Early Modern Exchanges


al-Ġazālī's Medieval Arabic Philosophy / Art, Architecture and Light Beams in Late-Medieval Italy

14 November 2018, 5:00 pm–7:00 pm

Medieval Arabic Philosophy / Art, Architecture and Light Beams in Late-Medieval Italy

Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern Studies Work In-Progress seminar

Event Information

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UCL Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Seminar Room 20, First Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building
Gower Street
United Kingdom

For the first MREMS session of 2018/19 we are delighted to present two papers by Marco Signori and Giosuè Fabiano which will discuss medieval Arabic philosophy as well as art, architecture and light beams in late-medieval Italy. The papers will be followed by questions and discussion, and accompanied by some drinks and nibbles. It's also a great opportunity to meet fellow researchers working on Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern topics in London.


At the Crossroads of Philosophy and Revelation. What Was al-Ġazālī's Real Aim in The Aims of the Philosophers? 
Marco Signori (PhD student at Scuola normale superiore, Pisa, currently visiting student at The Warburg Institute):  

The Arabic-speaking theologian al-Ġazālī (d. 1111) describes his Maqāṣid al-falāsifa [The Aims of the Philosophers] as a neutral, evenhanded account of the doctrines of philosophy, which will merely open the way for their refutation – later achieved in the Tahāfut al-falāsifa [The Incoherence of the Philosophers]. Indeed, the Aims seem at first glance to be a faithful translation into Arabic of a Persian philosophical summa by Avicenna (d. 1037). At a closer look, however, al-Ġazālī's work appears to alter subtly, but smartly, its Avicennan basis, thus proving also quite unfaithful to its alleged goal.

Timely Illuminations: Art, Architecture and Light Beams in Late-medieval Italy  
Giosuè Fabiano (PhD student at The Courtauld Institute of Art)

On astronomically significant dates, shafts of light dramatically pierce the gloomy interiors of Italian churches, selectively illuminating sacred furnishings and murals. In this paper, I illustrate a selected number of late-medieval church settings in which moving spots of light appear on specific days of the liturgical year. The following questions will be addressed: Why were such luminous events staged in the first place? Who was involved in their production? How did light-phenomena relate to Christian performances and rituals?