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~ ابونصر محمد بن محمد فارابی ~



Chapter Twenty-Three

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XXIII. The Origin of the Syllogistic Arts Among the Nations



140. [150] After the practical arts and all the ordinary arts that we mentioned are completed, human souls desire to become familiar with the causes of perceptible matters in the earth, on it, and surrounding it, and of everything that is perceived and appears in the heavens, and to become familiar with many matters discovered by the practical arts, such as figures, numbers, visual rays reflected from smooth surfaces, colors, and so forth. Thus there will grow up those who will explore the reasons for these things. At first they will use rhetorical methods to investigate these things and to validate, on their own, opinions about them, and to teach others what they validate in their exploration, because these are the syllogistic methods of which they became aware to begin with. Thus there will emerge the investigation of mathematical and natural matters.

141. Those who inquire into these matters will continue to use rhetorical methods and, consequently, will hold diverse opinions and doctrines. They will frequently discuss with one another and question each other about the opinions that each one has validated on his own. Whenever one of them faces an opponent who contradicts the opinion he holds, he will need to secure the methods he is using and try to make them such that they cannot be contradicted or are difficult to contradict. They will continue to make an earnest effort and seek out firmer and firmer methods until after a time they recognize dialectical methods. They distinguish dialectical methods [151] from sophistical methods whereas previously they used both indiscriminately because both partook of and were mixed with rhetorical methods. Rhetorical methods will then be rejected and dialectical ones will be used. Because sophistical methods appear to be similar to dialectical ones, many people will use sophistical methods to investigate and validate opinions. Then inquiry into, and investigation and validation of, theoretical matters ends up being dialectical, and sophistical methods will be discarded and used only when one is put to the test.

142. Thus dialectical methods will continue to be employed until dialectical discussions are perfected. Then the application of dialectical methods will make it clear that dialectical discussions are not yet sufficient to attain certainty. At this point the investigation of the methods of instruction and of the certain science will emerge. In the meantime people will have recognized mathematical methods, and these will have become almost perfect or come close to perfection. Along with this, the difference between dialectical methods and the certain methods will become visible to them and the two will be distinguished somewhat. Further, along with this people will turn to the science of political affairs - that is, things whose principle is will and choice - which they investigate with dialectical methods mixed with methods that lead to certainty - dialectical methods having become as firm as possible, to the point of being almost scientific. This continues until the condition of philosophy comes to be what it was in the time of Plato.

143. Then all this will be debated until the affair ends up as it ended up in the days of Aristotle. Scientific inquiry into the distinguishing marks of all the methods will then reach its goal; [152] theoretical philosophy, as well as general practical philosophy, will be perfected, with no room left in them for investigation. Hence philosophy will become an art that is only learned and taught. It will be taught through one sort of instruction meant for the elect and another sort of instruction that is common and meant for all. The instruction meant for the elect takes place with demonstrative methods only, while the common instruction, which is for everyone, takes place with dialectical, rhetorical, or poetical methods. However, rhetorical and poetical methods are more likely to be used in teaching the multitude theoretical and practical things that have been settled and validated by demonstration.

144. After all these things, there will be need to set down laws and to instruct the multitude in the theoretical matters that have been discovered, treated fully, and validated by demonstration, and in the practical matters that have been discovered by the faculty of prudence. The art of setting down laws requires the ability to excel in imaging forth such theoretical intelligibles that are difficult for the multitude to conceive, to excel in discovering each one of the political activities useful for the attainment of happiness, and to excel in using all the means of persuasion about the theoretical and practical matters that are appropriate to teach to the multitude. If laws dealing with these two classes [namely, the theoretical and the practical] are set down, and the means of persuading, instructing, and forming the character of the multitude are added to them, then a religion [milla] will have been realized by which the multitude is taught, its character is formed, and it is made to do everything with which to achieve happiness.

145. If after that a group of people emerges who reflect on the contents of the religion, including some who take the particular practical things that the founder stated explicitly in that religion as given and seek to infer from them what the founder did not happen to state explicitly; [153] and, in making such inferences, use the founder’s purpose as revealed in his explicit statements as a model - this will give rise to the art of jurisprudence. If in addition a group of people try to infer the theoretical and general practical matters that the founder of the religion did not state explicitly on the basis of the ones he did state, using his explicit statements as a model - this will give rise to a certain other art: let this be the art of theology. If there happens to be a group of people who try to refute what is contained in this religion, the practitioners of theology will need a [further] power with which to defend that religion, defend those who support it, and contradict the numerous misreasonings with which the others have sought to refute what was stated explicitly in the religion. With this the art of theology will be perfected and the art based on these two powers realized. It is evident that all this cannot be done except by the common methods, that is rhetorical methods.

146. This, then, is the order in which the syllogistic arts emerge in nations when they do so of a nation’s own innate gifts and natural make-up.

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