Ibn Sina’s Life and Works

Ibn Sina’s Life and Works

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Ibn Sînâ, whose real name is Hüseyin, was born in 980 or 981 in the village of Efşene near Bukhara. We have more information about him than other Islamic philosophers, thanks to the life story he had his student dictated to Cuzcânî and the additional information that Cuzcânî gave.

In the Islamic world, Avicenna is known with his identity, but he is also referred to as “esh-shayhu’r-reis” meaning “chief master”. In the West, it is commonly known as Avicenna. The philosopher’s father, Abdullah, was originally from Belh and settled in Bukhara, which was the capital city of the Samani State at that time. Due to his liaison with Ismaili propagandists (da’is), his house had become a center for discussion of topics related to philosophy, geometry, and Indian mathematics. Because of this environment, Avicenna was introduced to philosophical issues from an early age. Drawing attention with his extraordinary intelligence and memorizing the Qur’an at the age of ten, Ibn Sînâ took courses in language, literature and religious sciences, as well as geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, logic and philosophy. After being well equipped in these fields, he started his medical education. His appointment to the palace physician at the age of eighteen provided an important opportunity for him to benefit from the palace library, which also contains a rich medical and philosophical literature.

The philosopher, who had to leave Bukhara after the Samani State collapsed in 1005, first went to Gürgenç (Ürgenç), a town in the Khwarizm region. Avicenna, who is highly respected by the manager of this place, is paid a salary as long as he stays in Gürgenç; He also met the famous scholar Bîrûnî and other scholars in the palace of the emir. Ibn Sînâ, who did not respond positively to the invitation of Mahmud of Ghazni, had to leave Gürgenç as well. After traveling for about seven years, Ibn Sînâ went to Cürcan, where he met his student Cüzcânî, who also wrote his biography. Leaving the philosopher Cürcan, who wrote his works while giving various lectures for two years, he stayed in Rey, Kazvin and Hemedan for a while. In 1024, he had to secretly leave Hamadan and go to Isfahan via Taberan. The philosopher, who also served as the vizier of Alaüddevle for a while and spent a relatively quiet life in Isfahan, could not be successful in the treatment of the disease he was caught. The tomb of Ibn Sînâ, who died at the age of fifty-seven during the Hamadan expedition, which he set out with Alaüddevle in 1037, is in Hamadan. (Alper, 1999: 319-322)

Fârâbî systematized the philosophy movement that started with Kindî’s studies in the history of Islamic thought in terms of terminology, methods and problems, while Avicenna reworked the rich philosophical accumulation that had formed up to his own time and evaluated it as a large corpus. As a philosopher with a system, Ibn Sînâ is seen as the thinker who focuses on the problem of knowledge the most, as well as ontology and psychology among Islamic philosophers. Most of his works were translated into Latin and Hebrew in the Middle Ages, and the influence of the philosopher on the West lasted for centuries through “Latin Avicennaism”, especially his immortal work al-Kânûn was taught in Western universities until the nineteenth century (Kaya, 2003: 276). Gutas refers to the active and privileged position of the philosopher in the history of philosophy: “Ibn Sînâ’s philosophy is such a successful philosophy that all subsequent philosophical activity has sought to identify itself with it; Aristotle was no longer read and annotated because there was Ibn Sînâ” (Gutas, 2004: 137).

Some of his works are: Introduction to Logic (el-Medhal), On Interpretation (al- İbâre), II. Analytics (al-Burhân), Metaphysics (al-İlâhiyyât) I-II, Physics, I-II, Kitâbu’l- Hidaye, an-Necât fi’l-hikmeti’l-mantikiyye ve’t-tabî’iyye ve’ l-ilâhiyye, On the Truth of Tawhîd and Proof of Prophethood (er-Risâletü’l-archiyye fî hakâiki’t-tawhîd ve isbâti’n- nübüvve), Signs and Reminders (al-İşârât ve’t-tenbîhât).

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook