Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-xbgml Total loading time: 0.413 Render date: 2022-08-16T10:31:05.870Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2011

Miquel Forcada
Universidad de Barcelona, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 585, Barcelona 08007, Spain Email:


This article lists the medical works written by Ibn Bājja, overviews those that have come down to us and studies the super-commentary of Galen's commentary to Hippocrates' Aphorisms (Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl). This text shows a deep influence of al-Fārābī, namely in a conception of medical experience which stems from the latter's construal of experience (tajriba) as the inductive process described by Aristotle in Posterior Analytics which brings the premises of demonstration. On this basis, Ibn Bājja advocated for a less scholastic, more empiric medicine, and his claim was echoed by Ibn Rushd. There are some similarities between Ibn Bājja's text and Ibn Rushd's K. al-Kulliyyāt fī al-ṭibb which suggest that the latter had read Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl. This work gives moreover some evidence that human dissection could have been performed during Ibn Bājja's time.


Le présent article propose la liste des œuvres médicales composées par Ibn Bājja, donne une présentation synthétique de celles qui nous ont été transmises et étudie le métacommentaire au commentaire de Galien sur les Aphorismes d'Hippocrate (Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl). Ce texte montre une influence profonde d'al- Fārābī, en particulier dans sa conception de l'expérience médicale, qui remonte à la façon dont ce dernier construit l'expérience (tajriba) comme le procédé inductif, décrit par Aristote dans les Seconds Analytiques, produisant les prémisses de la démonstration. Sur cette base, Ibn Bājja défend la pertinence d'une médecine moins scolastique et plus empirique, une position dont Ibn Rushd se fera l'écho. Des similitudes entre le texte d'Ibn Bājja et le K. al-Kulliyyāt fī al-ṭibb d'Ibn Rushd suggèrent que celui-ci avait lu le Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl. Cette œuvre, en outre, pourrait bien attester que la dissection humaine était pratiquée à l'époque d'Ibn Bājja.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 The present paper is a part of a wider project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, “La evolución de la ciencia en la sociedad de al-Andalus desde la Alta Edad Media al pre-Renacimiento y su repercusión en las culturas europeas y árabes (siglos X-XV)”, ref. FFI 2008-00234 FILO. As far as Ibn Bājja is concerned, this project includes the edition, translation and study of his medical works, other texts on science, and the study of several aspects of his scientific thought. Within the framework of this project, I have also written a general survey of the physician-philosopher in al-Andalus entitled Ética e ideología de la ciencia: el médico-filósofo en al-Andalus (ss. X-XII) to be published by Fundación Ibn Ṭufayl (Almería, Spain). In this book I will edit Ibn Bājja's Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl and also provide a Spanish translation. Whereas the book studies the relationship between medicine and philosophy in al-Andalus in connection with the Levantine authors, and focussing specifically on Ibn Bājja and Ibn Rushd, the present paper aims to give a thorough analysis of Ibn Bājja's Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl which will then be summarized in the book.

2 Palacios, Miguel Asín, “Avempace botánico”, Al-Andalus, 5 (1940): 225–99 (258)Google Scholar. For further details about this story, see the forthcoming Etica e ideología de la ciencia.

3 The most recent and complete bio-bibliographical synthesis of the author is Joaquín Lomba & José Vílchez, Miguel Puerta, “Ibn Bāŷŷa. Abū Bakr”, in Lirola, Jorge & Vílchez, José Miguel Puerta (eds.), Biblioteca de al-Andalus [quoted henceforth as BA] (Almería, 2009), vol. 2, pp. 624–61Google Scholar. See moreover the classical survey by Jamal al-Dīn al-ʿAlawī, , Muʾallafāt Ibn Bājja (Beirut-Casablanca, 1983)Google Scholar.

4 Rushd, Ibn, K. al-Kulliyyāt fī al-ṭibb, ed. Fórneas Besteiro, José M. & de Morales, Camilo Álvarez (Madrid, 1987), p. 227Google Scholar. As is well known, Abū Marwān b. Zuhr was the son of Abū al-ʿAlāʾ Zuhr.

5 Ricordel, Joëlle, “Ibn Bādjdja y la farmacología”, in Las raíces de la cultura europea. Ensayos en homenaje al profesor Joaquín Lomba, coord. E. Burgos et al. (Zaragoza, 2004), pp. 241–54, pp. 241–2Google Scholar.

6 The book seems to be a third hand compilation of the notes left by these two authors.

7 See a full index of these quotations in Cabo, Ana M., “Aproximación descriptiva del Kitāb al-Taŷribatayn de Avempace y Sufyān al-Andalusī”, Anaquel de Estudios Árabes, 15 (2004): 4556Google Scholar, pp. 48 ff.

8 See, nevertheless, two preliminary but very interesting approaches in Cabo, “Aproximación”, esp. pp. 47–8, and Ricordel, “Ibn Badjdja”, pp. 245 ff.

9 So far as I know, no bibliography of Ibn Bājja includes this title although the author mentions it in Tadbīr al-Mutawaḥḥid, ed. Fakhry, Majid, Rasāʾil al-Ilāhiyya li-Ibn Bājja (Beirut, 1968), p. 43Google Scholar.

10 On the editions and translations of the works by Galen mentioned henceforth, see Hankinson, R.J. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Galen (Cambridge, 2008), pp. 391 ffCrossRefGoogle Scholar; on their translations into Arabic, see Sezgin, Fuat, Geschichte des Arabischen Schrifttums. Band III: Medizin-Pharmazie-Zoologie-Tierheilkunde (Leiden 1970)Google Scholar [quoted henceforth as GAS 3].

11 De Elementis ex Hippocrate, Ar. K. fī al-Usṭuqusāt ʿalā ray' Buqrāṭ (Sezgin, GAS 3, pp. 86–7).

12 De Temperamentis, Ar. K. al-Mīzāj (Sezgin GAS 3, pp. 87–8).

13 In Hippocratis Aphorismi, Ar. al-Fuṣūl (Sezgin, GAS 3, 28–30).

14 De Simplicium Medicamentorum, Ar. K. fī al-Adwiya al-mufrada (Sezgin GAS, 3, 109–10).

15 De Febrium Differentiis, Ar. K. (Asnāf) al-Ḥummayāt (Sezgin, GAS 3 94–5).

16 Al-ʿAlawī, Muʾallafāt, pp. 119–20. The source is Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa's ʿUyūn al-Anbāʾ, which mentions Kalām ʿalā Shayʾ min K. al-Adwiya al-mufrada li-Jālīnūs, Kalām fī al- Usṭuqusāt and Qawl fī al-Mīzāj bi-mā huwa ṭibbī.

17 See for instance, a long digression about change and motion which appears in Taʿālīq fī al-Adwiya al-mufrada (91v–92r), or the explanation about premises in Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl which will be addressed below.

18 It is beyond the scope of the present paper to describe the contents of each treatise or their codicological aspects in detail. I will just point out some salient features in order to give a broad idea of these texts within the frame of a general presentation of Ibn Bājja as a physician.

19 Ibn Bājja, Taʿālīq fī al-Adwiya al-mufrada, esp. fol. 93r ff; see Touwaide, Alain, “La thérapeutique médicamenteuse de Dioscoride à Galien: du pharmaco-centrisme au medico-centrisme”, in Debru, Armelle (ed.), Galen on Pharmacology: Philosophy, History and Medicine (Leiden, 1997), pp. 255–82Google Scholar.

20 Ibn Bājja, Taʿālīq fī al-Adwiya al-mufrada, fol. 93v, 16–24 and passim.

21 Ibn Bājja, Qawl fī al-Usṭuqusāt, 79v–81r.

22 Ibn Bājja, Qawl fī al-Mīzāj (b), 84r, 12 ff.

23 Ibn Bājja, Maqāla fī al-Ḥummayāt, 98r, 3

24 Ed. María de la Concepción Vázquez de Benito (Commentaria Averrois in Galenum [Madrid, 1984]). Ibn Rushd also wrote commentaries to Elementis ex Hippocrate, De temperamentis and De Febrium Differentiis.

25 Unlike his philosophical works, there is textual and historical evidence that Ibn Sīnā's Qānūn had reached al-Andalus during the first decades of the 12th century or even earlier. On the one hand, Ibn Wāfid's treatises contain several quotations of Ibn Sīnā; on the other, A. Z. Iskandar discovered in a treatise by the Egyptian physician of the 6/12th century, Hibat Allāh b. Jumayʿ (see Savage-Smith, Emily, “Medicine”, in Rashed, Roshdi (ed.), Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, 3 vols [London-New York, 1996]Google Scholar, vol. 3, pp. 903–62, pp. 925–6) the following story: a merchant brought Abū al-ʿAlāʾ Zuhr a good copy of the Qānūn from Iraq; the latter dismissed the treatise as a textbook for beginners, “because of the unusual terms and philosophical meanings which it contains”; see moreover Cristina Álvarez Millán, “Ibn Zuhr, Abū l-ʿAlāʾ”, BA (Almería, 2009), vol. 6, pp. 340–50, p. 344.

26 The resemblances between Ibn Rushd's and Ibn Bājja's commentaries to Galen are not sufficient to establish a clear connection between the two authors. Nevertheless, as is well known, the epitomes of Aristotle's works that Ibn Rushd wrote during his first epoch are clearly indebted to Ibn Bājja's commentaries; there are also a couple of coincidences which suggest that both Ibn Rushd and Maimonides were aware of Ibn Bājja's commentary of the Aphorisms: at the beginning of K. al-Kulliyyāt fī al-ṭibb (1–5; see below 4.5.), Ibn Rushd mentions al-Fārābī's divisions of medicine in much the same way as Ibn Bājja, and quotes Hippocrates' first aphorism to say that life is too short to attain certitude in the field of pharmacology but not in the deductive parts of medicine; likewise, Maimonides mentions al-Fārābī's division in commenting on the first aphorism (trans. of Ariel Bar-Sela & Hoff, Hebbel E., “Maimonides' interpretation of the first aphorism of Hippocrates”, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 37 (1963): 347–54, pp. 349–50Google Scholar; see moreover Stroumsa, Sarah, “Al-Fārābī and Maimonides on medicine as a science”, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 3 [1993]: 235–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar).

27 Al-ʿAlawī, Muʾallafāt, pp. 154 ff.

28 Bājja, Ibn, Rasāʾil Falsafiyya, ed. al-ʿAlawī (Beirut-Casablanca, 1983), pp. 88 ffGoogle Scholar.

29 The following commentaries of Ibn Bājja have come down to us: Physics, see Paul Lettink, Aristotle's Physics and its Reception in the Arabic World with an Edition of the Unpublished parts of Ibn Bājja's Commentary on the Physics (Leiden et al., 1994), in which the author gives a full account of the book on the basis of the texts edited by Maʿṣūmī and Fakhry and edits some new fragments; On Generation and Corruption, ed., com. and Spanish trans. by Josep Puig Montada, Avempace, Libro de la Generación y la corrupción (Madrid, 1995); Meteorology, ed., com. and English trans. by P. Lettink, Aristotle's Meteorology and its Reception in the Arab World (Leiden et al., 1998); biological treatises, extant in a book in which Ibn Bājja focused on On the Parts of Animals and On the Generation of Animals, ed. and comm. J. al-ʿImāratī, Kitāb al-Ḥayawān li-Abī Bakr Ibn Bājja (Casablanca, 2002).

30 See, among other examples that can be gleaned from the texts: the examples of verdigris and oxymel given in Qawl fī al-Mīzāj (b) (84r, 15 and 26) which appear recurrently in Ibn Bājja's commentary to Physics (ed. Lettink, pp. 71–72, 89–91, 161 and passim); a passage of Qawl fī al-Usṭuqusāt (80r, 1-7) on the atomists closely resembles another passage from the commentary to On Generation and Corruption (ed. Puig Montada, p. 15, 1-4).

31 Rosenthal, Franz, “Life is short, art is long. Arabic commentaries on the first Hippocratic aphorism”, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 40 (1966): 226–45Google ScholarPubMed, p. 226, quoting E. Nachmanson. Rosenthal's paper is the best study of the significance of Hippocrates' first aphorism for Arabic medicine. See moreover Bar-Sela & Hoff, “Maimonides' interpretation”, pp. 347–54, about Maimonides' commentary; more recently, Amal Abou Aly has added new interesting materials from al-Nafīs, Ibn (“A few notes on Ḥunayn's translation and Ibn al-Nafīs Commentary on the First Book of the Aphorisms”, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 10 (2000): 139–50Google Scholar, esp. pp. 146–9).

32 Galen arabus, Tafsīr Jālīnūs li-Fuṣūl Abuqrāṭ, MS BNP Ar. 2837, 1r., 3–5; In Hipp. Aph. Comm., ed. Kuhn, XVIIb, 345. Ḥunayn's version may be translated as: “life is short, art long, the moment narrow, experience dangerous and judgment difficult; sometimes it may be desirable that you do not confine yourself to performing immediately what ought to be done without taking into account how the patient and who accompanies him act and the external circumstances”. W. H. S. Jone's translation for Loeb Classical Library (Hippocrates. Vol. IV [Harvard, 1931], p. 99) says: “Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgement difficult. The physician must be ready, not only to do his duty himself, but also to secure the cooperation of the patient, of the attendants, and of the externals”.

33 I follow López Férez, Juan A., “Acerca del comentario de Galeno a los aforismos hipocráticos”, in Férez, J. A. López (ed.), Galeno: obra, pensamiento e influencia (Madrid, 1991), pp. 161203Google Scholar, p. 162, apud In Hipp. Aph. Comm., ed. Kuhn, XVIIb, 348.

34 It is implied in this statement that empiricism means to neglect the knowledge which is transmitted through learning as well as knowledge deduced by means of reasoning.

35 I have summarized some salient aspects of the commentaries of Ibn Bājja, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī (according to Rosenthal, “Life is short”, pp. 232–5 and 237–40) and the commentary of Maimonides (Bar-Sela & Hoff, “Maimonides' interpretation”, pp. 349 ff). These commentaries differ from each other in many instances, but it is beyond the scope of the present paper to analyse these variations in detail. Nonetheless in dealing with Ibn Bājja's text I will indicate the places where he departs from Ibn Abī Ṣādiq's commentary.

36 See Férez, A. López, “Aforismos”, in Gual, Carlos García et al. (ed.), Tratados hipocráticos (Madrid, 1983), pp. 211–97, p. 230Google Scholar, and Wesley D. Smith, The Hippocratic Tradition (Ithaca-London, 1979; electronic version, 2002,, pp. 129–30, 208 and 239 (both on the basis of Deichgräber, K., Die Griechische Empirikerschule [Berlin, 1930]Google Scholar): the Empiricists said that Aphorisms agreed with their methods, but Galen considered it from the outset as a book written by a dogmatist.

37 On him and his family, see Ángel C. Lopez “Ibn Ḥasdāy, Abū Ŷaʿfar”, BA (Almería, 2004), vol. 3, pp. 309–10. His friendship with Ibn Bājja is attested by a letter that Ibn Bājja wrote to him. Among several references to scientific issues (mathematics, astronomy, music, physics), this letter contains a well-known paragraph in which Ibn Bājja explains his scientific and philosophical training (Ibn Bājja, Rasāʾil Falsafiyya, pp. 77 ff).

38 On this commentary, see Rosenthal, “Life is short”, pp. 236–7, the bibliography quoted here and most particularly Bar-Sela & Hoff, “Maimonides' interpretation”, which gives a translation into English of the first aphorism; see also the recent translation into Spanish by Ferre, Lola, Maimónides. Obras médicas, III: El comentario a los aforismos de Hipócrates (Córdoba, 2004)Google Scholar.

39 Rosenthal, “Life is short”, p. 232. On the author, see Lutz Richter-Bernburg, “Ebn Abī Ṣādeq”, Encyclopaedia Iranica, electronic ed. (printed ed., 7, 663).

40 For a survey of the matters addressed by Galen in his commentary, see López Férez, “Acerca del comentario”, pp. 163 ff.

41 López Férez, ibid., pp. 179–92.

42 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, 85a, 1–14. The Arabic text of the excerpts from Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl which are translated in the body of the present paper will be given as an appendix.

43 On the Porphyrian table in Arabic-Islamic philosophy, see Maróth, Miklós, “Taṣawwur and Taṣdīq”, in Knowledge and the Sciences in Medieval Philosophy. Proceedings of the VIII International Congress of Medieval Philosophy (Helsinki, 1990), 2, pp. 265–74, pp. 268–73Google Scholar; and Die Araber und die Antike Wissenschaftstheorie (Leiden et al., 1994), passim.

44 These initial words are: qaṣadnā fī hādha al-kitāb iḥṣāʾ al-ashyāʾ allātī ʿanhā tuʾtalafu al-qaḍāyā wa-ilayhā tanqasimu (“our purpose in this book is the enumeration of the things of which judgements are composed and into which they are divided”; ed. and trans. Dunlop, D. M., “Al-Fārābī's Eisagoge The Islamic Quarterly, 3 (1956): 117–38Google Scholar, pp. 118 and 127).

45 Ibn Bājja, [Taʿālīq] K. Īsāghūjī, ed. Fakhry, , Taʿālīq Ibn Bājja ʿalā Manṭiq al-Fārābī (Beirut, 1994), p. 26Google Scholar, 5–6: al-faṣl huwa faṣl al-qāṣid min haythu huwa qāṣid. The trouble with this collection of notes is that they do not only gloss al-Fārābī's Eisagoge but contain materials taken from other works (al-Fuṣūl al-Khamsa, “the five sections” and Risāla Ṣudira bihā al-Kitāb). It is therefore possible that Ibn Bājja is alluding to the “sections” that al-Fārābī devoted to logic and is comparing them to Hippocrates' aphorisms.

46 Ibn Bājja, [Taʿālīq] K. al-ʿIbāra, ed. Fakhry, Taʿālīq, p. 146, 18–19. On the meaning of “complete phrase” in that context, see Zimmermann, F. W., Al-Fārābī's Commentary and Short Treatise on Aristotle's De Interpretatione (Oxford, 1981)Google Scholar, introd., lvi and trans., p. 226.

47 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, fol 85a, 26–86a, 7.

48 Note that Ibn Bājja synthesizes the two-tier formulation which is usual in the Islamic manuals – preservation of health and elimination of disease.

49 Al-Fārābī, Risāla fī Aʿḍāʾ al-insān, ed. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Badawī Rasāʾil Falsafiyya li-al-Kindī wa-al-Fārābī wa-Ibn Bājja wa-Ibn ʿAdī (s.l., 1980), p. 51, 7–12. Ibn Bājja mentions neither the author nor the work.

50 Risāla fī Aʿḍāʾ al-Insān appears as a section of a longer tract entitled Risāla li-al-Fārābī fī al-radd ʿalā Jālīnūs fī mā nāqaḍa fīhi Arisṭūṭālīs li-aʿḍāʾ al-insān (“epistle on the refutation of Galen in which he contradicted Aristotle on the purpose of the organs [parts] of human body”). The work (or collection of short tracts) contains still another section named Risāla li-al-Fārābī fī aʿḍāʾ al-ḥayawān wa-afʿālihā wa-quwāhā (“epistle on the organs [parts] of animals, their functions and their capacities”). This work has probably not been studied in the detail that it deserves but the reader will find an interesting approach in Richter-Bernburg, Lutz, “Abū Bakr al-Rāzī and al-Fārābī on medicine and authority”, in Adamson, Peter (ed.), In the Age of al Fārābī: Arabic Philosophy in the Fourth/Tenth Century, (London, 2008), pp. 119–30Google Scholar, which also contains the main bibliography. I will return to these texts in Ética e ideología de la ciencia.

51 Ibid., p. 53, i.f. – p. 54, 9. See also Ibn Rushd (K. al-Kulliyāt fī al-ṭibb, pp. 2–3), and Maimonides (commentary to Hippocrates' first aphorism, English trans. cit., 349–350), who specifies further al-Fārābī's text.

52 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, 85v, 6–9. He says specifically (ibid., fol. 85v, 1–5) that the book contains materials about therapy (ṣināʿa mubriʾa), prognosis (ṣināʿa istidlāliyya) and the “discipline that studies the classes of health and disease”; the book does not contain materials about anatomy (ṣināʿa fī manāfiʿ al-aʿḍāʾ and tashrīḥ) or about the rest of medical disciplines. Note that the materials about therapy mentioned by the author would correspond to the third part.

53 Ibn Bājja, ibid., 85r, 19–25.

54 Ibn Bājja stresses that he has found no general rules regarding the third part in all the books by Hippocrates that he has read, with the exception of K. Qāṭyaṭriyūn.

55 Rosenthal, “Life is short”, p. 233.

56 Henceforth “art” (ṣināʿa) should be understood in its general sense of “discipline”.

57 Ibn Rushd, K. al-Kulliyāt fī al-ṭibb, p. 4.

58 For Ibn Rushd (K. al-Kulliyāt fī al-ṭibb, p. 3), empirical medicine means first and foremost pharmacological therapy in his time.

59 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, 86v, 12–15.

60 This distinction between syllogistic and non-syllogistic is explained in al-Fārābī's introductory work on logic known as Risāla Ṣudira bihi, and was commented by Ibn Bājja in his notes to al-Fārābī's logic (see Forcada, Miquel, “Ibn Bājja and the classification of the sciences in al-Andalus”, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 16 (2006): 287307CrossRefGoogle Scholar, pp. 298 ff and the references given there).

61 On the problematic of mixed and subordinate sciences according to Aristotle, see, respectively, James G. Lennox, “Aristotle, Galileo and mixed sciences”, in William A. Wallace (ed.), Reinterpreting Galileo. Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy (Washington, 1986), 29–51 and McKirahan, Richard D., “Aristotle's subordinate sciences”, British Journal for the History of Sciences, 11 (1978): 197220CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On these questions in al-Fārābī, see an overview by Endress, Gerhard, “Mathematics and philosophy in Medieval Islam”, in Sabra, A.I. and Hogendijk, J.P. (eds.), The Enterprise of Science in Islam. New Perspectives (Cambridge Mss.-London, 2003), pp. 121–76, pp. 139–40)Google Scholar, on the basis of K. al-Burhān, ed. Fakhry, Al-Manṭiq ʿinda al-Fārābī. Kitāb al-Burhān wa-Kitāb Sharāʾiṭ al-Yaqīn maʿa Taʿālīq Ibn Bājja ʿan al-Burhān (Beirut, 1987), pp. 59 ff. I will study Ibn Bājja's understanding of these issues in a paper on the premises of scientific thinking according to his works on logic and natural science.

62 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, 86r, 7 ff.

63 Ibn Bājja, ibid., 86v, 2–4. Ibn Bājja specifies next that the cognitions thus obtained (by means of experience) may be either theoretical or practical.

64 Ibn Bājja, ibid., 86v, 6–7.

65 Ibn Bājja, ibid., 88r, 20–22.

66 On al-Fārābī's understanding of tajriba, see Janssens, J. L., “‘Experience’ (tajriba) in classical Arabic philosophy (al-Fārābī -Avicenna)”, Quaestio, 4 (2004): 4562CrossRefGoogle Scholar, pp. 47–52 (and I am very grateful to Prof. Janssens for informing me of the existence of his article); on the problematic of tajriba/epagôgê and induction which is beyond the scope of this paper, see: Miriam Galston, Opinion and Knowledge in Fārābī's understanding of Aristotle's Philosophy, unpublished Ph.D. (Chicago, 1973), pp. 225–30 passim; Joep Lameer “Al-Fārābī and Aristotelian Syllogistics. Greek Theory and Islamic Practice (Leiden et al., 1994), pp. 143–73 (particularly, 169–73); see moreover Hankinson, R. Jim, “Art and experience: Greek philosophy and the status of medicine”, Quaestio, 4 (2004): 324, pp. 5–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

67 Al-Fārābī, K. al-Burhān, p. 24, 17–20. I reproduce Janssens' excellent translation (“Experience”, pp. 51–2). See a similar approach to the question in al-Fārābī's K. Mūsīqā al-Kabīr, ed. G.A. Khashaba & M.A. Ḥafnī (Cairo, 1967), pp. 92–100, esp. p. 96.

68 On this, see Al-Fārābī, K. al-Burhān, p. 23, 2–10. He names these cognitions al-muqaddamāt al-ulā al-ṭabīʿa fī al-insān, “first premises which are imprinted in human being”. This question is beyond the scope of this paper, yet the reader will find enough references to it and to the other three kinds of premises in Galston, Opinion and Knowledge, pp. 109–58, Deborah L. Black, Logic and Aristotle's Rhetoric and Poetics in Medieval Arabic Philosophy, (Leiden et al., 1990), pp. 94–102 and Vallat, Philippe, Farabi et l'École d'Alexandrie. Des prémisses de la connaissance à la philosophie politique (Paris, 2004)Google Scholar, passim. On Ibn Bājja and the premises of science, see my forthcoming paper.

69 See for instance, al-Fārābī, al-Fuṣūl al-Khamsa, ed. Dunlop, D. M., “Al-Farabi's introductory sections on logic”, The Islamic Quarterly, 2 (1955): 264–82Google Scholar, p. 267, 3–15, and K. al-Jadal (epitome of Topics), ed. Rafīq al-ʿAjam (Beirut, 1986), 18 ff.

70 On this question see the recent and thorough analysis by Black, D.L., “Knowledge (ʿilm) and certitude (yaqīn) in al-Fārābī's epistemology”, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 16 (2006): 1145CrossRefGoogle Scholar; see moreover Galston, Opinion and Knowledge, pp. 210 ff.

71 Al-Fārābī, K. al-Mūsīqā al-Kabīr, pp. 101–2. On the other hand, it is all the more probable that Ibn Bājja knew both books: his notes to al-Fārābī's K. al-Burhān, (Taʿālīq al-Burhān, ed. Fakhry, pp. 152 ff) prove his awareness of K. al-Jadal; as a skilled musician, he would almost certainly have read the most famous K. al-Mūsīqā al-Kabīr, which, as the historical sources attest, was well known in al-Andalus.

72 Al-Fārābī, K. al-Jadal, p. 66, 17–20.

73 For a study of the tenuous borders that separate commonly accepted premises from the other premises, see Galston, Opinion and Knowledge, pp. 123 ff.

74 See the text of K. al-Jadal: “Nevertheless, the dialectic premises must not be taken inasmuch as they are grasped by means of syllogism or experience but insofar as they are the opinion of these men”: i.e., what is commonly accepted is not fitting for science but only for dialectics.

75 See his notes to al-Fārābī's K. al-Burhān (Taʿālīq al-Burhān, ed. Fakhry, pp. 152–4), in which he deals with the premises given by the tradition (maqbūlāt), commonly accepted (mashhūrāt) and primary intelligibles (maʿqūlāt uwal).

76 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, 86v, 10–18.

77 Note that the text might have been deturpated by the copyist from this point onwards; this is suggested by the fact that there is no reference to primary intelligibles. Nevertheless, I prefer not to give alternative readings and translate the wording of the manuscript as it stands.

78 It is worth noting in this regard that Ibn Bājja (T. al-Burhān, p. 153, 5–7) said that the premises maqbūlāt were those of religion (see moreover Galston, Opinion and Knowledge, p. 124 on al-Fārābī on this question).

79 It is possible that the author makes no further comments about primary intelligibles because he takes for granted that they are common to all arts.

80 Galston, Opinion and Knowledge, pp. 122–3.

81 Note that when he deals with mashhūr premises (T. al-Burhān, p. 149, 20 ff), he treats them as premises of dialectic. Nevertheless, dialectic reasoning plays an important role in scientific research, as we will see below (5).

82 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, 87v, 6–11.

83 As is well known, there are several works in which Islamic physicians recorded hundreds of case-studies. Some recent studies shed light on this material: de Millán, C. Álvarez, “Graeco-Roman case histories and their influence on Islamic clinical accounts”, Social History of Medicine, 12 (1999): 1943CrossRefGoogle Scholar and The case history in Medieval Islamic medical literature: the Tajārib and Mujarrabāt as source”, Medical History, 54 (2010): 95118Google ScholarPubMed, which addresses several Andalusī authors, and Peter A. Pormann, “Medical methodology and hospital practice: the case of fourth-tenth century Baghdad” (In the Age of al Fārābī, pp. 95–118).

84 Galen's method and the role which experience plays in it has been the object of a wide number of studies. Thorough references to the main issues addressed in the present paper and their most salient bibliography may be found in the following titles: R. Jim Hankinson “Art and experience” quoted above and “Epistemology”, The Cambridge Companion to Galen, pp. 157–83; other chapters of this latter book such as “Methodology” by Tim Tieleman (pp. 49–65) will provide further insights; on “qualified experience” in general and on pharmacology in particular, see Philip J. Van der Eijk, “Galen's use of the concept of ‘qualified experience’ in his dietetic and pharmacological works” (Galen on Pharmacology, pp. 35–57); Peter A. Pormann, “Medical Methodology and Hospital Practice” (esp. pp. 95–9 and 112–18) gives a most interesting synthesis of the question and studies the echo of Galen's position in Islamic medicine (namely al-Rāzī).

85 On the subordination of medicine according to the Aristotelian physicians-philosophers, see the general remarks and the bibliography (Gutas, Stroumsa, Freudenthal and Richter-Bernburg) given by Richter-Bernburg, “Abū Bakr al-Rāzī and al-Fārābī”, p. 119, n. 3; further insights will appear in my forthcoming Ética e ideología de la ciencia”.

86 Galen, In Hipp. Aph. Comm., ed. Kuhn, XVIIb, 346–7.

87 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, 87v, 18–88r, 19.

88 See Rosenthal, “Life is short”, p. 23: “By ‘narrowness of time’ he means the time for instruction which becomes narrow, for man is bothered as long as he lives by necessary or unnecessary matters which intervene between him and instruction. The time for instruction becomes therefore narrow”.

89 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, 87v, 26–88r, 3.

90 Lit.: yamtaddu bi-imtidādi al-fikra fīhi: the time one takes to solve some problem.

91 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, 89v, 11–22.

92 Further insights on this question, which is inspired by al-Fārābī, will appear in the forthcoming Ética e ideología de la ciencia. Most of the studies that deal with Ibn Rushd's medicine speak of this deductive approach, for instance, the recent article by Sanagustin, Floréal, “Le statut de la raison dans le K. al-Kulliyyāt fī al-Ṭibb (Colliget)”, in Bazzana, A. et al. (eds.), Averroès et l'averroïsme. Un itinéraire historique du Haut Atlas à Paris et à Padoue (Lyon, 2005), pp. 145–54Google Scholar.

93 Arnaldez, Roger & Iskandar, Albert Z., “Ibn Rushd”, Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York, 1975)Google Scholar, 7b. It seems however, that Ibn Rushd profited a preexistent treatise, K. al-Taysīr by Abū Marwān b. Zuhr. Although we will speak of the latter immediately (4.5.), we must say that he was probably the most experienced physician of his time.

94 Ibn Bājja, Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl, 88r, 19–88v, 8.

95 Rosenthal, “Life is Short”, p. 233.

96 Ibn Bājja, ibid., 88r, 19–24.

97 Ibn Bājja, ibid., 88v, 5–6.

98 Ibn Bājja, K. al-Ḥayawān, 193, 9–13.

99 Conjectural translation. I read sharīḥa instead of sharīʿa which makes no sense here.

100 It seems that the copyist missed some words here.

101 Remember that Ibn Ṭufayl, a physician-philosopher who was well aware of Ibn Bājja's works, mentioned in the middle of the 6/12th century a case of animal dissection in his most famous Risāla Ḥayy b. Yaqẓān.

102 However, we know hardly anything about this empirical knowledge because Ibn Bājja's K. al-Ḥayawān is interrupted shortly after this digression about dissection.

103 Savage-Smith, E., “Attitudes toward dissection in Medieval Islam”, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 50 (1995): 67110CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; as far as I know, this paper remains the best reference on this issue.

104 Ibid., 99 ff.

105 Ibid., 69 ff. Note moreover that al-Fārābī (Risāla fī Aʿḍāʾ al-insān, p. 61, 11–20) says that human dissections should be performed so as to establish whether Galen or Aristotle was right on some particular question, but they are very difficult to carry out.

106 Savage-Smith, “Attitudes toward dissection”, p. 90.

107 Ibid., pp. 106 and 108.

108 Although much has been written on the mathematical, medical and philosophical achievements of the Saragossan scholars, little justice has been done to the contribution of the physicians-philosophers of the 11th c. and the beginning of the 12th. A specific chapter will be devoted to them in my forthcoming study of the physicians-philosophers of al-Andalus: Ibn al-Kattānī, Abū al-Ḥakam al-Kirmānī, Marwān b. Janāḥ, Menaḥem b. al-Fawwāl, Thābit al-Jurjānī, Ḥasdāy b. Yūsuf b. Ḥasdāy, Abū Jaʿfar b. Ḥasdāy, and first and foremost, Ibn Bājja.

109 Though this question lies beyond the scope of the present paper, the reader may consult Berman, Lawrence W., “The political interpretation of the maxim: the purpose of philosophy is the imitation of God”, Studia Islamica, 15 (1961): 5361CrossRefGoogle Scholar and the works that Ibn Bājja wrote in his last epoch (namely Tadbīr al-Mutawaḥḥid and Risālat al-Wadāʾ), which gives a clear insight into what is meant here, the imperative of intellectual perfection.

110 Remember in this regard the texts of Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl translated in 4.3., which refer to the fact that empirical research in medicine was rare.

111 Though this question is beyond the scope of the present paper, the reader will find some useful references in Forcada, M., “Síntesis y contexto de las ciencias de los antiguos en época almohade”, in Cressier, P., Fierro, M. & Molina, L. (eds.), Los almohades: problemas y perspectivas, 2 vols. (Madrid, 2005)Google Scholar, vol. 2, pp. 1091–135.

112 Ibn Rushd, K. al-Kulliyyāt fī al-ṭibb, p. 4, 1–10.

113 “Kathīr min al- aʿḍāʾ al-mushāhada bi-al-tashrīḥ”.

114 It is possible nevertheless that the situation would have been different some decades before, as we will see below.

115 A good example is the heart according to Abū Marwān b. Zuhr, the outstanding physician of the epoch in al-Andalus. Whereas Abdel-Halim, Rabie (“Pericardial pathology 900 years ago: A study and translations from an Arabic medical textbook”, Saudi Medical Journal, 28 (2007): 323–5, p. 325)Google ScholarPubMed says that the description of pericardial pathology extant in K. al-Taysīr stems from post-mortem dissection of human corpses, Rosa Kuhne, Cristina Álvarez Millán & Expiración García Sánchez (“Ibn Zuhr, Abū Marwān”, BA [Almería, 2009], vol. 6, pp. 352–68, p. 365), say that this is, at least, doubtful and that Ibn Zuhr's innovations may well have been the result of his deductions from anatomical text-books, as when Ibn al-Nafīs discovered pulmonary circulation.

116 Lay, J., “L'Abrégé de l'Almageste: un inédit d'Averroès en version hebraïque”, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 6 (1996): 2361CrossRefGoogle Scholar, p. 52. Note that the Summary of the Almagest was deeply influenced by Ibn Bājja's Kalām fī al-Hayʾa as my forthcoming edition of the latter text will show (see a preliminary approach to the issue in Forcada, M., “La ciencia en Averroes”, Averroes y los averroísmos. Actas del III Congreso Nacional de Filosofía Medieval, coord. J. Ayala (Zaragoza, 1999), pp. 49102Google Scholar, pp. 75–6 passim.

117 Forcada, “La ciencia”, p. 96. Ibn Rushd found that the main difficulty of shaping planetary models different from those of Plolemy was the fact that he had to perform new planetary observations for which he had no time. In this regard it is interesting that Ibn Bājja speaks of the difficulty of astronomical observations in Sharḥ fī al-Fuṣūl (87r, 1 ff) and mentions them as another example of the fact that “life is short, art long”.

118 As is well known, following al-Fārābī, Ibn Rushd, devoted long sections of Kitāb al-Kulliyyāt fī al-ṭibb to contrast the medical doctrines of Galen and Aristotle. See on this issue: Bürgel, J. Christoph, “Averroes ‘contra Galenum’: das Kapitel von der Atmung im Colliget des Averroes als ein Zeugnis mittelalterlich-islamischer Kritik an Galen”, Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen. I. Philologisch-Historische Klasse, 9 (1967): 263340Google Scholar; Bos, Gerrit & Fontaine, Resianne, “Medico-philosophical controversies in Nathan B. Yoeʾel Falaquera's Sefer Ṣori ha-Guf”, Jewish Quarterly Review, 90 (1999): 2760CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Richter-Bernburg, L., “Medicina Ancilla Philosophiae”, in Conrad, Lawrence I. (ed.), The World of Ibn Ṭufayl: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Ḥāyy b. Yaqẓān (Leiden, 1996), pp. 90113Google Scholar; and “Abū Bakr al-Rāzī and al-Fārābī” of the same author.

119 For a modern study of this question, see Connell, Sophia M., “Aristotle and Galen on sex difference and reproduction: a new approach to an ancient rivalry”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 31 (2000): 405–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar, pp. 410 ff, and Jacquart, Danielle & Thomasset, C., Sexuality and Medicine in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1988), pp. 6674 and 194–5Google Scholar; see moreover Kruk, Remke, “Ibn Bājja's Commentary on Aristotle's De Animalibus”, in Endress, Gerhard and Kruk, Remke (eds.), The Ancient Tradition in Christian and Islamic Helenism (Leiden, 1997), pp. 165–79Google Scholar, esp. pp. 171–5, and the bibliography mentioned here.

120 Ibn Rushd, K. al-Kulliyyāt fī al-ṭibb, pp. 61–2.

121 Ibid., p. 62, 1–2. Note that the author employs al-Fārābī/Ibn Bājja's definition of tajriba.

122 Ibn Bājja, K. al-Ḥayawān, p. 149, §5. The text appears to be deturpated in some parts. See another translation of this text in Kruk, “Ibn Bājja's Commentary on Aristotle's De Animalibus”, pp. 173–4.

123 See Elinor Lieber, “Galen: physician as philosopher. Maimonides: philosopher as physician”, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 53 (1979): 268–85, pp. 270–1, and moreover 278–9, where it is said that al-Fārābī learned medicine for this reason.

124 See Kuhne, Álvarez Millán & García Sánchez, “Ibn Zuhr, Abū Marwān”, and the references given here.

125 Abū al-ʿAlāʾ Zuhr, his father wrote a book entitled K. al-Mujarrabat fī al-ṭibb, “the book of medical experiences” (ed. Cristina Álvarez Millán [Madrid, 1994]; see also C. Álvarez Millán, Ibn Zuhr, “Abū al-ʿAlāʾ Zuhr”, BA [Almería, 2009], vol. 6, pp. 340–50).

126 See above n. 114 and consider, moreover, the general survey of the problematic of medieval surgery in Savage-Smith, Emily, “The practice of surgery in Islamic lands: myth and reality”, Social History of Medicine, 13 (2000): 307–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

127 Galston, Opinion and Knowledge, pp. 210–54; see moreover Galston, M., “Al-Fārābī on Aristotle's theory of demonstration”, in Morewedge, Parviz (ed.), Islamic Philosophy and Mysticism (New York, 1981), pp. 2334Google Scholar.

128 Barnes, Jonathan, “Aristotle's theory of demonstration”, Phronesis, 14 (1969): 123–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar; revised version in Barnes, J., Schofield, M. & Sorabji, R. (eds.), Articles on Aristotle I: Science (London, 1974), 6587Google Scholar; see moreover Barnes, J., Aristotle's Posterior Analytics (Oxford, 1994)Google Scholar, introd., pp. xviii–xx. As is well known, this paper provoked a lively debate which still continues.

129 Galston, Opinion and Knowledge, pp. 230–6.

130 In much the same way, Ibn Bājja says that the assent (taṣdīq) to the fact that our concept of a thing represents this thing as it is in the extramental world stems from the solution of a problem that posits two contradictory extremes; he describes, moreover, the mental process that brings a demonstration as a “movement of the soul” which starts in a dilemma that poses two related alternatives (naqīḍatāni murtabaṭāni) about a subject (see, respectively, Taʿālīq al-Burhān, 109, 4–110, 5 and 119, 10–120, 5).

131 Galston, Opinion and Knowledge, pp. 225–43.

132 See on this question Jacquart, Danielle & Micheau, Françoise, La médecine arabe et l'occident médiéval (Paris, 1990), pp. 182–5Google Scholar, and McVaugh, Michael, “The nature and limits of medical certitude at early fourteenth-century Montpellier”, Osiris, 6 (1990): 6284CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed, pp. 69 passim.

Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *