TWO ANDALUSIAN PHILOSOPHERS – Book Sample
Introduction – TWO ANDALUSIAN PHILOSOPHERS
The Story of Hayy ibn Yaqzan (risalat Hayy ibn yaqzan) is described by its author, Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Tufayl, as an introduction to the philosophy or “wisdom” intimated by one of the most renowned philosophers of Islam, the Sheikh and Master, Abu ‘Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna).
It was written to counter what Ibn Tufayl perceived to be the damaging influence of pseudo-philosophic ideas then current in Muslim Spain. Hayy ibn Yaqzan is thus, on one level, a sort of primer on mediaeval Islamic philosophy. The book establishes its frame of reference with a short and selective critique of Islamic philosophy before introducing the narrative frame work of a boy of obscure origins reared by a gazelle on a desert island, without human contact.
The very uncertainty of the boy’s origins is used by the author as an opportunity to include a theory of the origins of life. As the boy gradually becomes aware of his surroundings, he begins to understand that he is somehow different from the other animals, yet supe rior by virtue of the technical advantages he can realise with his hands.
At the age of seven, the shock of the gazelle’s death sets the boy
At the age of seven, the shock of the gazelle’s death sets the boy upon the quest which is the book’s central theme: the search for the spirit of life. Through sustained observation and reflection, accelerated by the chance discovery of fire and underpinned by his natural intelligence, ingenuity and increasingly more refined reasoning, he acquires mastery of the environment and expertise in the natural sciences.
|Two Andalusian Philosophers Book|
In parallel with this scientific knowledge, the eponymous Hayy ibn Yaqzan – i.e., “a living son of consciousness” – reasons from the diversity of the world to its wholeness and from the particular objects of sensory perception to an abstract epistemology of universal forms. He infers the existence of God as both the necessary, primary and non- corporeal cause of the universe and its prime mover. Along the way, he deals with many of the major issues of metaphysics. In short, he becomes a philosopher.
His own self, or essence, with which he has perceived the necessarily existent cause of the universe must also, he reasons, be non- corporeal, with the potential to ascend to Him and thereby achieve eternal happiness. He develops a practical plan to achieve this and thus engages
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