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Avicenna’s Theology


Ibn Sina was a devout Muslim and sought to reconcile rational philosophy with Islamic theology. His aim was to prove the existence of God and his creation of the world scientifically and through reason and logic. Avicenna wrote a number of treatises dealing with Islamic theology. These included treatises on the Islamic prophets, whom he viewed as ‘inspired philosophers’, and on various scientific and philosophical interpretations of the Quran, such as how Quranic cosmology corresponds to his own philosophical system.

Ibn Sina memorized the Quran by the age of seven, and as an adult, he wrote five treatises commenting on surahs from the Quran. One of these texts included the Proof of Prophecies, in which he comments on several Quranic verses and holds the Quran in high esteem. Avicenna argued that the Islamic prophets should be considered higher than philosophers.

Thought experiments

While he was imprisoned in the castle of Fardajan near Hamadan, Avicenna wrote his famous ‘Floating Man’ thought experiment to demonstrate human self-awareness and the substantiality of the soul.

 He referred to the living human intelligence, particularly the active intellect, which he believed to be the hypostasis by which God communicates truth to the human mind and imparts order and intelligibility to nature. His ‘Floating Man’ thought experiment tells its readers to imagine themselves suspended in the air, isolated from all sensations, which includes no sensory contact with even their own bodies. He argues that, in this scenario, one would still have self-consciousness. He thus concludes that the idea of the self is not logically dependent on any physical thing, and that the soul should not be seen in relative terms, but as a primary given, a substance.

Other links:

Who was Avicenna?

Avicenna: Short biography

Avicenna: Early life

Avicenna: Adulthood

Avicennia's science

Avicennia's psychology

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