Ibn Tufail

Ibn Tufail

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Ibn Tufail (full Arabic name
Arabic name
Long ago, Arabic names were based on a long naming system; most Arabs did not simply have given/middle/family names, but a full chain of names. This system was in use throughout the Arab world. Today however, Arabic names are similar in structure to those of Modern and Western names...

: Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Muhammad ibn Tufail al-Qaisi al-Andalusi; Latinized form: Abubacer Aben Tofail; Anglicized
Anglicisation
Anglicisation, or anglicization , is the process of converting verbal or written elements of any other language into a form that is more comprehensible to an English speaker, or, more generally, of altering something such that it becomes English in form or character.The term most often refers to...

 form: Abubekar or Abu Jaafar Ebn Tophail) was an Andalusian
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

 Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

: an Arabic writer
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

, novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

ist, Islamic philosopher
Early Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

, Islamic theologian
Islamic theology
Islamic theology is a branch of Islamic studies regarding the beliefs associated with the Islamic faith. Any religious belief system, or creed, can be considered an example of aqidah. However, this term has taken a significant technical usage in Islamic history and theology, denoting those...

, physician, vizier
Vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

, and court official
Official
An official is someone who holds an office in an organization or government and participates in the exercise of authority .A government official or functionary is an official who is involved in public...

.

As a philosopher and novelist, he is most famous for writing the first philosophical novel
Philosophical novel
Philosophical fiction refers to works of fiction in which a significant proportion of the work is devoted to a discussion of the sort of questions normally addressed in discursive philosophy. These might include the function and role of society, the purpose of life, ethics or morals, the role of...

, Hayy ibn Yaqdhan
Hayy ibn Yaqdhan
Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān is an Arabic philosophical novel and allegorical tale written by Ibn Tufail in the early 12th century.- Translations :* from Wikisource* English translations of Hayy bin Yaqzan...

, also known as Philosophus Autodidactus in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

. As a physician, he was an early supporter of dissection
Dissection
Dissection is usually the process of disassembling and observing something to determine its internal structure and as an aid to discerning the functions and relationships of its components....

 and autopsy
Autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

, which was expressed in his novel.

Life


Born in Guadix near Granada
Granada
Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea...

, he was educated by Ibn Bajjah
Ibn Bajjah
Abū-Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn al-Sāyigh , known as Ibn Bājjah , was an Andalusian polymath: an astronomer, logician, musician, philosopher, physician, physicist, psychologist, botanist, poet and scientist. He was known in the West by his Latinized name, Avempace...

 (Avempace). He served as a secretary for the ruler of Granada
Granada
Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea...

, and later as vizier
Vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

 and physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 for Abu Yaqub Yusuf
Abu Yaqub Yusuf
Abu Ya`qub Yusuf or Yusuf I was the second Almohad Amir or caliph. He reigned from 1163 until 1184. He had the Giralda in Seville built....

, the Almohad
Almohad
The Almohad Dynasty , was a Moroccan Berber-Muslim dynasty founded in the 12th century that established a Berber state in Tinmel in the Atlas Mountains in roughly 1120.The movement was started by Ibn Tumart in the Masmuda tribe, followed by Abd al-Mu'min al-Gumi between 1130 and his...

 king, to whom he recommended Ibn Rushd
Averroes
' , better known just as Ibn Rushd , and in European literature as Averroes , was a Muslim polymath; a master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, logic, psychology, politics, Arabic music theory, and the sciences of medicine, astronomy,...

 (Averroës) as his own future successor in 1169. Ibn Rushd later reports this event and describes how Ibn Tufayl then inspired him to write his famous Aristotelian
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 commentaries:
Ibn Rushd became Ibn Tufayl's successor after he retired in 1182; Ibn Tufayl died several years later in Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 in 1185. The astronomer Nur Ed-Din Al-Bitruji was also a disciple of Ibn Tufayl.

Hayy ibn Yaqzan


Ibn Tufail was the author of ( Alive, son of Awake), also known as Philosophus Autodidactus in the West, a philosophical romance
Romance novel
The romance novel is a literary genre developed in Western culture, mainly in English-speaking countries. Novels in this genre place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." Through the late...

 and allegorical novel inspired by Avicennism and Sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

, and which tells the story of an autodidactic
Autodidacticism
Autodidacticism is self-education or self-directed learning. In a sense, autodidacticism is "learning on your own" or "by yourself", and an autodidact is a person who teaches him or herself something. The term has its roots in the Ancient Greek words αὐτός and διδακτικός...

 feral child
Feral child
A feral child is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language...

, raised by a gazelle
Gazelle
A gazelle is any of many antelope species in the genus Gazella, or formerly considered to belong to it. Six species are included in two genera, Eudorcas and Nanger, which were formerly considered subgenera...

 and living alone on a desert island
Desert island
A desert island or uninhabited island is an island that has yet to be populated by humans. Uninhabited islands are often used in movies or stories about shipwrecked people, and are also used as stereotypes for the idea of "paradise". Some uninhabited islands are protected as nature reserves and...

, who, without contact with other human beings, discovers ultimate truth through a systematic process of reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

ed inquiry
Inquiry
An inquiry is any process that has the aim of augmenting knowledge, resolving doubt, or solving a problem. A theory of inquiry is an account of the various types of inquiry and a treatment of the ways that each type of inquiry achieves its aim.-Deduction:...

. Hayy ultimately comes into contact with civilization and religion when he meets a castaway
Castaway
A castaway is a person who is cast adrift or ashore. While the situation usually happens after a shipwreck, some people voluntarily stay behind on a deserted island, either to evade their captors or the world in general. Alternatively, a person or item can be cast away, meaning rejected or discarded...

 named Absal. He determines that certain trappings of religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, namely imagery and dependence on material goods, are necessary for the multitude in order that they might have decent lives. However, imagery and material goods are distractions from the truth and ought to be abandoned by those whose reason recognizes that they are distractions.

Ibn Tufail's Philosophus Autodidactus was written as a response to al-Ghazali
Al-Ghazali
Abu Hāmed Mohammad ibn Mohammad al-Ghazzālī , known as Algazel to the western medieval world, born and died in Tus, in the Khorasan province of Persia was a Persian Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic....

's The Incoherence of the Philosophers
The Incoherence of the Philosophers
The Incoherence of the Philosophers is the title of a landmark 11th century polemic by the Sufi sympathetic Imam Al-Ghazali of the Asharite school of Islamic theology criticizing the Avicennian school of early Islamic philosophy...

. In the 13th century, Ibn al-Nafis later wrote the Al-Risalah al-Kamiliyyah fil Siera al-Nabawiyyah (known as Theologus Autodidactus in the West) as a response to Ibn Tufail's Philosophus Autodidactus.

Hayy ibn Yaqdhan had a significant influence on both Arabic literature
Arabic literature
Arabic literature is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by writers in the Arabic language. The Arabic word used for literature is adab which is derived from a meaning of etiquette, and implies politeness, culture and enrichment....

 and European literature
European literature
European literature refers to the literature of Europe.European literature includes literature in many languages; among the most important of the modern written works are those in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Polish, German, Italian, Modern Greek, Czech and Russian and works by the...

, and it went on to become an influential best-seller throughout Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 in the 17th and 18th centuries. The work also had a "profound influence" on both classical Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

 and modern
Modern philosophy
Modern philosophy is a type of philosophy that originated in Western Europe in the 17th century, and is now common worldwide. It is not a specific doctrine or school , although there are certain assumptions common to much of it, which helps to distinguish it from earlier philosophy.The 17th and...

 Western philosophy
Western philosophy
Western philosophy is the philosophical thought and work of the Western or Occidental world, as distinct from Eastern or Oriental philosophies and the varieties of indigenous philosophies....

. It became "one of the most important books that heralded the Scientific Revolution
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

" and European Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

, and the thoughts expressed in the novel can be found "in different variations and to different degrees in the books of Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

, John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

, and Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

."

A Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 translation of the work, entitled Philosophus Autodidactus, first appeared in 1671, prepared by Edward Pococke
Edward Pococke
Edward Pococke was an English Orientalist and biblical scholar.-Early life:He was the son of clergyman from Chieveley in Berkshire, and was educated at Lord Williams's School of Thame in Oxfordshire and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford...

 the Younger. The first English translation (by Simon Ockley
Simon Ockley
Simon Ockley was a British Orientalist.-Biography:Ockley was born at Exeter. He was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, and graduated B.A. in 1697, MA. in 1701, and B.D. in 1710. He became fellow of Jesus College and vicar of Swavesey, and in 1711 was chosen Adams Professor of Arabic in the...

) was published in 1708. These translations later inspired Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe , born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, and pamphleteer, who gained fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest proponents of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain and along with others such as Richardson,...

 to write Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe that was first published in 1719. Epistolary, confessional, and didactic in form, the book is a fictional autobiography of the title character—a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and...

, which also featured a desert island
Desert island
A desert island or uninhabited island is an island that has yet to be populated by humans. Uninhabited islands are often used in movies or stories about shipwrecked people, and are also used as stereotypes for the idea of "paradise". Some uninhabited islands are protected as nature reserves and...

 narrative and was the first novel in English
First novel in English
The following works of literature have each been claimed as the first novel in English.* Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, * William Baldwin, Beware the Cat,...

. The novel also inspired the concept of "tabula rasa
Tabula rasa
Tabula rasa is the epistemological theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception. Generally proponents of the tabula rasa thesis favour the "nurture" side of the nature versus nurture debate, when it comes to aspects...

" developed in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
First appearing in 1690 with the printed title An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke concerns the foundation of human knowledge and understanding. He describes the mind at birth as a blank slate filled later through experience...

(1690) by John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, who was a student of Pococke. His Essay went on to become one of the principal sources of empiricism
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

 in modern Western philosophy, and influenced many enlightenment philosophers, such as David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

 and George Berkeley
George Berkeley
George Berkeley , also known as Bishop Berkeley , was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism"...

. Hayy's ideas on materialism
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

 in the novel also have some similarities to Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

's historical materialism
Historical materialism
Historical materialism is a methodological approach to the study of society, economics, and history, first articulated by Karl Marx as "the materialist conception of history". Historical materialism looks for the causes of developments and changes in human society in the means by which humans...

.
It also foreshadowed Molyneux's Problem
Molyneux's Problem
Molyneux's problem is a thought experiment in philosophy concerning immediate recovery from blindness.It was first formulated by William Molyneux, and notably referenced in John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding....

, proposed by William Molyneux
William Molyneux
William Molyneux FRS was an Irish natural philosopher and writer on politics.He was born in Dublin to Samuel Molyneux , lawyer and landowner , and his wife, Anne, née Dowdall. The second of five children, William Molyneux came from a relatively prosperous Anglican background...

 to Locke, who included it in the second book of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
Other European writers influenced by Philosophus Autodidactus included Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

, Melchisédech Thévenot
Melchisédech Thévenot
Melchisédech Thévenot was a French author, scientist, traveler, cartographer, orientalist, inventor, and diplomat...

, John Wallis, Christiaan Huygens, George Keith
George Keith
George Keith was a Scottish missionary.-Life:Born in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, to a Presbyterian family, he received an M.A. from the University of Aberdeen...

, Robert Barclay
Robert Barclay
Robert Barclay was a Scottish Quaker, one of the most eminent writers belonging to the Religious Society of Friends and a member of the Clan Barclay. He was also governor of the East Jersey colony in North America through most of the 1680s, although he himself never resided in the...

, the Quakers
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

, Samuel Hartlib
Samuel Hartlib
Samuel Hartlib was a German-British polymath. An active promoter and expert writer in many fields, he was interested in science, medicine, agriculture, politics, and education. He settled in England, where he married and died...

, and Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

.

Works

  • Arabic text of Hayy bin Yaqzan from Wikisource
  • Full pdf of French translation of Hayy bin Yaqzan from Google Books
  • English translations of Hayy bin Yaqzan (in chronological order)
    • *The improvement of human reason, exhibited in the life of Hai ebn Yokdhan, written in Arabick above 500 years ago, by Abu Jaafar ebn Tophail, newly translated from the original Arabick, by Simon Ockley. With an appendix, in which the possibility of man's attaining the true knowledg of God, and things necessary to salvation, without instruction, is briefly consider'd. London: Printed and sold by E. Powell, 1708.
    • Abu Bakr Ibn Tufail, The history of Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, translated from the Arabic by Simon Ockley, revised, with an introdroduction by A.S. Fulton. London: Chapman and Hall, 1929. available online (omits the introductory section)
    • Ibn Tufayl's Hayy ibn Yaqzān: a philosophical tale, translated with introduction and notes by Lenn Evan Goodman. New York: Twayne, 1972.
    • The journey of the soul: the story of Hai bin Yaqzan, as told by Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Tufail, a new translation by Riad Kocache. London: Octagon, 1982.
    • Two Andalusian philosophers, translated from the Arabic with an introduction and notes by Jim Colville. London: Kegan Paul, 1999.
    • Medieval Islamic Philosophical Writings, ed. Muhammad Ali Khalidi. Cambridge University Press, 2005. (omits the introductory section; omits the conclusion beginning with the protagonist's acquaintance with Absal; includes §§1-98 of 121 as numbered in the Ockley-Fulton version)

See also

  • List of Arab scientists and scholars
  • Early Islamic philosophy
    Early Islamic philosophy
    Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

  • Arabic literature
    Arabic literature
    Arabic literature is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by writers in the Arabic language. The Arabic word used for literature is adab which is derived from a meaning of etiquette, and implies politeness, culture and enrichment....


External links

(PDF version)