I have been reading Avicenna, al-Razi, al-Kindi, and others, and I have noticed that almost nothing is an original work in the realm of philosophy, especially as it applies to metaphysics.

al-Farabi seemingly plagiarizes Aristotle's Metaphysics, though I do not fault him. At this point they were in the game of catch-up, and were producing incredible works on medicine.

I skimmed through some of the later Islamic philosophers and found their works to be original and fresh, so I presume it is only around ~1,000 that their works are largely, effectively, translations.

1 Answer 1


I'm not really sure if the question in answerable quite how you worded it, because you're asking us to confirm your suspicion that you should just read Aristotle, Plato, and Plotinus...

I think a better way to understand this is that much of medieval philosophy (both Islamic and Christian) follows a commentary tradition which differs from most types of scholarship today. In other words, you can't really understand what makes Avicenna Avicenna without understanding Aristotle rather well -- to detect where Avicenna is volunteering a novel interpretation and to detect what he over/under emphasizes with respect to the classic text he's working on.

Here's a quality article on this topic from the SEP: Medieval literary traditions.

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