Knowing the Spirit:
An Introduction to the Philosophy of Ostad Elahi

A Seminar by James W. Morris

Prof. of Theology, Boston College and Translator of Knowing the Spirit

Ostad Elahi’s newly translated philosophical treatise Knowing the Spirit (Ma’rifat ar-R?h) (State University of New York Press, 2007) provides readers with a comprehensive and far-reaching metaphysical perspective that is highly original yet characteristically practical, intersecting in fascinating ways both with recent medical and therapeutic developments and with parallel accounts from other cultures and traditions. Focusing on the soul’s gradual process of perfection and destiny, Knowing the Spirit provides perhaps his most extensive written response to the perennial existential questions of humankind.

Originally written for a learned audience of traditionally educated Iranian scholars who were intimately familiar with complex classical traditions of philosophy, theology, mystical poetry and practice, as well as scriptural interpretation conveyed in Arabic, Persian, and Kurdish, the challenging background of references and allusions in Knowing the Spirit can raise constant difficulties for today’s readers, who are often unfamiliar with the technical language and assumptions of those earlier learned disciplines.

This seminar is therefore intended to help clarify the various questions that may be raised by readers of the English translation, both by reference to the wider background of Ostad Elahi’s work and by drawing out some of the wider practical implications and conclusions that he outlines in highly abstract philosophical terms. At the same time, the class discussions will allow readers of Knowing the Spirit to share their own insights and perspectives into the multi-faceted meanings of this remarkable treatise.

1st Session: Monday, October 1, 2007
2nd Session: Monday, November 5, 2007
3rd Session: Monday, December 3, 2007
4th Session: Monday, February 4, 2008

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Knowing the Spirit: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Ostad Elahi

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