Avicenna on Knowledge
Bin Che Mentri, Mohd Khairul Anam
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
I do not grant open access to the whole content of this thesis.
Reason for embargo
I am working to turn the thesis into book form and it will be published by a university press. Besides that I am writing some articles whose contents are derived from the thesis.
This thesis presents the first scholarly attempt to provide a systematic study—by way of rational reconstruction—of Avicenna’s philosophical analysis of knowledge. The analysis is centred on the well-known but ill-researched epistemic notions of apprehension (taṣawwur) and judgement (taṣdīq) that Avicenna consistently claims to be the necessary and sufficient conditions for anyone to be regarded as having knowledge. The study, however, begins with an account of Avicenna’s philosophical programme and its primary philosophical assumption, namely, his metaphysical realism. I argue that this assumption is the most fundamental principle from which emerge all strands of his thought and by which all his philosophical views are unified into a single philosophical system. Thus, I argue that it is with a clear view of his metaphysical realism and the broader philosophical programme which grows out of it that we can make fully sense of Avicenna’s philosophical analysis of knowledge and his epistemology in general. Bearing this in mind, I proceed with a systematic and rational reconstruction of Avicenna’s epistemic concepts of apprehension and judgement and followed then by his conception of truth (al-haq), which is implicit in his epistemic notion of judgement. Given that for Avicenna, as we shall see, it is only true judgement that can be counted as knowledge. Furthermore, a truly realist philosophical account of knowledge, or epistemology in general, must make a contact with psychology. I provide therefore an account of Avicenna’s psychological explanations of all the mental processes that involved in knowing. This includes his account of epistemic faculties—such as consciousness, sense perception, mind, and reason—and all the kinds of knowledge that these faculties yield to human beings. With the completion of my attempt at a systematic and rational reconstruction of Avicenna’s philosophical account of knowledge in terms of the epistemic notions of apprehension, judgement, and truth, I close the study by way of summarising his analysis of knowledge in modern form. And, lastly, I suggest that given the fact that this thesis is the first scholarly attempt at a systematic study of Avicenna’s philosophical analysis of knowledge, I should like it to be seen as a prolegomenon to develop rigorous arguments for his analysis as the basis for a tenable alternative to the traditional account of knowledge.
Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia
Rizvi, Sajjad H.
PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies