Dividing Being

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter surveys the reception of Aristotle's Categories in the late ancient and Arabic traditions. There is a puzzle when it comes to philosophical encyclopedias and compendia in the later Islamic tradition: Aristotle's categories gradually recede in importance before disappearing from sight altogether. This chapter shows that Avicenna initiates a move of the categories within the philosophical curriculum from logic to metaphysics, where he claims they rightfully belong. Avicenna nonetheless fails to follow through on his promise to carry out a full metaphysical investigation of the categories. This chapter shows that Avicenna is responding to certain problems regarding the Aristotelian categories which had their origins in late antiquity and the late ancient Platonists' appropriation of Aristotelian logic in their school teaching. While Avicenna managed to resolve many of these problems successfully, the categories ended up a casualty of this reordering of the way Aristotelian logic and ontology relate to one another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCategories of Being
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on Metaphysics and Logic
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199980031
ISBN (Print)9780199890576
StatePublished - Sep 20 2012


  • Aristotle
  • Avicenna
  • Categories
  • Islamic tradition
  • Platonism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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