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Sufi Vocabulary, but Avicennan Philosophy

The Sufi Terminology in Chapters VIIIX of Ibn Sīnā’s al-Išārāt wa-l-tanbīhāt

In: Oriens
Author:
Michael A. Rapoport Connecticut College

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Abstract

In the more than 125 years since A.F. Mehren included Chapters VIIIX of al-Išārāt wa-l-tanbīhāt in his anthology of Ibn Sīnā’s allegedly mystical treatises, scholars have used the presence of Sufi vocabulary in these chapters as evidence of Ibn Sīnā’s mysticism. Yet, his use of Sufi terminology has received little dedicated, critical study. Through careful philological analysis, this study demonstrates that even though Ibn Sīnā appropriated technical vocabulary from Sufism, the meanings that he applied to those terms agree with his philosophical system. His use of these terms is not evidence of experimentation with a mystical, suprarational method of cognition.

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