The early Arabic liar: the liar paradox in the Islamic world from the mid-ninth to the mid-thirteenth centuries CE

Vivarium 47 (1):97-127 (2009)
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We describe the earliest occurrences of the Liar Paradox in the Arabic tradition. e early Mutakallimūn claim the Liar Sentence is both true and false; they also associate the Liar with problems concerning plural subjects, which is somewhat puzzling. Abharī (1200-1265) ascribes an unsatisfiable truth condition to the Liar Sentence—as he puts it, its being true is the conjunction of its being true and false—and so concludes that the sentence is not true. Tūsī (1201-1274) argues that self-referential sentences, like the Liar, are not truth-apt, and defends this claim by appealing to a correspondence theory of truth. Translations of the texts are provided as an appendix.

Author Profiles

David Sanson
Illinois State University
Ahmed Alwishah
Claremont College


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