 - Philosophy's Reign in Spain: Andalusia

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A look at the culture and historical context that made possible a flowering of philosophy among Muslims and Jews in al-Andalus (Muslim-controlled Spain and Portugal).



Further Reading

• M.R. Cohen, Under Crescent and Cross: the Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton: 1994).

• R. Fletcher, Moorish Spain (London: 1992).

• A.J. Fromherz, The Almohads: the Rise of an Islamic Empire (London: 2010).

• H. Kennedy, Muslim Spain and Portugal: a Political History of al-Andalus (London: 1996).

• M.R. Menocal, The Literature of al-Andalus (Cambridge: 2000).


Peter Adamson on 20 October 2013

The new music

The clip used for the opening and closing is Lili Labbasi, "Mazal Haye Mazal." You can hear the whole thing here: http://excavatedshellac.com/2008/10/12/lili-labassi-mazal-haye-mazal/

Lili Labassi is a Jewish singer and violinist from the Maghreb (Algeria in this case) so very appropriate for this series of episodes of Andalusian philosophy!

Incidentally I got this off the Free Music Archive which is a source for copyright free music.

interesado65@h… on 22 October 2013

written text available

Congratulations with this website.
Is the written text of the ipod lectures also available?
That would be great for our english, to listen and read together with the professor.

Many thanks

In reply to by interesado65@h…

Peter Adamson on 22 October 2013

good things come to those who wait

Hi - I announced this before on the "comments" section and in the blog, but there will be a book version coming out in installments. The first one, which goes up to Aristotle, will be published in the middle of next year with Oxford University Press. Slightly different since it is edited to be more polished, but you could still read along quite easily I think.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

interesado65@h… on 23 October 2013

GREAT to have a text book

Ok Many Thanks,

This will be GREAT, Just to read together with the professor and look up words we don't understand. This way of learning (listening and reading at same time) stimulates the brains much more.

Thanks again!

Ferenc on 10 December 2013



A great introduction as usual! I enjoyed your joke about "curiosity killed the Catalan", so I am just confirming that you know the joke, the punch line of which is "The searching general has determined that smoking ziggurats can be hazardous to your stealth!". Yes,.. there are a million of them - but that is one of my favorites!

Keep up the great work!

In reply to by Ferenc

Peter Adamson on 10 December 2013


I don't know that joke but I know one that must be similar, the punch line of which is that someone is arrested for "transporting a minah over stayed lions for immortal porpoises."

Anyway glad you enjoyed this episode!

Xavier on 5 February 2023

Latin translations

Hi Peter,


I'm really enjoying your podcast. 


When Jews, Christians, and Muslims were living and philosophising together in Spain, and the works of Al Farabi, and Avicenna were being translated from arabic to Latin and Hebrew, is there any evidence of early-high mediaeval Latin philosophy being translated the other way into Arabic? E.g. Anselm, Peter Lombard, Abelard or the St Victor guys?


By the way, you didn't mention that Andalusia refers to the land of the Vandals!



In reply to by Xavier

Peter Adamson on 5 February 2023

Latin into Arabic

No actually, at least as far as I know there were no translations of Latin philosophical works into Arabic. Later on it happens that they translate European scientific works in the Islamic world but I think that doesn't happen until, roughly, the Enlightenment. I talk about that a bit in later episodes e.g. on the Ottoman period.


I didn't know that that was the etymology of Andalusia! Thanks, that's a great fact. 

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