On Avicenna

The period of study that culminated in his seeing the point of metaphysics completed Ibn Sina's [Avicenna's] education, at least the phase that was predominantly receptive and retentive rather than actively productive and synthetic. He was eighteen. His knowledge, he tells us, would mature, even as his memory grew less elastic in adulthood; but, he insists, he made no really new departure beyond this date. This sounds like a boast that he had nothing more to learn and may shock our sense of modesty or propriety, or seem hyperbolic in relation to our ideals of a lifetime of learning. But what Ibn Sina actually said (although consistently mistranslated), was simply this: "My memory for what I understood was keener then, but the understanding is riper now. Yet it is the same, not reconstructed or reborn in the [...] least." What he meant was that the framework of his understanding was firm and his central beliefs would not alter radically as he matured.

--Lenn E. Goodman, Avicenna, 1992 [17]

Avicenna was 18 when he finally understood Aristotle's Metaphysics -- he had read it so many times that he had it almost by heart. But it was after reading al-Farabi's book On the Objects of Metaphysics, that he began to understand. He was able to step outside the framework of theology and understand Aristotle's questions as they were for Aristotle. Questions about what it is for something to be (ti en einai), about being-at-work (energeia), about being-at-work-staying-itself (entelecheia).

I have only just begun researching into his life and writings and already I am jotting down notes and understandings. I am hoping these notes will turn into some understanding of the metaphysical implications of Avicenna's theory of intentionality -- oof -- there is much work to be done.