Download PDF Understanding Ibn Khaldun in Modern Sociology:Brief History

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  • A sociological analysis of Ibn Khaldun's theory : a study in the sociology of knowledge.
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Much has been said about Ibn Khaldun's method and it has also been highly praised, but very few studies are solely dedicated to this important topic. These studies, however, have neither tried to specify and trace the methodological media and the procedure of analysis followed by Ibn Khaldun nor his pragmatic differentiation between the theoretical and the empirical fields of research.

Ibn Khaldun's socio-economic thought is conceived theoretically as aggregated knowledge on the world's level, and as research findings n the level of a society.

A sociological analysis of Ibn Khaldun's theory : a study in the sociology of knowledge

In the latter case, Ibn Khaldun's dynamic theory of socio-economic development and change is exposed. The present research moves, therefore, along two lines: The first involves an explanation of Ibn Khaldun's method of analysis, and its adaptability to the aforementioned science of sociology.

The second addresses his particular economic sociology, its structure and theories. This will establish the dialectical link between the method and the concept of sociology, and will restore to the Muqaddimah its character of wholeness. The method of research employed in my study is a combination of the techniques of content analysis and structural analysis applied to a comprehensive selection of important passages from the Muqaddimah.

By content analysis I mean the investigation of the content of a selected passage, and the definition of the main variables or ideas it comprises. These are then understood, both in terms of their antecedents, and as part of a logical sequence. The objective here is to discover the main structure of the khaldunian edifice of thoughts.

Ibn Khaldun's most important concepts, once deduced, developed and structured within a certain passage, are then controlled through consultation of other passages in other parts of the Muqaddimah.

Ibn Khaldun and the Philosophy of History

The technique of structural analysis, closely related to that of content analysis, is determined by Ibn Khaldun's own ordering of chapters and sub-chapters in the Muqaddimah. Form and matter are thus connected to each other. This how the methodology is deduced and structured.


Content and structural analysis was also found useful concerning the re-translation of some central Khaldunian concepts. A book which is of great value in confirming these definitions is "Differences regarding language'' al-Askari, The English citations used in this research are taken from the translation by F. Although ibn Khaldun strongly believed in God, he never mentioned any celestial aim for history, or any divine end at which history would come to stop.

Ibn Khaldun went further to criticise other historians for imposing metaphysical ideas upon historical events to make the latter appear subordinate to the gods or to divine providence, turning history, properly a science, into something more closely akin to the arts and literature.

ibn khaldun Documentary, biography and political philosophy (must watch) in urdu-hindi

As a result, some Muslims and Westerners seized his concept of history to denounce ibn Khaldun as an atheist, a charge of which he was innocent; his point was that the science of history was not subject to metaphysics and could not be made so. Ibn Khaldun never questioned the existence of God. However, his views on prophecy are crystal clear, unlike those of certain of his predecessors in Muslim philosophy, in particular Alfarabi and Avicenna As an experimental philosopher he was interested in the holy experiments of the Prophet Mohammed , which means he cannot have seen history as having no end.

If the existence of God is regarded as an absolute fact and His prophets and their religious experiments as proof of this fact, then the statement that in history the past is just like the future must mean it consists of a continuous series of events not stopping with any nation, but continuing in cycles. Ibn Khaldun believed even the minutest of facts should be scrutinised in analysing historical events, since these were not simple phenomena, but complex.

His method was directly inductive, relying on the senses and the intellect without referring to any other norm.

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There was, in his view, a yawning void between the abstractive and the experimental, the first being based on logic and second on the reality of the sensible world. The subject of divine knowledge was an invisible spirit unable to be subjected to experimentation and of which there was no sensory evidence, so there could be no certain proof of it in this world.

Since the sensible and the non-sensible thus had no terms in common, ibn Khaldun banished the abstractive or divine world from his logical syllogisms. Hence, many historians, copyists and tellers have made the mistake of accepting untrue accounts or recording events that did not take place because they have relied on report alone, without bothering to research its sources closely for truth or falsehood, compare it with anything else or apply their own intelligence to it.

In this they have showed themselves to be poor historians.

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If we examine this tale carefully it is clearly false. When Jacob and his kinsmen entered Egypt there were only seventy of them.

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Only four generations separated Jacob and Moses. Where, then, did Moses get this huge multitude of youths and men? How exactly was this huge army squeezed into the maze? How could so massive a force have been lined up and moved in so limited an area of land?

Muqaddimah - Wikipedia

Historically each kingdom was manned by a certain number of garrisons according to its size. A kingdom having six hundred thousand or more fighters would have had borders far exceeding the limits of the ancient kingdom of Israel. Acquaintance with the social environments of the various different nations in terms of way of life, morals, incomes, doctrines and so forth.