AVICENNA AND HIS HERITAGE – Book Sample
PRESENTING THE ISSUE – AVICENNA AND HIS HERITAGE
Avicenna (lbn Sina) (circa 980-1037) enjoyed a great reknown both as philosopher and as physician during the late Middle Ages. His fame was not limited solely to the Eastern Islamic world, where he lived and taught, but also is visible to its Western part. Moreover, Avicenna’s thought had an important impact on the Jewish and Christian scholars of that period, and even beyond it.
However, with the exception of an important Avicennian-inspired philosophical tradition in Iran, and with the exception of a few specialized items, e.g., the essenceexistence distinction, or the encyclopedic character of his major medical work, the Canon medicinae, no serious attention seems to have been paid to his thought until very recently. Current bibliographical research, covering 25 years of Avicenna-scholarship in the Western as well as in the Islamic world, has shown that in many cases the study of his work, and its influence, has hardly begun See J. JANSSENS, An Annotated Bibliography on lbn Sfnii (1970-1989) (DWM., An cient and Medieval Philosophy, I). Leuven, 1991 and Io., An Annotated … Continue reading.
This research revealed that many texts have only been edited recently, or have been translated into a Western language for the very first time. But it also brought to the fore that almost none deserves the qualification of being fully critical. Even a (small) text, which has been so often edited as the Poem on the Soul, was revealed to be accessible only in uncritical, or, at best, semi-critical editions.
Therefore, a new critical edition (accompanied by a French translation), as D. De Smet here offers, is all but superfluous. It is also noteworthy that the author situates his edition in the context of an almost unexplored domain of Avicennian influence, i.e., post-Avicennian Isma’ili-thought. Regarding Avicenna’s writings, many new manuscripts have been discovered in the last decades, and some seem to contain unknown texts. In the ethical field, one gained the impression that Avicenna had written almost nothing.
However, B. Karliga found in an Istanbul manuscript a new text, which is al most certainly by Avicenna. He offers a basic survey, while dealing also with the delicate question of another ethical treatise by Avicenna, which had been split up in ancient times, and had circulated till now in the form of two independent treatises. The attribution of some texts to
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References / Footnotes
|⇧01||See J. JANSSENS, An Annotated Bibliography on lbn Sfnii (1970-1989) (DWM., An cient and Medieval Philosophy, I). Leuven, 1991 and Io., An Annotated Bibliography on lbn S fn li. First Supplement (FIDEM, Textes et etudes du Moyen Age, 12), Louvain-la Neuve, 1999|