Al-Tanqihat fi Sharh al-Talwihat. By Ibn Kamuna

Refinement and Commentary on Suhrawardi's, Intimations. A Thirteenth Century Text on Natural Philosophy and Psychology.

Ahmed Alwishah, Hossein Ziai (1944-2011)

Series: Bibliotheca Iranica: Intellectual Traditions Series 9
Availability: In stock
Published: 2002
Page #: xii + 548
Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: 1-56859-106-3


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Quick Overview

The present volume is a critical edition of a highly significant 13th century text, Al-Tanqihat fi Sharh al-Talwihat : al-Fann al-Thanifi al-Tabi‘i, on natural philosophy and psychology.

The text was written in Arabic by Sa‘d b. Mansur b. Hibat-Allah b. Kammuna, better known as Ibn Kammuna (d. 683 A.H./1284 A.D.), a distinguished philosopher and oculist from a learned Jewish family of Baghdad, at the Nizamiyya Madrasa in the year 667 A.H./1268A.D. It demonstrates the analytical side of rationalist Islamic philosophy, specifically of the holistic system known as the “Philosophy of Illumination,” and is an extensive commentary on one of the four major texts by the 12th century Persian (Iranian) innovative philosopher, Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi. The text, as indicated by its title, is not a simple commentary, rather an analytical refinement of the Persian thinker’s arguments on natural philosophy and psychology, with specific emphasis on Illuminationist philosophy.

Ibn Kammuna’s position in Islamic philosophy is well established. He is known as an Illuminationist philosopher, and is identified as such by the Persian philosopher Mulla Sadra in a discussion of philosophical schools in his al-Asfar al-Arba‘. His genuinely analytical views on philosophy, evidenced in the present text, Al-Tanqihat fi Sharh al-Talwihat, is proof that philosophy had not died out in the East during the 13th century. This text, the second part of which on natural philosophy is published for the first time, helped solidify the position of Illuminationist philosophy in the 13th century, providing an alternative philosophical system to Islamic Peripatetic philosophy. This, at a time when thinking had been circumscribed by philosophical “text-books” composed by theologians. Ibn Kammuna’s text, together with Suhraward’s own compositions plus other commentaries on his other works, defined the “new” school of Islamic philosophy, the “Illuminationist.”

The edition has been prepared by Hossein Ziai, Professor of Islamic and Iranian Studies at UCLA, with the assistance of one of his advanced graduate students in Islamic philosophy, Mr. Ahmed Alwishah. The volume includes an English introduction to the text, which introduces the life and works of the author, Ibn Kammuna, and examines a seleced number of philosophical topics of the text.

Ahmed Alwishah


Hossein Ziai (1944-2011)

Hossein Ziai, Tenured Full Professor of Islamic and Iranian Studies, and Director of Iranian Studies at UCLA, where he has taught since 1988. He received his B.S. in 1967 in Mathematics & Physics from Yale University, and his Ph.D. in Islamic Philosophy from Harvard University in 1976. Prior to his position at UCLA, Ziai has taught at Tehran University, Sharif University, Harvard University, Brown University, and Oberlin College. Dr. Ziai has published several volumes and numerous articles on Islamic philosophy, especially the Iranian/Islamic Illuminationist tradition. His books include: (1) Philosophy of Mathematics (in Persian); (2) Anvariyya (The Realm of Lights); (3) Knowledge and Illumination; (4) Shahrazur's Commentary on Hikmat al-Ishraq; (5) The Book of Radiance; (6) The Philosophy of Illumination; (7) The Ball and Polo Stick, or the Book of Ecstasy; (8) Ibn Kammuna's Text on Illuminationist Physics. He has also contributed many chapters to edited volumes including: "Beyond Philosophy" in Myth and Philosophy, edited by Frank Reynolds and David Tracy. "The Source and Nature of Authority" in The Political Aspects of Islamic Philosophy, edited by Charles Butterworth; and three chapters in The Routledge History of Islamic Philosophy, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman. He is also the author of numerous articles on Islamic philosophy and on Iranian/Islamic intellectual traditions. Ziai has offered numerous papers at national and international conferences.

Introduction 1

I. Ibn Kammuna and His Commentary on Suhrawardi's al-Talwihat 1

II. The Place of al-Talwihat in the Corpus of Illuminationist Philosophical Texts 8

III. Analysis of Selected Problems From the Text of al-Tanqihat 15
Book One: On Bodies in General
1 On the Definition of the Natural Body 18
2 On the Divisibility of the Singular Atom 20
3 Form and Matter 22
4 On Direction 26
5 On the Inclined Motion of Natural Bodies 26
6 Space and its Primary Determinants 30
7 On Proving the Impossibility of the Void 31
8 On Time 32
Book Four: On the Soul 35
1 On the Definition of the Soul 36
2 The Internal Senses 37
3 On the Rational Soul 38
4 On the States and the Division of the Rational Soul 40
4.1 The Theoretical Intellect and the Practical Intellect 40
4.2 The Many Meanings of the Term "Intellect" 41
5 On the Immateriality of the Rational Soul 41
6 On the Existence of the Rational Soul 42
7 On Intuition and Other Mental States 44

IV. Manuscripts of al-Tanqihat fi Sharh al-Talwihat 46 to top of 548

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