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TitleClassical Arabic Philosophy an Anthology of Sources
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Total Pages462
Table of Contents
                            Title page
Copyright page
Contents
Preface
Introductions
al-Kindi
Ar-Razi
Al-Farabi
Baghdad Peripatetics
Ibn Sina
Al-Ghazali
Ibn Bajja
Ibn Tufayl
Ibn Rushd
As-Suhrawardi
Textual Notes
Bibliography
Glossary/Index: English/Arabic
Glossary/Index: Arabic-English
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

CLASSICAL
ARABIC PHILOSOPHY

An Anthology of Sources

Translated with Introduction,

Notes, and Glossary by

JON MCGINNIS & DAVID C. REISMAN

This collection presents substantial selections from the works of the major Arabic philosophers of
the classical period (c. ninth through twelfth centuries) on topics including logic, philosophy
of science, natural philosophy, metaphysics, ethics, and politics. A general Introduction,
extensive annotation, a bibliography, and a glossary-index offer support both to scholars and
to those approaching these rich materials for the first time.

“This is a very fine, well-conceived collection of philosophical materials that display the
intellectual rigor, power, and insights of the thinkers of the Arabic tradition. [It is] quite
impressive in what it covers. Issues in metaphysics, epistemology, language and ontology,
natural philosophy, practical philosophy, and more. . . . Certainly this book is far superior to
anything else currently available.”

—Rɪcʜaʀd C. Taʏʟoʀ, Marquette University

“This book will make a major impact on the study, and especially the teaching, of Arabic
philosophy. . . . Reisman and McGinnis not only provide here a rich selection of standard
texts, but also translate several important works for the first time. This will no doubt become
the standard anthology on Arabic philosophy.”

—Peteʀ Adamsoɴ, King’s College London

Joɴ McGɪɴɴɪs is Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Davɪd C. Reɪsmaɴ is Associate Professor of Arabic-Islamic Thought in the Department of
Classics and Mediterranean Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago.

780872 2087119

90000
ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-871-1

Cover image: “Philosophy” (Falsafa) in
Arabic script. Courtesy of Tom Gage. 0871

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Page 2

Classical Arabic

Philosophy

An Anthology of Sources

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Page 231

198 Classical Arabic Philosophy

between the two. Now that this is the case, all the ways of connection are invalidated,
[231] and all that remains is that the soul has no connection, with respect to existence,
with the body; rather, it is connected with other principles that neither change nor
cease.

7. I also say there is another reason that the soul does not pass into nonexistence
in any way. Anything that can corrupt, due to whatever cause, has in it the potential
to corrupt and, before corrupting, has the actuality of persisting, and its being con-
fi gured to corrupt is not its actuality of persisting; for what is meant by “potentiality”
is different from what is meant by “actuality,” and the relation of this potentiality is
different from the relation of this actuality. [This is so] because the relation of the
former is to corrupting and the relation of the latter is to persisting. Thus, these two
meanings apply to two different states in the thing. So we say that in composite things,
as well as in the simple things that subsist in the composite things, there can combine
an actuality to persist and a potentiality to corrupt; but in the simple things that are
essentially separate these two states cannot be combined.

8. I say categorically that these two states cannot be combined in something
that is essentially one, because anything that persists and has the potentiality to corrupt
has equally the potentiality to persist, because its persisting is not necessary and inevi-
table. If it is not necessary, it is possible, and the possibility that encompasses both
sides is the very nature of potentiality. Thus, it has in its substance the potentiality of
persisting as well as the actuality of persisting. Now, we have explained that its actual-
ity of persisting is by no means the same as its potentiality to exist. This is obvious.
So its actuality of persisting is a state that happens accidentally to the thing that has
the potentiality of persisting. That potentiality does not belong to any given essence
actually, but rather to the thing whose essence just so happens actually to persist. In
other words, that does not belong to the real account of its essence. From this it follows
that its essence is composed of something that, when it is, then through it [232] [the
composite] itself actually exists—this is the form in anything—and something out of
which this actuality occurs but that in itself is its potentiality—this is the matter. So,
if the soul is absolutely simple, it is not divided into matter and form, whereas if it is
composite—but let us set aside the composite and investigate the substance that is its
matter with explicit reference to just that.

9. We say that either matter is divisible in this way perpetually, and the discus-
sion then goes on perpetually (and this is absurd),63 or the thing that is the substance
and root does not perish. Our discussion is about this thing that is the root and
foundation, that is what we call the soul; it is not about something that is a combina-
tion of it and some other thing. So, it is clear that anything that is simple and not
composite, or is the foundation and root of something composite, in relation to
itself does not combine in itself the actuality of persisting and the potentiality of not

63 In other words, Ibn Sı̄nā has eliminated this option on the grounds of the impossibility of an infi nite
regress, here in the case of dividing matter.

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Page 232

IBN SĪNĀ 199

existing. If there is the actuality of not existing in it, then it would be absurd for there
to be the actuality of persisting in it, but when the actuality of persisting is in it, and
it does in fact exist, the potentiality of not existing is not in it. It is clear, then, that
the potentiality to corrupt is not in the substance of the soul. As for the generated
things that do corrupt, that part of them that undergoes corruption is the composite
combination. Now the potentiality to corrupt or to persist is not in the causal factor
(ma�ná) whereby the composite thing is one [i.e., the form], but rather in the matter
that potentially receives both contraries. Thus, there is not a potentiality to persist
and to corrupt in [the form] of the composite corruptible thing, and so they are not
combined in it. As for matter, it may be something that persists not by way of a
potentiality through which it is disposed to persist, as one group assumes. Or it may
be something that persists by way of a potentiality through which it persists, while
not having the potentiality to corrupt; rather, the potentiality to corrupt is something
else that comes about in it. With the simple things that are in matter, the potentiality
to corrupt is in the substance of the matter, [233] not in their own substance. Now
the demonstration that requires that every generated thing is corruptible due to the
fi nitude of the two potentialities of subsistence and perishing applies in fact only to
anything that is generated from matter and form, where it is with respect to its matter
that there is simultaneously the potentiality for that form to persist and the potentiality
for it to corrupt, as you have learned. It is then clear that the human soul does not
corrupt at all, and it is to this [conclusion] that our discussion has led us.

7. From “The Soul,” V.5k

CONCERNING THE INTELLECT THAT ACTS UPON OUR SOULS AND THE INTELLECT IN OUR
SOULS THAT IS AFFECTED

1. [234] We say that the human soul is at one time something intellecting
potentially and thereafter becomes something actually intellecting. Now whatever is
brought from potency to act does so only on account of a cause in act that brings it
out. So there is a cause that brings our souls from potency to act with regard to the
intelligibles. Since it is the cause with respect to providing the intelligible forms, it is
precisely but an actual intellect in whom the principles of the intellectual forms are
separate (mujarrada) [from matter], and whose relation to our souls is the relation of
the Sun to our vision. Just as the Sun is actually visible in itself [235] and through its
light it makes actually visible what is not actually visible, so likewise is the state of this
intellect vis-à-vis our souls; for when the intellecting faculty reviews the particulars
that are in the imagery [faculty], and the Active Intellect sheds light onto us upon
them (which we discussed), the things abstracted from matter and its associations are
altered and impressed upon the rational soul. [“Being altered” is] not in the sense that
[the particulars] themselves are transferred from the imagery to our intellect, nor [is
“being impressed”] in the sense that the connotational attribute (ma�ná) immersed in
the [material] associations (which in itself and with regard to its very being is separate
(mujarrada) [from matter]) makes something like itself. Quite the contrary, [the

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Page 461

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Page 462

CLASSICAL
ARABIC PHILOSOPHY

An Anthology of Sources

Translated with Introduction,

Notes, and Glossary by

JON MCGINNIS & DAVID C. REISMAN

This collection presents substantial selections from the works of the major Arabic philosophers of
the classical period (c. ninth through twelfth centuries) on topics including logic, philosophy
of science, natural philosophy, metaphysics, ethics, and politics. A general Introduction,
extensive annotation, a bibliography, and a glossary-index offer support both to scholars and
to those approaching these rich materials for the first time.

“This is a very fine, well-conceived collection of philosophical materials that display the
intellectual rigor, power, and insights of the thinkers of the Arabic tradition. [It is] quite
impressive in what it covers. Issues in metaphysics, epistemology, language and ontology,
natural philosophy, practical philosophy, and more. . . . Certainly this book is far superior to
anything else currently available.”

—Rɪcʜaʀd C. Taʏʟoʀ, Marquette University

“This book will make a major impact on the study, and especially the teaching, of Arabic
philosophy. . . . Reisman and McGinnis not only provide here a rich selection of standard
texts, but also translate several important works for the first time. This will no doubt become
the standard anthology on Arabic philosophy.”

—Peteʀ Adamsoɴ, King’s College London

Joɴ McGɪɴɴɪs is Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Davɪd C. Reɪsmaɴ is Associate Professor of Arabic-Islamic Thought in the Department of
Classics and Mediterranean Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago.

780872 2087119

90000
ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-871-1

Cover image: “Philosophy” (Falsafa) in
Arabic script. Courtesy of Tom Gage. 0871

CAP_final.qxd 7/18/07 10:16 AM Page 1

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