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Al-Farabi on Logical Tradition

Nicholas Rescher
Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 24, No. 1. (Jan. - Mar., 1963), pp. 127-132.
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Petersbourg. 6 I n fact. no. M. "The Development of Arabic Logic: The First Century (c. 117-138. 4 (St. Rescher. 8. "Al-Firibi's Eisagoge." ibid. 1836). This discussion possesses especial interest because it sheds important light on how al-Fiiriibi viewed the continuity of the logical tradition from the Athens of Aristotle to the Baghdad of his own day. I wish in this paper t o present a perhaps unique discussion by al-FiirBbi on the subject of the history of logical studies. al-Fiirsbi's logic has attracted a disproportionately small amount of attention. 7 "Al-Farabi (Alpharabius) : Des arablschen Philosophen Leben und Schriften. I11 (1956). VIIe skrie. Cairo.s The first of these extracts is taken from the section on This paper is part of a series of studies relating to Arabic contributions to logic supported by a research grant from the National Science Foundation which the author acknowledges gratefully. 11. A. as contrasted with his writings on other seemingly more alluring subjects such as politics and religion. They became available in a markedly superior version when the work of Ibn Abi Usaibica was edited by August Miiller. Dunlop call for especial mention: "-41Firtibi's Introductory Sections on Logic. 873-950) has always been recognized as one of the most important philosophers of Islam. "Al-Fgribi's Paraphrase of the Categories of Aristotle. 264-282. N..5 although a great deal remains to be done. vol." T h e Islamic Quarterly. as his numerous works are gradually being published and ~ t u d i e d Al-Fiiriibi . 175-192.LOGICAL TRADITION I. -41Flircibi: A n Annotated Bibliographl~(University of Pittsburgh Press. Petersbourg.D. I1 (1955). XV (1951). 1884 (notes). For regrettably. Steinschneider gives the tests on 208-209 and 211-213.~ of his logical work survives and is beginning to attract the attention of scholars." Me'rnoires de 1'Acade'mie Impe'riale des Sciences de S t . it is the first but for two treatises by al-Firibi published by F.). 165-197. Schmoelders in his Docurnenta Philosophiae Arabzbm (Bonn. published in 186g17hiloritz Steinschneider printed (in a n Appendix) the Arabic text of two substantial extracts from the logical writings of al-Fiiriibi as quoted from the great medical history of Ibn Abi Usaibica.~ devoted more effort to logic than to any other single branch of philosophy or science: and he deserves to be classified as the first specialist in logical studies among the Arabic-speaking peop l e ~ Much ." ibid. 1869). Introduction Although Abfi Nasr al-Fiiriibi (c. and V (1959). For a survey of published work by and about al-Firibi see N.. 5 The important contributions of D . See Ahmet Ates." T o be published. The text with which I am concerned is actually one of the first of alFiiriibi's writings to see the light of print in the original A r a b k 6 I n his classic monograph on al-FiirBbT. 900 A. Rescher. 1882 (text only). IV (1958). 21-54. "Farabi bibliografyasi. . I. 800-c." T u r k Tarih K u r u m u Belleten (Ankara). Konigsberg. ScUyCn al-anbci' fi tabaqat al-tibbci' ("The sources of information about the classes of physicians"). 1962). his full stature is coming t o be appreciated only recently.

But she was conquered by Augustus. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse (Berlin.) : De Scientiis (Madrid. our interest is quite different from Meyerhof's problem of how Greek learning reached the Arabs. during whose reign there were twelve teachers [successively] in charge of philosophical instruction. 389-429. (Cairo.128 NICHOLAS RESCHER logic of al-FBriibi's Ihsli' al-culfim ("Inventory of the Sciences") long familiar in its medieval Latin form as D e Scientiis first published in Venice in 1546.e. Pp. (See the bibliography of Ates." and of late available in a magisterial edition by M. ed. Ab Andrea Alpago ex arabico in latinum versa. one of them being known as Andronicus [of Rhodes]. H e says t h a t instruction in philosophy became widespread in the days of the Greek kings.). who fought against 9 Avicennae compendium de anima . The ensuing two sections of this paper will present a translation of al-FBrBbils discussion. Alonso. 13 From the Arabic text of Ibn Abi Usaibica. so far as we know. 109-123 (especially 114118). For our text see 393-394 and 405-406. Our text with which we shall be dealing is a n excerpt from a1 FErBbi's treatise "On the Appearance of Philosophy. our objective is to examine al-FBrBbi's discussion with a view to the information it provides regarding the history of logical studies in Islam itself. And [he said] t h a t after Aristotle died instruction [in philosophy] remained there [in Alexandria] in the same state until the end of the reign of thirteen kings. line 30 to page 135. 1436-1446 give a Latin translation of al-Firiibi's treatise. Instead.12 Although the present discussion thus." Bulletin de I'lnstitut d'ggypte. But this may well be identical with the treatise known to the Arabic bibliographers as KitZb fi ism al-falsafah wa-sabab zuhziri-hi ("On the name of 'philosophy' and on the cause of its appearance"). CUyCn al-anba' fi tabaqtit al-tibbl' ("Die Reihen der Artzte"). to some extent. About half of this text was translated into German and discussed by RIax Meyerhof in his superb study of the movement of Greek philosophy and science from Alexandria to Baghdad. I. 1954). erroneously attributed to Avicenna. "Von Alexandrien nach Baghdad: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des philosophischen und medizinischen Unterrichts bei den Arabern. Cleopatra]. the ruler of the Romans. . A Fragment fronz al-FErEbi's Treatise "On the Appearance of Philosophy" l3 Abu Nasr al-FBrBbi relates in [his treatise] "On the Appearance of Philosophy" (ff zuhiir al-falsafah) that whose substance is this. 11. 10 Manuel A. inevitably overlaps t h a t of Ifeyerhof.) 12 Max Meyerhof. Domingo Gundisalvo (tr. the only part of this work to survive. . from page 134. Venetiis. and after the death of Aristotle [was pursued] a t Alexandria until the end of the days of the woman [Cleopatra?]. Alonso (ed.l0 B u t it is with the second of the two extracts t h a t we shall now be concerned. followed by a survey of the principal materials which it affords t o the historian of logic. l1 So-called by Ibn Abi Usaibica: fi zuhzir al-falsafah." Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. XV (1932-1933)." l1 and is. And see also Meyerhof's paper on "La Fin de l'gcole dlAlexandrie dlapr&s quelques Auteurs Arabes. . 1930). line 24. 1882). August Miiller. 1546.. Now the last of these rulers was the woman [i.

. in error for IsrFicil] occupied himself with religion...e. there studied with him two men. And thus . in the lecture-curriculum] until [the time when] one read t h a t . that the rest be abandoned. TTTith a l . When he had established himself. and assembled the bishops to deliberate about what should be left alone in this instruction and what should be stopped. With al-Marwazi studied the bishop IsrEcil and Qumairi. but Quwairi took up instruction. presumably] and overpowered their kingdom. And he ordered him t o designate some scholar to take his place a t Alexandria and himself to come ~ i t h im to Rome. (kittib al-burhiin). 71) was called "the part which is not read" [i. Then [i. They were of the opinion t h a t there should be instruction in the books of logic up to the end of the assertoric [i. he investigated the (Alexandrian) Library and its facilities. Christian] religion.. and [he ordered] that there be in.. until Islam came a long time afterwards. The part [of the two Analytics] which comes after the assertoric figures (of the syllogism [i.M a r ~ a z istudied 1fattE ibn YfinEn [i. but t h a t in what they admitted for instruction there was something helpful towards the victory of their religion.e.e. Consequently the public (exoteric) part of the instruction remained within this prescribed limit. When the matter came to Muslim teachers one read from the assertoric figures as far as a man was able t o read.. Now Ibriihim [sic. H e found in it copies of the books of Aristotle which had been copied in his (Aristotle's) days and in the days of Theophrastus.e.. in his writings). B u t Abii Nasr al-Fiiriibi says about himself t h a t he studied with YiihannE ibn Hailiin up to the end of Anal. Post. As for Yiihannii ibn Hailiin. Then the instruction was stopped a t Rome. Abfi Bishr M a t t 5 ibn Yiinus]. and whatever was examined of the rest was studied privately. H e also found that the teachers and philosophers had written books about the subjects with which Aristotle concerned himself in them (i.e.e. H e ordered him (Andronicus) to have copies made for him to take with him to home and copies to remain in the place of instruction a t Alexandria.. both whom went to Baghdad. and the other of the people of Marw. non-modal] figures and t h a t there be no instruction in what comes after that. Things went along thus until Christianity came. after the rise of Islam] the instruction was moved from Alexandria t o Antioch and remained there for a long time until a t last but one teacher remained. one of whom was IbrEhim al-Marwazi and the other Yfihannii ibn Hailiin. but remained a t Alexandria until the Christian king [Constantine?] looked into the matter.them [the Greeks in Egypt. T h a t which was taught [in logic] a t that time was up to the end of the assertoric figures [of the syllogism]. for it became standard [in logical study] afterwards. With him there studied two men. which comes after Anal. I. And he decided struction in these ~ o r k s and upon Andronicus to be in charge of this enterprise.e. Thus there came to be instruction [in philosophy] in two places. he also occupied himself with his [i. Now one of them was of the people of Harriin. Pr. As to the one of the people of Marw. and they moved away taking the books with them. Thus he ordered the copying of these books which had been written down in the days of Aristotle and his pupils. The reason for this is t h a t they were of the opinion t h a t in this [latter part of logic] there was harm for Christianity. IbrEhim al-Marwazi went down to Baghdad and settled there.

"Hunain ibn Ishgq iiber die syrischen und arabischen Galen-Obersetzungen. 870-C. Islamic times. 850-c. there is every reason to regard as accurate-within reports about the history of logical its own narrow limits-al-FErLbi's studies during periods IV and V. Hunain is still able to give detailed information about the differences and similarities of programs and practices in philosophico-medical instruction in the Alexandrian institutes and the Nestorian academies of his time. Abii Yahyfi al-Marwazi (c. IV.14 Particular interest attaches to al-FLrBbi's account of the personalia of logical studies in Islam. about his sources for crediting Augustus for transplanting philosophical and logical studies from Alexandria to Rome under the supervision of Andronicus of Rhodes! On the other hand. Alexandrian times prior t o a supposed "purification" effected by Augustus. 111. and how much the traditions of Alexandria lived on in the Syriac milieu in which alFBrEbils teachers were nurtured. 2. Early Greek times (Aristotle and his immediate successors). 11. We are able to l4 See especially Gotthelf Bergstrasser. 920) 1 Abii Bishr hlattSt ibu YCinus (c. for example. One cannot but wonder. Post. .e. We know too from the magnificent researches of G." Abhandlungen fur die Kunde des Morgenlandes. 910) Ibrlthim al-Manvazi (c.130 NICHOLAS RESCIIER Abii N a p [al-FBrLbi] says that he himself read [i. 840-c. 860-c. Christian supremacy until the coming of Islam. and especially his own teachers. Roman supremacy until the coming of Christianity. Bergstrasser how closely Arabic scholarship of the IXth century was linked with Hellenistic medico-philosophical schools of Alexandria. 940) Yuhannii ibn HailLn (c. Abundant evidence in support of this view is given in Max Meyerhof's magisterial monograph "Von Alexandrien Nach Baghdad" cited above. Al-FErtibi7s Reports Regarding the History of Logic Al-FLrLbi divides the historical development of logical studies into five principal eras: I.. 920) + Al-FLrBbi (c. Al-FErEbi's information regarding periods 1-111 is a t times mythical in character. under a teacher] up to the end of Anal. no. XVII (1925). V. 873-950) 111.

XIX (1952). 11: The First Flowering (c." Analecta Orientalia. Much of this information is summarized in Max Meyerhof's monograph. Thus St." F. Cf. Rhetorics) in the middle of the Prior Analytics. Analytica Posteriora. From this standpoint of logic viewed as a living discipline of specialized expertise channelled through a continuous oral tradition transmitted from a master t o the scholars who "read" the canonical texts under his guidance." The tabulation here given lists only the men referred to in alFlrlbiJs account. John of Damascus was outspoken in his disapproval of Anal. 41. Elen. "New Light on the Arabic Trans- . Soph.D. We are thus fully and reliably informed regarding the origins of the logico-philosophical "School of Baghdad" which was to be Avicenna's pet aversion a century later. a great deal more is known about his own teachers.). 4 above. De Interpre ta tione. primarily Nestorians. is that al-Fiiriibi does not view logic as a matter of books and documents but as a living oral tradition of logical specialization and expertise. 18 See Moritz Steinschneider. and those of his principal teacher. but that he gave regular courses of explanatory lectures on them. There was explicit disapproval of the later parts of the Organon among these Christian students of Aristotle's logic. in the XI1 Beiheft zum Centralblatt fur Bibliothelcswesen (Leipzig. 4.16 The most curious feature of al-FSirSibi's account of how logic came to Islam is its utter si!ence on the (in fact pre-eminent) r61e of Hunain ibn IshGq and his associates in the processes of translation and transmission. Ca tegoriae." Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Litte'raire du Moyen Age.. I believe. 5-37. Unquestionably the most interesting facet of al-Fiiriibi's account is the light i t sheds upon the study of Aristotle's logic among the Christian scholars.'= All of al-Fiiriibi's teachers are identifiable persons about whose life and work we possess considerable information.supplement his own statements from other sources. 1893). I think t h a t this is only partially explained in terms of the egocentric focus upon his own intellectual antecedents. but comprehensively a s well. with the following result regarding the "genealogy" of master-and-pupil kinship. stopping after section 7 of Book I.18I n consequence of this animus against l V o r many further details see the writer's article cited in fn. Abu Bishr Matt&ibn Yunus. 74 pp. see p. Richard Walzer. Die Arabischen Ubersetzungen aus d e m Griechischen. Topica. Rosenthal. "The Technique and Approach of Muslim Scholarship. p. This report does not mean that al-F%r&biread these works so frequently for his private edification. XXIV (1947). Post. It has long been recognized that the Christian students of Aristotelian logic in the Syriac and (earliest) Arabic setting broke off their study of "the eight books" of Aristotelian logic (Porphyry's Isagoge. who carried Greek logic from Alexandria to Baghdad in the I X t h century. 900c.. as Hegel understood it to say. Al-F&rBbi is reported to have "read" Aristotle's Physics forty times and his Rhetoric two hundred times-a report to which Hegel reacted with the observation that al-F&r&bi"must have had a strong stomach. Analy tica Priora. 1000 A.17 it is quite possible t h a t al-FEriibi answers the question of "How Greek logic reached the Arabs?" not only correctly." la Solomon Pines "La 'Philosophine Orientale' d'Avicenne et sa Polkmique contre les Baghdadiens. as well as its successor: "The Development of Arabic Logic. which is so important to establish the "authority" of a teacher in medieval Islam. More important. "Von Alexandrien Nach Baghdad.

the r61e of observation and induction is not to validate the ultimate premisses of scientific knowledge.) . very old) is unique in being a complete rendering of this work into Syriac. Anal.). but to give experiental exemplication and substantiation to them. Aristotle is here concerned to put forward a conception of the nature of scientific knowledge. It led the Christian professors of philosophy in Alexandria. Bishop of the Arabs (d. Post. 1898). 20 The details of this relationship are demonstrated in the writer's paper cited in the preceding footnote. Geschichte der Syrischen Literatur (Bonn. according to Aristotle. (after section 7 Book I ) t h a t is devoted t o developing the machinery of modal syllogisms. these ultimate premisses require no ['external" validation. Friedmann does give (on pp. to a de-emphasis upon Anal. With respect to Anal. as well as t o virtual abandonment of the entire part of Anal. Post. D.l9 But this view leaves no room for revelation or any other specifically religious source of knowledge within the sphere of '(scientific knowledge. had important consequences for the development of logical studies.D. 1962). 1949). was not translated into Arabic until around 900 (by Abii Bishr Matt5 ibn Yiinus. 91-142 (esp. Ross's Aristotle's Prior and Posterior Analytics (Oxford.21 University of Pittsburgh. l9For Aristotle.. - -- - lations of Aristotle.. z1 Only after completing this study did Isidor Friedmann's Erlangen InauguralDissertation come into my hands: Aristotles' Analytica bei den Syrern (Berlin. Illinois. These facts have long been known. Post.132 NICHOLAS RESCHER later parts of the Organon. the transmission of these later works suffered a significant delay. Pr. and thus upon the history of logic itself. Anal. 257. Baumstark. A. of an epistemology based on the deductive establishment of necessary conclusions on the basis of necessary premisses. construing this in terms of deductive inference from "necessary" premisses. 724. Post. it should be noted that the Syriac translation by George. Thus. 39 pp. PT. See the magisterial Introduction of W. and although Arabic translation of the Organon began around 820. but they are greatly clarified by the information provided in al-Fiir8bi's discussion. and its successor works. 9-11) a German translation of the initial three-fourths of our text. however. Bunge (ed. . 1922). VI (1953). The Critical Approach (Glencoe.20 Al-FBriibi's report consequently sheds light upon a n interesting and little-known instance of the moulding impact of theological considerations upon the history of logical studies. Being definitions. 99). the principal teacher of al-F8riibi and founding father of the School of Baghdad). Post. as advanced in Anal. Providing no data not available from other (though sometimes later) sources. and especially the theory of apodictic inference (which is particularly closely bound-up with the treatment of necessary inference put forward in Anal." the sole mode of genuine knowledge. And for the technical details of Aristotle's epistemology of necessary inference in the theory of modal syllogisms see the writer's study of "Aristotle's Theory of Modal Syllogisms and its Interpretation" in M. and their followers in the Syriac-speaking orbit. although the Syriac translation of the basic logical texts commenced around 600 A." Oriens. was not translated into Syriac until around 850 (by Hunain ibn Ishiiq) . It appears t h a t the eastern Christians (especially the Nestorians) took a disapproving view of the epistemology of the Posterior Analytics. It thus came to pass t h a t theological objections to the Aristotelian conception..