Nader El-Bizri

Nader El-Bizri
Occupation Professor of philosophy and civilization studies, American University of Beirut

Nader El-Bizri (Arabic: نادر البزري, nādir al-bizrĩ) is a professor of philosophy and civilization studies at the American University of Beirut, where he also serves as associate dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, and as the director of the general education program.[1][2]

El-Bizri specializes in phenomenology, Arab science and philosophy, and architectural theory. He is the author or editor of several books, including The Phenomenological Quest between Avicenna and Heidegger (2000).


El-Bizri received a degree in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a PhD in philosophy from the New School for Social Research.[3]


Academic positions

El-Bizri is a professor of philosophy and civilization studies at the American University of Beirut, where he is also an associate dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, and the director of the general education program.[4] He was formerly a director of the civilization studies program at the AUB and the coordinator of Islamic studies,[2] and also oversees the Anis Makdisi Program in Literature.[5] He was previously a visiting professor of visual studies at the University of Lincoln and a principal lecturer (reader) in architecture.[6] He was an affiliated senior research fellow in philosophy at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, and is general editor (and managing editor ex officio) of an Oxford University Press book series published in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, entitled: Epistles of the Brethren of Purity Series رسائل إخوان الصفاء .[7] He was a co-manager of a joint project between the Institute of Ismaili Studies and the Institut Français du Proche Orient, formerly based in Damascus and now in Beirut.

El-Bizri was an affiliated research scholar in the department of history and philosophy of science at the University of Cambridge from 1999 to 2010, primarily lecturing on medieval Islamic sciences and philosophy.[8][9] 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 in Paris (Denis-Diderot, Paris VII, UMR 7219, SPHERE)[10] since 2006, and he was previously a lecturer in architecture at the University of Nottingham, and taught at Harvard University.[11] He is a member of the Ordered Universe research team on mediaeval science that is supported by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which is based at the University of Durham and Oxford University.[12][13] El-Bizri is 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).[14]

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.[4][15]

Writing, television

El-Bizri is co-editor of a book series in phenomenology (Springer, formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers; Dordrecht, Netherlands),[16] and as section editor (Islam) of the Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions (SPRINGER, Dordrecht & Berlin). He is on the editorial boards of series and journals, such as the Cambridge University Press journal Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, Toposophia (series on philosophy and architecture; Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield),[17] Institute of Ismaili Studies Texts and Translations Series (London: I. B. Tauris),[18] the Encyclopaedia Islamica (Leiden: E. J. Brill),[19] the Journal of World Philosophies (Indiana University Press),[20][21] and the Fundamentals of Scientific Research at The Arab Organization for Translation in Beirut (linked to the Centre for Arab Unity Studies).[22] He is the European representative of the Equipe d’Etude et de Recherche sur le Patrimoine Scientifique Arabe, which is part of the Lebanese Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). He has written for Al-Hayat.[8][14][23]

El-Bizri has made several contributions to BBC radio and television cultural programs, including a discussion about the Persian philosopher Avicenna with Melvin Bragg and other guests on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time,[24] and an interview with Jim Al-Khalili about Ibn al-Haytham for BBC Four's Science and Islam series.[25]


El-Bizri has received several awards, including the Kuwait Prize 2014 from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.[26] He has been also ranked as one of the "Thought Leaders" in the Arab world via the Berggruen Institute and its various partners.[27][28]


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).[29]

El-Bizri composed commentaries on phenomenology and Martin Heidegger,[30][31] He also 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),[32] the metaphysician and physician Avicenna (Abu 'Ali Ibn Sina), and the tenth-century encyclopaedist thinkers, the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwan al-Safa').[33]

El-Bizri's interpretations of the history of the exact sciences in classical Islamic civilisation have been connected with the legacy of the mathematician, historian and philosopher of science: Roshdi Rashed (Emeritus; CNRS, Paris).[34]

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, politics and law.[35] This is also embodied in El-Bizri's interpretations of Avicenna (Ibn Sina) from the standpoint of Heidegger's critique of the history of metaphysics.[36]

Selected publications


As author and co-author

  • (2000). The Phenomenological Quest between Avicenna and Heidegger (Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Publications, SUNY); reprinted with an updated preface in 2014.
  • (2004). L'expérience (Paris: Editions la Découverte), co-authored with Jean-Pierre Cléro, Martin Jay, G-K Karanth, and Achille Mbembe, with a foreword by Nadia Tazi.

As editor and co-editor

  • (2008). Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. The Ikhwan al-Safa' and their Rasa'il: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Contributor of the "Prologue", 1–32, and chapter 7: "Epistolary Prolegomena: On Arithmetic and Geometry", 180–213.
  • (2012). Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. On Arithmetic and Geometry. Arabic Edition and English Translation of EPISTLES 1 & 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • (2012). Founding Figures and Commentators in Arabic Mathematics, by Roshdi Rashed (London: Routledge).
  • (2013). ‘Islam Division’ of the Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions, eds. Anne Runehov, Lluis Oviedo et al. (Dordrecht-Berlin: Springer).
  • (2014). Recto Verso: Redefining the Sketchbook, co-edited with Angela Bartram and Douglas Gittens (Farnham: Ashgate).
  • (2015). 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).
  • (2017). Practicing Philosophy in Lebanon (Pratiquer la philosophie au Liban [Mumârasat al-falsafa fî lubnân]), a trilingual volume ed. Nader El-Bizri (Beirut-Bonn: German Orient-Institut Beirut, in association with Dar al-Farabi).[37]
  • (2018). Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. On Composition and the Arts. Arabic Edition and English Translation of EPISTLES 6-8; co-edited with Godefroid de Callataÿ (Oxford: Oxford University Press).[38] [39]
  • (2018) The Occult Sciences in Pre-modern Islamic Cultures, eds. Nader El-Bizri and Eva Orthmann. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag (Orient-Institut series BTS 138).[40]


  1. "Nader El-Bizri: Summary CV", American University of Beirut, Fall 2018.
  2. 1 2 AUB official webpage of Nader El-Bizri
  3. Catherine Ward (3 March 2017). "Ath Speaker Explores Arabic Traditions in History of Natural Sciences". The Student Life.
  4. 1 2 "Nader El-Bizri: Summary CV", American University of Beirut, Fall 2017.
  5. "Anis Makdisi Program in Literature – Home". AUB. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  6. His profile when he was at Lincoln in 2010 is noted in the Literary Encyclopedia, retrieved from archives on 9 July 2017
  7. Oxford University Press - See series editorial board
  8. 1 2 "Nader El-Bizri — Department of History and Philosophy of Science". University of Cambridge. 3 December 2008. Archived from the original on 14 July 2009.
  9. "Annual Report — Department of History and Philosophy of Science" (PDF). University of Cambridge. 2008. pp. 3, 39.
  10. "Sciences, Philosophie, Histoire – UMR 7219, laboratoire SPHERE — EL-BIZRI Nader". Universite Paris Diderot (in French). Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  11. "Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies - Faculty and Staff". American University of Beirut. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  12. Ordered Universe (4 December 2015). "Kuwait honours Professor Nader El-Bizri: Arabic Science and Philosophy – Ordered Universe". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  13. "2015 – Three AUB academics awarded for the Advancement of Sciences". AUB. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  14. 1 2 "Sciences, Philosophie, Histoire – UMR 7219, laboratoire SPHERE – EL-BIZRI Nader".
  15. Short CV Link at AUB in 2018
  16. "Islamic Philosophy and Occidental Phenomenology in Dialogue". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  17. Toposophia series Rowman & Littlefield (formerly Lexington books)
  18. Texts and Translations Series I.B. Tauris, London
  19. E. J. Brill: Encyclopaedia Islamica
  20. Indiana University Press
  21. Nader El-Bizri profile (in 2013) at the Islamic thought think-tank "Kalam Research & Media"
  22. Centre for Arab Unity Studies
  23. "Nader El-Bizri - American University of Beirut -".
  24. "Avicenna", In our Time, BBC Radio 4, 8 November 2007.
  25. "The Empire of Reason", Science and Islam, 12 January 2009.
  26. "Kuwait honours Professor Nader El-Bizri: Arabic Science and Philosophy". Ordered Universe. 4 December 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  27. Thought Leaders - El-Bizri ranked 59 in the Arab World
  28. Berggruen Institute, LA, California
  29. See for example his discussion of his methodology in the journal Synthesis Philosophica.
  30. On the impact of Heidegger in the Arab and Muslim world, in "BULLETIN HEIDEGGÉRIEN" 7 (2017), pp. 8-16 ISSN 2034-7189
  31. Nader El-Bizri, 'On Dwelling: Heideggerian Allusions to Architectural Phenomenology', Studia UBB. Philosophia, Vol. 60, No. 1 (2015): 5-30
  32. "Nader El-Bizri: Ibn al-Haytham – An Introduction". Muslim Heritage. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  33. Nader El-Bizri (2014). Houari Touati, ed. "Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ: An Islamic Philosophical Fraternity". Encyclopedia of Mediterranean Humanism.
  34. Refer to his promotion of the works of Roshdi Rashed in Anglophone scholarship in published annotated translations via the academic press Routledge
  35. Consult his discussion of methods of inquiry in the journal Comparative Philosophy.
  36. This is the basis of his book: The Phenomenological Quest between Avicenna and Heidegger (SUNY 1999, rep. 2014)
  37. German Orient Institut, Beirut
  38. Oxford University Press
  39. Academia.Edu
  40. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag (Orient-Institut series BTS 138)
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