Selected pages Title Page. Maryam rated it liked it Jan 29, Jaclyn Costello rated it it was amazing Mar anv, In the first case, we must meditate on such problems as posed themselves for Avicenna himself. Part II is a complete translation, with notes, of the Persian commentary. Lists with This Book.

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Avicennism and Philosophical Situation It is perhaps ambitious to propound such a theme at the beginning of a necessarily limited study.

Nevertheless, we should not have wished to undertake the present investigation had we not entertained the hope that it would contribute to a better posing of the problems that become apparent upon a first attempt to develop the theme thus formulated. This theme can be understood in two senses. In the first case, we must meditate on such problems as posed themselves for Avicenna himself.

In the second, we must meditate on the problems that Avicennism in its turn poses as an organized system. In the second case, it is the Avicennan cosmos that is taken as a magnitude to be situated: the task of meditation is to understand and define its situation in respect to all the spiritual universes that the human being has borne within him, has expressed and developed in the forms of myths, symbols, or dogmas. Now, in the case of Avicennism as in the case of every other system of the world, the mode of presence assumed by the philosopher by reason of the system that he professes is what, in the last analysis, appears as the genuinely situative element in that system considered in itself.

This mode of presence is usually concealed beneath the tissue of didactic demonstrations and impersonal developments. But it is not very often that the philosopher attains such a consciousness of his effort that the rational constructions in which his thought was projected finally show him their connection with his inmost self, so that the secret motivations of which he himself was not yet conscious when he projected his system lie revealed.

This revelation marks a rupture of plane in the course of his inner life and meditations. The doctrines that he has elaborated scientifically prove to be a setting for his most personal adventure. The lofty constructions of conscious thought become blurred in the rays not of a twilight but rather of a dawn, from which figures always foreboded, awaited, and loved rise into view.

By substituting a dramaturgy for cosmology, the recitals guarantee the genuineness of this universe; it is veritably the place of a personally lived adventure. At the same time, they seem to dictate an answer to the question of where to situate Avicennism in the pleroma of philosophical systems They make it impossible to relegate it to a definitively dead and transcended past.

They are the repository of an imperious lesson, the lesson that we must assimilate when, philosophers of the Orient and philosophers of the Occident, we together interrogate ourselves concerning the significance of Avicennism for our destiny as philosophers, that is, for what we are bound to profess in this world. Avicennism had different destinies in the Orient and in the Occident.

In Iran it is represented by a tradition that has remained unbroken down to our day through many vicissitudes. That tradition must decide its own reasons for existence by deciding its own future. Its future can be decided in a positive sense only on one condition — that the traditional philosophy, nourished on Avicennan motifs, shall not drowse on in the murmur of the old formulas but shall be capable of again daring, on its own account and in our present-day world, the spiritual adventure that Avicenna himself dared: the adventure of which he has left us the recital, or rather the recitals, and without which his work would be in danger of no longer representing anything but paper smudged with ink.

The recitals that compose this cycle are three in number: the Recital of Hayy ibn Yaqzan, the Recital of the Bird, and the Recital of Salaman and Absal, I shall later explain why I deliberately use this term "recital" here, and not simply "history" or "story," still less "allegory. Their "valorization" has suffered thereby. However, they have not remained unknown. In the last century, the Danish orientalist A. Mehren did pioneer work in this respect.

Yet perhaps the conditions of their publication at that time are partly responsible for the indifference we have noted. And indeed the two canons together have given the Iranian philosophical genius its most original stamp.

The thought of these two masters has nourished all the philosophers who have succeeded one another in Iran down to our day, including the Renaissance of which the Ispahan of the Safawid period was the scene and the symbol. Yet we should not find an Ishraqi who was not also, and perforce, an Avicennan to some extent. And it would be difficult to find an Avicennan who was a Peripatetic in all things and for all purposes.

Thus considered in the life of individual consciousnesses, the "Oriental philosophy" of the two masters reveals what they have in common, far better than any theoretical discussions, or hypotheses deputizing for lost works, can do.

For the two canons, that of the one and that of the other master, display this common trait: side by side with extremely solid systematic works, they both contain a cycle of brief spiritual romances, narratives of inner initiations, marking a rupture of plane with the level on which the patencies successively acquired by theoretical expositions are interconnected. To this question the present essay, and the translations with their accompanying notes, especially that of the Recital of Hayy ibn Yaqzan, hope to supply an element of positive reply.

Yet we should not have determined to present this sketch if we had not been solicited to do so with particular urgency. Some years ago, at Istanbul, during the course of a period of work at the Library of Santa Sophia Aya Sofia , a lucky error in a shelf mark brought me a quite different manuscript from the one I was expecting, but which, in compensation, contained the Persian translation of the Recital of Hayy ibn Yaqzan with a commentary in Persian.

The work proved to be old, and it seemed that no one had recorded its existence. In any case, it supplied a notable contribution, if not to the part of his work that Avicenna himself composed in Persian, at least to the Avicennan corpus in the Persian language.

At the same time, it was an invitation to resume the study of the Avicennan recitals on an entirely new basis, focusing especially on the birth of that prose literature of philosophical initiation for which Suhrawardi was to give the impulse by a dozen compositions, among these, one — the Recital of Occidental Exile — has its point of departure in the Avicennan Recital of Hayy ibn Yaqzan; another is the Persian translation of the Recital of the Bird.

Yet we should have deferred the realization of this enticing project until we had finished publishing the Suhrawardian corpus, had not some particularly solemn circumstance arisen to subvert this order.

The present study, then, will gather the premature fruit of meditations whose course had to be somewhat untowardly hurried. As it has shaped itself from these circumstances, Part I presents in brief the great themes that can best show the philosophical situation of Avicennan man in the cosmos, and give some notion of the situation of the Avicennan universe itself. It successively presents translations of the three great Avicennan recitals.

Part II is devoted to a complete translation of the Persian commentary on the Recital of Hayy ibn Yaqzan, the work of an acquaintance and contemporary of Avicenna, perhaps, as we shall see, his faithful Juzjani. The text of the commentary is also given in this part. Finally, to Part II we have added a considerable number of notes and glosses on the same recital, the elements for a comprehensive study that we have had neither the time nor the temerity to realize in this first attempt.

Let us rather briefly sketch the aspect under which these recitals present themselves to us, in so far as meditation on them can be fruitful for that renewal of studies in Oriental philosophy in the Orient itself to which the millenary celebration was intended to contribute.

They possess, we have already suggested, the interest of showing us the Avicennan philosophy not merely as seriously constructing a spiritual universe whose present meaning for us, men of the modern age, can be found only by recourse to, or by the roundabout way of, a conscious mediation. They teach us its present meaning directly, because they show us that universe not as an abstract magnitude, transcended by our "modern" conceptions, but as the repository of the Image that the man Avicenna carries in himself, as each of us also carries his own.

The Image in question is not one that results from some previous external perception; it is an Image that precedes all perception, an a priori expressing the deepest being of the person, what depth psychology calls an Imago. Each of us carries in himself the Image of his own world, his Imago mundi, and projects it into a more or less coherent universe, which becomes the stage on which his destiny is played out.

He may not be conscious of it, and to that extent he will experience as imposed on himself and on others this world that in fact he himself or others impose on themselves. This is also the situation that remains in force as long as philosophical systems profess to be "objectively" established. It ceases in proportion to such an acquisition of consciousness as permits the soul triumphantly to pass beyond the circles that held it prisoner.

And that is the entire adventure related, as a personal experience, in the Recital of Hayy ibn Yaqzan and the Recital of the Bird. This is why the different edifices that form the system of the Avicennan universe are no longer present there in the state of abodes that mold thought from without, but occur in the form of stages that the soul, conquering its own fetters, successively passes through on the way from its Exile.

Their presentation necessarily assumes a candor and youthfulness of which great dogmatic expositions can show no trace. Philosophical readiness to conceive the universe and intelligible essences is henceforth complemented by imaginative ability to visualize concrcte figures, to encounter "persons.

It reveals its secret; it contemplates itself and tells the story of itself as in search of its kindred, as foreboding a family of beings of light who draw it toward a clime beyond all climes thitherto known. Thus there rises on its horizon an Orient that its philosophy anticipated without yet knowing it. The figure of the Active Intelligence, which dominates all this philosophy, reveals its proximity, its solicitude The Angel individuates himself under the features of a definite person, whose annunciation corresponds to the degree of experience of the soul to which he announces himself: it is through the integration of all its powers that the soul opens itself to the transconscious and anticipates its own totality.

This totality — homo integer — can be expressed only in a symbol. The genuineness of this experience of spiritual maturity is attested in the measure to which a-being attains the power to shape its own symbol.

This power, we may say, has fallen to the lot of an Avicenna, a Suhrawardi, to the different degrees of their respective geniuses. And because it offers us not only philosophemes to be studiously learned, but symbols to be deciphered, spiritual advances to be accomplished, their universe is neither dead, nor outpassed, nor transcended.

For in the measure to which an author rises to symbols, he cannot himself exhaust the significance of his work. That significance remains latent in the pleroma of symbols, inviting to fresh transcendences. In these pages we cannot propound a program, still less offer solutions.

That would require a work whose scope would perhaps exceed the capacities of an entire life. At least there are certain current questions that can be simply propounded. A feature, among many others, characteristic of philosophical life in the Occident for more than a generation is the renaissance of studies in medieval philosophy, a renaissance with which, in France, the name of Etienne Gilson will remain linked.

One result has been something that is not always perfectly clear to an Oriental of the present generation: Occidentals can be Thomists, Scotists, Augustinians, etc. This is because what is involved is an interest far more decisive than the interest proper to a "history of philosophy," to a representation of philosophical systems in time.

To explain the succession of these systems, their generation by one another — all this is extremely interesting, but it has nothing to do with the supreme question. In addition, it is necessary to understand the mode of perception proper to each of them, the modus intelligendi that is each time the direct expression of a mode of being, of a modus essendi. This task demands a whole spiritual "formation," and its results are in turn integrated into the sum of this formation.

This is why the formation that it bestows on itself is the secret of a soul, just as it is the secret of its metamorphoses. The more perceptions and representations of the universe each monad integrates, the more it unfolds its own perfection and differs from every other. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Avicenna and the Visionary Recital by Corbin Henry

Be the first to ask a question about Avicenna and the Visionary Recital. The Angel, Spirit and Intelligence 46 6. Avicenna and the Visionary Recital : Mythos Series Visit our Beautiful Books page and find lovely books for kids, photography lovers and more. Indeed, the researches and developments necessitated by this book led us much farther than we had visipnary when we undertook the enterprise, and obliged us to encroach upon tasks that, then, were still to come. A first edition of this work was brought out in the Collection du Millenaire published by the Iranian National Monuments Society. No trivia or quizzes yet. It is, of course, the order of this second edition that is followed in the pres- ent English translation.


Avicenna and the Visionary Recital





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