The Theology of Aristotle

A page from a 1930s Egyptian copy of the Theology of Aristotle.

The Theology of Aristotle or Theologia Aristotelis (Arabic: أثولوجيا أرسطو‎, romanizedAthulujiya Aristu) is a paraphrase in Arabic of parts of Plotinus' Six Enneads along with Porphyry's commentary. It was traditionally attributed to Aristotle, but as this attribution is certainly untrue it is conventional to describe the author as "Pseudo-Aristotle". It had a significant effect on early Islamic philosophy, due to Islamic interest in Aristotle. Al-Kindi (Alkindus) and Avicenna, for example, were influenced by Plotinus' works as mediated through the Theology and similar works. The translator attempted to integrate Aristotle's ideas with those of Plotinus — while trying to make Plotinus compatible with Christianity and Islam, thus yielding a unique synthesis.

Overview

The Theology of Aristotle, with The Letter on Divine Science and The Sayings of the Greek Sage, a collection of fragments, together form the Plotiniana Arabica. They seem to have been adapted by Ibn Na'ima al-Himsi, a Christian, and edited by Al-Kindi, a Muslim (both writers were active in the ninth century).[1]

There is also a longer version of the Theology, the authorship of which is uncertain. According to Shlomo Pines, it may have been written by Isma'ilis. Paul Fenton, on the other hand, thought it may have been derived from Egyptian Jews.

Just as there is an Arabic paraphrase of Plotinus' Six Enneads, blending it with Aristotle's thought, so also there is an Arabic paraphrase of Aristotle's De Anima, blending it with Plotinus' thought. Thus later Islamic philosophy, and European philosophy which built on the Islamic philosophical texts, were based on this Neoplatonic synthesis.

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