The problem of the translation into Arabic of the Greek philosophical terminology and in particular of the verb ‘to be’, and the reflection on the possible conditioning that every natural language can operate in a completely unconscious way in thinking and in the formulation of concepts was faced by Arabic-speaking philosophers well before by the modern linguists. By analyzing the Arabic direct and indirect tradition of “Metaphysics Delta” 7, in which Aristotle speaks of the different meanings of being, τὸ ὄν, this study tries to test the awareness of these problems in the early translators of Greek philosophical and scientific heritage into Arabic language, such as the Christian Usṭāṯ, translator of the circle of al-Kindī, and in the following generations of philosophers such as al-Fārābī, Avicenna and Averroes.
The linguistic history of three main Aristotelian philosophical terms, ‘substance’, ‘essence’ and ‘quiddity’, in the Medieval written languages of Europe and of Near and Middle East has not yet been reconstructed in detail. Here, a tentative reconstruction of it is suggested, through a comparison of their different use in Syriac, Coptic, Classical Ethiopic (ge‘ez
), Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, Middle Persian, Sogdian and Sanskrit, as well as in Latin and Medieval Hebrew. From this reconstruction, the evident influence of Greek on European and Near Eastern philosophical terminology is clear, but also the probable influence of some Sanskrit and Middle Persian terms on Medieval Arabic philosophical language is pointed out.
Avicenna’s Risāla fī aḥwāl al-nafs
is quite a problematic text. A large part of this epistle is identical with the psychological part of the Kitāb al-Naǧā
t. Some scholars think that this epistle has been written before the Naǧat
and was inserted by Avicenna afterwards in this book; others, on the contrary, consider that it has been extracted from it. In this paper, chapters I, XIII and XVI of this epistle are inspected in detail, thus allowing to establish that they are not genuinely Avicennian. We therefore consider that the Risāla fī aḥwāl al-nafs
, as we know it today, has not been put together by Avicenna himself. The epistle is composed by chapters extracted from the Naǧāt
to which three chapters – not written by Avicenna – have been added.
This paper examines some fragments of Alexander of Aphrodisias’ lost commentary on Aristotle’s De Caelo preserved in Themistius’ paraphrase of this work. Its aim is to make available the list of Themistius’ explicit quotations of Alexander on the basis of the Hebrew text of the paraphrase, checked against the manuscript Firenze, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, II.II.528. It also examines in detail a selection of these passages. It will appear that some of Alexander’s fragments, as preserved by Themistius, can be recovered in their original wording and meaning only on the basis of the Hebrew text. The first two passages, discussed in section 1, are meant to substantiate this claim. The third passage, discussed in section 2, raises a doctrinal question. In the Appendix, I provide a list of Alexander’s passages explicitly quoted by Themistius. For each quotation, the reference to the folios and lines of the Florence MS is given. This is especially necessary, in consideration of the differences between the Hebrew text as edited and as preserved in the MSS.
This article deals with some aspects of the intellectual activity of the Jew convert to Christianity Ludovico Carretto (alias Todros ha-Cohen, c.1500 – post 1553), especially by examining and editing previously unstudied manuscript material. The author reconstructs some aspects of Carretto’s philosophic and kabbalist background, suggesting his dependence from Christian authors as Francesco Zorzi, Petrus Galatin or Cornelius Agrippa. The study of Carretto’s response to an anonymous Jew contained in the ms. Paris BnF hébr. 753 brings to light some new pieces of information on Jewish reaction to the Christian use of Hebrew texts.
In his own copy of Estienne’s “Poiêsis philosophos”, Scaliger laconically comments on fr. 241 Bernabé, inscribing Joseph’s epithet of Gn 41, 45 in Hebrew. Through a reconstruction of Scaliger’s original intention and of the linguistic associations he built, a new etymology for the Orphic divinity Phanes is proposed.