(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

In the year 529, Justinian closed the Schools of Athens, but fortunately for the West, Greek learning had been transmitted to the Near East, principally through the institutions of Alexandria and the Christian communities of Syria and Persia. Later, after the advent of Islam, this learning was fostered and developed by various Islamic philosophers and eventually carried across North Africa into Spain, where it flourished in such places as Toledo and Cordova. From the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, it trickled and then flooded into Western Europe to augment the Christians’ meager and unbalanced knowledge of Greek philosophy.

Avicenna was, perhaps, the most important Islamic philosopher. Besides being a prolific writer on philosophy and religion, he was a court scholar and physician, an active politician, a civil administrator, and the writer of medical texts that were standard works in Europe through the seventeenth century. Of his approximately one hundred works, the two most important are the philosophic encyclopedia, Kitab al-Shifa’ (early eleventh century; book of healing), the bulk of which was known to late medieval thinkers, and an abridgment of it, Kitab al-Najat, commonly known as The Book of Deliverance. This essay is based primarily on the section of the work dealing with Avicenna’s philosophy of mind, which was translated by F. Rahman and published under the title Avicenna’s Psychology.


(The entire section is 406 words.)