Al-Ghazali on the signification of names

Kalle Taneli Kukkonen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Al-Ghazali's most detailed explanation of how signification works occurs in his treatise on The Beautiful Names of God. Al-Ghazali builds squarely on the commentary tradition on Aristotle's Peri hermeneias: words signify things by means of concepts and correspondingly, existence is laid out on three levels, linguistic, conceptual, and particular (i.e. extramental). This framework allows al-Ghazālī to put forward what is essentially an Aristotelian reading of what happens when a name successfully picks out a being: when a quiddity is named by some kind term, its referent in the mind is formally identical to the quiddity of an individual existent which belongs to that natural kind. Al-Ghazali then proceeds to tease out the implications of this scheme for the special problem of signifying God. It turns out that the Peripatetic theory, which al-Ghazālī appropriates from Ibn Sīnā, is ill equipped for the task as al-Ghazālī envisions it.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)55-74
    Number of pages20
    JournalVivarium
    Volume48
    Issue number1-2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2010

    Fingerprint

    Signification
    Al-Ghazali
    Names
    Aristotle
    Referent
    Aristotelian
    Peripatetic
    Natural Kinds
    Treatise
    Name of God
    Signifying
    Deity

    Keywords

    • Al-Ghazali
    • Arabic philosophy
    • Avicenna
    • Philosophy of language
    • Semantics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • History
    • Philosophy

    Cite this

    Al-Ghazali on the signification of names. / Kukkonen, Kalle Taneli.

    In: Vivarium, Vol. 48, No. 1-2, 01.03.2010, p. 55-74.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Kukkonen, Kalle Taneli. / Al-Ghazali on the signification of names. In: Vivarium. 2010 ; Vol. 48, No. 1-2. pp. 55-74.
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