His name is 'Nader M. Mouhib El-Bizri'. He was born in 1966 in the city of Sidon (Saida) in south Lebanon. He completed his schooling at the Jesuit / Marist Collège Notre Dame de Fatima des Frères Maristes in Sidon. He qualified for his BArch in architecture from the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at the American University of Beirut (1989), and received the MArch-II in architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (1994). He read philosophy at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University (1995), and got a PhD in Philosophy from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research in New York (1999).

Intellectual profile

Nader 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). His philosophical analysis is principally oriented by phenomenological methods of investigation and interpretation, and his thinking is influenced by the traditions of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.BIZRI2

He also composed commentaries on these phenomenologists in addition to writing about notions central to the works of Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas. His research in history of science and philosophy, which also informs his investigations in architectural history, theory and criticism, is methodologically inspired by the legacies of scholars of history and philosophy of science like: Gaston Bachelard, Georges Canguilhem, and Alexandre Koyré (while being also tangentially aware of the differential methods of Leo Strauss and Quentin Skinner). He 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), the metaphysician and physician Avicenna (Abu 'Ali Ibn Sina), and the tenth-century encyclopaedist thinkers, the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwan al-Safa').

El-Bizri studied under Stanley Cavell, Hilary Putnam, Robert Nozick, and A. I. Sabra at Harvard University, and he also was the student of Richard J. Bernstein and Ágnes Heller at the Graduate Faculty of The New School for Social Research in New York. He also conducted research with the Islamic philosophy scholar Parviz Morewedge at the State University of New York in Binghamton [4]. In more recent years, he established solid academic collaborations with the influential phenomenologist Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Editor of Analecta Husserliana and President of The World Phenomenology Institute, New Hampshire, USA).

El-Bizri's interpretations of the history of the exact sciences in classical Islamic civilisation have been partly inspired by the legacy of the mathematician, historian and philosopher of science: Roshdi Rashed (Emeritus; CNRS, Paris). El-Bizri’s approach to the history of mathematics in Greco-Arabic legacies within pre-modern Islamic contexts is bent on rendering the ancient texts readable to modern mathematicians. He thus sees the vocation of the historian of mathematics as being also that of the epistemologist and not strictly that of the humanist as a scholar of historiography per se. This is for instance evident from his edition and annotated translation with commentaries of the epistles on geometry and arithmetic of the Brethren of Purity (Oxford University Press, 2012). His method is also informed by ontology in considering the propositions and 'entities' of mathematics as being connected across historical epochs and transcending the differences in language and culture. This renders them translatable across epistemic and mathematical systems and not via a strict literalism due to their pure abstraction. He is not an advocate of 'presentism' per se, but he clearly sees shortcomings in 'antiquarianism'. He rather studies the epistemic history of mathematics and the exact sciences (in a take from within historical epistemology), and he interprets mathematical and scientific notions in context and also in light of later concepts. He is a philosopher in support of modernisation in approaching the epistemic history of knowledge, more than being only an archival historian who is solely focused on philological documentation.

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, on politics and law. El-Bizri's interpretations of Avicenna (Ibn Sina) from the standpoint of Heidegger's critique of the history of metaphysics aimed at finding new pathways in ontology that are not simply Avicennian nor Heideggerian, even though his approach in rethinking falsafa in terms of a renewal in Avicennism carries resonances with separate novel modern ways of reading Aristotelianism and Thomism as exemplified by the philosophy of Alasdair MacIntyre.

Besides his research in phenomenology, and the history and philosophy of the exact sciences, El-Bizri contributes to the philosophical debates within contemporary Architectural theory and Architectural humanities, through his studies on space and place, and the theories of vision, as these are informed by the phenomenological traditions, the history of Graeco-Arabic optics, and research on the perspective legacies in the Renaissance pictorial arts.

Academic and professional profile

Nader El-Bizri is a visiting professor of visual studies at the University of Lincoln and a principal lecturer (reader) in architecture,  and he teaches at the American University of Beirut as a professor of philosophy and chairperson of the Civilization Studies Program, and as the director of the Anis Makdisi Program in Literature and the Humanistic Disciplines [8]. He is also an affiliated senior research fellow in philosophy at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London; also acting as general editor (and managing editor ex officio) of a book series published by Oxford University Press in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London; titled: Epistles of the Brethren of Purity Series رسائل إخوان الصفاء He is also the co-manager of a joint institutional project between The Institute of Ismaili Studies in London and the Institut Français du Proche Orient (IFPO) in Damascus (Syria), and acts as the coordinator and member of the editorial board of The Institute of Ismaili Studies Texts and Translations Series (London, I. B. Tauris).

El-Bizri has been an affiliated research scholar and lecturer at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge since 1999 (primarily lecturing on Arabic sciences and philosophy), and he has also been a visiting lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Cambridge (Islamic architecture). He furthermore holds a chercheur associé post at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, and he was previously a lecturer in architecture at the University of Nottingham, and taught at Harvard University and the American University of Beirut. Moreover, he 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), and he is an active member of several societies, including The American Philosophical Association (APA), The British Society for Phenomenology, the International Husserl and Phenomenological Research Society, and the Architectural Humanities Research Association (British Universities Consortium).

NADER3In addition, he is the co-editor of a book series in phenomenology (Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands),[15], and as section editor (Islam) of the Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions (SPRINGER, Dordrecht & Berlin), as well as being a member of the editorial board of a book series on philosophy and architecture (Toposophia; Lexington Books, Maryland, US). He is also a member of the editorial board of the distinguished academic journal: Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, which is published by Cambridge University Press. Among his other offices, he is also a board member on Fundamentals of Scientific Research at The Arab Organization for Translation in Beirut (linked to the Centre for Arab Unity Studies), and a member of the board of consulting editors of the Encyclopaedia Islamica (published by E. J. Brill, Leiden), as well as being the European representative of the Equipe d’Etude et de Recherche sur le Patrimoine Scientifique Arabe, which is part of the Lebanese CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique). He has also been a contributor to the Cultural and Classics Supplements of the daily Arabic international newspaper Al-Hayat (London; Beirut) الحياة .

Nader El-Bizri also acted as consultant, expert advisor and referee to a variety of institutions, including the Solomon Guggenheim in New York, the Science Museum in London, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Architectural Awards in Geneva, and the AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council) in Britain. He also made several contributions to BBC Radio and Television cultural programs

Besides his academic undertakings Nader 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 (He registered as chartered architect in 1990 as part of the Ordre des Ingénieurs et Architectes, Beirut, Lebanon).

Selected publications

(Representative of over 135 published works)

The Phenomenological Quest Between Avicenna and Heidegger (Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Publications, SUNY, 2000)

'Avicenna and Essentialism', Review of Metaphysics 54 (2001), 753–778

'Qui-êtes vous Khôra?: Receiving Plato's Timaeus', Existentia Meletai-Sophias 11 (2001), 473–490

'A Phenomenological Account of the Ontological Problem of Space', Existentia Meletai-Sophias 12 (2002), 345–364

'Avicenna's De Anima Between Aristotle and Husserl', in The Passions of the Soul in the Metamorphosis of Becoming, ed. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003), 67–89 [25]

'Religion and Measure', Phenomenological Inquiry 27 (2003), 128–155

'Variations autour de la notion d'expérience dans la pensée arabe', in L'expérience, collection les mots du monde, under the direction of N. Tazi, translated by M. Saint-Upéry (Paris: Éditions la Découverte, 2004), 39–58

'Ontopoièsis and the Interpretation of Plato's Khôra', Analecta Husserliana 83 (2004), 25–45

'On Kai Khora: Situating Heidegger between the Sophist and the Timaeus,' Studia Phaenomenologica 4 (2004), 73–98

'La perception de la profondeur: Alhazen, Berkeley, et Merleau-Ponty', Oriens-Occidens: Cahiers du centre d'histoire des sciences et des philosophies arabes et médiévales, CNRS. 5 (2004), 171–184NADER

L'expérience (Paris: Editions la Découverte, 2004), co-authored with Jean-Pierre Cléro, Martin Jay, G-K Karanth, and Achille Mbembe, with a foreword by Nadia Tazi

'The Varieties of Experience in Arabic Thought', in Keywords: Experience, eds. Nadia Tazi et al. (New York: Other Press, 2004), 43–70 — (Published also in Arabic by the Centre Culturel Arabe in 2005; 13–35)

'A Philosophical Perspective on Alhazen's Optics', Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 15 (2005), 189–218

'The Conceptions of Nature in Arabic Thought', in Nature (Keywords Series), ed. Nadia Tazi (New York: Other Press, 2005), 63–92

‘Microcosm and Macrocosm: A Tentative Encounter between Graeco-Arabic Philosophy and Phenomenology', in Islamic Philosophy and Occidental Phenomenology on the Perennial Issue of Microcosm and Macrocosm, ed. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2006), 3–23

'Being and Necessity: A Phenomenological Investigation of Avicenna's Metaphysics and Cosmology', in Islamic Philosophy and Occidental Phenomenology on the Perennial Issue of Microcosm and Macrocosm, ed. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2006), 243–261 [26]

'Uneasy Meditations following Levinas', Studia Phaenomenologica 6 (2006), 293–315

'Being-towards-death: on Martyrdom and Islam', Cristianesimo nella storia 27 (2006), 249–279

'In Defence of the Sovereignty of Philosophy: al-Baghdadi's Critique of Ibn al-Haytham's Geometrisation of Place', Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 17 (2007), 57–80

‘Imagination and Architectural Representations', in From Models to Drawings: Imagination and Representation in Architecture, eds. Marco Frascari, Jonathan Hale, Bradley Starkey (London : Routledge, 2007), 34–42

'Some Phenomenological and Classical Corollaries on Time', in Timing and Temporality in Islamic Philosophy and Phenomenology of Life, ed. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Dordrecht : Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2007), 137–155

'Préface', in Ibn Taymiyya, Les Saints du Mont Liban: Absence, jihâd et spiritualité, entre la montagne et la cité. Cinq fetwas traduits de l’arabe, introduits et annotés par Yahya Michot – Fetwas d'Ibn Taymiyya 5 (Beirut – Paris: Editions ALBOURAQ – La Librairie de l’Orient, 2007), vii–xviii

‘God: essence and attributes’, in The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, ed. Tim Winter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 121–140

‘Le problème de l’espace: approches optique, géométrique et phénoménologique’, in Oggetto e spazio. Fenomenologia dell'oggetto, forma e cosa dai secoli XIII-XIV ai post-cartesiani, eds. Graziella Federici Vescovini and Orsola Rignani. Micrologus Library 24 (Firenze: SISMEL, Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2008), 59–70

‘Hermeneutics and Tradition: Re-gathering the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity ’, in Islam ve Klasik, ed. Sami Erdem. Klasik 44 (Istanbul: Bilim ve Sanat Vakfi, 2008), 339–360

Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. The Ikhwan al-Safa' and their Rasa'il: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). Editor of the book, and Contributor of the 'Prologue', 1–32, and of Chapter 7: 'Epistolary Prolegomena: On Arithmetic and Geometry', 180–213

Revision of the English translation of Khwārizmī's Kitāb al-Jabr wa-al-muqābala, in: Roshdi Rashed, Al-Khwārizmī: The Beginnings of Algebra (London–Beirut: Saqi, 2009), 81–376

'Foreword', in Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. The Case of the Animals versus Man before the King of the Jinn. An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistle 22, ed. trans. Lenn E. Goodman and Richard McGregor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2009), XVII-XXV

'Ibn al-Haytham et le problème de la couleur', Oriens-Occidens: Cahiers du centre d'histoire des sciences et des philosophies arabes et médiévales, C.N.R.S. 7 (2009), 201–226

'Creative inspirations or intellectual impasses? Reflections on relationships between architecture and the humanities', in The Humanities in Architectural Design: A Contemporary and Historical Perspective, eds. Soumyen Bandyopadhyay, Jane Lomholt, Nicholas Temple and Renée Tobe (London: Routledge, 2010), 123–135

'The Labyrinth of Philosophy in Islam', Comparative Philosophy 1.2 (2010), 3–23

'Al-Sīnawiyya wa-naqd Heidegger li-tārīkh al-mītāfīzīqā', al-Maĥajja 21 (2010), 119–140

'Corollaries on Space and Time in Arabic Sciences and Philosophy', in Chrono-Topologies: Hybrid Spatialities and Multiple Temporalities, ed. Leslie Kavanaugh (Amsterdam: Rodopi Press, 2010), 63–78

'Classical Optics and the Perspectiva Traditions Leading to the Renaissance', in Renaissance Theories of Vision, eds. Charles Carman and John Hendrix (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010), 11–30

'Phenomenological Directives on Reason and Spirit: Rational Discourses and Spiritual Inspirations', in Reason and Spirit, and the Sacral in the New Enlightenment, ed. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Dordrecht-Berlin: Springer, 2011), 185–193

'The Groundbreaking Physics of Averroes', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2011), 210–214

'Ibn Sīnā’s Ontology and the Question of Being’, Ishrāq: Islamic Philosophy Yearbook 2 (2011), 222–237

'Being at Home Among Things: Heidegger’s Reflections on Dwelling', Environment, Space, Place 3 (2011), 47–71

Edited the translation of Roshdi Rashed's Founding Figures and Commentators in Arabic Mathematics: A History of Arabic Sciences and Mathematics, Vol. 1, trans. R. Wareham with C. Allen and M. Barany (London: Routledge, 2011)

‘Spirituality in the Peripatetic Philosophical Traditions of Islam’, Comparative Philosophy Volume 3, No. 2 (2012): 29–35

'The Conceptual Bearings of the Intercultural Role of Architecture', in The Cultural Role of Architecture: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives, eds. Paul Emmons, John Hendrix, and Jane Lomholt (London: Routledge, 2012), 199–207

Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. On Arithmetic and Geometry. Arabic Edition and English Translation of EPISTLES 1 & 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)

‘Ta’mmulat falsafiyya fi al-tabi’a al-insaniyya min khilal al-nazar ila tadakhul al-akhar fi al-dhat', al-Maĥajja 27 (2013), 85–100

‘Variations ontologiques autour du concept d’angoisse chez Kierkegaard’, in Kierkegaard notre contemporain paradoxal, ed. Nicole Hatem (Beirut: Université Saint-Joseph, 2013), 83–95

Editor of the ‘Islam Division’ of the Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions, eds. Anne Runehov, Lluis Oviedo et al. (Dordrecht-Berlin: Springer, 2013)

'Philosophising at the Margins of 'Sh'i Studies': Reflections on Ibn Sina's Ontology', in The Study of Sh'i Islam. History, Theology and Law, eds. Farhad Daftary and Gurdofarid Miskinzoda (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014), pp. 585–597

'Seeing Reality in Perspective: "The Art of Optics" and the "Science of Painting"', in The Art of Science: From Perspective Drawing to Quantum Randomness, eds. Rossella Lupacchini and Annarita Angelini (Doredrecht: Springer, 2014), pp. 25-47

‘Tasdir awwali hawl al-mabahith al-mantiqiyya fi finominolojia Husserl’, al-Maĥajja 29 (2014): 109-120

‘Le renouvellement de la falsafa?’, Les Cahiers de l’Islam I (2014): 17-38

Recto Verso: Redefining the Sketchbook, co-edited with Angela Bartram and Douglas Gittens (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014)