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Suhrawardī On Modal Syllogisms

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Chapter Summary

On first encounter, Suhrawardī's modal syllogistic in the Philosophy of Illumination looks to be quite different from Avicenna's. Closer inspection, however, reveals that Suhrawardī's system is deeply Avicennan, more so than, for example, the system in Najm al-Dīn al-Kātibī's Shamsiyya. This chapter examines what Suhrawardī achieves by reading all modal propositions as embedded in the phrase 'by necessity', what help it can offer the historian of Arabic logic, and what it means for assessing Suhrawardī's larger philosophical project. Scholars who have looked at Suhrawardī's treatment of modal syllogisms to date have tended to take it to be one of the areas of Peripatetic philosophy which he attacks and reformulates. To model Avicenna's modal propositions, we need to use what in modern logic are presented as different kinds of modal operators: a de dicto operator in which the proposition is embedded, and a de re operator which modifies the predicate.

Keywords: Avicenna's modal propositions; modal syllogisms; Najm al-Dīn al-Kātibī's Shamsiyya; Philosophy of Illumination; Suhrawardī's system



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