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The Evolution of Avicenna’s Attitude toward Aristotle, the Aristotelian Tradition, and His Own Work

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Chapter Summary

Avicenna saw himself as belonging essentially in the Peripatetic tradition. Avicenna's dismissal of non-Aristotelian philosophical traditions is based on two factors, one personal and the other traditional. Avicenna derived his conception of the history of philosophy from the late antique tradition of Alexandria which presented Aristotle as the pinnacle of philosophy. Avicenna criticized severely the Platonic theory of ideas, following Aristotle. Avicenna's attitude toward Aristotle never changed in its essence but only in its expression. It was transformed from the traditional adulation to critical appreciation and respect. The shift in emphasis from "philosopher" to "teacher" would seem to be consistent with Avicenna's overall development toward seeing Knowledge not as the possession of one specific discipline, philosophy, or of one specific nation, but as universal because it reflects ontological reality. The evolution of a similar critical tone is observed in Avicenna's attitude toward Muslim thinkers as well.

Keywords: Alexandria; Aristotelian tradition; Aristotle; Avicenna; Muslim thinkers; philosophy; Platonic theory



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