I assess Galen’s (d. ca. 216) textual legacy on Arabic commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms. I show that early authors in this tradition employ exegetical strategies taken from Alexandrian exegetical models. Applying these strategies to the Hippocratic-Galenic text makes Galen’s commentary the primary means for these authors to understand the Aphorisms. By introducing a host of commentary strategies that depart from Alexandrian models, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s (d. after 1067) commentary is a watershed moment in the Aphorisms-commentary tradition. Nevertheless, Galen’s commentary remains crucial for Ibn Abī Ṣādiq. These commentary strategies lead him to introduce texts, concepts and classifications that move beyond Galen’s Aphorisms-commentary. Finally, in one of the last texts in this corpus dating to around 1350, Ibn Sīnā’s (d. 1037) Canon of Medicine and Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s commentary have become major sources for understanding the Aphorisms. Galen’s commentary is used sparingly.
In this article I discuss Greek and Arabic philosophical and medical debates about experience (taǧriba, empeiria). I consider the Greek and classical Arabic background for debates about experience among Arabic commentators on the Hippocratic Aphorisms. I argue that these authors are influenced by Galen’s ideas about experience in his pharmacological and dietetic writings, and Aristotle’s ideas about experience, expressed mainly in Posterior Analytics, Book Two. I argue, however, that the Aristotelian viewpoint of experience reaches the Arabic Aphorisms commentators through the intermediaries of Aristotle’s Platonist commentators and Avicenna. I show that most of the Arabic Aphorisms commentators understand experience to have the various meanings Galen assigns it in his medical writings. Ibn al-Quff is the lone, but no less intriguing, exception. In his Aphorisms commentary, Ibn al-Quff uses Avicenna’s definition of experience in the book On Demonstration (Kitāb al-Burhān) from Avicenna’s summa The Healing (Kitāb al-Šifāʾ) to explain Hippocrates’ words. Closely examining Avicenna’s On Demonstration, Book One, Chapter 9, reveals that Avicenna continues late antique trends, which meld medical and philosophical debates. Avicenna uses Galen’s idea of qualifed experience to resolve interpretive challenges in Aristotle’s Prior Analytics, Book Two, Chapter 23 and Posterior Analytics Book two, Chapter 19, where Aristotle speaks about experience’s role in the inductive process of knowledge acquisition. I argue that the fluid way in which Ibn al-Quff deploys Avicenna’s On Demonstration to explicate the Hippocratic Aphorisms marks a shift in which Avicenna’s philosophical thought becomes increasingly influential in post-classical Islamic medical discourse.
e-conversion in Logic for Shams al-Dīn, Najm al-Dīn al-Kātibī (d. 1276/7) accepts syllogisms that have redundant premises as theses. Similarities in Avicenna’s and Kātibī’s doctrines of the per impossibile syllogism suggest that Avicenna could have adopted such proofs and remained consistent with the principles of his syllogistic. However, analysis of their modal syllogistic and their ideas about the nature of implication (luzūm) reveals that Avicenna could not employ the type of per impossibile syllogism that Kātibī does and remain faithful to his modal theory, or to the Aristotelian vision of the theory of syllogistic as a theory of reasoning. In his commentary on Afḍal al-Dīn al-Khūnajī’s (d. 1248) Disclosure of Secrets Kātibī offers a second analysis of per impossibile syllogisms. Kātibī envisions a generic sense of logical necessitation that accommodates the sense in which an antecedent implies a consequent and premises imply a conclusion. This evidence may explain why Kātibī admitted redundantly concluding syllogisms as theses. If Avicenna was committed to a strict distinction between these senses, this may partially account for why Avicenna does not adopt Kātibī’s unusual syllogisms.
In this article, I discuss the legacy of Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s commentary on Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine in Islamic medical commentary after 1100. I argue that Faḫr al-Dīn’s legacy lies in the exegetical practices, the method of verification (taḥqīq) he introduced into Islamic medical scholarship through his commentary on the Canon. I first argue that the features that characterise the method of verification in works such as Faḫr al-Dīn’s commentary on Avicenna’s Pointers and Reminders are present in the commentary on the Canon, even if Faḫr al-Dīn’s introduction to the latter work does not allude to these practices in the way that the introductions to his later works do. Based on an analysis of Galen’s prescription about exegetical best-practice in his Hippocratic commentaries and Muḥammad ibn Zakarīyā al-Rāzī’s (d. ca. 925) introduction to Doubts on Galen, I argue next that Faḫr al-Dīn’s introduction of the verification method into the Islamic medical discourse was a watershed moment in the tradition. I use Ibn al-Quff’s (d. 1286) commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms to show how these methods were imitated by later medical commentators. This final section illustrates the enormous exegetical interest that the Canon of Medicine attracted, suggesting other promising trajectories for research into Faḫr al-Dīn’s medical legacy.
This special issue focuses on the ‘Arabic Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms’. During a 5-year ERC-funded project, a team of researchers led by Peter E. Pormann has produced a 1.5m-word corpus of preliminary editions, and analysed it in multi-faceted ways. The team shared their digital editions with scholars from outside Manchester, and invited them to engage with the new material; these editions are now freely available to all under a Creative Commons license. In April 2015, they organised an international conference at which team members and other scholars discussed this rich commentary tradition from various vantage points. This special issue contains a selection of papers read at the conference. In this contribution, we introduce our project and its collaborators; list the texts in our corpus of preliminary editions and reflect on the scholarly analysis to which it has hitherto been subjected, ranging from Graeco-Arabic studies, textual criticism, medieval exegetical methods, medical theory and practice, and questions about the social history of medicine. We conclude with an outlook on the most pressing needs for future research, and close with acknowledgments for the manifold support that we have received.
This article reassesses the attribution of the Aphorisms commentary preserved in the Haddad Memorial Library (MS Ḥaddād) to Palladius. Where the evidence for the commentary in Greek sources is virtually non-existent, Arabic testimonia are more numerous. We discuss Arabic fragments in Muḥammad ibn Zakarīyā al-Rāzī’s Comprehensive Book (al-Kitāb al-Ḥāwī) and Arabic commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms. These fragments demonstrate that Palladius wrote a commentary on the Aphorisms. Analysis of MS Ḥaddād, however, reveals that the commentary it preserves cannot be a translation of Palladius’ Greek text. Philological evidence occasions the conclusion that MS Ḥaddād contains an anonymous Arabic Aphorisms commentary written in the early ʿAbbāsid period. We discuss two Hebrew manuscripts that purport to be translations of Palladius’ commentary. Although more work on the Hebrew Palladius is needed, it is clear that the Hebrew commentaries are different translations of the anonymous Aphorisms commentary in MS Ḥaddād.