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YAḤYĀ IBN ʿADĪ AND IBRĀHĪM IBN ʿADĪ: ON WHETHER BODY IS A SUBSTANCE OR A QUANTITY. INTRODUCTION, EDITIO PRINCEPS AND TRANSLATION

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2017

Stephen Menn*
Affiliation:
Department of Philosophy, McGill University, 855 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal, Quebec, H3A 2T7, Canada
Robert Wisnovsky*
Affiliation:
Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, 3485 McTavish St., Montreal, Quebec, H3A 0E1, Canada

Abstract

The “lost” Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī treatises recently discovered in the Tehran codex Marwī 19 include a record of a philosophical debate instigated by the Ḥamdānid prince Sayf-al-Dawla. More precisely, Marwī 19 contains Yaḥyā’s adjudication of a dispute between an unnamed Opponent and Yaḥyā’s younger relative Ibrāhīm ibn ʿAdī (who also served as al-Fārābī’s assistant), along with Ibrāhīm's response to Yaḥyā’s adjudication, and Yaḥyā’s final word. At issue was a problem of Aristotelian exegesis: should “body” be understood as falling under the category of substance or under the category of quantity? The unnamed Opponent argues that body is a species of substance; Ibrāhīm argues that technically speaking, body is a species of quantity, and hence an accident; and Yaḥyā judges that body is a species of substance, though for very different reasons than the Opponent gives. For the first time, the Arabic text of this exchange is edited and translated into English. Also provided is an Introduction that sets the debate in historical context, and discusses in particular the possible influence of John Philoponus. The debate is interesting and important not only because of the philosophical ramifications of the issues under discussion, but because it constitutes evidence of dialectical practice among Arabic-speaking philosophers from the middle of the 10th century.

Résumé

Les traités “perdus” de Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī, retrouvés récemment dans le codex Marwī 19 de Téhéran, incluent le compte-rendu d'un débat philosophique suscité par le prince ḥamdānide Sayf-al-Dawla. Plus précisément, le codex Marwī 19 reprend l'arbitrage de Yaḥyā à propos d'une querelle mettant aux prises un Opposant anonyme et un membre plus jeune de la famille de Yaḥyā, Ibrāhīm ibn ʿAdī (qui fut également assistant d'al-Fārābī), accompagné de la réponse d'Ibrāhīm à l'arbitrage de Yaḥyā, ainsi que les remarques finales de Yaḥyā. Le problème en jeu est une question d'exégèse aristotélicienne: Le “corps” devrait-il être compris comme tombant sous la catégorie de substance ou sous celle de quantité? L'Opposant anonyme soutient que le corps est une espèce de la substance; Ibrāhīm soutient que, techniquement parlant, le corps est une espèce de la quantité, et donc, un accident; Yaḥyā juge, quant à lui, que le corps est une espèce de la substance, bien que pour des raisons bien différentes de celles amenées par l'Opposant. Pour la première fois, une version arabe de cet échange est éditée et traduite en anglais. Une introduction situant le débat dans son contexte historique et discutant plus précisément l'influence possible de Jean Philopon est également proposée. Ce débat trouve son intérêt et sa pertinence non seulement à cause des ramifications philosophiques des problèmes discutés, mais aussi parce qu'il constitue la preuve d'une pratique dialectique chez les philosophes de langue arabe du milieu du Xe siècle.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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YAḤYĀ IBN ʿADĪ AND IBRĀHĪM IBN ʿADĪ: ON WHETHER BODY IS A SUBSTANCE OR A QUANTITY. INTRODUCTION, EDITIO PRINCEPS AND TRANSLATION
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YAḤYĀ IBN ʿADĪ AND IBRĀHĪM IBN ʿADĪ: ON WHETHER BODY IS A SUBSTANCE OR A QUANTITY. INTRODUCTION, EDITIO PRINCEPS AND TRANSLATION
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YAḤYĀ IBN ʿADĪ AND IBRĀHĪM IBN ʿADĪ: ON WHETHER BODY IS A SUBSTANCE OR A QUANTITY. INTRODUCTION, EDITIO PRINCEPS AND TRANSLATION
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