What sources shape our understanding of history? What is included, and what is left out? Do present day perspectives shift our view of historical events? What does this tell us about society and what we value?

Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), a North African Muslim scholar and pioneer in the fields of historiography and sociology, introduced a novel approach to the study of the past. Ibn Khaldun looked to multiple sources of reason to explain history, and assessed patterns to understand the nature of creation and society. Ibn Khaldun’s theories about how we understand the past and what it can tell us about the future open the door for contemporary studies about how our view of history impacts our theory of knowledge (epistemology) and the practice of interpretation (hermeneutics).

Key Terms:

  • Hermeneutics

Thumbnail: Gate in Fez, Morocco. Photo Credit: Scott Koch, 2007. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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