The Metaphysical Dimension of the Prophet in Avicenna’s Thought - Lecture by Dr Meryem Sebti at the Institute of Ismaili Studies

Fârès Gillon's picture
February 3, 2022
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Arabic History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Philosophy, Islamic History / Studies

Hosted by the Institute of Ismaili Studies (London, UK), the Islamic History and Thought Lecture Series is designed to invite scholars of various international academic institutions, specialising in intellectual, social and political aspects of medieval and early modern Islamic societies, to present and discuss their research.

Please find below the information on the next lecture of the series, which will be delivered at the Aga Khan Centre (London, UK) and online by Dr Meryem Sebti (CNRS, Paris), and will be followed by a discussion with Dr Fârès Gillon (IIS, London) and  Dr Toby Mayer (IIS, London). 

The Metaphysical Dimension of the Prophet in Avicenna’s Thought

The prophet has a major metaphysical function. This is a fundamental thesis of Avicenna’s prophetology, and one of the main theses that will be explored in this lecture. The Metaphysics of the Kitāb al-Šifā’ closes with a treatise on prophetology, and one must give a reason for that. The prophet is not only the one who transmits the revealed Law to mankind, nor merely the one who ensures the best possible government of the city: he is also a model of perfection for men. This exemplarity of the prophet has its foundation in the very structure of Avicenna’s metaphysics. The intellect, soul and body of the prophet – in their mutual relationship – present a perfect correspondence with the intellect, soul and body of the ten celestial entities that structure the cosmos according to Avicenna.

The mediation of the prophet – who is explicitly designated by Avicenna in accordance with the Qur’anic revelation as a man, a mere mortal – fully manifests the unbroken continuity that links the sensible world to the celestial world. The sensible world, which is the very last emanation of the ultimate flow from the First Principle, is not a world of exile, cut off from its source. The presence of the prophet – the noetic, psychic and ethical perfection that he embodies – indicates to humankind that the Return is possible, that the way back to the ultimate source is not closed. It is also in Book X of the Metaphysics of the Šifā’ that Avicenna establishes the link between the doctrine of prophecy and that of providence. This connection is also fundamental to understand the metaphysical dimension of the prophet.

Date: Thursday 3 February 2022
Time: 5.00 pm – 6.30 pm GMT
Location: Aga Khan Centre and online (Zoom)

Please note that the preceding sessions of the lecture series have been recorded and are now available on the YouTube channel of the Institute of Ismaili Studies  

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