Colloquium: Avicenna and Avicennisms

Avicenna and Avicennisms

A Colloquium at SOAS, 6–7 June 2014


Convenors: Ayman Shihadeh (SOAS) and Sajjad Rizvi (Exeter)



Conference attendees at SOAS; front (L-R): Sophia Vasalou, Meryem Sebti, Catarina Belo, Sajjad Rizvi; back (L-R): Gregor Schwarb, Yahya Michot, Ayman Shihadeh, Morgan Davis, Fedor Benevich, and Jon Hoover. Not pictured: Wilfred Hodges, Toby Meyer, and Tony Street.


In the Islamic tradition, Abu ʿAlī Ibn Sīnā or Avicenna [d. 1037] remains the paradigmatic philosopher whose modification of the Aristotelian system, to propose the first comprehensive Islamic philosophy, was to have a lasting impact in both the Islamic world and medieval Europe. Bringing together a range of Avicenna scholars from established names to younger, up-and-coming scholars, this colloquium focused on the impact and reception of Avicenna in these two lines of influence—that is, in scholasticism and in the Islamicate world—and perpetuated the recent tendency of defining philosophy in the Islamic traditions broadly to include the tradition of philosophical theology or kalām.

Avicenna and Avicennisms examined not just what Avicenna meant for the formulation of Islamic philosophy and philosophical inquiry more generally in the Arabic and Persian traditions, but also how he was received, understood, reformulated, criticized, and even rejected (often in ways that still marked out the great influence that he had upon his detractors). In that sense, it analysed what one of the speakers called ‘la pandémie avicennienne’ that marked out learned culture in both Christendom and the world of Islam for most of the pre-modern period. The presenters discussed not just wider issues of the very understanding of philosophy and what Avicenna meant, but also a range of particular considerations in metaphysics, logic, natural philosophy, and even anthropology.

Audio recordings were made of most of the presentations (though, unfortunately not all of them, due to technical problems). If available, the audio files and any accompanying visual materials will be found at links following the titles of the presentations, below.




FRIDAY, 6 June 2014, Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS 

14.00–14.30 Welcome: Ayman Shihadeh (SOAS), Sajjad Rizvi (Exeter), Morgan Davis (BYU)

Session 1. Chair: Ayman Shihadeh

14.30–15.15 Toby Mayer (IIS), ‘Disputed Concepts of Creation in the 5th Namaṭ of Ibn Sīnā’s Ishārāt and in Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s and Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī’s Commentaries’  AUDIO

15.15–16.00 Laura Hassan (SOAS), ‘The Reception of Ibn Sīnā’s Philosophy in Sayf al-Dīn al-Āmidī’s (d. 631/1233) Philosophical and Theological Works’  AUDIO    SLIDES

16.00–16.30 Break

Session 2. Chair: Catarina Belo

16.30–17.15 Fedor Benevich (Munich), ‘Epistemic and metaphysical necessity in Avicenna”  AUDIO    SLIDES

SATURDAY, 7 June 2014, Room B102, Brunei Gallery, SOAS 

Session 3. Chair: Sajjad Rizvi

09.00–09.45 Jon Hoover (Nottingham), ‘Ibn Sina and Ibn Taymiyya on Fitra’  AUDIO

09.45–10.30 Sophia Vasalou (Oxford Brookes), ‘Ibn Taymiyya against the Philosophers: Reclaiming the Nativity of Moral Propositions’  AUDIO

10.30–11.00 Break

Session 4. Chair: Yahya Michot

11.00–11.45 Gregor Schwarb (FU Berlin), ‘The Reception of Avicenna and Avicennan Philosophy in Christian-Arabic Literature’  AUDIO    SLIDES

11.45–12.30 Catarina Belo (AUC), ‘Avicenna on Intellect in Thomas Aquinas’ Summa contra gentiles

12.30–14.00 Lunch break

Session 5. Chair: Morgan Davis

14.30–15.15 Wilfrid Hodges (Queen Mary’s, London), ‘The Architecture of Ibn Sīnā’s Logic’   AUDIO    SLIDES

15.15–16.00 Tony Street (Cambridge), ‘Against Avicenna? The Evolution of the Seventh-Century Logic Text’

16.00–16.30 Break

Session 6. Chair: Wilfrid Hodges

16.30–17.15 Meryem Sebti (CNRS), ‘Potency in the Metaphysics of the Healing (IV, 2)’  AUDIO     HANDOUT

17.15–18.00 Yahya Michot (Hartford), ‘Avicenna, Bahmanyār and the “Ishārāt”’  AUDIO

18.00–18.15 Closing Remarks: Sajjad Rizvi and Ayman Shihadeh


Sponsored by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and the Brigham Young University London Centre.