Second Take-Home Assignment

Topics: Human, Ibn al-Nafis, Soul Pages: 3 (1988 words) Published: October 28, 2014

Response to question 1:
Ibn Tufayl writes of Hayy ibn Yaqzan’s experiences starting with his birth. Tufayl presents two different accounts about the origin of his hero, Hayy. The first account was that Hayy was born on an uninhabited island, not from parents but, rather, from clay fermentation. The author emphasizes the importance of the island’s perfect geographic location and climate in order to support the possibility of spontaneous human generation without the need for a mother and father. According to the second account, Hayy was the illegitimate son of a princess who was the daughter of a ruler of a large inhabited island next to the uninhabited island. In order to save the baby (Hayy) from certain death, his mother puts him in a box and threw it into the water. Overnight, the tides took Hayy to the uninhabited island. According to the first account, Tufayl describes the phases of spontaneous generation of human life – first, the clay ferments, then sticky bubbles appear, a heart is formed and, finally, a soul descends from heaven and enters the heart. The soul sheds its light on a human body, while the sun sheds its light on the different classes of society which make-up the world. The two accounts of Hayy’s birth come together at this point, and the author proceeds to give an account of Hayy’s development and self-education on the uninhabited island. After being washed up on the island, a gazelle who had lost her doe heard the sounds of a crying baby. Still experiencing the feelings of motherhood, the gazelle adopts feeds and raises Hayy until he is seven years old. With a powerful intelligence, Hayy begins to observe nature and the animal world around him. Soon after Hayy’s seventh birthday, the gazelle dies. In an effort to find the cause of his “mother’s” death, he opens her up. He finds the cause in the left ventricle of her heart and believes that the problem is nothing but a missing vital principle in the ventricle which leads him...
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