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Logic in Islamic philosophy

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H017-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Islamic logic was inspired primarily by Aristotle’s logical corpus, the Organon (which according to a late Greek taxonomy also included the Rhetoric and Poetics). Islamic authors were also familiar with some elements in Stoic logic and linguistic theory, and their logical sources included not only Aristotle’s own works but also the works of the late Greek Aristotelian commentators, the Isagōgēof Porphyry and the logical writings of Galen. However, most of the logical work of the Islamic philosophers remained squarely within the tradition of Aristotelian logic, and most of their writings in this area were in the form of commentaries on Aristotle.

For the Islamic philosophers, logic included not only the study of formal patterns of inference and their validity but also elements of the philosophy of language and even of epistemology and metaphysics. Because of territorial disputes with the Arabic grammarians, Islamic philosophers were very interested in working out the relationship between logic and language, and they devoted much discussion to the question of the subject matter and aims of logic in relation to reasoning and speech. In the area of formal logical analysis, they elaborated upon the theory of terms, propositions and syllogisms as formulated in Aristotle’s Categories, De interpretatione and Prior Analytics. In the spirit of Aristotle, they considered the syllogism to be the form to which all rational argumentation could be reduced, and they regarded syllogistic theory as the focal point of logic. Even poetics was considered as a syllogistic art in some fashion by most of the major Islamic Aristotelians.

Since logic was viewed as an organon or instrument by which to acquire knowledge, logic in the Islamic world also incorporated a general theory of argumentation focused upon epistemological aims. This element of Islamic logic centred upon the theory of demonstration found in Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, since demonstration was considered the ultimate goal sought by logic. Other elements of the theory of argumentation, such as dialectics and rhetoric, were viewed as secondary to demonstration, since it was held that these argument forms produced cognitive states inferior in certitude and stability to demonstration. The philosopher’s aim was ultimately to demonstrate necessary and certain truth; the use of dialectical and rhetorical arguments was accounted for as preparatory to demonstration, as defensive of its conclusions, or as aimed at communicating its results to a broader audience.

Citing this article:
Black, Deborah L.. Logic in Islamic philosophy, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-H017-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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