There in only ‘Philosophy:’ The case of Testimony

Testimony and the epistemic problem of society in al-Risālat al-Kāmiliyya fī al-Sīrat al-Nabawiyya


This paper outlines some of the historical and epistemological themes of al-Risālat al-Kāmiliyya fī al-Sīrat al-Nabawiyya (‘the Epistle of Kāmil on the life-story of the Prophet’; henceforth, Risālat Kāmiliyya) by Ibn al-Nafīs (d. 1288) in the context of discussions about testimony in Medieval Islamicate intellectual milieus. The paper is divided into three parts.

The first one will offer a brief description of the place of testimony in Medieval epistemic discussions, with some comparative elements. The second part presents a short summary of Risālat Kāmiliyya’s close precedent, Ibn Ṭufayl’s Risālat ayy Ibn Yaqẓān, with some remarks on the role of testimony in its epistemology. In the third part, Risālat Kāmiliyya’s original epistemic stance on testimony will be examined and discussed, with some proposals about its historical and philosophical significance.


testimony; Arabic philosophy; epistemology; philosophy of language

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