Potestas Essendi

A Virtual Space for Thoughts on the Middle Ages, by Nicola Polloni

Gundissalinus on Necessary Being. Textual and Doctrinal Alterations in the Exposition of Avicenna’s Metaphysica

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arabic_sciences-and-philosophyYou can download HERE my article on Gundissalinus’s ‘alteration strategy’ in his quotations of Avicenna’s Liber de philosophia prima: N. Polloni, “Gundissalinus on Necessary Being. Textual and Doctrinal Alterations in the Exposition of Avicenna’s Metaphysica“, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 26/1 (2016), pp. 129-160.

This article examines the textual alteration strategy carried out by Dominicus Gundissalinus in his original works. One of the most striking examples of this approach can be detected in the large quotation of Ibn Sīnā’s Metaphysica I, 6–7 in Gundissalinus’ cosmological treatise De processione mundi, in which the Spanish philosopher variously modifies the text he translated a few years before. After a short presentation of Gundissalinus’ double role as translator and philosopher, the study moves on to the analysis of Ibn Sīnā’s doctrine of necessary and possible being, and the five demonstrations of the unrelated uniqueness of necessary being offered by Ibn Sīnā. These arguments are directly quoted by Gundissalinus: nevertheless, the author modifies the text in many passages, here examined through the analysis of some representative excerpts. The results of this enquiry suggest that Gundissalinus is following an effective alteration strategy, envisaging at least two main purposes: the clarification of Ibn Sīnā’s line of reasoning, and the doctrinal assimilation of Metaphysica’s theories in his original philosophical system. In appendix to this article the whole text of the two versions of Metaphysica I, 6–7 is presented.

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