Avicenna (a Latinised version of Ibn Sina) was born in 980 A.D. in Central Asia. He died in 1037 in Persia. A child prodigy who memorised the Koran by age 10, Ibn Sina also taught himself medicine and treated patients as a teenager.
Arguably the greatest mind of Islamic civilisation, his intellectual achievements stand out all the more when you examine the context of his prodigious output. He produced about 450 works on philosophy, medicine, psychology, to name a few areas.
Wisnovsky, an accomplished historian of philosophy and classical Arabist, has provided a precise and painstaking study of Avicenna's philosophy in context. The 'contextualism' championed by Wisnovsky, which owes a debt to the pioneering work of the philosopher of science, AI Sabra, seeks to recreate the situation and context in which Avicenna's ideas were generated. Wisnovsky has mastered a difficult topic and rendered the work of a complext mind with aplomb. He eschews reductionism (simplfying stuff)or precursorism (glorifying achievements) to produce a balanced, sympathetic but level-headed study of the work of a great Islamic and world thinker.
Wisnovsky writes well, but the subject matter is heavy-going. Not for the lay reader but certainly very useful for students of the subject, whether professional or the garden variety, like myself. I look forward to future works of Wisnovsky.