A Debate in Later Arabic Logic

13 June 2016, 12:30 - 14:00

CRASSH Meeting Room

Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work in Progress Seminar Series.  All welcome but please email Michelle Maciejewska to book your place and to request readings.  A sandwich lunch and refreshments are provided.

The study of logic occupied an important place in madrasa education in most parts of the Islamic world from the twelfth century to the twentieth. Nevertheless, the history of Arabic logic is still to a large extent terra incognita. Especially the so-called “post-classical” period has tended to be neglected by modern scholarship. This is in part due to the still widespread assumption that Islamic civilization as a whole declined or stagnated after around the mid-thirteenth century. The neglect may also, in part, be due to an inability to come to terms with the prevalent literary genres of commentary and gloss. Such literary forms are not very amenable to the predominant, person-centered model for doing history of philosophy. An alternative, and hopefully more promising, way of getting to grips with the abundant literature written in this scholastic format is to investigate issues or controversies, and see how various commentators and glossators contributed to them. The present article is an attempt to trace the controversy on propositions and their parts, intensively discussed by logicians writing in Arabic in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Beginning in the early fourteenth century, the suggestion was made that the parts of a standard categorical proposition are four: the subject, the predicate, the nexus between them, and the judgment. This thesis was criticized in the late fifteenth century, especially by the Persian scholar Dawānī (d.1502). His criticism and the ensuing discussion came to be intertwined with another controversial issue: can the objects of conception (taṣawwur) also be objects of assent (taṣdīq)?


Khaled El-Rouayheb is the CRASSH Leverhulme Visiting Fellow 2015-16

Khaled El-Rouayheb is Jewett Professor of Arabic at Harvard University. He conducts research on Arabic-Islamic intellectual history, especially in the period from the thirteenth century to the eighteenth. His publications include Before Homosexuality in the Arabic-Islamic World, 1500-1800 (2005), Relational Syllogisms and the History of Arabic Logic, 900-1900 (2010), and Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century: Scholarly Currents in the Ottoman Empire and the Maghreb (2015).

While in Cambridge Khaled will be participating in seminars and lectures at the Faculty of Divinity. He will be the main speaker at their Religious Studies seminar on Tuesday 17 November at 2.30pm in the Lightfoot Room, Muhammad b. Yusuf al-Sanusi (d.1490): Logic, Theology and the Condemnation of "Imitation".  For further information please click here.lamic tradition of natural philosophy, a good deal of basic groundwork will need to done. It will have to be shown that there was a lively tradition of natural philosophy in madrasas in the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal Empires. Main authors, texts, issues, and controversies will have to be identified. But the aim of my research will eventually be to explore a number of further issues, particularly: What was the understanding of “natural philosophy”? How did it relate to other disciplines such as astronomy or medicine? How were the issues of natural philosophy discussed? Did explicitly religious or scriptural considerations feature in natural philosophical discussions? To what extent were the contributors to this tradition aware of scientific developments in Western Europe?