What is it about?
Aristotle thought that, when we say that both a substance and its attribute have "being," we mean different but related things in each case. The Muslim philosopher Avicenna agreed with Aristotle's conclusions, but disagreed with his arguments, notably asserting that "being" (or "existence") has a single meaning in all instances. This article examines Avicenna's criticism and revision of Aristotle's theory and his arguments in support of his new theory.
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Why is it important?
There has been much attention given to Avicenna's theory of existence in recent decades. However, much of this scholarship takes Avicenna to have (1) uncritically adopted the version of the theory which Aristotle and his commentators espoused, and (2) to have taken the new step of transferring this theory from the domain of substance and attribute to the domain of God and created beings. Contrary to both these suppositions, I argue that Avicenna, far from showing any special concern for his theory's theological applicability, was largely concerned with the same basic problems of ontology as Aristotle, but explicitly criticizes and dissents from Aristotle on several key points.
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This page is a summary of: From Focal Homonymy to the Ambiguity of Existence (tashkīk al-wujūd): Avicenna’s Reception and Revision of Aristotle’s Categorial Ontology, Oriens, July 2023, Brill,
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