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A1-F r tbi on the Logic of the Arguments of the Muslim Philosophical Theologians INTRODUCTION My intention in this paper is to discuss those portions of al-F~rSbi's treatise--mistitled by Nicholas Rescher as Al-Fdr~bf's Short Commentary on Aristotle's Prior Analytics'--which bear on certain methods of logic generally preferred, appropriated and developed by the Muslim philosophical theologians, Mutakallimftn (rendered also as dialectical or rationalist theologians). Logic, as a rational system relevant and valuable in arguments, was a subject that held some attraction for the Muslim philosophical theologians, who regarded it as an organ, a tool (d/a) which would provide their religious doctrines with an impregnable rational cordon against the onslaughts of the unorthodox Muslim thinkers. ~ AI-F~r~J~i's main concern in this treatise is to expound "the logic of the philosophical theologians." Although one title of the treatise is "A Short Book on the Syllogism," two others read as follows: "A Brief Exposition of the Logic of the Philosophical Theologians" (Kitdb al-mukhtasar al-sagh~rfi 'l-mantiq 'ala ta.riqal-mutakallim~n), and "The Book ofAbft N~r... in which he interpreted (kharraja) the arguments of the theologians and the analogies (qiy~dO of the jurists as logical syllogisms in accordance with the doctrines of the ancients" (that is, the Greeks).3 The last two titles point up the crucial concern of the treatise, which is the exposition of the logic of the arguments of the Muslim philosophical theologians. One section, which perhaps occupies the largest portion of the treatise, namely, Transfer (nuq/a, that is, analogical reasoning) is described by al-FArAbi as al-qiyds al-ka/am~y, that is, the syllogism of the philosophical theologians. The opening sentence of the treatise, "our aim in this treatise is to explain what the syllogism (qiy~s) and inference (/~t/d/a/) are," does indicate of course that al-F~r~bi is concerned with the syllogism or the syllogistic mode of inference. But the syllogistic mode of inference, according to al-F~r~bi, includes premises which, in Aristotle, would be described as dialectical. The arguments of the philosophical theologians, al-F~r~bi would want to say, though dialectical in nature, are all cast in syllogistic molds. And al- ' (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1963). Rescher's translation, however, has been found to contain a large number of serious mistakes. See A. I. Sabra's review in the Journal of the American OrientalSociety85 0965): 241-43. The Arabic text was edited by Mile Mubahat Turker and was published in the Revue de la Facult~des langues, d'histoire,et de geographiede l'Universit~ d'Ankara 160958): ~44-86. " See Kwame Gyekye, Arabic Logic, Ibn al-Tayyib'sCommentaryon Porphyry'sEisagoge (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1979), 2f. s The last title of the treatise is in Turker, 174. Quoted by Sabra, 42~. [135] ~36 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY ~7:1 JANUARY ~989 F~r~tbT shows that inferences based on analogy, the indirect syllogism, the example, induction--inferences whose premises are generally accepted opinions--(this, incidentally , is what Aristotle means by 'dialectical'; Topics looa3o-bl) are all reducible to the categorical syllogisms of Aristotle's Prior Analytics. This is the reason for his devoting the first part of the treatise to a straightforward account of the syllogism as presented in the Prior Analytics. According to Aristotle and al-F~r~bi, dialectical arguments, though syllogisticallycorrect, fall short of the conditions of scientific accuracy; hence al-F~r~bi's pleas for "tolerance" (musd~ma.ha),that is, a less rigid approach in search of the accuracy or truth of their premises. Also, by taking his illustrations and even terminology from the fields of theology (kal~m) and jurisprudence (fiqh), al-FAr~biaims to show that the forms of the arguments of the Islamic sciences should be regarded as enthymematic or elliptical formulations of the syllogisms established by Aristotle. 1. Before I discuss the second part of aI-Fhrabi's treatise which may be labelled 'dialectical ' (in Aristotle's sense) and which was the stock-in-trade mode of reasoning among the Muslim...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 135-143
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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