Krause’s “Spezielle Metaphysik,” Part I

August 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Recently I mentioned my excitement at discovering an article on Zera Yacob in an actual philosophy journal: Andrej Krause’s “Spezielle Metaphysik in der Untersuchung des Zar’a Jacob (1599–1692),” in Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 85.3 (2003).

I’m finally getting around to reading it, and I’m going to describe and discuss it here. My German isn’t very good, so I’ll probably only go a few pages at a time.

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Introduction. Krause begins by rehearsing Zera Yacob’s biography. He says that the 16th-century, Greek-derived Book of the Wise Philosophers was available to Zera Yacob in his schooling, but I assume there’s no evidence he actually read it. (I’m not familiar with the contents). Krause acknowledges that there is no reference to any philosophical texts in the Treatise.

Krause also describes the Treatise as the high point of twelve-hundred years of Ethiopian production of philosophical literature. This is only true is both ‘production’ and ‘philosophy’ are understood in a very loose sense. It is more accurate to say, as Krause does, that Zera Yacob belonged to no school and founded no school. He also says that the treatise shows a sort of intellectual affinity with modern European philsophy, though ZY presumably knew nothing of it.

Although there’s no ontology in the Treatise, Krause observes that there is a fair amount of metaphysics in the treatise, primarily in the form of rational theology (including some cosmology), but also some rational psychology. Krause’s paper will be devoted to “reconstructing and to some extent discussing the metaphysical statements and arguments of the Treatise.”

The rest of the paper is divided into two main sections: Rational Theology and Rational Psychology. The Rational Theology section contains subsections on arguments for the existence of God and God’s attributes. Next post: the first argument for God’s existence.

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