Logic and Argumentation Theory in the Ottoman Period

17.12.2021 - 18.12.2021

ISAR Ottoman Sciences Symposium Series VII

Logic and Argumentation Theory in the Ottoman Empire: Scholars, Works and Problems

The prevailing narrative that dominates academic studies on Islamic culture and civilization is based on the conviction that Islamic thought has had declines in productivity since medieval times. As a result, there is a pervading assumption that the Ottoman period, which lasted from the Middle Ages to the modern era, was, to put it most favorably, a stationary period of Islamic sciences. However, thanks to recent revisionist/critical studies, these assumptions are now being questioned. In an effort to contribute to these studies, ISAR has been organizing a series of scientific assemblies which aim to relocate the position of the Ottoman scholarly tradition within both the tradition of Islamic sciences and the general history of thought. The first six symposiums organized in this series were dedicated to: theology, fiqh, taṣawwuf, tafsīr, ḥadith, and the linguistic sciences of Arabic. The seventh will cover the subjects of logic and argumentation theory (munāẓara or ādāb al-baḥth) during the Ottoman period.

Logic worked its way into Islamic intellectualism through the translation movements that began in the 8th century before reaching competent levels by the hands of systematic philosophers, such as Fārābī, Avicenna and Averroes. Especially through Avicenna did the Arabic tradition of logic become independent of references to Aristotle’s Organon. Afterwards, in part through the efforts of al-Ghazali, logic became an instrumental science, not only for the rational sciences, but also for the traditional Islamic sciences. With the madrasa curricula featuring the logic handbooks of prominent scholars (such as al-Abharī, al-Kātibī, al-Urmawī, Qutb al-Dīn al-Rāzī, al-Taftāzānī, and al-Sayyid al-Sharīf al-Jurjānī), the Arabic tradition of logic continued progressing after the 13th century by means of commentaries, glossaries (ḥāshiya) and super-glossaries (taʿlīqāt) written on these texts.

A great deal of post-13th century authentic writings on Arabic logic were written within the Ottoman scholarly environment that lasted approximately seven centuries. However, these writings were not discussed in scientific studies until very recently. Now promising studies on the works of logic and argumentation theory by Ottoman scholars are beginning to appear in the Western and Islamic worlds, including Turkey.

Aiming to discuss the Ottoman traditions of logic and argumentation theory built by prominent figures, such as Mullā Fenārī, Kūl Aḥmed b. Ḫizir, al-Akhḍarī, Ṭashköprīzāde, Sāçaklīzāde, and Gelenbevī, this symposium will emphasize and elucidate the distinguishing elements of this tradition.

Sample titles for this symposium include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Texts of logic and argumentation theory in the Ottoman era which initiated a tradition of commentaries and glosses.

  • Treatises on a specific issue in madrasa texts, such as the unity aspect (jihat al-waḥda), division of knowledge (taqsīm al-ʿilm), the parts of propositions (ajzāʾ al-qaḍiyya), modality propositions (muwajjahāt), syllogisms (aqyisa), inference (istidlāl), reduction of syllogistic figures to the first (raddiyyat al-miʿyār), and the liar paradox (al-jadhr al-aṣamm).

  • Mnemonics and symbolization attempts in the Ottoman period.

  • Mind-maps in the logic works; showing classifications of premises, modal propositions and syllogisms.

  • The interaction of logic and argumentation theory with Islamic theology, jurisprudence, and linguistic sciences, and their application in these areas.

  • The philosophy of logic in the texts of Islamic theology, jurisprudence, linguistic sciences, and Sufism.

  • The education of logic and argumentation theory in Ottoman madrasas.

  • Logic and argumentation theory in ijāzetnāmes.

  • Ijāzetnāmes and biographies of logicians.

  • Evaluation of the manuscripts in the libraries of Istanbul and Anatolia concerning logic and argumentation theory.

  • Translations of texts on logic written during the Ottoman era.

  • The project of republishing logic texts during the reigns of Sultan ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz and ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd II.

  • The reception of modern logic during the period of Ottoman-westernization.


Keynote Speakers

Khaled El-Rouayheb (Harvard University)

Walter Edward Young (McGill University)



After the program, authors will be given time to organize the selected papers to be published as part of a volume. 

The language of the symposium to be held in Istanbul is Turkish, Arabic and English.

Abstracts should not exceed 250 words.

Travel and accommodation for accepted presenters will be covered by ISAR.

Abstracts should be sent to symposium@isar.org.tr along with the applicants’ contact information and academic CV.