In line with the themes of previous conferences (2014 and 2015), particularly the second one under the theme “Epistemology and Methodology for A New Paradigm of Human Sciences in Islamic Perspective”, the next conference is going to proceed the development of human scienceswhich is inspired by Islamic teachings and its profound intellectual tradition. The Third International Conference of Thoughts on Human Sciences in Islam (IC-THuSI) in 2016 will undertake the construction of theories of the Islam-inspired human sciences by means of research as well as by responding the human’s existing condition and problems at the present day world under the theme “Human Sciences in Islamic Perspective: Theory and Practice”.
The 2016 IC-THuSI, hence, is a step forward to be more specifically concerned with generating prospective theories of human sciences. Principles and basic concepts of epistemology and methodology might be deduced to be the basis of theories for understanding and explaining human phenomena and methods for studying human being. The principle of self-knowledge as a main sort of knowledge by presence (al-‘ilm al-huduri), which is the cornerstone of all types of human knowledge (Mehdi Hairi Yazdi, The Principles of Epistemology in Islamic Philosophy: Knowledge by Presence, 1992), for example, can provide a proper framework to reconcile Erklaren-Verstehen (explanation-understanding) approaches that had been so long one of the most acute problems in contemporary human sciences since Wilhelm Dilthey formulated this dichotomy (Wilhelm Dilthey, Introduction to the Human Sciences, 1989). Likewise, Mulla Sadra’s theory of perception asserting that the sole agent of our perceptual faculties (sensible, imaginable, and intelligible) is the soul can be an insightful source of generating theories for psychology and education.
We know that epistemology is the side of philosophy that is concerned with questions about knowledge, justification, and rationality (theory of knowledge), meanwhile philosophy of science is the philosophical account on the characteristics of science along with its relevant methods (theory of science). Such different disciplines as sociology, anthropology, psychology, politics, economics, education, and cultural studies are classified as human sciences because these fields are aimed at studying human action and behavior although at the same time each of this field has uniqueness in subject matter and method.
Theory itself is a set of systematized arguments, interrelated propositions, and defined concepts that provide descriptive and explanatory framework in grasping and analyzing certain subject matter, events, situation, behaviour, phenomena, and reality in general. It is a narrative or a story in terms that it is made up of organized knowledge. Theories are, in the most general sense, unifying narratives about phenomena.
On the basis of its descriptive and explanatory framework, theory is not only able to understand and elucidate but it also is able to predict and manage some phenomena. Having organized and systematized knowledge in particular field of study, therefore, is a main characteristic of theory. Along with particular methods, theory constitutes subject matters, principles, goals, elements, and approaches employed in specific field of science.
The matrix below shows the area of study and core component of epistemology, methodology, theory, and methods. As a result, the 2016 IC-THuSI is coherently an epistemological continuation as well as a logical implication of the previous conferences in 2014 and 2015. This figure shows the sequel.
A theory presents a systematic way of understanding events, behaviors, situations, nature, and reality in general. In relation to human phenomena, theories can help describe and explain human action and behaviour as well as guide the search to understand and interpret human values, condition, and nature. Theory provides a framework for analysis as well as for doing research. Research methods are the particular strategies researchers use to collect the evidence necessary for testing and generating theories
Hence, theory is a necessary element for undertaking research as well as research is a vital process for developing and generating theory. The close connection between theory and research is indicated with the fact that theory development relies on research and at the same time research relies on theory.
Theory and Practice
As is stated since the beginning, ”The initiative of convening the conference IC-THuSI comes up with the great concern over a deep and perilous crisis of humanity in the present-day world” (Description of IC-THuSI 2014), the upcoming conference is designed also to cope with responding the contemporary problems and condition of humanity today. We live in the period in which human problems are accumulated in such a very complicated way that many scholars and thinkers become desperate, skeptic and nihilistic for understanding and overcoming the existing crisis of humanity and civilization. Men of today witness such global existential threats as devastated social orders, void of human-awareness and full of dullness, losing spirituality and wisdom, growing immoral behaviour and irrational mentality, global injustice and poverty, radicalism and violence, oppression and military narcissism, absence of peace, environmental devastation, and decline of civilization.
Here our disposition is that “The present catastrophe is a result of failure in understanding our own nature”. At the same time we believe genuinely that human beings have capability to encounter and respond those problems and challenges as long as we are in touch with our own inner human capacity and primordial nature (fitrah) to hear, to see, and to apprehend the truth.