I have a problem in the Latin translation of Avicenna's Metaphysics, that is Liber de philosophia prima sive scientia divina.

Tractatus IX, Capitulum VII, p. 510, line 67-70:

Huiusmodi autem res contingit ex magno dolore, sicut ex adustione ignis et ex uredine glaciei laeditur sensus sic ut corpus non sentiat illum, sed, cum removetur impediens, sentit nocumentum magnum.

The English translation of the Arabic passage is following:

The cause of a great pain, such as burning by fire and freezing by frost, might come about, [in which] the sense however, is stricken by a malady so that the body is not harmed by it until the malady ceases, when the great pain is then felt.

I can't understand this part of the Latin sentence:

And a thing of this kind comes about by means of a grain pain, for instance by means of burning by fire and freezing by frost, [?] the sense is injured ...

  • Ex could be translated simply as 'after.' 'Frost bite' is the usual term.
    – Hugh
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 12:24
  • I could not find this passage in the Greek original. Can anyone help out?
    – fdb
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 18:40
  • 2
    Avicenna (Ibn Sina) was a Persian Muslim philosopher who wrote his major works in Arabic. "Liber de philosophia prima sive scientia divina" is the Latin translation of the metaphysics part of his "Shifa", an arabic encyclopedia.
    – Ali Nikzad
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 23:43

1 Answer 1


In this passage, Avicenna is saying that when a sense is greatly affected by the contrary of its object, it ceases to be able to sense.

Here's a literal translation of your passage:

But this kind of thing occurs from a great pain, as [our] sense is injured from the burning of fire or the sting of ice so that the body cannot sense it [i.e. the pain], but, when the impediment is removed, it senses great harm.

  • Great. Just two point. According to what Avicenna said before, it might be "the same kind of thing". And now I think that the Latin translator mistranslated this sentence.
    – Ali Nikzad
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 16:23

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