Demonstration and Dialectic in Islamic Philosophy

Authored by: Allan Bäck

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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Plato had seen in dialectic a way to justify the first principles of philosophy, from which the demonstration of universal truths could proceed (e.g. Republic VI). Likewise, Aristotle uses dialectic to arrive at an intuitive grasp of the first principles on which demonstrative syllogisms are based (e.g. Metaphysics IV). Islamic philosophers inherited and developed these doctrines on demonstration and dialectic from the Greeks. In what follows I will sketch the Greek background and then examine some important developments in the Islamic context, in particular how dialectic became more removed from demonstration in the thought of Ibn Sīnā, if not in Islamic philosophy as a whole. I conclude by considering how intuition grew in importance and why this view deserves serious consideration even in philosophy today.

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