Polysemy as Hermeneutic Key in Ibn ʿArabī’s Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam
The present contribution discusses the role of polysemy within Ibn ʿArabī’s hermeneutic approach in the Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam. It argues that the Andalusian master’s conception of polysemy bears implications that stretch far beyond the field of Arabic linguistics, strictly understood, and that are tightly related to his vision of the polysemous and pansemiotic nature of existence. Thus, when investigated in the light of his metaphysical views, Ibn ʿArabī’s hermeneutic use of word polysemy, as arbitrary as it might appear at first sight, results perfectly consistent with his conception of the descent of language through multiple states of being and of the conjunction of form and meaning in the world of imagination. These metaphysical premises provide the epistemological foundations for Ibn ʿArabī’s linguistic and hermeneutic practices and build up one the finest and most complete metaphysical conceptions of language elaborated within the broader context of what might be defined the domain of ‘Islamic linguistics’.
Keywords: Koranic Hermeneutics • Islamic linguistic thought • Akbarian studies • Semantics • Arabic linguistic tradition