A Brief Outline of Ibn Sina's Conception of Number


  • Hassan Tahiri Centro de Filosofia das Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa


Ibn Sı̄nā (980-1037), one of the influential philosopher-scientists of the classical Arabic-Islamic tradition who was known to the West by the Latinised name Avicenna, has introduced a major shift in the philosophy of mathematics that is neither Platonist nor Aristotelian, his conception of number is constructed in 5 stages:

1. The recognition that mathematical entities are intentional objects and that this amounts to provide an intentional notion of existence;

2. The specific act of repetition inferred from apprehending unity;

3. The generation of numbers:

3.1. Generation of number two as first element;

3.2. Generation of infinity by an epistemic agent.