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Avicenna On Matter

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Chapter Summary

Matter stands for the potentiality and receptivity of the material substance. Prime matter is pure potentiality, being prepared to receive forms, through which it is actualised. For Avicenna, matter is something indeterminate that serves all purposes, in the sense that it can receive any form if it has been prepared accordingly, and can be shared by anything material. Also it is at the opposite end of form in the ontological spectrum. It is wholly passive and malleable. Two different questions are distinguishable concerning the coming into existence of matter. One is the origin of matter through the emanative process and the other is the preparation of matter. The theory of matter that emerges from the analysis of Avicenna's texts is largely negative. Matter is an entity that must be assumed for the sake of the philosophical system but has no intrinsic, independent reality.

Keywords: Avicenna; material substance; matter; philosophical system



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