Avicenna was the most influential of all Arabic philosopher - scientists. He was educated by his father whose home was a meeting place for men of learning at that time. He continued to study logic and metaphysics under some of the best teachers of his day but then continued his studies on his own. In particular he studied medicine and this was to prove of great value since Avicenna was able to cure a Samanid prince and, as a reward, he was allowed to use the Royal Library of the Samanids which greatly helped his studies.
After taking a post as an administrator his life took a marked turn after the death of his father and the defeat of the Samanids. He began a life of wandering round different towns of Khorasan, acting as a physician and administrator by day while every evening he gathered students round him for philosophical and scientific discussion.
After this period of wandering Avicenna went to Hamadan in west-central Iran. Here he settled for a while becoming court physician. The ruling prince twice appointed him vizier. Politics was not easy at that time and Avicenna was forced into hiding for a while by his political opponents and he also spent some time as a political prisioner in jail.
Avicenna's two most important works are The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine . The first is a scientific encyclopaedia covering logic, natural sciences, psychology, geometry, astronomy, arithmetic and music. The second is the most famous single book in the history of medicine. These works were begun while he was in Hamadan.
After being imprisioned, Avicenna decided to leave Hamadan in 1022 on the death of the prince who he was serving, and he travelled to Isfahan. Here he entered the court of the local prince and spent the last years of his life in comparative peace. At Isfahan he completed his major works begun at Hamadan and also wrote many other works on philosophy, medicine and the Arabic language.
Avicenna is known to have corresponded with al'Biruni. He made astronomical observations and correct deductions from them. He observed Venus as a spot against the surface of the Sun and correctly deduced that Venus must be closer to the Earth than the Sun.
He also correctly stated, with what justification it is hard to see, that the velocity of light is finite.
During military campaigns Avicenna was expected to accompany his prince and many of his works were composed on such campaigns. It was one such military campaign that he took ill and, despite attempting to apply his medical skills to himself, died.
References (12 books/articles)
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There is a Crater Avicenna on the moon. You can see a list of lunar features named after mathematicians.
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