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Avicenna on Possibility and Necessity

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In this paper, I raise the following problem: How does Avicenna define modalities? What oppositional relations are there between modal propositions, whether quantified or not? After giving Avicenna's definitions of possibility, necessity and impossibility, I analyze the modal oppositions as they are stated by him. This leads to the following results:

The relations between the singular modal propositions may be represented by means of a hexagon. Those between the quantified propositions may be represented by means of two hexagons that one could relate to each other.


This is so because the exact negation of the bilateral possible, i.e. ‘necessary or impossible’ is given and applied to the quantified possible propositions.


Avicenna distinguishes between the scopes of modality which can be either external (de dicto) or internal (de re). His formulations are external unlike al-Farab;’s ones.
However his treatment of modal oppositions remains incomplete because not all the relations between the modal propositions are stated explicitly. A complete analysis is provided in this paper that fills the gaps of the theory and represents the relations by means of a complex figure containing 12 vertices and several squares and hexagons.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Tunis, Tunisia

Publication date: October 2, 2014

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