Isaac ben Solomon Israeli
Isaak (ben Salomon) Israeli ( Latin Isaac Judaeus , Hebrew יצחק בן שלמה הישראלי Jizchak ben Schlomo Jisraeli , Arabic إسحاق بن سليمان الإسرائيلي, أبو يعقوب, DMG Isḥāq bin Sulaimān al-Isrāʾīlī, Abū Yaʿqūb ; born 840/850 in al-Fustāt (in the south of today's Cairo ), Egypt ; died around 932 in Kairouan in what is now Tunisia ) was a Jewish philosopher and doctor who initially practiced in his hometown al-Fustāt and lived in Kairouan from the first decade of the 10th century. He shaped the Kairouan medical school and was the personal physician of the founder of the Fatimid dynasty.
As a writer, Isaac had a considerable influence on posterity in medieval Europe, primarily through Latin translations of some of his works. He was the founder of the Neoplatonic current in medieval Jewish philosophy. His description of philosophy as man's self-knowledge with regard to his mental and physical constitution was often quoted. Isaac saw in philosophical self-knowledge the basis for a knowledge of the entire world reality, which is also composed of spiritual and material. His principle of perceiving people as an object of knowledge and at the same time as a principle of knowledge became groundbreaking for the anthropology of late medieval scholasticism .
Little reliable information is available about Isaac's life. The anecdotal material preserved in late Arabic and Hebrew sources is largely unreliable. By far the most important and most credible source is a biography of Isaac, which the doctor and medical historian Ibn Ǧulǧul wrote in Córdoba in 987 .
Isaac was born in al-Fustāt in the period 840/850. Nothing is known of his origins apart from his Jewish descent, and nothing is known of his education. What is certain is that he began his professional activity as an ophthalmologist in al-Fustāt. In 907 he was appointed by the last Aghlabid ruler of Ifrīqiya , Ziyādat Allah III. , to his court in Kairouan in what is now Tunisia. Ziyādat Allaah also brought the doctor Isḥāq ibn ʿImrān from Baghdad to Kairouan. In doing so, he made Arabic medicine, which was already highly developed in the east of the Islamic world and based on the ancient Greek tradition, at home in the west. At first the somewhat older Isḥāq received the position of court doctor, Isaac worked under his direction and learned from him. Isḥāq soon fell out of favor with the ruler, Ziyādat Allaah had him arrested and killed, and Isaac succeeded him as the personal physician of the Alabid. In 909 the Alabid dynasty was overthrown and replaced by the Fatimids . The founder of the new dynasty, ʿAbd Allāh al-Mahdī , took Isaac into his service.
Ibn Ǧulǧul reports that Isaac was never married and had no children. He was of the opinion that his name would stand the test of time with the book of fever, which he regarded as his main work, so he had no need to regret the lack of offspring. Of his disciples, two were prominent: Ibn al-Ǧazzār , who wrote a medical travel manual known in Europe as Viaticus or Viaticum , and occasionally mistakenly attributed to Isaac, and Dūnaš ibn Tamīm , Isaac's successor as court physician.
The dating of Isaac's death is controversial. Ibn Ǧulǧul claims that he was more than a hundred years old. He died no earlier than 932; In any case, by 956 he was already dead. In older research, the latest possible approach (around 955) was usually adopted; the early dating around 932 has recently been favored.
Isaac wrote both medical and philosophical writings in Arabic.
The most famous of his philosophical works is the Book of Definitions and Descriptions (Arabic Kitāb al-ḥudūd wa ʾr-rusūm, Hebrew Sefer ha-Gevulim ). The original Arabic version has only survived in fragments. The older of the two medieval Hebrew translations (only fragments of the younger are known) and the first Latin translation are completely preserved. The scriptures contain definitions and explanations; The defined terms include philosophy , wisdom , intellect , soul and nature . At the beginning, Isaac mentions four questions necessary to understand a concept (whether something exists, what it is, what properties it has, why it is); In doing so, he relies on statements by the Arab philosopher al-Kindī , who, for his part, proceeded from a questionnaire in the Second Analytics of Aristotle .
The original Arabic version of Isaac's Book of the Elements ( Kitāb al-usṭuqusāt ), a representation of the Aristotelian doctrine of the elements, has been lost; One Latin and two Hebrew translations (Hebrew Sefer ha-Jesodot ) have been preserved. From the Book of substances ( Kitab al-ǧawāhir ) are only fragments. The book on the mind and soul ( Kitāb fī ʾr-rūḥ wa ʾn-nafs ) is - apart from a small Arabic fragment - only preserved in a Hebrew version ( Sefer ha-Ruach we-ha-Nefesch ). It is the only one of his writings in which he refers to Jewish beliefs and uses the Tanach to support his philosophical statements. Another work by Isaac, which deals with Aristotle's theory of the elements, is only preserved in a single Hebrew manuscript (as a chapter on the elements of Aristotle, Sha'ar ha-Jesodot le-Aristo ); there it is ascribed to Aristotle himself; Isaac's authorship was only discovered in the 20th century.
The book about mind and soul deals with philosophical as well as medical questions. Another area of contact between philosophy and medicine is a book on medical ethics ( leadership of doctors ) attributed to Isaac , which is only available in Hebrew translation ( Musar ha-Rofe'im ). This treatise, which is based on ideas from the Corpus Hippocraticum , has met with great interest in research and is therefore also available in modern translations into German, English, French and Italian. However, its authenticity has been in doubt since it was disputed by Jakob Guttmann in 1919 .
Among the purely medical works of Isaac, the Book of Fevers ( Kitāb al-ḥummayāt ) is considered the most important. It is the oldest Arabic treatise on the subject. The general fever theory is dealt with first; this is followed by the “day-to-day fever”, the “hectic” fever (for example in tuberculosis ), the acute fever with its accompanying symptoms (including “madness”) and the lazy fever, to which Isaac also counts the plague . The presentation is based on the ancient fever theory, but Isaac also brings in numerous references that come from his personal experience. The Arabic text is preserved in eight manuscripts.
Other influential medical treatises by Isaac are the book on the urine (Arabic Kitāb al-baul, Latin liber de urinis ) and the book on diets ( Kitāb al-aġḏiya ). The urine book provides instructions on urine diagnosis ; The essence of urine as well as its different colors, substances and sediments and their diagnostic meaning are discussed. The dietetics treatise, the model of which is the Liber Pantegni des Haly Abbas , consists of a general theoretical part and a special part in which the author discusses a number of foods. Because of this structure, the title of the Latin translation is Liber diaetarum universalium et particularium ( book on general and special diets ) or De diaetis universalibus et particularibus . Isaac is said to have written other medical writings, only the titles of which have survived, including an introduction to the art of medicine and a book on the pulse.
In Isaac's creation theory and cosmology , as in his anthropology, the Neoplatonic influence is in the foreground. He relies on a lost Neoplatonic source whose teachings he does not identify as Platonic, but erroneously ascribes Aristotle. With some thoughts he starts from reflections of al-Kindi.
Isaac's theory of the origin of the world combines the traditional Jewish idea of creation, which also prevails in Christianity, with the Neoplatonic cosmogony . In the sense of the Jewish tradition he assumes that God made a creation “out of nothing” ( Creatio ex nihilo ). In contrast to conventional religious teaching, however, he does not relate the idea of creation out of nothing to the totality of things, but only to the "first form", which he calls perfect wisdom and pure splendor, and the first (spiritual) matter. For him this work of God is - after God himself as the One - the highest of the Neoplatonic hypostases (levels of being), the highest area of the purely spiritual world.
Isaac follows the Aristotelian understanding of the composition of things from form and matter (substance). According to his teaching, the intellect emerged through the connection of the first form created by God with the first material. The first substance is the starting point for all diversity. Isaac does not regard the further phases of creation as the result of subsequent new acts of will of God, but as logical, necessary consequences of the generation of the intellect. All other things emerge from the intellect in a graded process ( emanation , discharge). They do not have their cause directly, but only indirectly in God. The rational world soul is a direct outflow of the intellect . With Isaac, the world soul shows the three parts which, according to the Aristotelian theory of the soul, are characteristic of the human soul (rational soul, sensually perceiving and vegetative soul). Isaac understands these parts as three independent hypostases. Heaven follows the vegetative soul as the last, lowest of the “simple substances”. It occupies a middle position between the upper, purely spiritual and the lower, sensually perceptible, physical world. Although it is not purely spiritual, but also contains physical matter, it is unchangeable, withdrawn from the processes of decreasing and increasing, becoming and passing away. The movement of the celestial sphere gives rise to the four physical elements (fire, water, air and earth) from an as yet undifferentiated, absolutely uniform primordial matter which still belongs to the spiritual world and forms its lowest area. The composite material objects, the bodies in the "sublunar" area (below the lunar orbit), i.e. everything that can be found on earth in terms of material, result from different combinations of the elements. Isaac rejects Democritus' atomic theory .
Anthropology and theory of the soul
Isaac does not make a clear distinction between the world soul and the individual souls; his statements about the soul relate to both equally. According to his understanding, the human soul does not go into the body, but surrounds it from the outside and contains it within itself. It affects him from outside. For this, the spirit ( ru'a benötigt ) is required as a mediating authority , a physical, ephemeral substance enclosed by the body, which enlivens the body.
In the doctrine of the intellect, Isaac distinguishes between three manifestations of the intellect: the active intellect, which is always in the act, the passive intellect, which is laid out as a possibility in the soul, and another intellect which is produced by sensory perception, the passive intellect in the Causes soul to move into the act.
With regard to the ascent of the soul from the darkness of the material world to the realm of the spiritual, Isaac follows the traditional Neoplatonic doctrine in the form that goes back to the late ancient philosopher Proclus . As for Proklos, the first phase of ascent consists in purification. In Isaac's view, those who do not succeed in ascent due to a lack of purity are left under infernal conditions. For him, the ultimate goal of ascent is not a union with the One or God himself, as is the case with Plotinus , but only the attainment of the realm of intellect or wisdom to which the soul can rise. In his opinion, this is already possible during earthly life. Philosophy shows the way. For Isaac, the task of the philosophers corresponds to that of the prophets, because both are supposed to serve as leaders for the souls of men in their liberation from bondage in matter and in the ascent into the spiritual world. In this sense, he also regards the prophets as a kind of philosopher. Isaac's student Dunasch ibn Tamim , who probably follows an opinion of his teacher, explains in his commentary on the Kabbalistic work Sefer Jezira the ascent of the soul of Moses into the "upper worlds" during his lifetime. Because of its particularly fine and light nature, this soul was superior to all others; she was able to separate from the body even before death and to unite with the divine light.
Isaac's famous definition of philosophy as human self-knowledge (in the Latin translation cognitio hominis sui ipsius ) had significant consequences for late medieval anthropology . Isaac follows a thought by al-Kindi, which goes back to an unknown Neoplatonic source. In his Book of Definitions and Descriptions , he writes that this statement is "of great depth and sublime insight". He thinks that if a person understands himself in true knowledge with regard to his mental and physical substantiality, then such self-knowledge is synonymous with a knowledge of the immaterial-spiritual and the physical substance par excellence. Self-knowledge thus leads to a knowledge of the entire world reality including the first substance and all accidents . With this assertion, the human being is not only considered as an object of knowledge, but at the same time elevated to the principle of knowledge for the entire world of things. In contrast to the traditional Neoplatonic doctrine, in which only the soul and its self-knowledge is important, Isaac includes the physical dimension of being human in his understanding of self-knowledge; the access to one's own physicality should enable access to the body substance in the outside world, just as the understanding of one's own spirit should help to understand the spiritual in the cosmos.
Isaac was in correspondence with the famous Jewish philosopher and theologian Saadia Gaon and answered his questions. His philosophical writings, however, found favor among medieval Jewish scholars only with Neoplatonic thinkers such as Moses ibn Esra and Josef ibn Zaddik . Maimonides considered them useless, the Aristotelian tendency in Jewish philosophy proceeded from different assumptions. The Muslims hardly paid any attention to Isaac. On the other hand, the aftermath of the Latin translations of his writings in the European scholarly world of the Middle Ages was strong and lasting.
The scholar Gerhard of Cremona made a Latin translation of the Book of Definitions , which became known from 1140 onwards. Less widespread than Gerhard's text was a more recent, shorter, possibly incompletely preserved Latin translation, which is attributed to Dominicus Gundissalinus . The Book of Definitions was popular with Christian Latin-speaking scholastic scholars . Isaak's description of philosophy, presented there, as human self-knowledge, which at the same time contained knowledge of the whole world, was particularly momentous for the intellectual history of the late Middle Ages. The Jewish philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol (Avicebron), who came from Spain and whose dialogue work Fons vitae , which was translated into Latin, found widespread use among Christians, was initially linked to them . Dominicus Gundissalinus also took it up. In the 13th century, numerous scholastic scholars agreed with this "anthropological" understanding of philosophy and its epistemological consequences. They said that between humans as a microcosm (small world) and the universe as a macrocosm there is a similarity or even a real correspondence. The Book of the Elements was also translated into Latin by Gerhard and was recognized by scholastic scholars. Albertus Magnus expressed great appreciation for Isaac's philosophical achievement ; he called him a "great in philosophy".
The Benedictine monk Constantinus Africanus , who was of Arab origin, translated the book about fever into Latin ( Liber febrium ) in the late 11th century , without naming Isaac as the author. Constantinus also made Latin translations of the urine book and the book on diets.
In the 13th century, the scholar Petrus Hispanus (Medicus) wrote commentaries on the urine book and the diet book. The urine book was often commented on, and the fever book was also widely received in medieval European medicine (at least 55 manuscripts have survived); in the 14th century a translation into Old Spanish ( Tratado de las fiebres ) was made. In the late Middle Ages, both writings were part of the university curriculum and exam material. The second part of the diet book was translated into Swabian in the 15th century .
In 1515 a complete edition of the Latin translations of the writings of Isaac appeared in Lyon, edited by Andrea Turini (Andreas Turinus). It also contains works by other authors who were then mistakenly ascribed to Isaac.
Editions and translations
- Samuel Miklos Stern (Ed.): The Fragments of Isaac Israeli's "Book of Substances". In: Journal of Jewish Studies . Volume 7, 1956, , pp. 13-29.
- Hartwig Hirschfeld (ed.): The "Book of Definitions" by Abu Jaʿqūb Isḥāq b. Suleimān al Isrāilī in the Hebrew translation of Nissīm b. Solomon. In: Festschrift for Moritz Steinschneider's eightieth birthday. Harrassowitz, Leipzig 1896 (new print Olms, Hildesheim 1975), pp. 131-142 (of the Hebrew part), pp. 233 f. (of the German part).
- Salomon Fried (Ed.): Sefer ha-Yesodot. The book about the elements. A contribution to the Jewish religious philosophy of the Middle Ages by Isaak ben Solomon Israeli. Drohobycz 1900.
- Mosche (Moritz) Steinschneider : Devarim Atikim. In: Ha-Carmel. Wilna 1871, pp. 400–405 (edition of the book on the spirit and the soul ).
- Alexander Altmann (Ed.): Isaac Israeli's "Chapter on the Elements" (Ms Mantua). In: Journal of Jewish Studies. Volume 7, No. 1–2, 1956, pp. 31–57, doi: 10.18647 / 221 / JJS-1956 (Hebrew text with English translation).
- Joseph Thomas Muckle (Ed.): Isaac Israeli: Liber de definicionibus. In: Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Age. Vol. 12/13, 1937/38, pp. 299–340 (critical edition of the two medieval Latin translations).
- Eugenio Fontana (Ed.): Il libro delle urine di Isacco l'Ebreo tradotto dall'arabo in latino da Costantino Africano. Giardini, Pisa 1966 (Latin text with Italian translation).
- Omnia opera Ysaac. Jean de La Place for Barthélemy (Barthelmi) Trot, Lyon 1515 ( scan in Google book search).
- De particularibus diaetis. Matthaeus Cerdonis, Padua 1487; Sixtus Henricpetri, Basel 1570 ( scan in Google book search).
- David Kaufmann (Ed.): Isak Israeli's Propaedeutic for Doctors. In: Magazine for the science of Judaism. Vol. 11, 1884, pp. 97–112 ( Guide of the Doctors, attribution to Isaak controversial, archive.org [scan of the special edition with Hebrew text in the appendix]; on this p. 93–96 preliminary remarks by Abraham Berliner , sammlungen.ub. uni-frankfurt.de [afterwards Kaufmann's edition without Hebrew text]).
- Gundolf Keil : Two old German translations of the "Diaetae particulares" by Isaak Judäus. In: Wouter Bracke u. a. (Ed.): Medical Latin from the middle ages to the eighteenth century. Proceedings of the European Science Foundation Exploratory Workshop in the Humanities, Brussels, 3rd and 4th September 1999 (= Koninklijke academie voor geneeskunde un België [Hrsg.]: Dissertationes, Series historica, DSH. Volume 8). Brussels 2000, ISBN 90-75273-26-6 , pp. 197-22.
- Susanne Nägele (ed.): Valentin Schwendes “Book of menicherhande gendered kornnes and menicherley fruitte”. The "Liber de diaetis particularibus" ("Kitāb al-Aġḏiya") by Isaak Judäus in an Upper Swabian translation of the 15th century. Introduction and critical text edition (= Würzburg medical historical research. Volume 76). Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2001, ISBN 3-8260-2302-1 (also dissertation Würzburg 2001).
- Samuel Miklos Stern: Isaac Israeli's Book of Substances. In: Journal of Jewish Studies. Volume 6, 1955, No. 3, pp. 135-145, doi: 10.18647 / 196 / JJS-1955 .
- Samuel Miklos Stern: Isaac Israeli and Moses Ibn Ezra. In: Journal of Jewish Studies. Volume 8, 1957, No. 1-2, pp. 83-89, doi: 10.18647 / 298 / JJS-1957 .
- Alexander Altmann , Samuel Miklos Stern: Isaac Israeli. A Neoplatonic Philosopher of the Early Tenth Century. Greenwood Press, Westport 1979 (reprinted London 1958 edition; contains English translations of Isaac's philosophical works; only an excerpt from the Book of Elements ).
- Alexander Altmann , Daniel J. Lasker: Israeli, Isaac ben Solomon. In: Encyclopaedia Judaica . 2nd Edition. Volume 10, Detroit 2007, ISBN 978-0-02-865938-1 , pp. 751-753.
- Heinrich Schipperges : Isḥāq al-Israilī. In: Werner E. Gerabek u. a. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of medical history. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 683.
- Colette Sirat: A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1985 (reprinted 1993), ISBN 0-521-26087-6 , pp. 57-67.
- Manfred Ullmann : Medicine in Islam (= Handbook of Oriental Studies . Department 1, Supplementary Volume 6/1). Brill, Leiden / Cologne 1970, pp. 137 f., 200, 224
- Samuel Miklos Stern: Isaac Israeli . In: Charles Coulston Gillispie (Ed.): Dictionary of Scientific Biography . tape 7 : Iamblichus - Karl Landsteiner . Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1973, p. 22-23 .
- Gundolf Keil : "Isâk künig Salomons sun made a buoch in Arabia, daz Got never bezzerz created" - The representation of the school of Kairouan in Würzburg and Breslau of the 13th century. In: Mamoun Fansa u. a. (Ed.): Ex oriente lux? Paths to Modern Science. Accompanying volume to the special exhibition […] in the Augusteum Oldenburg (= series of publications of the State Museum for Nature and Humans Oldenburg. Volume 70). Von Zabern, Mainz 2009, ISBN 978-3-8053-4075-5 , pp. 212-225 and 495-526.
- Gundolf Keil: The German Isaak Judäus reception from the 13th to the 15th century (= European scientific relations . Supplement 2). Shaker, Aachen 2015, ISBN 978-3-8440-3933-7 .
- Johannes Peine: The urination of Isaac Judaeus. Medical dissertation, Borna-Leipzig 1919, .
- Sarah Pessin: Jewish Neoplatonism: Being above Being and divine emanation in Solomon ibn Gabirol and Isaac Israeli. In: Daniel H. Frank, Oliver Leaman (Eds.): The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2003, ISBN 0-521-65207-3 , pp. 91-110.
- Raphaela Veit: The book of the fever of Isaac Israeli and its meaning in the Latin West (= Sudhoffs archive . Supplements. Volume 51). Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-515-08324-3 (also: Tübingen, University, dissertation, 2001; preview in Google book search).
- Literature by and about Isaak ben Salomon Israeli in the catalog of the German National Library
- Leonard Levin, R. David Walker: Isaac Israeli. In: Edward N. Zalta (Ed.): Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
- Richard Gottheil , Max Seligsohn: Israeli, Isaac ben Solomon in the Jewish Encyclopedia , 1906
- The Liber diaetarum universalium et particularium in the manuscript Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 13025 (14th century). Digitized in the culture portal bavarikon
- Gundolf Keil: The German Isaak Judäus reception from the 13th to the 15th century. Aachen 2015, p. 22.
- See for the dating Alexander Altmann, Samuel Miklos Stern: Isaac Israeli. A Neoplatonic Philosopher of the Early Tenth Century , Westport 1979, p. XIX and note 3.
- See the detailed discussion of the chronology in Raphaela Veit: The Book of Fever by Isaac Israeli and its meaning in the Latin West , Stuttgart 2003, pp. 27-29 ( preview in Google book search).
- Gundolf Keil: The German Isaak Judäus reception from the 13th to the 15th century. Aachen 2015, pp. 25 f., 30 f., 74.
- Badische Landesbibliothek: Title recording .
- Karl Erich Grözinger : Jewish thinking. Theology - Philosophy - Mysticism. Volume 1. Frankfurt / Main 2004, pp. 506, 514.
- Karl Erich Grözinger: Jewish thinking. Theology - Philosophy - Mysticism. Volume 1. Frankfurt / Main 2004, p. 516.
- Tamar M. Rudavsky: Medieval Jewish Neoplatonism. In: Daniel H. Frank, Oliver Leaman (eds.): History of Jewish Philosophy. New York 1997, pp. 149-187, here: 154-156.
- Alexander Altmann, Samuel Miklos Stern: Isaac Israeli. Westport 1979, pp. 189, 214 f .; Karl Erich Grözinger: Jewish thinking. Theology - Philosophy - Mysticism. Volume 1. Frankfurt / Main 2004, p. 525.
- Alexander Altmann, Samuel Miklos Stern: Isaac Israeli. Westport 1979, pp. 27 f., 202-206.
- Theodor W. Köhler : Foundations of the philosophical-anthropological discourse in the thirteenth century. The effort to gain knowledge about the human being in a contemporary understanding (= studies and texts on the intellectual history of the Middle Ages. Volume 71). Brill, Leiden / Boston / Cologne 2000, ISBN 90-04-11623-0 , pp. 442-445.
- On this occidental reception of Isaac's thinking see Theodor W. Köhler: Basics of the philosophical-anthropological discourse in the thirteenth century. Leiden 2000, pp. 442, 445-523.
- Raphaela Veit: The Book of Fever by Isaac Israeli and its meaning in the Latin West , Stuttgart 2003, pp. 20 f., 225–237 ( preview in Google book search); Heinrich Schipperges : The assimilation of Arabic medicine through the Latin Middle Ages (= Sudhoffs archive for the history of medicine and the natural sciences. Supplement 3), Wiesbaden 1964, , pp. 28–31.
- Susanne Nägele (ed.): Valentin Schwendes 'Book of menicherhande gendered kornnes and menicherley fruitte'. The 'Liber de diaetis particularibus' ('Kitāb al-Aġḏiya') by Isaak Judäus in an Upper Swabian translation of the 15th century (= Würzburg medical-historical research. Volume 76). Wuerzburg 2001.
|SURNAME||Israeli, Isaak ben Solomon|
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Isaac Israeli; Abu Jaqub Is'hak ibn Suleiman al-Isra'ili (Arabic); Isaac Judaeus|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||Jewish doctor and philosopher (Neoplatonist)|
|DATE OF BIRTH||between 840 and 850|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Egypt|
|DATE OF DEATH||at 932|
|Place of death||Kairouan , Tunisia|