Section 1

Detailed Analysis in Order to Establish the Existence of the Spiritual Faculties

September 29, 2022

Whoso wishes to describe anything whatsoever before proceeding to establish first its reality of existence*, such a one is counted by the wise among those who deviate from the broad beaten track of perspicuous statement.

*Reality of existence; or its whereabouts. Doctor S. Landauer thinks that the word ayniyyat in the text must be wrong, because nowhere throughout this section is the «Whereabout» of the mental powers so much as hinted at; whereas the burden of the whole chapter is to prove merely that such powers do exist, i.e., their inniyyat, which is a word used by Arab Logicians.

Therefore, we should first set to work to establish the existence of the spiritual powers, before starting to define each one of them singly, and enlarge upon it.

The most peculiar characteristics of spiritual properties are 2

  1. Setting in Motion (Impulsion)
  2. Perception

We will show show that there is a moving cause (ground, reason, motive, pretence) to every moving body.

Examples of natural motions are:

  • the sinking of the heavy
  • the rising of the light

Bodies moving in motions over and above the natural motions have moving* causes, which we call souls or spiritual powers.

*Translator’s Note: Ibn Sînâ has a clear premonition of Newton’s Theory of Gravitation 700 years earlier than Newton

Any body, in so far as it shows signs (traces) that it is perceptive, such perception by it cannot be validly ascribed to its body, except because of powers (faculties) in it that are capable of perception.

Some of them share some one thing in common, and differ in an other; and that that which is shared in common is other than that in which they differ. The mind encounters all bodies whatsoever as having this in common, viz. that they are bodies.

Afterwards, it encounters them as differing in that they move (in different ways); otherwise there would be no such thing as rest of a body, and not even such a thing as motion of a body, except along a circle, seeing that of motion in a straight line it is established by its very form that it will not proceed save from stoppings and to stoppings (resting-places to resting-places).

Hence, bodies are not to be clothed with the attribute of motion because they are bodies, but for reasons (causes) above and beyond their corporeity, from which causes their motions proceed, like the resulting[Pg 23] of the footprint from the walker (or, just as the effect proceeds from the agent).

So much having become clear to us, we say that we find, among bodies generated from the Four Elements,[earth, air, fire, water] such as moves, not by constraint, in two kinds of motion between which there is more or less difference: The one kind inherent in its element by reason of the supremacy over it of the power of one of its constituents, and thus decreeing its motion towards the position in space naturally appointed for it, as for example a man’s moving by the nature of the preponderating[8] heavy element in his body downwards; nor will this kind of the motions of bodies be found to take place save in one direction and with a constant tendency;

The second kind of motion going against the decree of its element, which decree is either rest in the natural position as soon as it reaches that position, as for example a man’s moving his body along its natural home which is the Earth’s surface; or else a moving away from the natural position when already separated from it, like a flying bird’s motion with its heavy body high up through the sky.

Thus, the 2 motions have 2 accounting causes. They are different one from the other:

  • one is “Natural”
  • the other is called “Soul” or “Spiritual Faculty”.

Hence it is quite sound, as to motion, to affirm the existence of spiritual faculties.

Whereas, in respect of Perception, because that bodies exist with this in common, viz. that they are bodies, and with this in distinction, viz. that they are repeatedly perceptive, it is quite manifest by the first (preceding) process of discrimination that perception will not ever differ from bodies through difference of their substance, but by certain powers or faculties borne within those bodies.

We will demonstrate these spiritual faculties.


[A]A Why and Wherefore moving it. Note the difference between sabab and illah. Transcriber addition: sabab (سبب) and illat (علّة): Sabab means the general conditions that are conducive to something occuring, whereas illat is the reason in cause-and-effect. Traditionally, illat is used in logic or medicine, whereas sabab would be more likely to be heard in common speech.