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AL-ĠAZĀLĪ'S PHILOSOPHERS ON THE DIVINE UNITY

  • ALADDIN M. YAQUB (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

The medieval Islamic philosophers held a certain conception of the divine unity that assumes the necessary existent to be both one and simple. The oneness of the necessary existent meant that it is the only necessary existent and its simplicity meant that it admits no composition whatsoever – it is pure essence and its essence is necessary existence. In The Incoherence of the Philosophers al-Ġazālī presents, with elaboration, an exposition of the philosophers' conception of the divine unity, several arguments for its two components (i.e., oneness and simplicity), and his critique of these arguments. In this paper I focus on six of the arguments attributed to the philosophers. Following the textual evidence, I reconstruct these arguments and offer two possible interpretations of them. The first interpretation, which I call the many-argument interpretation, sees one of the arguments as employing the simplicity of the necessary existent to establish its oneness and the other five arguments as invoking oneness to establish simplicity. The second interpretation, which I call the one-argument interpretation, doesn't offer a new reading for the first argument but sees the other five arguments as defending the simplicity of the necessary existent based on its basic concept. I argue for the superiority of the one-argument interpretation.

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Résumé

Les philosophes de l'Islam classique ont une doctrine de l'unité divine selon laquelle l'existant nécessaire est à la fois unique et simple. Son unicité signifie qu'il est le seul existant nécessaire, sa simplicité qu'il n'admet aucune sorte de composition; il est pure essence et son essence est existence nécessaire. Dans la Destruction des Philosophes, al-Ġazālī présente avec force détails un exposé de la doctrine de l'unité divine des philosophes, plusieurs arguments en faveur de ses deux composantes (l'unicité et la simplicité), ainsi que sa critique de ces arguments. Je me concentre ici sur six des arguments qu'il attribue aux philosophes. En suivant les données textuelles, je reconstruis ces arguments et en propose deux interprétations possibles. La première, que j'appelle l'interprétation “à arguments multiples”, identifie l'un des arguments comme s'appuyant sur la simplicité de l'existant nécessaire pour établir son unicité, et les cinq autres comme s'appuyant sur son unicité pour établir sa simplicité. La seconde, que j'appelle l'interprétation “à argument unique”, conserve la première lecture du premier argument mais voit dans les cinq autres une défense de la simplicité de l'existant nécessaire fondée sur sa notion fondamentale. J'argumente en faveur de la supériorité de l'interprétation “à argument unique”.

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Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
  • ISSN: 0957-4239
  • EISSN: 1474-0524
  • URL: /core/journals/arabic-sciences-and-philosophy
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