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Argument to the Senses in Post-Avicennian Dialectical Theory

This project will explore the modes and patterns of “argument to the senses” (ATS) in the proto- and early ādāb al-baḥth wa’l-munāẓara, or “protocol for dialectical inquiry and disputation.” As a broad category for analysis, ATS is that body of argumentative notions, categories, moves, and methods which are marked by, or encompass, or build upon a posteriori and empirical modes of knowing. And within Islamic logical and dialectical theories of the early “post-classical” period (roughly the 13th and 14th centuries CE), ATS can be located within a defined range of notions and procedures. First, it may be found in the assertion—in syllogistic justifications and objections—of empirical premises; e.g., the “sense-perceived” premises (maḥsūsāt), or the “givens of experience” (mujarrabāt). Second, it may be found in a posteriori “appeals to the self-evident” (tanbīhāt), as dialectical moves confronting opponents with the evidence of their own senses. A third venue for empiricism (and by far the most fertile in terms of discourse) is the technique of affirming causality via suitably-assessed and repeatedly-observed concomitance (dawarān). In the course of the current project, expositions and debates on these manifestations of ATS (and on related notions, such as mulāzama, or “necessary implication”) will be culled from relevant logical and dialectical treatises and commentaries, collated, analyzed, and explained in a series of talks and articles.