Arabic Thought and Islamic Societies by Aziz Al-Azmeh

By Aziz Al-Azmeh

This can be a examine of the constitution and composition of the legitimate studying present in medieval Arabic tradition. This contains common sciences either exoteric and esoteric (medicine, alchemy, astrology and others), conventional and non secular sciences (such as theology, exegesis and grammar), philosophical sciences comparable to metaphysics and ethics, as well as technical disciplines like political conception and drugs, and different fields of highbrow endeavour.
The publication identifies and develops a few conceptual components universal to a few of the parts of legitimate Arabic clinical discourse, and indicates how those components combine those disparate sciences into an ancient epistemic harmony. the explicit profile of every of those diversified sciences is defined, by way of its conceptual content material, yet in particular on the subject of its ancient conditions. those are obvious to be embodied in a few institutional helps, either highbrow and social: paradigms, faculties of concept, associations of studying, pedagogic ideas, and a physique of pros, all of which mix to shape convinced, albeit ever renewed, traditions of studying. eventually, an try out is made to narrate Arabic clinical wisdom within the center a long time to styles of clinical and political authority.

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Matter, hyle, substratum, all refer to a substance which is relative in an hierarchical sense, attributing a differential materiality to things, such as the undefined matter of a certain elementary form, which in its turn acts as the matter of a superior form, or of a substratum which can be seen as providing a substrate to something which is itself the substrate of another, or of the nature of a nature. In all cases, emphasis is placed on the relative incompleteness and relative formlessness whose inadequacy is only remedied and whose nature consummated when joined to an externally 18 Arabic Thought: Hierarchy, Substance and Combination given form.

2" Cooking, mixing, combining in appropriate proportions and using appropriate degrees of heat, are the stock in trade of alchemy, whose objective is the transmutation of base metals to gold. ^'^ This matter is very much in keeping with the principles of the continuity of matter and the opposition and connection of opposites that have been discussed in the foregoing paragraphs. Indeed, the alchemist Tughri'i (d. ca. 5 1511121) wrote a treatise refuting Ibn Sini's refutation of alchemy using as the main grounds of his argument prin~ ' ~it is indeed thought likely ciples enunciated in the latter's S h i j Z ~ ' by modern scholars that Ibn Sini had, in his youth, written two short treatises about the transmutation of elements which are still Ibn Sini's primary argument in his refutation of alchemy was his contention that the seven malleable metals were not transmutable because they are utterly distinct from one another, each of which is specifically Arabic Thought: Hierarchy, Substance nrlci Combitlation 27 and individually realised in a distinct species and genus.

This is the hypothetical conti~iuumwithin the bounds of which all elements are associated and specified. Some philosophical schools in Arabic thought explicitly adopted such a notion; some called it, on behalf of themselves and of others who were repelled by the term and its intellectual and historical connotations, a 'primary hyle',"' while others termed it the 'absolute body"I8 and a host of other terms. The unitary character of things was not only the leitmotiv of the theology and cosmology of monistic mystics such as Ibn 'Arabi (d.

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