[P6567] Modalities of text, seeing, and intellect in Quranic semiotics and hermeneutics

Created by Hassan Arif
Friday, 12/03/21 11:30 am


In this panel, we will examine the modalities of ‘text,’ ‘seeing’ and ‘intellect’ within the spheres of Quranic semiotics and hermeneutics. Foucault calls hermeneutics and semiotics “fierce enemies”; however, in the poetic discourse of the Quran, they align in a dreamlike coherence and offer insights that defy and affirm post-structuralist thought. The Quran as a text, by default, espouses text/speech as the primary medium of its discourse. However, it reflexively dwells on the notion of text in the form of revelation, speech, writing, and hearing— combining sign with senses, affirming metaphysics through text, and privileging sign rather than time in connecting the temporal with the eternal. Quran subverts the hierarchies that privilege seeing over hearing and reading. The Divine is not seen, but rather heard and read; however, in a surreal contradiction seeing itself becomes an act of witnessing the Divine through beauty and compassion. In contrast to text and speech, the modalities of intellect—which are differentiated in various forms —act like the transcendental a priori Kantian categories, contributing to the process of judgment, the foundation of the ethical mode of being. These modalities of text, seeing, and intellect are modulated through the Quranic text. Our panel aims to delineate the distinct ways of experiencing reality through these modalities:
i) we will look at the foundation of the Quranic ‘sign event’ from the point of view of text; in particular, we focus on Derrida’s critique on metaphysics of presence and its relationship to writing.
ii) we will examine the faculty of seeing through various hermeneutic and philological strategies; in particular, we focus on the interpretation of surah al-Insān to delineate the relationship between witnessing and compassion.
iii) using corpus linguistics and morphological analysis, we look at the Quranic discourse on intellect (on its essence and its purpose) by comparing and contrasting various interrelated Quranic root terms: ف ك ر (ponder, reflect), ع ل م (know), ع ق ل (reason/intellect), ف ق ه (comprehend), ظ ن ن (thought, supposition, conjecture), and ح س ب (reckon).


Philos; Philos; Philos




Hassan Arif

(McGill University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer;

Muhammad Ali Hashmi

(Independent Scholar)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Ali Asad Khan

(Independent Scholar)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Wael Chanab

(Montreal, Canada)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;