The centuries following the remarkable achievement of Ibn Sina Avicenna; d. In his copious writings he takes up the entire gamut of philosophical issues discussed by his contemporaries. Editions, translations and studies of works by Ibn Kammuna and other thinkers of the time have appeared in recent years. No topic so engaged Ibn Kammuna more than the study of the human soul, especially its proper characterization and the proofs for its survival after the death of the body. At the very least, this shall afford us a glimpse at the way Ibn Kammuna handles a key notion of psychology, epistemology, and the theory of prophecy, in various literary formats. Following that, we will present the first-ever survey of his religious ethics; the key texts have only recently been published.
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The centuries following the remarkable achievement of Ibn Sina Avicenna; d. In his copious writings he takes up the entire gamut of philosophical issues discussed by his contemporaries. Editions, translations and studies of works by Ibn Kammuna and other thinkers of the time have appeared in recent years. No topic so engaged Ibn Kammuna more than the study of the human soul, especially its proper characterization and the proofs for its survival after the death of the body.
At the very least, this shall afford us a glimpse at the way Ibn Kammuna handles a key notion of psychology, epistemology, and the theory of prophecy, in various literary formats.
Following that, we will present the first-ever survey of his religious ethics; the key texts have only recently been published.
Finally, we will have a look at some of the sophistries and paradoxes that are attributed to him. There is far less agreement as to how to assess the worth of editions, as well as the need or lack thereof for redoing editions that are already available. With this in mind, we will end with a short, critical discussion of some editions that have appeared, just before the bibliography.
He is presumed to have been born in Baghdad and to have spent most of his life there. However, there is good evidence that he spent some time in Aleppo; his presence in that important intellectual center explains certain facets of his activity that are otherwise difficult to account for Langermann He may have been descended from a family of courtiers; he certainly had connections to some high officials, some of whom were his patrons.
Ibn Kammuna also corresponded with some leading intellectuals, notably Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. Shortly before his death in , Ibn Kammuna fled Baghdad for the nearby town of Hilla.
This move has long been thought to have been forced upon Ibn Kammuna by hostile reaction to one of his books. However, it has recently been suggested that it is more likely to be connected to the execution of one of his patrons.
Ibn Kammuna was certainly born into a Jewish family. Though his writings as a rule do not betray his Judaism—if anything, they read like the work of a devout, if philosophically inclined, Muslim—his two forays into comparative religion exhibit a clear bias in favor of rabbinic Judaism.
Some subtle polemics are detectable in glosses that he wrote to an important work of Islamic theology. This is discussed in the next section. On the other hand, his attraction to Sufi-style piety does not betray any influences of earlier Jewish ventures in the same direction, notably by the descendants of Maimonides. But did he remain Jewish until his death? The evidence from citations in later writers, who generally refer to him as a Jew, would indicate so. The great bibliographer Moritz Steinschneider opined that Ibn Kammuna in fact converted; his arguments were countered by some of the great pioneers of Judaeo-Arabic studies, notably D.
The latest studies on Ibn Kammuna have focused mainly on his psychology; his writings and doctrines in that field will be discussed below. The fundamental premise of the treatise, and one that informs other of his writings as well, is that there is a single theory of prophecy that is accepted by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, and which, moreover, meets the truth standards of philosophy.
What remains, then, is to compare the claims that are particular to each of the three faiths. Though the Examination should not be classified as a polemical work, as it contains no outright attack on any faith, its pro-Jewish bias is quite evident. Ibn Kammuna constructed the Jewish view he presents by means of a combination of ideas drawn from Maimonides and Judah Hallevi.
While this seems at first to be an odd mismatch of authorities, Ibn Kammuna was not the only Jewish thinker to harmonize the two eminent Andalusians. On the other hand, no Jewish reaction of any sort to the Examination has reached us. Ibn Kammuna wrote a much shorter treatise on the differences between the two main Jewish groupings, Rabbinites and Karaites English translation by Nemoy.
Several editions have appeared and are discussed in the last section of this entry. This is the first known commentary to that work, which, though more Aristotelian than other writings of Suhrawardi, still conveys essential points of the Ishraqi philosophy. For a preliminary study, see Langemann ; the titles of this book are discussed in the final sections below. Ibn Kammuna experimented with different formats and especially different lengths in his philosophical writing.
Even if that plan never came to fruition no evidence of this longer version has as yet turned up , it indicates his conviction that important topics ought to be discussed in all three formats, which presumably take into consideration the varying abilities of people to devote time to study. Langermann has published an annotated translation of the Ithbat.
These are discussed further below, in the penultimate section. In part this is a supercommentary, that is, a response to an earlier set of glosses prepared by his contemporary, Najm al-Din al-Katibi al-Qazwini d. In some places Ibn Kammuna defends al-Razi against the strictures of al-Katibi al-Qazwini, but in others raises criticisms of his own against al-Razi. Some of the latter betray upon close reading a subtle anti-Islamic polemic. However, in the query under scrutiny, al-Razi is speaking specifically about Muhammad.
The glosses are written in a the highly technical language of Islamic theology, which is very different from the philosophical diction he uses in other writings. Ibn Kammuna has clearly mastered both idioms. Several paradoxes are associated with Ibn Kammuna, and these continue to exercise Iranian thinkers down to the present. These are discussed in the final section of this entry. Nonetheless, we still have no clear picture of a distinctive Ibn Kammunian interpretation of Suhrawardi, if such a thing exists.
His philosophy belongs to the elaboration, refinement, and defense of the Avicennian tradition, led in his day by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, with whom he corresponded. On the other hand, he evidently accepted some of the criticisms leveled at Avicenna by Abu-l-Barakat al-Baghdadi and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Finally, the present article hopes to add to his intellectual portrait the deep piety evident in his ethical treatises, which draw upon Jewish, Islamic, and non-denominational philosophic sources.
In addition, he wrote three monographs, two of which aim to prove that the soul is eternal, and a third which refutes the claim that the soul is nothing but the temperament or mixture of the bodily humours, as well as the view that the soul comes into being along with the body. His special interest in studying the soul nafs calls for explanation. Like so many other features of his work, it can be understood only in the context of the Avicennan legacy.
Avicenna took his perception of his own self to be the most certain piece of knowledge that he possessed. This approach is totally at odds with the Aristotelianism that, in all of its flavors, was the foundation of Islamic philosophies. Throughout his life Avicenna struggled with the complex of problems ensuing from his insight, especially in the realms of psychology and epistemology, without ever arriving at a satisfactory solution.
The conundrum reverberated in the work of the following generations. Ibn Kammuna took the Avicennan reformulation as his basic conception of the soul. Nemoy , p. And, indeed, as Lukas Muehlethaler has shown in a series of publications, Ibn Kammuna labored to shore up the demonstrations of psychological doctrines throughout.
Whether the syllogism is productive, and, in general, just how well Ibn Kammuna has succeeded in answering the modern critics of Avicenna, remain open questions; see Muhlethaler for full discussion. Some, such as his New Wisdom , aimed at a synthesis; others, like his commentary to Suhrawardi, are primarily an essay in the interpretation of the thought of others; yet others, e. This approach has reaped some important insights, for example, the combination of Avicennan and Suhrawardian statements in connection with the notion of existence.
One drawback of this approach is the patchwork image it impresses upon the modern student, as if Ibn Kammuna set out to prepare a quiltwork of philosophical sources rather than to take a stand on the issues. But is this the way his writings present themselves to the reader who is innocent of academic scholarship? Ibn Kammuna is aware of the questions that are under debate, and as a rule he formulates a clear point of view.
Nonetheless, his views may well have changed over the years—not at all surprising, if, as some think, he made the more traumatic act of switching religious affiliation. It is in any event clear enough that his expressions, emphases, agreements and disagreements, inclusions and exclusions, were in part functions of the literary genre which he chose for any given work.
He could be critical in his commentaries, insofar as he would look closely at the text he was explicating and cite alternative views, but he would not reject outright the views of the author whose work he was commenting upon. In his original writings he was freer to take a personal stand. If we also keep in mind the nascent state of scholarship on the man and the period in which he flourished, the best course of action for the present essay seems to be this.
It will become clear that in this context, intuition is a sui generis state, which, on the epistemological scale, falls between the discursive reasoning of very bright individuals and the gift of prophecy.
This will allow us to get a handle on a key feature of his philosophical thinking, as well as to observe the different ways the same concept is treated within the different projects that Ibn Kammuna undertook. Note that we shall be alert to the utilization of the concept, even if the term hads does not appear in the text under scrutiny. Strictly speaking, hads is the revelation—some would add instantaneously—of the middle term of the syllogism, leading to an infallible conclusion.
In practice, though, it had much wider application and less precise definition. Rare indeed is the case, when hads is cited as the source of knowledge, that the writer will display the full syllogism and specify the middle term see Langermann , —, and Gutas In the work of later thinkers, including Ibn Kammuna, the evaluation of hads served to legitimize alchemy and astrology and, more generally, to blur the distinction between demonstrative knowledge and revelation.
Hads was not just one more function to be added to the basket of terminologies used to explain psychological processes. Two applications in particular must be singled out. First of all, hads offered an analogy to prophecy; no other phenomenon from the world of humans, extraordinary as it may be, seemed as close to prophetic revelation. Second, it offered a way to account for great scientific acumen. Prophecy, scientific discovery, and intuition in general all lead those who experience them to certain knowledge in a moment of revelation, in general, knowledge that had not been available before.
Earlier attempts to explain the phenomenon of prophecy in terms of the then-accepted workings of the human psyche, for example, that of Maimonides, found analogous or proto-prophetic symptoms in two types of human inspiration.
The first of these includes veridical dreams, divination, and other cases in which the unknown is revealed. The second comprises instances where people spontaneously perform acts of bravery, leadership, or literary creativity, and thus act in a manner that appears to be above the ordinary. These ideas were helpful in developing a political theory of prophecy; the prophet, like the philosopher-king, is a visionary, gifted with bold leadership as well as the ability to impose a code of behavior upon his people.
The main difference is that the code of the prophet is expressly not of his own devise, but rather revealed by some supernal source. On the whole, Ibn Kammuna downplays the political function of prophecy. The prophet does have an important role to play in organizing and ordering society. Moreover, as political leader, he is charged with inculcating correct religious belief; Ibn Kammuna sharply distinguishes between the prophet on the one hand, and rulers of jahiliyya uncultured, lacking a proper revealed code cities on the other.
In developing this theme, Ibn Kammuna makes the bold claim that hads is the ultimate basis of all human knowledge. All knowledge that is acquired is either a direct intuition, acquired by someone suitably equipped, or instruction in items of knowledge that has been acquired by someone else by intuition:.
Humans exhibit the full range of endowments, from the dull witted who never intuit, to those who are able to satisfy all or nearly all of their quests by means of intuition.
The variation is seen both in the quantity of percepts that are obtained intuitively as well as in the speed of intuitive act. It meets the requirements of formal logic, since it supplies the middle term of the syllogism, and hence is demonstrative. We examine first the theoretical discussions following Langermann , — In the chapter dealing with demonstration burhan , Ibn Kammuna lists the seven types of judgment hukm by means of which one asserts or verifies tasdiq premises that are to be employed in a syllogism.
Ibn Kammuna, Sa‘d ibn Mansur
His main works include a comparative treatise of the three Abrahamic religions, which includes a well informed critical evaluation of Islam, as well as a commentaries on Ibn Sina and as-Suhrawardi. Ibn Kammuna's commentary on Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi's Talwihat , the core text of Illuminationist philosophy is deemed as one of the most thorough examination of that branch of thought. His comparative treatise on the three monotheistic religions Christianity , Judaism and Islam , titled Examination of the Three Faiths challenged the legitimacy of Islam where he reasoned that incompatibility of sharia with the principles of justice undercuts Muhammad's claims of being a perfect man and stated that people convert to Islam from ulterior motives. The publication of the book caused rioting in Baghdad , forcing Ibn Kammuna to flee that city in secret and was recorded by the thirteenth century historian Ibn al-Fuwati. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Ibn Kammuna.
Physician and man of letters, Ibn Kammuna left a number of writings on philosophy and religion. His treatise comparing Judaism, Christianity and Islam caused major rioting in Baghdad, forcing him to flee that city in secret. His commentary on al-Suhrawardi's Talwihat , the major text of Islamic Illuminationist philosophy remains one of the clearest and most thorough expositions of that branch of thought. Of the major writings of 'Izz al-Dawla Sa'd bin Mansur ibn Kammuna, only the two that compare the views of religious communities have been published thus far. The longer one, the Tanqih al-abhath fi akhbar al-milal al-thalath An Overview of Investigations into the Views of the Three Faiths is sui generis in medieval literature. It begins with a extended investigation of prophecy, aiming to establish in a manner acceptable to adherents of all faiths not just the prophetic ones that revelation does occur. The next next three sections examine the most important prophetic traditions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Ibn Kammūna, Saʿd Ibn Manṣūr
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