Hayy’s quest for understanding presents the reader with contradictions throughout Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzãn. Throughout the book, the narrator presents the reader with two explanations and two understandings of Hayy’s life. Ibn Tufayl first presents the physical explanation or understanding and then accounts for the metaphysical explanation or understanding. Because Hayy grew up in solitude, he has a primitive knowledge of survival and understands only the metaphysical aspect of his life. When he meets Absal, he is presented with the physical aspect of life such as language and religion. However, what part of understanding makes Hayy human? Is it the physical understanding of his environment or his theoretical understanding? I believe that the physical understanding of life is a basic understanding of one’s surroundings and while humans are taught this throughout life, it’s the philosophical understanding that makes one a human.
The first account of a contradiction between the metaphysical world and the physical world is when the narrator explains two accounts of Hayy’s origins. The first account is that Hayy was born without parents because the climate was so perfect near the equator that he just came to be. The second account is that Hayy was that Hayy was sent in a wooden casket and was taken in by a doe that had recently lost its kid. The narrator questions the physical tale of being born out of the right temperature and even possible questions scientifically. Such an idea uses the physical materials and phenomena from Earth to create a living person. From this, Hayy does not learn what it means to be a human; he does not understand a connection with another person, or spirit, on a supernatural level.
The second, which the narrator seems to be more inclined to think it’s true, is the metaphysical story of being taken in by the doe. After Hayy is sent in a wooden casket the doe, which acts as his mother, represents a celestial spirit of Hayy’s mother. Hayy connects with the doe like it’s his real mother because of the spirit the animal possesses. It teaches Hayy to have a deeper understanding of love, affection, and the idea of growth from a child to an adult. Because Hayy is so connected to the doe, he understands more about the supernatural world than if he was born from thin air.
The second account of contradictions between the physical and metaphysical world occurs when Hayy learns the basic tools and skills to survive as a human. He discovers fire, eats a fish, and builds a hut to help him survive. While these are basic functions that a human must know it is quite primitive and is shared by animals. However, when he looks at the form of water he starts to question cause. Hayy starts to understand the philosophical aspect of his life. “Now Hayy knew by necessity that all that comes into being must have a cause.” Hayy comes to understand that all forms of being must have a cause and he has a cause for being. This is the first...