Although some Arabic and Islamic philosophers of the past - such as Avicenna and Avveroes - are relatively well-known even beyond the confines of scholarly communities, in the West little if anything is known about contemporary schools of thought in the Muslim world. Compared to the past, current Islamic thinking has more specific features with respect to Western experience. Firstly, it cannot help being "Islamic", in the sense that it is obliged, for better or worse, to address religious issues. Secondly, a dialectic approach to Western modernity means dealing, for example, with Marx's materialism and historicism, or Nietzsche's nihilism, and therefore with systems of thought that dispute the very foundations of Islamic culture. In this book the author provides a useful overview of contemporary Islamic thought, including its rebirth in the 19th century, its clash with modernity, the recent impact of political issues, and current radical views. The ensuing description is quite varied: against traditional positions which continue to dominate the cultural scene, there stand out dissonant, courageous points of view of thinkers that often face exile for their freedom of judgment.
Massimo Campanini teaches Arabic Culture at the University of Milan.