Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Philosophy, Science and the Sciences

Ruizhi Ma

Ma RuizhiDissertation Project

My dissertation focuses on Avicenna’s theory of color perception, one of his most refined discussions of a single topic. The heart of this project consists of a close reading of the third book of Kitāb al-Nafs (On the Soul) in Kitāb al-Šifāʾ (The Cure) as well as other relevant texts in Avicenna's Corpus. The first part of my work is to identify Avicenna’s possible sources. Accordingly, the second part will draw upon the first to reconstruct his own account, which is often buried in his sophisticated counter-arguments against various opponents, be they real or imaginary. This would contribute to a clearer picture of the actual mechanism of visual perception and the nature of its components (color, light, transparency, and the physiology and geometry of sight, etc.) as applauded by Avicenna. One further part of my work is to locate the color theory in Avicenna's whole philosophical project. As I envision, a systematic analysis of Avicenna’s theory of color perception will shed new light on our current understanding of his theory of cognition and help us better appreciate the strengths of his philosophy of mind, epistemology, and metaphysics.


2019– Doctoral Candidate in Philosophy, Research Training Group Philosophy, Science and the Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
2019 M.A. Tsinghua University, Beijing, China



Visiting Scholar, NELC, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
2017 B.A. Peking University, Beijing, China