Logic and Language

Authored by: Thérèse-Anne Druart

The Routledge Companion to Islamic Philosophy

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  August  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415881609
eBook ISBN: 9781315708928
Adobe ISBN: 9781317484332


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In Greek logos, word or discourse, gave rise to logike techne or craft of reasoning, i.e. logic. Further, the basic type of reasoning studied in logic is called the syllogismos, a word deriving from logos. These etymologies reveal a link between language and logic, particularly since symbolic logic was not yet invented. Classical Arabic too manifests a link between word or speech and logic as the word for logic mantiq derives from nutq, which means articulated speech. Yet, logic claims to be universal, whereas there is a great multiplicity of languages. Distinguishing logic from linguistic arts, as well as articulating their relationship, is a complex and difficult endeavor that philosophers in Islamic lands faced in various ways. They had to take into account not only the Greek philosophical tradition but also some theological positions. In the first section I look at logic as essentially an autonomous discipline focusing on syllogisms. In the second I explore how some philosophers either emphasize their relationship or try to articulate better logic’s autonomy. The last and final section deals with some of the philosophers’ reflections on various aspects of language in general.

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