Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 14, Issue Supplement, 1988/1989

Microfiche Supplement to Volume 14

Salim Kemal
Pages 20-122

Medieval Arabic Poetics
Poetic Syllogism and Community in Avicenna’s Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics

The paper concerns the Commentary on Aristotle's Poetics written by Avicenna (Ibn Sina : 930-1037AD). The paper is divided into two parts, the first of which examines Avicenna's account of poetic imagination and the use he makes of this concept in justifying a 'poetic syllogism' that accounts for aesthetic validity. The second part develops this account of the poetic syllogism to show that the completeness of the syllogistic requires us to consider the kind of commurlty and moral validity sustained by poetic validity. To explain the first claim - for poetic syllogisms - the paper examines Avicenna's writings on logic and parts of his commentaries on the Prior and Posterior Analytics, linking these to issues in his commentary on the Poetics. To explain the relation of poetry to community, the paper develops issues from the commentary on the Poetics, especially Avicenna's use of the concept of 'themes'.