It is to two English scholars, father and son, Edward Pococke, senior and junior, that the world is indebted for the knowledge of one of the most charming productions Arabian philosophy can boast of. Generally looked upon as a subject of repulsive aridity, in its strange combination of the most heterogeneous philosophical systems, devoid of the grace and charm of attractive style, unbrightened by brilliancy of wit or spirit, Arabian philosophy has, for centuries past, been subject to sad and undeserved neglect. Yet I cannot imagine a better and more eloquent refutation of this erroneous view than a rendering, in fresh garb, of this romance of Hayy Ibn Yokdhan, simple and ingenuous, yet fragrant with poetry and withal fraught with deep philosophical problems the interest in which I wish to revive. It was in the year 1671 that there was published by the Oxford University Press, as one of its first issues of Arabic texts, a book called, “Philosophus autodidactus,” edited by Edward Pococke the son, together with a Latin translation. It had a preface that bore the signature of Edward Pococke, the father, and this fact alone was sufficient to stamp it at once as a work in which vast erudition and thoroughness of investigation had joined hands—for both these savants were men of wide reputation and brilliant attainments.
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