Life[ edit ] Miskawayh was born in Rey , then under Ziyarid control. Miskawayh may have been a Zoroastrian convert to Islam , but it seems more likely that it was one of his ancestors who converted. He was fluent enough in Middle Persian to have translated some pre-Islamic texts in that language into Arabic. In , a group of ghazi marched towards the Library of Rey but Miskawayh managed to save it.
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Note: All the data has been collected by different websites online. Under the directions of: Ms. His full name was Abu Ali Ahmad b. Muhammad b. His name was Miskawayh, and not Ebn Miskawayh, but the Orientalists followed an inaccurate tradition and he became famous as Ebn Miskawayh. Ebn Miskawayh was part of the Arabo-Persian aristocracy of his times and frequented the circles of the most learned of representatives of Islamic intellectual tradition.
He studied the works of Ibn Tabari with Ibn Kamil who was a student of the famous historian. Ibn Miskawayh is one of the greatest Iranian Muslim philosophers in the eleventh century. His views particularly on ethics are very famous and important. Like so many other intellectuals of his time, Ibn Miskawayh studied philosophy and history as means of investigating Truth al-Haq. Working in the Islamic Neoplatonic tradition, Ibn Miskawayh placed a great deal of importance on ethics. He formulated rules for the preservation of moral health and described ways in which the various parts of the soul can be brought together into harmony.
He provides rules for the preservation of moral health based on a view of the cultivation of character. These describe the ways in which the various parts of the soul can be brought together into harmony, so achieving happiness. Miskawayh is one of the outstanding personalities in the history of philosophical thought among the Muslims; so, as seems clear, his fame did not come about as a result of his involvement with teaching or with writing on education, in our modern terms, but his fame arose from his work in philosophy.
Maybe one of the most important characteristics of Miskawayh also, emphasizing his great admiration for the Greek philosophy which had reached him, is that he did not aim for reconciliation between religion and philosophy, as other previous Muslim philosophers had done. Nor did he attempt to combine them, as was done by the Brethren of Purity for example; but the opinions he set forth remained Greek in nature, and usually attributed to their original exponents.
Contributions: Evolution Ibn Miskawayh was one of the first to clearly describe the idea of evolution. Matter, therefore, adopted the form of vapour which assumed the shape of water in due time. The next stage of development was mineral life.
Different kinds of stones developed in course of time. Their highest form is being mirjan coral. It is a stone which has in it branches like those of a tree. After mineral life involves vegetation. The evolution of vegetation culminates with a tree which bears the qualities of an animal. This is the date-palm. It has male and female genders. It does not wither if all its branches are chopped but it dies when the head is cut off.
The date-palm is therefore considered the highest among the trees and resembles the lowest among animals. Then is born the lowest of animal.
It evolves into an ape. This is not the statement of Darwin. This is what Ibn Maskawayh states and this is precisely what is written in the Epistles of Ikhwan al-Safa.
The Muslim thinkers state that ape then evolved into a lower kind of a barbarian man. He then became a superior human being. Man becomes a saint, a prophet.
He evolves into a higher stage and becomes an angel. The one higher to angels is indeed none but God. Everything begins from Him and everything returns to Him. This work is believed to have been studied by Charles Darwin, who was a student of Arabic, and it is thought to have had an influence on his inception of Darwinism.
As a Buwayhid bureaucrat, he worked under the vizier al-Muhallabi and had access to the internal happenings of the court. The chronicle is a universal history from the beginning of Islam, but it cuts off near the end of the reign of Adud al-Dawla.
The book is meant to provide students of philosophy and ethics an exposition of the main elements of philosophy. The second maqala section of the seven in the book discusses character, humanity, and the method of training young men and boys. This is preceded in the first maqala by a discussion of the soul and its virtues. This was like an obligatory introduction to every philosophical study.
Miskawayh mentions supreme happiness in the third maqala of Tahdhib al-akhlaq, and gives a detailed account of it in order to attract the attention of one who does not know it, so that he will seek it and will be seized by the desire to reach it. Metaphysics Like so many of his philosophical contemporaries, Ibn Miskawayh, combined an active political career with an important philosophical role. A historian as well as a philosopher, he served as a Buwayhid official at Baghdad, Isfahan and Rayy.
Ebn Miskawayh wrote on a wide variety of topics, ranging from history to psychology and chemistry, but in philosophy his metaphysics seems to have been generally informed by a version of Neo-Platonism. He avoids the problem of reconciling religion with philosophy by claiming that the Greek philosophers were in no doubt concerning the unity and existence of God.
The basis of his argument is his account, adopted from Plato, of the nature of the soul, which he sees as a self-subsisting entity or substance, in marked contrast to the Aristotelian notion see Soul, nature and immortality of the. The soul distinguishes us from animals, from other human beings and from things, and it uses the body and the parts of the body to attempt to come into contact with more spiritual realms of being.
The soul cannot be an accident or property of the body because it has the power to distinguish between accidents and essential concepts and is not limited to awareness of accidental things by the senses. In the light of moral teachings a human being refrains from badness and atrocity, and achieves virtue and happiness to the extent that he or she becomes the companion of the pure and angels, and accept divine bounty. Natural and ordinary ethics A deep disposition is a soul related state that causes the issuance of an action from a person without thinking and speculation.
These people are naturally coward, excitant, and tough. Ordinary disposition is created in the soul because of habit repetition.
This might in the beginning be with thinking and difficulty, but it gradually becomes a deep disposition through repetition Ibn Miskawayh, This change is sometimes rapid and sometimes slow. Virtues and vices Human soul has three different faculties: a faculty related to distinguishing and thinking in the truth of the affaires, which is called intellectual rational faculty , and its instrument in body is the brain. The second faculty is related to anger, fear, fearlessness and hegemonism, etc.
Each of these faculties becomes powerful or weak in accord with temper, habit and education. If the trend of the appetitive is moderate and it is surrender to the intellectual faculty, and it does not involve in its carnal desires, the virtue of chastity will be created from it.
Practical ethics and humanism This mystical level of happiness seems to rank higher than mere intellectual perfection, yet Ibn Miskawayh is particularly interesting in the practical advice he gives on how to develop our ordinary capacity for virtue. He regards the cultivation of our moral health in a very Aristotelian way as akin to the cultivation of physical health, requiring measures to preserve our moral equilibrium. We ought to keep our emotions under control and carry out practices that help both to restrain us on particular occasions and also to develop personality traits that will maintain that level of restraint throughout our lives.
To eradicate faults, we must investigate their ultimate causes and seek to replace these with more helpful alternatives. Take the fear of death, for example: this is a baseless fear, since the soul is immortal and cannot die.
Our bodies will perish, but they must do so since we are contingent; to acknowledge that contingency and also to wish that we were not thus contingent is some sort of contradiction. If we are worried by the pain involved in dying, then it is the pain we fear, not death itself.
Ibn Miskawayh argues, along with al-Kindi and the Cynics and Stoics who no doubt influenced him on this issue, that to reconcile ourselves to reality we have to understand the real nature of our feelings We have to use reason to work out what we should do and feel, since otherwise we are at the mercy of our feelings and the varying influences that come to us from outside ourselves.
Happiness and its kinds In general, it can be said that the happiness of each creature is to achieve the particular goal for which it has been created. Theory of sensory pleasure: 2. Theory of happiness of spirit: 3. Theory of the happiness of spirit and body 1. Theory of sensory pleasure: On the basis of this theory which has been attributed to Epicureans, the ultimate aim of human being is to reach sensory pleasures.
While Miskawayh asserts that sensory pleasures are usually mixed with pains, and they are nothing else save removal of pains, and achieving them is neither considered as happiness nor considered as a virtue for mankind; for the angels and other nearest to God are cleared from such pleasures; and human being is shared with animals in these pleasures and many an animal more enjoys such pleasures as compared with human.
They, contrary to the second group, maintain that the attainment of happiness is also possible in this world. The followers of this theory consider such things as health of body, moderation of temper and senses, wealth, good reputation, success in affaires, correctness of beliefs, moral virtues, and merited behavior as a part of happiness and believe that the ultimate happiness is obtained through the accomplishment of all of the perfections related to spirit and body.
Ibn Miskawayh confirms this third theory and considers it based on a comprehensive view to human being and his existential dimensions.
The majority of opinions which he introduced in this subject, although he did aims for a basis to explain the reader with the way to reach the supreme happiness. Knowledge precedes action. In this maqala, Miskawayh does not distinguish between evil and illness; and the psychological evils or illnesses he lists are: Rashness.
Metaphysics Like so many of his philosophical contemporaries, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Miskawayh, born in Rayy in Persia c. A historian as well as a philosopher, he served as a Buwayhid official at Baghdad, Isfahan and Rayy. He was a member of the distinguished group of intellectuals including al-Tawhidi and al-Sijistani. Although not an important figure on the creative side of Islamic philosophy, he is a very interesting adaptor of existing ideas, especially those arising out of the Neoplatonic tradition in the Islamic world see Neoplatonism in Islamic philosophy. Ibn Miskawayh wrote on a wide variety of topics, ranging from history to psychology and chemistry, but in philosophy his metaphysics seems to have been generally informed by a version of Neoplatonism. He avoids the problem of reconciling religion with philosophy by claiming that the Greek philosophers were in no doubt concerning the unity and existence of God.
Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Yaʿqūb Ibn Miskawayh (0933-1030)