Self-Consciousness in Avicenna's Philosophy

Document Type : Research Paper



The review of history of philosophy will reveal that discussion on such issues as self-consciousness, consciousness, and self-knowledge was not of so great importance until the very beginning of modern age. Medieval philosophers- particularly followers of Aristotelian tradition- held that the nature of self-consciousness plays role only in psychology and epistemology, a view which is the natural outcome of Aristotle's definition of intellect as a mere capacity. Avicenna is the most famous exception in Islamic tradition in Medieval Age whose famous allegory, "Suspended man", is based on human soul's knowledge on itself. However, Avicenna's reaction to consciousness and self-consciousness is never limited to describing suspended man. The early self-consciousness has central role in providing the ground for the unification of functions of soul, especially its cognitive functions. As if Avicenna has come to observe the lack of such unifying center of consciousness which has made a great gap in Aristotelian psychology. In Avicenna's view, self-consciousness lead to sameness of knowledge and existence, because self is exactly the consciousness and the relationship between self and existence is anyway a kind of knowledge on self.


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