- (or Ibn Sina, Abu Ali Al-Husayn ) (980–1037)Leading Islamic philosopher and Neoplatonist . Avicenna was born in Bukhara, and educated in literature, law, logic, and mathematics, as well as science and metaphysics. A child prodigy, by the age of sixteen he was an accomplished physician; however, although he read Aristotle's Metaphysics forty times, he claimed that it was not until he also absorbed Al-Farabi's On the Objects of Metaphysics that he finally understood it. The end of the Samanid dynasty in 999 saw the beginning of various wanderings and allegiances to different courts, and he eventually died in Isfahan. He wrote between one and two hundred works on diverse subjects, mostly in Arabic but also in Persian. His major philosophical work, The Healing, became known to medieval western philosophy through Al-Ghazali's summary, and through translations into Latin. Avicenna represents a Neoplatonic version of Aristotelianism, a strand of thought considered immensely influential on 13th century scholasticism, although eventually eclipsed by a less Augustinian, purer Aristotelianism filtered through his western Islamic counterpart, Averroës.One of his arguments concerning the nature of the soul postulates a full-grown man suddenly coming into existence although suspended in empty space, with eyes covered and limbs separated. This ‘flying man’ would have no sensation, but nevertheless be aware of his being and his self. The argument anticipates the cogito of Descartes . Avicenna believed that being was an accident of essence, and that contingent beings require necessary causes sustaining their existence. This version of the cosmological argument was the one accepted by Aquinas . It is in the theological domain, where he espouses doctrines of creation as a kind of emanation, and of celestial substances as kinds of intelligence, that Neoplatonism surfaces in his work.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.