Nader El-Bizri

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Nader M. Mouhib El-Bizri (Arabic: Template:Lang; born 1966) is a British-Lebanese philosopher, historian of science, and architect living between Britain and Lebanon.[1]Template:Unreliable source He is a Professor of Civilization Studies and Philosophy at the American University of Beirut.


El-Bizri was born in 1966 in the city of Sidon (Saida) in south Lebanon.[no citations needed here] He completed his schooling at the Jesuit / Marist Collège Notre Dame de Fatima des Frères Maristes in Sidon.[no citations needed here] He qualified for his BArch in architecture from the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at the American University of Beirut (1989), and received the MArch-II in architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (1994). He studied philosophy at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University (1995), and got a PhD in Philosophy from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research in New York (1999).[2][3]

Academic career

College Hall at the American University of Beirut

Nader El-Bizri is a Full Professor of Civilization Studies and Philosophy at the American University of Beirut.[3] He also serves as the Director of the Anis Makdisi Program in Literature and the Humanistic Disciplines,[4] and as Coordinator of Islamic Studies at AUB. He was perviously a visiting professor of visual studies at the University of Lincoln and a principal lecturer (reader) in architecture.[5] He was also an affiliated senior research fellow in philosophy at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London; also acting as general editor (and managing editor ex officio) of Oxford University Press book series published in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London; titled: Epistles of the Brethren of Purity Series رسائل إخوان الصفاء [6] He is also co-manager of a joint project between The Institute of Ismaili Studies in London and the Institut Français du Proche Orient (IFPO) – formerly based in Damascus and now in Beirut—and acts as member of the editorial board of The Institute of Ismaili Studies Texts and Translations Series (London: I. B. Tauris), and the Encyclopaedia Islamica (Leiden: E. J. Brill).[7]

El-Bizri was an affiliated research scholar and lecturer at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge from 1999 till 2010 primarily lecturing on Arabic sciences and philosophy,[8] and he has also been a visiting lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Cambridge on Islamic architecture. He holds a chercheur associé position in history of science and philosophy at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris (Denis-Diderot, Paris VII, UMR 7219, SPHERE)[9] since 2006, and he was previously a lecturer in architecture at the University of Nottingham, and taught at Harvard University.[no citations needed here] He is a member of the Ordered Universe research team on mediaeval science supported by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) based at the University of Durham and Oxford University.[10][11] El-Bizri is also an elected member of the Steering Committee of the Société Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences et des Philosophies Arabes et Islamiques (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris).[12]

El-Bizri is the co-editor of a book series in phenomenology (Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands),[13] and as section editor (Islam) of the Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions (SPRINGER, Dordrecht & Berlin), as well as being a member of the editorial board of a book series on philosophy and architecture (Toposophia; Lexington Books, Maryland, US). He is also a member of the editorial board of the Cambridge University Press journal:Arabic Sciences and Philosophy. He is also a board member on Fundamentals of Scientific Research at The Arab Organization for Translation in Beirut (linked to the Centre for Arab Unity Studies), and a member of the board of consulting editors of the Encyclopaedia Islamica (published by E. J. Brill, Leiden), as well as being the European representative of the Equipe d’Etude et de Recherche sur le Patrimoine Scientifique Arabe, which is part of the Lebanese CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique). He has also been a contributor to the Cultural and Classics Supplements of the daily Arabic international newspaper Al-Hayat (London; Beirut) الحياة.[1]Template:Unreliable source[14][12][15]

El-Bizri a made several contributions to BBC Radio and Television cultural programs; including the BBC Radio 4 In Our Time,[16] and the BBC Channel Four Science and Islam, Episode 2 The Empire of Reason.[17] He is also a recipient of several awards, including the Kuwait Prize 2014 from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.[18][19]

Architectural career

El-Bizri has over twelve years of professional architectural design and consulting experience in offices and institutions in Geneva, London, Cambridge, New York, Boston and Beirut. He registered as chartered architect in 1990 as part of the Ordre des Ingénieurs et Architectes, Beirut.[1]Template:Unreliable source

Intellectual profile

El-Bizri's areas of expertise are in phenomenology, in Arabic Sciences and philosophy, and architectural humanities (architectural theory). He focuses mainly on theories of space/place and of perception, with a particular interest in classical optics and perspective Renaissance traditions. His interpretation of history of science and philosophy is guided by contemporary debates in epistemology and ontology (metaphysics).[3]

El-Bizri also composed commentaries on the phenomenologists Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger,[20] He developed an expertise in history of philosophy and science in Islamic civilisation, with a special focus on the traditions of polymaths like the optician and geometer Alhazen (al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham),[21] the metaphysician and physician Avicenna (Abu 'Ali Ibn Sina), and the tenth-century encyclopaedist thinkers, the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwan al-Safa').[22]

El-Bizri’s corpus is interdisciplinary, and it passes across philosophy, history of scientific and philosophical ideas, and architectural thinking. It is phenomenological in orientation while being rooted in history of science and philosophy, it also seeks to investigate architectural humanities from the standpoint of phenomenology and intellectual history,[23] as well as informing phenomenological inquiry by studies in architecture and in history of philosophy and science. There is also a hint at a fusion of European and Arabic/Islamic classical traditions in thought by way of an emphasis on shared Mediterranean legacies in the Greek-Arabic-Latin lineage. A thematic thread ties these various aspects of his research and thought through a focus on theories of space, place, time, being, and on themes in classical optics and mathematics. He is throughout concerned about issues of methodology in philosophy, intellectual history, and architecture, while probing their epistemic and conceptual consequences in analysis, critique, hermeneutics, historiography, and philology.Template:Efn

El-Bizri's interpretations of the history of the exact sciences in classical Islamic civilisation have been partly inspired by the legacy of the mathematician, historian and philosopher of science: Roshdi Rashed (Emeritus; CNRS, Paris). El-Bizri’s approach to the history of mathematics in Greco-Arabic legacies within pre-modern Islamic contexts is bent on rendering the ancient texts readable to modern mathematicians. He thus sees the vocation of the historian of mathematics as being also that of the epistemologist and not strictly that of the humanist as a scholar of historiography per se. He is in this regard a philosopher more than being an Arabist or historian. This is for instance evident from his edition and annotated translation with commentaries of the epistles on geometry and arithmetic of the Brethren of Purity (Oxford University Press, 2012).[24] His method is also informed by ontology in considering the propositions and 'entities' of mathematics as being connected across historical epochs and transcending the differences in language and culture. This renders them translatable across epistemic and mathematical systems and not via a strict literalism due to their pure abstraction. He is not an advocate of 'presentism' per se, but he clearly sees shortcomings in 'antiquarianism'. He rather studies the epistemic history of mathematics and the exact sciences (in a take from within historical epistemology), and he interprets mathematical and scientific notions in context and also in light of later concepts. He is a philosopher in support of modernisation in approaching the epistemic history of knowledge and the questions of ontology, more than being only an archival historian who is solely focused on philological documentation and historiography.Template:Efn

In recent studies that aim at "renewing the impetus of philosophical thinking in Islam", El-Bizri offers critical analyses of the conventions of methodology and historiography that dominate the mainstream academic and epistemic approaches in studying "Islamic philosophy" from "archival" standpoints, within Oriental and Mediaevalist Studies; arguing that these do not usually recognise the fact that "philosophy in Islam" can still be a living intellectual tradition, and that its renewal requires a radical reform in ontology, epistemology and cosmology within Islamic thought, which have primacy over the emphasis on theories of value, on politics and law.[25][26] El-Bizri's interpretations of Avicenna (Ibn Sina) from the standpoint of Heidegger's critique of the history of metaphysics.

Selected publications


  • The Phenomenological Quest between Avicenna and Heidegger (Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Publications, SUNY, 2000); reprinted with an updated preface in 2014 by SUNY Press (Albany, NY)
  • L'expérience (Paris: Editions la Découverte, 2004), co-authored with Jean-Pierre Cléro, Martin Jay, G-K Karanth, and Achille Mbembe, with a foreword by Nadia Tazi
  • Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. The Ikhwan al-Safa' and their Rasa'il: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). Editor of the book, and Contributor of the 'Prologue', 1–32, and of Chapter 7: 'Epistolary Prolegomena: On Arithmetic and Geometry', 180–213
  • Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. On Arithmetic and Geometry. Arabic Edition and English Translation of EPISTLES 1 & 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Recto Verso: Redefining the Sketchbook, co-edited with Angela Bartram and Douglas Gittens (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014)
  • Asad Rustum: Mu'assis 'ilm al-tarikh fi al-'alam al-'arabi, co-edited with Lamia Shehadeh, Souad Sleem, Maher Jarrar (Beirut: Dar al-Farabi, 2015)

Selected journal articles

  • 'Avicenna and Essentialism', Review of Metaphysics 54 (2001), 753–778
  • 'A Phenomenological Account of the Ontological Problem of Space', Existentia Meletai-Sophias 12 (2002), 345–364
  • 'Religion and Measure', Phenomenological Inquiry 27 (2003), 128–155
  • Ontopoièsis and the Interpretation of Plato's Khôra', Analecta Husserliana 83 (2004), 25–45
  • 'On Kai Khora: Situating Heidegger between the Sophist and the Timaeus,' Studia Phaenomenologica 4 (2004), 73–98
  • 'La perception de la profondeur: Alhazen, Berkeley, et Merleau-Ponty', Oriens-Occidens: Cahiers du centre d'histoire des sciences et des philosophies arabes et médiévales, CNRS. 5 (2004), 171–184
  • 'A Philosophical Perspective on Alhazen's Optics', Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 15 (2005), 189–218
  • 'Uneasy Meditations following Levinas', Studia Phaenomenologica 6 (2006), 293–315
  • 'Being-towards-death: on Martyrdom and Islam', Cristianesimo nella storia 27 (2006), 249–279
  • 'In Defence of the Sovereignty of Philosophy: al-Baghdadi's Critique of Ibn al-Haytham's Geometrisation of Place', Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 17 (2007), 57–80
  • 'Ibn al-Haytham et le problème de la couleur', Oriens-Occidens: Cahiers du centre d'histoire des sciences et des philosophies arabes et médiévales, C.N.R.S. 7 (2009), 201–226
  • 'The Labyrinth of Philosophy in Islam', Comparative Philosophy 1.2 (2010), 3–23
  • 'The Groundbreaking Physics of Averroes', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2011), 210–214
  • 'Ibn Sīnā’s Ontology and the Question of Being’, Ishrāq: Islamic Philosophy Yearbook 2 (2011), 222–237
  • 'Being at Home Among Things: Heidegger’s Reflections on Dwelling', Environment, Space, Place 3 (2011), 47–71
  • ‘Spirituality in the Peripatetic Philosophical Traditions of Islam’, Comparative Philosophy Volume 3, No. 2 (2012): 29–35
  • ‘Le renouvellement de la falsafa?’, Les Cahiers de l’Islam I (2014): 17–38

Other key publications

  • Editor of the ‘Islam Division’ of the Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions, eds. Anne Runehov, Lluis Oviedo et al. (Dordrecht-Berlin: Springer, 2013)




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Dr Nader El-Bizri". 
  2. "American University of Beirut". 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 SUMMARY CV Nader El-Bizri
  4. "Anis Makdisi Program in Literature – Home". AUB. Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  5. [1] His profile when he was at Lincoln in 2010 is noted in the Literary Encyclopedia, retrieved from archives on 9 July 2017
  6. [2] Oxford University Press - See series Editorial Board
  7. [3] Indiana University Press
  8. [4] Official Annual Reports of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge
  9. [5] SPHERE, Paris VII University (Denis-Diderot), French CNRS
  10. Ordered Universe (2015-12-04). "Kuwait honours Professor Nader El-Bizri: Arabic Science and Philosophy – Ordered Universe". Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  11. "2015 – Three AUB academics awarded for the Advancement of Sciences". AUB. Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Sciences, Philosophie, Histoire – UMR 7219, laboratoire SPHERE – EL-BIZRI Nader". 
  13. "Islamic Philosophy and Occidental Phenomenology in Dialogue". Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  14. "Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge". 
  15. "Nader El-Bizri - American University of Beirut -". 
  16. [6] See for example: In our Time, BBC, Nov. 2007, Avicenna, El-Bizri on radio
  17. [7] See for example his filmed interview on Ibn al-Haytham with Jim Khalili in Cairo in the BBC Channel Four Science and Islam, Episode 2 The Empire of Reason
  18. "Kuwait honours Professor Nader El-Bizri: Arabic Science and Philosophy". 4 December 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  19. Thought Leaders - El-Bizri ranked 59 in the Arab World
  20. [8] On the impact of Heidegger in the Arab and Muslim world, in "BULLETIN HEIDEGGÉRIEN" 7 (2017), pp. 8-16 ISSN 2034-7189
  21. "Nader El-Bizri: Ibn al-Haytham – An Introduction". Muslim Heritage. 2005-12-31. Retrieved 2017-07-06. 
  22. Nader El-Bizri (2014). Houari Touati. ed. "Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ: An Islamic Philosophical Fraternity". Encyclopedia of Mediterranean Humanism. 
  23. See for example as one sample the following: Nader El-Bizri, Creative inspirations or intellectual impasses? Reflections on relationships between architecture and the humanities', in The Humanities in Architectural Design: A Contemporary and Historical Perspective, eds. Soumyen Bandyopadhyay, Jane Lomholt, Nicholas Temple and Renée Tobe (London: Routledge, 2010), 123–135
  24. Epistles of the Brethren of Purity: On Arithmetic and Geometry. Oxford University Press, 2012
  25. Nader El-Bizri, 'The Labyrinth of Philosophy in Islam', Comparative Philosophy 1.2 (2010): 3–23. Refer also to: Nader El-Bizri, ‘Renouvellement de la falsafa’, Les Cahiers de l’Islam 1 (2014): pp. 17–38
  26. "Averroes, Kant, and the Origins of the Enlightenment | SCTIW Review". 2015-01-27. Retrieved 2017-07-06. 

External links

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