Thinking in the Language of Reality
Anthony F. Shaker
Sadr al-Din Qunawi and the Mystical Philosophy of Reason
Sadr al-Din Qunavi (1207-74 CE) was pivotal to the development of systematic philosophy, and indirectly contributed to the rise of fields of inquiry considered fundamental to our modern scientific outlook. He formed part of a wider critique of traditional Aristotelian epistemology which, Dr. Shaker argues, culminated in two historic "epistemological openings". The first stretched from the 10th to 15th centuries under the aegis of Islamic civilization (in a non-confessional sense). The second occurred on the continent of Europe between the 18th and mid-20th centuries. Dr. Shaker compares these two periods in his introduction, identifying key points of convergence and placing Qunavi in a broad historical context.
In his magnum opus, Kitâb I'jaz al bayân, Qunavi takes as his point of departure the age-old problem of knowledge. Ibn Sînâ had pithily declared man incapable of truly knowing "the realities of things" much less God, by theoretical reasoning alone. Taking up the challenge, Qunavi shows under what conditions one may lay claim to such knowledge. He develops a paradigm that draws on the logical, linguistic and exegetical insights of his predecessors, especially Ibn Arabi. The resulting synthesis, which takes the unfolding Book of self-manifestation as the root of all knowledge, opens up the infinite possibilities offered by language for talking and thinking about "reality". More specifically, linguistic construction and meaning formation are coloured by an experiential dimension that has been hidden from formal logic.
Part 1: The Language of Logic
Part 2: Transformation of Logic
Part 3: Grammar of Transformation (Kitab I'Jaz al-bayan)