Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406)

  • Syed Farid Alatas


According to Ibn Khaldun, the field of history merely deals with the surface phenomena of history, if all it does is to provide information about political events and facts about dynasties. This should be distinguished from the inner meaning of history which is arrived at through ‘speculation and an attempt to get at the truth, subtle explanation of the causes and origins of existing things and deep knowledge of the how and why of events’. Furthermore, existing historical reports were inflicted with stories of the absurd. These could only be corrected by applying knowledge of the nature of society to such reports. In other words, faulty historical reports could only be rectified by a science that distinguishes fact from error or truth from falsehood on the grounds of their possibility or absurdity. This is the science of human society.


Origins of sociology Group feeling Nomadic society Sedentary society State formation 


  1. Lacoste, Yves. Ibn Khaldun: The Birth of History and the Past of the Third World. London: Verso, 1984.Google Scholar

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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Syed Farid Alatas
    • 1
  1. 1.SociologyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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