Substance and Attribute in Islamic Philosophy. Western and Islamic Tradition in Dialogue

Ontos Verlag (2007)
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Abstract

Although Ibn Sina’s metaphysics is heavily indebted to Aristotle’s, with regard to the substantiality of the rational soul and God, Aristotle and Ibn Sina take opposite positions: Aristotle holds that theos is a substance, while Ibn Sina denies that God is a substance; Aristotle holds that the soul is not a substance, while Ibn Sina claims that it is. In both of these regards we observe the movement toward greater abstraction in Ibn Sina. The concept of God is more abstract when considered outside the categories, and the soul is understood more abstractly, not merely as the form of an organism, but as independent of any materiality. God is freed from the constraints of substantiality while the soul is freed from the constraints of corporeality. Ibn Sina argues that since God transcends the categories, God is not a substance. Another argument is that everything that falls under the categories is contingent in its existence, God, however, is necessary in His existence. Hence, God is not a substance. Ibn Sina’s main argument, however, is that a condition for being a substance is, according to Arsitotle, not to be in a subject. This condition should be understood in such a manner that it does not imply the existence of what satisfies it. The existence of a necessary being, however, is implied by such a condition. Hence, God does not have the condition, and, thus, is not a substance.

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Author Profiles

Muhammad Legenhausen
The Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute
Christian Kanzian
University of Innsbruck

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