Ibn Tufayl

Pages: 160
Subject: Biography, Religion
Series: Makers of the Muslim World
Imprint: Oneworld Academic

Ibn Tufayl

Living the Life of Reason

Taneli Kukkonen

A timely biography of Ibn Tufayl that sets one of the most famous Arabic philosophical works - Hayy ibn Yaqdhan - in its historical and philosophical context
9781780745640 (6 Nov 2014)
RRP £30.00 / US$40.00

The Book

Ibn Tufayl (d. 1185) was an Andalusian courtier, philosopher, Sufi master, and royal physician to the Almohad Caliphs. He inspired the twelfth-century Andalusian revolt against Ptolemaic astronomy and sponsored the career of the most renowned Aristotelian of medieval times, Abu al-Walid Ibn Rushd (the Latin Averroes). Ibn Tufayl was an exemplar of the kind of versatile scholar early Almohad culture wanted to cultivate.

In this thought provoking and concise account, Taneli Kukkonen explores the life and thought of Ibn Tufayl and assesses the influence and legacy of Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, Ibn Tufayl's famous philosophical romance. Hayy Ibn Yaqzan became a popular and often-copied work in early modern Europe; it has since secured a place as one of the best read pieces in all Arabic literature, partly due to its outstanding literary qualities, in part because it provides an ideal introduction to the themes and preoccupations of classical Arabic philosophy. The study sets Hayy in its historical and philosophical context and paints a vivid portrait of the world as Ibn Tufayl saw it and as he wished for it to be seen.

Additional Information

Subject Biography, Religion
Series Makers of the Muslim World
Pages 160
Imprint Oneworld Academic


About the Author

Taneli Kukkonen has held appointments at the universities of Victoria, Jyväskylä, and Otago. He is currently Visiting Associate Professor in Philosophy at New York University Abu Dhabi. He has published widely on topics in Arabic philosophy and the Aristotelian tradition.


‘Taneli Kukkonen's study is not only a superb introduction to Ibn Tufayl and his work, but it also provides a succinct overview of Islamic philosophical thought at large…his exposition [is] admirably lucid and, indeed, entertaining.'

- LA Review of Books

‘Scholars and students of Ibn Ṭufayl will enjoy Kukkonen's introduction. Indeed his observation that Ibn Ṭufayl's "casual asides and narrative detours can be just as fascinating to us as what he is ultimately driving at" may equally be made of his own book.'

- Journal of the History of Philosophy

Table of Contents


Hayy Ibn Yaqzan: An overview



The Almohad Revolution

A New Intellectual Order

The Caves of Guadix

The Medical Tradition

In Royal Service

Sufi, Musicologist, Medical Author




Hayy: A Synopsis

An Architectural Design

Hayy's Theme

Pointers and Reminders

The Spiral Path

Authority and Authentication

Harmony and Hierarchy



The Island

The Perfect Climate

From Ceylon to Mali

The Twice-born Child

History or Drama

Seeing with One's Own Eyes

Beginning from the Beginning

Experience and Art

The Limits of Skill



Taking in the World

Structure and Scaffolding

Suspended between Worlds

Natures and Powers

Forms and Universals

Synthesis and Analysis


The Elements

The Heavenly Spheres



Living Nature

Vital Heat

The Vehicle of the Soul

The Spirit which is God's

Diffusion and Suffusion

Plurality and Unity

The Human Distinction

The Science of the Soul



Finitude and Transcendence

Two Worlds

Ought from Is

Three Lives

The Conservation Principle

Kinship with the Heavens

Leaving the World Behind



Unveiling the Mysteries

From Asceticism to Mysticism

Tasting the Truth

Theological Precepts

Like Knowing Like

Annihilation and Restoration

Faces and Names

The "Eastern Wisdom”

Sensation and Intellection




Religion and Society

Asal and Salaman

Language and Reality

Modeling Perfection

Re-entering the Cave

Human Weakness

Morality and Scripture

Mortality and Revelation



Arabic Margins

Hebrew Echoes

Early Modern Success

The "Robinson” Question

Orientalist Ideas

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