Back to Top Epistemology is the study of the nature and scope of knowledge and justified belief. It analyzes the nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief and justification.
Nature of knowledge Muslim philosophers are primarily concerned with human happiness and its attainment. Regardless of what they consider this happiness to be, all agree that the only way to attain it is through knowledge. The theory of knowledge, epistemology, has therefore been their main preoccupation and appears chiefly in their logical and psychological writings.
Epistemology concerns itself primarily with the possibility, nature and sources of knowledge. Taking the possibility of knowledge for granted, Muslim philosophers focused their epistemological effort on the study of the nature and sources of knowledge.
Their intellectual inquiries, beginning with logic and ending with metaphysics and in some cases mysticism, were in the main directed towards helping to understand what knowledge is and how it comes about.
Following in the footsteps of the Greek philosophers, Muslim philosophers consider knowledge to be the grasping of the immaterial forms, natures, essences or realities of things. They are agreed that the forms of things are either material that is, existing in matter or immaterial existing in themselves.
While the latter can be known as such, the former cannot be known unless first detached from their materiality. Once in the mind, the pure forms act as the pillars of knowledge. The mind constructs objects from these forms, and with these objects it makes judgments.
Thus Muslim philosophers, like Aristotle before them, divided knowledge in the human mind into conception tasawwurapprehension of an object with no judgment, and assent tasdiqapprehension of an object with a judgment, the latter being, according to them, a mental relation of correspondence between the concept and the object for which it stands.
Conceptions are the main pillars of assent; without conception, one cannot have a judgment. In itself, conception is not subject to truth and falsity, but assent is.
However, it should be pointed out that tasdiq is a misleading term in Islamic philosophy.
One must keep in mind, however, that when assent is said to be a form of knowledge, the word is then used, not in the broad sense to mean true or false judgment, but in the narrow sense to mean true judgment.
In Islamic philosophy, conceptions are in the main divided into the known and the unknown.
The former are grasped by the mind actually, the latter potentially. With the exception of the self-evident conceptions, conceptions are known or unknown relative to individual minds. Similarly, Muslim philosophers divided assent into the known and the unknown, and the known assent into the self-evident and the acquired.
Of the objects of conception and assent, only the unknown ones are subject to inquiry. By reducing the number of unknown objects one can increase knowledge and provide the chance for happiness.
But how does such reduction come about? Sources of knowledge In Islamic philosophy there are two theories about the manner in which the number of unknown objects is reduced.
One theory stresses that this reduction is brought about by moving from known objects to unknown ones, the other that it is merely the result of direct illumination given by the divine world. The former is the upward or philosophical way, the second the downward or prophetic one. According to the former theory, movement from the known objects of conception to the unknown ones can be effected chiefly through the explanatory phrase al-qawl ash-sharih.
The proof al-burhan is the method for moving from the known objects of assent to the unknown ones. The explanatory phrase and proof can be either valid or invalid: The validity and invalidity of the explanatory phrase and proof can be determined by logic, which is a set of rules for such determination.
By distinguishing the valid from the invalid explanatory phrase and proof, logic serves a higher purpose, namely that of disclosing the natures or essences of things.
It does this because conceptions reflect the realities or natures of things and are the cornerstones of the explanatory phrase and proof. Because logic deals only with expressions that correspond to conceptions, when it distinguishes the valid from the invalid it distinguishes at the same time the realities or natures of things from their opposites.
Thus logic is described as the key to the knowledge of the natures of things. This knowledge is described as the key to happiness; hence the special status of logic in Islamic philosophy.
Logic and knowledge We are told that because logic deals only with the known and unknown, it cannot deal with anything outside the mind. Because it is a linguistic instrument foreign in nature to the realities of thingsit cannot deal with such realities directly, whether they exist in the mind or outside it, or are external to these two realms of existence.
It can only deal with the states or accidents of such realities, these states comprising links among the realities and intermediaries between the realities and language.
Logic therefore deals with the states of such realities, as they exist in the mind. In other words, logic can deal with realities only in that these realities are subjects or predicates, universal or particular, essential or accidental and so on. Because the ultimate human objective is the understanding of the realities, essences or natures of things, and because the ultimate logical objective is the understanding of conceptions, logicians must focus on the understanding of those conceptions that lead to the understanding of the essences if they intend to serve humanity.
It is only the former with which the logician should be concerned see Logic in Islamic philosophy. Considering that the discussion of universals occupies a central place in Arabic logic, it is important to focus briefly on this subject to ensure understanding of the proper objects of the knowledge of the natures of things.
Muslim philosophers divide universal expressions into five types, known together as the five predicables: As such, it tells us what the general nature of a thing is.This book aims to present to western philosophers the most important theme in Islamic epistemology: knowledge by presence, the knowledge that results from immediate and intuitive awarenes, advocated by the author as a viable modern philosophical position.
He has a deep and wide understanding of Medieval Islamic Philosophy as well as. Concerning knowledge, many epistemologists think knowledge is justified true belief, where the justification you have is linked to the truth of the matter in the right kind of way, though what this way is a matter of debate; some epistemologists think knowledge can't be analyzed this way.
For literature on feminist epistemology, see Longino and Elizabeth Anderson's article "Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science" in this encyclopedia (linked at the end of this article).
For a long list of bibligraphical references, see Greco and Sosa , pp. ff. As Matthias Steup states in the “Epistemology” entry for the Encyclopedia of Philosophy: For example, if the coffee in your cup tastes sweet to you, then you have evidence for believing that the coffee is sweet.
Islamic philosophy in its search for those who are entitled to possess knowledge and to venture in search of more knowledge identifies the epistemology of Kalam. However this theory is encountered with the problems of diverse saturated views and the lack of a distinct account of the theory.
An Essay on the Tao Te Ching Philosophy ( words, 3 pages) Connection Between Tao and Te, In Modern and Ancient Times. Since the beginning of time, humans have been bewildered by .