pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Oct 10 17:34:55 EDT 2001
Subject: Ibn Khaldun
(from NewsScan Daily, 10 October 2001, <http://www.newsscan.com/>)
HONORARY SUBSCRIBER: IBN KHALDUN
Today's Honorary Subscriber is the Arab scholar and statesman Ibn
Khaldun (1332-1406), who is celebrated as a pioneer in the philosophy
Scornful of other historians' blind trust in tradition, he took
pains to explain the phenomena that he recorded. He believed that
dynasties have a natural lifetime just like individuals, because they
draw their strength from a sentiment he called "group solidarity,"
which is difficult to maintain for more than three forty-year
generations. He noted that a proper understanding of events can be
achieved only by comprehending human society in its different
manifestations, distinguishing the nomadic from the sedentary, and
studying the effects of geography and climate on them.
Khaldun's history of the world, "The Book of Lessons and Archive
of Early and Subsequent History," which contains his theories of
history and society, was called by English historian Arnold Toynbee
"the most comprehensive and illuminating analysis of how human affairs
work that has been made anywhere."
He took a scientific view of the rise and decay of human
societies, arguing that such changes followed empirically verifiable
laws. His scholarly output encompassed today's disciplines of history,
sociology, anthropology, folklore, geography, linguistics, economics
and political science.
Ibn Khaldun was born in Tunis to a family with roots in the
aristocracy of Seville, Spain. In 1352 he entered the service of the
Sultan of Fez, but in 1356 he was imprisoned for two years under
suspicion of political disloyalty. After spending some years in
Granada, Spain, he returned to Africa and entered the service of the
Sultan of Tiemcen. After various vicissitudes, including further
imprisonment and a period of residence in a monastery, he obtained
employment with the Sultan of Tunis. After visiting Mecca in 1384, he
was appointed grand qadi in Cairo, Egypt, an office from which he was
removed and reinstalled no fewer than five times.
See http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0691017549/newsscancom/ for
Ibn Khaldun's "The Muqaddimah" -- or look for it in your local
library. (We donate all revenue from our book recommendations to adult
literacy action programs.)
More information about the EAS-INFO