Rafael Attila Tağıyev

PhD Philosophy

  • Philosophy and Art History
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
  • İstanbul University, Faculty of Divinity

Contact details



40 George Square

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Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, 19 George Square

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I received my MA (Hons) in Philosophy and Politics from the University of Edinburgh in 2018 and my MA in Islamic Studies (Concentration in Philosophy and Art) from the George Washington University in 2021 under the supervision of Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Mika Natif.

Undergraduate teaching

I am tutoring Introduction to the History of Philosophy this semester (January-May 2023).

Research summary

      My academic interests, on the one hand, are concentrated on metaphysics, aesthetics, and formulations of eros in the Islamicate philosophical traditions, starting from the Graeco-Arabic translation movement, especially Aristoteles Arabus and Plotinus Arabus until the Twelver Šīʿī Neoplatonists of Ṣafavīd Iran. Most importantly, I am interested in the interactions between Avicennan Peripatetic (maššāʿī) and Suhrawardīan Illuminationist (išrāqī) thoughts as well as their later shaping of Ǧalāl al-Dīn al-Dawānī, and Ġiyās̱ al-Dīn Manṣūr Daštakī al-Šīrāzī. In terms of the philosophical activity in later Ṣafavīd period, my main interest lies within aesthetics and metaphysics of Mīr Muḥammad Bāqir Astarābādī (Mīr Dāmād) and Bahāʾ al-Dīn al-ʿĀmilī formulated in their Arabic and Persian corpus.

       Within this context, I am also interested in formulations of beauty and eros in the contextual variations of philosophical gnosis (ʿirfān) starting from the late 12th to the early 13th century Persianate Ṣūfism manifested in Iran and Anatolia, especially aesthetic and erotic writings of Awḥad al-Dīn Kirmānī, Rūzbihān Baqlī, and Faḫr al-Dīn Ibrāhīm al-ʿIrāqī.

       On the other hand, the artistic heritage of the Islamicate traditions is another academic interest of mine, especially the visual elements and the iconographic frameworks of paintings, textiles, and calligraphic panels from the Ṣafavīd Iran and the Deccan Sultanates, particularly Bijapur and Golconda. From these periods, I am interested in how the Islamicate expression of beauty and love can be found in paintings and textiles, and how can we understand these concepts in the correlations between text and image in certain philosophical and esoteric works.

Current research interests

Currently, I am working on my thesis called 'Light in the Context of Eros and Aesthetics: Theoretical Constructions of Love and Beauty in Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī’s Corpus Illuminaticum', in which I attempt to concentrate on the formulations of love and beauty in metaphysical/theological, cosmological, and psychological contexts, especially how certain Hellenistic concepts are found, reformulated, and transformed by the earlier Islamicate philosophers, and how these developments have been received the Illuminationist writings of al-Suhrawardī.

Affiliated research centres

Project activity

Currently, I am part of an Ottoman translation project that looks at Aḫī groups and their writings in 16th-18th centuries Ottoman Bosnia, in which I translate and interpret the relation between the art of tannery (debbāğāt), and its esoteric underpinnings for the ṣūfī path. Additionally, I also attempt to understand the techniques of this craftsmanship, its atelier rules and social structure as well as the 'religious justification' and 'artistry glorification' of tannery through linking it to the hagiographic (re)constructions of Medieval Anatolian ṣūfī Aḫī Avrān.