By Avner Ben-Zaken
Mostly translated as "The Self-Taught Philosopher" or "The development of Human Reason," Ibn-Tufayl's tale Hayy Ibn-Yaqzān encouraged debates approximately autodidacticism in a number of old fields from classical Islamic philosophy via Renaissance humanism and the eu Enlightenment. Avner Ben-Zaken's account of ways the textual content traveled demonstrates the complicated ways that autodidacticism used to be contested in and tailored to different cultural settings.
In tracing the flow of the Hayy Ibn-Yaqzān, Ben-Zaken highlights its key position in 4 far-removed historic moments. He explains how autodidacticism intertwined with struggles over mysticism in twelfth-century Marrakesh, controversies approximately pedagogy in fourteenth-century Barcelona, quarrels bearing on astrology in Renaissance Florence, and debates referring to experimentalism in seventeenth-century Oxford. In every one web site and interval, Ben-Zaken recaptures the cultural context that stirred students to narrate to Ḥayy Ibn-Yaqẓān and demonstrates how the textual content moved between cultures, leaving in its wake translations, interpretations, and controversies as quite a few because the societies themselves. Pleas for autodidacticism, Ben-Zaken indicates, not just echoed inside shut philosophical discussions; they surfaced in struggles for keep an eye on among contributors and establishments.
Presented as self-contained histories, those 4 moments jointly shape a ancient university of autodidacticism throughout cultures from the past due Medieval period to early glossy instances. the 1st book-length highbrow heritage of autodidacticism, this novel, thought-provoking paintings will curiosity a variety of historians, together with students of the background of technology, philosophy, literature, Europe, and the center East.
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Extra info for Reading Hayy Ibn-Yaqzan: A Cross-Cultural History of Autodidacticism
The court philosophers of Sultan Abū Ya’qūb Yūsuf, apparently, produced the foremost philosophical texts combating Sufism, al-Ghazzālī, the H . ān of Ibn-Tufayl, and, later on, Averroes’ The Collapse of Philosophers. As Al-Marrākushī’s excerpts indicate, Ibn-Tufayl mostly interacted with the sultan and with his official colleagues. Yet though H . ān takes the form of a story, its style and language were incomprehensible to the masses of illiterates and Berbers. Neither the masses nor the philosophers around IbnTufayl made up his desired audience.
He cast H . ayy as the ultimate pious Almohadi who lives a completely ascetic life, devoted to experiencing the ecstasy of knowing God. ayy a responsible boy-man who explores nature for religious ends, guided by his rational ability. He turns H . ān into something like a guide for the perplexed for those who have Taming the Mystic 29 not yet internalized the doctrine of divine unity. H . ān thus helped solidify the political theology of God’s oneness and centralize the political rule of the Almohads.
His observations of the stars lead him to conclude that they represent the closest tangible things to God. It is here that Ibn-Tufayl takes a step toward synthesizing a philosophical theory of knowledge with Sufi practice, a synthesis that necessarily considers man the superior creature and nature a passive organ awaiting an active force to conquer and control it. The practical aspect of natural philosophy begins with assimilating a sublunar attribute—the preservation of nature and ecology. His first step, resembling the sublunar world, the world of generation and decay, aimed at taking over nature by “removing from animal or plant any harm or damage, or impediment: and when he did cast his eyes upon any plant .
Reading Hayy Ibn-Yaqzan: A Cross-Cultural History of Autodidacticism by Avner Ben-Zaken