Journal of Islamic Philosophy

Volume 13, 2022

Catherine Peters
Pages 50-82

Ibn Sīnā on Nature as Matter and Form: An Exposition of the Physics of the Healing I, 6 and I, 9

The concept of nature (Gr. phúsis; Ar. ṭabīʿa) lies at the heart of classical physics. Seemingly small differences about nature can blossom into significant disagreements. The present study offers an exposition of certain neglected passages concerning ṭabīʿa in Ibn Sīnā’s al-Samāʿ al-ṭabīʿī(The Physics of the Healing). The pre­dominant view of ṭabīʿa is that it as an active principle, a concep­tion of nature that radically departs from Aristotle’s account of phúsis in Physics I-II. I dispute this interpretation by investigat­ing two neglected texts in the Physics of the Healing. First, these texts indicate that nature should be associated with matter and form (I, 6) and, second, they argue that failing to account for matter and form makes knowledge of nature incomplete (I, 9).