Ghazali on immaterial substances

In Christian Kanzian & Muhammad Legenhausen (eds.), Substance and Attribute in Islamic Philosophy. Western and Islamic Tradition in Dialogue. Ontos Verlag (2007)

Boris Hennig
Ryerson University
I will in this paper attempt to extract a positive doctrine on the substantiality of the human soul from Ghazali"s critique of the Aristotelian philosophical tradition. Rather than reflecting on the possibilities and limitations of intercultural dialogue, my aim is to directly engage in such dialogue. Accordingly, I will not suppose that we need to develop and apply external standards according to which one of the two philosophical traditions addressed here, Western and Islamic, may turn out to be superior. Up to a certain point, Western and Islamic philosophy are virtually indistinguishable regarding their style, the main topics, and the arguments discussed, which both take over from Aristotle and the Neoplatonists. Further, at least up to Ghazali, no Islamic philosopher actually employs standards of rationality that would differ from the standards also accepted in the West. Ghazali himself would certainly be at least as disturbed by a valid philosophical objection to his claims as any other serious philosopher. He does not pursue another kind of project, but submits to the same standards of truth and validity, as far as philosophical argument reaches. His point is, of course, that these standards do not reach as far as some philosophers suppose. But this, again, is not a particularly "Islamic� insight
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