Al-Ghazali’s Position on the ‘Second Proof’ of the ‘Philosophers’ for the Eternity of the World, in the First Discussion of the Incoherence of the Philosophers

Sophia 54 (4):429-441 (2015)
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In the Incoherence of the Philosophers, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali raised objections against the doctrine of the ‘philosophers’ on 20 specific points. In the first, and longest discussion, he examines and rebuts four of their proofs of the pre-eternity of the world—that is, that the universe as a whole had no beginning but extends perpetually into the past. Al-Ghazali rejects that doctrine. But his own position on the issue does not become clear until he discusses the philosophers’ ‘second proof.’ In this paper, I will examine the relevant text of the Incoherence of the Philosophers, in order to clarify the nature of Al-Ghazali’s position in relation to the second proof. I will explain why Al-Ghazali cannot adopt what I refer to as the ‘naïve’ theological position, according to which God temporally preceded the world. Instead, Al-Ghazali concurs with the philosophers that time is the measure of motion, but he asserts that time was created with the world, both having a beginning before which there was no time. God, on the other hand, is not temporally prior to the world, but neither is he simultaneous, as the second proof supposes. As timelessly eternal, God bears no temporal relation to the world at all. In conclusion, I describe what I refer to as a naïve philosophical position, which is entailed by the second proof, but distinct from both Al-Ghazali’s position and that adopted by Ibn Rushd in his critique of Al-Ghazali in the Incoherence of the Incoherence. I argue that this naïve philosophical position is incoherent



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An Introduction to Classical Islamic Philosophy.Oliver Leaman - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Oliver Leaman.
Al-ghazali.Frank Griffel - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Ghazali on the Creation vs. Eternity of the World.Raja Bahlul - 1992 - Philosophy and Theology 6 (3):259-275.

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