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Avicenna’s Philosophical Project

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Chapter Summary

Avicenna came of age in the last quarter of the tenth century, a time when the philosophical and scientific activities in the Islamic world, and the Graeco-Arabic translation movement which they fostered and sustained, had been in progress for over two hundred years. He studied the traditional subjects, the Qurʾān, Arabic literature, and arithmetic, and had a particular propensity for legal studies as well as medicine: he reports that at the same time he was studying repeatedly all the branches of philosophy at increasingly proficient levels. Equally important as the availability of the Graeco-Arabic philosophical literature to Avicenna was the structure of this philosophical knowledge which he studied and internalized. Avicenna sought to express his new synthesis of philosophy in a way that would also respond to the philosophical concerns of his age and society, and this explains his experimentation with the wide variety of compositional styles.

Keywords: Arabic literature; Avicenna; Graeco-Arabic philosophical literature; Islamic world; medicine; philosophical knowledge



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