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The Refutation of the Contradiction of Reason and Revelation

Reason revelation & the reconstitution of rationality.
  • Book Title:
The Refutation of the Contradiction of Reason and Revelation
  • Book Author:
Carl Sharif El-Tobgui,, Ibn Taymiyah
  • Total Pages
353
  • Size of Book:
2 Mb
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The Refutation of the Contradiction of Reason and Revelation

The Refutation of the Contradiction of Reason and Revelation

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 culminated 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 arises, the dictates of reason must be given priority and revelation interpreted metaphorically through ta’wi>l.

Ibn Taymiyya counters these claims with a comprehensive response, attacking the logical integrity of the Universal Law but also articulating a textual ly self-sufficient hermeneutic and devising a radical reformulation of the philosophers’ ontology, particularly their realist theory of universals which has resulted in a chronic confusion between what exists logically in the mind and what exists 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 undergirded by an expanded notion of the fit}ra. The disparate elements of Ibn Taymiyya’s theory of language, his ontology, and his epistemology eventually converge into a synthesis meant to accommodate a robust and rationally defensible affirmations 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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