The shackles of reason: Sufi/deconstructive opposition to rational thought

Philosophy East and West 53 (1):22-38 (2003)
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Abstract

: The status of Ibn 'Arabi and Derrida as thinkers is examined: their disagreements with rational/metaphysical thought on the basis of différance and what Ibn 'Arabi calls al-haqq or the Real. Advantage is taken of the fact that both writers speak of emancipatory projects in their work-the freeing of writing from the shackles of logocentric thought and of the unthinkably Divine (the Real) from the constructs of philosophers and theologians. Just as Ibn 'Arabi believes that no thinker can provide ''a definition of the Real [al haqq],'' Derrida insists that no thinker can escape the history of metaphysics. In the work of both, the reaffirmation of something vital, inconstant, and elusive that defeats all attempts to discuss it plays a common role and evolves according to a common structure. If différance and the Real do seem uncannily analogous-sharing, for example, features like namelessness, radical otherness, intangibility/invisibility/unthinkability, and atemporality, not to mention their paradoxically generative functions-there are also a number of significant differences.

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Ian Almond
Georgetown University

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