AL-BAGHDADI (Abu’l Barakat Hibat Allah ibn Malka al-Baghdadi al-Baladi)—a philosopher and physician, b. around 1077 in Balad (near Mosul), d. around 1104 in Baghdad.
Al-Baghdadi was born into a Jewish family and converted to Islam at an advanced age. Al-Baghdadi’s teacher was Abu’l Hasan Sa’id ibn Hibat Allah. As a renowned physician he served the caliphs in Baghdad and the Selduk sultans. Al-Baghdadi’s friend and disciple was the son of Abraham ibn Ezra, who wrote a panegyric for Al-Baghdadi in Hebrew.
Al-Baghdadi’s major work—Kitab al-Mu’tabar (published by S. Yaltkaya, I-III, Hyderabad 1939)—concerns logic, physics (“naturalia” together with psychology), and metaphysics. Al-Baghdadi also wrote a commentary on the book of Koholeth (published in part by S. Pines, Towards the Study of Abu al-Barakat’s Commentary to Ecclesiastes: Four Texts, Tarbiz 33, (1964), 198–213, repr. in Bein Mahshevet Yisrael li-Mahshevet ha-’Amim, J 1977); one of A-Baghdadi’s minor works was the treatise Risala fi sabab zuhur al-kawakib laylan wa-khafa’iha nahar.
Kitab al-Mu’tabar is largely modeled after Avicenna’s al-Shifa (Book of Healing). At the same time Al-Baghdadi presents his own alternative solutions and rejects some of Avicenna’s views. Al-Baghdadi begins his investigation of a problem with a clear presentation of the problem, then he presents earlier opinions on the matter, and he follows the development of the theory as a whole, the objections to the theory, and the points of agreement among authors.
In al-Mu’tabar, Al-Baghdadi presented an original notion of time, after showing that the word “time” as used in ordinary language denotes a basic concept of time that was not considered by the scholastics. According to Al-Baghdadi, the apperception of time, being and one’s own self is present in the soul prior to all other apperceptions that may appear in the soul. Time and being are strictly connected to each other, for time is the measure of being (not the measure of change, as the Peripatetics thought). He does not mention the various degrees of time (“zaman” “dahr”, “sarmad”) that were accepted by Ibn Sina and other philosophers. According to Al-Baghdadi, time is a feature of the being of the Creator and of created things.
Al-Baghdadi takes self-consciousness as the starting point in psychology, i.e., one’s consciousness of one’s own soul. This consciousness is marked by certainty and is prior to all other knowledge. A man would be conscious of his own soul even if he did not know sensible things. His conception of self-consciousness guided his thought in other problems in psychology. According to Al-Baghdadi, for example, the fact that a man is conscious of being one and the same who sees, hears, remembers and desires, or performs any other psychic act, is sufficient to refute the theory that the soul has many faculties. Also, the certainty that accompanies knowledge in the act of perceiving an object as such (not figments of the imagination), in the place where the object is, guarantees or proves that truth of impressions. Al-Baghdadi rejects the Aristotelian view that there is a difference between the soul and the intellect (according to him, the soul performs the acts of intellection), and he also rejected the theory of the active intellect. The definition of the soul advanced by Al-Baghdadi shows neo-Platonic influences—the soul is an incorporeal substance that acts in the body and through the body. Human souls are caused by the souls of the stars and after death they return to their causes.
One of Al-Baghdadi’s eminent disciples was the versatile mathematician Fakhr al-Din al-Razi: the influence of Al-Baghdadi’s views appears especially in al-Razi’s chief work—al-Mabahith al-Mashrikyya..
S. Pines, The Collected Work of Shlomo Pines, I, J-Lei 1979; A. Davidson, Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect, NY 1992, 154-161; Encyclopaedia of Islam, Lei 1995, 19972, I, 111-113.