Te idea of validity

The formative period was distinguished by the role played by Abu Yusuf ibn Ishiq al-Kindi (d. c. 866), sometimes referred to as the ''philosopher of the Arabs'', whose works introduced the idea of the validity of philosophical investigation per se, independently of formal kalam affiliation. This notion of the validity of philosophy as an independent discipline has been fundamental to its development in Islamic history.

Of lasting significance to the position of philosophy is Kindi's principal view, which upholds the validity of revealed truth and at the same time holds that the demonstrative method, known by the term burhan (Arabic for Posterior Analytics, the title of Aristotle's most important book on logical method), is equally capable of recovering the highest form of knowledge. Kindi did not, however, attempt a systematic ''harmonisation'' of revealed truth with philosophy (one of Islamic philosophy's primary goals, also known as the ''rational proof of prophecy''). His main contribution was to identify Greek texts and refine their Arabic translations (some of which he had commissioned). These texts include extensive paraphrases of pre-Socratic authors, Plato's Laws, Timxus and Republic, plus paraphrases of the Phaedo and other Platonic texts; almost the entire Aristotelian corpus minus the Politics; and selected Neoplatonic texts, some incorrectly identified (e.g., parts of Plotinus' Enneads IV-VI, thought to be ''Aristotle's Theology'');as well as works by Porphyry, notably the Isagoge, and by Proclus, together with many other texts and fragments of the Greek philosophical heritage, including some elements of Stoic logic and physics associated with the late antique schools of Alexandria and Athens. In addition, Aristotelian commentaries, including those of Alexander of Aphrodisias along with their Neoplatonist interpretations, were identified and translated.10

The basic character of this period's philosophical method is shown in Kindi's own syncretic approach to the presentation and discussion of philosophical problems. The first attempt to construct a metaphysical system is seen in Kindi's best-known text, On First Philosophy, in which he defines a framework based on Neoplatonist theories of emanation and the concept of the One, plus the basic Aristotelian principles of being and modality as well as the metaphysics of causality and of intellectual knowledge. The latter are given an Arabic version that partially incorporates the Aristotelian and Platonic theories of the soul and the Platonic dialectical method. Kindi argued for creation ex nihilo, based on the Platonic emanation of intellect, soul and matter from the One, but not as any natural causation in which the First Being is created simply by God's eternal will.11 On one of Islamic philosophy's other lasting problems, namely the nature of resurrection, he affirmed the immortality of the individual soul and claimed this to be the rational explanation for resurrection.

Kindi's work thus represents the first serious philosophical discussion of a set of problems formulated by the earlier Mu'tazilite theologians and marks the true genesis of philosophy in the Islamic world. In addition to his attention to cosmological problems surrounding creation ex nihilo, Kindi also addressed epistemological problems that relate to revelation, prophecy and human knowledge.12 His philosophical analysis and the construction of arguments in Arabic, in which he introduces for the first time a well-defined technical language, set the scene and contributed to the acceptance of falsafa as an independent, bona fide science. His arguments plus their corollaries (such as the identification of the God of revelation with the One of Greek cosmological systems on the one hand and with the First Cause of Aristotelian metaphysics on the other), the crucial distinction between divine knowledge and human knowledge, and other analyses, were later rejected, redefined or refined, but his writings, especially in the theoretical domain, describe the basic frame of reference for Islamic philosophy.13

0 0

Post a comment