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At an early age, his family moved to Bukhara where he studied Hanafi jurisprudence () with Isma‘il Zahid (d. This training and the excellent library of the physicians at the Samanid court assisted Avicenna in his philosophical self-education.
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The text is a key to understanding Avicenna’s view of philosophy: we are told that he only understood the purpose of Aristotle’s after reading al-Farabi’s short treatise on it, and that often when he failed to understand a problem or solve the syllogism, he would resort to prayer in the mosque (and drinking wine at times) to receive the inspiration to understand – the doctrine of intuition.
We will return to his epistemology later but first what can we say about his life?
As such, he may be considered to be the first major Islamic philosopher.
The philosophical space that he articulates for God as the Necessary Existence lays the foundation for his theories of the soul, intellect and cosmos.
Around the turn of the millennium, he moved to Gurganj in Khwarazm, partly no doubt to the eclipse of Samanid rule after the Qarakhanids took Bukhara in 999.
He then left again ‘through necessity’ in 1012 for Jurjan in Khurasan to the south in search no doubt for a patron.
Furthermore, he articulated a development in the philosophical enterprise in classical Islam away from the apologetic concerns for establishing the relationship between religion and philosophy towards an attempt to make philosophical sense of key religious doctrines and even analyse and interpret the Qur’an.
Late 20th century studies have attempted to locate him within the Aristotelian and Neoplatonic traditions.
He also wrote some literary allegories about whose philosophical value 20th and 21st century scholarship is vehemently at odds.