Ibn Khaldun's chapter on the sciences constitutes the subject of a doctoral dissertation by S. van den Bergh, Umriss der Muhammedanischen Wissenschaften nach An Haldun (Leiden, 1912).


The first six sections of this chapter are a later addition not yet found in A or B, but appearing in C and D. In their place the earlier text had a much briefer section, printed in Bulaq and depending texts, as also at the end of Vol. II of the Paris edition (pp. 407 f.). The ideas briefly mentioned there reoccur in the larger text; cf., esp., pp. 417 f., below. What follows is a translation of that earlier section, a few lines of which were translated by Issawi, p. 140.

Science and instruction are natural to human civilization.

This is because all animals share with man his animality, as far as sensual perception, motion, food, shelter, and other such things are concerned. Man is distinguished from them by his ability to think. It enables him to obtain his livelihood, to co-operate to this end with his fellow men, to establish the social organization that makes such co-operation possible, and to accept the divine revelations of the prophets, to act in accordance with them, and to prepare for his salvation in the other world. He thinks about all these things constantly, and does not stop thinking for even so long as it takes the eye to blink. In fact, the action of thinking is faster than the eye can see.

Man's ability to think produces the sciences and the afore-mentioned crafts. In connection with the ability to obtain the requirements of nature, which is engrained in man as well as, indeed, in animals, his ability to think desires to obtain perceptions that it does not yet possess. Man, therefore, has recourse to those who preceded him in a science, or had more knowledge or perception than he, or learned a particular science from earlier prophets who transmitted information about it to those whom they met. He takes over such things from them, and is eager to learn and know them.

His ability to think and to speculate, then, directs itself to one of the realities. He speculates about every one of the accidents that attach themselves to the essence of (that reality). He persists in doing so until it becomes a habit of his, always to combine all its accidents with a given reality. So, his knowledge of the accidents occurring in connection with a particular reality becomes a specialized knowledge. Members of the next generation desire to obtain that knowledge. Therefore, they repair to the people who know about it. This is the origin of instruction. It has thus become clear that science and instruction are natural to human beings.

And God knows better.


Fa-asara: D


Leg. malakati.


Cf. Issawi, p. 167.


Al-mumkinat "possible": D.


Cf. 1:197, 210, above, and 9:105, 295, below.


Qur'an 16.78 (80).


Cf. E. I. J. Rosenthal,. "Ibn Kaldun's Attitude to the Falasifa" in at­Andalus, XX (1955), p. 81.