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Liber de causis

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-B069-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 19, 2024, from

Article Summary

The Liber de causis (Book of Causes) is a short treatise on Neoplatonist metaphysics, composed in Arabic by an unknown author probably in the ninth century in Baghdad. Through its twelfth-century Latin translation, it greatly influenced mature medieval philosophy in the West.

Drawing heavily on the Greek Neoplatonist Proclus, the Liber de causis represents a development of late Neoplatonism along two lines. On the one hand, the author modifies and simplifies Proclus’ theory of causes to accord more closely with the three-part division of ultimate causes advanced by the founder of Neoplatonism, Plotinus. On the other hand, the author introduces some of the metaphysical principles of Qu’ranic or biblical monotheism. The result is a metaphysically provocative reinterpretation of Neoplatonist thought which, because it seemed to accommodate Platonist philosophy to the medieval worldview, made the Liber de causis a natural source text for medieval philosophers.

Citing this article:
Jarka-Sellers, Hannes. Liber de causis, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-B069-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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