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Ibn Khaldun, ‘Abd al-Rahman (1332–1406)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H024-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

Ibn Khaldun’s work on the philosophy of history is a landmark of social thought. Many historians – Greek, Roman, Muslim and other – had written valuable historiography, but here we have brilliant reflections on the meaning, pattern and laws of history and society, as well as profound insights into the nature of social processes and the interconnections between phenomena in such diverse fields as politics, economics, sociology and education. By any reckoning, Ibn Khaldun was the outstanding figure in the social sciences between Aristotle and Machiavelli, and one of the greatest philosophers of history of all time.

His most important philosophical work is the Muqaddima, the introduction to a much longer history of the Arabs and Berbers. In this work, Ibn Khaldun clearly defines a science of culture and expounds on the nature of human society and on political and social cycles. Different social groups, nomads, townspeople and traders, interact with and affect one another in a continuous pattern. Religion played an important part in Ibn Khaldun’s conception of the state, and he followed al-Ghazali rather than Ibn Rushd as a surer guide to the truth.

Citing this article:
Issawi, Charles and Oliver Leaman. Ibn Khaldun, ‘Abd al-Rahman (1332–1406), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-H024-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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