Tract on the Methods of Enquiry


This short tract on dialectics is attributed to Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Ashraf al-Husayni al-Samarqandi, a 13th-century logician, mathematician, and astronomer, whose biography is not well known. His name, however, suggests he was from Samarqand in present-day Uzbekistan. It was largely this tract—his major work on logic and the subject of several commentaries—that established him as a logician. The tract is comprised of three parts. The first is dedicated to the definition of a number of concepts, including munazarah (comparison), dalil (evidence), taʻlil (reasoning), and muʻaradah (rebuttal). In the second part, the author employs these concepts to lay out a theoretical framework for reasoning. The third part includes three masaʼil (propositions) pertaining to the concept of necessary and possible kinds of existence; issues that engaged earlier kalam (literally, the science of debate) theologians as well. The tract, overall, is a discussion of the methods of intellectual investigation and reasoning used by earlier Muslim and Greek philosophers, especially Aristotle and Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Al-Samarqandi also wrote works on astronomy, theology, and mathematics. His Kitāb ashkāl al-ta’sīs (Book on the fundamental theorems), a summary of 35 fundamental propositions of Euclid's geometry, is also well regarded among mathematicians.

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Title in Original Language

رسالة في آداب البحث

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Physical Description

23 folios


  • This copy is bound with Tamḥiṣ al-talkhiṣ (Critical examination of the summary of al-Qazwini), a work on Arabic rhetoric by al-Aqhisari (1544–1616).


Last updated: January 10, 2018