al-ʿĀmirī on Nature and the Arts

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Abstract Summary
This paper explores the view of Nature expounded by the tenth-century Muslim philosopher Abū al-Ḥasan al-ʿĀmirī (d. 992). al-ʿĀmirī’s understanding of Nature—concerning both its identity and its activity—is a hybridization of Aristotelian natural philosophy and Neoplatonic metaphysics. This background understanding informs his modal account of the beings and events which occur in the natural, i.e. sublunar world. al-ʿĀmirī’s natural world is characterized by ‘natural possibility,’ an imperfect regularity which falls short of the perfection and necessity of the heavens. al-ʿĀmirī presents a complicated network of relationships between the arts and Nature, and between (individual) nature and the soul. al-ʿĀmirī speaks of the arts as assisting Nature in its activity, as in the cases of agriculture and medicine. He also speaks of the influence of Nature on the arts, by engendering ‘natural’ dispositions in the artist. Elsewhere al-ʿĀmirī develops a view of soul and nature in the individual, according to which the soul of an especially spiritual individual will overpower the base nature within him, thus alleviating him of medical care altogether. I examine how his philosophical reflection on this point is connected to the Greco-Arabic medical tradition, its sources and practices. In particular, I consider the context of his view of ‘psycho-therapeusis’ by comparing it to popular Arabic medical accounts from the period, and contrast it with a medical work by Abū Sahl al-Masīḥī (d. after 1025) which emphasizes the dependence of psychological states on the body.
Abstract ID :
Submission Type
Organized Session
Abstract Topic
Medicine and Health
Chronological Classification :
Self-Designated Keywords :
Arabic Philosophy, Aristotelianism, Neoplatonism, Nature, soul, the arts