A Medieval Conception of Language in Human Terms: Al-Farabi

Abstract

With regard to the new directions in the Humanities, here I am going to consider and examine the approach of al-Farabi as a medieval thinker in introducing a new outlook to “language” in difference with the other views. Thereby, I will explore his challenges in the frame of “philosophical humanism” as a term given by Arkoun (1970) and Kraemer (1984) to the humanism of the Islamic philosophers and their circles, mainly in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Al-Farabi’s conception of philosophical humanism, in which philosophy is thick and religion is thin, makes its agony with the other versions of humanism and also orthodox Islam. It means that his introduction of a humanistic understanding of language should be placed in such a multi-level contested environment. According to al-Farabi, language as a universal category has relation with reason that logic should function as its proper instrument. As a result, there is no specific privileged predetermined language, but the position of any language is shaped by its relation with human reason and formal logic that is something human-made. And such a conception means language in human terms. Key Terms: Al-Farabi; Language; Philosophical Humanism; Arabic: Greek

Author's Profile

Mostafa Younesie
University of Pennsylvania

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