Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Ibn Sina'sRemarks and Admonitions:PhysicsandMetaphysics

Ibn Sina'sRemarks and Admonitions:PhysicsandMetaphysics: An Analysis and Annotated Translation

Shams Inati
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 248
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Ibn Sina'sRemarks and Admonitions:PhysicsandMetaphysics
    Book Description:

    Al-Isharat wal-Tanbihat(Remarks and Admonitions) is one of the most mature and comprehensive philosophical works by Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 980--1037). Grounded in an exploration of logic (which Ibn Sina described as the gate to knowledge) and happiness (the ultimate human goal), the text illuminates the divine, the human being, and the nature of things through a wide-ranging discussion of topics. The sections ofPhysics and Metaphysicsdeal with the nature of bodies and souls as well as existence, creation, and knowledge. Especially important are Ibn Sina's views of God's knowledge of particulars, which generated much controversy in medieval Islamic and Christian philosophical and theological circles and provoked a strong rejection by eleventh-century philosopher al-Ghazali.

    This book provides the first annotated English translation ofPhysics and Metaphysicsand edits the original Arabic text on which the translation is based. It begins with a detailed analysis of the text, followed by a translation of the three classes or groups of ideas in the Physics (On the Substance of Bodies, On the Directions and Their Primary and Secondary Bodies, and On the Terrestrial and Celestial Souls) and the four in the Metaphysics (On Existence and Its Causes, Creation Ex Nihilo and Immediate Creation, On Ends, on Their Principles, and on the Arrangement [of Existence], and On Abstraction.The Metaphysicscloses with a significant discussion of the concepts of providence, good, and evil, which Ibn Sina uses to introduce a theodicy.

    Researchers, faculty, and students in philosophy, theology, religion, and intellectual history will find in this work a useful and necessary source for understanding Ibn Sina's philosophical thought and, more generally, the medieval Islamic and Christian study of nature, the world beyond, psychology, God, and the concept of evil.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53742-1
    Subjects: Philosophy, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xx)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xxi-xxvi)
  4. Analysis of the Text
    (pp. 1-56)

    As already mentioned in the preface, parts 2 and 3 ofal-Ishārātare respectively thePhysicsand theMetaphysics. ThePhysics, the study of nature (al-Ṭabīʿiyyāt), has three main sections, and theMetaphysics, theology or the study of that which is beyond nature (al-Ilāhiyyāt), has four. Each section is titledNamaṭ(Class), by which is meant a group of ideas.

    It is worth noting that these titles are different from those of the main sections in theLogicofal-Ishārāt, which are calledNahj(Method). These two parts ofal-Ishārātalso differ from theLogicin terms of continuity. While...


    • Prologue
      (pp. 59-59)

      In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful!

      These are remarks concerning principles and admonitions concerning fundamentals. He whose way is made easy will be enlightened by them, but he whose way is made difficult will not benefit [even] from what is clearer than they are. Now we rely on [God’s] guidance.

      Once again, I state my wish and repeat my request for high frugality in giving away the contents of these parts to anyone who does not meet the conditions that I posit at the end of these remarks....

    • First Class: On the Substance of Bodies
      (pp. 59-77)

      Some people believe that every body has joints that hold together parts which are not bodies, but of which bodies are composed. They also claim that such parts are not receptive to division either by fracture, by cutting, by imagination, or by hypothesis, and that those parts of them falling in the middle of the organization prevent the two extremes from contact [with each other] (p. 153).¹

      They do not know that if the middle [part] is such, each of the two extremes receives (p. 154) from it something other than that which is received by the other, and that...

    • Second Class: On the Directions and Their Primary and Secondary Bodies
      (pp. 78-93)

      You must know that people point to directions that do not change, such as the directions of upward and downward (p. 258). They also point to directions that change by hypothesis, such as the right and the left of what surrounds us and what resembles them (p. 259).¹ Let us bypass what is by hypothesis.

      As for what occurs by nature, it does not change in any manner.

      Further, it is impossible for the position of the direction to be determined in a void or in a uniform plenum.² A uniform thing has no limit that is more deserving than...

    • Third Class: On the Terrestrial and Celestial Souls
      (pp. 94-110)

      Return to yourself and reflect. If you are healthy, or rather (p. 344) in some states of yours other than health such that you discern a thing accurately, do you ignore the existence of yourself and not affirm it? To me this [ignoring and not affirming] does not befit one who has mental vision. One’s self does not escape even the one asleep in his sleep and the intoxicated in his intoxication, even though its representation to oneself is not fixed in memory.

      Further, if you imagine yourself at the beginning of its creation with a healthy intellect and a...

    • Supplement to the [Third] Class: On Expositing the Movements Produced by the Soul
      (pp. 111-116)

      Perhaps you desire now to hear a discussion about the powers of the soul that produce our actions and movements. Let the following chapters be of this kind.

      The movements of the preservation and generation of the body are managements in the nutritive material intended to assimilate this material in order [1] to replace what has been decomposed; [2] to (p. 432) increase the growth in a purposive proportion that is preserved in the dimensions of the parts of the nourished thing—by means of this, the bodily constitution is completed; and [3] to contract from this nourishment a surplus...


    • Fourth Class: On Existence and Its Causes
      (pp. 119-131)

      You must know that [some] people’s imagination may be overcome [by the opinion] that the existent is sensible, that the existence of that whose substance is not grasped by the senses is supposed impossible, and that that which in itself is not specified by a space or a position, such as the body, or by the cause in which it resides, such as the states of the body, does not have a chance to exist.

      It is possible for you to reflect on the sensible itself and learn from this the falsity of the statements of such people; for both...

    • Fifth Class: Creation Ex Nihilo and Immediate Creation
      (pp. 132-143)

      It appears to the imagination of the commoners that the dependency of a thing,¹ which they call effect, on [another] thing, which they call agent, is in respect of the sense according to which the commoners call the effect an effect and the agent an agent. In this respect the latter brings into existence, fashions, and causes, while the former is brought into existence, is caused, and is fashioned. All this amounts to saying that after nonexistence a thing acquires existence from another thing (p. 58).

      They may also say that if a thing is brought into existence, the need...

    • Sixth Class: On Ends, on Their Principles, and on the Arrangement of Existence
      (pp. 144-165)

      Do you know what enjoys complete richness? It is that which is not dependent on anything external to it in three things: in its essence (p. 119), in dispositions that take hold of its essence, and in perfective dispositions in relation to its essence. Thus that which is in need of something external to it in order to have a complete essence (p. 120), or of a state that takes hold of its essence, such as figure, beauty or something else, or of a state that has a certain relation, such as knowledge or the capacity for knowledge and power...

    • Seventh Class: On Abstraction
      (pp. 166-182)

      Reflect on how existence began [descending] from what is noblest to what is [less] noble, until it ended in matter (p. 242). After that it returned [upward] from what is basest to what is [less] base, and [from there it moved from] the noble to the nobler,² until it reached the rational soul and the acquired intellect.³

      Since the rational soul, which is a certain subject for the intelligible forms (p. 243), is not imprinted in the body in which it subsists, but only possesses an instrument through that body, the change of the body by death—due to which...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 183-206)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-208)
  9. Index
    (pp. 209-222)