Chapter

Ibn Khaldun's Method

Fromherz Allen James

in Ibn Khaldun

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780748639342
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653201 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748639342.003.0005
Ibn Khaldun's Method

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This chapter discusses Ibn Khaldun's method of combining rational philosophy with history. Disillusioned by the corruption of historical records, by uncritical writing, and by the blind repetition of these inaccurate histories, Ibn Khaldun sought for a new method of writing history. He proposed for understanding of the meanings behind the events and probed for the ‘inner meaning’ of history. Unlike some modern historians who erected a wall of distance between themselves and their subjects, Ibn Khaldun freely claimed to find inspiration internally, finding the rules of logic in his own interior search for meaning. This chapter begins with Ibn Khaldun's application of rules of logic onto history. According to him, logic allowed the historians to distinguish between what was a general essence or pattern in history and what was merely accidental. The second section discusses Ibn Khaldun's fascination with the Berbers. This section examines some of the possible reasons why Ibn Khaldun, a man of born into an Arab intellectual elite with a family tied to Andalusia, ended up writing one of the most nuanced sources of Berber history available. The third section discusses Ibn Khaldun's descriptions of the Berber tribe and Berber identity. It focuses on Ibn Khaldun's praise for the history of the Berber. The fourth section focuses on Khaldun's cycles of history and dynastic cycle. Following the fourth section is a discussion on Khaldun's concept of the body politic and of civilization. For him, the rise and fall of a dynasty and a civilization depended on cyclical stages. Section Six provides a closer inspection of Ibn Khaldun's theory of the rise and fall of dynasties which is pegged through tribal, moral courage and fall of dynasties into urban luxury. The chapter ends by showing that a paradigm shift from the Western emphasis on cities and urbanism was the basis for civilization to understand Ibn Khaldun's argument that the Berber tribes are both seeds of civilization and the source of decline.

Keywords: rational philosophy; history; inner meaning; rules of logic; Berbers; Berber identity; cycles of history; dynastic cycle; body politic

Chapter.  16663 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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