epistemology

   Words directly meaning knowledge or ‘ilm appear twenty-seven times in the Qur’an, and ‘alim (knower) 140 times. There are 704 references in the book to words that come from ‘ilm. In addition, references to knowledge such as the book, pen, ink and so on occur very often, and the text itself starts with the phrase iqra or ‘read/recite’, something that involves knowledge. The first human being Adam was taught all the names of things in the world, and the text frequently calls on its readers and hearers to reflect on what they are told, to consider how reasonable it is, whether it seems true and so on, so knowledge is a constant theme in the text. A different term for knowledge, ma‘rifa, is used to represent mystical or hidden and deeper knowledge, knowledge more like hikma (wisdom) and higher than‘aql (reason), and is popular in Sufism.
   Al-Ghazali in his Sufi phase talks of three levels of knowledge that correspond with three levels of faith. The faith of the ordinary people is based on imitation or obedience (taqlid); the faith of the theologians is based on reason; and the faith of the mystics (‘arifin) and saints (awliya’) is based on the light of certainty (nur al-yaqin). A basic distinction in Peripatetic epistemology exists between tasawwur (conceptualization) and tasdiq (assent). Conceptualization describes the way in which the mind grasps particular essences or beings. Assent is the act of the intellect which makes a judgement in terms of truth value. To assent to anything we must first be able to form a concept of it, but the reverse is not the case, since we can have an idea about something without making any truth claim about it. We have experiences and combine them to bring out what they have in common, and our mind then forms an abstract idea that raises them from their material context. The imagination is both abstract and particular, it stretches our experience but also needs that experience to get started. The mind comes into contact with the active intellect, the source of our abstract ideas. Our mind moves from potentially knowing something to actually knowing it, and from actuality to reflection on that actuality, which the Peripatetics classified in terms of potential intellect, actual or agent intellect and acquired intellect. The last is called ‘acquired’ because it borrows ideas from higher celestial realms of existence, ideas that are not derived from experience at all. Al-Farabi and Ibn Rushd argue that the mind is only eternal insofar as it has for its subject matter eternal objects, i.e. the abstract. Ibn Sina argues that the mind must be eternal as such since unless it was eternal in the first place it could not comprehend eternal objects, based on the same principle that the knower and the object of knowledge must be the same for knowledge to be possible.
   Further reading: Davidson 1992; Ha’iri Yazdi 1992; Leaman 1999; Rosenthal 1970; Wan Daud 1989

Islamic Philosophy. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Epistemology — (from Greek επιστήμη episteme , knowledge + λόγος , logos ) or theory of knowledge is a branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge. [Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Volume 3, 1967, Macmillan, Inc.] The term… …   Wikipedia

  • Epistemology — • That branch of philosophy which is concerned with the value of human knowledge Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Epistemology     Epistemology      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • epistemology —    Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge, epistemic justification and rational belief. Traditionally knowledge has been defined as justified true belief , but this definition has been sharply disputed in recent decades. Among the… …   Christian Philosophy

  • epistemology — e*pis te*mol o*gy, n. [Gr. ? knowledge + logy.] The theory or science of the method or grounds of knowledge. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • epistemology — theory of knowledge, 1856, coined by Scottish philosopher James F. Ferrier (1808 1864) from Gk. episteme knowledge, from Ionic Gk. epistasthai know how to do, understand, lit. overstand, from epi over, near (see EPI (Cf. epi )) + histasthai to… …   Etymology dictionary

  • epistemology — ► NOUN ▪ the branch of philosophy that deals with knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. DERIVATIVES epistemic adjective epistemological adjective epistemologist noun. ORIGIN from Greek epist m knowledge …   English terms dictionary

  • epistemology — [ē pis΄tə mäl′ə jē, ipis΄tə mäl′ə jē] n. pl. epistemologies [< Gr epistēmē, knowledge < epistanai, to understand, believe (< epi + histanai, orig., to stand before, confront: see STAND) + LOGY] the study or theory of the nature, sources …   English World dictionary

  • epistemology — epistemological /i pis teuh meuh loj i keuhl/, adj. epistemologically, adv. epistemologist, n. /i pis teuh mol euh jee/, n. a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge. [1855 60; < Gk… …   Universalium

  • Epistemology —    1) Beyond Psychophysiology and Sociology and History of Science There Is Nothing for Epistemology to Do    If we have psychophysiology to cover causal mechanisms, and the sociology and history of science to note the occasions on which… …   Historical dictionary of quotations in cognitive science

  • epistemology — The philosophical theory of knowledge of how we know what we know. Epistemology is generally characterized by a division between two competing schools of thought: rationalism and empiricism . Both traditions of thought received their most… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • epistemology — noun /ɪˌpɪstəˈmɑlədʒi/ a) The branch of philosophy dealing with the study of knowledge; theory of knowledge, asking such questions as What is knowledge? , How is knowledge acquired? , What do people know? , How do we know what we know? . Some… …   Wiktionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.