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Post-Avicennan Physics in the Medical Commentaries of the Mamluk Period

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Recent work has shown that Islamicate philosophers engaged meaningfully with Ibn Sīnā’s transformation of Aristotelian physics, particularly his new understanding of motion at an instant and his new category of positional motion. Although Ibn Sīnā considered medicine a derivative science of physics, little work has been done to determine the impact of the new Avicennan physics on medicine. In this paper, I shall examine the discussions on motion contained in the sections on pulse within seven medical commentaries produced between 1200 and 1520 CE. The examination will reveal that Ibn al-Nafīs’s novel, non-Galenic application of the Avicennan category of positional motion to pulse generated an invigorating debate amongst later commentators. Consequently, the paper shows that: a) Ibn al-Nafīs’s transformations of Galenic/Avicennan medical theory were widely discussed in subsequent commentaries; and b) Mamluk-era medical writers continued to engage in philosophical discussions despite Ibn Sīnā’s epistemological arguments against doing so.

Affiliations: 1: DePauw University nahyanfancy@depauw.edu

10.1163/2212943X-00601007
/content/journals/10.1163/2212943x-00601007
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/content/journals/10.1163/2212943x-00601007
2018-01-01
2018-06-24

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