Ibn Khaldun and Occasionalism

In Nazif Muhtaroglu (ed.), Occasionalism Revisited. Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates: pp. 61-82 (2017)
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Abstract

Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) is said to be the first scholar to make history and society the direct objects of a systematic science. This paper will examine the role of occasionalism in his thought. This question is interesting because a perennial objection to occasionalism has been that it denies any real natural order, and therefore precludes the possibility of any systematic natural science. If Ibn Khaldun was an occasionalist, then it would mean that one of the earliest pioneers in attempting to apply a systematic scientific method to the study of history and society did so on the basis of an occasionalist understanding of nature and natural order. Then the question of whether and how his scientific methodology is compatible with occasionalism is of interest for both historical and theoretical reasons, in particular for theists who are exploring occasionalism as a potential framework for a coherent understanding of the natural world (including, in this case, its human and social dimensions) as both the manifestation of divine providence and creativity, and as an object of systematic empirical science.

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