Virtue Ethics in Avicenna’s Philosophical Allegories

None of what has preceded is meant to imply that the virtue ethics of Islamic philosophers was entirely or even primarily concerned with the state of the body. For many philosophers, knowing the human body was a first step in knowing virtue and the higher accomplishments of the soul. In part this is because Avicenna and other philosophers largely accepted Aristotle’s division of the soul into vegetative, animal, and rational as three aspects of an interconnected whole, such that the rational soul requires the other two souls in order to come into existence. Despite connections between body and soul, Avicenna, arguably the most important codifier of Islamic philosophy, explicitly rejects the view that the soul is somehow equivalent to the human constitution or is itself a physical constitution.1 Rather, the human soul, or the rational soul, has an intellect that can be described as two intellects, two “faces” according to Avicenna; one looks downward, toward the body (the practical intellect), and the other looks upward, toward absolute concepts (the theoretical intellect).2

  • A PHILOSOPHICAL MODEL OF THE SOUL: AVICENNA

Ethics falls within the domain of the practical intellect. The most basic ethical charge of the practical intellect is the management of the body’s forces. This is why the practical intellect “faces the body.” It is also why we can speak of “humoral ethics,” since the body’s forces for Avicenna and others of his day usually corresponded to the humoral model described in the previous chapter. The practical intellect prepares the soul to free itself of the concerns of the body and to undertake the completion of the higher, theoretical intellect.

For Avicenna, the practical intellect has its own subdivisions. Just as the intellect has two faces (practical and theoretical), the practical intellect has three orientations. The first orientation of the practical intellect is toward the appetitive animal faculties of anger and desire, both of which excite emotions that bring a person to laugh or cry, or to feel shame and modesty. These are functions of changes within the body, actions and reactions, but they sometimes involve the practical intellect, since emotions can stimulate lower intellectual functions. The second orientation of the practical intellect is toward the higher animal faculties, imagination and estimation (explained below). When oriented toward imagination or estimation, the practical intellect might engage in creative human endeavors, as well as determinations of matters devoid of universal or higher rational significance.3 The third orientation of the practical intellect is “toward itself,” that is, toward its own principal potential: the ability to contemplate moral action. When oriented toward itself, with the help of the theoretical intellect, the practical intellect makes moral determinations.

Moral determinations are not completely rational, because social norms help shape them, but they do make use of reason. The practical intellect determines “common moral knowledge” (al-ārāʾ al-dhāʾiʿa al-mashhūra), such as knowing that lying and oppression are wrong.4 This is what helps it begin to bring the drives of the body under control. The forces of the body and those of the practical intellect contest for influence over the soul; one side will end up being active and dominant, while the other side will end up being passive and receptive. The decisions one makes over time, in favoring one side or the other, leave certain propensities in the soul. If those propensities favor the practical intellect, so that the practical intellect is active and the body is passive, then those propensities are virtues, or virtuous character traits (al-akhlāq al-faḍīliyya). If, however, those propensities favor the body, so that the body is active and the practical intellect is passive, then those propensities are vices, or vile character traits (al-akhlāq al-radhīliyya). In this sense, the intellect and the body each have their own “ethics” or set of traits (akhlāq), and the two vie for predominance.5

To understand the place of ethics in Avicenna’s thought, one must first understand the hierarchical structure of human completion, the pinnacle of which is the “acquired” intellect (al-ʿaql al-mustafād, discussed below). The acquired intellect is the full achievement of the theoretical intellect. The theoretical intellect is served by the practical intellect. This is because the practical intellect’s role is to manage the body’s drives and inclinations, which allows the perfection of the higher, theoretical intellect. The practical intellect is served by the inner senses. The inner senses are served by the five outer senses as well as the appetitive faculty. The appetitive faculty is served by desire and anger, which are served by a motive faculty in the body’s muscles. These “animal” faculties are served by the plant faculties, namely the reproductive faculty, which is served by growth, which is served by the nutritive faculty. The nutritive faculty is served by attraction, retention, digestion, and excretion. All of these are served by the four basic natural properties: Heat is served by cold, and both are served by dryness and wetness. In other words, “ethics” has at its foundations the most basic functions of the human body. Ethics is a management of urges originally resulting from that body, and it is a means to the higher pursuits of the intellect.6

soul

The soul and its faculties according to Avicenna

The human faculties result from a hierarchy that begins with matter and ends at the intellect, a hierarchy that affects the way human perception and cognition come to exist. As the soul and body take shape, they acquire faculties. Some of these are shared with both plants and animals: (1) nutrition (which itself relies on attraction, retention, digestion, and excretion), (2) growth, and (3) reproduction. Others are shared only with animals: (1) the motor faculty (which allows movement) and (2) the appetitive faculty (which comprises both anger, which repels the unwanted, as well as desire, which attracts the wanted). Humans and many animals have five outer senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. They also have five inner senses: 7

  1. Common sense (al-ḥiss al-mushtarak), which allows varied sensory input to become unified as one experience and integrated with reason. Avicenna equates this with Aristotle’s phantasia (fanṭāsiyā).8
  2. Formative or retentive imagination (al-quwwa al-muṣawwira or al-khayāl), which stores all the forms received by the common sense.
  3. Compositive or creative imagination, which creates forms in the soul or mind. It does this by breaking down sensory data, as well as composing or synthesizing both forms and intentions. This faculty allows thought and is constantly active. If this imagination is used to construct rational thought, then it is called the cogitative faculty (al-quwwa al-mufakkira). If not, if composing forms is its own end, then it is called the creative imagination (al-quwwa al-mutakhayyila). In addition to receiving forms from the retentive imagination, the creative imagination receives suggestions through the stimulations of the appetitive faculty (the faculty of desire and anger).
  4. Estimation (al-wahm), which determines intention or “meaning” based on sensory data received. The senses, both outer and inner, exist to convey forms and meanings (or intentions) to the rational soul. Form is that which is perceived by the outer senses and then transferred to the inner senses, while meaning (or intention) is, according to Avicenna, “that which the soul perceives of sensible things that the outer senses do not perceive first.”9 The example of estimation usually given is of a lamb’s awareness that it must flee from a wolf, by perceiving not only the form of the wolf, but its intentions, which is done via estimation. Estimation plays a far more complex role for humans, as originally described by Avicenna; many of our aesthetic and emotional judgments, along with those that seem rational but that the intellect must dismiss as irrational, come from the interplay between estimation and reason.10
  5. Memory (al-quwwa al-ḥāfiẓa al-dhākira), which receives and stores determinations from the faculty of estimation. Memory stores meanings perceived by the estimation in a way that the retentive imagination stores forms from the common sense, for Avicenna.

Avicenna locates each of the inner faculties in a different part of the brain. Forms are abstracted and juxtaposed, readying the intellect for universal concepts, which are then reflected from the Active Intellect.11 Avicenna acknowledges that knowledge can be gained from ways that might seem to bypass rational processes, namely, through “witnessing” (mushāhada, reference to a visionary encounter with the supersensory) and “tasting” (dhawq, reference to a direct experience of the supersensory akin to inspiration). Nevertheless, these are direct means of acquiring intellectual knowledge. Knowledge is still contact with the Active Intellect, even if the demonstrative process has been so immediate that it will seem to have been circumvented.12

  • WHO IS AVICENNA?

As summarized above, Avicenna’s psychology and his consequent view of ethics provided an infrastructure from which countless philosophers after him worked, in Asia, Africa, and Europe, though those views were debated and developed.13 Recognition of Avicenna as the most prominent of all philosophers in Muslim-ruled lands appears in a title of his, “the Principal Master” (al-shaykh al-raʾīs). In Europe, the name “Avicenna” was synonymous with erudition; it is a Latinate adaptation of his patronymic (Ibn Sīnā), current among those Europeans who held his medical masterpiece The Canon of Medicine (al-Qānūn fī al-Ṭibb) above other works of medicine until as late as 1545.14 Avicenna was born to a family of high social standing in a village near Bukhara, in modern-day Uzbekistan.15 His father was a Samanid administrator, which provided Avicenna with a privileged education and access to libraries. This, coupled with his rare genius, helped position Avicenna to become a vizier, administrator, and court physician for numerous, and even sometimes rival, sultanates, as we know from his own autobiographical account. In that account, Avicenna casually describes himself as cerebral to the point of being virtually superhuman—teaching his teacher, completing his study of medicine by the age of sixteen, staying awake every night devouring books and staving off fatigue with cups of wine, dreaming about answers to philosophical problems, and mastering all of the “philosophical sciences” by the age of eighteen.16

Avicenna was both a philosopher and a physician, author of arguably the most authoritative book of Galenic medicine ever written. This pairing was not unusual at the time, reflecting the entangled relationship that all spheres of existence—from the cosmos to the human body—were known to have among philosophers of his day. This interrelationship encouraged philosophical ethicists to see the origins of character flaws in humor imbalances, as we have seen. When discussing “ethics” and Avicenna, two things should be borne in mind. First, Avicenna’s writings—ethics included—presented an entire worldview that took all facets of ontology, epistemology, eschatology, society, and human life (including medicine) into account, within a larger framework that might be called both “Islamic” and “philosophical.” The various branches of premodern knowledge are so interconnected in Avicenna’s thought that Robert E. Hall describes his worldview as “the best-unified general system of thought in Western traditions up to his time and probably in any tradition.”17 Second, while Avicenna’s writings on practical philosophy (ethics and politics) are dispersed and never presented systematically, nevertheless they form a central part of his thought. His many accounts of the soul’s acquisition of virtuous perfection unite the manifold layers of his philosophy and even serve as a litmus test for those other layers.18

  • AVICENNA, ETHICS, AND ALLEGORICAL STORYTELLING

Like many philosophers, Avicenna sometimes made use of allegorical storytelling. Those allegories deserve consideration, because (1) they explore the full implications of the perfection of human character; (2) they prompted important imitations by other philosophers, including Ibn Ṭufayl and Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī al-Maqtūl; and (3) they highlight the centrality of allegorical writing to classical Arabic (and Persian) literature.19 Avicenna composed two allegorical texts, both in Arabic, The Bird Treatise (Risālat al-Ṭayr) and Living, Son of Awake (Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān).20 An allegory called The Book of [Muhammad’s] Heavenly Ascent (Miʿrāj-Nāma) in Persian has also been attributed to Avicenna, but there is no evidence of his authorship.21 In this chapter, I will focus on Living, Son of Awake, which I will refer to by its Arabic title, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, since it is the name of a person. I will also discuss a narrative that exists not in Avicenna’s own words, but in a reconstruction and interpretation of his words by a later philosopher. Doing so highlights the way in which these narratives come to life when studied and transmitted, for philosophical allegory is much more a product of a tradition of interpretation than a series of works by individual authors.

According to Peter Heath, in his extensive consideration of allegory in the writings of Avicenna, the Greek terms logos and muthos are helpful in understanding the two major forms of philosophical writing practiced by Avicenna. Logos refers to discursive writing that relies on rational proofs; we might think of philosophical texts that are purely demonstrative or argumentative. Muthos refers to artful, multilayered accounts that we might call narrative.22 Avicenna, Heath contends, held a goal higher than philosophy for philosophy’s sake. Rather, he advocated the completion of the intellect, by any means, and when discursive argumentation and what Heath calls “logos exposition” might have failed to capture the entirety of Avicenna’s vision, Avicenna employed allegory (or muthos) to convey what might have otherwise been missed.23 Allegory, in other words, was Avicenna’s alternate way of communicating philosophy; by trying to decipher the allegory, the reader of philosophy might come upon some of the conclusions that would otherwise be found in logical argument. Avicenna’s understanding of allegory might best be seen in the context of his poetics, because of the shared focus in allegory and poetry on imaginative language. For Avicenna, artistic imitation or mimesis (muḥākā) engenders a sense of wonder that truth (ṣidq) alone does not. Yet truth coupled with imitation resonates in a way unlike either alone, because it appeals both to the intellect and to the imagination.24 It is for this reason that ethical or higher philosophical truths best affect a person when coupled with the artistry of narratives, since narratives recreate and describe human scenarios but in a more meaningful way than the chance happenings of life.

Not everyone agrees that allegory was so vital to Avicenna and his method. Notably, Dimitri Gutas argues that, for Avicenna, allegory was largely recourse for those who could not grasp more direct language “because of their stupidity.”25 When used by philosophers for other philosophers, allegory aimed either to encourage them to engage in syllogistic reasoning or to allow them a means to share philosophical truths while still concealing them from the masses.26 In response, Aaron Hughes applies Martha Nussbaum’s consideration of philosophy-as-literature and literature-as-philosophy to an Islamic and Judaic Neoplatonic context. Hughes argues that Avicenna’s allegories cannot be reduced to simplified, elementary symbolic means for conveying higher philosophical truths.27 Instead, imagination as piqued in allegory is an important tool for realizing such philosophical truths, which makes storytelling one of those “spiritual exercises” that are useful even for able-minded philosophers.28

It should be mentioned that these two views are not mutually exclusive. Allegory can awaken realizations using the imagination, while still stimulating a lower register of thought than pure demonstrative reasoning. For the common people, allegory is a primary mode of knowing things. They do not move beyond allegory to grasp philosophical truths, relying entirely on allegories in place of rational demonstration. For the elite, however, allegory is supplemental. If reasoning accomplishes the task, so much the better, but if and when it does not, then allegory might do so. Even for the elite, it seems, certain matters lent themselves to being realized through the imagination. As Hughes argues, Avicenna singles out imagination as that which communicates the ineffable experience of contact with the divine, even if that contact is made through rational means.29 Imaginative language and hence allegory is a means for bridging “an ontological gap” that exists between human and divine, because it gives dimensionality, context, and form to that which escapes all of these things.30 It uses the language of body (sensory perception) to localize the lessons of soul, thus addressing humans “as composites of soul and body.”31 How and when storytelling might have functioned to achieve this may not be something that can be known simply by studying the texts we have at our disposal. Only those students who learned directly from philosophers such as Avicenna would know.

  • THE ELITE AND THE COMMON IN AVICENNA’S ETHICS

In Avicenna’s allegories, and in his thought more broadly, ultimate human fulfillment lies in the completion of the intellect. Since fulfillment brings pleasure, true pleasure also lies in the completion of the intellect. This aim—completing the intellect—determines Avicenna’s ethics. As he says in his Allusions and Admonitions (al-Ishārāt wa-l-Tanbīhāt), “It occurs to the imaginations of the common people that sensual pleasures are prevailing and dominant, while supersensory pleasures are weak, but that is all fanciful thinking without any reality.”32 Preferring the supersensory to the sensory is the basis of becoming one of those whom Avicenna calls the “sublimely unattached knowers,” who, upon death, will have perfectly separated their cares from bodily attachments, turned their attention to the realm of transcendence, and achieved complete happiness. They enjoy some of that separation from bodily cares and hence intellectual pleasure—however incompletely—during life.33

Such ultimate fulfillment is not accessible to all, but rather only to the higher, more intelligent ranks of people. Here it should be said that an ethical system that recognizes various types of virtuous conduct or even rankings of people will be open to the charge that it is elitist. This is true of Aristotle’s ethics, at least insofar as his audience, especially in the political implications of his ethics, is exclusive to free men.34 Because of the egalitarian impulse in modern thought, many of us will object to such ethical systems, or at least to what we perceive as elitist in them. We might try to abstract that which is appealing and that which seems true from that which is dated and hence seems false. In such a manner, we say, we can revive ancient virtue ethics—for example—in a more classless, rankless, and thus “modern” setting.35 Such an endeavor would be equally difficult when it comes to classical Islamic virtue ethics, whether presented by philosophers such as Avicenna or by Sufis, because such an ethics (like Aristotle’s) is built upon the premise that some are inherently more qualified for perfection than others.

Certainly, Avicenna pondered the wellbeing of all humans, including those who would not or could not achieve the completion of the intellect. For the most part, however, he thought that the basic moral code of revelation—the Sharia—sufficed for the functioning of a society mostly composed of those who are not “knowers.” Non-knowers need incentivizing rewards and discouraging warnings, because worship and renunciation are, for them, merely business transactions from which they hope to gain.36 In the words of a later Andalusian admirer of Avicenna who shared this view, Abū Bakr ibn Ṭufayl (d. 1185–6), “most of the people are at the rank of irrational beasts” who need religion in its simplest form, as revealed by the prophets, “to which nothing else can be added” because their natures will reject anything more profound.37 Avicenna and Ibn Ṭufayl share a common concern with those who might be “knowers,” if given the proper intellectual and ethical tools to do so.

The allegorical narratives of Avicenna’s writings assume that there are some truths unbefitting for the general public. As Peter Heath has argued, while allegory thrives in societies in which ideas compete, and not in climates of “intellectual totalitarianism,” there must also be some degree of expressive restriction, because otherwise—when expression is free and open—the puzzles and indirect language of allegory become unnecessary.38 In the case of Avicenna’s allegories, the major restriction seems to be that the most profound truths of philosophy would endanger the necessary, if incompletely true, beliefs of the masses.

  • THE SOUL’S JOURNEY FROM EMBODIMENT TO PERFECTION IN LIVINGSON OF AWAKE

An important element in much of Islamic virtue ethics is the figure of the guide, a person who has achieved ethical perfection and acquired great knowledge, such that he or she can serve as a paragon and a model for others. The epitome of the guide figure is the Prophet Muhammad, whose way (or “Sunna”) is worthy to be imitated by all Muslims. Even Muhammad benefited from the guidance of the angel Gabriel, who led him on his heavenly ascent, delivered God’s revelation to him, and often clarified matters. The guide in Avicenna’s tale—Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān—appears as part of a cycle: His name is “Ḥayy,” which means “living,” but we know that his father, too, was once “living” (“when he was alive”), and one can assume his grandfather before that; each of them was once both living and awake, and, upon death, remains “awake” but is no longer “living.”39 In other words, there will always be a guide who is not only awake (that is, cognizant of the reality of things) but also living (that is, accessible to others who are alive and seeking). This guide, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, is an old man endowed with great wisdom. Henry Corbin, who translated and analyzed this narrative, interprets Ḥayy as a “hierophany” of the Active Intellect, a typological figure of the revealing angel.40 The Active Intellect is the highest point of contact for human knowing. It exists outside of human thought; it is the maker of thought in which knowledge in all its forms exists. Corbin insists, moreover, that the tale of Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān is not an allegory, but a collection of symbols.41 Allegory involves one-to-one equivalences, in which elements of the story stand for something else. Symbols, however, transmit concepts in the form of words and images in a much looser way, one that evokes broad or multiple meanings, instead of serving as a set of allegorical codes. Certain allegorical equivalences in Avicenna’s stories seem too clear to dismiss, so that Corbin’s reading seems perhaps more esoteric than necessary. Still, there is value in thinking beyond one-to-one equivalences. In the case of Ḥayy, for example, Aaron Hughes argues that the old man represents something more socially grounded and multilayered than the Active Intellect. Tied into this figure of a “celestial guide” were a number of connotations familiar to Avicenna’s audience, including prophets, angels, and spiritual masters.42

Avicenna narrates the story as himself, but also—allegorically—as the rational soul. That narrator, accompanied by three friends, encounters Ḥayy and asks for guidance. Ḥayy is a master at discerning character, and announces to the narrator that the narrator’s friends will bring him harm. One friend is a loquacious, fast-talking liar; the second friend is a quick-tempered brute; and the third friend is an insatiable glutton. Two of the narrator’s companions, according to Corbin, are not only the “concupiscible and irascible appetites” but also “psychic Energies, the mass of demonic energies that multiply in the human soul.”43 Perhaps more literally, the three companions seem to represent three bodily forces centered in the brain, heart, and liver: imagination, anger, and desire, respectively. The loquacious friend, who represents imagination, walks in front of the narrator, giving the narrator a mixture of reliable and unreliable information. This is because imagination rearranges and categorizes sensory forms in ways that lead to rational thought but also to delusions. The brutish friend, who represents anger, walks to the narrator’s right. And the gluttonous friend, who represents desire, walks to the narrator’s left. Avicenna represents the order in nobility of these forces as a matter of direction and placement vis-à-vis the narrator: front (the most noble), right, and left (the least noble).

The interdependence of body and character traits comes to light in Ḥayy’s proficiency in physiognomy (firāsa), which he uses to detect and remedy character flaws. Physiognomy is, in fact, the ability to determine inner states and ethical proclivities by observing outer features, such as facial structure or the shape of one’s head. Ḥayy is a master of both the spiritual and the biological; he is, much like Avicenna himself, a sage and a scientist of anatomy. Ḥayy describes physiognomy as the most valuable science he has gleaned in his travels, proclaiming, “Physiognomy is among those sciences that yields its profit immediately, for it exposes that which every person hides of his own natural disposition (sajiyya), which you can then take into account in dealing generously or tight-fistedly with him.”44 People have, according to Ḥayy, certain shortcomings and tendencies in their very constitution, in the “clay” from which they have been formed, and physiognomy brings awareness of those shortcomings and tendencies. One, then, can better deal with others, and a master of physiognomy can serve as a guide who leads to ethical reform by correcting these congenital deficiencies.45

The Ḥayy narrative is one of the finest examples of the centrality of the humors to philosophical virtue ethics, because the key to good character lies in balancing the opposing natures within the human constitution. Ḥayy’s advice to the narrator centers on ways in which he might mitigate the evil tendencies of his friends, much as one might need to mitigate one’s inner natural predispositions to anger and desire. His simple formula for success in dealing with these conflicting inner forces captures the very basis of classical philosophical virtue ethics: “One stratagem that works with such friends is that you use the malicious and irascible one to overcome the frivolous and gluttonous one by restraining him with rebukes and breaking him utterly. Also, you can gradually neutralize the excessiveness of the conceited and rough one by using the charm of the frivolous and flattering one to subdue him.”46 In other words, you can achieve the ethical mean (explained fully in the next chapter) by provoking the sternness and severity within you to practice discipline, thereby curbing your tendency to seek pleasure and comfort. Conversely, if you are dominated by the urge to lash out, assert your superiority, or subjugate others, then soften your demeanor by engaging in simple pleasures and in humor. Use the passions instrumentally—an idea also found in Galen.47 These observations do not just apply to the inner world of human psychology: Ḥayy’s advice also has political import, since sometimes people are dominated by one or the other character trait, and a learned judge of character can counterbalance one tendency with another to create social equilibrium. Mass imbalances can create societies in dire need of justice, whether those societies (or subsections of those societies) are dominated by anger, desire, or imagination.

Ḥayy then advises the narrator to listen to the third friend, the one who brings information, but to listen carefully. Just as proper thinking requires distinguishing seeming truths from real ones and the aspiration to strive beyond what is only apparently true, the narrator must verify the information that his deceitful friend presents, because the friend mixes truth with lies. Imagination is inseparable from the thinking process, but the rational soul must use the filters of skepticism and reason and not latch on to the immediate.

The narrator cannot simply be rid of such friends; dumping them is no easy task, much in the same way that we are all burdened with our conflicting lower natures, those that result from our bodies, until death. Ḥayy describes the death of the body as an individuation (al-tafarrud), a detachment or separation from those nefarious friends, such that the traveler will one day arrive at a land in which they simply cannot survive.48 Unfortunately, death is a “fixed appointment that you cannot outstrip.”49 So, until then, one must try to move internally toward the direction of the guide, Ḥayy, and away from the evil companions.

Ḥayy’s advice to the narrator continues and, until the end of the tale, is occupied mainly with describing the inhabitants of various climes, mostly of the earth (West and East), but also beyond the earth—including the angelic realms. Avicenna makes allegorical use of the genre of geographical writing to describe places that both affect and reflect the character of their inhabitants, drawing closer and closer in his descriptions to the ideal location—near the king. As a guide, Ḥayy intends to lead the narrator to the king, namely God, which is a movement away from conflicted, earthly climes to more celestial ones; one draws near the king even by thinking about him and becoming “awakened” to him.50

Ḥayy’s discussion of the various climes not only reveals extensive geographical knowledge, but also further emphasizes an embodied humoral ethics. Ḥayy teaches the narrator about the effects of various natural and supernatural climes on the physical makeup and resulting character traits of those who inhabit such places. While his concerns in the Ḥayy narrative are too allegorical for medical purposes, Avicenna elsewhere does clearly state that the inhabitants of the fourth clime have the most naturally balanced constitutions and thus psychologies of all habitable climes.51 The fourth clime would occupy the center of the earth, with three climes to the south and three to the north. The parameters of the fourth clime were debated among experts, but usually included Avicenna’s home city of Bukhara as part of the Khurāsān region.52 Interestingly, Abū al-Walīd ibn Rushd (d. 1198), known as “Averroës,” a Spanish commentator on Avicenna, rejects his predecessor’s view. Citing Galen, Averroës asserts that the fifth clime, which includes Averroës’s own homeland of al-Andalus, is the most temperate.53 Most of Avicenna’s contemporaries who wrote about humoral pathology held that one’s surrounding geographical climate and location—especially while the fetus gestates in the womb—affects one’s character and intelligence.54

In viewing human psychology and physiology as affected by one of seven corresponding climes, Muslim writers were probably influenced by the geography of Claudius Ptolemy, though ancient Persian geography had a sevenfold division that also appeared in Muslim writings.55 Not surprisingly, since many of these writers hailed from western Asia, they tended to locate the very center of the fourth clime (the place best suited to a balanced constitution) proximate to Baghdad or Isfahan. They also considered other ethnic groups— those ethnic groups belonging to distant climes, those who tended to be lighter, darker, taller, shorter, or in any way noticeably different in appearance from the Arab/Persian norm—to be uncivilized and congenitally unintelligent, fierce, irrational, or idle.56 Those other ethnic groups engaged in cultural practices and a sense of backwardness that stemmed from a deformed constitution.57 One should bear in mind that, during the Abbasid age especially, Arabs and Persians could easily imagine Islamdom as the pinnacle of human civilization, on account of not only their seeming cultural and political ascendancy, but also the size and design of their cities—especially Baghdad.58 As Muslims became more aware of urban centers elsewhere, especially in the European north, their view of the ethnic groups that occupied that region shifted accordingly.59

The appearance of ethnocentric themes in philosophical allegory tells us something about the social role of “literature” as well. Since writings on geography and ethics would have been considered part of the adab tradition, Aziz Al-Azmeh argues that the ethnic categorizations one finds among premodern Muslim writers such as Avicenna reveal that adab functioned to create a “sense of cultural unity” among powerful elites that stood in contrast to “barbarism in its many gradations.”60 To create a sense of cultural unity by defining the self as good in contrast to a barbaric other equally describes the function of contemporary popular media here in the United States, as can be seen in numerous films such as Body of Lies (2008) and Argo (2012), or the television series Homeland (2011– ), as well as more subtly in any production that makes American culture seem normative.

One can see that Avicenna’s allegory assumes a humors-based or humoral virtue ethics in which one moves, first, away from the conflicting drives of the body and, second, toward horizons of higher realization. This pattern of movement exemplifies a recurring motif in Muslim philosophical literature, namely, the journey and development of the soul. As Aaron Hughes has argued, the story or “career” of the soul is the driving theme in Neoplatonic theory and consequent allegories, including the influential work of Avicenna.61 Avicenna’s ethical system, much like the conversation between the narrator and his guide, begins with the practical monitoring of oneself and leads into the loftier aspirations of ascent into higher spheres of realization and being.

  • AVICENNA’S VIRTUE ETHICS IN THE “STATIONS OF THE KNOWERS”

One finds a roadmap to higher spheres of realization in Avicenna’s “Stations of the Knowers,” which is the ninth division of his Allusions and Admonitions, a division about spiritual and ethical perfection in a book covering the most important branches of philosophy. An allegory appears in the “Stations of the Knowers” to which Avicenna merely alludes. Perhaps because his audience already knew the story, Avicenna never explains it. The knowers of God, according to Avicenna, have certain states that are best conveyed by a literary narrative, that of Salāmān and Absāl: “Salāmān is a representation describing you, and Absāl is a representation describing your rank in knowing, if you are worthy; so solve the puzzle, if you can.”62 Of course, the problem is that no one seems to know who these fictional figures are, or what exactly happened to them in the story mentioned. Avicenna’s commentator Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī describes the failed attempts of another famous commentator, Fakhr al-Dīn Rāzī, in trying to decipher the allegory. Rāzī suggests that the riddle might be indecipherable, while also mentioning the possibility that Salāmān represents Adam and Absāl represents paradise. Twenty years after first completing his own commentary, however, Ṭūsī claimed to have gotten closer to solving the puzzle. He establishes that “Salāmān” and “Absāl” (or “Ibsāl”) refer to names known among Arabic-speakers and even mentioned by the great Sufi master Ibn ʿArabī.63 Avicenna’s tone, according to Ṭūsī, indicates that the names do indeed refer to a known narrative. Ṭūsī mentions two versions, the first of which he dismisses on grounds of allegorical inconsistencies.64

In the second version of the tale, the story that Ṭūsī ends up accepting, two devoted brothers—Salāmān and Absāl—endure the evil machinations of Salāmān’s wife. (The misogynistic theme of the duplicitous wife is a recurring motif in medieval literature, found perhaps most famously, in the case of Arabic literature, in Alf Layla wa Layla, known as The Thousand and One Nights.) The younger brother—Absāl—possesses every human perfection, including the cardinal virtues (in this case, wisdom, temperance, and courage), as well as physical beauty. Salāmān’s wife has fallen in love with Absāl, and does everything in her power to seduce him. She fails, and so decides to marry her younger sister to him, informing her sister that they will share him. She also informs Absāl that he should only lie with his new wife at night and without conversation, since her sister is a shy virgin.65 On Absāl’s first night with his wife, the elder sister has taken his bride’s place, and he notices that she is far too aggressive in bed for a virgin. Moreover, a flash of lightning allows him to discern her true identity. Absāl then decides to separate himself from his sister-in-law. He leaves to fight in battle on behalf of his older brother and expand the kingdom, a task in which he finds much success, becoming the first major world conqueror.66 He returns from his triumphs to see that his sister-in-law still seeks to be with him, so, again, he rejects her. While Absāl is fighting a battle in defense of his brother, his wicked sister-in-law bribes his soldiers to betray him. Near the point of death after being vanquished by the enemy, Absāl is nursed back to health by a beast who breastfeeds him. He returns to rescue his grieving brother, Salāmān. At this point, Salāmān’s wicked wife pays Absāl’s cook and food-taster to poison Absāl, which they do.67 The brother—Salāmān—in his grief, relinquishes his kingdom to one of his vassals and confides his agonies with God, Who reveals to him what really happened with his brother. Then Salāmān forces the wife, cook, and food-taster to drink from the poison that they used to kill his brother, at which point they too die.

In Ṭūsī’s interpretation of the story, Salāmān is the rational soul (al-nafs al-nāṭiqa), which means that he represents each of us and is, in a sense, the protagonist. The rational soul might be thought of as our embodied and intelligent self, and the highest achievement for that intelligent self is to perfect and even become completely associated with the very principle of intelligence within it. Absāl is that very principle of intelligence—namely, the theoretical intellect (al-ʿaql al-naẓarī).68 In more technical terms, the theoretical intellect is that function of the human intellect that has the ability to contemplate universal concepts. As described above, it is supported by the practical intellect (al-ʿaql al-ʿamalī), which allows the theoretical intellect to flourish by controlling the body’s forces and achieving virtue. There also exist terms to describe the theoretical intellect’s transformation from potential to completion. In its beginnings, it is the primordial or completely potential intellect (al-ʿaql al-hayūlānī), an intellect only in its capacity to become one. Then, it begins to acquire the tools of intellection, at which point it can be called the intellect by disposition (al-ʿaql bi-l-malaka). Once its powers of intellection have become complete, it is the actualized intellect (al-ʿaql bi-l-fiʿl). Finally, Avicenna has a separate term—“acquired intellect” (ʿaql mustafād)—to describe the highest realization of the theoretical intellect.

As an acquired intellect, the intellect is perpetually an intellect and entirely free from its lower possibilities. The agent has reached complete human potentiality.69 At the stage of acquired intellect, the theoretical intellect has become capable of consistently applying thought to the intelligibles, that is, concepts in their purest form, concepts both celestial (as immaterial beings without bodies) and within the mind. It is also aware of this thinking process. By contemplating these intelligibles, the theoretical intellect—having now become acquired intellect—moves away from the material world toward the supersensory world, and ultimately toward the Active Intellect. Absāl represents the intellect at any stage of this completion. Your “Absāl”—as a reader—is your intellect’s stage of completion.

According to Ṭūsī, the wicked wife of Salāmān represents the body itself—or, at least, its commanding property (al-ammāra) that stimulates desire and anger, that is, those bodily forces that call away from virtue and toward vice. We might call it the “body-force,” or the “commanding soul” (al-nafs al-ammāra). Her infatuation with Absāl represents the body-force’s desire to bring the intellect into subordination, just as the body-force controls lower faculties. The body-force seeks to use the intellect to fulfill its desires for the ephemeral.70 The younger sister represents the practical intellect, which obeys the theoretical intellect when the soul is at the stage of the tranquil soul (al-nafs al-muṭmaʾinna), that is, at peace with its pursuit of good and, hence, in control of its faculties. Here, however, the soul is not in control of its faculties: The wicked wife has taken her younger sister’s place, much like the commanding soul (al-nafs al-ammāra) can appear in the guise of a person’s true wellbeing.71 The lightning that reveals the wicked wife’s true identity is a divine flash—one might say a moment of true inspiration and insight—that occurs for those absorbed in God. Absāl’s rejection of his sister-in-law represents the intellect’s turning away from lower desires. Absāl’s conquest equals the intellect’s learning, its acquiring realities in all the domains. Absāl’s betrayal at the hands of his soldiers is the intellect’s being severed from its faculties, those of sense, imagination, and fantasy, due to its attention to sublime matters. Absāl’s being nourished by milk is the outpouring of perfections upon the intellect from higher realms. In Absāl’s absence, Salāmān has a disturbed state, one that represents the rational soul’s remorse for once having neglected the higher pursuits of the intellect in favor of lower, bodily ones. Absāl’s return to his brother means that things have been set straight: The triumphant intellect has a renewed interest in putting its affairs in order by managing the body’s drives. The rational soul has been reunited with the intellect. The intellect’s detractors, anger and desire, are represented by the cook and the food-taster. The cook works with fire (hence passion, or anger), and the taster is literally a consumer of food (hence appetite, or desire). As the body’s life ends, the intellect fades, and hence it becomes more reliant on these two faculties; this is represented by Absāl’s murder. Salāmān’s killing of the cook and food-taster represents the disappearance of these two faculties upon the death of the body. Salāmān’s relinquishing of his kingdom stands for the soul’s release from the body upon death.72

Ṭūsī presents compelling evidence that this is the story Avicenna intended, including a reference made by a student of Avicenna and an allusion made to lightning (and the revelation of a woman’s face) in a treatise by Avicenna.73 Regardless of whether it reflects Avicenna’s intentions or not, Ṭūsī’s story and his interpretation work. The central theme of Avicenna’s ninth division of the Allusions and Admonitions is the soul’s acquisition of perfection by turning toward the truth and away from bodily urges. Renunciation (zuhd) and worship (ʿibāda) play important roles in Avicenna’s description of God’s knowers. While non-knowers (ghayr al-ʿārif) engage in the two as business transactions, giving up worldly pleasures and endeavoring in worship for something greater in the next life, knowers see renunciation and worship as means to the Real.74 Thus, we return again to the body and the balance of humors, for—in Avicenna’s view—the body’s pleasures are a person’s greatest obstacle to intellection, to intellectual pleasures (which are the highest forms of pleasure), and to the completion of the intellect.

The body is an obstacle to the completion of the intellect because it is a combination of contradictories, namely, contradictory natures and humors. Not only do these contradictories promise sickness and ultimately death for the human body, but they also point to the lower-order quality and ephemerality of its urges and pleasures. Avicenna makes the case that the intellect finds its perfection in that which is unadulterated—that which is not a mixture of other things. This is because as one ascends, up beyond spirits and heavenly bodies, entities become less mixed, and hence purer.75 Unlike the intellect, all of the other, lesser faculties find perfection and pleasure in mixtures, for while “intellectual perception is unadulterated to its core by any mixture… sensory perception is all mixture.”76 Avicenna says “mixture” because—as you may recall from the Brethren of Purity—sensory existence is a combination of four natures that have descended from one ontological principle. Our human body is a mixture derived from those natures, in the form of the humors. When a person takes pleasure in food, he or she enjoys a mixture of elements, hot and cold, from dirt and from sea, taking pleasure in the satisfaction of the pains of hunger and the energy that flows through the blood as multiple nutrients. When a lover takes pleasure in the embrace of a beloved, that too is an enjoyment of another composite being, one whose physical makeup—like the lover’s—relies on a balance of elements. While in this body, we are preoccupied by these pleasures that suit the body. Because of these bodily preoccupations, according to Avicenna, “you do not long for your suited perfection,” namely the completion of the intellect.77 According to Avicenna, however, hope does exist: “There is within you some of the means of what might bring you to realize this.”78 One can intuit that higher callings exist.

This contradictoriness within the human frame was an essential principle of premodern Islamic thought, beyond philosophy. One finds this theme almost everywhere, such that the Sufi writer Najm al-Dīn Rāzī Dāya (d. 1256) describes the first human, Adam, as having a frame “founded on four contradictory principles and thus incapable of permanence.” That human frame is “dark and cramped, full of several thousand insects and noisome creatures,” animals ranging from snakes, to pigs, to horses, who are all “in conflict with another, and all too attacking the spirit.”79 Animals, in Rāzī Dāya’s view, are representations of various subhuman tendencies contained within the human microcosm, as we saw with the Brethren. Only the pure spirit (or intellect, for Avicenna) stands outside of these contradictions, suffering, nonetheless, on account of them.

Just as Rāzī Dāya, a Sufi, makes free use of concepts from philosophy, so too did Avicenna incorporate language commonly associated with Sufism into his description of ethical perfection. As the would-be-knower disassociates herself from the contradictory and muddled longings of the body and aims her ambitions at the most sublime truths of the intellect, she passes through stages that have been best described by Sufi writers. The first degree that the would-be-knower must reach, according to Avicenna, is that of volition (al-irāda). Through volition, a person becomes a seeker (murīd), one who has made the determination to move toward the highest good.80 Following volition comes self-discipline or “asceticism” (al-riyāḍ.a), which, when understood, gives us a sense of Avicenna’s higher-level ethical program. Avicenna describes self-discipline as having three progressing stages:

  1. Self-discipline involves, first, clearing everything away from the heart, other than the Real. Practices of renunciation help with this first part of self-discipline.
  2. Second, self-discipline involves a redirection of one’s perceptive faculties—imagination and estimation (al-takhayyul and al-wahm)—toward mental productions “befitting sanctified affairs, and away from mental productions befitting base affairs.”81 This is done by bringing the commanding soul (al-nafs al-ammāra), which draws one to bodily urges, to obey the tranquil soul (al-nafs al-muṭmaʾinna), which is at rest with the higher objectives of the intellect. Recall that Absāl’s turning away from his sister-in-law’s advances represented the taming of the commanding soul. Worship tied with contemplation aids this second part of self-discipline, especially when such worship is inspirited by melodious sounds and beautiful admonitions spoken by the pure of heart.82
  3. Third and last, self-discipline demands that one soften the innermost heart, so that it reaches a state of constant awareness. This is done by maintaining delicate thoughts, and by falling in love, chaste love, not the sort in which appetite-desire dominates, but rather the sort centered on the traits of the beloved.83 Salāmān’s love for Absāl, motivated entirely by Absāl’s goodness, resembles the love Avicenna describes here, while the love of Salāmān’s wife for Absāl, motivated by misdirected desire and the passions of the body, resembles the love to be avoided.

One who practices such volition and self-discipline will eventually experience “delightful peeks into the gleaming of the Real’s light, as if they were flashes of lightning appearing before him and then disappearing,” much like the flash of truth that appeared as lightning to Absāl.84 These flashes are called “moments” (waqt/awqāt) among the knowers, and they increase with practice. Soon, the person begins to see the Real in almost everything.85 Eventually, after some difficulty, he or she experiences a constant state of awareness; the flashes become a “manifest blaze,” which, at first, the person can call forth at will, but which eventually changes her perception entirely.86 The person always sees things as “something else,” that is, she sees the reality of things, and ascends “from the Realm of Falsehood to the Realm of the Real.”87 The pivotal metaphor of the polished mirror enters Avicenna’s description at this critical juncture, once the knower has passed from self-discipline to attainment (al-nayl). At this highest stage, the innermost heart—the most hidden core of a person’s identity—becomes “a polished mirror with which she faces the direction of the Real.”88 The joys of this proximity surround the knower, who finds herself oscillating in terms of identity, alternating between the self and the Real, because so little of the self’s identity is left, having been replaced by its reflective property.89 Finally, the knower “disappears from herself, beholding only the most sanctified vicinity,” so that if any sense of selfhood remains, it is only insofar as the soul is a beholder of the Real. Here, Avicenna tells us, “arrival (al-wuṣūl) has been realized.”90

The social element here might seem sparse, but Avicenna’s advice for the perfection of the self provides an excellent commentary on the social functions of a seemingly individualistic virtue ethics in general, whether Greek, Islamic, or modern. The knower who sees the Real in everything will be innately happy with everything, such that she will share that joy with others. Whether rich, poor, young, or old, all will receive equally kind treatment from her, because “all of them are to [that knower] equally deserving of pity, having busied themselves with useless things.”91 The knower’s kindness, it seems, resembles that of an adult among children, a superior among inferiors. While this might hint at arrogance to us, arrogance is an aggrandizement of self-worth, an undue claim; the knower’s view of her achieved self, however, is merely an acknowledgement of reality. Moreover, the knower has courage, generosity, forgiveness, and clemency because she knows the truth. The virtues are accidental to her knowledge. She knows that death is meaningless, which means she fears nothing and is hence naturally brave. She knows that wealth is meaningless, and will neither add nor, in its absence, take away from her relationship with the Real, making her unattached to wealth and hence naturally generous. She knows that the soul is entirely a mirror for the Real, or ought to be, and so can only be affected by its own success or failure in that regard, not by the actions or wrongdoings of others, making her naturally forgiving. She has no sense of needing the kindness or affirmation of others; she is self-contained. She knows that the only occupation for the knower is being near the Real, or remembering the Real, so she has no interest in harboring resentments and thinking upon what has passed between herself and others, and thus she is naturally clement.92 The knower has flown so far above the needs of the body, and so deeply into the realms of light, that her perspective among humans almost resembles that of God.

NOTES

1 Avicenna, al-Shifāʾ: al-Ṭabīʿīyāt: al-Nafs, p. 2:21.

2 Avicenna, al-Najāt, p. 332.

3 Avicenna, al-Shifāʾ: al-Ṭabīʿīyāt: al-Nafs, p. 2:37.

4 Avicenna, al-Najāt, p. 331; Avicenna, al-Shifāʾ: al-Ṭabīʿīyāt: al-Nafs, p. 2:37.

5 Avicenna, al-Shifāʾ: al-Ṭabīʿīyāt: al-Nafs, p. 2:38.

6 Avicenna, al-Najāt, p. 331.

7 Avicenna, al-Shifāʾ: al-Ṭabīʿīyāt: al-Nafs, pp. 2:35–7; Avicenna, al-Najāt, pp. 327–30.

8 For a discussion of this concept, see Rahman, Avicenna’s Psychology, p. 78n2.

9 Avicenna, al-Shifāʾ: al-Ṭabīʿīyāt: al-Nafs, p. 2:35.

10 Black, “Imagination and Estimation,” pp. 61–2.

11 Rahman, “Avicenna vi: Psychology.”

12 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, pp. 344–5.

13 In illustration of this point, see Heinrichs, “Die antike Verknüpfung von Phantasia und Dichtung bei den Arabern.” See also Black, “Imagination and Estimation.”

14 Weisser, “Avicenna xiii: The Influence of Avicenna on Medical Studies in the West,” EIr.

15 Gutas, “Avicenna ii. Biography.”

16 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, pp. 16–18.

17 Hall, “Intellect, Soul and Body in Ibn Sīnā,” p. 62.

18 Ibid., p. 63; Mahdi, “Avicenna vii: Practical Sciences.”

19 Heath, Allegory and Philosophy in Avicenna (Ibn Sînâ), p. 5.

20 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, pp. 482–4, 535.

21 Achena, “Avicenna xi. Persian Works.”

22 Heath, Allegory and Philosophy in Avicenna, p. 8.

23 Ibid., pp. 156–7.

24 Ibid., p. 163; Hughes, The Texture of the Divine, p. 69.

25 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 340.

26 See Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, pp. 340–2, 266.

27 See Hughes, The Texture of the Divine, pp. 34–5; Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 340.

28 Hughes, The Texture of the Divine, pp. 34–5.

29 Ibid., p. 95.

30 Ibid., p. 109.

31 Ibid., p. 109.

32 Avicenna, al-Ishārāt wa-l-Tanbīhāt, p. 341.

33 Ibid., pp. 348–9.

34 Striker, “Aristotle’s Ethics as Political Science,” p. 127.

35 Anderson, “What is the Point of Equality?”

36 Avicenna, al-Ishārāt wa-l-Tanbīhāt, pp. 356–7.

37 Ibn Ṭufayl, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, p. 152. See also Goodman’s translation, Ibn Ṭufayl, Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy ibn Yaqzan, p. 164.

38 Heath, Allegory and Philosophy in Avicenna, pp. 194–5.

39 Avicenna, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, p. 44.

40 Corbin, Avicenna and the Visionary Recital, p. 154.

41 Ibid., p. 135.

42 Hughes, The Texture of the Divine, p. 63.

43 Corbin, Avicenna and the Visionary Recital, p. 156.

44 Avicenna, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, p. 44.

45 Ibid., p. 44.

46 Avicenna, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, p. 45.

47 Walther Riese comments on Galen’s argument for an instrumental use of the passions in Galen, Galen on the Passions and Errors of the Soul, p. 125.

48 Avicenna, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, pp. 45–6.

49 Ibid., p. 46.

50 Ibid., p. 54.

51 See Avicenna, al-Qānūn fī al-Ṭibb, p. 1:21; Averroës, Sharḥ Ibn Rushd li-Urjūzat Ibn Sīnā  al-Ṭibb (“Averroës’s Commentary on Avicenna’s ‘On Medicine, a Poem in the Meter of Rajaz’”), p. 115.

52 Olsson, “The World in Arab Eyes,” pp. 494–5.

53 Averroës, Sharḥ Ibn Rushd li-Urjūzat Ibn Sīnā  al-Ṭibb, pp. 190–1.

54 Al-Azmeh, “Barbarians in Arab Eyes,” p. 6.

55 Olsson, “The World in Arab Eyes,” pp. 489, 508, n. 118.

56 Olsson, “The World in Arab Eyes,” pp. 490, 500; Al-Azmeh, “Barbarians in Arab Eyes,” p. 10.

57 Al-Azmeh, “Barbarians in Arab Eyes,” p. 7.

58 Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, p. 2:335.

59 Olsson, “The World in Arab Eyes,” p. 507.

60 Al-Azmeh, “Barbarians in Arab Eyes,” p. 18.

61 Hughes, The Texture of the Divine, p. 65.

62 Avicenna, al-Ishārāt, p. 355.

63 Ṭūsī, Sharḥ al-Ishārāt, p. 4:53. See also Keven Brown’s excellent translation in Ṭūsī, “A Translation of Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī’s Commentary upon Ibn Sīnā’s al-Ishārāt wa’l-Tanbīhāt, al-Namaṭ al-Tāsiʿ  Maqāmāt al-ʿĀrifīn: Namat. Nine on the Stations of the Mystics,” pp. 188–9. I have consulted this translation in the interpretation that follows.

64 In the dismissed version, Salāmān is a prince who falls in love with his wet-nurse, Absāl, much to the displeasure of his father, the king. Unable to fulfill their love, they throw themselves into the ocean. The king has Salāmān saved magically; he then has his philosopher cure the prince, which occurs by showing the prince a picture of Venus and thus redirecting his love quite literally from the earthly to the celestial.

65 Ṭūsī, Sharḥ al-Ishārāt, p. 4:54.

66 Ibid., p. 4:54.

67 Ibid., p. 4:55.

68 Ibid., p. 4:55.

69 Avicenna, al-Najāt, pp. 335–6. For an excellent and more detailed summary of the “stages of the intellect,” see McGinnis, Avicenna, pp. 117–20.

70 Ṭūsī, Sharḥ al-Ishārāt, p. 4:55.

71 Ibid., p. 4:56.

72 Ibid., pp. 4:56–7.

73 Ibid., p. 4:57.

74 Ibid., p. 4:59.

75 Avicenna, al-Ishārāt, p. 346.

76 Ibid., p. 346.

77 Ibid., p. 347.

78 Ibid., p. 347.

79 Rāzī, The Path of God’s Bondsmen from Origin to Return, p. 114.

80 Avicenna, al-Ishārāt, p. 359.

81 Ibid., p. 360.

82 Ibid., p. 360.

83 Ibid., p. 360.

84 Ibid., p. 360.

85 Ibid., p. 361.

86 Ibid., pp. 361–2.

87 Ibid., p. 362.

88 Ibid., p. 362.

89 Ibid., p. 363.

90 Ibid., p. 363.

91 Ibid., p. 364.

92 Ibid., pp. 365–6.

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