Islamic Philosophy

Aug 2016

Diagne is totally brilliant, and also a very sweet man. He has a very calm disposition, and clearly cares deeply about the material in class. He encourages everyone to contribute. If you try hard and talk with him before assignments, you will do well.

May 2010

This class was supposed to be a seminar, but it turned out to have about 50 students in it, half of whom were grad students, so the set up and grading system were kind of different than your usual lecture or seminar. Two grad students would present the week's reading during the first half of every class, and the second half would be devoted to lecturing and questions. It was generally an excellent syllabus for an overview of Islamic Philosophy. Diagne did a really good job of weaving together recurring themes. So even though "Islamic Philosophy" sounds a little vague and unwieldy, I definitely felt like the syllabus was both cohesive and comprehensive. The reading was pretty manageable, and because the grad student presentations basically summarized the texts and bullet pointed key ideas, you didn't really have to read everything to get a fairly good idea of what was going on. I found the participation aspect of the class kind of strange though. Diagne definitely tried to encourage students to ask questions, and mentioned that participation and attendance were part of the grade. But because the class was so large, it was kind of difficult to talk much/ at all. He did call attendance at the beginning of every class and could match every name to a face by around half-way through the semester, which is kind of impressive (given that most professors don't even bother with names names in a 50-person class). As a professor, Diagne was really sweet, had an awesome sense of humor and was never without a huge smile on his face. He was really approachable and extremely down to earth, despite being extraordinarily smart and brilliantly versed in every philosopher we read. He also made it really easy to relate the Islamic philosophers to philosophers from CC, so everything was framed in the larger philosophical context. At the same time, because he knew the texts so well, there were always opportunities for close and intertextual readings.