Aspects of Ibn Bajja’s Theory of Apprehension

  • Michael Blaustein
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire Des Idees / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 114)


Studies of Ibn Bajja’s (Avempace’s) psychological writings have directed their attention overwhelmingly to the intellect and the closely associated theme of the attainment of human perfection through “conjunction” or union with the active intellect. This choice is sound for several reasons. Even only a generation or two after his death, Ibn Bajja was known preeminently as the proponent of the theory of the unity of the intellect. Maimonides writes in the Guide, 1:74:221, “Now you know that regarding the things separate from matter — I mean those that are neither bodies nor forces in bodies, but intellects — there can be no thought of multiplicity of any mode whatever… Consequently ail are one in number, as Abū Bakr Ibn al-Sā’igh [that is, Ibn Bajja] and others who were drawn into speaking of these obscure matters have made clear.” Around the same time, Averroes wrote, in his Long Commentary on De Anima, that the intellect, and especially the problem of conjunction, preoccupied Ibn Bajja constantly.1 These reports seem consonant with the impression Ibn Bajja’s surviving writings give us today. He devoted a number of works to discussing this question; in particular, his main psychological treatise On the Soul (Kitāb al-Nafs) makes frequent allusions to the intellect, even when considering topics which one might think are thematically remote from it. It is probably correct to say that this treatise, unlike, for example, its ultimate model, Aristotle’s De Anima, subordinates all other issues in psychology to that of the intellect


Sense Faculty Material Form Active Intellect Material Thing External Thing 
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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht / Boston / Lancaster 1986

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  • Michael Blaustein

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