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Ibn Tufayl, Abu Bakr Muhammad (before 1110–85)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H030-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 18, 2024, from

Article Summary

Ibn Tufayl’s thought can be captured in his only extant work, Hayy Ibn Yaqzan (The Living Son of the Vigilant), a philosophical treatise in a charming literary form. It relates the story of human knowledge, as it rises from a blank slate to a mystical or direct experience of God after passing through the necessary natural experiences. The focal point of the story is that human reason, unaided by society and its conventions or by religion, can achieve scientific knowledge, preparing the way to the mystical or highest form of human knowledge. The story also seeks to show that, while religious truth is the same as that of philosophy, the former is conveyed through symbols, which are suitable for the understanding of the multitude, and the latter is conveyed in its inner meanings apart from any symbolism. Since people have different capacities of understanding that require the use of different instruments, there is no point in trying to convey the truth to people except through means suitable for their understanding.

Citing this article:
Inati, Shams C.. Ibn Tufayl, Abu Bakr Muhammad (before 1110–85), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-H030-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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