Published: April 3, 2024

Please join us for events with Muhammad U. Faruque (University of Cincinnati) in Eaton Humanities next week on April 15th and 16th!

The Problem of Being: Ontology in Contemporary Islamic Philosophy
HUMN 230 | Monday, 15 April 2024, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Register here
Mullā Ṣadrā (d. 1640) is one of the greatest of all Islamic philosophers matched only by the likes of Ibn ʿArabī (d. 1240), Avicenna (d. 1037) and Suhrawardī (d. 1191). A wide-ranging thinker and philosopher, Ṣadrā left a great body of work spanning a vast array of fields from logic,philosophical Sufism (ʿirfān), ethics (akhlāq) to natural philosophy/physics (abīʿiyyāt), ontology, and metaphysics (ilāhiyyāt). His oeuvre comprises over forty-five works (some in several volumes) that draw on practically every field of Islamic intellectual learning from its inception until his own day. Mullā Ṣadrā is, above all, a philosopher of wujū (being/existence). Hence, my focus in this workshop on Bidāyat al-ikmawill be the Ontology part of the book. Following Ṣadrā, ʿAllāma Ṭabāṭabāʾī defends the primacy of being (aṣālat al-wujūd) in the debate between being and essence (wujūd wa māhiyya), which is one of the central issues in Islamic philosophy. Bidāya also explains the unique doctrine of the gradation of being (tashkīk al-wujūd). For Ṣadrā and his commentators, the problem of “being” (wujūd) is the foundation of all philosophical principles, the basis of metaphysical inquiries, and the pole around which rotates the science of unity, the science of the return (maʿād), and the science of soul.

Opening Pandora’s Box: AI, ChatGPT, and the Mystery of Consciousness
HUMN 250 | Tuesday, 16 April 2024, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
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In light of the emergence of ChatGPT and the hysteria around it, it would not be an understatement to suggest that we are getting close to Alan Turing’s dream of creating an intelligent machine. Yet, one wonders if it would ever be possible to develop an AI with a human-level consciousness, as proclaimed by such AI enthusiasts as Kurzweil, Bostrom, Harari, and others. In this talk, I argue that this is an impossible dream which rests on a fundamental misunderstanding concerning the nature of consciousness. In contrast to most contemporary theories of consciousness that either treat it as an “epiphenomenon” or “psychologize” it in terms of qualia and subjective feel, I argue that consciousness is always fundamental, at once self-luminous and self-cognizant. I also argue that the problem of AI ultimately hinges on how we define our values, which ultimately determine what it means to be human in a technocentric world.

Sculpting the Self: Islam, Selfhood, and Human Flourishing
HUMN 250 Tuesday, 16 April 2024, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Register here
Sculpting the Self addresses “what it means to be human” in a secular, post-Enlightenment world by exploring notions of selfhood and subjectivity in Islamic and non-Islamic literatures, including modern philosophy and neuroscience. Alongside detailed analyses of three major Islamic thinkers, this study also situates their writings on selfhood within the wider constellation of related discussions in late modern and contemporary thought, which allows the book to develop its inquiry within a spectrum theory of selfhood, incorporating bio-physiological, socio-cultural, and ethico-spiritual modes of discourse and meaning-construction. Weaving together insights from several disciplines such as religious studies, philosophy, anthropology, critical theory, and neuroscience, and arguing against views that narrowly restrict the self to a set of cognitive functions and abilities, this study proposes a multidimensional account of the self that offers new options for addressing central issues in the contemporary world, including spirituality, human flourishing, and meaning in life.

Muhammad U. Faruque’s research lies at the intersection of philosophy, science, and environmental studies, especially in relation to the Islamic intellectual tradition. He earned his PhD (with distinction) from the University of California, Berkeley, and served as Exchange Scholar at Harvard University and as George Ames Postdoctoral Fellow at Fordham University. His highly acclaimed book Sculpting the Self (University of Michigan Press, 2021) addresses “what it means to be human” in a secular, post-Enlightenment world by exploring notions of selfhood and subjectivity in Islamic and non-Islamic philosophical literatures, including modern philosophy and neuroscience. Dr. Faruque is the author of three books and over forty-five academic articles, which have appeared (or are forthcoming) in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as Philosophy East and WestArabic Sciences and Philosophy (Cambridge), Brill Journal of Sufi StudiesReligious Studies (Cambridge)Brill Journal of Islamic Ethics, and Ancient Philosophy. He has delivered lectures in many North American, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern universities. He gives public lectures on a wide of range of topics such as climate change, spirituality, meditation, A.I., Islamic psychology, and Islam and the West. He is also a recipient of numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, including the prestigious Templeton Foundation Global Philosophy of Religion grant and the Title IV Grant, U.S. Dept. of Education. 

Register here for “The Problem of Being: Ontology in Contemporary Islamic Philosophy” (15 April)

Register here for “Opening Pandora’s Box: AI, ChatGPT, and the Mystery of Consciousness” (16 April)

Register here for “Sculpting the Self: Islam, Selfhood, and Human Flourishing” (16 April)

This event is hosted and sponsored by the CU Mediterranean Studies Group, an interdisciplinary collaborative group which promotes teaching and research in Mediterranean Studies as most broadly construed. This event is made possible by the generous support of Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, Humanities, the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization, Classics, History, French & Italian, Asian Languages and Civilizations, Spanish and Portuguese, Philosophy, Art and Art History, the Renée Crown Wellness Institute, Center for Humanities and the Arts, and the Center for Asian Studies.

For more information and programming go to


We hope to see you there! Please let us know if you have any questions.