Journal article Open Access
I defend the claim that Avicenna explains the creation of the universe in terms of emanation modeled on Neoplatonic emanation by exploring Avicenna’s account of creation by emanation in detail. I address what appears to be an obvious problem for the application of this model to creation—namely, that creation as emanation seems to be non-voluntary and has been understood to be non-voluntary by several prominent interpreters. I explore how Avicenna contends that God emanates voluntarily and non-necessarily (that is, God’s action is subject to no internal or external constraints). Avicenna is able to make this claim because of his distinction between an action done of natural necessity, done voluntarily, and done with an intention. I then address whether this means that God creates freely—without any constraint whatsoever—and I conclude that God is not free not to create because God (a) has an immutable will and (b) has already acted to create. While God is not under any initial compulsion to create, from the fact that the universe now exists, God cannot act otherwise than to create.