AVICENNA ON GRASPING MATHEMATICAL CONCEPTS

Mohammad Saleh Zarepour

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Abstract

According to Avicenna, some of the objects of mathematics exist and some do not. Every existing mathematical object is a non-sensible connotational attribute of a physical object and can be perceived by the faculty of estimation. Non-existing mathematical objects can be represented and perceived by the faculty of imagination through separating and combining parts of the images of existing mathematical objects that are previously perceived by estimation. In any case, even non-existing mathematical objects should be considered as properties of material entities. They can never be grasped as fully immaterial entities. Avicenna believes that we cannot grasp any mathematical concepts unless we first have some specific perceptual experiences. It is only through the ineliminable and irreplaceable operation of the faculties of estimation and imagination upon some sensible data that we can grasp mathematical concepts. This shows that Avicenna endorses some sort of concept empiricism about mathematics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-126
JournalArabic Sciences and Philosophy
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2021

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