Before essence and existence: Al-kindi's conception of being

Journal of the History of Philosophy 40 (3):297-312 (2002)
This paper studies the first metaphysical theory in Arabic philosophy, that of al-Kindi, as found in "On First Philosophy" and other of his works. Placing these works against the background of translations produced in al-Kindi's circle (the "Theology of Aristotle," which is the Arabic version of Plotinus, and the "Liber de Causis," the Arabic version of Proclus' "Elements of Theology"), it argues that al-Kindi has two conceptions of being: "simple" being, which excludes predication and derives from Neoplatonism, and "complex" being, which is based on Aristotle's notion of substance. At the end of the paper the "simple" notion of being is seen to anticipate in some respects Avicenna's distinction between existence and essence
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