Who was Ali Sina the Iranian philosopher

Avicenna (Ibn Sina)

Doctor, philosopher, Islamic theologian and legal scholar, born 980 near Bukhara, died 1037 in Iran. He influenced European medicine and philosophy.

The almost legendary doctor and philosopher of the Middle Ages was actually called Abu-Ali Ibn-Sina. He was born around 980 near the city of Bukhara in what is now Uzbekistan. However, he spent most of his eventful life in Persia and worked there at the court of Isfahan. He died in 1037 and was buried in Hamadan, western Iran.

A universal scientist

As was customary in his time, Ibn Sina was a universal scientist who was at home in the most diverse branches of knowledge. He is one of those eminent thinkers through whom the West could benefit from Greek science.

Importance for European medicine

Under the Latinized name Avicenna, he influenced the teaching of medicine at European universities through his "Canon of Medicine" until the 17th century. Ibn Sina recognized, among other things, that tuberculosis is contagious. He provided exact descriptions of other infectious diseases, differentiated forms of hepatitis and gave a differential diagnostic differentiation between pneumonia and pleurisy. He also described local tumors that would be called cancer today and stated that the growths can appear anywhere in the organism. And in contrast to wound enlargement, which according to Hippocrates had been viewed as desirable self-cleaning, Ibn Sina taught asepsis, the pus-free wound treatment. For this he used warm, soft compresses with herbs and strong red wine, which Islam allows for medicinal purposes.

His encyclopedia "Book of Recovery of the Soul" had a formative influence on Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas. The following incident, among others, suggests a psychosomatic approach to his teachings:

A young man was introduced to him as a patient who, for some inexplicable reason, had become emaciated and deteriorated. Avicenna called in local people who gave the names of the neighborhoods and their streets, and the doctor took the patient's pulse. When the houses and residents of a particular neighborhood were finally mentioned, the patient's pulse rose noticeably. This procedure was used until a girl was located that the "sick person" was in love with. Avicenna's therapy was as successful as the diagnosis: in agreement with the sultan, he arranged for the two of them to marry.

A philosopher with enlightening thoughts

Ibn Sina was not an ascetic and knew how to enjoy life. As an Islamic theologian and legal scholar, he represented opinions that were not only unorthodox for the time: what cannot be scientifically explained in the religious sources can only be meant allegorically - in a figurative sense, in order to be understandable for less educated people. He applied this view, for example, to the vivid descriptions of paradise and hell in the Koran. Avicenna thus proved to be a rationalist and was promptly criticized by some Orthodox. However, his thoughts were taken up by scholars and integrated into Islamic teaching as one of the valid opinions. He tried to find agreement between Islamic theology and philosophy; for him, logic did not contradict religion. In later years he turned to mysticism and left traces of his thinking there too.

"Metaphysician of Human Self-Awareness"

Avicenna was a critical mind, but also possessed a certain amount of self-importance - which, however, great scholars were not blamed at the time. Some of his ideas seem odd today, because the supernatural had a fixed place in cosmology and in human life. With the rise of humanism and the first approaches to empirical research, Avicenna's scientific writings in particular lost their influence in Europe. To this day, however, he is regarded as the "metaphysician of human self-confidence". In the Islamic world today Ibn Sina is valued more than ever and - albeit unspoken - regarded as one of the early "enlighteners" of Islam.

The contemporary philosopher Lenn E. Goodman said of what remains in his work: "Avicenna's metaphysics remains a constant source of insight into logic ... and into the perennial philosophical problems of freedom and immortality, temporality and timelessness."