Who came up with the "Proof of the Truthful" name for Avicenna's argument for God's existence?



Avicenna's (or Ibn Sina's) argument for the existence of God is known as "Burhan al‐Siddiqin", which I've seen translated as "Proof of the Truthful" or "Proof of Those Who Grasp the Truth" (also Proof is sometimes replaced with Demonstration).

I find the name intriguing. It doesn't seem like Avicenna come up with it himself. Who came up with this name, and how did they come up with this? And how/when did it become common to call Avicenna's argument with this name?

Edit (for bounty): From nir's answer citing this SEP article, it does seem that Avicenna himself came up with this name. Can I have a more specific reference? (e.g. on which work he used this name, any quote or snippet using that name by Avicenna, and if there's any explanation for choosing that name).


Posted 2016-12-03T21:20:48.470

Reputation: 450



With little searching I found that there is a recent book of translations: Ibn Sina's Remarks and Admonitions: Physics and Metaphysics An Analysis and Annotated Translation by Shams C. Inati that contains a specific reference for the name in Avicenna's writings, through Google books on p. 28 Inati writes:

...This proof is advanced by "the truthful", by which Ibn Sina seems to mean "the philosophers."

Inati is referring to Part three: Metaphysics, Fourth Class, Chapter 29 pp. 130-131, so that is where you probably will find Avicenna's reference to the truthful.

EDIT: Through Google books again, yes it's there, and the meaning is explained there also, see also what Inati says on p. 28.

Searching "Burhan al‐Siddiqin" in Philosopher's Index I found the article "The Proof of the Veracious: An Exposition Based on ‘Allamah Tabataba’i’s Nihayatal-Hikmah" by Louis Medoff that contains the following paragraph:

The philosophers have offered various reasons why the proof is attributed to the veracious. Siddiq means one who is extremely truthful and not tainted by any falsehood. This truthfulness can either manifest itself in act, meaning that the person’s acts are purely for God without any showing off for others (riya’), or, as in this case, truthfulness can manifest itself in thought, in so far as the person’s intellectual path to God is not ‘tainted’ by relying on others. As Sabziwari puts it in his annotations (hawashi) on the Asfar, those who do not hold onto the reality of existence, which is the most clear and manifest reality as well as the most primary and evident concept, and hold onto other things (such as coming into being, contingency, or motion) will not be free from deviation and missing the mark regarding the truth.


Posted 2016-12-03T21:20:48.470

Reputation: 818

Thank you! May I know if there is an online publisher that has the Medoff article? I tried but no luck so far – user69715 – 2017-02-09T05:08:10.437

Sorry I don't know where you could get it online outside a university. I did quote the relevant portion of the article in relation to your question, the rest of it mainly talks about the proof and not about the name of the proof. – Johannes – 2017-02-09T06:14:10.357

Which page(s) of the article has that portion? – user69715 – 2017-02-09T06:38:18.017

..........p.187 – Johannes – 2017-02-09T14:39:47.153


According to wikishia an early version of the argument itself is by al-Farabi, and the name Burhān al-Ṣiddīqīn is by Avicenna: http://en.wikishia.net/view/Burhan_al-Siddiqin

Burhān al-Ṣiddīqīn (Arabic: برهان الصّدّیقین) is a well-known theological argument for the existence of God which was mentioned for the first time by al-Farabi. Later, Avicenna introduced a new approach towards this argument and called it Burhan al-Siddiqin.

There are several versions of the argument. I particularly like Mulla Sadra's version which appears in that entry:

Mulla Sadra presents another new version of Burhan al-Siddiqin and he says that this proof is the most clear and honorable of proofs for the existence of God.

He believes in the reality of the existence and the impossibility of its inexistence. Likewise, he states this existence is free of any condition and limitation in its essence. Reality exists just because it exists, neither because of some assumptions nor something else. So, reality in its essence is equal to being independent of others and it exists unconditionally. And it equals to eternal necessary being. Therefore, reality of existence in its essence –and in itself without any conditions is equal to the eternal essence of God. So, the priority of existence leads us directly to the eternal essence of God.

According to the SEP article on Mulla Sadra it is Avicenna who called the argument by that name:

Avicenna's famous proof for the Necessary Being began with the concept of existence, proceeded with a modal distinction between necessity and contingent, and arrived at the exigency of a Necessary Being. Avicenna himself called his argument the ‘proof of the veracious’ (burhan al-siddiqin)

What reason do you have to believe otherwise?


Posted 2016-12-03T21:20:48.470

Reputation: 4 231

So, how reliable is that Wikishia website? The page you linked has no reference at all.

Also, if Al-Farabi (who lived before Avicenna) came up with that name, how come Avicenna's argument got the same label? – user69715 – 2016-12-04T05:45:50.557

My friend, according to that website it is not the name by Al-Farabi, but an early version of the argument. The name is by Avicenna. – nir – 2016-12-04T06:51:22.107