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.
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‘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.'
‘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.’