Avicenna says that intellectual cognition involves the emanation of an intelligible form by the ‘agent intellect’ upon the human mind. This paper argues that in order to understand why he says this, we need to think of intellectual cognition as a special case of a much more general phenomenon. More specifically, Avicenna's introduction of an agent intellect will be shown to be a natural consequence of certain assumptions about the temporality, the completion, and the teleology of the causal processes by which things acquire forms.

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