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Ghazl, Descartes, and Hume: The Genealogy of Some Philosophical Ideas Author(s): CEMIL AKDOGAN Reviewed work(s): Source:

Islamic Studies, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Autumn 2003), pp. 487-502 Published by: Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University, Islamabad Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20837288 . Accessed: 04/09/2012 16:54
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Islamic Studies 42:3 (2003) pp. 487-502.

Ghazal?, Descartes, and Hume: Some Philosophical Ideas*

The Genealogy



Introduction We can trace the origins of modern philosophy back to Ab? Hamid al Ghaz?l? (450-505/1058-1111) who anticipated some of the major ideas at which Ren? Descartes (1596-1650) and David Hume (1711-1776) arrived in the course of their study and philosophical speculation. Although their frameworks are different, the parallel between Ghazal? and Descartes, dreamlike reality,and particularlyon the issuesof absolute truth,scepticism, Hume's work the separation of soul frombody, is very conspicuous. As for on causality which prompted ImmanuelKant (1724-1804) towrite his famous not more than what Ghazal? Critique of Pure Reason, it is fundamentally accomplished on the same subject a long timeago. Ghaz?lfs Scepticism


In hisDeliverance fromErrorwe find Ghazal? concernedwith discovering the To thatextenthe went througha period of personal scepticism absolute truth. duringwhich he even doubted the truthof sense-data,logic, andmathematics.


stateof dreaming.Later, his belief in logic, mathematics and selfevident ideas

restored. As we know, these features also exist in Descartes' philosophy.



states such as wakefulness

or sense data

to the

The main difference between them is that Ghazal? works within the framework of Islamic theology in which there is "no problem of God", whereas Descartes beginswith the problem of God and places his emphasis upon humanmind or secularphilosophy. In order to discover the absolute truth, Ghazal? refused to conform to matters of faith: authorityeven in
* The author is grateful to Professor SyedMuhammad Naquib al-Attas who read the first draft me away fromsomemistakes. of this article and graciously steered



was indeed thereal The thirst forgrasping my habit andwont meaningof things hold on me, when I was stillquite beliefslost their from me, and inherited to Judaism, and of Jewsalwaysgrewup adhering and thechildren Christianity, the religion of Islam. I also ofMuslims alwaysgrewup following thechildren ? God's God of related fromthe and peace heard the tradition blessing Apostle ? is infant born endowed the he said: with be upon him! in which "Every fitra:
I felt an then his parents make him Jew or Christian or Magian. Consequently inner urge to seek the truemeaning of the original fitra, and the truemeaning of the beliefs arising through slavish aping of parents and teachers. I wanted to sift young. For I saw that the children of Christians always grew up embracing from my early years...As a result, the fetters of servile conformism fell away

out these uncritical beliefs, the beginnings ofwhich are suggestions imposed from without, since there are differences of opinion in the discernment of those that are true from those that are false.

of things.Of necessity, therefore, Imust inquire into justwhat meaning of knowledge is".1 meaning

So I began by sayingtomyself: "What I seek is knowledgeof the true

the true

matters of faithisnot trustworthy,2 then is itpossible to believe If authorityin in sense perception and necessary truthsthat seem to be self-evident? Ghaz?l? as to follows: this inquiry responded
all my and found myself of any devoid cognitions case in the of sense-data and self-evident truths. So I said: knowledge...except I... scrutinized

reflect on my sense-data to see if I could make myself doubt them. This protracted effort to induce doubt finally brought me to the point where my soul would not allow me to admit safety from error even in the case ofmy sense-data. Rather it began to be open to doubt about them.3

into obscure matters is to start from things that are perfectly clear, namely sense data and the self-evident truths..."With great earnestness, therefore, I began to

an insight "Now that has befallen me, theonlyhope I have of acquiring despair

So to distinguish absolute truth from falsity, Ghaz?l? also doubted the of sensedata and self-evident truths.In order to show that sensedata reliability
1 An Annotated Translation of Trans., Richard Joseph McCarthy, S. J.,Freedom and Fulfillment: AlGhazal?s al-Munqidhmin al-Dal?l and Other Relevant Works of al-Ghazali (Boston,Twayne Publishers, 1980), 63. 2 Mu'tazila or of A. I. Sabramakes the same claim forall kal?m: "All kal?m,whether thatof the the later, 'orthodox' Ash'arites, declares itselfagainst the passive acceptance of authority in matters of faith,an attitude which it calls by thename of taqlid (the imitationor unquestioning of and which it seeks, expresslyand as amatter of principle, to replace by following authority), a state of knowledge ('ilm) rooted in reason fakl)". See his article, "Science and Philosophy in

Medieval Islamic Theology" in Zeitschrift fur GeschichtederArabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, Band 9,1995,9. 3 64. Freedom and Fulfillment, Trans., Richard Joseph McCarthy, S. J.,



we clearlyperceive such as ourwakefulnessmay be deceitful,he or the things offeredthe example of dreams:

sense-data reinforced their difficulty by an appeal to dreaming, saying: Don't you see thatwhen you are asleep you believe certain things and imagine certain circumstances and believe they are fixed and lasting and entertain no doubts about that being their status? Then you wake up and know were groundless and unsubstantial.4 imaginings and beliefs that all your ...

when we look at a Surely, sense data sometimesdeceive us. For instance, we see it as big as a coin. But actually it star mightwell be bigger than even the How do we know this? Of course, through our intellect whole earth itself. i.e. geometrical calculations.5 Then how about (the reason-judge), mathematical and logical truths:canwe trustthem? According toGhaz?l?, we
cannot even trust them, since they may also deceive us:


can rely only on those rational data which belong to the category of and primary truths, such as our asserting that 'Ten ismore than three', andOne the same thing cannot be simultaneously affirmed and denied', and 'One and the same thing cannot be incipient and eternal, existent and nonexistent, necessary and impossible'. Then sense-data spoke up: "What assurance have you that your reliance on

rational data is not like your reliance on sense-data? Indeed, you used to have the reason-judge came along and gave me the lie. But were it not for the reason-judge, you would still accept me as true. So theremay confidence in me. Then

be, beyond the perception of reason, another judge. And if the latter revealed itself, itwould give the lie to the judgements of reason, just as the reason-judge revealed itself and gave the he to the judgements of sense. The mere fact of the nonappearance of that further perception does not prove the impossibility of its

Ghaz?l? also distinguished between body and soul in his al-Risalah al Laduniyyah* (sic) not in order to arrive at a dualism as suggestedby Fazlur

After God cured Ghaz?l? of this extreme scepticism, which had lasted about twomonths, he once again began to believe in "the self-evident data of reason and reliedon them with safety and certainty".7

Ibid., 65. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid., 66. 8 The author of the article and some other scholars have transliterated Ghaz?li's treatise as with only one *n\ With due respect to our learned author and to those scholars, above, that is, itwould be pertinent to point out that phonetically it is incorrect.The right transliteration



Rahman and others, but to place humanity outside and above the nature. According to him, the soul of human beings directly originates fromGod Himself and that iswhy it is immaterial,immortal, special and unique as man is no compared to the body or the restof natural creation.As a result, longer a passive part of the natural order as stipulatedby some religions and

ancientphilosophies, but a vicegerenton earth. In Ghaz?l?'s view, "God Most High createdman from two different one of them the body,which is...subjectto generation and corruption, things, whose nature cannot be complete except composite,made up of parts, earthy, means and that other is the soul,which is substantial, of somethingelse, by acting,moving, giving completion to simple, enlightened, comprehending, '
instruments and bodies".9

Thus he made soul pivotal to his metaphysics and distinguished it from Without soul body is not complete and cannot function. As Ghaz?li body.10

and form, which is set forth in the books. And from...verses and traditions and intellectual proofs, we have come to know that the spirit [the soul] is a simple substance, perfect, having life in itself, and from it is derived what makes the body sound or what corrupts it.11 matter

The body is subjectto dissolutionas itwas subject to being compoundedof

Ghaz?li ended thehold of ancientphilosophy by freeingthehuman soul from itsmaterial attachmentsand making it originate fromGod.12 So, long before Descartes and other modern philosophers13 he revolutionized
would be Ladunniyah. In deference to the author'swish, however,we have retained the author's of the tide of this transliteration work. Ed. 9 Ab? Hamid al-Ghaz?l?, al-Ris?lah al-Laduniyyah, Part , trans., Margaret Smith in theJournal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1938), 193. 10 To distinguishbetween two things isnot necessarily a dualism. 11 197-198. M-GhxL^Al-RisaUhal'Laduniyyah, 12 we As Greek philosophy. Itwas made up of delicate know, soulwas part of the cosmos in the materials such as pure water, pure air, pure fireor light atoms and was like an inner engine move whether they which made things were objects or human beings. Even Plato placed soul between the perfect ideas and the sensory world andmade itpart of theworld. As for Aristotle, it is the formwhich is not separable from body or matter. In otherwords, soul cannot exist independentlyof body and thus in the Islamicworld F?r?b?, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd who were Aristotelians could not satisfactorilyexplain the immortalityof human souls. Furthermore, which is immortal, did not belong to particular they all accepted that the active intellect, individuals, but rather to thewhole human species. Thus, according to Greek and Islamic matter orwas part of the world or body. philosophers, soul eitheroriginated from 13 Descartes and some othermodern as such Kant also insisted thathuman beings philosophers are unique and that are not so a but did in context. StuartG. Shanker secular animals, they they



Qur'an: metaphysics on thebasis of the


a or an accident, because of their lowliness glorious to attach unto Himself body and their liability to change and their swift dissolution and corruption.14

to He said: "I breathedintohim of sometimes His gloryfor and He My Spirit", at thecommandofmy Lord". Also He said also: "Say, theSpirit (proceedeth) We breathedintohim ofOur Spirit". said: "And Now God Most High is too

related the spirit sometimes toHimself

and sometimes toHis

command and

Ghaz?l? defined the soul as "perfect, which is concerned simple substance solelywith rememberingand studyingand reflectionand discrimination and andmade it a different carefulconsideration",15 and independent substance. It a a or or an accident.16 no matter atoms is collection of longer subtle Although the body is inanimate, the soul is alive, immortaland mortal, and imperfect, More importantly, the souls createdbyGod in a specialway are the perfect.17 only direct linksbetweenGod andman. For Ghaz?l?, "man is both soul and body, he is at once physical being and spirit, and his soul governs his body".18This dual nature of man does not necessarily imply a dualism, since, inhis view, soul and body are two different aspects of the same entity, i.e. man. Furthermore, there is an interaction between them, i. e. "soul is a spiritualprinciplewhich having life in itself vitalizes the body and controls it and regulatesit.Body is the instrument and

explains thispoint with regard toDescartes as follows: Descartes...[repudiates] the orthodox doctrine of the 'Great Chain of Being*. He is insisting that there is a hiatus between animals and man that cannot be filled by any 'missing links'.The body may be amachine (whichwas itselfa heretical view), but man, by his abilities to reason, to speak a language, to direct his actions and to be conscious of his cognitions, is categoricallynot an animal.There is no hint in the Discourse that any of these attributescan be possessed in degrees...WhenAristotle tellsus that 'Man is by nature a political animal', or Seneca that 'Man is a reasoning animal', the emphasis is on animal : one analysesman as an animal species the (see opening chapter ofAristotle'sMetaphysics). But all this is changed in the Discourse ofDescartes. See StuartG. Shanker, ed., Philosophy ofScience,Logic andMathematics in theTwentieth Century (London: Routledge, 1996), 316. Descartes discusses the differences between human beings and animals at the end of Part V of hisDiscourse. 14 Part , 197. Al-Ghaz?li, al-Ris?lah al-Laduniyyah, 15 194. Ibid., 16 Ibid., 196-197. 17 Ibid., 197. 18 SyedMuhammad Naquib al-Attas,Islam and Secularism,69. On thispoint al-Ghazil? is very clear: Man is "composed of an outward shape, called the body, and an inward entity called...soul...which uses all the other facultiesas its instrumentsand servants". AI Ghaz?li, The Claud Field (London: The Octagon Press, 1980), 18-19. Alchemy of Happiness, trans.,



vehicle of the soul".19 But Descartes, as the representative of the seventeenth century emphasised the realdistinctionbetween soul (secondary philosopher-scientists, and body (primary qualities) and made them independent and qualities) That iswhy, ifnot he, at leasthis followers (Cartesians) complete substances. tried to "cut all connection between...[soul and body in order] to establish...a rigorousparallelism between them [through]a divinemechanism".20 Ghaz?l?, insteadof accepting such a real distinction,simplydistinguished soul from body and made them interdependent."The human soul, though independentof the body, yet requiresthe body in this physicalworld"21 to "the worlds of sense and sensible govern it, to perceive things,and to interpret formsor ideas".22 experience,of images,and of intelligible

Ghaz?l? on theProblemofCausality
In order to affirmGod's omnipotence Ghaz?l? attacked the necessary Hume's work on the connection between external events, thus anticipating

InGhaz?l?'s view,God causes everything; there is no room for therefore, to causation. In order this Ghaz?l? asserted secondary point further, explain

of causality.

that: The is habitually believed to be a cause and what is to an believed be effect is not necessary, according to us. But [with] habitually two not where is "this" "that" and "that" is not "this", and where any things, one neither the affirmation of the entails the affirmation of the other nor the connection between what

negation of the one entails negation of the other, it is not a necessity of the existence of the one that the other should exist, and it is not a necessity of the nonexistence of the one that the other should not exist ? for example, the quenching of thirst and drinking, satiety and eating, burning and contact with

of of thebowels and theusingof a purgative, and medicine,thepurging drinking

so on to [include] all [that is] observable among connected things in medicine, and to crafts. is Their connection due the astronomy, arts, prior decree of God, creates them side by side, not to its being necessary in itself, incapable of On the it is within contrary, separation. [divine] power to create satietywithout to create death without eating, decapitation, to continue life after decapitation,

fire, light and the appearance of the sun, death and decapitation, healing and the


19 M. M. Sharif, ed., A History of Muslim Philosophy, 2 vols. (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1963), 620. 20 Henry Bergson, Creative Evolution (Mine?la, Y: Dover Publications, Inc., 1998), 350. 21 SyedMuhammad Naquib al-Attas, Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam (Kuala Lumpur: ISTAC, 1995), 165. 22 Ibid., 171.



The philosophers denied the possibility and so on to all connectedthings. of to it be and claimed [this] impossible.23 or connection between a cause and According toGhaz?l?, the relationship an effectis not necessary.Two thingsor events follow one another, but one does not affect the other in any way, since both things are passive and For instance,fire inanimate. does not actuallyburn a piece of cotton, butGod what proof is there that it is an agent? They [thephilosophers] have no proof other thanobserving theoccurrenceof theburning at the [junctureof] contact with the fire. Observation, however, [only] shows the occurrence [ofburning] at [the timeof the contactwith the fire], but does not show the occurrence [of burning]by [thefire]and thatthereisno other cause for it".24 statesthat"the continuoushabit of [the]... occurrence [of Ghaz?l? further burning] repeatedly,one time afteranother,fixesunshakably in ourminds the belief in [its] occurrence according to past habit".25 If we use Kant's terminology, here Ghaz?l? claims that "the understanding [i.e. our ourmind or intellect does not impose lawsupon nature. Descartes: His Scepticism and Dualism Descartes, the firstarchitectof themodern philosophy, followed themethod ofGhaz?l?, but he placed the emphasison philosophy or human reason rather than theology:
? are chief I have always thought that two issues ? namely, God and the soul among those that ought to be demonstrated with the aid of philosophy rather than theology.27 intellect]...derive[s] its laws from... nature [i.e. experience]".26 In other words, does. According to Ghaz?l?, "fire, which is inanimate,... has no action. For

Like Ghaz?l?, however,Descartes also rejected authorityor custom and relied solelyon his own reasoning:
I considered how one and the same man with the very same mind, were he

23 Michael E. Marmura (Provo, Utah: Al-Ghaz?li, The Incoherence of thePhilosophers, trans., BrighamYoung University Press, 1997), 170. 24 Ibid., 171. 25 Ibid., 174. 26 ImmanuelKant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics,trans.Lewis White Beck (Indianapolis andNew York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1950), 67. 27 Ren? Descartes, Discourse onMethod andMeditations on First Philosophy,fourthedition, trans., Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis:Hackett PublishingCompany, 1998), 47.



found them than a whole multitude of people. Hence I coiild not choose anyone whose opinions seemed tome should be preferred over those of the others, and I found myself, as itwere, constrained to try to guide myself on my own.28

mere custom and example that persuades us than any certain it is and yet themajority opinion isworthless as a proof of truths that are knowledge; at all difficult to discover, since it ismuch more likely that one man would have cannibals...Thus

Chinese or the what hewould be had he alwayslivedamong the from different

or the Germans, would brought up from infancy among the French


in finding the absolute truth, After establishing his self-responsibility Descartes also doubted the reliabilityof senses on the grounds that they sometimesdeceive us. For instance,tomisjudge things is possible if they are we clearly faraway or not clearlyperceptible.But how about the thingsthat we are sitting? perceive such as our wakefulness or the fire in frontofwhich

he uses dreams asGhaz?l? had done so a long timeago:



that we

can even be wrong


them. To


this point

nowmy eyes are certainly when in factI am lying undressedin bed!But right I of paper.This headwhich I am shaking wide awake when gazeupon thissheet
is not heavy with sleep. I extend this hand consciously and deliberately, and I feel it. Such thingswould not be so distinct for someone who is asleep. As if I did not recall having been deceived on other occasions even by similar thoughts inmy

often does my evening slumber persuade me of such ordinary things as these: that I am here, clothed inmy dressing gown, seated next to the fireplace

no definitive As a siffis bywhich to distinguish beingawake from beingasleep.

result, I am becoming quite dizzy, and this dizziness nearly convinces me am asleep.29 that I

dreams! As I consider thesematters more carefully, I see so plainly that there are

Then he doubted necessary truths by raisingthe followingquestion:

Since I judge that others sometimes make mistakes inmatters that they believe they know most perfectly,may I not, in like fashion, be deceived every time I add two and three or count the sides of a square, or perform an even simpler operation, if that can be imagined?30

while. In order to However, Descartes's scepticismlastedonly fora short a new slate he firstdemonstrated the existence of his mind or begin with consciousness to his satisfaction. he Although he could doubt everything,
28 Ibid., 9. M Ibid., 60. 30 Ibid., 61.



manner he arrived could not doubt thathe was doubting or thinking.In this at his "first lam.: andmost certain"proposition: I think, therefore,
While ... all those we can somehow things which rejecting c|oubt, and even imagining them to be false,we can indeed easily suppose that there is no God, no heaven, no material bodies; and even thatwe ourselves have no hands, or feet, in short, no body; yet we do not on that account suppose thatwe, who are thinking such things, are nothing: for it is contradictory for us to believe that thatwhich

thinks, at the very timewhen it is thinking, does not exist. And, accordingly, this I am, is the first and most certain to be acquired by knowledge, / think, therefore and present itself to anyone who is philosophizing in correct order.31

Thus he made the existenceof his consciousness ormind the cornerstone was to prove the existenceof both God and of his philosophy.His next step Descartes himselftellsus how he proceeded: physical reality.
I took the being or the existence of...mind as the firstPrinciple. From this I very


clearlydeduced the following:that there is a God who is the author of which is in the didnot world; and who, being thesourceof all truth, everything itmakes of things of which it has a very clear and very distinct judgment
are all the Principles which I use concerning immaterial or our understanding of a nature such that it could be mistaken in the

And from thosePrinciples,I very clearlydeduce the Metaphysical things. in length, which have diversefigures moved indiverse and are width, anddepth, which I deduce the truth of ways. There, in short,are all thePrinciplesfrom
other things.32 or Physical things; namely, that there are bodies extended Principles of corporeal

perception. Those

Naquib al-Attasadmirablyexplains:
Descartes established

Although Descartes tried to prove the existenceofGod by depending on the idea of a perfect being in hismind, he was not successfulin this attempt. Since we know today, due to Kant's work, that the existence of God can means. As Syed neitherbe proven nor disproven throughrational Muhammad

creature, man,

necessarily establish the existence of objects outside of thought. In the case of the existence of God, themore impossibly complicated it became, seeing that unlike man He is not subject to empirical intuition. Now what ismore problematic

the existence of the self, the existence of the individual to himself by means of empirical intuition; this does not

31 Ren? Descartes, Principles ofPhilosophy,trans., Valentine Rodger Miller and Reese P. Miller (Dordrecht:Reidel, 1983),Article 7, Part 1: 5. 32 Ibid., from the "Letter from theAuthor", xxii.



about the existence of God is that since His being in thought, His Essence, cannot be known, and sinceHis Being is identical with His Existence, it follows thatHis Existence also cannot be known. His existence...can be known only if

At least which isnot possibleto accomplish. up tillthepresenttimetheidea that

God's existence can rationally be demonstrated is only amatter offaith?0

the identity of His

Being and His


can be demonstrated


was ideally suited to theneeds of 17thcenturyscience. Descartes' "system It lefta place for God and therebyaverted the charge thatdropping spiritand mind and taking everythingas matter must make atheists; and it separated so could mind so that what the matter, [natural sciences] forget impresses were in forcibly: [secondary]qualities,meanings, and purposes. Those things not inmatter,which is entirely Such is theview of neutral stuff. mind and the

Thus, likeGhaz?l?, Descartes also separated the human soul from the body to soul: and assigned similarattributes
By theword 'thought', I understand all those thingswhich occur in us while we are conscious, insofar as the consciousness of them is in us. And so not only understanding, willing, and imagining, but also sensing, are here the same as thinking.35 Soul is alive, active, and immaterial whereas body or matter is inanimate,

the [scientist]in the lab today".34 width, and depth constitutes According toDescartes, extension in length, or the nature of body matterwhereas thoughtconstitutesthe nature of soul.

passive, andmaterial. Soul is spiritualand does not occupy a space, but body does. In otherwords, soul cannot be touched or feltphysically, because it is notmaterial. Philosophically speaking,ithas no extension,and in this respect it is similar to God. That is why Descartes divorced soul from body by making it a thinkingsubstance thatdoes not perish even afterthedeath of the body:
essence or nature of which is simply to think, and which, in order to exist, has no need of any place nor depends on any a material thing. Thus this , that is to say, the soul through which I am what I am, is entirely distinct from the body and is even easier to know than the body, and even if therewere no body at all, itwould not cease to be all that it is.36 I knew that I was a substance thewhole

33 SyedMuhammad Naquib al-Attas,Islam and Secularism, 11. 34 Decadence (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2000), 200. JacquesBarzun, FromDawn to 35 Ren? Descartes, Principles of Article 9, Part I: 5. Philosophy, 36 Ren? Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations onFirstPhilosophy, 19.



As we can gather from this quotation, soul and body are two distinct, complete and independentsubstances.Soul isnot body and it can exist as it is without having a body. In other words, soul isnot body and body isnot soul:
We clearly perceive that extension, or figure, or local motion ( or any similar thing which must be attributed to a body) does not belong to our nature, but

of thinking, which is therefore known prior to andmore only the faculty

certainly than any corporeal things.37

Moreover, soul and body do not interact, since they are distinct and independent.So, according toDescartes, man is a pair of thingsand lives two and parallelworlds. parallel lives in two different Because of this radical dualism ofDescartes the soul does not govern the material body. "It then body,38 since immaterial soul can in no way affect becomes very difficult to account for the evident facts of psycho-physical
interaction...Cartesians such

Occasionalists', refused to admit that two heterogeneous types of substances can act on one another. When interactionapparently takes place, what really occurs is thaton theoccasion of a psychic event God causes the corresponding

as Geulincx,






With thisdualism ofDescartes the roller coaster ofmodern philosophy began its journey,swingingbetween idealismand realismuntilKant stopped it

Thus it is crystalclear that "Descartes'suniverse...is bifurcated. And at its center standsneither the Earth nor the Sun, but themind of the individual, world around it".40 respondingto the

event, or conversely".39


on Causality views on
are similar. As Eugene A. Myers writes:

If we disregard their frameworks, Ghaz?l?'s and David Hume's


37 Ren? Descartes, Principles of Article 8, Part I: 5. Philosophy, 38 To please theologians "Descartes himself asserted that the mind can and does act on the body: but his theory of interaction was felt to be one of the least satisfactoryfeaturesof his system". Furhermore, "on Descartes' principles itwould appear to be very difficult to maintain that there is any intrinsic relationship between the two factors [i.e. soul and body]". Frederick A History ofPhilosophy (New York: Image Books, 1994), IV: 12 and 120. IV: 12 Copleston, S. J., and 120. 39 Ibid., 12. 40 Stuart G. Shanker, "Descartes' Legacy: the Mechanist/Vitalist Debates" in StuartG. Shanker, ed., Philosophyof Science,Logic andMathematics in theTwentiethCentury ( London: Roudedge, 1996), 316.

Al Ghazzali external causes. He


not a priori the cause of the second. While al Ghazzali referred the ultimate to to Hume the ultimate referred recollections. The God, ground ground and Hume's similarity of al Ghazzali's thinking on this subject prompted Ernest Renan,

cause and effect as the result of recollections rather than of relationship of principle, emphasizing that even though one event follows another, the first is

David Hume (1711-1776), who defined the adopted by the English thinker

held that events are brought about by thewill of God rather than by therefore denied the principle of causality. This view was

the eminent French historian, to remind his readers, "Hume has said [about the causal nexus] nothing more than al Ghazzali had already said*.41

David Hume, who is a sceptic,evaluates cause-effect relationshipafterthe fashion of Ghazal?, but he does it in a secular context. If two events are experientiallydetect no link between them, afterobserving them together several or more timeswe feel in our mind that those events are necessarily connectedwith one another. In the words ofHume:
When one particular species of event has always, in all instances, been conjoined with another...we call the one object, Cause; the other, Effect.We suppose that there is some connexion between them; some power in the one, by which it infallibly produces the other, and operates with the greatest certainty and strongest necessity. It appears, then, that this idea of a necessary connexion among events arises from a number of similar instances which occur of the constant conjunction of these events...But there is nothing in a number of different from is supposed to be exactly which instances, every single instance, a after similar; except only, that repetition of similar instances, the mind is conjoined, we call one event cause and the other event effect. Although we can

carried by habit, upon the appearance of one event, to expect its usual attendant, and to believe that itwill exist. This connexion, therefore,which we feel in the mind, this customary transition of the imagination from one object to its usual attendant, is the sentiment or impression fromwhich we form the idea of power
connexion.42 or necessary

For both Ghazal? and Hume the law of causality or the cause-effect relationshiporiginates fromour experiences and is linked by psychological habit. In other words, our mind acquires the conception of causality after being affectedby the habitual succession of events in time. In thewords of
Hume, "...reason alone can never give rise to any original idea and...that

41 Eugene A. Myers, Arabic Thought and theWestern World (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1964), 40. 42 David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, ed.,Antony Flew (La Salle: EL, 1988), 114.


can never make us conclude, that a



cause or productive quality is absolutely requisite to every beginning of Kant reiterates how Hume dealtwith theproblem of causality in existence".43 of his thepreface book, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics:
Hume started chiefly from a single but important concept in metaphysics, cause and effect...He challenged reason, which namely, that of the connection of to have given birth to this concept of herself, to answer him by what pretends


from experience,

deluded with reference to this concept, which she erroneously considered as one in reality it was nothing but a bastard of of her own children, whereas imagination, impregnated by experience, which subsumed certain represantations under the law of association and mistook a subjective necessity (habit) for an objective necessity arising from insight. Hence he inferred that reason had no power to think such combinations, even in general, because her concepts would common experiences marked with a false stamp.44

at all see why, in consequence of the existence of implies necessity. We cannot one thing, another must necessarily exist or how the concept of such a combination can arise a priori. Hence he inferred that reason was altogether

something else also must necessarily be posited; for this is the meaning of the concept of cause. He demonstrated irrefutably that itwas perfectly impossible for reason to think a priori and by means of concepts such a combination, for it

could be so constituted be posited, thatif thatthing anything rightshe thinks

a priori cognitions thenbe purely fictitious and all her pretended nothingbut

a consists altogether of such concepts".46 Those metaphysics priori concepts on our such as substance, causality, time, space and quantity impose order experiences.

Kant wrote his famous Critique of Pure Reason to resolve Hume's widest implications45 and "found that the concept of problem of causality in its was the connection of cause and effect by no means the only concept by which the understanding thinks the connection of thingsa priori, but rather

Kant andHis

Modern Philosophy Importance in

Kant is the supreme philosopher inmodern philosophy, since he destroyed the last tracesof the ancient worldview from modern philosophy andwas able to tie the loose ends existingparticularlyin the Humean systemfromhis own
standpoint. With Kant's approval, Carol. Arnold. Wilmans summarizes Kant's 43 David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed., L. A. Selby-Bigg, 1888; second rev. ed. by P. H. Nidditch (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1978), 157. 44 ImmanuelKant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics,5-6. 45 Ibid., 9. 46 Ibid., 8.

achievement in the followingpassage:


Ancient philosophers were quite mistaken in the role they assigned man in the world, since they considered him amachine within it, entirely dependent on the world or on external things and circumstances, and so made him an all but passive part of theworld. Now the critique of reason has appeared and assigned man a thoroughly active existence in the world. Man himself is the original maker of all his representations and concepts, and ought to be the sole author of all his actions.47

Indeed,with Kant modern philosophy reached its pinnacle.What Kant really achieved is not a synthesisor a compromise between realism and idealism,but the formulationof an original philosophy which rejects those we forgetabout his fixed alternativeseffectively. If mind, his categoriesof the to one even still remains be valid it and is the for the future. philosophy right The Berkeleian and post-Kantian philosophy, particularly fromFichte until Hegel, is in trouble,because itdeliberatelycuts off all its tieswith realityor Of course, in this approach "knowledge gives birth to things-in-themselves. itself and is capable of affording itsown justification".48 a It is not really surprisethat after Kant the West once again succumbed to dualism with the positivism of the nineteenth century and the logical positivism or the analytical philosophy of the twentiethcentury at one end andwith the speculativeor absolute idealismof the eighteenthand nineteenth centuriesand thepostmodernismof the twentieth centuryat theother end.As
a matter

dualisms not only inphilosophy, but also in other fieldsaswell. Kant and the Problem of Causality

of fact, "the West



an endless

series of opposites"49


Hume woke up Kant fromhis dogmatic slumberand "gave [his] investigations in the fieldof speculativephilosophy a quite new direction".50 Kant realised that the concept of causality "was not derived from [natureor] experience,as
Immanuel Kant, The Conflict of theFaculties, ed.,Mary J. Gregor (Lincoln and London: University ofNebraska Press, 1979), 129. 48 Darwin on Philosophyand Other Essays (Armherst, New York: JohnDewey, The Influenceof Prometheus Books, 1997), 297. 49 Jacques Barzun, FromDawn to Decadence, xiii. I have heard this ideamany times from Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas in his Saturday Night Lectures since 1994.He also suggests in his book Prolegomena to the MetaphysicsofIslam thatEurope has always swung fromone extreme to another. In his own words: "Dualism abides in all aspects ofWestern Ufe and philosophy: the ? speculative, the social, the political, the cultural just as it pervadeswith equal inexorableness the Western religion". (Prolegomenato the MetaphysicsofIslam, 86). 50Immanuel A nyFuture Kant, Prolegomena to Metaphysics,8. 47





In Hume had attempted to derive [it],but sprangfrompure understanding".51 Kant's view not only causalitybut also other concepts such as time and space are known by us apriori. So our understanding with itsa priori concepts "does not derive its laws from,but prescribes them to, nature".52 With this view "Kantmade a decisive advance over all previous philosophers in givingup the idea that any description of theworld [is] simply a copy of theworld".53 In otherwords, the human mind no longerpassively reflectsreality as a mirror does. Thus Kant achieved the greatest revolution in philosophy or a Karl Popper summarisesthispoint rather well: Copernican revolution.
We must

cosmos bears the imprint of our minds... Copernicus deprived man of his central position in the physical universe. Kant's Copernican Revolution takes the sting out of this. He shows us not only that our location in the physical them. Our

we are passive observers, waiting for nature to give up the view that impresss its regularity upon us. Instead we must adopt the view that in digesting our sense-data we actively impress the order and the laws of our intellect upon

universe is irrelevant, but also that in a sense our universe may well be said to turn about us; for it iswe who produce, at least in part, the order we find in it; it is we who create our knowledge of it.We are discoverers: and discovery is a
creative art.54

Surely, in acquiringknowledgewe both need our activemind or a priori

concepts as well as sense data. As Kant tells us:


sensibility no object would be given to us, and without understanding none would be thought. Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind. It is thus just as necessary to make the mind's concepts sensible (i.e., to add an object to them in intuition) as it is to make its intuitions understandable (i.e., to bring them under concepts). Further, these two faculties or capacities cannot exchange their functions. The understanding is not . capable of intuiting anything, and the senses are not capable of thinking anything. Only from their unification can cognition arise.55

51 Ibid. 52 Ibid., 67. 53 Hilary Putnam, Pragmatism (Oxford:Blackwell, 1995), 30. 54 Karl R. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations:The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, 4th ed. to and 180-181. Islam and al-Ghazali the soul (London: Routledge Kegan Paul, 1972), According ofman is also active and creative. As SyedMuhammad Naquib al-Attas writes: "The soul is...not something passive; it is creative, and through perception, imagination and intelligence it of the worlds of sense and sensible experience,of participates in the 'creation*and interpretation or of and forms ideas". Muhammad images, intelligible Syed Naquib al-Attas, Prolegomena to the 171. Islam, Metaphysics of 55 Immanuel Kant, Critique ofPure Reason, trans, and edit. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood



Thus Kant deftly rejected both realism and idealism by saying that As a matter of fact, "thewhole course of [philosophy] sinceKant's time has tended to justifythis remark.The sensationalist [realist]and the rationalist have worked themselves out. Prettymuch all students [of philosophy] are
convinced that we nor can sensations, yet knowledge to a purely rational reduce neither to a set of associated thought. system of relations of "thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind".

Knowledge is judgement,and judgement requires both a material of sense perception and an ordering, regulatingprinciple, reason; so much seems
certain"56 and inevitable.

Conclusion As we have seen,Ghaz?l?'s scope of vision is such thathe not only anticipated themain ideas of Descartes, the fatherof themodern philosophy, but also which in turn inspired Kant, the supreme precededHume's work on causality to achieve the revolution in modern greatest philosopher, philosophy by the of truth. relinquishing correspondencetheory Since thingsare always perceived through mind, we cannot know objects or their real properties as they are in themselves. As al-Attasnicely sums up, "in the act of perception, the perceiver perceives theform of the external of the external reality,and not the object, that is, an imageor representation
reality itself".57

(Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1998),Part ii, 76,193-194. 56 Darwin onPhilosophyand Other Essays, 297. JohnDewey, The Influenceof 57 Muhammad Syed Naquib al-Attas, Prolegomena to the MetaphysicsofIslam, 150.