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Soul in Islamic philosophy

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H010-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

The discussion of the human soul, its existence, nature, ultimate objective and eternity, occupies a highly important position in Islamic philosophy and forms its main focus. For the most part Muslim philosophers agreed, as did their Greek predecessors, that the soul consists of non-rational and rational parts. The non-rational part they divided into the plant and animal souls, the rational part into the practical and the theoretical intellects. All believed that the non-rational part is linked essentially to the body, but some considered the rational part as separate from the body by nature and others that all the parts of the soul are by nature material. The philosophers agreed that, while the soul is in the body, its non-rational part is to manage the body, its practical intellect is to manage worldly affairs, including those of the body, and its theoretical intellect is to know the eternal aspects of the universe. They thought that the ultimate end or happiness of the soul depends on its ability to separate itself from the demands of the body and to focus on grasping the eternal aspects of the universe. All believed that the non-rational soul comes into being and unavoidably perishes. Some, like al-Farabi, believed that the rational soul may or may not survive eternally; others, like Ibn Sina, believed that it has no beginning and no end; still others, such as Ibn Rushd, believed that the soul with all its individual parts comes into existence and is eventually destroyed.

Citing this article:
Inati, Shams C.. Soul in Islamic philosophy, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-H010-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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