The Relationship Between Utterances and Meanings From al-Farabi’s Point Of View Considering The Usage Of “Primitive” and “Derivative” Names In The Expressing Of Philosophical Meanings

Document Type : Scientific-research


Assistant professor in Islamic philosophy, Iranian Institute of Philosophy


Between two conflicting views about the origin of language, i.e., Platonic naturalism and Aristotelian conventionalism, Farabi has his own independent original standpoint. Plato understood the utterance’s  imitation of the meanings to be dependent on the similarity of the Utterance’s constituent letters and sounds with the meaning, and Aristotle believed in nothing but the convention and contract in this regard between the speakers. In Farabi’s view, “the similarity between the structure of the Utterances and their meanings” is the necessary condition for the accuracy and strength of a language and guarantees the imitation of the meanings. Among the linguistic rules, he thinks, the derivation rule has the most capacity to show the similarity between the utterances and meanings and shows it in different circumstances. Some cases of it are the application of the “derivative” or “primitive” names to different levels of knowledge and genus and species of substance and attribute categories in different situations and the justification of their philosophical aspect. He explains that how the similarity between the structures of each kind of these utterances on the one hand and the characteristics and essential relationships of the philosophical concepts they refer to on the other hand, makes them qualified for this denotation. In another place, he notes that the primitive names for “being” in other languages show the characteristics and place of its signified meaning in philosophy and make the Arabic speakers aware of the possible errors they might commit due to the derivative-like appearance of this utterance.


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