A1 Journal article (refereed)
Avicenna’s Outsourced Rationalism (2020)

Kaukua, J. (2020). Avicenna’s Outsourced Rationalism. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 58(2), 215-240. https://doi.org/10.1353/hph.2020.0037

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsKaukua, Jari

Journal or seriesJournal of the History of Philosophy



Publication year2020


Issue number2

Pages range215-240

PublisherJohns Hopkins University Press

Publication countryUnited States

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessNot open

Publication channel open access

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/68498


This paper refutes the claim that Avicenna's theory of science is empiricist in the robust, Lockean sense. I argue that his denial of innatism notwithstanding, the theory of formal identity, together with the metaphysical idea that the ontological structure of the sublunary world is grounded in the active intellect, commits Avicenna to a peculiar kind of rationalism in which the ultimate source of knowledge is an intellect, albeit one extraneous to the human mind. I then introduce two hitherto insufficiently discussed texts to challenge this conclusion. In the end, I claim that although this new material may provide some evidence for a robust empiricism in Avicenna, its consequences remained uncharted by him, and that some of his theological adversaries put forth a more radical kind of empiricism.


Free keywordsAvicenna (Ibn Sīnā); Locke; empiricism; rationalism; skepticism

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Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2020

JUFO rating3

Last updated on 2024-03-04 at 21:16