Avicennism (PerB|فلسفه سینایی) is a school of
early Islamic philosophywhich began during the middle of the Islamic Golden Age. The school was founded by Avicenna(Ibn Sina), an 11th-century Persian philosopher who attempted to redefine the course of Islamic philosophyand channel it into new directions. His metaphysical system is built on ingredients and conceptual building blocks which are largely Aristotelian and Neoplatonic, but the final structure is something other than the sum of its parts.cite encyclopedia|last= |first= | authorlink= |title=Avicenna |year=| encyclopedia=Encyclopedia Iranica |accessdate=2007-12-30|location=|publisher=|url=http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v3f1/v3f1a046.html] For example, while he accepted Neoplatonic emanationist cosmology and the "Amonnian" synthesis of later Aristotelian commentators, he rejected Neoplatonic epistemologyand the theory of the pre-existent soul. His metaphysicsalso owes much to Islamic legal theory and Kalamon meaning, signification and being.
This philosophy has recognized the compatibility of the
metaphysicsof contingency, by which Muslim theologians have tried to rationalize the Islamic idea of creation, and the metaphysics of necessity, in which Aristotelians have defended the idea that the goal of philosophy and science is as to understanding why and how things must be as they are. The key to this philosophy is conceptualization of the world as contingent in itself but necessary with references to its causes, leading back to ultimately to the First Cause. The main innovations in this philosophy are the definite distinction of essence from existence and its relation to the cosmological proof he devised, the ontological argumentfor the existence of Godfrom the metaphysics of contingency and necessity, his idea about knowledge and "individuality of the dissimbodied soul" and his "Floating Man" thought experiment. [Goodman (1992), pp.ix and x]
Due to his successful reconciliation between Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism along with Islamic theology, Avicennism eventually became the leading school of Islamic philosophy by the 12th century and had become a central authority on philosophy by then. [Nahyan A. G. Fancy (2006), p. 80-81, "Pulmonary Transit and Bodily Resurrection: The Interaction of Medicine, Philosophy and Religion in the Works of Ibn al-Nafīs (d. 1288)", "Electronic Theses and Dissertations",
University of Notre Dame. [http://etd.nd.edu/ETD-db/theses/available/etd-11292006-152615] ] In the 13th century, Avicennism was revived by the efforts of Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī, though the interpretation of this Avicennism was based on the ideas of Suhrwardi (founder of Illuminationist philosophy) and Ibn Arabi, and differed from the rationalist Avicennism known in Europe. In the 16th century, Mulla Sadrainnovated a new philosophical system, known as Transcendent theosophy, which combined the vision of Sufi metaphysicsand the rationalistic Peripatetic approach of Avicenna. [Nasr (1996), p.35] [Nasr, (2006), pp. 87 and 88]
Although the Avicennian school of thought was criticized by theologians such as
al-Ghazali, philosophers such as Averroes, and by Sufis such as Rumiand Attar, Avicenna's writings spread like fire and continued until today to form the basis of philosophical education in the Islamic world. For to the extent that the post-Averroistic tradition remained philosophical, especially in the eastern Islamic lands, it moved in the directions charted for it by Avicenna in the investigation of both theoretical and practical sciences. Most of the later Muslimphilosophers, theologians and mystics who tried to harmonize philosophy and theology, like Nasir al-Din Tusi, or philosophy and mysticism, like Suhrawardi, and later on, philosophy and theology and mysticism, like Mulla Sadra, also made use of Avicennan methodology and arguments.
Avicenna, the founder of Avicennism, (b.
Bukhara980, d. Hamadan1037) was a Persian ["Avicenna", in Encyclopaedia Britannica, Concise Online Version, 2006 ( [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9011433/Avicenna] ); D. Gutas, "Avicenna", in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Version 2006, ( [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v3f1/v3f1a046.html LINK] ); Avicenna in (Encyclopedia of Islam: © 1999 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands)] Muslim polymathand the foremost physician and Islamic philosopher of his time. He was also an astronomer, chemist, Hafiz, logician, mathematician, physicist, poet, psychologist, scientist, Sheikh, soldier, statesmanand theologian. [Charles F. Horne (1917), ed., "The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia", p. 90-91. Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, New York. ( cf.[http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/1020Avicenna-Medicine.html Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (973-1037): On Medicine, c. 1020 CE] ]
Avicenna wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived. In particular, 150 of his surviving treatises concentrate on philosophy and 40 of them concentrate on medicine. [MacTutor Biography|id=Avicenna] [ [http://www.sjsu.edu/depts/Museum/avicen.html Avicenna (Abu Ali Sina)] ] His most famous philosophical work is "
The Book of Healing", a vast philosophical and scientific encyclopaedia. His other prominent philosophical works are "Al-Isharat wa-‘l-tanbihat" (Remarks and Admonitions), "Kitab al-najat" (The Book of Deliverance) and "Danishnama-i ‘ala’i" (The Book of Scientific Knowledge).cite encyclopedia|last=Nasr |first=Seyyed Hossein | authorlink=Seyyed Hossein Nasr |title=Avicenna |year=2007| encyclopedia=Encyclopedia Britannica Online |accessdate=2007-11-05|location=|publisher=|http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9011433/Avicenna] Avicenna himself writes when introducing his magnum opus, " The Book of Healing":
There is nothing in the books of the ancients but we have included in this our book. If something is not found in a place where it is normally found, it would be found in another place where I judge it more fit to be in. I have added to this what I have apprehended with my thought and attained through my reflection, particularly in physics, metaphysics and logic.
Avicenna's legacy in philosophical
psychologyis primarily embodied in the "Kitab al-nafs" parts of his "Kitab al-shifa"' ("The Book of Healing") and "Kitab al-najat" ("The Book of Deliverance"). These were known in Latin under the title "De Anima" (treatises "on the soul"). The main thesis of these tracts is represented in his so-called "flying man" argument, which resonates with what was centuries later entailed by Descartes's "cogito" argument (or what phenomenology designates as a form of an "epoche"). [ Nader El-Bizri, "The Phenomenological Quest between Avicenna and Heidegger" (Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Publications SUNY, 2000), pp. 149-171.] [ Nader El-Bizri, "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), pp. 67-89.]
On the other hand, there is the trilogy of the Mystical Recitals or Romances to which Avicenna confided the secret of his personal experience. In so doing, he offers us the rare example of a philosopher taking perfect cognizance of himself and who comes at length to fashion his own symbols. The theme of all three Recitals is the journey towards a mystical
Orient, an Orient which is not to be found on our maps, but the idea of which is already present in gnosis. The Recital of " Hayy ibn Yaqdhan", means alive son of awake, describes the invitation to travel in the company of the Angel who illuminates. The other one is "Recital of the Bird" which completes the journey. Finally, "Salaman and Absal" are the two heroes of the Recital evoked in the last section of the Book of Instructions(Isharat). These are not allegories but symbolic recitals. [Corbin (1993), p.173]
Early Islamic philosophy
Henry Corbinand Oliver Leamandivide Islamic philosophyinto several periods, Avicenna belongs to the early or classic period. This period starts with al-Kindiin 9th and finishes with Averroesat the end of 12th century. The death of Ibn Rushdeffectively marks the end of a particular discipline of Islamic philosophy usually called the "Peripatetic Arabic School", and philosophical activity declined significantly in western Islamic countries, namely in Spain and North Africa, though it persisted for much longer in the Eastern countries, in particular Iranand Indiawhich tend to Mystical philosophy and Transcendent Theosophy. [http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/H057 Islamic philosophy, by Oliver Leaman] ] [Corbin (1993) pp. xvi and xvii]
Al-Kindi is often called the first philosopher of the Arabs, and he followed a broadly Neoplatonic approach. One of the earliest of the philosophers in Baghdad was in fact a Christian, Yahya Ibn ‘Adi, and his pupil
al-Farabicreated much of the agenda for the next four centuries of work. Al-Farabi argued that the works of Aristotle raise important issues for the understanding of the nature of the universe, in particular its origination. Aristotle suggested that the world is eternal, which seems to be in contradiction with the implication in the Qur’an that God created the world out of nothing. Al-Farabi used as his principle of creation the process of emanation, the idea that reality continually flows out of the source of perfection, so that the world was not created at a particular time. A large school of thinkers was strongly influenced by al-Farabi, including Avicenna, and this surely played an important part in making his ideas and methodology so crucial for the following centuries of Islamic philosophy.
tudy of Avicennan philosophy
Avicenna's philosophical tenets have become of great interest to critical Western scholarship and to those engaged in the field of Muslim philosophy, in both the West and the East. However, it is still the case that the West only pays attention to a portion of his philosophy known as the "Latin Avicennian School". Avicenna's philosophical contributions have been overshadowed by Orientalist scholarship (for example that of
Henri Corbin), which has sought to define him as a mystic rather than an Aristotelian philosopher. The so-called حكمت مشرقيه ("hikmat-al-mashriqqiyya") remains a source of huge irritation to contemporary Arabic scholars, in particular Reisman, Gutas, Street, and Bertolacci.
The original work, entitled "The Easterners" ("al-mashriqiyun" المشرقيون), was probably lost during Avicenna's lifetime;
Ibn Tufail(Abubacer) appended it to a romantic philosophical work of his own in the twelfth century, the " Hayy ibn Yaqzan", in order to validate his philosophical system, and, by the time that the work was transmitted into the West, appended as it was to a set of "mystical" opusculae and sundry essays, it was firmly accepted as a demonstration of Avicenna's "esoteric" orientation, which he concealed out of necessity from his peers.
Some argue that such interpretations of Avicenna's "true" state of mind ignore the vast corpus of work that he produced, from major treatises to slurs on his enemies and rivals, misrepresent him utterly. It also detracts attention from the fact that Muslim philosophy flourished during the ten centuries after Avicenna's death, emerging from Avicenna's inflammatory pronouncements on all matters within the world, whether physical or metaphysical; the works of the post-Avicennian Baghdadi Peripatetics and anti-Peripatetics, for example, remain to be studied in much greater detail.
Early Islamic philosophy, imbued as it is with Islamic theology, distinguishes more clearly than Aristotelianismthe difference between essenceand existence. Whereas existence is the domain of the contingent and the accidental, essence endures within a being beyond the accidental. However, Avicenna's commentaries upon the "Metaphysics" in particular demonstrate that he was much more clearly aligned with a philosophical comprehension of the metaphysical world rather than one that was grounded in theology. The philosophy of Avicenna, particularly that part relating to metaphysics, owes much to Aristotleand to al-Farabi.
Ontology: Distinction between essence and existence
al-Farabi's lead, Avicenna initiated a full-fledged inquiry into the question of being, in which he distinguished between essence("Mahiat") and existence("Wujud"). He argued that the fact of existence can not be inferred from or accounted for by the essence of existing things and that form and matter by themselves cannot interact and originate the movement of the universe or the progressive actualization of existing things. Existence must, therefore, be due to an agent-cause that necessitates, imparts, gives, or adds existence to an essence. To do so, the cause must be an existing thing and coexist with its effect. cite encyclopedia|last= |first= | authorlink= |title=Islam |year=2007| encyclopedia=Encyclopedia Britannica Online |accessdate=2007-11-27|location=|publisher=|url=http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-69190/Islam]
The significance of the issue is that there is no issue more central for
Islamic philosophythan Wujud (at once being and existence) and its relation to essence. [Nasr,(2006) p. 63] The major ontological distinction made by Avicenna between these two is so central to the whole structure of Islamic philosophy for the past millennium and finally led to division of the philosophers into two groups, one believe in Existentialismor the principiality of existence like Mulla Sadraand the other believe in Essentialism or the principiality of essence like Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi. [Nasr,(2006) pp. 85-88]
Some "orientalists" (or those particularly influenced by Thomist scholarship) argued that Avicenna was the first to view existence ("wujud") as an accident that happens to the essence ("mahiyya") and make a real distinction between essence and existence, and was also an early proponent of the concept of
essentialism. Avicenna anticipated Fregeand Bertrand Russellin "holding that existence is an accident of accidents" and also anticipated Alexius Meinong's "view about nonexistent objects." [citation|first=Herrera Ibáñez|last=Alejandro|title=La distinción entre esencia y existencia en Avicena|journal=Revista Latinoamericana de Filosofía|volume=16|pages=183-195|year=1990 |url=http://www.formalontology.it/avicenna_biblio.htm|accessdate=2008-01-29] He also provided early arguments for "a 'necessary being' as cause of all other existents." [citation|first=Hourani George|last=Fadlo|title=Ibn Sina on necessary and possible existence|journal=Philosophical Forum|volume=4|pages=74-86|year=1972 |url=http://www.formalontology.it/avicenna_biblio.htm|accessdate=2008-01-29] . However, this aspect of ontology is not the most central to the distinction that Avicenna established between essence and existence. One cannot therefore make the claim that Avicenna was the proponent of the concept of essentialism"per se", given that existence ("al-wujud") when thought of in terms of necessity would ontologically translate into a notion of the "Necessary-Existent-due-to-Itself" ("wajib al-wujud bi-dhatihi"), which is without description or definition, and particularly without quiddity or essence ("la mahiyya lahu"). Consequently, Avicenna's ontology is 'existentialist' when accounting for being qua existence in terms of necessity ("wujub"), while it is 'essentialist' in terms of thinking about being qua existence ("wujud") in terms of contingency qua possibility ("imkan"; or "mumkin al-wujud": contingent being). [ For recent discussions of this question see: Nader El-Bizri, "Avicenna and Essentialism", "The Review of Metaphysics", Vol. 54 (June 2001), pp. 753-778.]
Avicenna was also the first to argue that existence is not a
predicate.citation|last=Morewedge|first=P.|title=Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Malcolm and the Ontological Argument|journal=Monist|volume=54|pages=234-49] The idea of "essence precedes existence" is a concept which also dates back to Avicennacitation|first=Jones|last=Irwin|title=Averroes' Reason: A Medieval Tale of Christianity and Islam|date=Autumn 2002|journal=The Philosopher|volume=LXXXX|issue=2] and his school of Avicennism, and was further developed by Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi[Harv|Razavi|1997|p=129] and his Illuminationist philosophy. The opposite idea of " existence precedes essence" was thus developed in the works of Averroesand Mulla Sadra[Harv|Razavi|1997|p=130] as a reaction to this idea and is a key foundational concept of existentialism.
God as the First Cause and Necessary Existent
Before Avicenna the discussions among Muslim philosophers were about the unity of God as divine creator and his relationship with the world as creation. The earlier philosophers were affected by the
Plotinusideas. [ نظريه توحيد و راههای اثبات آن تا پيش از ابنسينا غالباً بر محور ارتباط خدا با جهان آفرينش، يعنی وحدت آفريننده جهان از جهت آفرينندگی او، در نظر بوده است. كندی (ج 1، ص 207) در رسالهای كه در پاسخ به علیبن جَهْم نگاشته، خدا را به عنوان مُحدِث جهان، واحد خوانده و برای اثبات اين مطلب، به اقامه استدلال به شيوه مذكور پرداخته است. برای فارابی (1405، ص 102) نيز اساس تبيين و اثبات توحيد، همين رابطه آفرينندگی خدا نسبت به جهان است. برای تبارشناسيِ اين بذلِ توجه فيلسوفان مسلمان به رابطه خدا با جهان در اثبات توحيد، میتوان به استشهاد فارابی (همانجا) به اُثولوجيا اشاره كرد. با توجه به اينكه اُثولوجيا نوشته فلوطين * (متوفی 269 يا 270 ميلادی) است، شايد بتوان يكی از ريشههای اين گرايش فيلسوفان مسلمان را انديشه فلوطين دانست. گر چه فارابی (1982، ص 39؛ همو، 1993، ص 42، 45) بنا بر اين گرايش، در اثبات وحدت خدا از برخی معانی، مانند «اول بودن»، استفاده كرده، لكن بر خلاف فلوطين، رابطه خدا را با جهان همانند رابطه جزء و كل، و نوعی رابطه درونی و حلولی ندانسته، بلكه بر تغاير جوهری و ذاتی خدا با جهان تصريح نموده است. علاوه بر اين، از حيث وجود نيز خدا را وجودی خاص و متمايز و از اين جهت نيز «واحد» دانست [http://www.encyclopaediaislamica.com/madkhal2.php?sid=5053 "Tawhid in the words of Philosophers"] Encyclopaedia Islamica] The ontological form of cosmological argument is put forwarded by Avicennawhich is known as "contingency and necessity argument" ("Imakan wa Wujub").
Avicenna found inspiration for this metaphysical view in the works of
Al-Farabi, but his innovation is in his account a single and "necessary" first cause of all existence. Whether this view can be reconciled with Islam, particularly given the question of what role is left for God's will, was to become a subject of considerable controversy within intellectual Islamic discourse.Avicenna's proof for the existence of Godwas the first ontological argument, which he proposed in the "Metaphysics" section of " The Book of Healing". [Johnson (1984), pp. 161–171.] [citation|last=Morewedge|first=P.|title=Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Malcolm and the Ontological Argument|journal=Monist|volume=54|pages=234-49] This was the first attempt at using the method of a priori proof, which utilizes intuitionand reasonalone. Avicenna's proof of God's existence is unique in that it can be classified as both a cosmological argumentand an ontological argument. "It is ontological insofar as ‘necessary existence’ in intellect is the first basis for arguing for a Necessary Existent". The proof is also "cosmological insofar as most of it is taken up with arguing that "contingent existents" cannot stand alone and must end up in a Necessary Existent." [citation|first=Toby|last=Mayer|title=Ibn Sina’s ‘Burhan Al-Siddiqin’|year=2001|journal=Journal of Islamic Studies|publisher= Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press|volume=12|issue=1|pages=18-39] Another argument Avicenna presented for God's existence was the problem of the mind-body dichotomy. [citation|title=Forming the Mind: Essays on the Internal Senses and the Mind/Body Problem from Avicenna to the Medical Enlightenment|publisher= Springer Science+Business Media|date=September 30, 2007|isbn=9781402060830]
According to Avicenna, the universe consists of a chain of actual beings, each giving existence to the one below it and responsible for the existence of the rest of the chain below. Because an actual infinite is deemed impossible by Avicenna, this chain as a whole must terminate in a being that is wholly simple and one, whose essence is its very existence, and therefore is self-sufficient and not in need of something else to give it existence. Because its existence is not contingent on or necessitated by something else but is necessary and eternal in itself, it satisfies the condition of being the necessitating cause of the entire chain that constitutes the eternal world of contingent existing things. Thus his ontological system rests on the conception of
Godas the "Wajib al-Wujud" (necessary existent). There is a gradual multiplication of beings through a timeless emanation from God as a result of his self-knowledge.cite encyclopedia|last=Nasr |first=Seyyed Hossein | authorlink=Seyyed Hossein Nasr |title=Avicenna |year=2007| encyclopedia=Encyclopedia Britannica Online |accessdate=2007-11-05|location=|publisher=|http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9011433/Avicenna] [ [http://inic.utexas.edu/asnic/phillips/pages/305/avicenna.html AVICENNA'S COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE] ]
This view has a profound impact on the monotheistic concept of creation. Existence is not seen by Avicenna as the work of a capricious deity, but of a divine, self-causing thought process. The movement from this to existence is necessary, and not an act of will per se. The world emanates from God by virtue of his abundant intellect - an immaterial cause as found in the neoplatonic concept of emanation.
In Avicenna's account of creation (largely derived from
Al-Farabi), from this First Cause proceeds the creation of the material world. The First Cause is transcends the Celestial intelligences that move the spheres. However Avicenna offers his version in response to how multiplicity can have emerged from unity, the First Cause. [Davidson (1992) p.82]
The First Intellect, in contemplating the necessity of its existence, gives rise to the Second Intellect. In contemplating its emanation from God, it then gives rise to the First Spirit, which animates the Sphere of Spheres (the universe). In contemplating itself as a self-caused essence (that is, as something that could potentially exist), it gives rise to the matter that fills the universe and forms the Sphere of the Planets (the First Heaven in al-Farabi).
This triple-contemplation establishes the first stages of existence. It continues, giving rise to consequential intellects which create between them two celestial hierarchies: the Superior Hierarchy of
Cherubim ("Kerubim") and the Inferior Hierarchy, called by Avicenna " Angels of Magnificence". These angels animate the heavens, but are deprived of all sensory perception, but have imagination which allows them to desire the intellect from which they came. Their vain quest to join this intellect causes an eternal movement in heaven. They also cause prophetic visions in humans.
The angels created by each of the next seven Intellects are associated with a different body in the Sphere of the Planets. These are:
Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury and the Moon. The last of these is of particular importance, since its association is with the Angel Gabriel ("The Angel").
This Ninth Intellect occurs at a step so removed from the First Intellect that the emanation that then arises from it explodes into fragments, creating not a further celestial entity, but instead creating human souls, which have the sensory functions lacked by the Angels of Magnificence.
Theory of knowledge and prophecy
According to Avicenna, at birth the incorporeal human soul contains no thought and has merely an empty potentially for thinking. This unqualified potentially for thought which belongs to every member of human being is a deposition inheriting in the incorporeal human soul. [Davidson (1992), pp.83 and 84] The concept of
tabula rasawas developed more clearly by Avicenna. He argued that the "human intellect at birth is rather like a tabula rasa, a pure potentiality that is actualized through educationand comes to know" and that knowledge is attained through " empiricalfamiliarity with objects in this world from which one abstracts universal concepts" which is developed through a "syllogistic method of reasoning; observations lead to prepositional statements, which when compounded lead to further abstract concepts."
For Avicenna, the human intellect has neither the role nor the power to abstract the intelligible from the sensible. Humans are intellectual only potentially, and All knowledge and all recollection are an emanation and an illumination which come from the Angel. Only illumination by the Angel confers upon them the ability to make from this potential a real ability to think. This is the Tenth Intellect, identified with the "
active intellect" of Aristotle's " De Anima." [Corbin (1993), p.172]
It is dual in structure, practical intellect and contemplative intellect, and its two aspects are known as terrestrial angels. The degree to which minds are illuminated by the Angel varies. Of the four states of the contemplative intellect, the one which corresponds to intimacy with the Angelwho is the active Intelligence is called the holy intellect(al-aql al-qudsi). At its height, it attains the privileged status of the spirit of
prophecy. [Corbin (1993), p.172] Prophets are illuminated to the point that they possess not only rational intellect, but also an imagination and ability which allows them to pass on their superior wisdom to others. Some receive less, but enough to write, teach, pass laws, and contribute to the distribution of knowledge. Others receive enough for their own personal realisation, and others still receive less.
On this view, all humanity shares a single agent intellect - a collective consciousness. The final stage of human life, according to Avicenna, is reunion with the emanation of the Angel. Thus, the Angel confers upon those imbued with its intellect the certainty of life after death. For Avicenna, as for the neoplatonists who influenced him, the immortality of the soul is a consequence of its nature, and not a purpose for it to fulfill.
Henry Corbin, when it comes to the question of the nous poietikos( intelligentia agens), on which the interpreters of Aristotlehave been divided from the beginning, Avicenna, following al-Farabi and Ismailicosmogony and contrary to Themistiusand Thomas Aquinas, opted for an Intelligence which is separate from and extrinsic to the human intellect; yet at the same time he does not identify it with the concept of God, as did Alexander of Aphrodisiasand the Augustinians. Al-Farabi and Avicenna regarded this Intelligence as a being in the Pleroma, and as linking man directly to the Pleroma. Hereby these philosophers demonstrated their gnostic originality. On the other hand, they were not content with the Peripateticnotion of the soul as the form of an organic body: this 'information' is only one of the soul's functions, and not even the most important of them. Thus their anthropology is neo-Platonic. [Corbin (1993), p.172]
Definition of truth
Avicenna elaborated on his definition of truth in his "
In his "Quodlibeta",
Thomas Aquinaswrote a commentary on Avicenna's definition of truth in his "Metaphysics" and explained it as follows:
Avicenna discussed the topic of
logic in Islamic philosophyand Islamic medicineextensively in his works, and developed his own system of logicknown as "Avicennian logic" as an alternative to Aristotelian logic. After the Latin translations of the 12th century, Avicennian logic had an influence on early medieval European logicians such as Albertus Magnus, [Richard F. Washell (1973), "Logic, Language, and Albert the Great", "Journal of the History of Ideas" 34 (3), p. 445-450  .] though Aristotelian logic later became popular in Europe due to the strong influence of Averroism.
In the 13th century,
Ibn al-Nafis(1213-1288) wrote a book on Avicennian logic, which was a commentary of Avicenna's "Al-Isharat" ("The Signs") and "Al-Hidayah" ("The Guidance"). [Dr. Abu Shadi Al-Roubi (1982), "Ibn Al-Nafis as a philosopher", "Symposium on Ibn al-Nafis", Second International Conference on Islamic Medicine: Islamic Medical Organization, Kuwait ( cf.[http://www.islamset.com/isc/nafis/drroubi.html Ibn al-Nafis As a Philosopher] , "Encyclopedia of Islamic World").]
Avicenna developed an early theory on
hypothetical syllogism, which formed the basis of his early risk factoranalysis.
Avicenna developed an early theory on
propositional calculus, which was an area of logic not covered in the Aristotelian tradition. [Lenn Evan Goodman (1992), "Avicenna", p. 188, Routledge, ISBN 041501929X.]
Temporal modal logic
The first criticisms of
Aristotelian logicwere written by Avicenna, who produced independent treatises on logicrather than commentaries. He criticized the logical school of Baghdadfor their devotion to Aristotleat the time. He investigated the theory of definitionand classificationand the quantificationof the predicates of categorical propositions, and developed an original theory on temporal modal syllogism. Its premises included modifiers such as "at all times", "at most times", and "at some time". [ [http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-65928 History of logic: Arabic logic] , " Encyclopædia Britannica".]
Systematic refutations of Greek logic were later written by the Illuminationist school, founded by
Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi(1155-1191), who developed the idea of "decisive necessity", which refers to the reduction of all modalities ( necessity, possibility, contingencyand impossibility) to the single mode of necessity, an important innovation in the history of logical philosophical speculation. [Dr. Lotfollah Nabavi, [http://public.ut.ac.ir/html/fac/lit/articles.html Sohrevardi's Theory of Decisive Necessity and kripke's QSS System] , "Journal of Faculty of Literature and Human Sciences".]
The Arabic theory of temporal modal logic is considered one of the most significant advances in Islamic logic, and was further developed up until the 15th century, with the logical treatise "Sharh al-takmil fi'l-mantiq" written by Muhammad ibn Fayd Allah ibn Muhammad Amin al-Sharwani being the last major Arabic work on logic. [
Nicholas Rescherand Arnold vander Nat, "The Arabic Theory of Temporal Modal Syllogistic", in George Fadlo Hourani (1975), "Essays on Islamic Philosophy and Science", p. 189-221, State University of New York Press, ISBN 0873952243.]
While Avicenna often relied on
deductive reasoningin philosophy, he used a different approach in medicine. Avicenna contributed inventively to the development of inductive logic, which he used to pioneer the idea of a syndromein the diagnosisof specific diseases. In his medical writings, Avicenna was the first to describe the methods of agreement, difference and concomitant variation which are critical to inductive logic and the scientific method.Lenn Evan Goodman (2003), "Islamic Humanism", p. 155, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0195135806.]
Avicennian epistemology and psychology
Empiricism, tabula rasa, nature versus nurture
One of Avicenna's most influential theories in
Muslim psychologyand epistemologyis his theory of knowledge, in which he developed the concepts of empiricismand tabula rasa, which later gave rise to the nature versus nurturedebate in modern philosophy and psychology. He argued that the "human intellect at birth is rather like a tabula rasa, a pure potentiality that is actualized through education and comes to know" and that knowledge is attained through " empiricalfamiliarity with objects in this world from which one abstracts universal concepts" which is developed through a "syllogistic method of reasoning; observations lead to prepositional statements, which when compounded lead to further abstract concepts." He further argued that the intellect itself "possesses levels of development from the material intellect ("al-‘aql al-hayulani"), that potentiality that can acquire knowledge to the active intellect ("al-‘aql al-fa‘il"), the state of the human intellect at conjunction with the perfect source of knowledge."Sajjad H. Rizvi (2006), [http://www.iep.utm.edu/a/avicenna.htm Avicenna/Ibn Sina (CA. 980-1037)] , " Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy"]
In the 12th century, the Andalusian-Arabian philosopher and novelist
Ibn Tufail(known as "Abubacer" or "Ebn Tophail" in the West) first demonstrated Avicenna's theory of tabula rasa as a thought experimentin his Arabic novel, " Hayy ibn Yaqdhan", in which he depicted the development of the mind of a feral child"from a tabula rasa to that of an adult, in complete isolation from society" on a desert island. The Latintranslation of his work, entitled "Philosophus Autodidactus", published by Edward Pocockethe Younger in 1671, had an influence on John Locke's formulation of tabula rasa in " An Essay Concerning Human Understanding",G. A. Russell (1994), "The 'Arabick' Interest of the Natural Philosophers in Seventeenth-Century England", pp. 224-262, Brill Publishers, ISBN 9004094598.] which went on to become one of the principal sources of empiricismin modern Western philosophy, and influenced many Enlightenment philosophers, such as David Humeand George Berkeley.
Neuropsychiatry, psychophysiology, psychosomatic medicine
The Canon of Medicine", Avicenna noted the close relationship between emotionsand the physical condition and felt that musichad a definite physical and psychological effect on patients. Of the many mental disorders that he described in the "Qanun", one is of unusual interest: love sickness. Avicenna is reputed to have diagnosed this condition in a Prince in Jurjan who lay sick and whose malady had baffled local doctors. Avicenna noted a fluttering in the Prince's pulse when the address and name of his beloved were mentioned. The great doctor had a simple remedy: unite the sufferer with the beloved.
Avicenna was the pioneer of
neuropsychiatry. He first described numerous neuropsychiatric conditions, including hallucination, insomnia, mania, nightmare, melancholia, dementia, epilepsy, paralysis, stroke, vertigo and tremor. [S. Safavi-Abbasi, L. B. C. Brasiliense, R. K. Workman (2007), "The fate of medical knowledge and the neurosciences during the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian Empire", "Neurosurgical Focus" 23 (1), E13, p. 3.]
Avicenna was also a pioneer in
psychophysiologyand psychosomatic medicine, and the firs to recognize ' physiological psychology' in the treatment of illnesses involving emotions, and developed a system for associating changes in the pulserate with inner feelings, which is seen as an anticipation of the word associationtest attributed to Carl Jung. Avicenna identified love sicknesswhen he was treating a very ill patient by "feeling the patient's pulse and reciting aloud to him the names of provinces, districts, towns, streets, and people." He noticed how the patient's pulse increased when certain names were mentioned, from which Avicenna deduced that the patient was in love with a girl whose home Avicenna was "able to locate by the digital examination." Avicenna advised the patient to marry the girl he is in love with, and the patient soon recovered from his illness after his marriage. [Ibrahim B. Syed PhD, "Islamic Medicine: 1000 years ahead of its times", "Journal of the Islamic Medical Association", 2002 (2), p. 2-9  .]
Thought experiments on self-consciousness
;"Floating Man" thought experiment"
While he was imprisoned in the castle of Fardajan near
Hamadhan, Avicenna described the earliest known thought experiment, now famously known as the "Floating Man" thought experiment, to demonstrate human self-awarenessand the substantiality of the soul. He referred to the living human intelligence, particularly the active intellect, which he believed to be the hypostasis by which God communicates truthto the human mindand imparts order and intelligibilityto nature. His "Floating Man" thought experiment tells its readers to imagine themselves suspended in the air, isolated from all sensations, which includes no sensory contact with even their own bodies. He argues that, in this scenario, one would still have self-consciousness. He thus concludes that the idea of the self is not logically dependent on any physical thing, and that the soul should not be seen in relative terms, but as a primary given, a substance. This idea was in contrast with Muslim theologians including Mu'taziliand Ash'ariones. Avicenna summarized his thought experiment as follows: [Nasr (1996), pp. 315, 1022 and 1023]
Later Muslim philosophers and theologians such as Suhrawardi and
Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsīattempted to further develop this idea.پارسانيا حميد (1989) حديث پيمانه [http://tebyan.net/index.aspx?PID=19667&PageSize=1&BOOKID=15890&LANGUAGE=1&PageIndex=39] ] This argument was then later refined and simplified by René Descartesin epistemicterms when he stated: "I can abstract from the supposition of all external things, but not from the supposition of my own consciousness." [Nasr (1996), pp. 315 and 1023] There's another viewpoint that Descartes's quotation is a misunderstanding when he said "I think, therefore I am." On the basis of Avicenna's discussion, a human knows himself without any internal or external effect and before any thought and if somebody tries to prove himself on the basis of an effect like his own consciousness, then he is just misleading himself.
;"Flying Man" thought experiment"
Avicenna also described another similar "Flying Man" thought experiment, which asks the question: "Can the soul be aware of its existence without the body?" Avicenna then responded with the following thought experiment:Turgut Özal, [http://www.sullivan-county.com/deism/igw.htm The Philosophies of Islam, Greece and the West] ]
This experiment was well-known in medieval Europe and had an influence on Christian philosophers such as Saint
Bonaventureand Albertus Magnus.
In physics, Ibn Sīnā was the first to employ an air
thermometerto measure air temperaturein his scientific experiments. [ Robert Briffault(1938). "The Making of Humanity", p. 191.]
optics, Ibn Sina discovered that the speed of lightis finite, as he "observed that if the perception of lightis due to the emission of some sort of particles by a luminous source, the speed of light must be finite." [ George Sarton, "Introduction to the History of Science", Vol. 1, p. 710.] He also provided a sophisticated explanation for the rainbowphenomenon. Carl Benjamin Boyerdescribed Ibn Sīnā's theory on the rainbow as follows:
Thoery of impetus
mechanics, Ibn Sīnā developed an elaborate theory of motion, in which he made a distinction between the inclinationand forceof a projectile, and concluded that motion was a result of an inclination ("mayl") transferred to the projectile by the thrower, and that projectile motionin a vacuum would not cease.Fernando Espinoza (2005). "An analysis of the historical development of ideas about motion and its implications for teaching", "Physics Education" 40 (2), p. 141.] He viewed inclination as a permanent force whose effect is dissipated by external forces such as air resistance. [ Aydin Sayili(1987), "Ibn Sīnā and Buridan on the Motion of the Projectile", "Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences" 500 (1), p. 477 – 482:quote|"It was a permanent force whose effect got dissipated only as a result of external agents such as air resistance. He is apparently the first to conceive such a permanent type of impressed virtue for non-natural motion."] His theory of motion was thus consistent with the concept of inertiain Newton's first law of motion. Ibn Sīnā also referred to "mayl" to as being proportional to weighttimes velocity, a precursor to the concept of momentumin Newton's second law of motion. [ Aydin Sayili(1987), "Ibn Sīnā and Buridan on the Motion of the Projectile", "Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences" 500 (1), p. 477 – 482:quote|"Thus he considered impetus as proportional to weight times velocity. In other words, his conception of impetus comes very close to the concept of momentum of Newtonian mechanics."] Ibn Sīnā's theory of "mayl" was further developed by Jean Buridanin his theory of impetus.
In the 14th century,
Jean Buridanrejected the Hipparchan-Philoponan (H-P) notion that the motive force, which he named impetus, dissipated spontaneously, and adopted the Avicennan theory of impetusin which (i) it is only corrupted by the resistances of the medium and of gravity in the case of anti-gravitational motion, but would otherwise be permanently conserved in the absence of any resistances to motion, and in which (ii) gravity is also a downward projector and creator of downward impetus, unlike in the radically different Hipparchan-Philoponan theory in which gravity neither creates not destroys impetus. The assimilation of the role of gravity in natural motion to the role of a projector that creates impetus just as it is created by a thrower in anti-gravitational violent motion was explicitly stated by Buridan's pupil Dominicus de Clavasio in his 1357 "De Caelo", as follows:
:"When something moves a stone by violence, in addition to imposing on it an actual force, it impresses in it a certain impetus. In the same way gravity not only gives motion itself to a moving body, but also gives it a motive power and an impetus, ...".
Buridan's position was that a moving object would "only" be arrested by the resistance of the air and the weight of the body which would oppose its impetus. [cite web |title=Jean Buridan: Quaestiones on Aristotle's Physics |url=http://brahms.phy.vanderbilt.edu/a203/impetus_theory.html]
;The tunnel experiment and oscillatory motion
The Avicennan-Buridan (A-B) self-conserving impetus theory developed one of the most important thought-experiments in the history of science, namely the so-called 'tunnel-experiment', so important because it brought oscillatory and pendulum motion within the pale of dynamical analysis and understanding in the science of motion for the very first time and thereby also established one of the important principles of classical mechanics. The pendulum was to play a crucially important role in the development of mechanics in the 17th century, and so more generally was the axiomatic principle of Galilean, Huygenian and Leibnizian dynamics to which the tunnel experiment also gave rise, namely that a body rises to the same height from which it has fallen, a principle of gravitational potential energy. As Galileo expressed this fundamental principle of his dynamics in his 1632 "Dialogo":
"The heavy falling body acquires sufficient impetus [in falling from a given height] to carry it back to an equal height." [See p22-3 & p227 "Dialogo", Stillman Drake (tr) University of California Press 1953, where the tunnel experiment is discussed. Also see Galileo's "Discorsi", p206-8 on p162-4 Drake 1974 where Salviati presents 'experimental proof' of this postulate by pendulum motions.]
This imaginary experiment predicted that a canonball dropped down a tunnel going straight through the centre of the Earth and out the other side would go past the centre and rise on the opposite surface to the same height from which it had first fallen on the other side, driven upwards past the centre by the gravitationally created impetus it had continually accumulated in falling downwards to the centre. This impetus would require a violent motion correspondingly rising to the same height past the centre for the now opposing force of gravity to destroy it all in the same distance which it had previously required to create it, and whereupon at this turning point the ball would then descend again and oscillate back and forth between the two opposing surfaces about the centre "ad infinitum" in principle. Thus the tunnel experiment provided the first dynamical model of oscillatory motion, albeit a purely imaginary one in the first instance, and specifically in terms of A-B impetus dynamics. [For statements of the relationship between pendulum motion and the tunnel prediction, see for example Oresme's discussion in his "Treatise on the Heavens and the World" translated on p.570 of Clagett's 1959, and Benedetti's discussion on p235 of Drake & Drabkin 1959. For Buridan's discussion of pendulum motion in his "Questiones" see p.537-8 of Clagett 1959]
Whereas the orthodox Aristotelians could only see pendulum motion as a dynamical anomaly, as inexplicably somehow 'falling to rest with difficulty' as the American irrationalist historian and philosopher of science Tom Kuhn put it in his 1962 "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" [See pp117-125 of 1962 edition and pp118-26 of its 1970 second edition.] , on the A-B impetus theory's novel analysis it was not falling with any dynamical difficulty at all in principle, but was rather falling in repeated and potentially endless cycles of alternating downward gravitationally natural motion and upward gravitationally violent motion. Hence, for example, Galileo was eventually to appeal to pendulum motion to demonstrate that the speed of gravitational free-fall is the same for all unequal weights precisely by virtue of dynamically modelling pendulum motion in this manner as a case of cyclically repeated gravitational free-fall along the horizontal in principle. [See p128-131 of his 1638 "Discorsi", translated on p86-90 of Drake's 1974 English edition.] In terms of Kuhnian psycho-babble, this A-B impetus dynamics model of pendulum motion was 'a gestalt-switch induced by lateral thinking'.
In fact the tunnel experiment, and hence pendulum motion, was an imaginary crucial experiment in favour of A-B impetus dynamics against both orthodox Aristotelian dynamics without any auxiliary impetus theory, and also against Aristotelian dynamics with its H-P variant. For according to the latter two theories the bob cannot possibly pass beyond the normal. In orthodox Aristotelian dynamics there is no force to carry the bob upwards beyond the centre in violent motion against its own gravity that carries it to the centre, where it stops. And when conjoined with the H-P auxiliary theory, in the case where the canonball is released from rest, again there is no such force because either all the initial upward force of impetus originally impressed within it to hold it in static dynamical equilibrium has been exhausted, or else if any remained it would be acting in the opposite direction and combine with gravity to prevent motion through and beyond the centre. Nor were the canonball to be positively hurled downwards, and thus with a downward initial impetus, could it possibly result in an oscillatory motion. For although it could then possibly pass beyond the centre, it could never return to pass through it and rise back up again. For dynamically in this case although it would be logically possible for it to pass beyond the centre if when it reached it some of the constantly decaying downward impetus remained and still sufficiently much to be stronger than gravity to push it beyond the centre and upwards again, nevertheless when it eventually then became weaker than gravity, whereupon the ball would then be pulled back towards the centre by its gravity, it could not then pass beyond the centre to rise up again, because it would have no force directed against gravity to overcome it. For any possibly remaining impetus would be directed 'downwards' towards the centre, that is, in the same direction in which it was originally created.
Thus pendulum motion was dynamically impossible for both orthodox Aristotelian dynamics and also for H-P impetus dynamics on this 'tunnel model' analogical reasoning. But it was predicted by the A-B impetus theory's tunnel prediction precisely because that theory posited that a continually accumulating downwards force of impetus directed towards the centre is acquired in natural motion, sufficient to then carry it upwards beyond the centre against gravity, and rather than only having an initially upwards force of impetus away from the centre as in the H-P theory of natural motion. So the tunnel experiment constituted a crucial experiment between three alternative theories of natural motion.
On this analysis then A-B impetus dynamics was to be preferred if the Aristotelian science of motion was to incorporate a dynamical explanation of pendulum motion. And indeed it was also to be preferred more generally if it was to explain other oscillatory motions, such as the to and fro vibrations around the normal of musical strings in tension, such as those of a zither, lute or guitar. For here the analogy made with the gravitational tunnel experiment was that the tension in the string pulling it towards the normal played the role of gravity, and thus when plucked i.e. pulled away from the normal and then released, this was the equivalent of pulling the canonball to the Earth's surface and then releasing it. Thus the musical string vibrated in a continual cycle of the alternating creation of impetus towards the normal and its destruction after passing through the normal until this process starts again with the creation of fresh 'downward' impetus once all the 'upward' impetus has been destroyed.
Philosophy of education
In the medieval Islamic world, an elementary
schoolwas known as a " maktab", which dates back to at least the 10th century. Like madrasahs (which referred to higher education), a maktab was often attached to a mosque. In the 11th century, Ibn Sina, in one of his books, wrote a chapter dealing with the "maktab" entitled "The Role of the Teacher in the Training and Upbringing of Children", as a guide to teachers working at "maktab" schools. He wrote that children can learn better if taught in classes instead of individual tuitionfrom private tutors, and he gave a number of reasons for why this is the case, citing the value of competitionand emulationamong pupils as well as the usefulness of group discussions and debates. Ibn Sina described the curriculumof a "maktab" school in some detail, describing the curricula for two stages of education in a "maktab" school.citation|title=The Age of Achievement: Vol 4|last=M. S. Asimov|first=Clifford Edmund Bosworth|publisher= Motilal Banarsidass|year=1999|isbn=8120815963|page=33-4]
Ibn Sina wrote that children should be sent to a "maktab" school from the age of 6 and be taught
primary educationuntil they reach the age of 14. During which time, he wrote that they should be taught the Qur'an, Islamic metaphysics, language, literature, Islamic ethics, and manual skills (which could refer to a variety of practical skills).
Ibn Sina refers to the
secondary educationstage of "maktab" schooling as the period of specialization, when pupils should begin to acquire manual skills, regardless of their social status. He writes that children after the age of 14 should be given a choice to choose and specialize in subjects they have an interest in, whether it was reading, manual skills, literature, preaching, medicine, geometry, trade and commerce, craftsmanship, or any other subject or profession they would be interested in pursuing for a future career. He wrote that this was a transitional stage and that there needs to be flexibility regarding the age in which pupils graduage, as the student's emotional development and chosen subjects need to be taken into account. [citation|title=The Age of Achievement: Vol 4|last=M. S. Asimov|first=Clifford Edmund Bosworth|publisher= Motilal Banarsidass|year=1999|isbn=8120815963|page=34-5]
Philosophy of science
In the "Al-Burhan" ("On Demonstration") section of the "
The Book of Healing", Avicenna discussed the philosophy of scienceand described an early scientific methodof inquiry. He discusses Aristotle's " Posterior Analytics" and significantly diverged from it on several points. Avicenna discussed the issue of a proper methodology for scientific inquiry and the question of "How does one acquire the first principles of a science?" He asked how a scientist would arrive at "the initial axioms or hypotheses of a deductive science without inferring them from some more basic premises?" He explains that the ideal situation is when one grasps that a "relation holds between the terms, which would allow for absolute, universal certainty." Avicenna then adds two further methods for arriving at the first principles: the ancient Aristotelian method of induction("istiqra"), and the method of examinationand experimentation ("tajriba"). Avicenna criticized Aristotelian induction, arguing that "it does not lead to the absolute, universal, and certain premises that it purports to provide." In its place, he develops "a method of experimentation as a means for scientific inquiry." [citation|last=McGinnis|first=Jon|title=Scientific Methodologies in Medieval Islam|journal=Journal of the History of Philosophy|volume=41|issue=3|date=July 2003|pages=307-327]
The Canon of Medicine", Avicenna was the first to describe the methods of agreement, difference and concomitant variation which are critical to inductive logic and the scientific method.Lenn Evan Goodman (1992), "Avicenna", p. 33, Routledge, ISBN 041501929X.] However, unlike his contemporary Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnīwho developed scientific methods where "universals came out of practical, experimental work" and "theories are formulated after discoveries", Avicenna developed a scientific method where "general and universal questions came first and led to experimental work." [citation|first=Ziauddin|last=Sardar|author-link=Ziauddin Sardar|date=1998|contribution=Science in Islamic philosophy|title=Islamic Philosophy|publisher= Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy|url=http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ip/rep/H016.htm|accessdate=2008-02-03]
Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī, who are both regarded as two of the greatest polymaths in Persian history, engaged in a written debate, with al-Biruni mostly criticizing Aristotelian natural philosophyand the Peripatetic school, while Avicenna and his student Ahmad ibn 'Ali al-Ma'sumi respond to al-Biruni's criticisms in writing. Al-Biruni began by asking Avicenna eighteen questions, ten of which were criticisms of Aristotle's " On the Heavens", with his first question criticizing Aristotle's reasons for denying the existence of levityor gravity in the celestial spheres and the Aristotelian notion of circular motionbeing an innate property of the heavenly bodies.Rafik Berjak and Muzaffar Iqbal, "Ibn Sina--Al-Biruni correspondence", "Islam & Science", June 2003.]
Biruni's second question criticizes Aristotle's over-reliance on more ancient views concerning the
heavens, while the third criticizes the Aristotelian view that spacehas only six directions. The fourth question deals with the continuity and discontinuity of physical bodies, while the fifth criticizes the Peripatetic school's denial of the possibility of there existing another worldcompletely different from the world known to them. [Rafik Berjak and Muzaffar Iqbal, "Ibn Sina--Al-Biruni correspondence", "Islam & Science", December 2003.] In his sixth question, Biruni rejects Aristotle's view on the celestial spheres having circular orbits rather than elliptic orbits. In his seventh question, he rejects Aristotle's notion that the motion of the heavens begins from the right side and from the east, while his eighth question concerns Aristotle's view on the fire element being spherical. The ninth question concerns the movement of heat, and the tenth question concerns the transformation of elements. [Rafik Berjak and Muzaffar Iqbal, "Ibn Sina--Al-Biruni correspondence", "Islam & Science", Summer 2004.] The eleventh question concerns the burning of bodies by radiationreflecting off a flaskfilled with water, and the twelfth concerns the natural tendency of the classical elements in their upward and downward movements. The thirteenth question deals with vision, while the fourteenth concerns habitationon different parts of Earth. His fifteenth question asks how two opposite squares in a square divided into four can be tangential, while the sixteenth question concerns vacuum. His seventeenth question asks "if things expand upon heating and contract upon cooling, why does a flask filled with water break when water freezes in it?" His eighteenth and final question concerns the observable phenomenon of icefloating on water. [Rafik Berjak and Muzaffar Iqbal, "Ibn Sina--Al-Biruni correspondence", "Islam & Science", Winter 2004.]
After Avicenna responded to the questions, Biruni was unsatisfied with some of the answers and wrote back commenting on them, after which Avicenna's student Ahmad ibn 'Ali al-Ma'sumi wrote back on behalf of Avicenna.
Avicenna was a devout
Muslimand sought to reconcile rational philosophy with Islamic theology. His aim was to prove the existence of God and his creation of the world scientifically and through reasonand logic.Lenn Evan Goodman (2003), "Islamic Humanism", p. 8-9, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0195135806.]
Avicenna wrote a number of treatises dealing with Islamic theology. These included treatises on the
Islamic prophets, who he viewed as "inspired philosophers", and on various scientific and philosophical interpretations of the Qur'an, such as how Quranic cosmologycorresponds to his own philosophical system. He attempted to use philosophy in order to prove the realities established by the Islamic prophetic tradition. [James W. Morris (1992), "The Philosopher-Prophet in Avicenna's Political Philosophy", in C. Butterworth (ed.), "The Political Aspects of Islamic PhIlosophy", Chapter 4, Cambridge Harvard University Press, p. 142-188 [159-161] .]
Avicenna's investigation into the
natural sciences was inspired by his quest to discover the signs ("a’yat") of Allahand thus arrive at a better understanding and appreciation of God’s magnificence. He wrote: [citation|last=Nadarajan|first=Gunalan|title=Islamic Automation: A Reading of al-Jazari's The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices (1206)|date=October 2005|journal=Media Art Histories Archive|url=http://126.96.36.199/dspace/bitstream/10002/323/1/Gunalan_Nadarajan_refresh.pdf|accessdate=2008-09-05]
Avicenna memorized the Qur'an by the age of seven, and as an adult, he wrote five treatises commenting on
suras from the Qur'an. One of these texts included the "Proof of Prophecies", in which he comments on several Quranic verses and holds the Qur'an in high esteem. Avicenna argued that the Islamic prophets should be considered higher than philosophers, and in his "Autobiography", he considered both religion and philosophy as necessary parts of the entire truth. [Jules Janssens (2004), "Avicenna and the Qur'an: A Survey of his Qur'anic commentaries", "MIDEO" 25, p. 177-192.]
Avicennism in Islamic philosophy
Avicenna's immediate followers were of the highest standing. There was, first and foremost, the faithful
Abu Ubayd al-Juzjani, who wrote a Persian version and commentary on the " Hayy ibn Yaqdhan"; Ibn Tufail(Abubacer) wrote a philosophical novel, also entitled "Hayy ibn Yaqzan"; Husayn ibn Zayla of Isfahan, who wrote a commentary on it in Arabic; and Bahmanyar, a Zoroastrianwhose important work remains unedited. [Corbin (1993), p.174 ]
However Avicennism affected the critics too. Just two generations after Avicenna,
al-Ghazalitestifies to the fact that no serious Muslim thinker could ignore the claim of philosophy as a way to the highest and most comprehensive knowledge available to man and as a way to the Truth. He also testifies to the fact that philosophy for all practical purposes meant Avicenna's philosophy. When he tried to present the intentions of the philosophers, he wrote a summary of Avicenna's philosophy. And when he tried to show the incoherence of the philosophers, he wrote a refutation of Avicennism. Similarly, when Al-Shahrastanicame to give an account of the doctrines of “the philosophers of Islam” as distinguished from the doctrines of Greek or Indian philosophers, he simply summarized the doctrines of “the most distinguished ... Avicenna”. His supriority has been so great that several scholars in the 12th century commented on his strong influence at the time: [Nahyan A. G. Fancy (2006), p. 80-81, "Pulmonary Transit and Bodily Resurrection: The Interaction of Medicine, Philosophy and Religion in the Works of Ibn al-Nafīs (d. 1288)", "Electronic Theses and Dissertations", University of Notre Dame. [http://etd.nd.edu/ETD-db/theses/available/etd-11292006-152615] ]
Most of the later Muslim theologians and mystics who tried to harmonize philosophy and theology, like
Nasir al-Din Tusi, or philosophy and mysticism, like Suhrawardi, and later on, philosophy and theology and mysticism, like Mulla Sadra, also made use of Avicennan methodology and arguments.
Criticism and post-Avicennian philosophy among Muslims
Avicenna's philosophical doctrine was later criticized by Muslim theologians,
Sufisand other Islamic philosophers. These criticisms eventually led to a new philosophy in the 16th century known as Transcendent Theosophy. Ash'aritheologians, especially al-Ghazaliand Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, criticized him due to the contrast of some of his ideas to that of the Qur'anand Hadith. Al-Ghazali, in his famous work " The Incoherence of the Philosophers" ("Tahafat al-Falasafah"), criticized Avicenna in three cases: First, qadim, that is the word has no beginning in the past and is not created in time. Second, that God's knowledge includes only classes of beings (universals) and does not extend to individual beings and their circumstances (particulars), and third, , bodily resurrection, i.e. after death the souls of humans will never again return into bodies. According to al-Ghazali, in these three cases the teachings of Islam, which are based on revelation, suggest the opposite and thus overrule the unfounded claims of the Avicenna. [ [http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2007/entries/al-ghazali/#AlGhaRepFalTea Al-Ghazali] by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, First published Tue 14 Aug, 2007]
He accused Avicenna of disbelief in Islam and even argued that it was "
fard" to consider him a " Kafir", despite the fact that Avicenna accepted the shortage of his own philosophy in several works, including " The Book of Healing", where he confessed that he can not prove bodily resurrection but accepts it on the basis of faith. [Keller, Nuh Ha mim (2006), "Kalam and Islam" [http://masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/kalam.htm] ] [Nasr, (1996) p.35] In the following period, in the wake of Avicenna's Peripatetic philosophy in the 11th and 12th centuries, Ash'aritheology was predominant in the eastern Islamic lands. Of course, as Henry Corbinmentions, Avicennism didn't fade away by such criticisms in the Muslim world, especially in Iran. [Corbin, (1993) p. 174] [Nasr, (2006) p. 86 and 87]
Among Muslim philosophers
Averroescriticized Avicenna due to his divergence from Aristotle. [Corbin (1993), p.153] He rejected the theory of the celestial Souls,and consequently the theory of an imagination which is independentof the corporeal senses. [Corbin (1993), p.171] The tide of Averroismwas to submerge the effects of Avicennism in Christianity, quite a different fate awaitedit in the East. There Averroism was unknown, and al-Ghazali's critique didn't have great effect. [Corbin (1993), p.174]
On the other hand some Sufis such as Rumi and Attar usually criticized rationalistic methodology of
Early Islamic philosophywhich put reason as a curtain between intellect and truth, which lead to considering the God as the First Cause which couldn't be worshiped. [علم تقليدي وبال جان ماست عاريه است و ما نشسته كان ماستعلم گفتاري كه آن بيجان بود طالب روي خريداران بودبه عقيدهي مولانا، فلسفه و به ويژه بخش مابعدالطبيعهي آن، بارزترين جلوهي علم تقليدي است. چرا كه با افضل معلوم - خداوند متعال - برخوردي مبتني بر بيگانگي و نه الفت اتخاذ كرده است. اينكه مولانا «علت اولي» ناميدن خداوند را سقيم (56) مييابد و از قول خداوند ميگويد كه «چار طبع و علت اولي نيام»، دليل بيزاري مولانا از طرز تلقي فلاسفه از خداوند است. خداوندي كه بارزترين صفت او «علت اولي» بودن باشد، البته نميتواند قبلهي آشنايي و عشقورزي و حاجت خواهي آدمي قرار گيرد. به نظر ميرسد اين مواجههي مبتني بر بيگانگي فلاسفه با خداوند، عمدهترين دليل بيزاري مولانا از اهل فلسفه بوده باشد. اينگونه مواجهه سبب گرديده است كه مولانا بارزترين نمود علم تقليدي را در فلسفه سراغ كند و فلسفه و اهل آن را به نمايندگي تمام علوم تقليدي مورد طعن و تعريض [ http://www.iptra.ir/vdcjuqxheem.html ريشه جدال مولانا با فلسفه چه بود] ] Sufis also have criticized Avicenna on the basis of Sufi metaphysics. For example Farid-al-Din Attarcriticized him while describes Tawhidin Conference of the Birds. The basis of the criticism is "Wahdat-ul-Wujood" or Unity of Being which means there is not any true being but God. This idea contradicts with the Avicennan cosmology which considers God as the first cause of all things. According to Sufism there isn't any real cause but God. [رفت پیش بوعلی آن پیر زن کاغذی زر برد کین بستان ز منشیخ گفتش عهد دارم من که نیز جز ز حق نستانم از کس هیچچیزپیرزن در حال گفت ای بوعلی از کجا آوردی آخر احولیتو درین ره مرد عقد و حل نهای چند بینی غیر اگر احول نهای
[http://rira.ir/rira/php/?page=view&mod=classicpoems&obj=poem&id=6766&q=%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%B9%D9%84%DB%8C حکایت پیرزنی که کاغذ زری به بوعلی داد] ]
Insofar as the opposition between al-Ghazali and philosophers may with truth be defined as the opposition between the philosophy of the heart and pure speculative philosophy, it was one that could be overcome only by something which did not reject either philosophy or the spiritual experience of Sufism, this was the doctrine of al-Suhrawardi. [Corbin (1993), p. 251] In the eastern part of Muslim lands
Shahab al-Din Suhrawardifollowed Avicenna's attempts to build an "Oriental philosophy" (Hikmat al-Mashriqia), a project which according to Suhrwardi, could never have been completed because he was ignorant of true Oriental sources such as Persian philosophy. Al-Suhrawardi essentialistic approach led to a new philosophy which is known as the School of Illumination. [Corbin (1993), p. 174] [Nasr (2006), p. 87] As Suhrwardi wrote in the beginning of "Story of Western Loneliness", he starts the story from where Avicenna ended the story of " Hayy ibn Yaqdhan".
In the 13th century, Avicennism was revived by the efforts of
Nasir al-Din Tusi, though the interpretation of this Avicennism was based on the ideas of Suhrwardi and Ibn Arabi, and differed from the rationalist Avicennism known in Europe. In the 16th century, Mulla Sadrainnovated a new philosophical system which combined the vision of Sufi metaphysicsand the rationalistic Peripatetic approach of Avicenna. He also solved some of the major problems in Avicennism such as bodily resurrection. [Nasr (1996), p.35] [Nasr, (2006), pp. 87 and 88]
Avicennism in medieval Europe
medieval Europe, the main significance of the Latincorpus lies in the interpretation of Avicennism, in particular for regarding his doctrines on the nature of the souland his existence- essencedistinction, along with the debates and censure that they raised in scholastic Europe. This was particularly the case in Paris, where Avicennism was later proscribedin 1210. However, the influence of his psychologyand theory of knowledge upon William of Auvergneand Albertus Magnushave been noted. More significant is the impact of his metaphysicsupon the work and thought of Thomas Aquinas. [ [http://www.iep.utm.edu/a/avicenna.htm#H5 The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Avicenna/Ibn Sina (CA. 980-1037)] ] Finally the tide of Averroismwas to submerge the effects of Avicennism in Christianity. [Corbin (1993), p.174]
The Latin followers of Avicenna, known as the "Avicennian left" in Europe, also came close to materialism in the 13th century, according to
Ernest Mandel. [ Ernest Mandel(1986), "The Place of Marxism in History", "I. The general historical context"]
The Book of Healing
Early Islamic philosophy
*cite book|last=Corbin|first=Henry|authorlink=Henry Corbin|coauthors=|title=History of Islamic Philosophy, Translated by Liadain Sherrard, Philip Sherrard|publisher=London; Kegan Paul International in association with Islamic Publications for The Institute of Ismaili Studies |year=1993 (original French 1964)|isbn=0710304161|pages=p. 167-175
*cite book|last=Davidson|first=Herbert Alan|authorlink=|coauthors=|title=Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect|publisher=Oxford University Press US |year=1992|isbn=:0195074238
*cite book|last=Goodman|first=Lenn Evan|authorlink=|coauthors=|title=Avicenna |publisher=Routledge |year=1992 |isbn=041501929X
*Harvard reference|title=Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination|first=Mehdi Amin|last=Razavi|year=1997|publisher=
*cite book|last=Nasr|first=Seyyed Hossein|authorlink=Seyyed Hossein Nasr|coauthors=
Oliver Leaman|title=History of Islamic Philosophy|publisher=Routledge |year=1996|isbn=0415131596
*cite book|last=Nasr|first=Seyyed Hossein|authorlink=Seyyed Hossein Nasr|coauthors=|title=Islamic Philosophy from Its Origin to the Present: Philosophy in the Land of prophecy|publisher=SUNY Press |year=2006|isbn=0791467996
*cite encyclopedia|last=Nasr |first=Seyyed Hossein | authorlink=Seyyed Hossein Nasr |title=Avicenna |year=2007| encyclopedia=Encyclopedia Britannica Online |accessdate=2007-11-05|location=|publisher=|http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9011433/Avicenna
*cite encyclopedia|last= |first= | authorlink= |title=Islam |year=2007| encyclopedia=Encyclopedia Britannica Online |accessdate=2007-11-27|location=|publisher=|url=http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-69190/Islam
* [http://fa.hole.ru/Hist_Iran_Phil_Corbin_part_I.pdf History of Islamic Philosophy] by
Henry Corbin(pp. 167-175)
* [http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/sina/index.html Ibn Sina (Islamic Philosophy Online)]
* [http://www.formalontology.it/avicenna.htm Avicenna on the subject and the object of metaphysics] with annotated bibliography
* [http://www.philosophersnet.com/cafe/archive_article.php?id=119&name=philosopher Philosophy of Avicenna]
* [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arabic-islamic-judaic/ Influence of Arabic and Islamic Philosophy on Judaic Thought] by
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
* [http://www.antiochgate.com Antioch Gate] has published the "entire" text (in English translation) of Ibn Sina's rare work "A Compendium on the Soul" (keywords: Ibn Sina.pdf, Avicenna.pdf, Avicena.pdf, Ibn Sina - A Compendium on the Soul.pdf).
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