Article ID: CBB177931396

Natural Teleology versus Material Determinism and Chance: Al-'Āmirī against Empedocles and Galen on Nature and Soul (2021)


This article reassesses the relationship between the tenth-century Muslim philosopher Abū al-Ḥasan al-'Āmirī (d. 992) and the pre-Socratic Greek thinker Empedocles. Earlier scholarship has focused on al-'Āmirī's popular work al-Amad (Afterlife), in which Empedocles, or rather a medieval construct known as pseudo-Empedocles or Empedocles arabus, is largely celebrated as a sage with Qur'ānic pedigree. By focusing for the first time on two largely unstudied treatises by al-'Āmirī, I argue that al-'Āmirī actually holds an overwhelmingly critical view of the authentic, historical Empedocles, a view formed through his engagement with arguments from Aristotle's Physics and On the Soul. Al-'Āmirī finds in Aristotle the evidence needed to ascribe to Empedocles an unorthodox position on material determinism and the role of providence in natural generation. Curiously, he is able to make similar accusations against Galen. This article also highlights al-'Āmirī's complicated position at the confluence of Neoplatonic metaphysics, Galenic physiology, and Aristotelian natural philosophy.

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Authors & Contributors
Lewis, Orly
Gregoric, Pavel
Sgarro, Tommaso
Klinger, Dustin
Gorman, Cassandra
Bigotti, Fabrizio
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
Vivarium: Journal for Mediaeval Philosophy and the Intellectual Life of the Middle Ages
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
State University of New York Press
Princeton University Press
de Gruyter
D.S. Brewer
Brepols Publishers
Soul (philosophy)
Natural philosophy
Pulter, Hester
Severino, Marco Aurelio
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
Early modern
Rome (Italy)
Oxford University

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