Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Par pareille moyen on arrive a divers fins.

"Something's existence with a thing does not prove that it exists by that thing."

"We do not claim that these things are necessary [i.e. fire not burning, bread not satisfying]. On the contrary, they are possibilities that may or may not occur. But the continuous habit of their occurence repeatedly, on time after another, fixes unshakably in our minds the belief in their occurance according to past habit."

The foregoing is not from David Hume, but from part seventeen of the Tahafut al-falasifa of Abu Hamid Muhammed ibn Muhammed al-Tusi al-Ghazali--the "Incoherence of the Philosophers," from twelfth century Baghdad. It grounds an argument for miracles, much as Hume relied on such observations to declare them inherently incredible. Thus by similar means we arrive at diverse ends.

There is also that strangely illiberal conclusion to the Enquiry: Examine any book in your library, and, if it lacks "abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number, " or "experiemental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence," "Commit it then to to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion." We can rejoice that Hume's admonition has not been honored in the West, and lament the hand that al-Ghazali, with similar exhortations, had in eventually virtually extinguishing Islamic philosophy.

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