Avicenna developed different philosophies about the relationship that existed between the mind and the body. He sought an understanding of whether people’s feelings, thoughts, sensations, perceptions, and wishes took place in the brain (Taheri and Ghasemi 1072). Avicenna’s inquiry led him to assert that the mind-body relationship worked in such a way that the body had to obey what the mind instructed it to do (Khalil Center). The following discussion uses Avicenna’s philosophy of the mind-body relationship to reveal the link that exists between the body and the mind.
Avicenna spent a substantial period thinking about the mind-body problem. He held the notion that the human mind is like a mirror; it could reflect the knowledge that a person acquired and use active intelligence at the same time. Therefore, one may presume that the more an individual thinks, the more polished his ideas become, and, in the end, this person’s ability to acquire accurate knowledge is enhanced (Nagel 2). In this regard, Avicenna implied that the mind was in control of the body, which, by extension, meant that a hierarchical relationship between the body and the mind existed. The author indicated that the mind-body connection worked in such a way that the body complied with the instructions of the brain.
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Avicenna believed that since the mind could control the body, it could also influence emotions and will. Avicenna found that intense feelings are akin to the development of self-fulfilling prophecies; if a person holds the presumption that he will fall, the likelihood of such a happenstance increases dramatically (Khalil Center). Accordingly, the philosopher believed that the same reaction could be replicated when it comes to health. Such a presumption has been proven by modern science, which has developed a close link between an individual’s stress levels and his immune system.
Avicenna also used five internal and external senses to divide human perceptions. First, he indicated that senus communis join together sense data into precepts. Secondly, the philosopher affirmed that the imaginative faculty conserves perceptual images (Khalil Center). Third, Avicenna said that an individual’s sense of imagination acts on the creative faculty to produce practical intelligence. Fourth, the moral instinct of a person leads him to come up with perceptions that border on good and evil, love and hate; in the end, these attitudes form a person’s character (Khalil Center). Finally, Intention maintains all these ideas in a person’s memory to influence his behavior.
The above presumptions bring one to Avicenna’s “flying man” experiment. The philosopher urges his audience to consider a situation where they are in a flying man’s shoes (Khalil Center). He says that any individual would be self-aware. Avicenna believed that self-awareness was an inherent human trait; he presumed that human beings were always aware, even when they were asleep (Nigel; Islamic Philosophies). In this regard, he believed that psychological disorders were related to the mental processes that took place in the mind. The philosopher presumed that anger was a byproduct of an abundance of humidity in the human head. Avicenna affirmed that breathing increased the levels of moisture in the human mind; if the humidity levels go too high, a person became liable to developing mental disorders. The primary intention of Avicenna was to attribute the development of mental illness to the processes that took place in the head.
In a recap of the above discussion, Avicenna’s philosophy of the mind-body relationship discloses the link that exists between a person’s body and his mind. The philosopher developed diverse opinions about the connection that exists between the mind and the body. He sought an understanding of whether the feelings, thoughts, sensations, perceptions, and wishes of people took place in their minds. In the end, Avicenna’s suppositions led him to affirm that the relationship between the mind and the body worked in such a way that the body is attuned to obey the command of the brain, as discussed above.
- Islamic Philosophies. “Islamic Philosophies – Avicenna (Ibn Sina).” Science.jrank.org. 2017. Web 10 Oct. 2017.
- Khalil Center. “Avicenna’S Influence On Science And Psychology | Khalil Center.” Khalil Center. 2017.
- Nagel, Thomas. “The Mind-Body Problem: from What Does It All Mean?, 1987.
- Taheri, Syed SadrAl-din, and Mohammad Ghasemi. “The Study of Avicenna’s View Regarding “Soul.”” International Journal of Humanities And Cultural Studies (2016): 1071-1080.
- Warburton, Nigel. “What Can Avicenna Teach Us About the Mind-Body Problem? – Peter Adamson | Aeon Ideas.” Aeon. 2017. Web. 10 Oct. 2017.