“Unity of Language and Thought” in the Editorial of Issue 19 of the Quarterly of History of Philosophy  



The 19th issue of the scientific-research Quarterly of History of Philosophy (Winter 2014) will be published in the near future. This issue contains the following papers:

A Comprehensive Critical-Comparative Analysis of Tusi’s Works on Ethics, Fereshteh Abolhassani Niaraki

Happiness in the Views of Aristotle and Ibn Miskawayh Razi, Ali Mohammad Sajedi and Hajar Darayi Tabar

Farabi and his Distinction between Existence and Quiddity, Ghasem Pourhasan

A Comparison of two Types of Autonomous and Revelation-Based Rationalism in Abu Hatam Razi and Muhammad Ibn Zakariyya Razi’s Debate, Ahad Faramarz Qaramaleki and ‘Abas Ali Mansory

A Critical Evaluation of Hegel’s Reading of the Origin of Heraclitus’ Doctrines, Dariush Darvishy

A Comparison of Farabi’s Logico-Linguistic Theories with the Principles and Theories of Contemporary Linguistics, Mahmoud Reza Moradian and Ali Nuri Khatunbani

Understanding of Truth in Pre-Socratic Philosophers, Sa‘id Shapouri

We read in the Editorial of this issue as follows:

Determining and identifying a specific language or register for each science is an undeniable necessity. This particular language is not limited to the technical words and expressions used in each field and, rather, enjoys a specific structure and spirit. This is the case while there are some close relationships between some sciences in terms of their principles and content.

One of the basic issues discussed in the philosophy of science is the same “language of science”. Although this idea was not much distinctive in early philosophers’ classification of sciences and identifying their conditions and fundamental principles, when they paid attention to some principles such as single elements, methods, and definitions, they inevitably attended to the role of “language of science” and considered it to be useful in limiting and separating sciences from each other. Some treatises such as al-Hudud by Ibn Sina, al-Huruf by Farabi, Kobra fi al-mantiq by Mir Seyyed Sharif and many others basically emphasize the category of language.

The language of philosophy and philosophers mainly entails arguments. In the five-fold figures, argument is distinguished from dialectics, sophistry, poetry, and sermon. If we pay attention to this distinction, the conditions and preliminary principles of philosophy and its specific register will become quite clear to us. In the view of the First Teacher, argument in this sense is distinct from all other concepts since it enjoys a language depending on reality. Although all sciences mirror the reality, it seems that philosophy has a greater share in this regard. The language of argument, which is the language of philosophy, makes it different from the language of other sciences, particularly, from the ordinary language. If people have developed the idea that philosophers intend to employ ambiguous, complicated, and general terms, it is because of the nature of the language of philosophy and philosophical thoughts. Otherwise, no philosopher wishes to use a difficult and mysterious language.

Nevertheless, if we believe in the connection between language and thinking and view language as the mirror of mind, then we will not consider the nature and spirit of the language of philosophy to be artificial and formal; neither will we accuse philosophers of using a bombastic and complex style of speech. If today there is some talk of simplifying the language of philosophy, and even if it is tried to bring it closer to ordinary language, we must also think about the consequences of this simplification, particularly in comparison to the accepted principles regarding the development of science. Moreover, we should compare the two classic and modern traditions of the language of philosophy. It is hoped that those who work in the field of philosophy pay attention to this important point and, particularly, contribute to developing an appropriate language to be used in contemporary philosophical dialog.


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