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3 - Dialectic and the Principles of All Science

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 October 2019

David M. DiPasquale
Affiliation:
Boston College, Massachusetts
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Summary

In this chapter, I continue to follow the manner in which Alfarabi describes the historical development of scientific awareness out of the murky depths of pre-scientific activity. Towards the peak of this development is the emergence and elaboration of the dialectical art, whose uses for science is Alfarabi's special concern in what follows. Dialectic is the method to the fundamental premises of all science. For instance, the Organon itself culminates in the Topics. Even if we regard the Posterior Analytics as the supreme analytical art, we cannot help but notice the way in which Aristotle carefully points out the ultimately hypothetical character of science (episteēmeē). Because of what may be described as the hypothetical character of scientific knowledge––that is, due to the fact that so much depends on the investigator's conviction regarding the truth of those first principles that provide the foundation of science––there will be those, according to Aristotle and Alfarabi, who deny the very possibility of scientific knowledge. The difficult problems that emerge over the status of scientific knowledge force us to confront the issue concerning the proper starting points (archai) or principles from which a syllogism proceeds but which are not reached by syllogism.

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Chapter
Information
Alfarabi's Book of Dialectic (Kitab al-Jadal)
On the Starting Point of Islamic Philosophy
, pp. 146 - 193
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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