Avicenna (ăvĭsĕnˈə) [key], Arabic Ibn Sina, 980–1037, Islamic philosopher and physician, of Persian origin, b. near Bukhara. He was the most renowned philosopher of medieval Islam and the most influential name in medicine from 1100 to 1500. His medical masterpiece was the Canon of Medicine. His other masterpiece, the Book of Healing, is a philosophical treatise dealing with the soul. Avicenna's interpretation of Aristotle followed to some extent that of the Neoplatonists. He saw God as emanating the universe from himself in a series of triads formed of mind, soul, and body. This process terminated in the Aristotelian "active intellect," which governs directly all earthly regions and transmits to all things their appropriate forms. Man's soul is also derived from it and is immortal. Avicenna was not an absolute pantheist as he believed matter to exist independently of God. He fixed the classification of sciences used in the medieval schools of Europe.

See S. M. Afnan, Avicenna, His Life and Works (1958); H. Corbin, Avicenna and the Visionary Recital (tr. 1960); P. Morewedge, The Metaphysics of Avicenna (1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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