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Non-Innate A Priori Knowledge in Avicenna

Non-Innate A Priori Knowledge in Avicenna Mohammad Saleh Zarepour Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München saleh.zarepour@lrz.uni-muenchen.de I. The Background Story In his “The Empiricism of Avicenna,” Dimitri Gutas interprets Avicenna as an empiricist. He analyzes Avicennian ‘principles of syllogism’ and claims that none of them are a priori. Moreover, regarding awwalīyāt and fitrīyāt— which are two groups of such principles—Gutas suggests that “[i]t appears that both kinds of propositions would be analytic, in Kantian terms. As for Locke, they would be what he called ‘trifling.’” In my first comment in this issue, I disagreed with this view and argued that these two groups of propositions are a priori in the Kantian sense. Assenting to their truth is internal to the intellect and independent of empirical information. I also argued that at least some fitrīyāt are synthetic, rather than analytic. So Avicenna’s epistemology accommodates instances of non-analytic knowl- edge that are independent of sense experience. This casts serious doubt on the plausibility of describing Avicenna as a full-blown empiricist. Gutas has responded to my note and claimed that the discussion of a priority, in its Kantian sense, is irrelevant to Avicenna’s epistemology. He also defends the claim that awwalīyāt and fitrīyāt are both trifling and experience-dependent. Before offering my rejoinder, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

Non-Innate A Priori Knowledge in Avicenna

Philosophy East and West , Volume 70 (3) – Jul 3, 2020

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1529-1898

Abstract

Mohammad Saleh Zarepour Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München saleh.zarepour@lrz.uni-muenchen.de I. The Background Story In his “The Empiricism of Avicenna,” Dimitri Gutas interprets Avicenna as an empiricist. He analyzes Avicennian ‘principles of syllogism’ and claims that none of them are a priori. Moreover, regarding awwalīyāt and fitrīyāt— which are two groups of such principles—Gutas suggests that “[i]t appears that both kinds of propositions would be analytic, in Kantian terms. As for Locke, they would be what he called ‘trifling.’” In my first comment in this issue, I disagreed with this view and argued that these two groups of propositions are a priori in the Kantian sense. Assenting to their truth is internal to the intellect and independent of empirical information. I also argued that at least some fitrīyāt are synthetic, rather than analytic. So Avicenna’s epistemology accommodates instances of non-analytic knowl- edge that are independent of sense experience. This casts serious doubt on the plausibility of describing Avicenna as a full-blown empiricist. Gutas has responded to my note and claimed that the discussion of a priority, in its Kantian sense, is irrelevant to Avicenna’s epistemology. He also defends the claim that awwalīyāt and fitrīyāt are both trifling and experience-dependent. Before offering my rejoinder,

Journal

Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jul 3, 2020

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