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Avicenna: A Man of Many Talents

Would a man who cherished knowledge actually burn down the library where he gained a great deal of his intelligence? In this article, you will encounter the accusations thrown at Avicenna when a fire breaks out at a royal establishment. Other information you will encounter includes the various areas of knowledge that Avicenna made a contribution.  

·    A Wealth of Knowledge
·    As an adult, Avicenna was appointed to the position of physician to the emir, who he helped recuperate from a serious illness. One of the main rewards that Avicenna received as a result was access to the royal library of the Samanaids. Unfortunately, the library was burned down due to a fire that shrouded the cause with mystery. Enemies of Avicenna claimed that it was he who burned down the library, stating that he did not want anyone else to have access to the same knowledge that he had absorbed.

·    Losing a Father
·    When Avicenna was 22 years old, his father died.

·    Chemistry Wizard
·    Avicenna also dabbled in chemistry and became one of the first people to write disclaimers regarding alchemy. His works (four in total) concerning the subject were translated into Latin. They were: Liber Aboali Abincine de Anima in arte Alchemiae; Declaratio Lapis physici Avicennae filio sui Aboali; Avicennae de congelatione et conglutinatione lapifum; and Avicennae ad Hasan Regem epistola de Re recta.

·    A Leader in Philosophy
·    Avicenna is known as being quite successful in joining together the thoughts of Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism during medieval Islamic times. Because of this, his school of thought (Avicennism) was regarded as the leading school of Islamic philosophy by the time the 12th century rolled around. This also solidified Avicenna’s position as an essential player in the world of philosophy.

·    Enter the Engineer
·    Avicenna wrote an encyclopedia called “The Measure of the Mind,” where he included chapters on mechanics and engineering. Within the work, he wrote an analysis on the “science of ingenious devices” , which turned out to become the first triumphant attempt to explain the classification of simple machines. His descriptions and illustrations of the lever, wedge, pulley, screw, and windlass proved quite influential. He then went on to explore the many combinations that existed between simple machines.  

·    His Last Position
·    The last 10 or so years of Avicenna’s life was spent by the side of Abu Ja’far ‘Ala Addaula, where he served as his physician. Other roles attributed to him included the posts of general literary and scientific adviser.

·    The End is Near
·    During the marching of an army heading against Hamadan, Avicenna was struck with a severe bout of colic. The remedies used to treat the condition were rather harsh, leaving him unable to stand on his own. Later on, the disease once again reared its ugly head, and when he finally reached Hamadan , it was with great difficulty. It was at this time that it became apparent that the disease was taking its toll on his body and mind. Close friends hoped that he would take it easy, but he would have nothing of it. He is quoted as saying: “I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length”.