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« ‟Et Allah apprit à Adam tous les noms…” (Cor. 2, 31). L’origine du langage dans la pensée islamique »

Abstract : The question of the origin of language is one of the most famous pages of what should be called Islamic "theolinguistics". It is indeed conditioned by Q. 2:31 "And he [i.e. Allah] taught Adam all the names." This verse determines the Islamic alternative which is very different from the Greek one: rather than by institution (thései) or by nature (phusei), the origin of the language is only by institution, the alternative being divine or human origin. Following Suyūṭī’s (d. 911/1505) Muzhir, we first present the "theological thesis", exposed by Ibn Fāris (d. 395/1004) in the Ṣāhibī. Called tawqīf (divine "fixation"), it is based on the literal interpretation of Q. 2:31. It is opposed to the thesis of iṣṭilāḥ (human "convention"), attributed to Mu‘tazilites. We next show that the Mu‘tazilite grammarian Ibn Ǧinnī (d. 392/1002) actually "hesitates" between these two positions, rallying to an intermediate position and not excluding the naturalistic hypothesis. Finally, we suggest that the question of the origin of language, by focusing on the idea of institution, can be at the origin of the scholastic discipline of ‘ilm al-waḍ‘, which is a true semiotics.
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Contributor : Pierre Larcher <>
Submitted on : Sunday, March 22, 2020 - 1:30:30 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 3:24:10 AM

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Pierre Larcher. « ‟Et Allah apprit à Adam tous les noms…” (Cor. 2, 31). L’origine du langage dans la pensée islamique ». N. Germann et S. Harvey. The Origin and Nature of Language and Logic. Perspectives in Medieval Islamic, Jewish, and Christian Thought. Acts of the XX International Colloquium of the Société Internationale pour l’Étude de la Philosophie Médiévale, Freiburg im Brisgau, 20-22 August 2014, Brepols, pp.3-27, 2020, Rencontres de Philosophie Médiévale, 978-2-503-58892-6. ⟨halshs-02514464⟩

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