REASON REVELATION & THE RECONSTITUTION OF RATIONALITY. – Book Sample
Abstract REASON REVELATION & THE RECONSTITUTION OF RATIONALITY.
This thesis explores the broad outlines of Ibn Taymiyya’s attempt to resolve the
“conflict” between reason and revelation in late medieval Islam in his 10 volume, 4,000-page magnum opus, Dar’ ta‘a>rud} al-‘aql wa-l-naql, or The Refutation of the Contradiction of Reason and Revelation by breaking down and systematically reconstituting the basic categories in terms of which the debate was framed.
The perceived conflict between revelation and reason centered on the interpretation of a number of Divine Attributes, considered rationally indefensible by the philosophers and the Mu‘tazila because their affirmation would involve an unacceptable assimilation (tashbi>h) of God to created beings. This stance culmi nated in the Ash‘arite theologian Fakhr al-Di>n al-Ra>zi>’s “Universal Law” (qa>nu>n kulli>), which stated that whenever a conflict between revelation and reason aris es, the dictates of reason must be given priority and revelation interpreted meta phorically through ta’wi>l.
Ibn Taymiyya counters these claims with a comprehensive response, at tacking the logical integrity of the Universal Law but also articulating a textual ly self-sufficient hermeneutic and devising a radical reformulation of the philos ophers’ ontology, particularly their realist theory of universals which has result ed in a chronic confusion between what exists logically in the mind and what ex ists ontologically in external reality.
This in turn allows him to elaborate a new epistemology based on three principal avenues for gaining knowledge, namely, “h}iss,” or sense perception; “khabar,” or the transmission of reports (particularly revelation); and “‘aql,” or rational knowledge (both innate and inferred). These sources of knowledge are corroborated by the mechanism of tawa>tur and under girded by an expanded notion of the fit}ra. The disparate elements of Ibn Tay miyya’s theory of language, his ontology, and his epistemology eventually con verge into a synthesis meant to accommodate a robust and rationally defensible affirmationism vis-à-vis the Divine Attributes while yet avoiding the tashbi>h
generally presumed by the later tradition to be inevitably entailed thereby.
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