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Al-Kindi

Al-Kindi

Al-Kindi’s influence in the fields of physics, mathematics, medicine, philosophy and music were far-reaching and lasted for several centuries. He wrote many works on arithmetic which included manuscripts on Indian numbers, the harmony of numbers, lines and multiplication with numbers, relative quantities, measuring proportion and time, and numerical procedures and cancellation. He also wrote on space and time, both of which he believed were finite, ‘proving’ his assertion with a paradox of the infinite. In geometry al-Kindi wrote, among other works, on the theory of parallels. He gave a lemma investigating the possibility of exhibiting pairs of lines in the plane which are simultaneously non-parallel and non-intersecting. Also related to geometry was the two works he wrote on optics, although he followed the usual practice of the time and confused the theory of light and the theory of vision.

Al-Kindi theorized that there was a separate, incorporeal and universal intellect (known as the “First Intellect”). It was the first of God’s creation and the intermediary through which all other things came into creation. Al-Kindi also said that the soul is a simple, immaterial substance, which is related to the material world only because of its faculties which operate through the physical body. To explain the nature of our worldly existence, he compared it to a ship which has, during the course of its ocean voyage, temporarily anchored itself at an island and allowed its passengers to disembark. The implicit warning is that those passengers who linger too long on the island may be left behind when the ship sets sail again. Here, al-Kindi displays a stoic concept, that we must not become attached to material things (represented by the island), as they will invariably be taken away from us (when the ship sets sail again).

 

  • Al-Kindi’s Poetry
  • Al-Kindi’s Quotes