David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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The paper first presents the necessary background to appreciate al-Fârâbî’s views and his originality. It explains the issues Anicent philosophers faced: the natural vs. the conventional origin of language, the problem of ambiguous words, and the difficulty to express Greek thought into Latin. It then sketches andcontrasts the views of Christianity and Islam on the origin of language and the diversity of idioms. It argues that al-Fârâbî follows the philosophical tradition butdevelops it in sophisticated and original manner by telling the story of the origin and development of language and giving little place to the Islamic tradition. Foral-Fârâbî language emerges naturally but develops by convention in three phases: (1) The constitution of utterances and crafts to ensure basic necessities; (2) The development of rhetoric, poetry, memorizing, writing, and the language arts; (3) the development of dialectic, sophistical reasoning and demonstration that leads to philosophy reaching its perfection with with Aristotle. Religion for him is posterior to philosophy and derives form it. As for al-Fârâbî philosophy in Islamic lands was imported from Greece, he includes rules to translate technical philosophical terms from one language into another
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