SGA 11/2(2021)

Studia graeco-arabica 11/2 (2021). Logica graeco-arabico-hebraica

Guest Editor: Yehuda Halper

ISSN 2281-2687 / ISSN 2239-012X (Online)
ISBN 978-88-3339-614-9 / ISBN 978-88-3339-615-6 (Online)

Available in print. Please contact:
Affiliations and addresses of the Authors of this Volume

Prof. Julie Brumberg-Chaumont
LEM/Campus Condorcet
14 cours des Humanités
93300 Aubervilliers (France)

Dr. Daniel Davies
Universität Hamburg
Institut für Jüdische Philosophie und Religion
Schlüterstraße 51, 20146 Hamburg (Germany)

Dr. Silvia Di Vincenzo
IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca
Piazza S. Francesco, 19, c.a.p. 55100 Lucca (Italia)

Prof. Dr. Nadja Germann
Philosophisches Seminar
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
79085 Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany)

Prof. Yehuda Halper
Department of Jewish Philosophy
Bar-Ilan University Ramat-Gan
5290002 (Israel)


Prof. Em. Steven Harvey
Bar-Ilan University
Department of Jewish Philosophy
Jacobovitz Building, floor 4, room 406
Ramat-Gan, 5290002 (Israel)

Dr. Oded Horezky
University of Cologne
Thomas-Institute, Universitätsstr. 22
50923 Köln

Dr. Alexander Lamprakis
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Munich School of Ancient Philosophy (MUSA)
Leopoldstraße 11B, 80802 München (Germany)

Prof. Em. Y. Tzvi Langermann
Department of Arabic
Bar-Ilan University
Ramat-Gan, 5290002 (Israel)

Prof. Em. Charles H. Manekin
Department of Philosophy
University of Maryland
College Park, MD (USA)

Prof. John Marenbon
Trinity College, Cambridge
CB2 1TQ (United Kingdom)

Prof. Em. Josef Stern
William H. Colvin Professor of Philosophy (Emeritus)
The University of Chicago
Dept. of Philosophy
1115 E. 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637 (U.S.A.)


Prof. Tony Street
Faculty of Divinity
University of Cambridge
West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9BS (United Kingdom)

Prof. Paul Thom
The University of Sydney
Philosophy Department
NSW 2006 Sydney (Australia)


1.Nadja Germann, How to Teach Things with Words: al-Fārābī, Māyin’s Doubt, and the Transmission of Knowledge, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 1-13
Affiliation: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
doi: 10.12871/978883339614910
Keywords: “Meno paradox”, Posterior Analytics, Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī

Abstract, Full Text PDF

In one way or another, every student of philosophy has probably at least once hit upon the so-called “Meno paradox”, a puzzle originally raised in Plato’s Meno, which is usually considered as the latter’s attempt to question the possibility of inquiry. Like many philosophers before and after him, Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī (d. 950) engaged with this paradox. Among other places, he explicitly addresses it in his Kitāb al-burhān (On Demonstration), his paraphrase of Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics. Given this context, it comes as no surprise that references to Plato are absent, since the general lines of his approach are obviously determined by his reference text. Yet, if one examines “Māyin’s doubt”, as he dubs the dilemma, more closely, several peculiarities come to the fore. For one, the terse allusions to teaching and learning, which Aristotle makes at the beginning of his book, turn into a fully-fledged conceptual framework within which Fārābī discusses the puzzle. Moreover, the entire section of the Burhān dedicated to this problem is distinguished by the strong emphasis Fārābī puts on the use of language within the context of teaching and learning – an emphasis that lacks a parallel in the Posterior Analytics. Thus, it soon becomes clear that Māyin’s doubt is not simply a summary of Meno’s puzzle as it appears in Aristotle’s work. Rather it is an engagement with the latter designed to answer contemporary questions. But what are the questions Fārābī’s discussion of the paradox is meant to answer? And what answers does he give to them?

2.Alexander Lamprakis, Daniel Davies Delineating Dialectic: The Perfect Philosopher in al-Fārābī’s Commentary on Topics VIII 1, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 13-26
Affiliation: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München; Universität Hamburg
doi: 10.12871/978883339614911
Keywords: Topics VIII, Ṭodros Ṭodrosi, al-Fārābī

Abstract, Full Text PDF

This article presents and discusses two previously unpublished fragments from al-Fārābī’s (d. 950/1) literal commentary on Topics VIII. This text survives only in a Hebrew translation of the provençal intellectual Ṭodros ben Mešullam ben David Ṭodrosi (born 1313) and is part of an anthology of philosophical texts that he produced around the year 1333 in Trinquetaille, Arles. In these two fragments, al-Fārābī assesses Aristotle’s claim in Top. VIII 1, 155b7-10 that the philosopher and the dialectician differ insofar as the philosopher does not need the ability to address others in his speech, while the dialectician necessarily does. Through a close reading of these fragments, the article aims to show that al-Fārābī’s commentary is more than mere textual exegesis: al-Fārābī juxtaposes Aristotle’s claim with the concept of ‘philosopher’
that he himself develops, both in his political writings and in his abridgements of Aristotle’s Organon. In discussing whether or not a philosopher needs to have command over teaching others, as well as refuting and testing their opinions, al-Fārābī gives a straightforward account of the natures and definitions of both the philosopher and the dialectician, which leads him to distinguish two ways in which a philosopher can be called ‘perfect’. It will be argued that al-Fārābī’s commentary on Topics VIII is therefore an important source text for discussing the way in which he navigates between the different definitions of ‘philosopher’ inherited from the ancient and late ancient philosophical tradition.

3.Silvia Di Vincenzo The Avicennian Tradition in the Making: A Correspondence on the Role of Expressions and Meanings in Logic in Context, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 27-40
Affiliation: IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca
doi: 10.12871/978883339614912
Keywords: Avicenna, Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, falsafa

Abstract, Full Text PDF

The definition of the relation between expressions (alfāẓ) and meanings (maʿānī) has played a pivotal role in determining the subject matter of logic all along the so-called “classical period” of Arabic philosophy. This paper focuses on Avicenna’s (d. 427H/1037) view on this fundamental topic taking into account his hitherto neglected correspondence with an anonymous disciple (Mubāḥaṯāt 579-585 in Bīdārfar’s edition). The aim is to frame this correspondence in its original context by analyzing both its direct and indirect tradition. The correspondence, which appears to be quoted in Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s (d. 606H/1210) Šarḥ al-Išārāt wa-l-Tanbīhāt, may be one of the earliest – not to say the earliest – signs of an exegetical activity surrounding Avicenna’s Išārāt and Šifāʾ still in its embryonic stage.

4.Tony Street Abū l-Barakāt al-Baġdādī and the Traditions of Arabic Logic, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 41-66
Affiliation: University of Cambridge
doi: 10.12871/978883339614913
Keywords: al-Nukat wa-l-fawāʾid, Abū l-Barakāt al-Baġdādī, Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī

Abstract, Full Text PDF

In the anonymous al-Nukat wa-l-fawāʾid, a summa of Avicennan philosophy written around 1200, a partisan of Avicenna accuses Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 1210) of having come under the influence of the reprehensible Leader of the Jews, Abū l-Barakāt al-Baġdādī (d. c. 1165). The reasons for the anonymous author’s antipathy toward Abū l-Barakāt relate to the way Avicenna’s contribution to logic is both pillaged and pilloried in stretches of al-Kitāb al-muʿtabar. The claim that Abū l-Barakāt exercised direct influence over Faḫr al-Dīn is, at least in logic, unlikely to be true. Nonetheless, Abū l-Barakāt’s presentation and methods highlight significant changes in the methods of the later traditions of Arabic logic.

5.Y. Tzvi Langermann Logic in a Pre-Tibbonian Hebrew Philosophical Dialogue, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 67-80
Affiliation: Bar-Ilan University
doi: 10.12871/978883339614914
Keywords: pre-Maimonidean Hebrew philosophical literature, Galen’s Institutio Logica, UPenn Codex 1856

Abstract, Full Text PDF

A dialogue between “Intellect” and “Soul”, preserved uniquely and incompletely in a manuscript now held by the University of Pennsylvania, is a rare and precious specimen of pre-Maimonidean Hebrew philosophical literature. The author repurposes some terms drawn from rabbinic legal texts, innovates some terms on his owns, and occasionally must resort to writing out Arabic terms in Hebrew letters. In one passage, which clearly draws upon Galen’s Institutio Logica, he displays relational syllogisms which prove the superiority of the soul over the body.

6.Josef Stern Where is Maimonides’ Logic?, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 81-92
Affiliation: The University of Chicago
doi: 10.12871/978883339614915
Keywords: Maimonides, Treatise on the Art of Logic , al-Fārābī

Abstract, Full Text PDF

This paper argues that scholars interested in Maimonides’ mastery and creative use of logic, and in his original contributions to the subject, should explore his Guide of the Perplexed (in Arabic, Dalālat al- Ḥaʾirīn and, in Hebrew, Moreh Nevukhim) rather than, or in addition to, his Treatise on the Art of Logic (in Arabic, Maqāla fī ṣinaʿat al-manṭiq and, in Hebrew, Millot Ha-higgayon) on which previous research has exclusively focused. I support this hypothesis through a close analysis of Maimonides’ account of (propositional) attribution (or what we would call ‘predication’) as part of his analysis of divine attributes, showing both Al-Fārābī’s Aristotelian influence and the ways in which Maimonides departs from his predecessor. In particular, I argue that Maimonides analyzes affirmative attributes in external speech as categorial negations of privations in inner speech which he takes to be better than the former but nonetheless false because of their composite logical syntax which misrepresents God’s unity. Second, he rejects indefinite nouns (which had been proposed by al-Fārābī as a preferred way of describing the deity). Finally, I show how he distinguishes the one name of God, the Tetragrammaton, from descriptions of God (e.g., ‘The Just’) which are built up out of propositional components that suffer from the same composite syntactic representational structure as affirmative and negated attributive propositions. More generally, the paper highlights Maimonides’ al-Fārābīan conception of logic as a theory of form or syntax and his sensitivity to metaphysical presuppositions of logical analyses.

7.Yehuda Halper Debate by the Book, about the Book, in a Book: Shem Tob Falaquera’s Epistle of the Debate, al-Fārābī’s Book of Dialectic, and Aristotle’s Topics on Philosophy and the Holy Writ, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 93-106
Affiliation: Bar-Ilan University
doi: 10.12871/978883339614916
Keywords: Shem Tob Falaquera’s Epistle of the Debate, al-Fārābī’s Book of Dialectic, and Aristotle’s Topics

Abstract, Full Text PDF

Shem Tov Falaquera’s Epistle of the Debate describes a debate between a Pietist who is knowledgeable only in Jewish law and religious texts and a Scholar who is well versed in both Jewish and philosophical works about whether according to Scripture studying philosophy is forbidden, permitted, or necessary for the perfection of human beings. I argue that to a large extent the form, style, and much of the content of the arguments in the debate are based on Al-Fārābī’s Book of Dialectic. Falaquera thus provides an example of a debate by the book (Al-Fārābī’s Dialectic), about the Book (Scripture), and in a book (The Epistle of the Debate). Moreover, by examining the arguments of the Epistle in light of Al-Fārābī’s Dialectic, we can see how dialectic can provide both training in adversarial debates and an introduction to philosophy and science.

8.Charles H. Manekin Porphyry’s First Definition of Difference in the Hebrew Logical Tradition, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 107-124
Affiliation: University of Maryland
doi: 10.12871/978883339614917
Keywords: Isagoge, Averroes, Boethius, Judah Messer Leon

Abstract, Full Text PDF

Although most students during the Middle Ages began their study of the Organon with Porphyry’s summary of the predicables in the Isagoge, Jewish students in Christian lands studied it mostly via Averroes’ paraphrase or “Middle Commentary”, since Porphyry’s text was not translated into Hebrew. The popularity of Averroes’ paraphrase was impressive; it is extant in over 80 Hebrew manuscripts, upon which there are thirteen extant Hebrew commentaries. This article introduces and illustrates those commentaries by taking one short passage from Averroes and seeing how it was subsequently interpreted. It argues that there was a Hebrew commentarial tradition in which later commentaries built upon earlier ones, which migrated with itinerant scholars. It also shows the influence of the Latin translation of Porphyry, chiefly that of Boethius, which differs from the paraphrase. And finally, it distinguishes the commentary of Judah Messer Leon (15th c. Italy) from its predecessors in its whole-scale adaption of Christian commentarial practices.

9.Paul Thom Gersonides’ Modal Syllogistic as An Interpretation of Aristotle: A First Reading, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 125-140
Affiliation: The University of Sydney
doi: 10.12871/978883339614918
Keywords: Gersonides, Aristotle’s modal syllogisms, Aristotle’s perfect syllogisms

Abstract, Full Text PDF

For Gersonides, a necessary proposition is one that is true and cannot in future not be true. Other modalities are defined accordingly. Gersonides distinguishes essential from accidental terms (human versus geometer). Based in part on whether they have essential or accidental terms, he distinguishes propositions that are essentially necessary from those that are incidentally necessary, and those that are essentially contingent from those that are incidentally contingent. He also distnguishes those that are perpetually necessary (or contingent) from those that are so nonperpetually. Aristotle’s modal syllogisms reduce to perfect syllogisms in one of the configurations: 2 necessary premises, 2 contingent, one necessary and one contingent, one necessary and one assertoric, one contingent and one assertoric. It turns out that all of Aristotle’s perfect syllogisms in any of these configurations are valid for on at least one of Gersonides’ readings of the premises. For example, the perfect uniform necessary syllogisms are valid if both premises are essential necessities with both terms essential, or if both are incidental necessities. But Gersonides does not accept all the syllogisms that Aristotle reduces to these perfect syllogisms, because he rejects some Aristotelian conversion principles. A semantic analysis of Gersonides’ modal proposition is given, based on notions of essential term, inseparability and compatibility, underlying subject, ‘in virtue of’ and ‘per se’, and a principle concerning the actualization of potentialities. The semantics agrees with Gersonides’ results.

10.Steven Harvey, Oded Horezky From Translator to Commentator: Ṭodros Ṭodrosi’s Presentation of Aristotle’s Organon, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 141-156
Affiliation: Bar-Ilan University, University of Cologne
doi: 10.12871/978883339614919
Keywords: MS Heb Add 27559, Aristotle’s Organon,

Abstract, Full Text PDF

The present article studies a fascinating manuscript, a unicum, housed in the British Library, Heb MS Add 27559. This manuscript of works by Ṭodros Ṭodrosi of Arles features a lengthy Hebrew anthology of logical and scientific texts, written by Greek and Arabic philosophers, some of which were translated by him into Hebrew for the first time. In a previous study that appeared in 2021, we examined the section from the book on natural science of this anthology that Ṭodros devoted to the study and explanation of Aristotle’s Physics and which he completed in Trinquetaille in 1333 at the age of twenty. In that paper, we uncovered Ṭodros’s aims and his own unique methodology in this section and sketched a picture of the ways in which Ṭodros intended to assist his contemporary readers in the study of natural science. In the present paper, we shed new light on this manuscript through an examination of the book on logic that Ṭodros dedicated to the study and explanation of Aristotle’s Organon. We describe Ṭodros’s modus operandi and examine the nature of his discussions in each of the sections of his book on logic, with special attention to the section on the Posterior Analytics, and we show to what extent they correspond to what we uncovered in his treatment of the Physics. The paper analyzes Ṭodros’s use of Averroes’ Long Commentary on the Posterior Analytics in order to explain Averroes’ Middle Commentary on the Posterior Analytics, and it illustrates Ṭodros’s use of al-Fārābī’s Long Commentary on the Topics in order to explain Averroes’ Middle Commentary on that book. The paper, just as our 2021 study that it complements, contributes to our knowledge of the fundamental status of Averroes’ middle commentaries on the Corpus Aristotelicum among medieval Jewish scholars, as well as to our growing awareness and appreciation of the achievements of this fourteenth-century Provençal Jewish scholar, Ṭodros Ṭodrosi.

11.Julie Brumberg-Chaumont The Impact of Aristotelian Logic on Medieval Latin and Jewish South-European Cultures: Placing and Re-scaling Logical Knowledge, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 157-182
Affiliation: PSL/CNRS/LEM (Paris)
doi: 10.12871/978883339614920
Keywords: Logic in Latin and Hebrew contexts, Dominican ‘schools of logic’, Aristotelian logical culture

Abstract, Full Text PDF

This paper seeks to address the problem of the cultural impact of logic in Latin and Hebrew contexts by offering a social and spatialized history of logic during the 13th century. This approach is liable to put an end to the idea that medieval Latin logical culture was a monolithic reality, targeted by the umbrella term of “Latin scholasticism”. The pluralization of Latin educational cultures is explored in terms of history of disciplines, places of knowledge, periods, institutions, self-representation, social value, educational impact and practitioners. The first part of this paper shows how the diffusion of Aristotelian cultures was quite limited in Christian Europe before the beginning of the 13th century, and remained so untill the end of the 13th cent. The second part specifically turns to the history of logic. A first section offers an overview of the first developments of Hebrew logic. The next one describes the weaknesses of the teaching of logic in Latin southern Europe. The third section highlights some original features of the teaching of the Tractatus. The last section shows how the development of Dominican ‘schools of logic’ in southern provinces contributed to a first ‘meridionalization’ of the Aristotelian logical culture. The conclusion suggests possible revisions of some aspects of the standard narrative about the history of Latin-Hebrew interactions in the field of logic.

12.John Marenbon Towards a Social History of Medieval Logic, SGA 11/2 (2021), pp. 183-194
Affiliation: Trinity College, Cambridge
doi: 10.12871/978883339614921
Keywords: Social History of Medieval Logic, Standard Approach to the History of Logic, Medieval Logic

Abstract, Full Text PDF

This paper explains how a social history of medieval logic might be written. After contrasting it with the Standard Approach, centred on great logicians, problems and debates, it suggests a series of questions which social historians of logic might ask: when, where, by whom, how and why was logic studied in the Middle Ages? There follows a discussion of pathways to the social history of medieval logic: enhanced doxology, institutional history, logic in relation to other disciplines and cultural comparison. Finally, an objection is considered: logic is discovered, not invented, and so social explanations are inappropriate for its history. The objection is rejected because, whether logic is discovered or invented, historians of it must explain how individual logicians came to think and write as they did, and such explanations include social factors among others.

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