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Avicenna on Human Self-Intellection

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-10-02, 14:37 authored by Boris HennigBoris Hennig

I argue that Avicenna allows for at least one case where we can intellectually grasp a particular individual as such: Each human intellect can intellect itself as numerically this one intellect without relying on any general notion or concept. This is because humans can retain their individuality when separated from their bodies. I discuss passages in which Avicenna appears to affirm and deny that humans can intellect themselves. I conclude that in contrast to the self-awareness that Avicenna showcases in his “floating human” thought experiment, human self-intellection is a rare achievement, and I explain how it differs from the more perfect self-intellection of the divine intellect.

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