This article investigates the nature of the post-classical (ca. 600–1300/1200–900) commentary/gloss genre in the maʿqūlāt (rationalist disciplines). It does so by looking closely at the process of philosophical growth in the tradition of a celebrated text on logic, the Sullam al-ʿulūm of Muḥibballāh al-Bihārī (d. 1118/1707), that inspired more than ninety commentaries, glosses, and notes in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu in the course of two centuries. Among other things, the article concludes that, from the very beginning, the authors of the main text and of its commentaries/glosses posited the lemmata as sites of philosophical conflict and dispute (masāʾil)—though these lemmata were also seamlessly interwoven into the larger aims of philosophical works. These open spaces of philosophical dialectic stood in place of a vibrant culture of debate that was responsible for the diachronic and synchronic dynamism of post-classical philosophy. In this article, the detailed analysis of a minor lemma and its fate in the hands of some prominent commentators and glossators sheds light on the complex layers of the intertextuality of commentaries and glosses, on structures of textual authority, on the nature of the self-gloss, on the fine line between commentarial critique and defense, and on the meaning of verification (taḥqīq). Finally, the technical assessment of the philosophical arguments also reveals how the mode of argumentation required by the very framework of the commentary/gloss genre resulted in the production of novel philosophical theories.
This brief article has two aims: (1) to present a description and comprehensive enumeration of the manuscripts of Avicenna's Shifā' that had an affiliation with India; and (2) to draw some conclusions about the legacy of this text in India on the basis of the evidence of the manuscripts. The first task is accomplished in section I and the second in section II. In summary, the evidence suggests that it was mainly the Logic and Physics sections of the work that interested Indian scholars, who may well have conceived of the two parts as philosophically complementary. The work seems to have been of interest among Shī 'ī north Indian scholars of the late seventeenth century, i.e. prior to the emergence of the Nizāmī curriculum, though interest in it among the nineteenth century Khayrābādī scholars is also attested. Given that marginal notes are limited and, where available, they are generally of a lexicographical nature in the hand of the scribe of the matn, it is likely that the work was used mainly as a supplement to other texts and was not of interest in itself.