Histories and Cultures of Muslim Societies
I am an Ad hoc PhD candidate (ABD) between the Departments of NELC and Philosophy studying Islamic intellectual history with a focus on ancient Greek and medieval Arabic logic and philosophy of language. Currently I am in Istanbul as an ANAMED Dissertation Research Fellow (2019-2020) conducting research on 13th century logical manuscripts. In my dissertation I diachronically trace discussions on the logical analysis of simple sentences in the Greco-Arabic tradition from Aristotle to 14th century Islamic philosophers.
Arabic logic developed from translations of the Aristotelian logical system (Organon) that was originally conceived from within the Greek language. In contrast to the European Aristotelian tradition that was largely expressed in Latin, which is grammatically close enough to ancient Greek, the Arabic tradition was faced with a mismatch between intuitions from Arabic grammar, which as a Semitic language is radically different from that of Indo-European languages, and the tradition of Aristotelian logic. A case in point is the use of the copula (“is” in a sentence like “Socrates is pale”), which is expressed in Greek, but not in Arabic (or in modern formal logic). Questions about the function of the copula raise further questions about the relation between language and logic, theories of meaning, the unity of the proposition, the nature of judgment, and theories of truth, that we see being discussed in medieval Arabic philosophical works (often still unedited). My dissertation tells the story of the development of these discussions. I am particularly interested in how we can bring into conversation the understudied field of medieval Islamic logic with the history of Analytic philosophy and some issues in contemporary philosophy of language and logic.
My publications include: Klinger, Dustin. “A New Take on Semantics, Syntax and the Copula: Note on Quṭb al-Dīn al-Rāzī al-Taḥtānī’s (d. 1365) Analysis of Atomic Propositions in the Lawāmiʿ al-asrār”. Nazariyat 5, no. 2, (2019): 59-80, which was translated into Turkish as: Klinger, Dustin. “Anlambilim, Sözdizimi ve Râbıtaya Dair Yeni Bir Kabul: Kutbüddin er-Râzî et-Tahtânî’nin Levâmiu’l-esrâr’daki Atomik Önermeleri Tahlili Üzerine Notlar”. Nazariyat 5, no. 2 (2019): 55-76. I have a piece under review for Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, entitled “Averroes’ Cosmological Twist to Aristotle’s Argument Against Determinism in Metaphysics E2-3: The Accident as Interspherical Nexus for a Deterministic forma fluens Physics”.
My interests lie broadly in the history of philosophy, the Analytic tradition, the Classics, and Islamic intellectual history, especially philosophy and the linguistic sciences. I have taught Modern Standard Arabic (Beginner/Intermediate) and an Introduction to Medieval Islamic Theology and Philosophy (900-1500) at Harvard.
I hold a BA in Classics and Oriental Studies from Oxford, a Diploma in Classics and Arabic from the École Normale Supérieure Rue d’Ulm in Paris, and a MA in History of Philosophy from the Sorbonne (Paris IV).
You can visit me at https://harvard.academia.edu/DustinKlinger.