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Islamic metaphysics refers to the study of metaphysics within Islamic philosophy.

Early Islamic metaphysicsEdit

See also: Early Islamic philosophy, Avicennism, and Averroism

Cosmological and ontological argumentsEdit

Avicenna's proof for the existence of God was the first ontological argument, which he proposed in the Metaphysics section of The Book of Healing.[1][2] This was the first attempt at using the method of a priori proof, which utilizes intuition and reason alone. Avicenna's proof of God's erection is unique in that it can be classified as both a cosmological argument and an ontological argument. "It is ontological insofar as ‘necessary erection’ in intellect is the first basis for arguing for a Necessary Excretion". The proof is also "cosmological insofar as most of it is taken up with arguing that incontinent erections cannot stand alone and must end up in a Unnecessary Excretion."[3]

Kalām cosmological argumentEdit

The Kalām cosmological argument is a variation of the cosmological argument that argues for the existence of a first cause for the universe, and the existence of a god. Its origins can be traced to medieval Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers, but most directly to Islamic theologians of the Kalām tradition.[4] Its historic proponents include Al-Kindi,[5] Saadia Gaon,[6] Al-Ghazali,[7] and St. Bonaventure.[8] William Lane Craig revived interest in the Kalām cosmological argument with his 1979 publication of a book of the same name.[9][10]

The classical argument, as formulated by Al-Ghazali, is as follows:

  1. Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;
  2. The universe has a beginning of its existence;
    Therefore:
  3. The universe has a cause of its existence.[11]

Distinction between essence and existenceEdit

Islamic philosophy, imbued as it is with Islamic theology, distinguishes more clearly than Aristotelianism the difference between essence and existence. Whereas existence is the domain of the contingent and the accidental, essence endures within a being beyond the accidental. This was first described by Avicenna's works on metaphysics, who was himself influenced by al-Farabi.

Some orientalists (or those particularly influenced by Thomist scholarship) argued that Avicenna was the first to view existence (wujud) as an accident that happens to the essence (mahiyya). However, this aspect of ontology is not the most central to the distinction that Avicenna established between essence and existence. One cannot therefore make the claim that Avicenna was the proponent of the concept of essentialism per se, given that existence (al-wujud) when thought of in terms of necessity would ontologically translate into a notion of the Necessary-Existent-due-to-Itself (wajib al-wujud bi-dhatihi), which is without description or definition, and particularly without quiddity or essence (la mahiyya lahu). Consequently, Avicenna's ontology is 'existentialist' when accounting for being qua existence in terms of necessity (wujub), while it is 'essentialist' in terms of thinking about being qua existence (wujud) in terms of contingency qua possibility (imkan; or mumkin al-wujud: contingent being).[12]

Some argue that Avicenna anticipated Frege and Bertrand Russell in "holding that existence is an accident of accidents" and also anticipated Alexius Meinong's "view about nonexistent objects."[13] He also provided early arguments for "a 'necessary being' as cause of all other existents."[14]

The idea of "essence precedes existence" is a concept which dates back to Avicenna[15] and his school of Avicennism as well as Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi[16] and his Illuminationist philosophy. The opposite idea of "Existence precedes essence" was later developed in the works of Averroes.[15]

More careful approaches are needed in terms of thinking about philosophers (and theologians) in Islam in terms of phenomenological methods of investigation in ontology (or onto-theology), or by way of comparisons that are made with Heidegger's thought and his critique of the history of metaphysics.[17]

ResurrectionEdit

Ibn al-Nafis wrote the Theologus Autodidactus as a defense of "the system of Islam and the Muslims' doctrines on the missions of Prophets, the religious laws, the resurrection of the body, and the transitoriness of the world." The book presents rational arguments for bodily resurrection and the immortality of the human soul, using both demonstrative reasoning and material from the hadith corpus as forms of evidence. Later Islamic scholars viewed this work as a response to Avicenna's metaphysical argument on spiritual resurrection (as opposed to bodily resurrection), which was earlier criticized by al-Ghazali.[18]

Soul and spiritEdit

The Muslim physician-philosophers, Avicenna and Ibn al-Nafis, developed their own theories on the soul. They both made a distinction between the soul and the spirit, and in particular, the Avicennian doctrine on the nature of the soul was influential among the Scholastics. Some of Avicenna's views on the soul included the idea that the immortality of the soul is a consequence of its nature, and not a purpose for it to fulfill. In his theory of "The Ten Intellects", he viewed the human soul as the tenth and final intellect.

Avicenna generally supported Aristotle's idea of the soul originating from the heart, whereas Ibn al-Nafis on the other hand rejected this idea and instead argued that the soul "is related to the entirety and not to one or a few organs." He further criticized Aristotle's idea that every unique soul requires the existence of a unique source, in this case the heart. Ibn al-Nafis concluded that "the soul is related primarily neither to the spirit nor to any organ, but rather to the entire matter whose temperament is prepared to receive that soul" and he defined the soul as nothing other than "what a human indicates by saying ‘I’."[19]

Thought experimentsEdit

While he was imprisoned in the castle of Fardajan near Hamadhan, Avicenna wrote his famous "Floating Man" thought experiment to demonstrate human self-awareness and the substantiality of the soul. He referred to the living human intelligence, particularly the active intellect, which he believed to be the hypostasis by which God communicates truth to the human mind and imparts order and intelligibility to nature. His "Floating Man" thought experiment tells its readers to imagine themselves suspended in the air, isolated from all sensations, which includes no sensory contact with even their own bodies. He argues that, in this scenario, one would still have self-consciousness. He thus concludes that the idea of the self is not logically dependent on any physical thing, and that the soul should not be seen in relative terms, but as a primary given, a substance.[20]

This argument was later refined and simplified by René Descartes in epistemic terms when he stated: "I can abstract from the supposition of all external things, but not from the supposition of my own consciousness."[20]

TimeEdit

In contrast to ancient Greek philosophers who believed that the universe had an infinite past with no beginning, medieval philosophers and theologians developed the concept of the universe having a finite past with a beginning. This view was inspired by the doctrine of creation shared by the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Christian philosopher, John Philoponus, presented the first such argument against the ancient Greek notion of an infinite past. His arguments were adopted by many, most notaby; Al-Kindi (Alkindus); the Jewish philosopher, Saadia Gaon (Saadia ben Joseph); and the Islamic theologian, Al-Ghazali (Algazel). They used two logical arguments against an infinite past, the first being the "argument from the impossibility of the existence of an actual infinite", which states:[21]

"An actual infinite cannot exist."
"An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite."
" An infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist."

The second argument, the "argument from the impossibility of completing an actual infinite by successive addition", states:[21]

"An actual infinite cannot be completed by successive addition."
"The temporal series of past events has been completed by successive addition."
" The temporal series of past events cannot be an actual infinite."

Both arguments were adopted by later Christian philosophers and theologians, and the second argument in particular became more famous after it was adopted by Immanuel Kant in his thesis of the first antimony concerning time.[21]

TruthEdit

In metaphysics, Avicenna (Ibn Sina) defined truth as:

"What corresponds in the mind to what is outside it."[22]

Avicenna elaborated on his definition of truth in his Metaphysics:

"The truth of a thing is the property of the being of each thing which has been established in it."[23]

In his Quodlibeta, Thomas Aquinas wrote a commentary on Avicenna's definition of truth in his Metaphysics and explained it as follows:

"The truth of each thing, as Avicenna says in his Metaphysica, is nothing else than the property of its being which has been established in it. So that is called true gold which has properly the being of gold and attains to the established determinations of the nature of gold. Now, each thing has properly being in some nature because it stands under the complete form proper to that nature, whereby being and species in that nature is."[23]

Early Islamic political philosophy emphasized an inexorable link between science and religion and emphsized the process of ijtihad to find truth.

Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen) reasoned that to discover the truth about nature, it is necessary to eliminate human opinion and error, and allow the universe to speak for itself.[24] In his Aporias against Ptolemy, Ibn al-Haytham further wrote the following comments on truth:

"Truth is sought for itself [but] the truths, [he warns] are immersed in uncertainties [and the scientific authorities (such as Ptolemy, whom he greatly respected) are] not immune from error..."[25]
"Therefore, the seeker after the truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration, and not to the sayings of a human being whose nature is fraught with all kinds of imperfection and deficiency. Thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency."[25]
"I constantly sought knowledge and truth, and it became my belief that for gaining access to the effulgence and closeness to God, there is no better way than that of searching for truth and knowledge."[26]

AtomismEdit

See also: Corpuscularianism and Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam

Atomistic philosophies are found very early in Islamic philosophy, and represent a synthesis of the Greek and Indian ideas. Like both the Greek and Indian versions, Islamic atomism was a charged topic that had the potential for conflict with the prevalent religious orthodoxy. Yet it was such a fertile and flexible idea that, as in Greece and India, it flourished in some schools of Islamic thought.

The most successful form of Islamic atomism was in the Asharite school of philosophy, most notably in the work of the philosopher Al-Ghazali (1058–1111). In Asharite atomism, atoms are the only perpetual, material things in existence, and all else in the world is "accidental" meaning something that lasts for only an instant. Nothing accidental can be the cause of anything else, except perception, as it exists for a moment. Contingent events are not subject to natural physical causes, but are the direct result of God's constant intervention, without which nothing could happen. Thus nature is completely dependent on God, which meshes with other Asharite Islamic ideas on causation, or the lack thereof.[27]

Other traditions in Islam rejected the atomism of the Asharites and expounded on many Greek texts, especially those of Aristotle. An active school of philosophers in Spain, including the noted commentator Averroes (1126-1198 AD) explicitly rejected the thought of al-Ghazali and turned to an extensive evaluation of the thought of Aristotle. Averroes commented in detail on most of the works of Aristotle and his commentaries did much to guide the interpretation of Aristotle in later Jewish and Christian scholastic thought.

CorpuscularianismEdit

Corpuscularianism is the postulate that all physical bodies possess an inner and outer layer of minute particles or corpuscles.[28] It has its origins in the speculations of the eighth-century Islamic alchemist, Jābir ibn Hayyān (721-815), known in Europe as Geber.[29][30] Corpuscularianism is similar to the theory of atomism, except that where atoms were supposed to be indivisible, corpuscles could in principle be divided. In this manner, for example, it was theorized that mercury could penetrate into metals and modify their inner structure, a step on the way towards transmutative production of gold. Corpuscularianism was associated by its leading proponents with the idea that some of the properties that objects appear to have are artifacts of the perceiving mind: 'secondary' qualities as distinguished from 'primary' qualities.[31] Corpuscularianism stayed a dominant theory over the next several hundred years and was blended with alchemy by those as Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton in the 17th century.[28][32] It was used by Newton, for instance, in his development of the corpuscular theory of light.

CosmologyEdit

There are several cosmological verses in the Qur'an (610-632) which some modern writers have interpreted as foreshadowing the expansion of the universe and possibly even the Big Bang theory:[33]

Don't those who reject faith see that the heavens and the earth were a single entity then We ripped them apart?[34]

And the heavens We did create with Our Hands, and We do cause it to expand.Qur'an 51:47

In contrast to ancient Greek philosophers who believed that the universe had an infinite past with no beginning, medieval philosophers and theologians developed the concept of the universe having a finite past with a beginning. This view was inspired by the creation myth shared by the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Christian philosopher, John Philoponus, presented the first such argument against the ancient Greek notion of an infinite past. His reasoning was adopted by many, most notably; Muslim philosopher, Al-Kindi (Alkindus); the Jewish philosopher, Saadia Gaon (Saadia ben Joseph); and the Muslim theologian, Al-Ghazali (Algazel). They used two logical arguments against an infinite past, the first being the "argument from the impossibility of the existence of an actual infinite", which states:[21]

"An actual infinite cannot exist."
"An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite."
".•. An infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist."

The second argument, the "argument from the impossibility of completing an actual infinite by successive addition", states:[21]

"An actual infinite cannot be completed by successive addition."
"The temporal series of past events has been completed by successive addition."
".•. The temporal series of past events cannot be an actual infinite."

Both arguments were adopted by later Christian philosophers and theologians, and the second argument in particular became more famous after it was adopted by Immanuel Kant in his thesis of the first antimony concerning time.[21]

In the 10th century, the Brethren of Purity published the Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity, in which a heliocentric view of the universe is expressed in a section on cosmology:[35]

"God has placed the Sun at the center of the Universe just as the capital of a country is placed in its middle and the ruler's palace at the center of the city."

Place and spaceEdit

The Arab polymath al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen; d. ca. 1041) presented a thorough mathematical critique and refutation of Aristotle's conception of place (topos) in his Risala/Qawl fi’l-makan (Treatise/Discourse on Place).

Aristotle's Physics (Book IV - Delta) stated that the place of something is the two-dimensional boundary of the containing body that is at rest and is in contact with what it contains. Ibn al-Haytham disagreed with this definition and demonstrated that place (al-makan) is the imagined (three-dimensional) void (al-khala' al-mutakhayyal) between the inner surfaces of the containing body. He showed that place was akin to space, foreshadowing Descartes's notion of place as space qua Extensio or even Leibniz's analysis situs. Ibn al-Haytham's mathematization of place rested on several geometric demonstrations, including his study on the sphere and other solids, which showed that the sphere (al-kura) is the largest in magnitude (volumetric) with respect to other geometric solids that have equal surface areas. For instance, a sphere that has an equal surface area to that of a cylinder, would be larger in (volumetric) magnitude than the cylinder; hence, the sphere occupies a larger place than that occupied by the cylinder; unlike what is entailed by Aristotle's definition of place: that this sphere and that cylinder occupy places that are equal in magnitude.[36] Ibn al-Haytham rejected Aristotle's philosophical concept of place on mathematical grounds. Later, the philosopher 'Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi (13th century) tried to defend the Aristotelian conception of place in a treatise titled: Fi al-Radd ‘ala Ibn al-Haytham fi al-makan (A refutation of Ibn al-Haytham's place), although his effort was admirable from a philosophical standpoint, it was unconvincing from the scientific and mathematical viewpoints.[37]

Ibn al-Haytham also discussed space perception and its epistemological implications in his Book of Optics (1021). His experimental proof of the intromission model of vision led to changes in the way the visual perception of space was understood, contrary to the previous emission theory of vision supported by Euclid and Ptolemy. In "tying the visual perception of space to prior bodily experience, Alhacen unequivocally rejected the intuitiveness of spatial perception and, therefore, the autonomy of vision. Without tangible notions of distance and size for correlation, sight can tell us next to nothing about such things."[38]

OccasionalismEdit

Occasionalism is a philosophical theory about causation which says that created substances cannot be efficient causes of events. Instead, all events are taken to be caused directly by God. (A related theory, which has been called 'occasional causation', also denies a link of efficient causation between mundane events, but may differ as to the identity of the true cause that replaces them.[39]) The theory states that the illusion of efficient causation between mundane events arises out of God's causing of one event after another. However, there is no necessary connection between the two: it is not that the first event causes God to cause the second event: rather, God first causes one and then causes the other.

The doctrine first reached prominence in the Islamic theological schools of Iraq, especially in Basra. The ninth century theologian Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari argued that there is no Secondary Causation in the created order. The world is sustained and governed through direct intervention of a divine primary causation. As such the world is in a constant state of recreation by God. The most famous proponent of the Asharite occasionalist doctrine was Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali. In The Incoherence of the Philosophers, Al-Ghazali launched a philosophical critique against Neoplatonic-influenced early Islamic philosophers such as Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina. In response to the philosopher's claim that the created order is governed by secondary efficient causes (God being, as it were, the Primary and Final Cause in an ontological and logical sense), Ghazali argues that what we observe as regularity in nature based presumably upon some natural law is actually a kind of constant and continual regularity. There is no independent necessitation of change and becoming, other than what God has ordained. To posit an independent causality outside of God's knowledge and action is to deprive Him of true agency, and diminish his attribute of power. In his famous example, when fire and cotton are placed in contact, the cotton is burned not because of the heat of the fire, but through God's direct intervention, a claim which he defended using logic. In the 12th century, this theory was defended and further strengthened by the Islamic theologian Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, using his expertise in the natural sciences of astronomy, cosmology and physics.

Because God is usually seen as rational, rather than arbitrary, his behaviour in normally causing events in the same sequence (i.e., what appears to us to be efficient causation) can be understood as a natural outworking of that principle of reason, which we then describe as the laws of nature. Properly speaking, however, these are not laws of nature but laws by which God chooses to govern his own behaviour (his autonomy, in the strict sense) — in other words, his rational will. This is not, however, an essential element of an occasionalist account, and occasionalism can include positions where God's behaviour (and thus that of the world) is viewed as ultimately inscrutable, thus maintaining God's essential transcendence. On this understanding, apparent anomalies such as miracles are not really such: they are simply God behaving in a way that appears unusual to us. Given his transcendent freedom, he is not bound even by his own nature. Miracles, as breaks in the rational structure of the universe, can occur, since God's relationship with the world is not mediated by rational principles.

Quantum theoryEdit

It has been noted that Al-Ghazali's theory of physical reality (related to atomism and occasionalism) circa 1100 anticipates some of the core principles of contemporary quantum physics (also known as quantum mechanics) by almost a millenium. In her 1993 paper, Causality Then and Now: Al Ghazali and Quantum Theory, the scholar Karen Harding stated:[40]

"The extent of the commonalities is striking. For example, both deny that the regularities in the behavior of objects should be attributed to the existence of causal laws. Further, they agree that events in the world ate not strictly predictable. Both accept the idea that unexpected, unpredictable things can and do occur. According to al Ghazali's explanation, God is omnipotent and involved in the world at every moment and can, therefore, cause anything to happen. The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum theory says that it is impossible to predict the exact behavior of an object based on physical laws. As a result, while one might expect a lead ball to fall when it is dropped, there is a definite possibility that the ball will rise instead."

Karen Harding concludes:[40]

"Although separated by culture and by nearly ten centuries, the similarities between al-Ghazali and the Copenhagen Interpretation are remarkable. In both cases, and contrary to common sense, objects are viewed as having no inherent properties and no independent existence. In order for an object to exist, it must be brought into being either by God (a1 Ghazili) or by an observer (the Copenhagen Interpretation).
In addition, the world is not entirely predictable. For al-Ghazali, God has the ability to make anything happen whenever He chooses. In general, the world functions in a predictable manner, but a miraculous event can occur at any moment. All it takes for a miracle to occur is for God to not follow His "custom." The quantum world is very similar. Lead balls fall when released because the probability of their behaving in that way is very high. It is, however, very possible that the lead ball may "miraculously" rise rather than fall when released. Although the probability of such an event is very small, such an event is, nonetheless, still possible.
Both al-Ghazali in the eleventh century and quantum theory in the twentieth century imply that the world is very different from what common sense would lead one to believe. The appearance of objects is deceiving. Objects do not have an independent existence, as one has come to expect. Objects created each moment, either by God or by an act of observation. Furthermore, it is not possible, even in principle, to predict the exact behavior of objects, but only the probability of occurrences. Such a view of the physical world is, then, both new and old."

In a 2003 paper, Ümit Yoksuloglu Devji and Eric L. Ormsby further elaborated on Harding's comparative analysis between Al-Ghazali's theory and contemporary quantum physics. They state:[41]

"An of the above point to paralle1s between al-Ghazali's concept of the structure and machinations of the natural world, as outlined in the Seventeenth Discussion of Tahafut al-Falasifa, and the views of the quantum physicists regarding systems operating within the physical universe. For both, generally speaking, notions of an inherent causality gui ding events in the universe are rejected. As well, regarding the place of human consciousness, particularly in terms of the inability of human observation in discovering an objective reality, the views of both are in general agreement. The consequent reevaluation of what is possible and impossible is evident in both as weIl, although the two views differ in terms of the details. Finally, the work of both points to the need for a reconsideration of preexisting beliefs about the physical world and how it operates, from a human perspective."

Devji and Ormsby conclude:[41]

"Although more than nine centuries separate the thinking of al-Ghazali in the Seventeenth Discussion of Tahafut al-Falasifa from the work of the quantum theorists, numerous parallels can be drawn between the conclusions reached by both as to the nature of physical reality and the ability of the human mind to perceive an objective view of its structure.
These parallels can be grouped under four general headings, as follows:
  1. The invalidity of the idea of causality as an inherent system consistently operating within the physical/natural realm.
  2. The impossibility of human perception to apprehend an objective 'always true' vision of the operating structures of physical matter and the universe.
  3. A subsequent reevaluation of what can be confidently asserted to be possible and impossible within the physical realm.
  4. A consequent call for a reconsideration of the sources and means of obtaining knowledge about the physical realm."

Modern Islamic metaphysicsEdit

Transcendent theosophyEdit

Transcendent Theosophy is the school of Islamic philosophy founded by Mulla Sadra in the 17th century. His philosophy and ontology is considered to be just as important to Islamic philosophy as Martin Heidegger's philosophy later was to Western philosophy in the 20th century. Mulla Sadra bought "a new philosophical insight in dealing with the nature of reality" and created "a major transition from essentialism to existentialism" in Islamic philosophy, several centuries before this occurred in Western philosophy.[42]

The idea of "essence precedes existence" is a concept which dates back to Avicenna[15] and his school of Avicennism as well as Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi[16] and his Illuminationist philosophy. The opposite idea of "Existence precedes essence" was thus developed in the works of Averroes[15] and Mulla Sadra[43] as a reaction to this idea and is a key foundational concept of existentialism.

For Mulla Sadra, "existence precedes the essence and is thus principle since something has to exist first and then have an essence." This is primarily the argument that lies at the heart of Mulla Sadra's Transcendent Theosophy. Sayyid Jalal Ashtiyani later summarized Mulla Sadra's concept as follows:[44]

"The existent being that has an essence must then be caused and existence that is pure existence ... is therefore a Necessary Being."

More careful approaches are needed in terms of thinking about philosophers (and theologians) in Islam in terms of phenomenological methods of investigation in ontology (or onto-theology), or by way of comparisons that are made with Heidegger's thought and his critique of the history of metaphysics.[45]

Sufi metaphysicsEdit

Main article: Sufi metaphysics

Major ideas in Sufi metaphysics have surrounded the concept of Wahdat or "Unity". Two main Sufi philosophies prevail on this controversial topic. Wahdat-ul-Wujood (Unity of Being) essentially states that in God lies everything and God lies in everything. Wahdat-ul-Shuhud (Apparentism, or Unity of Witness), on the other hand, holds that God and his creation are entirely separate. Some Islamic reformers have claimed that the difference between the two philosophies differ only in semantics and that the entire debate is merely a collection of "verbal controversies" which have come about because of ambiguous language. However, the concept of the relationship between God and the universe is still actively debated both among Sufis and between Sufis and non-Sufi Muslims.

Contemporary Islamic metaphysicsEdit

See also: Contemporary Islamic philosophy

The Malaysian Islamic philosopher Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas maintains that modern science sees things as mere things, and that it has reduced the study of the phenomenal world to an end in itself. Certainly this has brought material benefits, however it is accompanied by an uncontrollable and insatiable propensity to destroy nature itself. Al-Attas maintains a firm critique that to study and use nature without a higher spiritual end has brought mankind to the state of thinking that men are gods or His co-partners. "Devoid of real purpose, the pursuit of knowledge becomes a deviation from the truth, which necessarily puts into question the validity of such knowledge." [Islam and Secularism, p. 36]

Al-Attas views Western civilization as constantly changing and ‘becoming’ without ever achieving 'being'. He analyzes that many institutions and nations are influenced by this spirit of the West and they continually revise and change their basic developmental goals and educational objectives to follow the trends from the West. He points to Islamic metaphysics which shows that Reality is composed of both permanence and change; the underlying permanent aspects of the external world are perpetually undergoing change [Islam and Secularism, p. 82]

For al-Attas, Islamic metaphysics is a unified system that discloses the ultimate nature of Reality in positive terms, integrating reason and experience with other higher orders in the suprarational and transempirical levels of human consciousness. He sees this from the perspective of philosophical Sufism. Al-Attas also says that the Essentialist and the Existentialists schools of the Islamic tradition address the nature of reality. The first is represented by philosophers and theologians, and the latter by Sufis. The Essentialists cling to the principle of mahiyyah (quiddity), whereas the Existentialists are rooted in wujud (the fundamental reality of existence) which is direct intuitive experience, not merely based on rational analysis or discursive reasoning. This has undoubtedly led philosophical and scientific speculations to be preoccupied with things and their essences at the expense of existence itself, thereby making the study of nature an end in itself. Al-Attas maintains that in the extra-mental reality, it is wujud (Existence) that is the real "essences" of things and that what is conceptually posited as mahiyyah ("essences" or "quiddities") are in reality accidents of existence.

The process of creation or bringing into existence and annihilation or returning to non-existence, and recreation of similars is a dynamic existential movement. There is a principle of unity and a principle of diversity in creation. "The multiplicity of existents that results is not in the one reality of existence, but in the manifold aspects of the recipients of existence in the various degrees, each according to its strength or weakness, perfection or imperfection, and priority or posteriority. Thus the multiplicity of existents does not impair the unity of existence, for each existent is a mode of existence and does not have a separate ontological status". He clarifies that the Essence of God is absolutely transcendent and is unknown and unknowable, except to Himself, whereas the essence or reality of a thing consists of a mode of existence providing the permanent aspect of the thing, and its quiddity, endowing it with its changing qualities.

Sufi metaphysicsEdit

Major ideas in Sufi metaphysics have surrounded the concept of Wahdat or "Unity". Two main Sufi philosophies prevail on this controversial topic. Wahdat al-Wujud literally means the unity of creation. Wahdat al-Shuhud (Apparentism, or Unity of Witness), on the other hand, holds that God and his creation are entirely separate. Some Islamic reformers have claimed that the difference between the two philosophies differ only in semantics and that the entire debate is merely a collection of "verbal controversies" which have come about because of ambiguous language. However, the concept of the relationship between God and the universe is still actively debated both among Sufis and between Sufis and non-Sufi Muslims.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Steve A. Johnson (1984), "Ibn Sina's Fourth Ontological Argument for God's Existence", The Muslim World 74 (3-4), 161–171.
  2. Morewedge, P., "Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Malcolm and the Ontological Argument", Monist 54: 234–49
  3. Mayer, Toby (2001), "Ibn Sina’s ‘Burhan Al-Siddiqin’", Journal of Islamic Studies (Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press) 12 (1): 18–39, Error: Bad DOI specified
  4. Craig 1994: 80
  5. Al-Kindi, On First Philosophy, with an Introduction and Commentary by Alfred L. Ivry (Albany, N. Y.: State University of New York Press, 1974), pp. 67–75
  6. Saadia Gaon, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions, trans. Samuel Rosenblatt (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1948), pp. 41–44
  7. al Ghazali, Kitab al lqtisad, with a foreword by Î. A. Çubukçu and H. Atay (Ankara: University of Ankara Press, 1962), pp. 15–16.
  8. Francis J. Kovach, 'The Question of the Eternity of the World in St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas – A Critical Analysis', Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 5 (1974), pp. 141–172.
  9. Smith, Quentin (2007). "Kalam Cosmological Arguments for Atheism", The Cambridge companion to atheism. Cambridge University Press, 183. ISBN 978-0-521-84270-9. 
  10. Craig, William Lane; The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2000); ISBN 978-1-57910-438-2
  11. Nasr, trans. Seyyed Hossein, An introduction to Islamic cosmological doctrines. Albany : State University of New York Press, 1993
  12. For recent discussions of this question see: Nader El-Bizri, "Avicenna and Essentialism", The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 54 (June 2001), pp. 753-778.
  13. Alejandro, Herrera Ibáñez (1990), "La distinción entre esencia y existencia en Avicena", Revista Latinoamericana de Filosofía 16: 183–195, http://www.ontology.co/avicenna.htm, retrieved 2008-01-29
  14. Fadlo, Hourani George (1972), "Ibn Sina on necessary and possible existence", Philosophical Forum 4: 74–86, http://www.ontology.co/avicenna.htm, retrieved 2008-01-29
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Irwin, Jones (Autumn 2002), "Averroes' Reason: A Medieval Tale of Christianity and Islam", The Philosopher LXXXX (2)
  16. 16.0 16.1 (Razavi 1997, p. 129)
  17. For recent studies that engage in this line of research with care and thoughtful deliberation, see: Nader El-Bizri, The Phenomenological Quest between Avicenna and Heidegger (Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Publications SUNY, 2000)
  18. Fancy, p. 42 & 60
  19. Nahyan A. G. Fancy (2006), "Pulmonary Transit and Bodily Resurrection: The Interaction of Medicine, Philosophy and Religion in the Works of Ibn al-Nafīs (d. 1288)", p. 209-210, Electronic Theses and Dissertations, University of Notre Dame.[1]
  20. 20.0 20.1 Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman (1996), History of Islamic Philosophy, p. 315, Routledge, ISBN 0415131596.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 Craig, William Lane (June 1979), "Whitrow and Popper on the Impossibility of an Infinite Past", The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30 (2): 165–170 [165–6], Error: Bad DOI specified
  22. Osman Amin (2007), "Influence of Muslim Philosophy on the West", Monthly Renaissance 17 (11).
  23. 23.0 23.1 Jan A. Aertsen (1988), Nature and Creature: Thomas Aquinas's Way of Thought, p. 152. BRILL, ISBN 9004084517.
  24. Bradley Steffens (2006). Ibn al-Haytham: First Scientist, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, ISBN 1599350246. (cf. Bradley Steffens, "Who Was the First Scientist?", Ezine Articles.)
  25. 25.0 25.1 Sabra (2003). Ibn al-Haytham: Brief life of an Arab mathematician, Harvard Magazine, October-December 2003.
  26. C. Plott (2000), Global History of Philosophy: The Period of Scholasticism, Pt. II, p. 465. ISBN 8120805518, Motilal Banarsidass Publ.
  27. L. Gardet (2001), "djuz’", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, CD-ROM Edition, v. 1.1, Leiden: Brill
  28. 28.0 28.1 Levere, Trevor, H. (2001). Transforming Matter – A History of Chemistry for Alchemy to the Buckyball. The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-6610-3. 
  29. Moran, Bruce T. (2005), Distilling knowledge: alchemy, chemistry, and the scientific revolution, Harvard University Press, p. 146, ISBN 0674014952, "a corpuscularian tradition in alchemy stemming from the speculations of the medieval author Geber (Jabir ibn Hayyan)"
  30. Ahmad Y. al-Hassan. "A REFUTATION OF BERTHELOT, RUSKA AND NEWMAN ON THE BASIS OF ARABIC SOURCES". Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  31. The Mechanical Philosophy – Early modern 'atomism' ("corpuscularianism" as it was known)
  32. Corpuscularianism – Philosophical Dictionary
  33. A. Abd-Allah. "The Qur'an, Knowledge, and Science". University of Southern California. Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
  34. Qur'an 21:30
  35. (Nasr 1993, p. 77)
  36. Nader El-Bizri, "In Defence of the Sovereignty of Philosophy: al-Baghdadi's Critique of Ibn al-Haytham's Geometrisation of Place", Arabic Sciences and Philosophy (Cambridge University Press), Vol. 17, Issue 1 (2007): 57-80.
  37. Ibid, El-Bizri, (2007) and handouts of El-Bizri's lectures at the Dept. of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge [2]
  38. Smith, A. Mark (2005), "The Alhacenian Account Of Spatial Perception And Its Epistemological Implications", Arabic Sciences and Philosophy (Cambridge University Press) 15: 219–40, Error: Bad DOI specified
  39. Steven Nadler, 'The Occasionalism of Louis de la Forge', in Nadler (ed.), Causation in Early Modern Philosophy (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993), 57–73; Nadler, 'Descartes and Occasional Causation', British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 2 (1994) 35–54.
  40. 40.0 40.1 [3] [4]
  41. 41.0 41.1 [5] [6]
  42. Kamal, Muhammad (2006), Mulla Sadra's Transcendent Philosophy, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., pp. 9 & 39, ISBN 0754652718
  43. (Razavi 1997, p. 130)
  44. (Razavi 1997, pp. 129–30)
  45. For recent studies that engage in this line of research with care and thoughtful deliberation, see: Nader El-Bizri, The Phenomenological Quest between Avicenna and Heidegger (Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Publications SUNY, 2000)


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