Ibn Khaldûn’s Conception of Language and Mind: Between Tradition and Innovation

By Zeineb Deymi-Gheriani.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper will develop upon two parts. The first part will highlight Ibn Khaldûn’s concept of man as a ‘thinking animal’, and how this concept may be regarded as the basis for the establishment of the human, social, political, and religious organizations, i.e. civilization --with language being the main tool for its achievement. This ‘socialization of fikr’ was the innovation upon which Ibn Khaldûn built his ‘new science’, ilm al-urân, the equivalent of today’s science of sociology. At the end of the first part, there will be a comparative study of Ibn Khaldûn’s conception of fikr (the natural ability of thinking) and al-Ghazâli’s. The study will show how Ibn Khaldûn has built his rationalistic theory upon al-Ghazâli’s. But it will show also how he has further developed it. The second part will be a more mechanical study of the relationship between language and mind/brain in Ibn Khaldûn. It will enunciate that conciliating between metaphysics and biology, Ibn Khaldûn has offered modern psycholinguists the key to a holistic model approaching the language acquisition phenomenon. For Ibn Khaldûn, language is such a complex phenomenon: to its acquisition process the metaphysical world contributes fikr, physiology contributes the sounds and, eventually, society contributes instruction. This part will also end with a comparison, this time, between Ibn Khaldûn’s conception of the role of fikr in the process of language acquisition and Aristotle’s exaltation of the importance of logic (the technical procedure which parallels man’s natural ability to think) in the process of acquisition. The comparison will prove that although Ibn Khaldûn has not dispensed altogether with Aristotle’s logic, he has never preferred the artificial to the natural.

Keywords: Language, Mind, Knowledge Acquisition, Language Acquisition, Psycholinguistics

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.155-164. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 720.178KB).

Zeineb Deymi-Gheriani

English Assistant at the Higher Institute of Languages, English Department, GRAD research unit, Sfax, Tunisia, Gabes Higher Institute of Languages, Gabes, Tunisia

She is a teacher at the Higher Institute of Languages in Gabes, Tunisia. She got her DEA (the equivalent of MA) in linguistics in 2005 (on Ibn khaldûn’s holistic linguistic model) from the university of Mannouba, Tunisia. Her PhD Thesis is on a diametrically-opposed field of research—e-learning. She is also a member in the GRAD research unit in Sfax, Tunisia.


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