Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Persian Islamic philosopher, Avicenna. In the city of Hamadan in Iran, right in the centre, there is a vast mausoleum dedicated to an Iranian national hero. Built in 1952, exactly 915 years after his death, it’s a great conical tower with twelve supporting columns. It’s dedicated not to a warrior or a king but to a philosopher and physician. His name is Ali Al Husayn Ibn-Sina, but he is also known as Avicenna and he is arguably the most important philosopher in the history of Islam. In a colourful career Avicenna proved the existence of god, amalgamated all known medical knowledge into one big book and established a mind body dualism 600 years before Descartes and still found time to overindulge in wine and sex.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Peter Adamson 7 episodes
    Reader in Philosophy at King's College London
  • Amira Bennison 10 episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge
  • Nader El-Bizri No other episodes
    Affiliated Lecturer in the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge

Related episodes

Programme ID: b00855lt

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00855lt

Auto-category: 181 (Islamic philosophy and theology)