[These are my lecture notes for the Al-Gazali material in Hyman and Walsh. My notes from Flew's Short Dictionary of Philosophy are supplemented by notes from Weinberg and my own reading notes.] Comments, additions, and corrections are welcome. Please send them to: email: KAGAN@maple.lemoyne.edu
ALGAZALI 1058-1111 Discuss Islam briefly. Abu Muhammad. Main works: Tahaafut al-Falaasifah, completed 1095 (The Incoherence of the philosophers); Ihyaa' `Uluum al-Diin (The revival of the Religious sciences, c. 1100), and al-Munqidh min al-Dalaal (Deliverance from Error, c. 1108). Discuss possible biblical and Quranic significance of the titles. He suffered a spiritual crisis in 1095 that resulted in a speech impediment and nervous breakdown; he then gave up the academic life for the ascetic regime of a Sufi, with a three year return to academia. His project was to defuse the tensions between philosophy and theology. He used syllogistic to rebut Neoplatonism and bolster Islamic doctrine. According to Julius R. Weinberg, Algazali criticized philosophers for denying bodily resurrection, G's knowledge of particulars, and for affirming the eternality of the universe. Weinberg also asserts that Algazali's critique of causality anticipates Hume's, with Algazali arguing (following the Asharite Mutikallimun) that G is the only real cause, and Algazali thus denies the so-called necessity between cause and effect in order to make room for miracles. He points out that there is no logical contradiction, thus no logical impossibility. Observation only presents simultaneity. (discussed in Weinberg, pp. 122--124). Reading notes from Hyman and Walsh Deliverance from Error, pp. 267- Algazali begins by suggesting that there are 4 kinds of seekers, 1. the Mutikallimun theologians who see themselves as exponents of thought and intellectual speculation, 2. the Baatiniiyah--party of authoritative instruction, aiming to get truth from an infallible imam 3. the philosophers, who see themselves as exponents of logic and demonstration 4. the Sufis who claim vision and intuitive understanding through entering into the "presence" of G. Then a la Kohelet [Ecclesiastes] he tells how he's tried them all. The theologians do their job okay which is to defend the creed from heretics, and relied on using their opponent's beliefs to debate them. This not enough for Algazali, who wanted to begin with something better. So he tried philosophy. He rejected the materialists (deniers of G's role in the universe, affirmers of the eternality of the world). He praises the Naturalists for seeing G through G's creation. But they deny the future life, and the end of says. The Theists he praises for their criticism of the materialists and the naturalist. He criticizes the mistaken pious who reject everything the philosophers teach in order to reject their heresies. Rather, Algazali claims, their work falls under 3 heads--what must be counted as unbelief, what must be counted as heresy, and what is not to be denied at all. Algazali then discusses the 6 philosophical sciences: math, logic, natural science, theology, politics, ethics. 1. Math: 2 drawbacks, one is thinking that since mathematicians such clear thinkers they should also know the truth about religion. The second is rejecting math a la babe in bath water. 2. Logic: The mistake is to that hey take rejections of religion without applying their normally strict standards of proof. 3. Natural science or physics. OK so long as one realizes that G rules over nature and it doesn't act of itself. 4. Theology or Metaphysics wrong regarding resurrection, G's knowledge of particulars, the eternality of the world. 5. Politics he says they do by considering worldly and govt. advantage. 6. Their ethics varies depending on the men they base it upon. 2 evil tendencies one theirs, one their opponents: The opponents sometimes overdo it "ad hominemly"--e.g., when they hear a Christian say there is no G but G and Jesus is The messenger of G. "It is customary with weaker intellects thus to take the men as criterion of truth and not the truth as the criterion of the men." (Algazali in Hyman and Walsh, p. 274). Algazali then goes on to point out that the public should be protected, that we "should shut the gate" lest they get themselves into trouble due to their own conceit ("I can handle this"). Yet, if we had to reject everything these philosophers say, we'd have to reject our own doctrines as well, whenever they agree with us or cite us as do the Brethren of Purity. The partisans sometimes commit the opposite error-seeing the good stuff they accept the bad, again, e.g., in the writings of the Ihwan--since they include the pieties, they accept the rest uncritically. Algazali AGAIN ARGUES THAT THE PEOPLE SHOULD BE PROTECTED FORMAT HIS MATERIAL AS A SNAKE CHARMER MUST REFRAIN FROM HANDLING SNAKES IN FRONT OF A SMALL BOY, LEST THE CHILD IMITATE AND BE HARMED. He then turns to mysticism, from which he claims to have learned the truth about prophecy. We grow, he explains, from touch, to sight, to hearing, to taste,; then to discernment (7 yrs. or so), to intellect; then to the next stage, a hint of which is in dreams (Note Bene: this is also in Jewish tradition and discussed by RAMBAM.) He has the fun discussion (p. 281) about those who didn't dream yet heard of it), and considers their objections (I think I may have read about this in Bahya as well): 1. doubt of prophecy's possibility in general 2. doubt of its actual occurrence 3. doubt of the attainment of it by a particular individual The proof of the possibility is the occurrence of other knowledge thought to be inconceivable, e.g., medical science and astronomy. The dream state clues us in to the possibility of some of the other properties of prophecy. Particular candidates for the title prophet are to be judged by their character, not by miracles. The incoherence of the philosophers Algazali begins by pointing out that there's no logically necessary connection between C & E. He then considers cotton burning in contact with fire. O asserts that the fire causes the cotton to burn and that this is necessary and sufficient (make sure that these are defined). Algazali says no, G is the cause. and G could do it otherwise. All they have is experiences of the one accompanied by experiences of the other. And to the objection that we then know nothing, Algazali is content to rest on habit & even if there were these internal natures which necessitated causality, G could change them too. P. 289 foot, does not have G committing the logically impossible (give the definitions here!). In short it seems that Algazali is claiming that we know a la Hume and habit, but that our knowledge is of a class of possibles that G might change. If we trust G not to change them, that is trust.