Avicenna (also Ibn Sīnā or Abu Ali Sina; c. 980 – June 1037) was a Persian polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age. He has been described as the father of early modern medicine.

Avicenna wrote his famous “Floating Man” – literally falling man – thought experiment to demonstrate human self-awareness and the substantiality and immateriality of the soul. Because it is conceivable that a person, suspended in air while cut off from sense experience, would still be capable of determining his own existence, the thought experiment points to the conclusions that the soul is a perfection, independent of the body, and an immaterial substance. The knowledge that “I am” is the core of a human being: the soul exists and is self-aware. The body is unnecessary; in relation to it, the soul is its perfection. In itself, the soul is an immaterial substance.

Avicenna made an argument for the existence of God which would be known as the “Proof of the Truthful“. Avicenna argued that there must be a “necessary existent“, an entity that cannot not exist and through a series of argument.

    • Contingent: has a reason for its being
    • Necessary: has no reason for its being
    • God = the necessary being
    • Suppose there were no necessary being
    • Everything, including the current state of the world, YOU, would be contingent
    • There would be an infinite series:
    • You <- father <- his father <- his father <- ….
    • But then the conditions for YOU existence would never be satisfied
    • So, there is a necessary being, God

Boethius – Consolation of Philosophy

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius (c. 477–524 AD), was a Roman senator, consul, magister officiorum, and philosopher of the early 6th century.

In 522, the same year his two sons were appointed joint consuls. In 523 Boethius fell from power. After a period of imprisonment in Pavia for what was deemed a treasonable offence, he was executed in 524.

Boethius writes the book as a conversation between himself and Lady Philosophy. Lady Philosophy consoles Boethius by discussing the transitory nature of fame and wealth (“no man can ever truly be secure until he has been forsaken by Fortune”), and the ultimate superiority of things of the mind, which she calls the “one true good”. She contends that happiness comes from within, and that virtue is all that one truly has, because it is not imperilled by the vicissitudes of fortune.

Boethius told us: If you are in possession of yourself you will possess something you would never wish to lose and something Fortune could never take away.

Augustine of Hippo


Saint Augustine of Hippo 13 November 354 – 28 August 430)was a Roman African, early Christian theologian and philosopher from Numidia whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy.

Augustine saw the human being as a perfect unity of two substances: soul and body. Initially, the two elements were in perfect harmony. After the fall of humanity they are now experiencing dramatic combat between one another. They are two categorically different things. The body is a three-dimensional object, whereas the soul has no spatial dimensions. Soul is a kind of substance, participating in reason, fit for ruling the body and the soul is superior to the body.

A will defiled by sin is not considered as “free” as it once was because it is bound by material things, which could be lost or be difficult to part with, resulting in unhappiness. Sin impairs free will, while grace restores it.


Augustine boldly wrote a letter urging the emperor to set up a new law against slave traders and was very much concerned about the sale of children. Augustine believed that slavery did more harm to the slave owner than the enslaved person himself.

 Augustine, who believed Jewish people would be converted to Christianity at “the end of time”, argued that God had allowed them to survive their dispersion as a warning to Christians; as such, he argued, they should be permitted to dwell in Christian lands.

Medieval Philosophy

Medieval philosophy is the philosophy in the era now known as medieval or the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. to the Renaissance in the 16th century.

Medieval philosophy is characteristically theological. All the main branches of philosophy today were a part of Medieval philosophy. 

The principles that underlie all their work are:
    • The use of logic, dialectic, and analysis to discover the truth, known as ratio;
    • Respect for the insights of ancient philosophers, in particular Aristotle, and deference to their authority;
    • The obligation to co-ordinate the insights of philosophy with theological teaching and revelation.