Ibn Sina, or Avicenna as he was known in the Latin tradition, was one of the most brilliant thinkers of the classical age of Islam. His works are studied today by scholars of many disciplines in order to understand his contributions to metaphysics, natural philosophy, and logic, among others. An example of his importance in the development of logic, for example, was recently provided by professor Wilfred Hodges at a colloquium in London entitled “Avicenna and Avicennisms,” which was co-sponsored by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute and the BYU London Centre. In his remarks, Hodges focused on Ibn Sina’s notice that many logical propositions contain an implicit temporal reference: “Every human breathes in,” “Zayd is in the house,” and “Not every horse is asleep” are all examples of sentences that have an implicit reference to time in them.
“Ibn Sina says Aristotle should have noticed this,” observes Hodges in his presentation, “It matters for logic.” Crucially, Ibn Sina makes the time reference explicit in his own statements, and with the resulting “predicative sentences,” says Hodges, “Ibn Sina presented for the first time a workable logic of multiple qualification not achieved in the West until the 19th century.”
Hodges goes on to discuss the implications of this aspect of Ibn Sina’s logic for understanding how he is using other logical modalities, and where further work needs to be done to answer questions about Avicenna’s logical system and its impact on later thinkers.
The Middle Eastern Texts Initiative is pleased to be making available the audio recordings of professor Hodges’s lecture and those of other presentations at the London colloquium. Links to the audio files and visual materials (where applicable) have now been added to the Colloquium webpage. Please Click here to be taken to the page.