How a Medieval Muslim thinker invented Sociology
2016-01-15 13:19:14 GMT
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"Ibn Khaldun said he was reinventing the historical discipline by using Greco-Islamic philosophical ideas/categories, and logical methods of proof, most derived from Aristotle and Galen, to identify the nature of societies. By adopting Ibn Khaldun’s methodology Muslim historians could accurately explain the essence or natures of societies, which would allow them accurately to depict their historical trajectories. He borrowed these ideas from Aristotle’s physics, and his logical reasoning from Aristotle’s Organon. Most studies of Ibn Khaldun ignore this, although philosophical ideas and logical methods shape the Muqaddimah. It is impossible to understand Ibn Khaldun’s work or his ideas about religion and philosophy beyond a superficial level without explaining this. My book is, first and foremost, dedicated to this purpose."
"Finally, I explain why Ibn Khaldun’s work so closely resembles the social theories of eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century European thinkers, such as Montesquieu, David Hume, Adam Smith and Émile Durkheim. The resemblance has often been noted, but never really explained. The similarity, I argue, is due to the fact that like Ibn Khaldun, these Europeans had philosophical training and asked the same questions about the nature of society and trajectory of history as he did. A specific intellectual link between Ibn Khaldun and European thinkers goes through Paris, where Thomas Aquinas studied the Aristotelian summaries of the Andalusian philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes), which were also later read by Ibn Khaldun, and even later in the sixteenth century by Scottish scholars and others at the University of Paris. Ibn Khaldun is thus a member of an intellectual lineage that begins with Plato and Aristotle, continues with Muslim rationalist scholars, and is revived by Europeans in the eighteenth century."
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