Mahmoud Youness

Peace Studies & Political Science

Mahmoud is a doctoral candidate writing a dissertation in peace studies and political theory. The dissertation is a comparative study of Ibn Khaldun and Machiavelli. It charts the imaginaries—the affective universes—that the two thinkers inhabited as a preliminary step to compare their work on political stability and its relevance for today’s thinking about peace and politics. It further argues that the understanding of these imaginaries is itself important for understanding and transforming conflict.

Prior to his training in peace studies, political theory and constitutional studies, Mahmoud studied philosophy, cognitive sciences, and religious studies. He uses this interdisciplinary background to formulate an understanding of moral and social psychology sensitive to the workings of affect (unreason) in political life. The role of affect in understanding and retrieving history is particularly important when studying comparative political thought, and Mahmoud develops a historical method to serve this purpose. The method aims to uncover the roots of differences in outlook that lay behind intractable conflicts. More directly, the method is used to compare two political theorists (Ibn Khaldun and Machiavelli) working in different contexts without falling into historical or psychological anachronism.

Building on the work in the dissertation on “political stability” Mahmoud plans to address the question of “ethical integrity” in its relation to the demands of politics and religion. The work is also comparative and tackles the work of major figures in the extended Islamic and Western traditions.

Mahmoud was a University Presidential Fellow (2017-2022) and a Mellon Family Fellow (2018-2019).


“Taming Time: The Possibility of History and Politics in Islam,” Hawliyat 19 (2020-21): 127-148.

“The Theory of Evolution: An Islamic Perspective; Part II: Created Evolution,” in N. El-Bizri (ed), Practicing Philosophy in Lebanon (Beirut: Dār al-Fārābī & The German Orient Institute, 2017).

“The Theory of Evolution: An Islamic Perspective; Part I: Against Parsimony,” Theological Review 33 (2012): 107-134.

“Al-Maʿād fī Zaman al-Ḥājah ilā al-Akhlāq [the ethical relevance of eschatology],” Al-Mahajja 22 (Winter-Spring 2011): 71-92.

Translations and Commentaries

Ṣunūf Al-Tajrubah Al-Dīniyyah (Beirut: Dār Al-Maʿārif Al-Ḥikmiyyah, forthcoming 2022). An Arabic translation with commentary and an analytical introduction of: William James, Varieties of Religious Experience, A Study in Human Nature, to be published by Dār Al-Maʿārif Al-Ḥikmiyyah (Beirut, 2022).

Al-Tasmiyah W-al-Ḍarūrah (Beirut: Dār al-Kitāb al-Jadīd, 2017). An Arabic translation with commentary and an analytical introduction of: Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity (Harvard University Press, 2001).

In addition to the above, Mahmoud has produced over a dozen Arabic translations of major philosophical, theological, and ethical works from English and French writers.