The First ‘Proclean’ Section (Chapter 20) of ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Book on the Science of Metaphysics. Is the Pure Good of the Maḥḍ al-ḫayr Aristotle’s First Principle, Intellect in Actuality?

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The first ‘Proclean’ section (Chapter 20) in ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Kitāb fī ʿilm mā baʿd al-ṭabīʿa is titled Fī mā qāla l-ḥakīm fī kitāb īḍāḥ al-ḫayr. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī presents his epitome of the Maḥḍ al-ḫayr. He reproduces all the propositions except numbers 4, 10, 18, and 20 in the same order. He adds Proclus’s proposition 54, On the difference between eternity and time (Mā bayn al-dahr wa-l-zamān), which is recalled twice, and passages from Metaphysics Lambda and the pseudo-Theology. Using a Farabian model, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf’s aim is to establish the identification between the First Cause, One and Pure Good, as presented in the Liber de causis, and the Aristotelian First Principle, Unmoved Mover and Intellect in actuality, described in his paraphrase of Metaphysics Lambda. Not surprisingly, however, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf is unable to reach this goal. Dissatisfied with the Avicennian summae, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf gathers in his Book on the Science of Metaphysics a syllabus of the ancient doctrines, the foundational sources of falsafa plus al-Fārābī. This syllabus inevitably reflects the antinomy of its sources concerning the nature of the First Principle, i.e. the antinomy of the two main doctrines at the origin of falsafa, the Plotinian One and the Aristotelian Intellect in actuality.

The First ‘Proclean’ Section (Chapter 20) of ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Book on the Science of Metaphysics. Is the Pure Good of the Maḥḍ al-ḫayr Aristotle’s First Principle, Intellect in Actuality?

in Oriens

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References

  • 10

    Fritz W. Zimmermann“The Origins of the So-called Theology of Aristotle,” in Pseudo- Aristotle in the Middle Ages. The Theology and Other Textsed. by Jill Kraye William F. Ryan and Charles B. Schmitt (London: The Warburg Institute1986) 113.

  • 13

    BadawīAl-Aflāṭūniyya al-muḥdaṯa ʿind al-ʿArab248–56.

  • 15

    Richard C. TaylorThe Liber de Causis (Kalām fī maḥḍ al-ḫayr). A study of Medieval Neoplatonism (Toronto: PhD Thesis1981); Richard C. Taylor “ʿAbd al Latif al-Baghdadi’s Epitome of the Kalam fi Mahd al- Khayr (Liber de Causis)” in Islamic Theology and Philosophy: Studies in Honor of George F. Hourani ed. by M.E. Marmura (Albany NY: State University of New York Press 1984) 286–323 in particular 320 note 13.

  • 16

    Cecilia Martini Bonadeo“Readers of the Arabic Plotinus. Part Two: ʿAbd al-Laṭīf b. Yūsuf al-Baġdādī,” in Pseudo-Theology of Aristotle. Text Translation History and Doctrine. Vol. IProlegomena ed. by Cristina D’Ancona. Vol. II. Philological Introduction Arabic Text French Translation Commentary Indexes ed. by Cristina D’Ancona. Vol. III. The so-called Longer Version of the pseudo-Theology of Aristotle ed. by Paul B. Fenton (in preparation).

  • 17

    Cf. Martini BonadeoʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Philosophical Journey244.

  • 18

    Cf. Elvira WakelnigFeder Tafel Mensch: Al-ʿĀmirī’s Kitāb al-Fuṣūl fī l-Maʿālim al-ilāhīya und die arabische Proklos-Rezeption im 10. Jh. (Leiden and Boston: Brill2006) 155.

  • 21

    BardenhewerDie pseudo-aristotelische Schrift Über das reine Gute76.2: ‮كل عقل إنما ثباته وقوامه بالخير المحض وهي العلّة الأولى.‬‎

  • 22

    BardenhewerDie pseudo-aristotelische Schrift Über das reine Gute78.2–4: ‮والعلّة الأولى ليست بعقل ولا نفسٍ ولا طبيعة، بل هي فوق العقل والنفس والطبيعة لأنّها مبدِعةٌ لجميع الأشياء.‬‎

  • 23

    BardenhewerDie pseudo-aristotelische Schrift Über das reine Gute78.5–8: ‮والعلم الالاهيّ ليس كالعلم العقلي ولا كعلم النفس بل هو فوق علم العقل وعلم النفس لأنّه مبدع العلوم والقوّة الالاهيّة فوق كلّ قوّة عقليّة ونفسانيّة وطبيعيّة لأنّها علّة لكلّ قوّة.‬‎

  • 28

    Cf. BadawīArisṭū ʿind al-ʿArab21.10–11: “It has become evident from all this that God is the First Principle and He knows together Himself and all the things of which He is the principle.” ‮وقد تبين من جميع ذلك أن الله هو المبدأ الأول وأنه يعلم ذاته وجميع الأشياء التي هو لها مبدأ معاً.‬‎ On Themistius’ interpretation of divine intellection as it is accounted for in Book Lambda of Metaphysics and its influence on the medieval Arabic and Jewish philosophers see the seminal article by Pines “Some distinctive metaphysical conceptions in Themistius’ Commentary on Book Lambda and their place in the history of philosophy” in particular 189–90 for the idea that Aristotle’s God is both the cause of the cosmos and the Nomos ruling over the cosmos. As for the influence of Plotinus’s νοῦς on Themistius’ conception of the Aristotelian God in his paraphrase of Book Lambda of Metaphysics see Shlomo Pines “Les limites de la métaphysique selon al-Fārābi Ibn Bājja et Maïmonide: sources et antithèses de ces doctrines chez Alexandre d’ Aphrodise et chez Themistius” Miscellanea Mediaevalia 13 no. 1 (1981): 211–25. Brague [Thémistius. Paraphrase de la Métaphysique d’ Aristote (Livre Lambda) 37] maintains that the topic that God knows everything by knowing himself is reminiscent of the Neoplatonic formula “who knows himself knows everything”: cf. e.g. Hermiae Alexandrini in Platonis Phaedrum Scholia ed. by Paul Couvreur (Paris: Librairie Émile Bouillon Éditeur 1901) 31.15. It should be noted that Themistius puts some emphasis on God’s knowledge of the existents as identical with his self-knowledge also in his Paraphrase of the De Anima [cf. Themistii in libros Aristotelis de Anima commentaria ed. by Ricardus Heinze (Berlin: Reimer 1899) 99.24–25]. Cf. also Pines “Some distinctive metaphysical conceptions in Themistius’ Commentary on Book Lambda and their place in the history of philosophy” 187 and n. 44 with references to the relevant passages in Malcom Cameron Lyons An Arabic translation of Themistius Commentary on Aristoteles De anima (London: Cassirer 1973) as well as in Verbeke’s edition of Moerbeke’s Latin translation of this paraphrase (Leiden: Brill 1973).

  • 29

    Cf. BadawīArisṭū ʿind al-ʿArab18.4–5: “God is the Nomos and the cause of the order and the arrangement of the existent things. He is a Living Nomos.” ‮وذلك أن الله ناموس وسبب نظام الأشياء الموجودة وترتيبها. وهو ناموس حيّ.‬‎

  • 30

    Cf. Cecilia Martini Bonadeo“God’s Will and the Origin of the World. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī’s Sources and Arguments.” The Muslim World 107.3 (2017): 1–14.

  • 32

    BadawīArisṭū ʿind al-ʿArab18.3–7; Neuwirth ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Bearbeitung von Buch Lambda der aristotelischen Metaphysik 43.1–2.

  • 33

    BadawīArisṭū ‘ind al-ʿArab18.10–11; Neuwirth ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Bearbeitung von Buch Lambda der aristotelischen Metaphysik 43.3–6.

  • 34

    NeuwirthʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Bearbeitung von Buch Lambda der aristotelischen Metaphysik53.5.

  • 35

    NeuwirthʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Bearbeitung von Buch Lambda der aristotelischen Metaphysik57.1–5. Cf. Martini Bonadeo “God’s Will and the Origin of the World. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī’s Sources and Arguments” 1–14.

  • 40

    Cf. Martini BonadeoʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Philosophical Journey157–73 194–5 214–5 267.

  • 43

    Damien JanosMethod Structure and Development in al-Fārābī’s Cosmology (Leiden: Brill2012) 180–9.

  • 44

    Al-FārābīThe Political Regime34.13–5; Butterworth Alfarabi The Political Writings 32; al-Fārābī Le livre du régime politique 18–9.

  • 45

    Peter Adamson“Knowledge of Universals and Particulars in the Baghdad School,” Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale 18 (2007): 141–64does not discuss al-Fārābī’s opinion about God’s knowledge of universals or particulars but discusses the same problem in Yaḥyā b. ʿAdī (156–9) and Ibn al-Ṭayyib (161–3).

  • 46

    JanosMethod Structure and Development in al-Fārābī’s Cosmology188.

  • 48

    Cf. NeuwirthʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Bearbeitung von Buch Lambda der aristotelischen Metaphysik43.3–6 where ʿAbd al-Laṭīf explains that the unmoved mover is the First Cause for all the beings but it is for some of them cause prima intentione (ʿalā l-qaṣd al-awwal) and for others secunda intentione (ʿalā l-qaṣd al-ṯānī). In the first case the agent intends and what is intended is the agent’s aim: the First Principle necessarily acts prima intentione thinking of itself in its essence. In the second case secunda intentione the thing which is intended is not the aim but because of the aim: the First Principle causes all the beings to emerge necessarily from it. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf uses this distinction speaking about God’s providence which is not God’s primary action but secunda intentione. Cf. Martini Bonadeo “God’s Will and the Origin of the World. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī’s Sources and Arguments” The Muslim World 107.3 (2017): 1–14.

  • 55

    BardenhewerDie pseudo-aristotelische Schrift Über das reine Gute bekannt unter dem Namen Liber de causis96.6–11.

  • 56

    BardenhewerDie pseudo-aristotelische Schrift Über das reine Gute99.4–8.

  • 60

    G. EndressProclus Arabus. Zwanzig Abschnitte aus der Institutio Theologica in arabischer Übersetzung (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag1973) ‮‭٢٢‬‬‎ 271.

  • 66

    NeuwirthʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Bearbeitung von Buch Lambda der aristotelischen Metaphysik81.6.

  • 67

    AverroèsTafsīr mā baʿd al-ṭabīʿa1716.5–6.

  • 70

    NeuwirthʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Bearbeitung von Buch Lambda der aristotelischen Metaphysik29.4–7.

  • 73

    Zimmermann“The Origins of the So-called Theology of Aristotle” 181.

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