CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

The Problem of Hylomorphism and Dualism in Avicenna: A Guide to Resolving Other Tensions

Andre M. Gregori, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Humanities

Dept/Program: History; Philosophy

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Ann Moyer

Date of this Version: 18 May 2009

This document has been peer reviewed.



One of the greatest challenges posed to the student of Avicenna's psychology is whether he upholds a hylomorphic or dualistic conception of the soul. The hylomorphic position is the one espoused by Aristotle, in nuce that the soul is the entelecheia, or substantial form, of the body considered as matter. The dualistic position is that the soul is a separate substance that controls the body, itself also a substance. The goal of this essay is to determine the full complexity of Avicenna's position, by dissecting four of his great psychological works, each from a different point in his career: The Compendium on the Soul, The Origin and the Return, The De Anima from The Cure, and On the Rational Soul. Ultimately, we contend herein that the method we employ in solving this paper's central problem can serve as a guide to resolving other such problems in Avicenna's philosophy.


History of Philosophy | Intellectual History | Islamic World and Near East History | Medieval History | Other Psychiatry and Psychology | Philosophy of Mind | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Suggested Citation

Gregori, Andre M., "The Problem of Hylomorphism and Dualism in Avicenna: A Guide to Resolving Other Tensions" 18 May 2009. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 08 March 2010

This document has been peer reviewed.




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