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Title: A Compendium of the Soul
Author: Sina, Abu-`Aly al-Husayn Ibn `Abdallah Ibn
Language: English
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                    «E l’anima umana la qual è colla nobiltà della
                    potenzia ultima, cioè ragione, participa della
                    divina natura a guisa di sempiterna Intelligenza;
                    perocchè l’anima è tanto in quella sovrana potenzia
                    nobilitata, e dinudata da materia, che la divina
                    luce, come in Angiolo, raggia in quella; e però è
                    l’uomo divino animale da’ Filosofi chiamato.»[1]

                                          (=Dante=, _Convito_, III, 2.)

  _S. Salvatore Corte Regia, 10_


  _Abû-'Aly al-Husayn Ibn 'Abdallah Ibn Sînâ:_


  Grateful Acknowledgement of the Substantial Help
  From Dr. S. Landauer’s Concise German Translation,
  James Middleton
  MacDonald’s Literal English Translation;

  _VERONA, ITALY, in THE YEAR 1906_,
  For the Use of Pupils and Students of Government Schools
  _Cairo, Egypt_.


Several sources out of which to draw information and seek guidance as
to Ibn Sînâ’s biography and writings, and his systems of medicine and
philosophy, are nowadays easily accessible to nearly every one. Among
such sources the following are the best for Egyptian students:

1. Ibn Abi Uçaybi´ah’s “Tabaqât-ul-Atib-ba,” and Wuestenfeld’s
“Arabische Aertzte.”

2. Ibn Khallikân’s “Wafâyât-ul-A´ayân.”

3. Brockelmann’s “Arabische Literatur.”

4. F. Mehren’s Series of Essays on Ibn Sînâ in the Periodical “Muséon”
from the year 1882 and on.

5. Clément Huart’s Arabic Literature, either in the French Original or
in the English Translation.

6. Carra de Vaux’s “Les Grands Philosophes: Avicenna,” Paris, Felix
Alcan, 1900, pp. vii et 302.

7. T. de Boer’s “History of Philosophy in Islâm,” both in Dutch and in
the English translation.

The “Offering to the Prince in the Form of a Compendium on the Soul,”
of which the present Pamphlet is my attempt at an English Translation,
is the least known throughout Egypt and Syria of all Ibn Sînâ’s
many and able literary works: indeed I have failed, after repeated
and prolonged enquiry, to come across so much as one, among my many
Egyptian acquaintances, that had even heard of it.

Doctor Samuel Landauer of the University of Strassburg published
both the Arabic text, and his own concise German translation, of
this Research into the Faculties of the Soul, in volume 29 for the
year 1875 of the Z.d.D.M.G., together with his critical notes
and exhaustively erudite confrontations of the original Arabic with
many Greek passages from Plato, Aristotle, Alexander Aphrodisias, and
others, that Ibn Sînâ had access to, it would appear, second hand,
i.e. through translations. Doctor Landauer made use also of a very rare
Latin translation by Andreas Alpagus, printed at Venice in 1546; and
of the Cassel second edition of Jehuda Hallévy’s religious Dialogue
entitled Khusari, which is in rabbinical Hebrew, and on pages 385 to
400 of which the views of “philosophers” on the Soul are set forth,
Doctor Landauer having discovered to his agreeable surprise that those
15 pages are simply a word for word excerpt from this Research by Ibn
Sînâ. For the Arabic text itself, he had at his command only two
manuscript copies, the one, preserved in the Library at Leyden, being
very faulty; and the other, in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana at Milan,
being far more accurate and correct.

This text was reprinted talis qualis, but with omission of every kind
of note, in 1884 at Beirût, Syria, by Khalîl Sarkîs: this reprint is
very hard to find.

James Middleton MacDonald, M.A., made a studiedly literal English
translation or rather a construe of it in 1884, of which he got a small
number printed in pamphlet form at Beirût, and by Khalîl Sarkîs also:
this English Version too is very rare, and almost unknown.

       *       *       *       *       *

My present English rendering of this Essay by Avicena on the Powers of
the Soul has been made directly and finally from the Arabic Original as
given in the Landauer Text, with constant consultation however of both
the Landauer German translation and the MacDonald English construe: it
has been made not for European scholars and Arabists but solely for
pupil students in Egypt, which circumstance called in a great measure
for the use of two or more nearly synonymous words where the Arabic
original often has but one only. Indeed I am not ashamed to say further
that in some places I have failed to follow the drift and understand
the purport of Ibn Sînâ’s argument; so that in such passages I am
only too conscious of how far my rendering may perhaps have wandered
from the right and true sense. But the author himself declares that
psychology is one of the deepest and darkest of studies; and he relates
of himself in his autobiography that he had read one of Aristotle’s
writings forty times over, until he had got it by heart, and yet had
failed to see the point. And he goes on to tell of how it was that
he one day stumbled across and then read over al-Fârâbî’s “Maqâçid
Aristotle,” whereupon mental light dawned upon him as to the purport of
that writing.

Those for whom I have made it now know why this my English version is
often timid and wavering, nay sometimes even wordy and hazy.

       *       *       *       *       *

The end of the next year’s session will in all likelihood bring with it
the cessation of my connection with the Khedivial School of Law. More
than this: I am getting well on in life, so that this translation will
most likely be the last serious work that I shall ever perform in the
service of Young Egypt. Such reflections awaken in my inmost soul all
sorts of feelings and thoughts about the shortness and fleetingness of
this earthly life, the happiness of childhood and youth, the darkness
of the grave, and the utter despair that will surely engulf the soul
at the last hours, unless--mark my words--unless the strong arm of our
Heavenly Father lay hold upon this soul that is now within me, and
take it off and up, to be joined unto the millions of souls of all,
all those who have gone before, whither too shall follow so many, many
other millions; in a word, unless GOD have mercy upon me, even as He
has had mercy upon my forefathers and mothers since many generations.
This hope in His mercy and grace is my ever-strengthening prop and
stay, the older and feebler I get. Nor will any of those for whom I
write these lines ever find a stronger or a better. And the time will
very soon come when each and every one of them, however long may be his
life here below, will surely need it, to save him from sinking into the
black nothingness of doubt, indifference, and despair.

                                                EDWARD ABBOTT van DYCK.

          VERONA, _August, 1906_.

    Wer fertig ist, dem ist nichts recht zu machen:
    Ein werdender wird immer dankbar sein.[2]

                                   [Lustige Person, in Goethe’s Faust]


[1] _Note added by transcriber_: From the translation of Dante's _Il
Convito_ (The Banquet) by Elizabeth Sayer Price (in Doctrine Publishing Corporation:

  And the Human Soul possessing the nobility of the highest power,
  which is Reason, participates in the Divine Nature, after the manner
  of an eternal Intelligence: for the Soul is ennobled and denuded of
  matter by that Sovereign Power in proportion as the Divine Light of
  Truth shines into it, as into an Angel; and Man is therefore called
  by the Philosophers the Divine Animal.

[2] _Note added by the transcriber_: From the translation
of Goethe's _Faust_ by Bayard Taylor (in Doctrine Publishing Corporation:

    A mind once formed, is never suited after;
    One yet in growth will ever grateful be.

[Funny Person, in Goethe’s Faust]


In the Name of GOD, the Merciful, the Compassionate: May GOD bless
our Lord Muhammad and his Kinsfolk, and give them peace. O my God
facilitate [this undertaking]; and make [it] end in good, O Thou
Bounteous Being!

Abu-´Aly, Ibn Sînâ, the chief elder, learnèd and erudite leader, the
precise and accurate researcher, Truth’s plea against mankind, the
physician of physicians, the philosopher of Islâm, may the Most High
GOD have mercy upon him, saith:--

The best of beginnings is that which is adorned with praise to the
Giver of strength for praising Him; and for invoking blessing and peace
upon our Lord Muhammad, His prophet and servant, and upon his good and
pure offspring after him. And after this beginning, he saith further:--

Had not custom given leave to the small and low to reach up to the
great and high, it would be most difficult for them ever to tread those
paths in going over which they need to lay hold of their upholding
arm[3] and seek the help of their superior strength; to attain to
a position in their service, and join themselves to their social
circle; to pride themselves on having become connected with them, and
openly declare their reliance upon them. Nay, the very bond which
joins the common man to the man of élite would be severed, and the
reliance of the flock upon its shepherd would cease; the frail would
no longer become powerful through the strength of the mighty, nor the
low-born rise through the protection and countenance of the high-born;
the foolish would not be able to correct his folly and ignorance by
intercourse with the prudent and wise; nor the wise draw nigh to the
ignorant and foolish.

And whereas I find that custom has trod along this highroad, and
prescribed this usage, I avail myself of such a precedent and excuse
to warrant my reaching up and aspiring to the Prince, GOD give him
long life, with an offering [an acceptable present]; and I have given
prevalence to the thought that my choice ought to fall upon an object
which will at once be most acceptable to him, and best calculated to
attain my aim of ingratiating myself into his favor; and this, after
coming to the certain conclusion that the chief virtues are two,
namely 1. Love of wisdom as to the Articles of Faith, (i.e., Love of
Philosophy in theoretical principles); and 2. Choice of the most honest
of deeds as to intention (i.e., the preference of pure purposes in
practical life).

And in this connection I find the Prince, God prolong his days, to have
given to his intrinsically worthy character so much of the polish and
lustre imparted by wisdom that he far outstrips his rivals among the
princes, and overtops all such as are of his kind. And hence I clearly
perceive that of all presents the one he will appreciate most is such
as conduces to the most precious of the virtues, to wit wisdom. I
had, however, so far profitted from a careful perusal of the books of
the learnèd as to find their researches into the spiritual faculties
among the most abstruse and refractory against the mind’s grasping
what they mean, and the most bewildering, obscure and misleading as to
their results. And yet I have seen it reported about a number of wise
men (philosophers) and pious[4] saints that they agree in this dictum
(motto), viz: “Whoso Knoweth himself, Knoweth his Lord”; and I have
also heard the Chief of the Philosophers say, in agreement with their
saying: “Whoso faileth to Know himself, is still more likely (apt) to
fail of Knowing his Creator”; and “How shall he, who is trusted as a
reliable authority in a science, be deemed to have any views at all,
when he is ignorant of himself?” I see further the Book of the Most
High GOD pointing to the measure of truth of this, where He says, when
mentioning the distance separating the Erring from His mercy: Surah 59,
al-Hashr, v. 19: “they forgot God, and He made them forget themselves”;
is not His making the forgetting of self to depend upon forgetting
Him done so as to awaken the attention to His closely binding the
remembrance of Him with the remembrance of self, and the knowledge
of Him with the knowledge of self, scilicet of one’s own soul?
Furthermore, I have read in the books of the ancients that the hard
task of going deeply into the knowledge of self had been enjoined upon
them by an oracle that had descended upon them at one of the temples
of the gods, which says: “Know thyself, O man, so shalt thou know thy
Lord.” I have also read that this saying was engraved in the façade
of the temple of Aesculapius, who is known among them as one of the
prophets, and whose most famous miracle is that he was wont to heal the
sick by mere loud supplication; and so did all priests who performed
sacerdotal functions in his temple. From him have philosophers got the
science of medicine.

Thus I have thought fit to make for the Prince[5] a book on the soul,
in the form of a compendium; and I ask the Most High God to prolong
his life, to keep intact from the evil eye his frail and mortal body,
to refresh through him wisdom after its fading, to revive it after
its languishing, to renew its might through his might, and to give
it length of days through length of days to him, in order that by
his prestige the advantages accruing from the prestige of its kin
shall become all-embracing, and that the number of the seekers after
its fullness shall abound. Nor shall I achieve this my ambition save
through God: He is my all-sufficient stay, and best helper. I have
arranged the Book in sections, ten in all:--

1. To Establish the Existence of the Faculties of the Soul, the
detailed analysis and explanation of which I have undertaken.

2. Division and Classification of the Primary (Primitive) Faculties of
the Soul, and Definition of the Soul at large (or as a whole).

3. That None of the Faculties of the Soul originates from the
Combination (Blending) of the Four Elements, but on the contrary comes
upon them from without.

4. Detailed Statement concerning the Vegetable Powers (faculties), and
Mentioning the Need for Each One of them.

5. Detailed Statement concerning the Animal Faculties (powers), and
Mentioning the Need for Each One of them.

6. Detailed Statement concerning the External (Apparent) Senses, and
How they perceive, mentioning the Disagreement [of researchers] as to
How Seeing is performed.

7. Detailed Statement concerning the Internal (Hidden) Senses, and the
Body Moving Power.

8. Memoir on the Human Soul from the Stage of its Beginning to the
Stage of its Perfection.

9. Establishing the Proofs necessary for affirming the Essentiality of
the Speaking (Rational) Soul, by the logical method.

10. Establishing the Argument for the Existence of an Intellectual
Essence, distinct from Bodies, standing to the Rational (speaking)
Faculties in the stead of a Fountain, and in the stead of Light to
Sight; and Showing that Rational (speaking) Souls remain united with
It after the death of the body, secure and safe from corruption and
change; and It is what is called Universal (generic) Intelligence.


[3] The figure of speech in the Arabic is «loopholes»; compare Surah
2:257, and 31:21, and Beydâwi’s Commentary.

[4] The «waly» performs miracles only, whereas the «naby» performs
miracles, and also foretells future events.

[5] Who was this prince; and why did the author stand in such need
of his countenance as to dedicate to him this booklet in the humble
and lengthy terms of apology which run through the greater part of
the Introduction? It is Doctor S. Landauer’s opinion that, with this
Essay, Ibn Sînâ began his career as a writer. After he had completed
the sixteenth year of his age, he was summoned to the bedside of the
suffering Sâmânid prince, Nûh ibn Mançûr, who resided at Bukhâra (See
Ibn Khallikân’s Biographies), and succeeded in curing him. Then,
followed a long period during which Ibn Sînâ removed from the Court
of one Ruler to that of another, and was successively engaged in the
service of various Petty Dynasties in Khurasân. If then this Essay
was his maiden production--as Doctor Landauer assumes--the author was
still quite young, and stood in need of the patronage he so earnestly
implores. Furthermore there is a manuscript in Leyden, marked Codex
958, and numbered 1968 in the Catalogue, which is a small treatise on
the soul by Ibn Sînâ, closing as follows:

«I had produced a short essay on the exposition of the knowledge of
the soul, and what is connected therewith, at the beginning of my
career forty years ago, after the purely philosophical method of
investigation. Whoso wishes to know that method, let him peruse it, for
it is adapted to the seekers of research.»

The «40 years ago» fit exactly, if students one assumes that the
literary production referred to is the one he dedicated to «the
Prince.» Now, the first prince he came in contact with was Nûh ibn
Mançûr (ruled from 366-387 H. = 976-997 A.D., the Eighth of the
Sâmânid Dynasty). Ibn Khallikân relates that Ibn Sînâ, at the age of 16
years, had begun to have a great reputation as a physician. Moreover
the Latin translation in Florence of this essay bears in express words
the dedication to Nûh. Result:

    Ibn Sînâ born in        370 H. = 980 A.D.

    Earliest Age as
    Treating Physician      386 H. = 996

    Death of Nûh in
    Month of Ragab          387 H. = 997 Jule

    Death of Ibn Sînâ       428 H. = 1036

Between 386 and 428 lie the 40 years.


  =To Establish the Existence of the Spiritual Faculties, the Detailed
    Analysis of which I have undertaken.=

Whoso wishes to describe anything whatsoever before proceeding to
establish first its [6]reality of existence, such a one is counted
by the wise among those who deviate from the broad beaten track of
perspicuous statement. It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to first
set to work to establish the existence of the spiritual powers, before
starting to define each one of them singly, and enlarge upon it.

And whereas the most peculiar characteristics of spiritual properties
are two--one of them Setting in Motion (Impulsion), and the other
Perception--it is incumbent upon us to show that to every moving body
there is a [A]moving cause (ground, reason, motive, pretence). Then it
will become evident to us therefrom that bodies moving in motions over
and above the natural motions--an example of natural motions is the
sinking of the heavy, and the rising of the light--have moving[B]
causes, which we call souls or spiritual powers; and that we further
show that any body, in so far as it shows signs (traces) that it is
perceptive, such perception by it cannot be validly ascribed to its
body, except because of powers (faculties) in it that are capable of

We now start by saying that not a shadow of doubt or perplexity
hampers the mind, as to things, that some of them share some one thing
in common, and differ in an other; and that that which is shared in
common is other than that in which they differ. The mind encounters all
bodies whatsoever as having this in common, viz. that they are bodies;
and afterwards it encounters them as differing in that they move (in
different ways); otherwise there would be no such thing as rest of a
body, and not even such a thing as motion of a body, except along a
circle, seeing that of motion in a straight line it is established
by its very form that it will not proceed save from stoppings and to
stoppings (resting-places to resting-places). Hence it is evident that
bodies are not to be clothed with the attribute of motion because they
are bodies, but for reasons (causes) above and beyond their corporeity,
from which causes their motions proceed, like the resulting of the
footprint from the walker (or, just as the effect proceeds from the

So much having become clear to us, we say that we find, among bodies
generated from the Four Elements,[7] such as moves, not by constraint,
in two kinds of motion between which there is more or less difference:
The one kind inherent in its element by reason of the supremacy over
it of the power of one of its constituents, and thus decreeing its
motion towards the position in space naturally appointed for it, as for
example a man’s moving by the nature of the preponderating[8] heavy
element in his body downwards; nor will this kind of the motions of
bodies be found to take place save in one direction and with a constant
tendency; The second kind of motion going against the decree of its
element, which decree is either rest in the natural position as soon
as it reaches that position, as for example a man’s moving his body
along its natural home which is the Earth’s surface; or else a moving
away from the natural position when already separated from it, like
a flying bird’s motion with its heavy body high up through the sky.
It has thus been made manifest [to the reader] that the two motions
have two accounting causes, and that they are quite different one from
the other: the one is called Natural, and the second called Soul or
Spiritual Faculty. Hence it is quite sound, as to motion, to affirm
the existence of spiritual faculties.

Whereas, in respect of Perception, because that bodies exist with this
in common, viz. that they are bodies, and with this in distinction,
viz. that they are repeatedly perceptive, it is quite manifest by the
first (preceding) process of discrimination that perception will not
ever differ from bodies through difference of their substance, but by
certain powers or faculties borne within those bodies. It therefore
becomes quite clear by this sort of exposition that spiritual faculties
have an existence: and this is what we wished to demonstrate.


[6] Reality of existence; or its whereabouts. Doctor S. Landauer thinks
that the word ayniyyat in the text must be wrong, because nowhere
throughout this section is the «Whereabout» of the mental powers so
much as hinted at; whereas the burden of the whole chapter is to prove
merely that such powers do exist, i.e., their inniyyat, which is a
word used by Arab Logicians.

[A] A Why and Wherefore moving it. Note the difference between
sabab and `illah. _Transcriber addition:_ sabab (سبب) and `illat
(علّة): Sabab means the general conditions that are conducive to
something occuring, whereas `illat is the reason in cause-and-effect.
Traditionally, `illat is used in logic or medicine, whereas sabab would
be more likely to be heard in common speech.

[B] Ditto.

[7] The four elements: earth, air, fire, water.

[8] Here Ibn Sînâ seems to have had a rather clear premonition of
Newton’s Theory of Gravitation, seven hundred years before the falling
of the famous apple.


  =Of the Division of the Spiritual Faculties and their Classification
    into Three Main Classes, and the Definition of the Soul in a
    General Way.=


It has been clearly shown by us in the foregoing that of things there
are some which have one thing in common and differ in an other, in that
the one in common is other than the one differed in. Then we found
compound ensouled bodies--I mean possessing souls--to have agreed
and differed in the properties both of their impulsion and their
perception. As to impulsion, they agree and differ, in that one and all
of them has in common that they move in quantity the motion of growth;
and they differ, in that one sett among them moves, together with that
growth, in local motions according to the will; and one other sett
among them does not so move, such as plants. Likewise living beings
have in common that they are both sentient and perceptive, up to a
certain sort of sensuous perception; and then afterwards they differ in
that one sett among them perceives, together with that sort of sensuous
perception, by intellectual perception; and one other sett among them
does not so perceive, such as the ass and the horse. We further found
the power of impulsion to be more widely embracing than the power of
perception, in that we found plants to lack the latter utterly. Hence
we knew for certain that the faculty in which the animal agrees with
the plant is more general than this perceptive faculty, and than the
impelling faculty which is in the animal; and each one of them is more
general than the speaking (rational) faculty, which belongs to man.
Thus then, the spiritual faculties come forth (or stand out) before
us set and ranged, in respect of the common and the peculiar, i.e.,
according to the general and special[C], under three classes or

The first of which is known as the plant or vegetable power, on account
of the participation therein of the animal and plant;

The second is known as the animal power;

The third, as the speaking power, or rational faculty.

Therefore, the primary parts of the soul, in contemplating it from the
standpoint of its powers, are three.


To treat now of the definition of the Soul at large, I mean the
universal, absolute, generic soul. This will become apparent, according
to the tenets I hold, that among truths that are plainly manifest one
is that every one of all natural bodies is compounded of “hyle” I
mean matter, and of form. As for hyle, one of its properties is that
through it a natural body is affected (or acted upon) in its very self;
seeing that the sword, for instance, does not cut through its iron, but
through its sharpness, which is its form; whereas it gets jagged owing
to its iron, and not owing to its form. Another of those properties
is that bodies do not differ through it, I mean through the hyle; for
earth does not differ from water through its matter, but through its
form.[9] Still another property is that it--the hyle or matter--does
not afford (supply, furnish) natural bodies their characteristics
peculiarly belonging to them, save potentially; since in man, e.g.,
his humanity--his being man--is not actually derived from the four
elements, save potentially.

As for the form, its peculiarity is 1.^o that through it bodies put
forth their actions (or perform their manifold deeds and workings);
since a sword does not cut through its iron, but through, its
sharpness; and 2.^o that bodies differ one from the other only through
their genus or kind, I mean the form, since earth does not differ from
water save through its form, whereas in its matter it does not; and
3.^o that natural bodies get (derive, acquire) their being what they in
fact are from the form, since as to man, his being a man (his humanity)
is in fact through his form, and not through his matter, which is of
the four elements.

Let us proceed a little further, and we shall say that a live body is
a natural compound body that discriminates the non-living through its
soul, and not through its body; and that performs multifarious animal
works through its soul, and not through its body; and is alive through
its soul and not through its body; and its soul is within it. Now,
what is within a thing, while this form of its continues, is its form
[or, this its form being so and not otherwise, is etc.]. Thus then
the soul is a form; and forms are realized perfections (enteléchia),
since through them the features (identities, characteristics) of
things become perfect. The soul, therefore is a perfection (realized
identity). And perfections (enteléchias) come under two divisions:
either the principles underlying the doings and their effects, or the
very doings and effects themselves. The one of the two divisions is
first, and the other is second. The first is the principle (or source
and origin), and the second is the doing and the effect (or trace). In
this sense the soul is a first perfection (or prime actuality); for
it is a principle (source), not an outcome of a principle (source).
And of perfections, there are such as belong to bodies, and such as
belong to incorporeal substances. In this sense the soul is a prime
perfection attaching to a body. And among bodies, there are such as are
artificial, and such as are natural. Now the soul is not a perfection
of an artificial body; hence it is a prime perfection attaching to a
natural body. Again, among natural bodies there are such as perform
their multifarious workings through organs (tools, instruments), and
such as do not perform their workings through organs (tools); as, for
example the simple bodies, and those acting through the prevalence
(constraint) of the simple forces. In other words we may say, if we
like, that among natural bodies there are those whose design is, among
other things, that they produce of themselves [whose task or business
is to perform animal acts voluntarily, of their own will,] manifold
animal actions; and there are those whose design is, among other
things, not so to produce. Hence again, the soul is not a perfection
attaching to the two last divisions in both the foregoing manners of
statement. Therefore its full and finished definition is to say that--

It is a prime perfection (consummation, realization) attaching to
an organic natural body; and, if we wish, to say further, a prime
perfection attaching to a natural body having a life potentially
(a first, perfection belonging to a natural body which body may
have life); that is to say, a source of the manifold animal actions
potentially (it is the source and origin of the deeds done by such
beings as may be alive). Thus then we have divided (described) the
generic soul, and defined it--which is what we had undertaken.


[C] Logical intension and extension.

[D] In this section the soul-powers are at first separated into Three
Chief Classes; afterwards, in the following sections, each one of these
is again sub-divided into several parts.

[E] Doctor S. Landauer, in the Notes to his German Translation, quotes
fully from the Greek text of Aristotle’s «De Anima,» and comes to the
conclusion that Ibn Sînâ has, in the first sub-section, given the
contents of de anima II, chap. 3, but has changed the order of the
ideas; and to the further conclusion that the second sub-section,
dealing with the definition of the soul, is nothing more than an
extract from de anima II, chap. 1.

[9] «differs, not through its matter, but through its form»: this
resolves matter back to One Element; but he has already named Four,
viz. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water; or rather he has declared the
elements to be Four.


  =To Establish that not One of the Faculties of the Soul Originates
    out of a Combination (Blending) of the Elements, but on the
    contrary Comes upon Them from Outside.=

All the various things that are, however composite they may be,
and whatever form may have come about in the compound, will be (a)
either inclining towards some one of the forms of the simples, or
else will not be so. And if they be not so inclining, they will be
(b) either resulting from an aggregate (or mean) of the forms of the
simples, according to the degree of disproportion and deviation of the
constituents from equality, or else (c) they will not be assimilated to
any one of the simples, but there will be made (generated, produced)
a form exceeding the requirement of the forms of the simples, both in
regard to the measure of its simplicity and in regard to the measure
of its complexity. An example of the first division is the bitterish
taste on compounding aloe, which is overpoweringly bitter, and honey,
which is feebly sweet. An example of the second division is the color
grey, holding an equal relationship to both of the extremes (contrasts)
blackness and whiteness, which results on compounding a white and a
black opposite. An example of the third of the said divisions is the
seal’s stamp (imprint) remaining in the clay (mortar, putty) which is
composed of dry dust and liquid water on their being mixed up together;
for it is known that the imprint remaining in the putty is not in
pursuance to the requirement of the forms of the simples, neither
whether they be considered in respect of the resultant compound, nor
whether they be considered in respect of the simple constituents taken

To recapitulate:--it is known that the first division, if it be
produced, from simples whose forms are opposed (contrary) not through
mechanical mixture (commingling) but through[10] blending (alloy,
amalgam)--it is clear I say in such cases that the overpowered
contraries will no longer have an existence of their own, nor an
existence of the effects peculiar to them, because of the impossibility
of two contraries working together in one and the same carrier
(medium), but the utmost effects they can exert will be to introduce a
decrease in the strength of the overpowering constituent, and nothing
more; and it is known that the second division, in what proportions
soever it be found, imposes reciprocity and equality both passive
and active, that is to say the manifold workings that the forms of
the simples necessarily exert and the corresponding effects that
these forms suffer mutually one from the other must of necessity be
reciprocal, and in the ratio of their respective proportions and
strengths; and lastly, it is known that the third division, if it
comes about, will not have resulted from the intrinsic (very) self
of the compound, since it in no way at all belongs to it, neither in
consideration of its simple nor of its composite form. Hence it is
gained (got, acquired) from without.

It is now necessary, since we have prefixed these premisses, that we go
deeper into our pursuit, so we say:--

That the soul has only come forth [for us through the foregoing
contemplations] in compound bodies whose forms are opposed and in
none others; nor will its manifestation in them be devoid (divested)
of one of the three divisions; but it is not of the first division;
else it is heat or coldness, dryness or moisture (dampness), in any
of which soever a decrease has more or less come about; and how shall
any one of these powers be fit to put forth from itself multifarious
psychical deeds, given the fact of the decrease (defect) occasioned
in the very composition, and given also what it would have expended
in that decrease out of its strength? nay, how shall any one of these
powers cause motion save towards one direction alone? and wherefore
has it become necessary to effect mutual exclusion (displacement) among
psychical movements so that their mutual exclusion (displacement)
shall engender a dullness (or weariness), since in the effect
(influence) of one identical thing there does not arise exclusion;
nor is it of the second division, since the existence of the second
division is an impossibility, and this because the elements, however
much they may be compounded, under (proportionate) equality of the
powers, this necessitates in them the stoppage (cessation) of all the
effects attaching to each one of the two, and thus if the compound
were left alone (abandoned to itself) it would never have to move,
neither upwards--else the heat is the overpowerer and the cold is
the one overpowered--nor downwards--else the cold is the overpowerer
and the heat is the one overpowered--nay nor even would it remain at
rest in one of the four spots of space (wherein dwell all the four
elements)--else Nature which attracts towards itself is the overpowerer
therein--whereas it has been asserted that all of them are equal both
to overpower and to be overpowered, and this is a contradiction:
Therefore this body (such a body) is neither still nor moving,--whereas
every body which is surrounded by another body is either still
or moving,--and this too is a contradiction; and what leads to
contradiction is itself a contradiction; so then our assertion that
the elements may possibly be compounded under equality of the powers is
a contradiction, and hence its opposite, to wit our saying that such is
impossible, is true [reduction ad absurdam]. Wherefore the coming forth
of the soul, i.e., its combination with body, occurs only after the
method of the third division; and it has been already said that what is
after the method of the third division is gained from outside: The soul
then is got from without--which is what we wished to show.


[10] Mechanical mixture, blending, combination, etc.: compare the Greek
mixis, krâsis, and synthesis.


  =Specification of the Vegetable (Plant) Powers, and Mention of the
    Need there is for Each One of Them.=

Souled bodies, I mean having souls, if considered from the side of
their vegetable powers, are found to have in common the getting of
nourishment, and to differ in growth and generation (reproduction of
offspring); since, among nourishment-taking beings, there are such as
do not grow, for example a living individual that has reached full
growth and the period of stand still, or that has declined therefrom
through withering. Yet every growing thing gets nourishment. Again,
among nutriment-taking beings there are such as do not propagate, as
seeds that are not yet harvest-ripe, and an animal that has not yet
reached puberty. Nevertheless, every propagating thing has inevitably
passed through a preceding stage of nutrition; nor will the state
(stage) of propagating ever be deprived of nutrition. Further, we find
them, beside having the getting of nourishment in common, to have
growth also in common, but to differ in the propagation (of offspring)
since there are, among growing things, such as do not beget, as an
animal not yet arrived at puberty, and the worm.[11] Nevertheless every
begetter has already passed through a period of growth; nor will the
state (stage) of begetting be deprived of the power of giving growth
[to the young that are being produced]. Hence the vegetable powers are

1. the nutritive; 2. the growth promoting; and 3. the propagating. Of
these the nutritive is as the starting-point; the propagating as the
aim and end; and the growth-promoting as the means binding the end to
the starting-place. Indeed the souled body stands in absolute need
of these three powers for the following reasons: Whereas the Divine
Command came down upon Nature enjoining (imposing) upon her the task
of forming a compound living being out of the four elements after such
wise fashion as they called for in it; and whereas Nature of herself
is unable to originate a souled body at one stroke, but can do so only
by promoting its growth little by little;[F] and whereas an individual
that is put together after the manner of animal composition is
susceptible of being again decomposed and melting away by the natures
of its constituents; and whereas a thing composed of opposites will
not keep up so protracted a duration and last so long a time as is
expected of it--therefore Nature is in want of a power by which she
can fabricate a living body by promotion of growth; so she has been
supplied by Divine Providence with the growth-giving power; and is in
want of a power whereby she can preserve the souled body at an even
standard[G] over against the waste which it undergoes in making up for
what disintegration wears away from it; so she has been succoured by
Divine Providence with the nutritive power; and is in want of a power
that shall mould, out of the living natural body, a piece that she
shall dwell in, in order that if corruption permeate the body it shall
have sought for itself a successor as a substitute, whereby to arrive
at the preservation of species; so she has been helped by the Divine
Providence with the propagating (generating) power.

And we ought, in this connection, to bear in mind as a certain and true
fact that the growth-giving power, although it has been found, from
the standpoint that we have mentioned, to be following close upon the
nutritive, and the propagating (generating) to be following close upon
the growth-imparting (promoting), yet the precedence of the part played
by each one of the three, in their undertaking the task of creating
the living body and preserving it through their special and peculiar
workings, is the other way about; for the first to enthrall the
material predisposed to receive life is the generating (procreating,
propagating) power, since this power clothes the material at first
with the form (prototype) of that which is intended to be realized
through the ministry (service) of the growth-promoting and nutritive
powers; and as soon as it has achieved in that material a perfect form
it delivers over the sway to the growth-promoting power, which assumes
it through the ministry (service) of the nutritive power, and imparts
to the material--all the time keeping up the form of the material
within the due proportions of the [three] dimensions [length, breadth
and thickness]--a motion (activity) of growth towards the end striven
after by it, the growth-promoting power aforesaid. Then this latter
stops; and the nutritive power enthralls the material. Again, the
generating (propagating) power is the one served, not the servant; and
in comparison with it, the nutritive power is the servant, not the one
served. Thus too the growth-promoting power is served in one sense,
and serving in an other sense. And the nutritive power, although it
does not exist as the one served in the spiritual powers, yet it does
sometimes employ the four forces of Nature--to wit, the attracting,
the holding, the digesting, and the excreting (repelling). And, even
as that which is striven after in the process of form-making is solely
the bringing about of the [due] form in matter in the shape (kind,
design) proposed, and not at all the bringing about of growth or of
nutrition,--only that there is need for the two latter for the sake of
realizing the desired form, and not the converse--so also the final aim
in the [several] powers is the procreating (propagating) power, to the
exclusion of the growth-promoting and of the nutritive. Wherefore, the
procreating power is given precedence for a teliological reason.

And through God is fitness to be achieved.


[11] Probably his view was that worms arise out of a germ of moist
clay or mud, and are a sort of developed protoplasm. Compare §6 of
Ibn Tufayl’s «Hayy b. Yaqzân,» and the Note thereto in the English
Translation about field-rats.

[F] The germ of the Doctrine of Evolution as against Instantaneous

[G] See Ibn Sînâ’s «_Qânûn_,» Section 2, where he says: As to the
nutritive power, it is that power which transforms the nutriment into
a resemblance with the nourishment-taker, in order that this nutriment
may succeed in the stead of what shall be wasted, and attach itself to
the taker instead of the waste.--See also «_Kitâb-ul-Najât_,» by Ibn


  =Specification of the Animal Powers, and Mention of the Need there is
    for Each One of Them.=

I affirm that every animal is sentient, and hence it moves itself at
will, in some sort of motion; and that every animal moves itself in
some sort of motion at will, and hence it is sentient; since sensation
in what does not move itself at will is wasted and useless, and the
lack of it in what does move itself at will is harmful; whereas Nature,
owing to that much of Divine Providence as has been joined to her,
gives nothing whatever that is either wasted or harmful, nor witholds
either the necessary or the useful. Perhaps some one may speak out here
and object to us that shellfish are of such as feel (are sentient)
and yet do not move themselves at will. This objection, however, will
speedily vanish on experiment; for shellfish, although they do not
move themselves from their places in a sort of organic (mechanical)
locomotion at will, yet they do more or less shrink themselves up and
spread out inside of their shells, as I have witnessed with mine
own eyes on having tried the experiment more than once, in that I
turned the shell over onto its back, so that its position for drawing
nourishment became separated from the ground; whereupon it ceased not
to struggle until it had again stood in a position that made it easy
for it to draw in nourishment from the muddy bottom.

And now that this has become surely certain for us, we shall further

That whereas Divine Wisdom has decreed that an animal moving itself at
will shall be composed of the four elements, and as such animal would
not be secure against the evils of mishaps in its successive change
of places during locomotion, it has been fitted out with the touching
power (sense of touch), so as to flee through it from unfit places, and
seek those that are fit. And whereas any such animal’s constitution
(make-up) cannot get on without the getting of nourishment; and as its
gaining its food is a sort of free will effort; and as some articles
of food suit it, and others do not,--it has been fitted out with the
tasting power (sense of taste). These two powers (senses) are both
useful and necessary in life: the rest are useful, not necessary.

Next after the Tasting, in degree of utmost need for it, comes the
Smelling Sense, since odors will point the animal towards suitable
articles of nourishment, with a strong indication; nor will the animal
be at all able to get on without nourishment, neither will its
nourishment be got by it save through self-help. So Divine Providence
has deemed fit to impart the smelling power unto most animals. The
next after the smelling power in usefulness is the Seeing Power: the
How and Why of its usefulness, as to the animal, which moves itself
at will, is that whereas its betaking itself to certain spots, such
as fire-hearths, and away from certain spots, such as mountain peaks
and seashores, is such as will lead to its hurt, therefore Divine
Providence has deemed fit to impart the seeing power unto most animals.
The next after the seeing power in usefulness is the Hearing Power.
The How and Why of its usefulness is that things harmful and things
useful may often be recognized as such, through it, by the peculiarity
of their sounds and voices; so Divine Providence has deemed fit to
impart the hearing power unto most animals. Moreover, the use made
of this power by the rational (speaking) species of the animal genus
almost surpasses the three [--is of all three nearly the highest]. This
then is an outline of the How and Why of the uses of the Five Outward
(External) Senses.

And whereas trustworthy arrival at a knowledge of the mutually
suitable and the mutually repellent will come about only through test
(experiment, experience), Divine Providence has deemed fit to impart
the peculiar participating property (or sense)--I mean the picturing
power--unto living beings (animals), in order that they shall through
it preserve the forms of things perceived by the senses; and to impart
the remembering preserving power, in order that they shall through it
preserve the meanings (significances) conceived out of things perceived
by the senses; and to impart the imaginative power in order that they
shall through it fit up (restore) what shall be wiped out from the
memory by a sort of motion; and to impart the conjecturing (surmising)
power in order that they shall through it fix upon the sound (true) and
the weak (false) of what the imagination extracts, namely to fix upon
the true and false thereof with more or less presumption of certainty,
until they [the living beings] shall review it in the mind.

As for the How and Why of need for the moving power, it is that whereas
the position of the animal is not the same as the position of the plant
in its adaptation for attracting such foods as are useful and pushing
off such as are harmful and incompatible, but on the contrary as this
is brought about for the animal through a sort of earning by self-help,
it needs a moving power for the purpose of drawing to itself the useful
and driving away the harmful. Wherefore all the powers of the animal
are either perceiving or motion-promoting. The motion-promoting is the
yearning (desiderative, longing, craving) power: it is either urging
on to the search after a chosen object of animal good, and then it is
the lusting power; or else it is urging on to the warding off of an
object of animal dislike, and then it is the hating power (angry power).

The perceiving power too is either outward (apparent), such as the five
senses; or else inward (internal, hidden), such as the picturing, the
imaginative, the conjecturing, and the remembering power.

Furthermore, the motion-promoting power does not cause to move save on
a peremptory bidding from the conjecturing, through the agency (means)
[or by the employment] of the imaginative. Also, the motion-promoting
power, in animals other than the speaking (or rational) species, is
the aim and end; and this is so, because the motion-causing power is
not imparted unto them in order that they shall through it direct
aright the workings of sensation and imagination so as to adapt these
workings to the attainment of their own good, but on the contrary the
power of sensation and of imagination are imparted to the non-speaking
irrational animals solely in order to direct aright through them the
workings of motion, and to adapt these workings to the good of the
animals. Whereas, the speaking rational species of living beings is on
the reverse wise; because unto it was imparted the motion-causing power
wholly and solely in order that through this power it shall be fitted
to set aright the speaking self, i.e., the rational intelligent soul,
not the other way about.

Thus then, the motion-promoting power in the irrational animal is, as
it were, the prince commander that is served; the five senses, the
spies that are sent forth; the perceptive power, the post-master of
the prince commander unto whom the spies return; the imagining power,
the foot-messenger going to and fro between the post[H][12] and the
post-master; the conjecturing power, the prince’s adjutant minister;
the remembering power, the closet of state papers.

As for the starry firmament and plants, the feeling power and the
imagining power have not been imparted unto them, even though each one
of them has a soul and though it has life: the firmament has not these
powers, because of its loftiness; plants have them not, because of
their abasement in comparison to it.


[H] or wazir, minister.

In treating of the animal powers, he treats first of the fives senses,
and then of the animal Powers. These latter he gives in this section
three times, and each time varies the order somewhat, thus:--

1st. Order of mention:

  a. participating, picturing
  b. remembering, preserving
  c. imaginative, restoring
  d. conjecturing, surmising
  e. moving

2nd. Order of mention:

  a. picturing, participating
  b. imaginative
  c. conjecturing, surmising
  d. remembering

3d Order of mention, in the final Allegorical Summing Up:

  a. motion-promoting
  b. feeling, sentient, 5 outward senses
  c. perceptive
  d. imagining
  e. conjecturing
  f. remembering.

[12] Moreover, the Text seems in Doctor Landauer’s opinion to need
an emendation, in this Allegory, which is furnished by the Latin
Translation preserved in Florence. According to the text, we get a
wholly superfluous intermediary notion, to wit the Post, which disturbs
the parallel and similitude of the allegory. Instead of _barîd_, we
should read _wazîr_ = Latin, inter vicarium principis. If this is done,
the whole passage becomes clearer, and hangs together better. Yet, for
all this, the _barîd_ was in those days a highly important branch of
the government service: witness, the office of _câheb-ul-barîd_.


  =Treating in Detail of the Five Senses, and of How they perceive.=

As to the seeing power, philosophers have differed on the question of
How they perceive. Thus one set among them asserts that they perceive
wholly and solely through a ray that shoots out beyond the eye, and so
encounters the sensible objects that are seen. This is Plato’s way.[13]
Others assert that the perceiving power itself encounters the sensible
objects that are seen, and so perceives them. Still others say that
visual perception consists in this:--When the intervening transparent
body becomes effectively transparent by light shining upon it, then an
impression of the outspread (flattened) individual of such sensible
objects as are seen is effected in the cristalline[14] lens of the eye,
just such a pictorial impression as is effected in looking-glasses
(mirrors); indeed the two effects are so similar that were mirrors
possessed of a seeing power they would perceive the form imprinted in
them. This is Aristotle’s way; and it is the sound reliable opinion.
That Plato’s view is false, is quite clear. For, were it true that a
ray goes out from the seat of sight and encounters sensible objects,
then sight would be in no need of light, but would on the contrary
perceive in the dark, and would rather illuminate the air on its exit
into the dark. Moreover such a ray will not fail of one of two modes:
either it will subsist throughout the eye only, in which case Plato’s
opinion that it goes forth from the eye is wrong; or else it will
subsist throughout a body other than the material of which the eye is
composed; for it must inevitably have a vehicle to carry it, seeing
that a ray is an accidental quality or mode, and furthermore seeing
that that body which is other than the eye will not fail, in its turn,
of being, either, _firstly_, sent out from the eye, in which case it
will follow as a matter of course that the eye will not see all that is
beneath the clear blue of the sky, since one body will not penetrate
throughout the whole of another body, unless forsooth it moves the
latter away and occupies its place; and even should the disputer plead
a vacuum, not only does Plato deny the existence of a vacuum utterly,
but also if we accomodatingly yield this point and admit the existence
of a vacuum, yet for all this the body that goes forth from the eye
will penetrate throughout the body of water, for example, into such
of its pores as are empty only, and not into the whole of the water’s
bulk; so that even according to this opinion it will necessarily
so be that the eye will see only some places of all that is under
water;--or else, _secondly_, that body which is other than the eye
will not fail of being an intervening body intermediate between the
seer and the seen, in which case the light[I] which comes forth from
the eye will subsist through it; nevertheless this opinion too is
unsound, for the reason that every thing whatsoever is, in proximity
to its source, so much the stronger, and in this respect light has not
its equal; whence it follows as regards the object seen that, however
closely and nearly it approaches to the eye, our perception will then
be stronger; and thus if we do away with the intermediary body, the
eye will still perceive the object felt by its sense of sight, and
thus the intermediary which is the vehicle and carrier of light is no
longer needed, save accidentally (by chance); and then too there is no
need, in order to see, for an exit of light: this too is a falsehood.
Wherefore Plato’s opinion is worthless.

As for such as hold that the perceiver of the thing seen is the
imaginative power itself through the imprinting of the form (image)
of the sensible object upon it, these render the absent on the same
footing as the present, since in the imaginative power there may exist
the image of a sensible object, notwithstanding the absence afterwards
of the object that had been so felt: at which time however the living
being so preserving that image will not be qualified with sight but
with imagination and memory. Furthermore these theorists (opiners)
make a greater blunder still, seeing that they render a thing of
Nature’s make and composition wholly idle, useless, and unneeded in
the operation of visual perception; inasmuch as in their opinion the
imaginative power itself meets immediately sensible objects, and thus
spares Nature the task of adapting an instrument (organ), to wit the
complex eye.

Wherefore the sound theory is that the configurations of things stand
out in the transparent ambient--if it be effectively transparent on the
shining of a luminant upon it--and hence they do not appear but in a
polished body capable of receiving them, such as mirrors and the like;
and so too there is in the eye a crystalline lens (or humor) into which
the forms (pictures) of things are imprinted, just as their impression
into mirrors; and in it, i.e., the lens or the eye, has been fitted
up the seeing power; so that, if such forms are imprinted in it, it
perceives them. Moreover, the objects of perception belonging in truth
and deed to sight are the Colors.

As for the Hearing Power: it hears only sound. And sound is a motion
of air that the ear feels on two hard smooth bodies coming quickly
close up one to the other, the escaping of the air from between them,
its striking the ear, and its moving the air that is kept ready within
the instrument (organ) of hearing. Thus, if this inside air move the
instrument, and if this instrument’s motion act upon the nerve of
hearing, the hearing power (sense, faculty) perceives it in the measure
of the strength or weakness of that motion. Indeed hardness is a
_conditio sine qua non_; for, in the case of two soft bodies, the air
will not escape from them, but will dissipate itself throughout their
pores. Smoothness too is just such a condition; because, in the case
of rough (unsmooth) bodies, not the whole of the air will escape from
between them suddenly and violently, but will be witheld (shut up) in
the passages. And rapidity of contact also is a like condition; for if
it come about gently and slowly, the air would not escape violently.

The echo too will arise from the rebound of the air escaping from
between the two encountering bodies by reason of its hitting (slapping)
against another hard, flat or hollow body filled with air, because of
the air that is within it hindering the penetration of the escaped air,
and the latter’s striking the ear [again] after the first stroke; on
the same wise as in the first instance.

As to the Smelling Power; it smells odors on the sniffing in of air
that has received its odor from an odoriferous body, as one body
receives its warmth from another warm body. Thus, if an animal snuffs
up air like this into its nose until such air touches the front of the
brain, and alters it to its own odor, the smelling power feels it.

As for Taste, it arises only on the coming to pass of the following
change: When the moisture of the tasting instrument (organ)--to wit the
tongue--becomes transformed into the juice of the newly-come food; and
when the mass of this instrument (organ) has received that juice, the
tasting power will perceive what has happened within the instrument.

As for Touch: it will only arise upon the organ’s (instrument’s)
receiving the quality of that which is touched, and upon the touching
power’s perceiving what has been thus presented (offered) within the

Furthermore, simple sensibles, that are at once primary and as such the
bases of all others, are in pairs, of which there are eight; and if we
make each into singles, they become sixteen, to wit:--

(a) Touch, four pairs:--1. heat and cold; 2. moisture and dryness; 3.
roughness and smoothness; 4. hardness and softness. The four remaining
senses, each having a pair, viz.,

(b) Smelling, one pair, which is fragrant odour, and fetid stinking

(c) Tasting, one pair, viz., sweet and bitter,

(d) Hearing, one pair, namely, heavy sound and sharp sound (or dull and

(e) Sight, one pair, to wit, white and black.

All other sensibles are made up from these simples, and are
intermediates between some two of them, as for example grey (dusty
color) from white and black, lukewarm from hot and cold. Moreover all
sensibles are felt wholly and solely through a sort of gathering and
sundering, shrinking and spreading; except sounds, which are felt only
through sundering. Thus:--

  1. [Warmth is felt through sundering]
  2. Cold is felt through gathering
  3. Moisture, through spreading
  4. Dryness, through shrinking
  5. Roughness, through sundering
  6. Smoothness, through spreading
  7. Hardness, through repelling, which is a sort of gathering and
  8. Softness, through being repelled, which is not devoid of spreading
       and sundering
  9. Sweetness, through spreading, devoid of sundering
  10. Bitterness, through sundering and shrinking
  11. Fragrant Odor, through spreading, devoid of sundering
  12. Stinking Odor, through sundering and shrinking
  13. Whiteness, through sundering
  14. Blackness, through gathering
  [15. and 16. Sounds: one pair, as above under “d.”]

As to the media (intermediaries) between the feeling powers and the
felt forms, they are themselves devoid of the forms of sensibles;
otherwise it would not be possible for them to be media, since their
own forms--if they had any--would then so engage the apposite power
as to divert it from perceiving any other forms. Such voidness or
freedom from forms is either voidness wholly and altogether, or else
relative voidness through equableness of the forms in the media, such
as the equable proportion of the qualities touched in meat, which is
a medium between the touching power and the quality touched, although
meat is incontestably made up of qualities that are touched, yet
notwithstanding this the equableness of the qualities has annihilated
the forms in it. Examples of the first division--absolute voidness
and freedom from form--are the freedom of air, of water, and of
what resembles them among the various media of sight, from color;
the freedom of air and of water, both which are the two mediums of
smelling, from odor; the freedom of water, which is the medium of
tasting, from flavor; and the steadiness of the air, which is the
medium of hearing, and its freedom from motion.

Further, each of these powers, to wit the five senses, if actually
functionating, perceives only through coming into relation with the
object felt, nay rather it only perceives at first so much as has
been traced in it of the form of the object felt. Thus, the eye only
perceives that form which has imprinted itself in it of the object
felt; so also the remainder of the powers (or senses). Again, in the
case of strong wearying sensibles, such as a loud noise, a strong
smell, a shining and a flashing light, if they are repeated upon the
organ (instrument), spoil and dullen it through their overworking it.
Again, each one of the five senses perceives, through the means of its
own rightful perception and besides the same, five other things, to
wit: 1. shape; 2. number; 3. size; 4. motion; 5. rest (quiet). That
sight, touch, and taste perceive them, is evident. As to hearing, it
perceives, in accordance (pursuance) with the variety of the number
of sounds, the number of the sound-emitting objects; and, through the
strength of the sounds, it perceives the size of the two objects that
are hitting against each other; and, in accordance with a kind of
change and fixedness of the sounds, it perceives motion and rest; and,
in accordance with their volume around the sound-emitter, be the latter
solid or hollow, it perceives some sorts of shapes. As to smelling, it
knows, in accordance with the change of directions whence the odors are
emitted and reach it, and through the variety of these odors in their
qualities, it knows I say the number of the things smelt; through the
measure of abundance of the smells, the size of such things; through
the measure of proximity and distance, changeableness and fixedness,
it recognizes their motion and their rest; and, in accordance with the
sides on which their odor reaches it from one and the same body, it
knows their shape. Still, these discriminations are very weak in this
power among mankind, owing to the weakness of the power itself in the
human race. [For all this, men have not the keen scent that many other
animals have, and therefore such discriminations are in men very weak.]


[13] Plato’s Dialogue entitled «Timaeos,» 45.

[14] The names of the different parts of the eye are:

  a. al-tabaqah al çalbah = sclerotica, hard-coat
  b.  »    »    al-mashîmiyyah = choroid, vascular skin
  c. al-ghashâ-al-shabaky = retina, net skin
  d. al-ratûbah al-zajâjiyyah = glassy moisture
  e. al-ratûbah al-jalîdiyyah = crystalline lens
  f.  »   »      » ´ankabûtiyyah = ciliary, fibrous, hairy web
  g. al-hadaqah = pupilla
  h. al-tabaqah al-´inabiyyah = berry, grape coat
  i. qarniyyah = cornea
  k. al-multahimah = conjunctiva.

[I] perhaps we ought to read «_the ray_».


  =Dealing in Detail with the inward Senses, (and the Motion-Promoting

I. Not one of the outward senses unites within itself perception of
color, odor, and softness; and yet, we often come upon a body that is
yellow, and perceive at once so much about it, namely that it is honey,
sweet, nice of smell, and fluid, although we have neither tasted, nor
smelt, nor even touched it; whence it is manifest that we possess a
power wherein are assembled the perceptions of the four senses, and
have thus become summed up in it into one single form; and were it not
for this power we should not know that sweetness, for instance, is
other than blackness, since the discriminator between two things is he
who has known them both. This is the power which is designated as the
common-sense, and the picturing (or representing) power. And were it
one of the outward apparent senses, its sway (dominion) would limit
itself to the state of wakefulness only; whereas ocular observation
attests what is quite otherwise; for this power does at times perform
its action in both the states of sleep and wakefulness.

II. Furthermore, there is in animals a power which sets up such forms
as have assembled in the common-sense, discriminates between them, and
differentiates them, without the forms themselves disappearing from the
common-sense. And this power is undoubtedly other than the aforesaid
picturing power; since in the latter there are none but true (real)
forms that have been acquired (obtained) from sense; whereas in this
power the case may be otherwise, and it may imagine and picture wrongly
and falsely, and what it had not received after such a [wrong and
false] pattern (shape) from any one of the senses. This power is the
one named imagination.

Further, there is in animals a power that passes judgment, upon such or
such a thing that it is so or not so, decisively, and through which the
animal flees away from shunned evil and seeks chosen good. It is also
evident that this power is other than the imaginative, since this last
imagines (pictures to itself) the sun, in accordance with what it has
got from the apposite sense, to be of the size of its disc; whereas the
matter stands in this power quite otherwise. So too the lion finds his
prey from far off of the size of a small bird, yet its form and size in
no way perplex him, but he makes for it. It is also evident that this
power is other than the imaginative, and this because the imaginative
power performs its manifold deeds without belief and conviction on its
part that matters are in accordance with its imagining. This power is
what is named the conjecturing or the surmising faculty (or judgment).

III. Further, there is in living beings a power that preserves
the purports (or thoughts and conceptions) of what the senses had
perceived, such as, for instance, that the wolf is an enemy; the child,
a darling next of kin. Wherefore, so much at least if not more is
evident, that this power is other than the common-sense (or picturing),
inasmuch as in the latter there are no forms but such as it has gained
from the senses; whereas, again, the senses did not feel the wolf’s
enmity, nor the child’s love, but alone the wolf’s image, and the
child’s bodily shape; and as to love and fierceness, it is the mind’s
eye alone that has got them, and then stored them up in this power. It
is also clear that this power is other than the imaginative power, for
the reason that this last does at times imagine what is other than that
which the mind’s eye has deemed right, found true, and has derived from
the senses; whereas the former power, i.e., the one here dealt with,
imagines none other than what the mind’s eye has deemed right, has
found true, and has derived from the senses.

This power is also other than the conjecturing (surmising) power, for
the reason that this last does not preserve what some other has deemed
to be true, but it of its own self deems to be true, whilst the power
here treated of does not itself pass judgment of truth or falsehood,
but only preserves what another has deemed to be true. This power is
called memory, the preserving or keeping faculty.

Again, the imaginative power is called by this name--imagination--if
the conjecturing (or surmising) power alone use it: and if the speaking
(rational) power use it, it is called the thinking (cogitative) power.

The heart is the source (spring) of all these powers (faculties), in
Aristotle’s opinion; yet the sway over them is in different organs
(instruments). Thus the sway over the outward (apparent) senses is in
their known organs; whereas the sway over the picturing (representing
common-sense) power is in the anterior hollow (ventricle) of the brain;
the sway over the imaginative, in the middle hollow thereof; the sway
over the remembering, in the posterior hollow thereof; and the sway
over the conjecturing, throughout all the brain, but above all in the
compartment of the imaginative within the brain [or, throughout the
whole of the brain, but more especially alongside of the imaginative
thereof]. And in so far as these hollows (ventricles) suffer harm and
hurt, so will the manifold workings of these powers suffer also;
for were they, (the powers,) standing independently, that is to say
subsisting in themselves, and efficient independently, that is to
say putting forth their workings of themselves, they would not need,
for their proper and peculiar actions, any sort of instrument or
organ: in this wise one recognizes that these powers do not subsist
in themselves, but that the undying power is the Speaking (Reasoning)
Soul, as we shall hereafter set forth; yet for all this, the soul does
maybe at times seek out for itself after a fashion (so to speak) the
purest quintessences of the kernels of these powers, and cause them
to exist of themselves, the setting forth of which shall, D.v., soon

       *       *       *       *       *

The following is the terminology of the five inward senses:

    1. Common-Sense = hiss mushtarak, mutaçawwirah.

    2. Vis formans, imaginatio = khayâl, muçawwirah, fantasia,
      takhayyul, mutakhayyilah.

    3. Vis cogitativa, vis imaginativa = mufakkirah, mutakhayyilah,
      mutawahhimah, zânnah, mutaçarrifah, mutafakkirah, takhayyul.

    4. Memory, remembering, preserving = hâfizah, mutazhakkirah,
      zhâkirah, zhikr.

    5. Vis existimativa, opinativa = wahm, mutawahhimah, zhânnah,
      takhayyul, wahmiyyah.

Here follows an attempt to clear up this bewildering subject:

1. Perception, through any one or more of the five outward senses, of
the outward concrete form.

2. Conception of particular notions, over and beyond the concrete form

3. Memory, which retains both outward forms perceived as well as
recalls inward particular forms conceived.

4. Common-Sense, rises a step higher than the three preceding, in that
it unites two or more of the products of any of the three preceding and
derives from them a new conception.

5. Opining, which rises higher still and passes judgment, or comes to a
definite opinion as to the truth or falsehood of conceptions formed.

In respect of memory, Ibn Sînâ in his «Kanon» of Medicine, makes a
distinction. He says: «And just here is a point for scrutiny and
judgment as to whether the preserving power and the power recalling (to
consciousness) such notions as had been stored up by the opining power
but have passed away from it, are one power or two.»

Here follows still another attempt:

1. Perception, of the Five Senses, through organs.

2. Sway of the Common-Sense, in the anterior hollow.

3. Sway of the Imaginative Power, in the middle hollow.

4. Sway of the Remembering Power, in the posterior hollow.

5. Sway of the Conjecturing Power, throughout all the brain, and
alongside of the imaginative compartment.

Number 1. has been dealt with in Section Six; number 5 belongs
exclusively to Man, and will be further dealt with in the next Section;
the remaining three, to wit numbers 2, 3, and 4, are in all live
animals, and are dealt with in this Seventh Section. The theory is
beautifully clear and simple: thus, number 2 grasps and appropriates
the outward form brought to it by the senses; number 3 grasps and
appropriates particular conceptions; and number 4 stores them up;
thus also, the one dwelling in the front hollow is not influenced by
the action of the one occupying the middle or the hindermost hollow,
whereas conversely each succeeding faculty has recourse to the one
preceding it in order of place. This theory arose after an acquaintance
with the division and arrangement of the brain into chambers had made
considerable progress with the Arabs.

Those who read German should not fail to study Dr. Samuel Landauer’s
erudite notes in vol. 29 for the year 1875 of the Z.d.D.M.G.


  =A Sketch of the Human Soul from the Starting-Point whence it sets
    out until the End-Point whither it reaches its Perfection.=

No doubt that the speaking (rational) species of the [genus] animal is
distinguished from the non-speaking (irrational species) by a power,
through which it is enabled to imagine things rational, which power
is called the speaking (rational) soul; and the custom has obtained
of calling it the “hylik” mind, that is to say the potential mind,
thus likening it to the hyle, which is potential matter.[J] Moreover
this power is found in the whole human species; and it possesses in
itself at the outset none of the mentally-grasped forms, but these
arise within it after two sorts of processes: The first is through a
Divine guidance, without effort of study, and without profitting from
the senses, as for example the mentally-grasped self-evident axioms,
like our conviction that the whole is greater than the part, and that
two contradictories (contrasts) do not come together at one time in
one and the same thing; so that sane-minded adults share equally in
the acquisition of such forms. The second sort of process is through
earning [the mental thought or truth] by reasoning process, and by
array of proof and demonstration, such as the conception of logical
truths, like genera, species, differentia, and properties, simple
terms, and terms compounded in the various modes of compositions [of
several ideas into one composite term], justly-moded syllogisms both
valid and false, propositions which if moded into syllogisms lead to
necessary demonstrated results, or to argumentative probable results,
or to equally balanced rhetorical results, or to primary (axiomatical)
sophistical results, or to impossible poetical results;[15] and
such mentally-grasped forms as the recognition of the certainty of
natural realities, like hyle (primitive matter) and form, privation
(non-existence) and Nature, place and time, rest and motion, bulky
bodies of the sky-firmament and bulky elemental bodies, absolute
universal being and absolute nothingness, generation absolute and
corruption absolute, origen of things generated that are within the
sky, that are within the deepest depths of mines, and that are on the
earth’s crust, amongst which last-named are plant and animal, the true
conception “Man” and the truth of the soul’s conception of its own
self; and still further such mentally-grasped forms as the conception
of ideas mathematical, amongst which are number, pure geometry, stellar
geometry, harmonical or musical geometry, optical geometry; and
again, further still, such ideas as the conception of divine affairs,
like the knowledge of the principles of the absolute self-existent
in so far as he exists _per se_, and of the principles consequently
adhering to him, such as potentiality, power and efficiency, first
cause and accounting cause, essence and accidens, genus and species,
incompatibility and homogeneity, agreement and disagreement, unity and
multiplicity; and, still further, the fixing of the principles of the
speculative (theoretical) sciences, amongst which are the mathematical,
the natural and the logical--all which cannot be attained save through
this latter science;[16] and still further, such as proving the first
Creator and the first Created, the universal (generic) soul and _how_
creation came about, the relative position of mind towards creation,
and the relative position of soul towards mind, the relative position
of hyle towards nature, and of forms towards the soul, the relative
position of the skies, orbs, planets and all existing things towards
hyle and towards form, and why and wherefore they differ so widely as
they do as to forwards and backwards ([Greek: proteron kai hysteron:
προτερον και ὑστερον]) of development; and the knowledge of the divine
government, universal nature, primal providence, prophetic inspiration,
the divine holy spirit, sublime angels, attaining to the certainty
of the Creator’s being beyond all partnership and similitude [i.e.
recognizing the truth that polytheism and anthropomorphism, are to be
rejected]; and attaining to the knowledge of what rewards await the
righteous, and what punishments impend the wicked, of the delight and
the pain overtaking souls after their abandoning the bodies.

Further, this power which conceives these ideas does at times gain
from sense forms mental, imaginative, and innate in (instinctive to)
itself; and in such a case it does this in that it lays before itself
the forms that are in the conceiving power and in the remembering
(preserving) power, by employing the imaginative and the conjecturing
power, and then contemplates them, and finds them to have participated
in some forms and to have differed in some other forms; and finds some
amongst the forms that are in these powers to be essential, and others
to be accidental. And as to their participation in forms, it is like
the participation of the form Richard and an ass, in the conceiver’s
mind, in the idea of Life; and the differing of the two in the idea of
speaking (rational), and non-speaking (brute). As to the essential
form, it is e.g. like the life that is in them both; as for the
accidental, it is e.g. like their blackness and whiteness. So that
if we find the two aforesaid on this wise--i.e., as stated,--[the
mind] makes each one of these essential and accidental, participated
and peculiar forms, one universal mental form singly and alone, and
thus through this working-over process, it gets at mental genera,
species, differentia, properties, accidens; then it combines these
single notions into particular combinations; then into syllogistic
argumentative combinations and deduces from them corollaries from the
results--all which it gets through the service of the animal powers,
with the help of universal mind, after the manner that we shall
set forth later on, and through the intermediary of such necessary
self-evident mental axioms as it has been endowed with.

Moreover this power, although it derives help from the sensuous power
when getting out single mental forms from the sensuous forms, yet it
does not need the sensuous power for conceiving these ideas (notions)
within itself and for setting up syllogisms out of them, neither
when affirming, nor when conceiving the two dicta [of abstraction &
generalization], as we shall afterwards explain. And to whatever extent
it derives sensuous corollaries, for which there shall be need, through
the said working-over process, yet it dispenses with the employment
of the sensuous powers, nay it is even sufficient for and in itself,
for the carrying on of all its manifold activities. And just as the
sensuous powers perceive solely and wholly through an assimilation
of that which is felt, so also do the mental powers perceive solely
through and wholly through an assimilation of the mentally-grasped;
and this assimilation is the abstraction of the form from matter,
and the adhering to it; only that the feeling power does not get the
sensuous form through willed motion and voluntary action on its part,
but through the arrival of the very thing felt unto it, either by
chance or through the intermediary of the motion-promoting power, and
laying bare of the forms unto it (abstraction) through the help of
the media that connect the forms with it; whereas, in the case of the
mental power, (Reason Understanding) this process is otherwise; for
by and through itself it at times does itself perform the abstraction
(laying bare) of the form from matter as often as it wills, and then
clings unto it. And for this reason it is said that the sentient power
is more or less passive in its conception [or, that the feeling power
is after a fashion acted upon when it conceives], and that the mental
(understanding) power is active; nay rather it is said, for this
reason, that the sentient power cannot do without instruments (organs),
and has in itself no efficiency; and how is it possible to apply such
a statement (proposition) to the mental (understanding) power?

The mind (Understanding, Reason) is in fact and deed wholly and
solely nothing else than the forms of mentally-grasped things, if
these be arrayed in the very mind potentially, and through it they
are brought out to effective action; and hence it is said that the
mind is in fact and deed at once both understanding and understood.
Amongst the properties of the understanding power is this, that it
unifies the many and multiplies the one through analysis and synthesis.
As to multiplication, it is such as the analysis of one man into
essence, body, nourishment-getting, animal, speaking (rational). As to
unification of the many, it is such as the composition (synthesis) of
this one man out of essence, body, animal, speaking (rational) into one
notion which is mankind (human being).

Moreover the mind, although it applies its activity within a duration
of time in arranging syllogisms, through using reflection, yet the
result itself, which this reflection obtains, and which is the fruit of
thought and the end sought after, is not dependant upon time, nor is
it obtained save at an instant; nay more than this, the mind itself is
wholly above and beyond all time.

And the reasoning (speaking) soul, if it engages itself upon the
sciences, its activity is called mind or intellect, and it is
accordingly called speculative or theoretical mind: which I have
already described. And if it engages itself upon overcoming blameworthy
powers, that entice unto wrongdoing through their excess, unto folly
through their abandonment, unto impetuosity through their agitation,
unto cowardice through their indifference or lukewarmness, or unto
wickedness through their excitement, or unto degeneration through
their smouldering, and leads them over into the paths of wisdom,
endurance, chastity--in short unto righteousness, then its activity
is called ruling or governing, and it is accordingly called practical
mind or reason. Again, the reasoning (speaking) power is sometimes
so fitted out in a few persons through [K]vigils and conjunction with
the universal mind as to be quite independent of taking refuge unto
syllogistic argument and reflection, but rather is sufficiently stored
with inspiration and revelation to render it wholly absolved from
such ordinary means as mental ratiocination: this peculiar property
of the reasoning mind is called hallowedness or sanctity, and it is
accordingly called Holy Ghost. Unto such a favoured rank and degree
none shall attain save prophets and apostles, upon whom be peace and


[J] Ibn Sînâ in his «_Kitâb-ul-Najât_» says: «Indeed it has been called
«hylik» by way of likening it to primitive hylik matter, which in
itself has no form at all and yet is the substratum of each and every

[15] This passage as to syllogisms and conclusions may be made clearer
by rendering it thus:--«which, if arranged syllogistically, allow of
getting to conclusions that are (a) necessarily true and valid, viz.
apodictic; (b) most always true, viz. dialectic; (c) both true and
false, viz. rhetorical; (d) preponderantly false, viz. sophistical; and
(e) merely false, viz. poetical.»

[16] In his «_Najât_» Ibn Sînâ says of this science:

«Logic is the theoretical speculative science that teaches out of which
forms and materials there will come about satisfying argumentation,
of which argumentation that which is strong, and imposes an assertion
resembling certainty, is called dialectic; and that which is weak
thereof, and imposes a prevailing opinion, is called rhetorical.»

His compendious Essay on Logic remains to this day one of the clearest
and best that beginners can find in the Arabic language on this
abstract science of the Laws of Thought.

[K] fasting, prayer, night-watchings.


  =in which the Proofs of the Essentiality of the Soul, and of Its
    Independence of Body in its Structure, are set forth in pursuance
    of the Method of Logicians.=

SUB-SECTION A:--One of the logical proofs for establishing this Claim:

Let us however first preface it with premisses, among which are:--

_First Premiss_: that man conceives universal (generic) notions wherein
a greater or less multitude participates, such as man at large, and
animal at large. And of these generic notions there are such as
he conceives through a particular [or partial, or an obligatory]
synthesis, and there are such others of these generic notions as he
does not conceive by any synthesis, but singly and individually. And
unless he shall have conceived the latter division (class, sett), it
is not possible for him to conceive the former. Further, he conceives
each one of these generic universal notions only under _one_ form,
wholly stripped (abstracted) from all relationship to its concrete
sensuous particulars, since the particulars of each one of the generic
notions are potentially endless [in variety and number] and no one of
the particulars has any right of priority over another particular in
respect of that _one_ form of the generic notion.

_Second Premiss_: that a form, whatsoever body it detaches, reduces,
and adorns, and in general whatsoever individual of divisible things
it so takes hold of, it clothes the same and exactly fits the same
in every one of its parts. And whatsoever clothes and exactly fits a
divisible thing in all its parts is itself divisible; and hence every
form that has clothed and exactly fitted any body whatsoever is itself

_Third Premiss_: that in every generic (universal) form, if regard be
had, in the division of such form, purely and simply to its abstract
self, then it will not at all validly follow that the parts into
which it has been divided shall necessarily resemble the whole in its
complete notion; otherwise it must follow that the generic form, whose
division has been made in respect of its abstract self, has not been
itself divided, but that it has been divided into its constituents,
whether these be its various species or its numerous individuals,
whereas multiplicity of species or of individuals does not necessarily
entail division in the abstract generic notion itself. But it has been
laid down as a fact that such division has actually taken place, which
is a contradiction. Hence our assertion that the parts of the generic
form do not resemble it in its full and complete notion is a true

_Fourth Premiss_: that in the mental form, if regard be had to its
division, it will not validly follow that its parts are denuded
(stripped) of the totality of its notion. This is so because, if we
admit such total denudation, and assert that these parts are utterly
aloof from the complete conception of the generic whole, then the form
will arise, in such parts, only upon their assembling together, so
that they are in fact things devoid of that form which will arise in
them on their being set together, which is a quality of the parts of
materia capax or passive matter which occupies space ([Greek: dektikon:
δεκτικον]); [Note: The recipient is the acted upon, and it is called
matter, and also place.]; and hence the division has not been effected
in the generic form, but in its objective concrete materials. But it
has been asserted that the division has come to pass in it: this too is
a contradiction. Therefore our assertion: “It will not validly follow
that its parts are stripped of the totality of its notion” is a true

_Fifth Premiss_: which is the result of the two preceding: that in
the generic form, if it be possible that divisibility be considered
in it, then its parts are neither wholly devoid of the perfect form
nor are completely exhaustive of it, and are as it were [component,
constituent] parts of its definition and outline (or description).

Given then these premisses, we shall further unquestionably say that
a mentally-grasped form--in short all knowledge--claims some abode
somewhere, which abode is both an essence itself and a part of man’s
self, so that such essence will not be devoid of being either a
divisible (material) body or a non-corporeal indivisible essence. I
however say, that it is not licit that it be a corporeal body; because
a generic mentally-grasped form, if it abide in a body, then it is
inevitably possible for divisibility to befall it, as we have shown
above. Nor is it licit that its parts be otherwise than resembling
the whole from one standpoint, and contrasting with it from another
standpoint, in a word each one of the parts contains somewhat of the
notion of the whole; whereas there is no generic form whatsoever but of
whose parts a compound can be formed that is partly like it and partly
unlike it save genera and differentia; consequently these parts are
genera and differentia, and hence each one of them is in its turn a
generic form; and thus the same assertion repeats itself as above.

Inevitably this will end in a form that is no longer divisible into
genera and differentia, owing to the impracticability of progression
ad infinitum into parts differing in notions, even if it be established
that corporeal bodies are so divided into parts ad infinitum.

Moreover it is well-known that the generic (universal) form, concerning
which it is held that it is divisible only into genera and differentia,
if there be nevertheless some of these two that is not divisible into
genera and differentia, then _this some_ will be in itself utterly
indivisible in every sense and respect; and consequently what is
compounded, of these two of that _some_, will also be indivisible,
seeing that it is well-known, for example, that _man_ cannot be
conceived except along with the two conceptions _living_ and _rational_
(_speaking_). In short, it is not possible to conceive a generic
universal form that has genus and differens save by conceiving them
all together. Therefore, the form which we have described as having
taken up its abode in the body has not taken up its abode therein,
which is a contradiction, and therefore the diametrically contrary to
it is true, namely our assertion that a generic (universal) mental form
does not abide in any corporeal body whatsoever; and consequently the
essence in which a generic mental form abides is a spiritual essence,
not qualified with the qualities of bodies, which is what we call the
Rational Speaking Soul. And this is what we set out to show.

SUB-SECTION B:--A second of the proofs, which corroborate this claim
and confirm (correct) it, is what I am now going to set forth. I say
then that body of and through itself does not effect conception of
mentally-grasped things, since all bodies have in common that they
are body, and differ amongst each other in capacity for conceiving
mentally-grasped things. Wherefore living (animal) bodies are qualified
to conceive mentally-grasped things only by and through certain powers
that are put within them. And if these powers conceive by and through
themselves, without the cooperation of the body, it follows that they
are in themselves fit and apt to be an abode for mental forms. And what
is thus qualified is itself an essence; consequently if such conception
is occurring, they, namely these powers, are essences. Now, it is clear
that this power conceives mentally-grasped things by and through itself
only, and not at all through cooperation of body; for, we contend,
concerning whatsoever perceives any thing through cooperation of body,
that the oftener wearying perceptibles are repeated upon it the more do
they tend towards ruining and spoiling it and producing dullness and
exhaustion in it, it being nothing but a frail instrument and organ
whose strength has been reduced, owing to the over-tasking imposed
upon it on the power’s employing it; and for this cause the seeing
power, for example, gets weaker the oftener it persists in looking
at the sun’s shape. So too the hearing power, if loud sounds reach it

Whereas this power, to wit the one that conceives mentally-grasped
things, the more it perceives wearying mental conceptions the stronger
it becomes for its work [the more efficient it becomes], wherefore it
has no need for an instrument in its operation of perceiving, and hence
it perceives of itself. Now, we have already shown that every power
perceiving of its own self is an essence; so then this power is an
essence, which is what we set out to show.

SUB-SECTION C:--Among the proofs that guide to this claim is what I
shall now show, so I say as follows.

The indwelling (immanence) of form in body is at once both passive
and receptive--passivity of the form and receptivity of the body.
And whereas one and the same thing excludes the possibility of its
being both doer and done, it becomes clear unto us that a body is
not able of itself to dress itself in one mentally-grasped form and
strip off another. Yet nevertheless we see a man consciously and with
forethought conceiving and proceeding from one mentally-grasped form
unto another, which operation is not devoid of being either an act
peculiar to body, or else an act peculiar to the rational speaking
power, or finally an act commonly shared between them both. It has
been already shown [perhaps he here refers to the Second Section
of this Essay] that it is not licit to attribute action and doing
peculiarly and specially to body; nay I will say and not even to body
conjointly with the rational power; since body is a co-adjutor of that
power, helping towards affording an abode for any form whatsoever
in that body’s own self, seeing that it has become known to us that
body along with the power will both become fit subjects for this form
that has thus arisen; a subject however is to be stigmatized with
nothing beyond simple passivity alone, whereas both these two are
[aggressive] acts and deeds. Consequently this is an act peculiar to
the power. And everything that, in its act which emanates from its
own self, has had no need for another thing to help it, will not need
in its own structure anything beyond its own self to help it, seeing
that independence or isolation in the structure of self precedes
independence or isolation in the putting forth of self-emanating
action. Therefore this power is an essence standing of itself
[independent of body]; and consequently the rational soul is an essence.

SUB-SECTION D:--Among the proofs that guide (point) to the validity of
this contention is what I am now going to say.

No doubt a live body and live organs or instruments, if they accomplish
their growing age and the age of standstill, begin to wither and
diminish, to lose power and waste away, which [in human beings] is on
passing forty years. Now, were the rational reasoning power a corporeal
organic power, then there would be found not one single individual of
mankind at these years of his age but what this power of his would have
begun to diminish. But the case in most people is quite otherwise, nay
indeed it is usual amongst the majority that as to intellectual power
they improve in cleverness and increase in insight. Hence the structure
of the rational power is not upheld by the body nor by the organ; and
hence this power is an essence standing of itself, which is what we
wished to show.

SUB-SECTION E:--Among the proofs for the validity of this contention is
the following also.

So much at least is clear, namely that not one of the bodily powers
has the strength for performing infinite multifarious actions; and
this is so because the strength of the one half of such a body will
inevitably be found to be weaker than the strength of the whole; and
the weaker is less powerful to perform and overcome than the stronger;
and whatsoever, other than the infinite, gets less is itself finite;
hence the strength of each one of the two halves is finite; hence
too their sum is finite, since that the sum of two finites is itself
finite, whereas it has been contended that it is infinite, which is a
contradiction. Hence the sound view is that the powers of bodies are
not powerful enough to perform infinite manifold deeds. The rational
power however is powerful enough to perform many infinite deeds, seeing
that forms geometrical, arithmetical, and philosophical, which the
rational power has to perform among other of its acts, are infinite.
Therefore the rational power is not standing by and through the body,
and hence therefore it stands of itself and is an essence of itself.

Further, so much at least is clear that the corruption of one of two
conjoined essences does not entail and enjoin the corruption of the
other: wherefore the death of the body does not render obligatory the
death of the soul, which is what we wanted to show.


  =To Establish that there is a Mental Essence, Distinct from Bodies,
    which stands towards Human Souls in the stead of Light toward
    Sight, and in the stead of a Source or Fountain; and To Establish
    that Souls, if they leave the Bodies, unite therewith.=

As to the mental essence, we find it in infants devoid of every
mental form. Then, later on in life, we find in it self-evident
axiomatic mentally-grasped notions, without effort of learning and
without reflection. So that the arising of them within it will not
fail of being either through sense and experience, or else through
divine outpouring reaching to it. But it is not licit to hold that
the arising of such primary mental form will be through experience,
seeing that experience does not afford and supply a necessary and
inevitable judgment, since experience does not go so far as to believe
or disbelieve definitively the existence of something different to
the judgment drawn from what it has perceived. Indeed experience,
although it shows us that every animal we perceive moves on chewing
the lower jaw, yet it does not supply us with a convincing judgment
that such is the case with every animal; for were this true, it would
not be licit for the crocodile to exist which moves his upper jaw on
chewing. Therefore not every judgment we have arrived at, as to things,
through our sensuous perception, is applicable to and holds good of
all that we have perceived or have not perceived of such things, but
it may so be that what we have not perceived differ from what we have
perceived. Whereas our conception that a whole is greater than a part
is not [formed] because we have sensuously felt every part and every
whole that are so related, seeing that even such an experience will
not guaranty to us that there will be no whole and no part differently

Likewise the dictum concerning the impossibility of two opposites
(contrasts) coming together in one and the same thing, and that things
which are equal to one and the same thing are equal to one another. And
likewise the dictum concerning our holding proofs to be true if they
be valid, for the belief in and conviction of their validity does not
become valid by and through learning and effort of study; else this
would draw out ad infinitum [inasmuch as each proof rests upon given
presuppositions, whose validity would in its turn have to be proved].
Nor is this gained from sense, for the reason that we have mentioned.
Consequently both the latter as well as the former [certainty] are
gained from a godly outflow reaching unto the rational soul, and
the rational soul reaching unto it; so that this mental form arises
therein. Also, as to this outflow, unless it have in its own self such
a generic (universal) mental form, it would not be able to engrave
it within the rational soul. Hence such form is in the outflow’s own
self. And whatsoever Self has in it a mental form is an essence, other
than a body, and not within a body, and standing of itself. Therefore
this outflow unto which the soul reaches is a mental essence, not a
body, not in a body, standing of itself, and one which stands towards
the rational soul in the stead of light to sight; yet however with
this difference, namely that light supplies unto sight the power of
perceiving only, and not the perceived form, whereas this essence
supplies, exclusively by and through its sole and single self, unto the
rational power, the power of perceiving, and brings about therein the
perceived forms also, as we have set forth above.

Now, if the rational soul’s conceiving rational forms be a source of
completion and perfection for it, and be effected and brought about
on reaching unto this essence, and if worldly earthly labors, such
as its thought, its sorrows and joy, its longings, hamper the power
and withold it from reaching thereunto, so that it will not reach
thereunto save only through abandoning these powers and getting rid of
them, there being nothing to stop it from continued Reaching save the
living body,--then consequently if it quit the body it will not cease
to be reaching unto its Perfector and attached to Him.

Again, what reaches unto its Perfector and attaches itself to Him is
safe against corruption, all the more so if even during disconnection
from Him it has not undergone corruption. Wherefore the soul after
death shall ever remain and continue unwavering [and undying] and
attached to this noble essence, which is called generic universal mind,
and in the language of the lawgivers the Divine Knowledge.

As to the other powers, such as the animal and the vegetable: Whereas
every one of them performs its proper peculiar action only by and
through the live body, and in no other way, consequently they will
never quit live bodies, but will die with their death, seeing that
every thing which is, and yet has no action, is idle and useless.
Yet nevertheless the rational soul does gain, by its connection with
them, from them their choicest and purest lye and wash, and leaves for
death the husks. And were it not so, the rational soul would not use
them in consciousness. Wherefore the rational soul shall surely depart
(migrate, travel) taking along the kernels of the other powers after
death ensues.

We have thus made a clear statement concerning souls, and got at which
souls are [ever]lasting, and which of them will not be fitted out and
armed with [ever]lastingness. It still remains for us, in connection
with this research, to show how a soul exists within live bodies, and
the aim and end for which it is found within the same, and what measure
will be bestowed upon it, in the hereafter, of eternal delight and
perpetual punishment, and of [temporary] punishment that ceases after
a duration of time that shall ensue upon the decease of the live body;
and to treat of the notion that is designated by the lawgivers as
intercession (mediation), and of the quality (attribute) of the four
angels and the throne-bearers. Were it not however that the custom
prevails to isolate such research from the research whose path we have
been treading, out of high esteem and reverence for it, and to make
the latter research precede in order of treatment the former, to the
end of levelling the road and paving it solidly, I should (would) have
followed up these [ten] sections with a full and complete treatment
of the subject dealt with in them. Notwithstanding all this, were
it not for fear of wearying by prolixity, I would have disregarded
the demands of custom herein. Thus then whatever it may please the
Prince--God prolong his highness--to command as to treating singly of
such notions, I shall put forth, in humble compliance and obedience,
my utmost effort, God Almighty willing; and may wisdom never cease to
revive through him after fainting, to flourish after withering, so that
its sway may be renewed through his sway, and through his days its days
may come back again, and that through his prestige the prestige of its
devotees be exalted, and the seekers after its favor abound, so God
almighty will.



Archaic, obsolete, and unusual spellings and words have been
maintained. Obvious misspellings have been fixed, as detailed below.
Transliterations in the original book have not been edited.

Changes to the text from the original book follow:

  Page 7
  In this book:  and writings, and his systems of medicine
  Originally:    and writings, and his systems of medecine

  Page 13
  In this book:  may the Most High GOD have mercy upon him,
  Originally:    may the Most High GOD have mercy upom him,

  Page 16
  In this book:  science of medicine.
  Originally:    science of medecine.

  Page 32
  In this book:  simple constituents taken singly.
  Originally:    simple consituents taken singly.

  Page 32
  In this book:  (alloy, amalgam)--it is clear I say in such
  Originally:    (aloy, amalgam)--it is clear I say in such

  Page 52
  In this book:  into such of its pores as are empty only, and
  Originally:    into such of its its pores as are empty only, and

  Page 72
  In this book:  to the certainty of the Creator’s being
  Originally:    to the certainty ef the Creator’s being

  Page 76
  In this book:  through their abandonment, unto impetuosity
  Originally:    through their abandonnment, unto impetuosity

  Page 86
  In this book:  guide (point) to the validity of this contention is
  Originally:    guide (point) to the validity of this contension is

  Page 87
  In this book:  validity of this contention is the following also.
  Originally:    validity of this contension is the following also.

  Page 90
  In this book:  such an experience will not guaranty to us that
  Originally:    such an experience will not garanty to us that

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