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Avicenna’s Conception of the History of Philosophy

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Chapter Summary

Avicenna adhered to the classification of the sciences in the Aristotelian tradition in all his works. This applies both to his structuring of the polythematic philosophical summae and to his treatment of the division of the sciences itself, whether independently (as in The Divisions of Philosophy) or in other contexts. Avicenna did not develop his concept of the history of philosophy through a mere reading of the philosophers themselves; in this he was profoundly influenced by traditional views prevailing in the literature available to him. Aristotle's depiction of the progress of knowledge in historical terms in the epilogue of the Sophistici Elenchi contributed to the development of a stylized conception of the history of philosophy. The medical metaphor, philosophy is the medicine of souls, goes back to Aristotle himself and was in constant use throughout the history of Greek philosophy.

Keywords: Aristotelian tradition; Avicenna; Greek philosophy; Sophistici Elenchi



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