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Meaning in Islamic philosophy

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H013-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

The discussion of the notion of meaning in Islamic philosophy is heavily influenced by theological and legal debates about the interpretation of Islam, and about who has the right to pronounce on interpretation. The introduction of Greek philosophy into the Islamic world produced a new set of authorities on how to interpret texts, and this led to arguments over the potential benefits of the new approaches as compared with the traditional Islamic sciences. The discussion came to centre on the nature of ambiguity, equivocation and analogy, with different philosophers adopting diverse theories and thus attaining a variety of conclusions about how to interpret meaning. These variations have powerful implications for the understanding of their thought. Not only do the different approaches result in different conclusions, they also represent different approaches to the whole philosophical enterprise. The topic of meaning is not so much an aspect of Islamic philosophy as an interpretation of how to do Islamic philosophy itself. The main issues focus on identifying the people best qualified to interpret texts, valid interpretations of the texts, and the notion of meaning that should be employed in our understanding of the texts.

Citing this article:
Leaman, Oliver. Meaning in Islamic philosophy, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-H013-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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