Guide Al-Ghazalis Philosophical Theology

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In Avicenna the First Being, which is God, makes all other beings and events necessary. All material things are composed of atoms that have no qualities or attributes but simply make up the shape of the body. Only the atoms of spatially extended bodies can be substances.

A person's thoughts, for instance, are considered accidents that inhere in the atoms of the person's brain, while his or her faith is an accident inhering in the atoms of the heart. None of the accidents, however, can subsist from one moment waqt to the next. This leads to a cosmology where in each moment God assigns the accidents to bodies in which they inhere. When one moment ends, God creates new accidents.

None of the created accidents in the second moment has any causal relation to the ones in the earlier moment. If a body continues to have a certain attribute from one moment to the next, then God creates two identical accidents inhering in that body in each of the two subsequent moments. Movement and development generate when God decides to change the arrangement of the moment before. A ball is moved, for instance, when in the second moment of two the atoms of the ball happen to be created in a certain distance from the first.

The distance determines the speed of the movement. The ball thus jumps in leaps over the playing field and the same is true for the players' limbs and their bodies. This also applies to the atoms of the air if there happen to be some wind. A purely occasionalist model finds it difficult to explain how God can make humans responsible for their own actions if they do not cause them.

Avicenna stresses that no causal series, in any of the four types of causes, can regress indefinitely. Every series of causes and effects must have at least three components: It causes the last element of that chain—the ultimate effect—through one or many intermediaries singl.

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Tracing back all efficient causes in the universe will lead to a first efficient cause, which is itself uncaused. When the First Cause is also shown to be incorporeal and numerically one, one has achieved a proof of God's existence Avicenna , —9, —3; Davidson , — The 17th discussion is not triggered by any opposition to causality.

If their possibility is acknowledged, a Muslim philosopher who accepts the authority of revelation must also admit that the prophets performed these miracles and that the narrative in revelation is truthful.

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This four-fold division of the 17th discussion is crucial for its understanding. For a detailed discussion of the four parts in the 17th discussion the reader must be referred to chapter 6 in Griffel — This opening statement is a masterwork of philosophical literature:.

On first sight, it seems that only an occasionalist explanation of physical processes would fulfill these four conditions, and this is how this statement has mostly been understood. One should keep in mind, however, that this formula leaves open, how God creates events. Even an Avicennan philosopher holds that God creates the cause concomitant to its effect, and does so by means of secondary causality.

Observation can only conclude that the cause and its effect occur concomitantly:. While such connections cannot be proven through observation or through any other means , they may or may not exist. Like in the connection between a father and his son, where the father is not the only efficient cause for the son's existence, so there may be in every causal connection efficient causes involved other than the most obvious or the most proximate one.

Al-Ghazali's Philosophical Theology - Oxford Scholarship

The proximate efficient cause may be just the last element in a long chain of efficient causes that extends via the heavenly realm. God may create this effect directly or by way of secondary causality. Still he does not accept the teachings of Avicenna, which are discussed in the Second Position. Avicenna combines secondary causality with the view that causal processes proceed with necessity and in accord with the natures of things, and not by way of deliberation and choice on the side of the efficient cause.

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The ultimate efficient cause in a cosmology of secondary causality is, of course, God. The Avicennan opponent of the Second Position teaches secondary causality plus he holds that the causal connections follow with necessity from the nature of the First Being. They are not created through God's deliberation and choice but are a necessary effect of God's essence. Kukkonen and Dutton have shown that the two start with quite different assumptions about necessity. If this sentence is true whenever uttered, it is necessarily true. If its truth-value can change in the course of time, it is possible.

If such a sentence is false whenever uttered, it is impossible Hintikka , 63—72, 84—6, —5, — In Aristotelian modal theories, modal terms were taken to refer to the one and only historical world of ours. In the modern model, the notion of necessity refers to what obtains in all alternatives, the notion of possibility refers to what obtains in at least in one alternative, and that which is impossible does not obtain in any conceivable state of affairs Knuuttila , The process of particularization makes one of several alternatives actual.

We know this distinction instinctively without learning it from others and without further inquiry into the world. The same applies to the time when the building is built. Realizing that there is such an alternative is an important part of our understanding: He denies Avicenna's premise that possibility needs a substrate. For Avicenna, the fact that the connection never was different and never will be different implies that it is necessary. We will see that he, like Avicenna, assumes causal connections never were and never will be different from what they are now.

Still they are not necessary, he maintains. The connection between a cause and its effect is contingent mumkin because an alternative to it is conceivable in our minds. We can imagine a world where fire does not cause cotton to combust. Or, to continue reading the initial statement of the 17th discussion:. A change in a single causal connection would probably imply that many others would be different as well.

Still, such a world can be conceived in our minds, which means it is a possible world. God, however, did not choose to create such an alternative possible world Griffel , —3. This world is the necessary effect of God's nature and a world different from this one is unconceivable. This is the part of the 17th discussion where he presents occasionalism as a viable explanation of what we have usually come to refer as efficient causality.

God's eternal and unchanging knowledge already contains all events that will happen in creation.

Al-Ghazali's Philosophical Theology

In real terms, however, combustion occurs only concomitantly when fire touches cotton and is not connected to this event. When God wishes to perform a miracle and confirm the mission of one of His prophets, he suspends His habit and omits to create the effect He usually does according to His habit. We know that wood disintegrates with time and becomes earth that fertilizes and feeds plants.

This article presents a manuscript at the British Library in London that has been miscatalogued as a copy of al-Ghazali's well-known "Maqasid al-falasifa. The text, however, is different from the "Maqasid," even if both pursue similar aims. Like in the "Maqasid," the author of MS Or.

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  • Whereas in the "Maqasid," al-Ghazali bases his presentation on Ibn Sina's Persian "Danishnamah-yi 'Ala'i," here the author combines quotes from works by Ibn Sina, al-Farabi, and Mishkawayh to a seamless text. The most important source for this book is Ibn Sina's "al-Shifa'. The handwriting is "Seljuq," which also points in that direction. The manuscript is both acephalous and suffers from lacunae at the end so that we do not know its original title, nor the author.

    The text, however, mentions the "Tahafut al-falasifa" among the works of the author. Through a detailled comparison of a passage on the categories with its source in al-Farabi as well as with al-Ghazali's "Mi'yar al-'ilm," I can show that the text of this manuscript adopts al-Farabi and was further adopted by al-Ghazali in his "Mi'yar. This is the unicum of an early text by al-Ghazali reporting the teachings of the falasifa in metaphysics.

    Journal of Islamic Studies Oxford 17 In the course of following the discussions among medieval scholars in Damascus, among them al-Dhahabi, al-Subki, and al-Safadi, the article reviews the several arguments in favor of the two versions of the name.

    In Islamic Thought in the Middle Ages: This position has completely changed by the time of Fakhraddin ar-Razi d. He relies in his views on prophecy heavily on the teachings of Ibn Sina d. The several divisions of these beings follow the philosophical divisions of the inner senses hawass batina.

    His filling of a desideratum, however, leads to a significant shift in perspective, and in his late work al-Ghazali develops a novel method to verify the claims of a prophet. Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 14 A Golden Age of Science and Philosophy. See also the Turkish translation of this article right below.

    Edited by John Inglis. New Approaches to the History of Jewish Thought.

    Islamic Law in the Contemporary Context. When he passed away in , the redaction of the encyclopedia at the Institute for Philosophy at the FU Berlin asked me When he passed away in , the redaction of the encyclopedia at the Institute for Philosophy at the FU Berlin asked me to finish the work he had begun. I worked on it —94 while doing my mandatory civil I worked on it —94 while doing my mandatory civil service in Hanover. Journal of the American Oriental Society Welt des Islams 46 , 1—6. This is a short biography of Franz Rosenthal, a revered teacher of Arabic and Islamic studied here at Yale.

    Neue Deutsche Biographie, Bd. London and New York: An Introduction to Islamic Metaphysics. Translated by John Cooper. Journal of World Philosophies. Princeton University Press, Welt des Islams 56 Translated by Aladdin M. Online Journal see link below. Studies in Medieval Muslim Thought and History. Theologie in der jementischen Zaydiyya. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 74 Islamic Natural Law Theories. Oxford University Press, more. Muslim World Welt des Islams 53 Journeys to the Other Shore. Muslims and Western Travelers in Search of Knowledge.

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