Ghazali says:

The so-called natural sciences are many, and we shall enumerate their parts, in order to make it known that the Holy Law does not ask one to contest and refute them, except in certain points we shall mention. ‘ They are divided into principal classes and subdivisions The principal classes are eight. In the first class are treated the divisibility, movement, and change which affect body in so far as it is body, and the relations and consequences of movement like time, space, and void, ‘ and all this is contained in Aristotle’s Physics. The second treats of the disposition of the parts of the elements of the world, namely heaven and the four elements which are within the sphere of the moon, and their natures and the cause of the disposition of each of them in a definite place; and this is contained in Aristotle’s De coelo. The third treats of the conditions of generation and corruption, of equivocal generation and of sexual generation, of growth and decay, of transmutations, and how the species are conserved, whereas the individuals perish through the two heavenly movements (westwards and eastwards), and this is contained in De generatione et corruptione. The fourth treats of the conditions which are found in the four elements through their mixture, by which there occur meteorological phenomena like clouds and rain and thunder, lightning, the halo round the moon, the rainbow, thunderbolts, winds, and earthquakes. The fifth treats of mineralogy, the sixth of botany. The seventh treats of zoology, which is contained in the book Historia animalium. The eighth treats of the soul of animals and the perceptive faculties, and says that the soul of man does not die through the death of his body but that it is a spiritual substance for which annihilation is impossible.

The subdivisions are seven: The first is medicine, whose end is the knowledge of the principles of the human body and its conditions of health and illness, their causes and symptoms, so that illness may be expelled and health preserved. The second, judicial astrology, which conjectures from the aspects and configuration of the stars the conditions which will be found in the world and in the State and the consequences of dates of births and of years. The third is physiognomy, which infers character from the external appearance.‘ The fourth is dream-interpretation, which infers what the soul has witnessed of the world of the occult from dream images, for the imaginative faculty imagines this symbolically. The fifth is the telesmatical art, that is the combination of celestial virtues with some earthly so as to constitute a power which can perform marvellous acts in the earthly world .  The sixth is the art of incantation, which is the mixing of the virtues of earthly substances to produce marvellous things from them. ‘ The seventh is alchemy, whose aim is to change the properties of minerals so that finally gold and silver are produced by a kind of magic. , And there is no need to be opposed to any of these sciences by reason of the Divine Law; we dissent from the philosophers in all these sciences in regard to four points only.

I say:

As to his enumeration of the eight kinds of physical science, this is exact according to the doctrine of Aristotle. But his enumeration of the subdivisions is not correct. Medicine is not one of the natural sciences, but is a practical science which takes its principles from physical science; for physical science is theoretical and medicine is practical, and when we study a problem common to theoretical science and practical we can regard it from two points of view; for instance, in our study of health and illness the student of physics observes health and nature as kinds of natural existents, whereas the physician studies them with the intention of preserving the one, health, and keeping down the other, illness. Neither does judicial astrology belong to physical science; it is only a prognostication of future events, and is of the same type as augury and vaticination. Physiognomy is also of the same kind, except that its object is occult things in the present, not in the future. , The interpretation of dreams too is a prognosticating science, and this type belongs neither to the theoretical nor to the practical sciences, although it is reputed to have a practical value. The telesmatical art is vain, for if we assume the positions of the spheres to exert a power on artificial products, this power will remain inside the product and not pass on to things outside it. As to conjuring, this is the type of thing that produces wonder, but it is certainly not a theoretical science. Whether alchemy really exists is very dubious; if it exists, its artificial product cannot be identical with the product of nature; art can at most become similar to nature but cannot attain nature itself in reality. ‘ As to the question whether it can produce anything which resembles the natural product generically, we do not possess sufficient data to assert categorically its impossibility or possibility, but only prolonged experiments over a lengthy period can procure the necessary evidence. We shall treat the four points Ghazali mentions one after the other.

Ghazali says:

The first point is their assertion that this connexion observed between causes and effects is of logical necessity, and that the existence of the cause without the effect or the effect without the cause is not within the realm of the contingent and possible. The second point is their assertion that human souls are substances existing by themselves, ‘ not imprinted on the body, and that the meaning of death is the end of their attachment to the body and the end of their direction of the body; and that otherwise the soul would exist at any time by itself. They affirm that this is known by demonstrative proof. The third point is their assertion that these souls cannot cease to exist, but that when they exist they are eternal and their annihilation cannot be conceived. ‘ The fourth point is their assertion that these souls cannot return to their bodies. ‘

As to the first point, it is necessary to contest it, for on its negation depends the possibility of affirming the existence of miracles which interrupt the usual course of nature, 4like the changing of the rod into a serpents or the resurrection of the dead or the cleavage of the moon, b and those who consider the ordinary course of nature a logical necessity regard all this as impossible. They interpret the resurrection of the dead in the Qur’an by saying that the cessation of the death of ignorance is to be understood by it, and the rod which conceived the arch-deceiver, the serpent, by saying that it means the clear divine proof in the hands of Moses to refute the false doctrines of the heretics; and as to the cleavage of the moon they often deny that it took place and assert. that it does not rest on a sound tradition; and the philosophers accept miracles that interrupt the usual course of nature only in three cases.

First: in respect to the imaginative faculty they say that when this faculty becomes predominant and strong, and the senses and perceptions do not submerge it, it observes the Indelible Tablet, and the forms of particular events which will happen in the future become imprinted on it; and that this happens to the prophets in a waking condition and to other people in sleep, and that this is a peculiar quality of the imaginative faculty in prophecy.

Secondly: in respect of a property of the rational speculative faculty i. e. intellectual acuteness, that is rapidity in passing from one known thing to another; for often when a problem which has been proved is mentioned to a keen-sighted man he is at once aware of its proof, and when the proof is mentioned to him he understands what is proved by himself, and in general when the middle term occurs to him he is at once aware of the conclusion, and when the two terms of the conclusion are present in his mind the middle term which connects the two terms of the conclusion occurs to him. And in this matter people are different; there are those who understand by themselves, those who understand when the slightest hint is given to them, and those who, being instructed, understand only after much trouble; and while on the one hand it may be assumed that incapacity to understand can reach such a degree that a man does not understand anything at all and has, although instructed, no disposition whatever to grasp the intelligibles, it may on the other hand be assumed that his capacity and proficiency may be so great as to arrive at a comprehension of all the intelligibles or the majority of them in the shortest and quickest time. And this difference exists quantitatively over all or certain problems, and qualitatively so that there is an excellence in quickness and easiness, and the understanding of a holy and pure soul may reach through its acuteness all intelligibles in the shortest time possible; and this is the soul of a prophet, who possesses a miraculous speculative faculty and so far as the intelligibles are concerned is not in need of a teacher; but it is as if he learned by himself, and he it is who is described by the words ‘the oil ofwhich would well-nigh give light though no fire were in contact with it, light upon light’. ‘

Thirdly: in respect to a practical psychological faculty which can reach such a pitch as to influence and subject the things of nature: for instance, when our soul imagines something the limbs and the potencies in these limbs obey it and move in the required direction which we imagine, so that when a man imagines something sweet of taste the corners of his mouth begin to water, and the potency which brings forth the saliva from the places where it is springs- into action, and when coitus is imagined the copulative potency springs into action, and the penis extends;z indeed, when a man walks on a plank between two walls over an empty space, his imagination is stirred by the possibility of falling and his body is impressed by this imagination and in fact he falls, but when this plank is on the earth, he walks over it without falling. ‘ This happens because the body and the bodily faculties are created to be subservient and subordinate to the soul, and there is a difference here according to the purity and the power o: the souls. And it is not impossible that the power of the soul should reach such a degree that also the natural power of things outside a man’s body obeys it, since the soul of man is not impressed on his body although there is created in man’s nature a certain impulse and desire to govern his body. And if it is possible that the limbs of his body should obey him, it is not impossible that other things besides his body should obey him and that his soul should control the blasts of the wind or the downpour of rain, or the striking of a thunderbolt or the trembling of the earth, which causes a land to be swallowed up with its inhabitants. s The same is the case with his influence in producing cold or warmth or a movement in the air; this warmth or cold comes about through his soul, b all these things occur without any apparent physical cause, and such a thing will be a miracle brought about by a prophet. But this only happens in matters disposed to receive it, and cannot attain such a scale that wood could be changed into an animal or that the moon, which cannot undergo cleavage, could be cloven. This is their theory of miracles, and we do not deny anything they have mentioned, and that such things happen to prophets; we are only opposed to their limiting themselves to this, and to their denial of the possibility that a stick might change into a serpent, and of the resurrection of the dead and other things. We must occupy ourselves with this question in order to be able to assert the existence of miracles and for still another reason, namely to give effective support to the doctrine on which the Muslims base their belief that God can do anything. And let us now fulfil our intention.

I say:

The ancient philosophers did not discuss the problem of miracles, since according to them such things must not be examined and questioned; for they are the principles of the religions, and the man who inquires into them and doubts them merits punishment, like the man who examines the other general religious principles, such as whether God exists or blessedness or the virtues. For the existence of all these cannot be doubted, and the mode of their existence is something divine which human apprehension cannot attain. The reason for this is that these are the principles of the acts through which man becomes virtuous, and that one can only attain knowledge after the attainment of virtue. ‘ One must not investigate the principles which cause virtue before the attainment of virtue, and since the theoretical sciences can only be perfected through assumptions and axioms which the learner accepts in the first place, this must be still more the case with the practical sciences.

As to what Ghazali relates of the causes of this as they are according to the philosophers, I do not know anyone who asserts this but Avicenna. And if such facts are verified and it is possible that a body could be changed qualitatively through something which is neither a body nor a bodily potency, ‘ then the reasons he mentions for this are possible; but not everything which in its nature is possible’ can be done by man, for what is possible to man is well known. Most things which are possible in themselves are impossible for man, and what is true of the prophet, that he can interrupt the ordinary course of nature, is impossible for man, but possible in itself; and because of this one need not assume that things logically impossible are possible for the prophets, and if you observe those miracles whose existence is confirmed, you will find that they are of this kind. The clearest of miracles is the Venerable Book of Allah, s the existence of which is not an interruption of the course of nature assumed by tradition, like the changing of a rod into a serpent, but its miraculous nature is established by way of perception and consideration for every man who has been or who will be till the day of resurrection. And so this miracle is far superior to all others.

Let this suffice for the man who is not satisfied with passing this problem over in silence, and may he understand that the argument on which the learned base their belief in the prophets is another, to which Ghazali himself has drawn attention in another place , b namely the act which proceeds from that quality through which the prophet is called prophet, that is the act of making known the mysterious and establishing religious laws which are in accordance with the truth and which bring about acts that will determine the happiness of the totality of mankind. I do not know anyone but Avicenna who has held the theory about dreams Ghazali mentions. The ancient philosophers assert about revelation and dreams only that they proceed from God through the intermediation of a spiritual incorporeal being which is according to them the bestower of the human intellect, and which is called by the best authors the active intellect and in the Holy Law angel. We shall now return to Ghazali’s four points.


Ghazali says:

According to us the connexion between what is usually believed to be a cause and what is believed to be an effect is not a necessary connexion; each of two things has its own individuality and is not the other, ‘ and neither the affirmation nor the negation, neither the existence nor the non-existence of the one is implied in the affirmation, negation, existence, and non-existence of the other-e. g. the satisfaction of thirst does not imply drinking, nor satiety eating, nor burning contact with fire, nor light sunrise, nor decapitation death, nor recovery the drinking of medicine, nor evacuation the taking of a purgative, and so on for all the empirical connexions existing in medicine, astronomy, the sciences, and the crafts. For the connexion in these things is based on a prior power of God to create them in a successive order, though not because this connexion is necessary in itself and cannot be disjoined-on the contrary, it is in God’s power to create satiety without eating, and death without decapitation, and to let life persist notwithstanding the decapitation, and so on with respect to all connexions. The philosophers, however, deny this possibility and claim that that is impossible. To investigate all these innumerable connexions would take us too long, and so we shall choose one single example, namely the burning of cotton through contact with fire; for we regard it as possible that the contact might occur without the burning taking place, and also that the cotton might be changed into ashes without any contact with fire, although the philosophers deny this possibility. The discussion of this matter has three points.

The first is that our opponent claims that the agent of the burning is the fire exclusively;’ this is a natural, not a voluntary agent, and cannot abstain from what is in its nature when it is brought into contact with a receptive substratum. This we deny, saying: The agent of the burning is God, through His creating the black in the cotton and the disconnexion of its parts, and it is God who made the cotton burn and made it ashes either through the intermediation of angels or without intermediation. For fire is a dead body which has no action, and what is the proof that it is the agent? Indeed, the philosophers have no other proof than the observation of the occurrence of the burning, when there is contact with fire, but observation proves only a simultaneity, ‘ not a causation, and, in reality, there is no other cause but God . For there is unanimity of opinion about the fact that the union of the spirit with the perceptive and moving faculties in the sperm of animals does not originate in the natures contained in warmth, cold, moistness, and dryness, and that the father is neither the agent of the embryo through introducing the sperm into the uterus, nor the agent of its life, its sight and hearing, and all its other faculties. And although it is well known that the same faculties exist in the father, still nobody thinks that these faculties exist through him; no, their existence is produced by the First either directly or through the intermediation of the angels who are in charge of these events. ‘ Of this fact the philosophers who believe in a creator are quite convinced, but it is precisely with them that we are in dispute.

It has been shown that coexistence does not indicate causation. We shall make this still more clear through an example. Suppose that a man blind from birth, whose eyes are veiled by a membrane and who has never heard people talk of the difference between night and day, has the membrane removed from his eyes by day and sees visible things, he will surely think then that the actual perception in his eyes of the forms of visible things is caused by the opening of his eyelids, and that as long as his sight is sound and in function, the hindrance removed and the object in front of him visible, he will, without doubt, be able to see, and he will never think that he will not see, till, at the moment when the sun sets and the air darkens, he will understand that it was the light of the sun which impressed the visible forms on his sight. And for what other reason do our opponents believe that in the principles of existences there are causes and influences from which the events which coincide with them proceed, than that they are constant, do not disappear, and are not moving bodies which vanish from sight? For if they disappeared or vanished we should observe the disjunction and understand then that behind our perceptions there exists a cause. And out of this there is no issue, according to the very conclusions of the philosophers themselves.

The true philosophers’ were therefore unanimously of the opinion that these accidents and events which occur when there is a contact of bodies, or in general a change in their positions, proceed from the bestower of forms who is an angel or a plurality of angels, so that they even said that the impression of the visible forms on the eye occurs through the bestower of forms, and that the rising of the sun, the soundness of the pupil, and the existence of the visible object are only the preparations and dispositions which enable the substratum to receive the forms; and this theory they applied to all events. And this refutes the claim of those who profess that fire is the agent of burning, bread the agent of satiety, medicine the agent of health, and so on.

I say:

To deny the existence of efficient causes which are observed in sensible things is sophistry, and he who defends this doctrine either denies with his tongue what is present in his mind or is carried away by a sophistical doubt which occurs to him concerning this question. For he who denies this can no longer acknowledge that every act must have an agent. The question whether these causes by themselves are sufficient to perform the acts which proceed from them, or need an external cause for the perfection of their act, whether separate or not, is not self-evident and requires much investigation and research. And if the theologians had doubts about the efficient causes which are perceived to cause each other, because there are also effects whose cause is not perceived, this is illogical. Those things whose causes are not perceived are still unknown and must be investigated, precisely because their causes are not perceived; and since everything whose causes are not perceived is still unknown by nature and must be investigated, it follows necessarily that what is not unknown has causes which are perceived. ‘ The man who reasons like the theologians does not distinguish between what is self-evident and what is unknown, z and everything Ghazali says in this passage is sophistical.

And further, what do the theologians say about the essential causes, the understanding of which alone can make a thing understood? For it is self-evident that things have essences and attributes which determine the special functions of each thing and through which the essences and names of things are differentiated. If a thing had not its specific nature, it would not have a special name nor a definition, and all things would be one-indeed, not even one; for it might be asked whether this one has one special act or one special passivity or not, and if it had a special act, then there would indeed exist special acts proceeding from special natures, but if it had no single special act, then the one would not be one . But if the nature of oneness is denied, the nature of being is denied, and the consequence of the denial of being is nothingness. ‘

Further, are the acts which proceed from all things absolutely necessary for those in whose nature it lies to perform them, or are they only performed in most cases or in half the cases? I This is a question which must be investigated, since one single action-and passivity between two existent things occurs only through one relation out of an infinite number, and it happens often that one relation hinders another. Therefore it is not absolutely certain that fire acts when it is brought near a sensitive body,  for surely it is not improbable that there should be something which stands in such a relation to the sensitive thing as to hinder the action of the fire, as is asserted of talc and other things. But one need not therefore deny fire its burning power so long as fire keeps its name and definition.

Further, it is self-evident that all events have four causes, agent, form, matter, and end, and that they are necessary for the existence of the effects-especially those causes which form a part of the effect, namely that which is called by the philosophers matter, by the theologians condition and substratum, and that which is called by the philosophers form, by the theologians psychological quality . The theologians acknowledge that there exist conditions which are necessary to the conditioned, as when they say that life is a condition of knowledge; and they equally recognize that things have realities and definitions, and that these are necessary for the existence of the existent, and therefore they here judge the visible and the invisible according to one and the same scheme. ‘ And they adopt the same attitude towards the consequences of a thing’s essence, namely what they call ‘sign’, as for instance when they say that the harmony in the world indicates that its agent possesses mind and that the existence of a world having a design indicates that its agent knows this world? Now intelligence is nothing but the perception of things with their causes, and in this it distinguishes itself from all the other faculties of apprehension, and he who denies causes must deny the intellect. Logic implies the existence of causes and effects, and knowledge of these effects can only be rendered perfect through knowledge of their causes. Denial of cause implies the denial of knowledge, and denial of knowledge implies that nothing in this world can be really known, and that what is supposed to be known is nothing but opinion, that neither proof nor definition exist, and that the essential attributes which compose definitions are void. The man who denies the necessity of any item of knowledge must admit that even this, his own affirmation, is not necessary knowledge.

As to those who admit that there exists, besides necessary knowledge, knowledge which is not necessary, about which the soul forms a judgement on slight evidence and imagines it to be necessary, whereas it is not necessary, the philosophers do not deny this. And if they call such a fact ‘habit’ this may be granted, but otherwise I do not know what they understand by the term ‘habit’-whether they mean that it is the habit of the agent, the habit of the existing things, or our habit to form a judgement about such things? ‘ It is, however, impossible that God should have a habit, for a habit is a custom which the agent acquires and from which a frequent repetition of his act follows, whereas God says in the Holy Book: ‘Thou shalt not find any alteration in the course of God, and they shall not find any change in the course of God. ‘If they mean a habit in existing things, habit can only exist in the animated;; if it exists in something else, it is really a nature, and it is not possible that a thing should have a nature which determined it either necessarily or in most cases. If they mean our habit of forming judgements about things, such a habit is nothing but an act of the soul which is determined by its nature and through which the intellect becomes intellect. The philosophers do not deny such a habit; but ‘habit’ is an ambiguous term, and if it is analysed it means only a hypothetical act; as when we say ‘So-and-so has the habit of acting in such-and-such a way’, meaning that he will act in that way most of the time. If this were true, everything would be the case only by supposition, and there would be no wisdom in the world from which it might be inferred that its agent was wise.

And, as we said, we need not doubt that some of these existents cause each other and act through each other, and that in themselves they do not suffice for their act, but that they are in need of an external agent whose act is a condition of their act, and not only of their act but even of their existence. However, about the essence of this agent or of these agents the philosophers differ in one way, although in another they agree. They all agree in this, that the First Agent is immaterial and that its act is the condition of the existence and acts of existents, and that the act of their agent reaches these existents through the intermediation of an effect of this agent, which is different from these existents and which, according to some of them, is exclusively the heavenly sphere, whereas others assume besides this sphere another immaterial existent which they call the bestower of forms.

But this is not the place to investigate these theories, and the highest part of their inquiry is this; and if you are one of those who desire these truths, then follow the right road which leads to them. The reason why the philosophers differed about the origin of the essential forms and especially of the forms of the soul is that they could not relate them to the warm, cold, moist, and dry, which are the causes of all natural things which come into being and pass away, ‘ whereas the materialists related everything which does not seem to have an apparent cause to the warm, cold, moist, and dry, affirming that these things originated through certain mixtures of those elements, just as colours and other accidents come into existence. And the philosophers tried to refute them.

Ghazali says:

Our second point is concerned with those who acknowledge that these events proceed from their principles, but say that the disposition to receive the forms arises from their observed and apparent causes. However, according to them also the events proceed from these principles not by deliberation and will, but by necessity and nature, as light does from the sun, and the substrata differ for their reception only through the differentiations in their disposition. For instance, a polished body receives the rays of the sun, reflects them and illuminates another spot with them, whereas an opaque body does not receive them; the air does not hinder the penetration of the sun’s light, but a stone does; certain things become soft through the sun, others hard;’ certain things, like the garments which the fuller bleaches, become white through the sun, others like the fuller’s face become black: the principle is, however, one and the same, although the effects differ through the differences of disposition in the substratum. Thus there is no hindrance or incapacity in the emanation of what emanates from the principles of existence; the insufficiency lies only in the receiving substrata. If this is true, and we assume a fire that has the quality it has, and two similar pieces of cotton in the same contact with it, how can it be imagined that only one and not the other will be burned, as there is here no voluntary act? And from this point of view they deny that Abraham could fall into the fire and not be burned notwithstanding the fact that the fire remained fire, and they affirm that this could only be possible through abstracting the warmth from the fire (through which it would, however, cease to be fire) or through changing the essence of Abraham and making him a stone or something on which fire has no influence, and neither the one nor the other is possible.

I say:

Those philosophers who say that these perceptible existents do not act on each other, and that their agent is exclusively an external principle, cannot affirm that their apparent action on each other is totally illusory, but would say that this action is limited to preparing the disposition to accept the forms from the external principle. However, I do not know any philosopher who affirms this absolutely; they assert this only of the essential forms, not of the forms of accidents. They all agree that warmth causes warmth, and that all the four qualities act likewise, but in such a way that through it the elemental fire’ and the warmth which proceeds from the heavenly bodies are conserved. The theory which Ghazali ascribes to the philosophers, that the separate principles act by nature, not by choice, is not held by any important philosophers; on the contrary, the philosophers affirm that that which possesses knowledge must act by choice. However, according to the philosophers, in view of the excellence which exists in the world, there can proceed out of two contraries only the better, and their choice is not made to perfect their essences-since there is no imperfection in their essence-but in order that through it those existents which have an imperfection in their nature may be perfected.

As to the objection which Ghazali ascribes to the philosophers over the miracle of Abraham, such things are only asserted by heretical Muslims. The learned among the philosophers do not permit discussion or disputation about the principles of religion, and he who does such a thing needs, according to them, a severe lesson. For whereas every science has its principles, and every student of this science must concede its principles and may not interfere with them by denying them, this is still more obligatory in the practical science of religion, for to walk on the path of the religious virtues is necessary for man’s existence, according to them, not in so far as he is a man, but in so far as he has knowledge; and therefore it is necessary for every man to concede the principles of religion and invest with authority the man who lays them down. The denial and discussion of these principles denies human existence, and therefore heretics must be killed. Of religious principles it must be said that they are divine things which surpass human understanding, but must be acknowledged although their causes are unknown.

Therefore we do not find that any of the ancient philosophers discusses miracles, although they were known and had appeared all over the world, for they are the principles on which religion is based and religion is the principle of the virtues; nor did they discuss any of the things which are said to happen after death. For if a man grows up according to the religious virtues he becomes absolutely virtuous, and if time and felicity are granted to him, so that he becomes one of the deeply learned thinkers and it happens that he can explain one of the principles of religion, it is enjoined upon him that he should not divulge this explanation and should say ‘all these are the terms of religion and the wise’, conforming himself to the Divine Words, ‘but those who are deeply versed in knowledge say: we believe in it, it is all from our Lord’. ‘

Ghazali says:

There are two answers to this theory. The first is to say: ‘We do not accept the assertion that the principles do not act in a voluntary way and that God does not act through His will, and we have already refuted their claim in treating of the question of the temporal creation of the world. If it is established that the Agent creates the burning through His will when the piece of cotton is brought in contact with the fire, He can equally well omit to create it when the contact takes place.

I say:

Ghazali, to confuse his opponent, here regards as established what his opponent refuses to admit, and says that his opponent has no proof for his refusal. He says that the First Agent causes the burning without an intermediary He might have created in order that the burning might take place through the fire. But such a claim abolishes any perception of the existence of causes and effects. No philosopher doubts that, for instance, the fire is the cause of the burning which occurs in the cotton through the fire-not, however, absolutely, but by an external principle which is the condition of the existence of fire, not to speak of its burning. The philosophers differ only about the quiddity of this principle-whether it is a separate principle, or an intermediary between the event and the separate principle besides the fire.

Ghazali says, on behalf of the philosophers:

But it may be said that such a conception involves reprehensible impossibilities. For if you deny the necessary dependence of effects or their causes and relate them to the will of their Creator, and do not allow even in the will a particular definite pattern, but regard it as possible that it may vary and change in type, then it may happen to any of us that there should be in his presence beasts of prey and flaming fires and immovable mountains and enemies equipped with arms, without his seeing them, because God had not created in him the faculty of seeing them. And a man who had left a book at home might find it on his return changed into a youth, handsome, intelligent, and efficient, or into an animal; or if he left a youth at home, he might find him turned into a dog; or he might leave ashes and find them changed into musk; or a stone changed into gold, and gold changed into stone. And if he were asked about any of these things, he would answer: ‘I do not know what there is at present in my house; I only know that I left a book in my house, but perhaps by now it is a horse which has soiled the library with its urine and excrement, and I left in my house a piece of bread which has perhaps changed into an apple-tree. ‘ For God is able to do’ all these things, and it does not belong to the necessity of a horse that it should be created from a sperm, nor is it of the necessity of a tree that it should be created from a seed; no, there is no necessity that it should be created out of anything at all. And perhaps God creates things which never existed before; indeed, when one sees a man one never saw before and is asked whether this man has been generated, one should answer hesitantly: ‘It may be that he was one of the fruits in the market which has been changed into a man, and that this is that man. ‘ For God can do any possible thing, and this is possible, and one cannot avoid being perplexed by it; and to this kind of fancy one may yield ad infinitum, but these examples will do. ‘

But the answer is to say: If it were true that the existence of the possible implied that there could not be created in man any knowledge of the non-occurrence of a possible, all these consequences would follow necessarily. But we are not at a loss over any of the examples which you have brought forward. For God has created in us the knowledge that He will not do all these possible things, and we only profess that these things are not necessary, but that they are possible and may or may not happen, and protracted habit time after time fixes their occurrence in our minds according to the past habit in a fixed impression. Yes, it is possible that a prophet should know in such ways as the philosophers have explained that a certain man will not come tomorrow from a journey, and although his coming is possible the prophet knows that this possibility will not be realized. And often you may observe even ordinary men of whom you know that they are not aware of anything occult, and can know the intelligible only through instruction, and still it cannot be denied that nevertheless their soul and conjecturing power’ can acquire sufficient strength to apprehend what the prophets apprehend in so far as they know the possibility of an event, but know that it will not happen. And if God interrupts the habitual course by causing this unusual event to happen this knowledge of the habitual is at the time of the interruption removed from their hearts and He no longer creates it. There is, therefore, no objection to admitting that a thing may be possible for God, but that He had the previous knowledge that although He might have done so He would not carry it out during a certain time, and that He has created in us the knowledge that He would not do it during that time.

I say:

When the theologians admit that the opposite of everything existing is equally possible, and that it is such in regard to the Agent, and that only one of these opposites can be differentiated through the will of the Agent, there is no fixed standard for His will either constantly or for most cases, according to which things must happen. For this reason the theologians are open to all the scandalous implications with which they are charged. For true knowledge is the knowledge of a thing as it is in reality. ‘ And if in reality there only existed, in regard both to the substratum and to the Agent, the possibility of the two opposites, ; there would no longer, even for the twinkling of an eye, be any permanent knowledge of anything, since we suppose such an agent to rule existents like a tyrannical prince who has the highest power, for whom nobody in his dominion can deputize, of whom no standard or custom is known to which reference might be made. Indeed, the acts of such a prince will undoubtedly be unknown by nature, and if an act of his comes into existence the continuance of its existence at any moment will be unknown by nature.

Ghazali’s defence against these difficulties that God created in us the knowledge that these possibilities would be realized only at special times, such as at the time of the miracle, is not a true one. For the knowledge created in us is always in conformity with the nature of the real thing, since the definition of truth is that a thing is believed to be such as it is in reality. b If therefore there is knowledge of these possibles, there must be in the real possibles a condition to which our knowledge refers, either through these possibles themselves or through the agent, or for both reasons-a condition which the theologians call habit. ? And since the existence of this condition which is called habit is impossible in the First Agent, this condition can only be found in the existents, and this, as we said, is what the philosophers call nature.

The same congruity exists between God’s knowledge and the existents, although God’s knowledge of existents is their cause, and these existents are the consequence of God’s knowledge, and therefore reality conforms to God’s knowledge . If, for instance, knowledge of Zaid’s coming reaches the prophet through a communication of God, the reason why the actual happening is congruous with the knowledge is nothing but the fact that the nature of the actually existent’, ‘ is a consequence of the eternal knowledge, for knowledge qua knowledge can only refer to something which has an actualized nature. ‘ I The knowledge of the Creator is the reason why this nature becomes actual in the existent which is attached to it. ‘ Our ignorance of these possibles is brought about through our ignorance of the nature which determines the being or non-being of a thing. If the opposites in existents were in a condition of equilibrium, both in themselves and through their efficient causes, it would follow that they neither existed nor did not exist, or that they existed and did not exist at the same time, and one of the opposites must therefore have a preponderance in existence. And it is the knowledge of the existence of this nature which causes the actualization of one of the opposites. And the knowledge attached to this nature is either a knowledge prior to it, and this is the knowledge of which this nature is the effect, namely eternal knowledge, or the knowledge which is consequent on this nature, namely non-eternal knowledge. The attainment of the occult is nothing but the vision of this nature, and our acquisition of this knowledge not preceded by any proof is what is called in ordinary human beings a dream, and in prophets inspiration. The eternal will and eternal knowledge are the causes of this nature in existents. And this is the meaning of the Divine Words: ‘Say that none in the heavens or on the earth know the occult but God alone. ‘This nature is sometimes necessary and sometimes what happens in most cases. ‘ Dreams and inspiration are only, as we said, the announcement of this nature in possible things, and the sciences which claim the prognostication of future events possess only rare traces of the influences of this nature or constitution or whatever you wish to call it, namely that which is actualized in itself and to which the knowledge attaches itself.

Ghazali says:

The second answer-and in it is to be found deliverance from these reprehensible consequencesb-is to agree that in fire there is created a nature which burns two similar pieces of cotton which are brought into contact with it and does not differentiate between them, when they are alike in every respect. ? But still we regard it as possible that a prophet should be thrown into the fire and not burn, either through a change in the quality of the fire or through a change in the quality of the prophet, and that either through God or through the angels there should arise a quality in the fire which limited its heat to its own body, so that it did not go beyond it, but remained confined to it, keeping, however, to the form and reality of the fire, without its heat and influence extending beyond it; or that there should arise in the body of the person an attribute, which did not stop the body from being flesh and bone, but still defended it against the action of the fire. For we can see a man rub himself with talc and sit down in a lighted oven and not suffer from it; and if one had not seen it, one would deny it, and the denial of our opponents that it lies in God’s power to confer on the fire or to the body an attribute which prevents it from being burnt is like the denial of one who has not seen the talc and its effect. ‘ For strange and marvellous things are in the power of God, many of which we have not seen, and “, by should we deny their possibility and regard them as impossible?

And also the bringing back to life of the dead and the changing of a stick into a serpent are possible in the following way: matter can receive any form, and therefore earth and the other elements can be changed into a plant, and a plant, when an animal eats it, can be changed into blood, ‘ then blood can be changed into sperm , and then sperm can be thrown into the womb and take the character of an animal. , This, in the habitual course of nature, takes place over a long space of time, but why does our opponent declare it impossible that matter should pass through these different phases in a shorter period than is usual, and when once a shorter period is allowed there is no limit to its being shorter and shorter, so that these potencies can always become quicker in their action and eventually arrive at the stage of being a miracle of a prophet.

And if it is asked: ‘Does this arise through the soul of the prophet or through another principle at the instigation of the prophet? ‘-we answer: ‘Does what you acknowledge may happen through the power of the prophet’s soul, like the downpour of rain or the falling of a thunderbolt or earthquakes-does that occur through him or through another principle? What we say about the facts which we have mentioned is like what you say about those facts which you regard as possible. And the best method according to both you and us is to relate these things to God, either immediately or through the intermediation of the angels. But at the time these occurrences become real, the attention of the prophet turns to such facts, and the order of the good determines its appearance to ensure the duration of the order of religion, and this gives a preponderance to the side of existence. The fact in itself is possible, and the principle in God is His magnanimity; but such a fact only emanates from Him when necessity gives a preponderance to its existence and the good determines it, and the good only determines it when a prophet needs it to establish his prophetic office for the promulgation of the good. ‘‘

And all this is in accordance with the theory of the philosophers and follows from it for them, since they allow to the prophet a particular characteristic which distinguishes him from common people. There is no intellectual criterion for the extent of its possibility, but there is no need to declare it false when it rests on a good tradition and the religious law states it to be true. Now, in general, it is only the sperm which accepts the form of animals-and it receives its animal potencies only- from the angels, who according to the philosophers, are the principles of existents -and only a man can be created from the sperm of a man, and only a horse from the sperm of a horse, in so far as the actualization of the sperm through the horse determines the preponderance of the analogous form of a horse over all other forms, and it accepts only the form to which in this way the preponderance is given, and therefore barley never grows from wheat or an apple from a pear. ‘ Further, we see that certain kinds of animal are only produced by spontaneous generation from earth and never are generated by procreation-e. g. worms, and some which are produced both spontaneously and by procreation like the mouse, the serpent, and the scorpion, for their generation can come also from earth. Their disposition to accept forms varies through causes unknown to us, and it is not in human power to ascertain them, since those forms do not, according to the philosophers, emanate from the angels by their good pleasure or haphazard, ‘ but in every substratum only in such a way that a form arises for whose acceptance it is specially determined through its own disposition. These dispositions differ, and their principles are, according to the philosophers, the aspects of the stars and the different relative positions of the heavenly bodies in their movements. And through this the possibility is open that there may be in the principles of these dispositions wonderful and marvellous things, so that those who understand talismans through their knowledge of the particular qualities of minerals and of the stars succeed in combining the heavenly potencies with those mineral peculiarities, and make shapes of these earthly substances, and seek a special virtue for them and produce marvellous things in the world through them. And often they drive serpents and scorpions from a country, and sometimes bugs, and they do other things which are known to belong to the science of talismans.

And since there is no fixed criterion for the principles of these dispositions, and we cannot ascertain their essence or limit them, how can we know that it is impossible that in certain bodies dispositions occur to change their phases at a quicker rhythm, so that such a body would be disposed to accept a form for the acceptance of which it was not prepared before, which is claimed to be a miracle? There is no denying this, except through a lack of understanding and an unfamiliarity with higher things and oblivion of the secrets of God in the created world and in nature. And he who has examined the many wonders of the sciences does not consider in any way impossible for God’s power what is told of the wonders of the prophets.

Our opponents may say: ‘We agree with you that everything possible is in the power of God, and you theologians agree with us that the impossible cannot be done and that there are things whose impossibility is known and things which are known to be possible, and that there are also things about which the understanding is undecided and which it does not hold to be either impossible or possible. Now what according to you is the limit of the impossible? If the impossible includes nothing but the simultaneous affirmation and negation of the same thing, then say that of two things the one is not the other, and that the existence of the one does not demand the existence of the other. And say then that God can create will without knowledge of the thing willed, and knowledge without life, ‘ and that He can move the hand of a dead man and make him sit and write volumes with his hand and engage himself in sciences while he has his eye open and his looks are fixed on his work, although he does not see and there is no life in him and he has no power, and it is God alone who creates all these ordered actions with the moving of the dead man’s hand, and the movement comes from God. But by regarding this as possible the difference between voluntary action and a reflex action like shivering is destroyed, and a judicious act will no longer indicate that the agent possesses knowledge or power It will then be necessary that God should be able to change genera and transform the substance into an accident and knowledge into power and black into white and a voice into an odour, just as He is able to change the inorganic into an animal and a stone into gold, and it will then follow that God can also bring about other unlimited impossibilities. ‘

The answer to this is to say that the impossible cannot be done by God, and the impossible consists in the simultaneous affirmation and negation of a thing, or the affirmation of the more particular with the negation of the more general, or the affirmation of two things with the negation of one of them, and what does not refer to this is not impossible and what is not impossible can be done. The identification of black and white is impossible, because by the affirmation of the form of black in the substratum the negation of the form of white and of the existence of white is implied; and since the negation of white is implied by the affirmation of black, the simultaneous affirmation and negation of white is impossible. ‘ And the existence of a person in two places at once is only impossible because we imply by his being in the house that he cannot be in another place, and it cannot be understood from the denial that he is in another place that he can be simultaneously both in another place and in the house. And in the same way by will is implied the seeking of something that can be known, and if we assume a seeking without knowledge there cannot be a will and we would then deny what we had implied. And it is impossible that in the inorganic knowledge should be created, because we understand by inorganic that which does not perceive, and if in the organic perception was created it would become impossible to call it inorganic in the sense in which this word is understood.

As to the transformation of one genus into another, some theologians affirm that it is in the power of Gods but we say that for one thing to become another is irrational; for, if for instance, the black could be transformed into power, the black would either remain or not, and if it does not exist any more, it is not changed but simply does not exist any more and something else exists; and if it remains existent together with power, it is not changed, but something else is brought in relation to it, and if the black remains and power does not exist, then it does not change, but remains as it was before. And when we say that blood changes into sperm, we mean by it that this identical matter is divested of one form and invested with another; and it amounts to this, that one form becomes nonexistent and another form comes into existence while the matter remains, and that two forms succeed one another in it. And when we say that water becomes air through being heated, we mean by it that the matter which had received the form of the water is deprived of this form and takes another, and the matter is common to them but the attribute changes. And it is the same when we say that the stick is changed into a serpent or earth into an animal. But there is no matter common to the accident and the substance, nor to black and to power, nor to the other categories, and it is impossible for this reason that they should be changed into each other.

As to God’s moving the hand of a dead man, and raising this man up in the form of a living one who sits and writes, so that through the movement of his hand a well-ordered script is written, this in itself is not impossible as long as we refer events to the will of a voluntary being, and it is only to be denied because the habitual course of nature is in opposition to it. And your affirmation, philosophers, that, if this is so, the judiciousness of an act no longer indicates that the agent possesses knowledge is false, for the agent in this case is God; He determines the act and He performs it. And as to your assertion that if this is so there is no longer any difference between shivering and voluntary motion, we answer that we know this difference only because we experience in ourselves the difference between these two conditions, and we find thereby that the differentiating factor is power, ‘ and know that of the two classes of the possible the one happens at one time, the other at another; that is to say, we produce movement with the power to produce it at one time, and a movement without this power at another. Now, when we observe other movements than ours and see many well-ordered movements, we attain knowledge of the power behind them, and God creates in us all these different kinds of knowledge through the habitual course of events, through which one of the two classes of possibility becomes known, though the impossibility of the second class is not proved thereby.

I say:

When Ghazali saw that the theory that things have no particular qualities and forms from which particular acts follow, for every thing is very objectionable, and contrary to common sense, he conceded this in this last section and replaced it by the denial of two points: first that a thing can have these qualities but that they need not act on a thing in the way they usually act on it, e. g. fire can have its warmth but need not burn something that is brought near to it,  even if it is usually burnt when fire is brought near to it; secondly that the particular forms have not a particular matter in every object.

The first point can be accepted by the philosophers, for because of external causes the procession of acts from agents may not be necessary, ‘ and it is not impossible that for instance fire may sometimes be brought near cotton without burning it, when something is placed with the cotton that makes it non-inflammable, as Ghazali says in his instance of talc and a living being.

As to the point that matter is one of the conditions for material things, this cannot be denied by the theologians, for, as Ghazali says, there is no difference between our simultaneous negation and affirmation of a thing and our simultaneous denial of part of it and affirmation of the whole. And since things consist of two qualities, a general and a particular-and this is what the philosophers mean by the term ‘definition’, a definition being composed according to them of a genus and a specific difference-it is indifferent for the denial of an existent which of its two qualities is denied. For instance, since man consists of two qualities, one being a general quality, viz. animality, and the second a particular, viz. rationality, man remains man just as little when we take away his animality as when we take away his rationality, for animality is a condition of rationality and when the condition is removed the conditioned is removed equally.

On this question the theologians and the philosophers agree, except that the philosophers believe that for particular things the general qualities are just as much a condition as the particular, and this the theologians do not believe; for the philosophers, for instance, warmth and moisture are a condition of life in the transient, because they are more general than life, just as life is a condition of rationality. But the theologians do not believe this, and so you hear them say: ‘For us dryness and moisture are not a condition of life. ‘ For the philosophers shape, too, is one of the particular conditions of life in an organic being; if not, one of two following cases might arise: either the special shape of the animal might exist without exercising any function, or this special shape might not exist at all. ‘ For instance, for the philosophers the hand is the organ of the intellect, and by means of it man performs his rational acts, like writing and the carrying on of the other arts; now if intelligence were possible in the inorganic, it would be possible that intellect might exist without performing its function, and it would be as if warmth could exist without warming the things that are normally warmed by it. b Also, according to the philosophers, every existent has a definite quantity and a definite quality, and also the time when it comes into existence and during which it persists are determined, although in all these determinations there is, according to the philosophers, a certain latitude. ‘

Theologians and philosophers agree that the matter of existents which participate in one and the same matter sometimes accepts one of two forms and sometimes its opposite, as happens, according to them, with the forms of the four elements, fire, air, water, and earth. Only in regard to the things which have no common matter or which have different matters do they disagree whether some of them can accept the forms of others-for instance, whether something which is not known by experience to accept a certain form except through many intermediaries can also accept this ultimate form without intermediaries. For instance, the plant comes into existence through composition out of the elements; it becomes blood and sperm through being eaten by an animal and from sperm and blood comes the animal, as is said in the Divine Words: ‘We created man from an extract of clay, then We made him a clot in a sure depository’’ and so on till His words ‘and blessed be God, the best of creators’. The theologians affirm that the soul of man can inhere in earth without the intermediaries known by experience, whereas the philosophers deny this and say that, if this were possible, wisdom would consist in the creation of man without such intermediaries, and a creator who created in such a way would be the best and most powerful of creators; both parties claim that what they say is selfevident, and neither has any proof for its theory. And you, reader, consult your heart; it is your duty to believe what it announces, and this is what God-who may make us and you into men of truth and evidence-has ordained for you.

But some of the Muslims have even affirmed that there can be attributed to God the power to combine the two opposites, and their dubious proof is that the judgement of our intellect that this is impossible is something which has been impressed on the intellect, whereas if there had been impressed on it the judgement that this is possible, it would not deny this possibility, but admit it. For such people it follows as a consequence that neither intellect nor existents have a well-defined nature, and that the truth which exists in the intellect does not correspond to the existence of existing things. The theologians themselves are ashamed of such a theory, but if they held it, it would be more consistent with their point of view than the contradictions in which their opponents involve them on this point. For their opponents try to find out where the difference lies between what as a matter of fact the theologians affirm on this point and what they deny, and it is very difficult for them to make this out-indeed they do not find anything but vague words. We find, therefore, that those most expert in the art of theological discussion take refuge in denying the necessary connexion between condition and conditioned, between a thing and its definition, between a thing and its cause and between a thing and its sign. All this is full of sophistry and is without sense, and the theologian who did this was Abu-l-Ma’ali. ‘ The general argument which solves these difficulties is that existents are divided into opposites and correlates, and if the latter could be separated, the former might be united, but opposites are not united and correlates therefore cannot be separated. And this is the wisdom of God and God’s course in created things, and you will never find in God’s course any alteration. ‘ And it is through the perception of this wisdom that the intellect of man becomes intellect, and the existence of such wisdom in the eternal intellect is the cause of its existence in reality. The intellect therefore is not a possible entity which might have been created with other qualities, as Ibn Hazm imagined.


Their impotence to show by demonstrative proof that the human soul is a spiritual substance which exists by itself and does not fill space, is neither body nor impressed on a body, is neither continuous with the body nor separated from the body, just as neither God nor the angels according to them is outside or inside the world

Ghazali says:

The discussion of this question demands the exposition of their theory about the animal and human faculties. s The animal faculties are divided according to them into motive and apprehensive, and the apprehensive are of two classes, the external and the internal. The external are the five senses, and these faculties are entities impressed on the bodies. b The internal are three in number. ? The first is the representative faculty in the foremost part of the brain behind the faculty of sight; in it the forms of the things seen remain after the closing of the eye, and in this faculty there is impressed and collected what the five senses bring to it, and it is therefore called the common sense. If it did not exist, a man who saw white honey and perceives its sweetness by taste could not, when he saw it a second time, apprehend its sweetness as long as he had not tasted it as he did the first time, but in the common sense there is something which judges that this white is the sweetness, and there is in it, no doubt, a judging element for which both these things, colour and sweetness, are brought together and which determines then that when the one is present the other must be there too. ‘

The second is the estimative faculty which is that which apprehends the intentions’ whereas the first apprehends the forms;^ and the meaning of ‘forms’ is ‘that which cannot be without matter, i. e. body’, whereas the meaning of ‘intentions’ is ‘that which does not require a body for its existence, although it can happen that it occurs in a body’-like enmity and concord. The sheep perceives the colour, shape, and appearance of the wolf, which are only found in body, but it perceives also that the wolf is its enemy, and the lamb perceives the shape and colour of its mother and then perceives its love and tenderness, and for this reason it flees from the wolf while it walks behind the mother. Discord and concord need not be in bodies like colour and shape, but it sometimes happens that they occur in bodies. This faculty differs from the first, and is located in the posterior ventricle of the brains

The third faculty is called in animals the imaginative and in man the cogitative, b and its nature is to combine the sensible forms and to compose the intentions with the farms:’ it is located in the middle ventricle between the place where the forms are kept and that where the intentions are retained. s Because of this man can imagine a horse that flies and a being with the head of a man and the body of a horse, and other combinations, although he has never seen such things. It is more appropriate, as will be shown, to join this faculty with the motive faculties than with the apprehensive. ‘ The places where these faculties are located are known only through medicine, for if a lesion occurs to one of these ventricles the faculties become defective.

Further, the philosophers affirm that the faculty on which the forms of sensible things are impressed through the five senses retains these forms so that they do not disappear after their reception, for one thing does not retain another through the faculty by which it receives it, for water receives without retaining, while wax receives through its wetness and retains through its dryness, by contrast with water. “ Through this consideration that which retains is different from that which receives, and this is called the retentive faculty. And in the same way intentions are impressed on the estimative faculty, and a faculty retains them, which is called the memorative. ‘ Through this consideration, these internal perceptions, when the imaginative faculty is joined to them, become five in number, like the external faculties.

The motive faculties’ form two classes, in so far as they are only stimulating motion or executing motion and acting; the stimulating motive faculty is the impulsive and appetitive faculty; this is the faculty which stimulates the acting motive power to move when, in the representative faculty which we have mentioned, ‘ there is inscribed the form of something to be sought or avoided. The stimulating faculty has two branches, one called concupiscent which excites to a movement, through which there is an approach to the things represented as necessary or useful in a search for pleasure, and the irascible which excites to a movement through which the thing represented as injurious or mischievous is removed as one seeks to master it. Through this faculty the complete determination to act is effected, which is called will.

The motive faculty which itself executes movement is a faculty which is diffused in the nerves and muscles and has the function of contracting the muscles and drawing the tendons and ligaments which are in contact with the limbs in the direction where this faculty resides, or of relaxing and extending them so that the ligaments and tendons move in the opposite direction . These are the animal faculties of the soul as described in a summary way, without the details.

And as regards the soul which thinks things and is called the rational or discursive soul by the philosophers (and by ‘discursive’ is meant ‘rational’, because discourse is the most typical external operation of reason and therefore the intellective soul takes its name from it), it has two faculties, a knowing and an acting, and both are called intellect, though equivocally. b And the acting faculty is one which is a principle moving man’s body towards the well-ordered human arts, whose order derives from the deliberation proper to man. The knowing faculty, which is called the speculative, is one which has the function of perceiving the real natures of the intelligibles in abstraction from matter, place, and position; and these are the universal concepts which the theologians call sometimes conditions and sometimes modes, ‘ and which the philosophers call abstract universals.

The soul has therefore two faculties on two sides: the speculative faculty on the side of the angels, since through it it receives from the angels knowledge of realities (and this faculty must always be receptive for the things coming from above); and the practical faculty on the inferior side, which is the side of the body which it directs and whose morals it improves. This faculty must rule over all the other bodily faculties, and all the others must be trained by it and subjected to it. It must not itself be affected or influenced by them, but they must be influenced by it, in such a way that there will not through the bodily attributes occur in the soul subservient dispositions, called vices, but that this faculty may remain predominant and arouse in the soul dispositions called virtues.

This is a summary of the human vital faculties, which they distinguished and about which they spoke at great length, and we have omitted the vegetative faculties, since there is no need to mention them as they are not connected with our subject. Nothing of what we have mentioned need be denied on religious grounds, for all these things are observable facts whose habitual course has been provided by God. We only want now to refute their claim that the soul being an essence subsistent by itself, can be known by demonstrative rational proofs, and we do not seek to refute those who say that it is impossible that this knowledge should derive from God’s power or who believe that the religious law is opposed to this; for perhaps it will be clear at the dividing on the Day of Judgement that the Holy Law regards it as true. However, we reject their claim that this can be known by mere reason and that the religious law is not necessary for its knowledge, and we shall ask them to produce their proofs and indeed they have many.

I say:

All this is nothing but an account of the theory of the philosophers about these faculties and his conception of them; only he followed Avicenna, who distinguished himself from the rest of the philosophers by assuming in the animal another faculty than the imaginative; which he calls the estimative faculty and which replaces the cogitative faculty in man, and he says that the ancients applied the term ‘imaginative faculty’ to the estimative, and when they do this then the imaginative faculty in the animal is a substitute for the cogitative faculty in man and will be located in the middle ventricle of the brain. And when the term ‘imaginative’ is applied to the faculty which apprehends shape, this is said to reside in the foremost part of the brain. There is no contradiction in the fact that the retentive and memorative faculties should both be in the posterior part of the brain, for retaining and memory are two in function, but one in their substratum. And what appears from the theory of the ancients is that the imaginative faculty in the animal is that which determines that the wolf should be an enemy of the sheep and that the sheep should be a friend of the lamb, for the imaginative faculty is a perceptive ones and it necessarily possesses judgement, and there is no need to introduce another faculty. What Avicenna says would only be possible if the imaginative faculty were not perceptive; and there is no sense in adding another faculty to the imaginative in the animal, especially in an animal which possesses many arts by nature, for its representations are not derived from the senses and seem to be perceptions intermediary between the intellectual and the sensible forms, and the question of these forms is concisely treated in De sensu et sensato, and we shall leave this subject here and return to Ghazali’s objections against the philosophers.

Ghazali says:

The first proof is that they say that intellectual cognitions inhere in human souls, and are limited and have units which cannot be divided, and therefore their substratum must also be indivisible and every body is divisible, and this proves that the substratum of the cognitions is something incorporeal. ‘ One can put this into a logical form according to the figures of logic, but the easiest way is to say that if the substratum of knowledge is a divisible body, then the knowledge which inheres in it must be divisible too; but the inherent knowledge is not divisible, and therefore the substratum is not a body: and this is a mixed hypothetical syllogism in which the consequent is denied, from which there follows the denial of the antecedent in all cases; and there is no doubt about the validity of this figure of the syllogism, nor again about its premisses, for the major is that everything inherent in something divisible is necessarily divisible, the divisibility of its substratum being assumed, and this is a major about which one cannot have any doubt. The minor is that knowledge as a unity inheres in man and is not divided, for its infinite division is impossible, and if it is limited, then it comprises no doubt units which cannot be divided; and in short, when we know a thing, we cannot assume that a part can cease and a part remain, because it has no parts.

The objection rests on two points. It may be said:

‘How will you refute those who say that the substratum of knowledge is an atom in space which cannot be divided, as is known from the theory of the theologians? ‘ And then there remains nothing to be said against it but to question its possibility, and to ask how all that is known can exist in one atom, whereas all the atoms which surround this one are deprived of it although they are near to it. But to question its possibility has no value, as one can also turn it against the doctrine of the philosophers, by asking how the soul can be one single thing which is not in space or outside the body, either continuous with it or separated from it. However, we should not stress this first point, for the discussion of the problem of the atom is lengthy, ‘ and the philosophers have geometrical proofs against it whose discussion is intricate, and one of their many arguments is to ask: ‘Does one of the sides of an atom between two atoms touch the identical spot the other side touches or not? ‘ The former is impossible, because its consequence would be that the two sides coincided, whereas a thing that is in contact with another is in contact, and the latter implies the affirmation of a plurality and divisibility, and the solution of this difficulty is long and we need not go deeper into it and will now turn to the other point.

Your affirmation that everything which inheres in a body must be divisible is contradicted by what you say of the estimative faculty of the sheep where the hostility of the wolf is concerned, for in the judgement of one single thing no division can be imagined, since hostility has no part, so that one part of it might be perceived and another neglected. Still, according to you this perception takes place in a bodily faculty, and the souls of animals are impressed on their bodies and do not survive death, and all the philosophers agree about this. And if it is possible for you to regard as divisible that which is perceived by the five senses, by the common sense and by the faculty which retains the forms, this is not possible for you in the case of those intentions which are not supposed to be in matter.

And if it be said: ‘Absolute hostility, abstracted from matter, is not perceived by the sheep, but only the hostility of the definite individual wolf connected with its bodily individuality and shape, and only the rational faculty perceives universal realities abstracted from matter’-we answer that the sheep perceives, indeed, the colour and shape of the wolf and then its hostility, and if the colour is impressed on the faculty of sight and the same happens to the shape, and it is divided through the division of the substratum of sight, I ask, ‘through what does the sheep perceive the hostility? If through a body, hostility is divided, and I should like to know what this perception is when it is divided, whether it is a perception of a part of the hostility-and how can it have a part? -or whether every part is a perception of the hostility and the hostility is known many times as its perception is fixed in every part of the substratum. “ And thus this problem is a difficulty for their proof and must be solved.

And if it is said: ‘This is an argument against the intelligibles, but the intelligibles cannot be denied, ‘ and as long as you cannot call in question the premisses that knowledge cannot be divided and that what cannot be divided cannot be in a divisible body, you can have no doubt about the consequence’--the answer is: ‘We have only written this book to show the incoherence and contradictions in the doctrine of the philosophers, and such a contradiction arises over this question, since through it either your theory about the rational soul is refuted or your theory about the estimative faculty. ‘

Further we say that this contradiction shows that they are not conscious of the point, which confounds their syllogism, and it may well be that the origin of their confusion lies in their statement that knowledge is impressed on a body in the way colour is impressed on a coloured thing, the colour being divided with the division of the coloured thing, so that knowledge must be divided by the division of its substratum. The mistake lies in the term ‘impression’, since it may well be that the relation of knowledge to its substratum is not like that of colour to the coloured object so that it could be regarded as being spread over it, diffused over its sides and divisible with it; knowledge might well be related to its substratum in another way which would not allow its divisibility although its substratum was divisible; yes, its relation to it might be like that of perception of the hostility to the body, ; and the relations of the attributes to their substrata do not all follow the same pattern and they are not all known to us with all their details so that we could rely on our knowledge, and to judge such a question without a perfect comprehension of all the details of the relation is an unreliable judgement. In short, we do not deny that what the philosophers say gives reasonable and predominant reasons for belief, but we deny that it is known by an evidence which excludes error and doubt. And it is in this way that a doubt about it may be raised.

I say:

When the premisses which the philosophers use are taken in an indefinite way the consequence Ghazali draws is valid. For our assertion that every attribute inhering in a body which is divisible is divisible through the divisibility of the body can be understood in two ways. First it may be meant that the definition of every part of this attribute which inheres in the particular body is identical with the definition of the whole: for instance the white inhering in the white body, for every part of whiteness which inheres in the individual body has one and the same definition as the whole of whiteness in this body. ‘ Secondly, it may be meant that the attribute is attached to the body without a specific shape, ‘ and this attribute again is divided through the division of the body not in such a way that the intension of the definition of the whole is identical with the intension of the definition of every part-for instance, the faculty of sight which exists in one who sees-but in such a way that it is subject to a difference in intensity according to the greater and lesser receptivity of the substratum, and therefore the power of sight is stronger in the healthy and the young than in the sick and the old. What is common to those two classes is that they are composed of individuals, i. e. that they are divided by quantity and not by quiddity, i. e. that either the uniqueness of the definition and the quiddity remains or that they are annulled. < Those which can be divided quantitatively into any particular part are one by definition and quiddity and those which cannot be divided into any individual part whatevers only differ from the first class in a degree of intensity, for the action of the part which has vanished is not identical with that of the part which remains, since the action of the part which has vanished in weak sight does not act in the same way as the weak sight. b Those two classes have it in common that colour also cannot be divided by the division of its substratum into any particular part whatever and keep its definition absolutely intact, but the division terminates in a particular part in which the colour, when it is distributed to it, disappears. ? The only thing which keeps its distribution always intact is the nature of the continuous in so far as it is continuous, i. e. the form of continuity.

When this premiss is assumed in this way, namely by holding that everything which is divisible in either of these two classes has a body as its substratum, it is self-evident, and the converse, that everything which is in a body is divisible according to one of these two classes, is evident too; and when this is verified, then the converse of its opposite is true also, namely that what is not divisible according to one of these two classes cannot be in a body. If to these premisses there is added further what is evident in the case of the universal intelligibles, namely that they are not divisible in either of the two ways, since they are not individual forms, it is clear that there follows from this that neither is the substratum of these intelligibles a body, nor is the faculty which has the power to produce them a faculty in a body; and it follows that their substratum is a spiritual faculty which perceives itself and other things.

But Ghazali took first the one of these two classes and denied that the universal intelligibles belong to it, and then made his objection by means of the second class, which exists in the faculty of sight and in the imaginative faculty, and in doing this he committed a sophism; but the science of the soul is too profound and too elevated to be apprehended by dialectics. ‘

Besides, Ghazali has not adduced the argument in the manner in which Avicenna brought it out, for Avicenna built his argument only on the following: If the intelligibles inhered in a body, they would have to be either in an indivisible part of it, or in a divisible part. Then he refuted the possibility of their being in an indivisible part of the body, and after this refutation he denied that, if the intellect inhered in a body, it could inhere in an indivisible part of it. Then he denied that it could inhere in a divisible part of it and so he denied that it could inhere in body at all.

And when Ghazali denied one of these two divisions he said it was not impossible that there might be another form of relation between the intellect and the body than this, but it is quite clear that if the intellect is related to the body there can exist only two kinds of relation, either to a divisible or to an indivisible substratum.

This proof can be completed; by saying that the intellect is not attached to any animal faculty in the way the form is attached to its substratum, for the denial of its being attached to the body implies necessarily the denial of its being attached to any animal faculty which is attached to the body. For, if the intellect were attached to any of the animal faculties, it would as Aristotle says be unable to act except through this faculty, but then this faculty would not perceive the intellect. This is the argument on which Aristotle himself bases his proof that the intellect is separate. ‘

We shall now mention the second objection which Ghazali raises against the second proof of the philosophers, but we must first observe that their proofs, when they are taken out of their context in those sciences to which they belong, can have at the most the value of dialectical arguments. The only aim of this book of ours is therefore to ascertain the value of the arguments in it which are ascribed to the two parties, and to show to which of the two disputants the terms ‘incoherence’ and ‘contradiction’ would be applied with greater justification.

Ghazali says:

The second proof is that the philosophers say:

‘If the knowledge of one single intellectual notion, i. e. a notion abstracted from matter, were impressed on matter as accidents are impressed on bodily substances, their division would necessarily follow the division of the body, as has been shown before. And if it is not impressed on matter nor spread out over it, and the term ‘impression’ is rejected, let us then use another term and say, ‘Is there a relation between knowledge and the knower? ‘

It is absurd to deny the relation, for if there did not exist a relation, why would it be better to know something than not to know it ? And if there is a relation, this relation can take place in three ways; either there will be a relation to every part of the substratum, or to some parts to the exclusion of others, or to no part whatever. It is false to say that the notion has no relation to any individual part of the substratum; for if there is no relation to the units, there can be no relation to the aggregate, since a collection of disconnected units is not an aggregate, but itself disconnected. It is false to say that there might be a relation to some part, for the part that was not related would have nothing to do with this notion and therefore would not come into the present discussion. And it is false to say that every part of the substratum might be related to it, for if it were related in all its parts to this notion in its totality, then each single part of the substratum would possess not a part of the notion but the notion in its totality, and this notion would therefore be repeated infinitely in act; on the other hand, if every part were related to this notion in a special way, different from the relation of another part, then this notion would be divided in its content; and we have shown that the content of a notion, one and the same in every respect, is indivisible; if the relation, however, of each part were related to another part of the notion, then this notion would clearly be divided, and this is impossible. And from this it is clear that the things perceived which are in the five senses are only images of the particular divided forms, and that the meaning of perception is the arrival of the image of the thing perceived in the soul of the perceiver, so that every part of the image of the thing perceived is related to a part of the bodily organ.

And the objection against this is what has been said before. For by replacing the term ‘impression’ by ‘relation’ the difficulty is not removed which arises over the question what of the hostility of the wolf is impressed on the estimative faculty of the sheep, as we have mentioned; for the perception is no doubt related to it, and with this relation there must occur what you have said, and hostility is not a measurable thing possessing a measurable quantity, so that its image could be impressed on a measurable body and its parts related to the parts of that body, and the fact that the shape of the wolf is measurable does not remove the difficulty, for the sheep perceives something else as well as the shape, namely the adversity, opposition, and hostility, and this hostility, added to the shape through the hostility, has no magnitude, and still the sheep perceives it through a body having magnitude; and that is necessarily a difficulty in this proof as well as in the first.

And if someone says: ‘Do you not refute these proofs by asserting that knowledge inheres in a spatial indivisible body, namely the atom? ‘ we answer: ‘No, for the discussion of the atom is connected with geometrical questions the solution and discussion of which is long and arduous. Further, such a theory would not remove the difficulty, for the power and the will ought then also to be in this atom. For man acts, and this acting cannot be imagined without power and will, which would also be in this atom; and the power to write resides in the hand and the fingers, but knowledge of it does not reside in the hand, for it does not cease when the hand is cut off; nor is the will in the hand, for often a man wants to write, when his hand has withered and he is not able to do so, not because his will has gone, but because his power has. “

I say:

This discussion is not an independent one, but only a complement to the first, for in the first discussion it was merely assumed that knowledge is not divided by the division of its substratum, and here an attempt is made to prove this by making use of a division into three categories. And he repeats the same objection, which presented itself to him because he did not carry out the division of matter in the two senses in which it can be taken. For when the philosophers denied that the intellect could be divided through the division of its substratum in the way in which accidents are divided through the division of their substratum, and there exists another way of division in body which must be applied to the bodily functions of perception, they had a doubt about these faculties. The proof is only completed by denying that the intellect can be divided in either of these ways, and by showing that everything which exists in a body is necessarily divisible in one of them.

For of those things in the body which are divided in this second way, i. e. which are not by definition divisible through the division of their substratum’ it was sometimes doubted whether they are separable from their substratum or not. For we see it happen that most parts of the substratum decay and still this kind of existence, i. e. the individual perception, does not decay; and it was thought that it might happen that, just as the form does not disappear through the disappearance of one or more parts of its substratum, in the same way the form might not disappear when the whole was destroyed, and that the decay of the act of the form through its substratum was similar to the decay of the act of the artisan through the deterioration of his tools. And therefore Aristotle says that if an old man had the eye of a young man, he would see as well as the young one, meaning that it is thought that the decrepitude which occurs to the sight of the old man does not happen because of the decay of the faculty but because of the decay of the organs. And he tries to prove this by the inactivity of the organ or the greater part of it in sleep, fainting, drunkenness, and the illnesses through which the perceptions of the senses decay, whereas it is quite certain that the faculties are not destroyed in these conditions. And this is still more evident in those animals which live when they are cut in two; and most plants have this peculiarity, although they do not possess the faculty of perceptions

But the discussion of the soul is very obscure, and therefore God has only given knowledge of it to those who are deeply learned; and therefore God, answering the question of the masses about this problem, says that this kind of question is not their concern, saying: ‘They will ask thee of the spirit. Say: “The spirit comes at the bidding of my Lord, and ye are given but a little knowledge thereof. “ ‘And the comparison of death with sleep in this question is an evident proof that the soul survives, since the activity of the soul ceases in sleep through the inactivity of its organ, but the existence of the soul does not cease, and therefore it is necessary that its condition in death should be like its condition in sleep, for the parts follow the same rule? And this is a proof which all can understand and which is suitable to be believed by the masses, and will show the learned the way in which the survival of the soul is ascertained. And this is evident from the Divine Words: ‘God takes to Himself souls at the time of their death; and those who do not die in their sleep.

Ghazali says:

The third proof is that they say that, if knowledge resided in a part of the body, the knower would be this part to the exclusion of all the other parts of man, but it is said of man that it is he who knows, and knowledge is an attribute of man in his totality without reference to any specified place. ‘ But this is nonsense, for he is spoken of as seeing and hearing and tasting, and the animals also are described in this way; but this does not mean that the perception of the senses is not in the body, it is only a metaphorical expression like the expression that someone is in Baghdad although he is in a part of the whole of Baghdad, not in the whole of Baghdad, the reference however being made to the whole.

I say:

When it is conceded that the intellect is not related to one of man’s organs-and this has already been proved, since it is not self-evident -it follows that its substratum is not a body, and that our assertion that man knows is not analogous to our assertion that he sees. For since it is self-evident that he sees through a particular organ, it is clear that when we refer sight to man absolutely, the expression is allowed according to the custom of the Arabs and other people. ; And since there is no particular organ for the intellect, it is clear that, when we say of him that he knows, this does not mean that a part of him knows. However, how he knows is not clear by itself, for it does not appear that there is an organ or a special place in an organ which possesses this special faculty, as is the case with the imaginative faculty and the cogitative and memorative faculties, the localization of which in parts of the brain is known.

Ghazali says:

The fourth proof is that, if knowledge inhered for instance in a part of the heart or the brain, then necessarily ignorance, its opposite, might reside in another part of the heart or the brain, and it would then be possible that a man should both know and not know one and the same thing at the same time. And since this is impossible, it is proved that the place of ignorance and the place of knowledge are identical, and that this place is one single place in which it is impossible to bring opposites together. But if this place were divisible, it would not be impossible that ignorance should reside in one part of it and knowledge in another, for a thing’s being in one place is not contradicted by its opposite’s being in another, just as there may be pie baldness in one and the same horse, and black and white in a single eye, but in two spots. This, however, does not follow for the senses, as there is no opposite to their perception; but sometimes they perceive and sometimes not, and there exists between them the sole opposition of being and not-being, and we can surely say that someone perceives through some parts, for instance the eye and the ear, and not through the other parts of his body; and there is no contradiction in this. And you cannot evade this difficulty by saying that knowing is the opposite of not-knowing, and that judgment is something common to the whole body; for it is impossible that the judgment should be in any other place but in the place of its cause, and the knower is the place in which the knowledge resides; and if the term is applied to the whole, this is a metaphor, as when we say that a man is in Baghdad, although he is in a part of it, and when we say that a man sees although we know with certainty that the judgment of his sight’ does not reside in his foot and hand but is peculiar to his eye. The judgments are opposed to each other in the same way as their causes, and the judgments are limited to the place where the causes reside. And one cannot evade the difficulty by saying that the place disposed to receive the knowledge and the ignorance of man is one single place in which they can oppose each other, for according to you theologians every body which possesses life can receive knowledge and ignorance, and no other condition but life is imposed, and all the parts of the body are according to you equivalent so far as the reception of knowledge is concerned.

The objection to this is that it can be turned against you philosophers in the matter of desire, longing, and will; these things exist in animals as well as in men, and are things impressed on the body, but it is impossible that one should flee from the object one longs for and that repugnance and craving in regard to one and the same thing should exist in him together, the desire being in one place and the repugnance in another. Still, that does not prove that they do not inhere in bodies, for these potencies, although they are many and distributed over different organs, have one thing that joins them together, namely the sou1, which is common both to animal and to man; and since this cohesive entity forms a unity, the mutually contradictory relations enter into relation with it in turns. This does not prove that the soul is not impressed upon the body, as is quite clear in the case of animals.

I say:

The only logical consequence of what he says here in the name of the philosophers is that knowledge does not inhere in the body in the way colour and in general all accidents do; it does not, however, follow that it does not inhere in body at all. For the impossibility that the place of knowledge should receive the knowledge and want of knowledge of a thing necessarily demonstrates its identity, since opposites cannot inhere in one and the same place, and this kind of impossibility is common to all attributes, whether perceptive or nonperceptive. But what is peculiar to the receptivity of knowledge is that it can perceive opposites together; and this can only happen through an indivisible apprehension in an indivisible substratum, for he who judges is of necessity one, and therefore it is said that knowledge of opposites is one and the same. ‘ And this kind of receptivity is of necessity proper to the soul alone. What is indeed proved by the philosophers is that this is the condition of the common sense when it exercises its judgement over the five senses, and this common sense is according to the philosophers something bodily. And therefore there is in this argument no proof that the intellect does not inhere in a body, for we have already said that there are two kinds of inherence, the inherence of non-perceptive attributes and that of perceptive.

And the objection Ghazali makes here is true, namely that the appetitive soul does not tend to opposites at the same time although it resides in the body. I do not know of any philosopher who has used this argument’ to establish the survival of the soul, unless he paid no attention to the philosophical doctrine that it is the characteristic of every perceptive faculty that in its perception two opposites cannot be joined, just as it is the peculiarity of contraries outside the soul that they cannot be together in one and the same substratum; and this is what the perceptive potencies have in common with the non-perceptive. It is proper to the perceptive faculties to judge coexisting contraries, one of them being known through knowledge of the others and it is proper to non-psychical potencies to be divided through the division of the body so that contraries can be in one body at the same time, though not in the same part. And since the soul is a substratum that cannot be divided in this way, contraries cannot be in it together, i. e. in two parts of the substratum.

Such arguments are all arguments of people who have not grasped the views of the philosophers about this problem. How little does a man understand, who gives it as a proof of the soul’s survival that it does not judge two opposites at the same time, for from this it follows only that the substratum of the soul is one, and not divided in the way the substratum of the accidents is divided; and it does not follow from the proof that the substratum is not divided in the way the substratum of the accidents is divided that the substratum is not divided at all.

Ghazali says:

The fifth proof is: If the intellect perceived the intelligibles through a bodily organ, it would not know its own self. But the consequent is impossible; therefore it knows its own self and the antecedent is impossible. We answer: It is conceded that from the exclusion of the contrary of the consequent the contrary of the antecedent follows, ‘ but only when the consequence of the antecedent has been previously established, and we say we do not concede the necessity of the consequence; and what is your proof?

And if it is said that the proof is that, because sight is in the body, sight does not attach itself to sight, and the seeing is not seen nor the hearing heard, and so on with respect to the other senses; and if the intellect, too, could only perceive through body it could not perceive itself, but the intellect thinks itself just as it thinks other things, and it thinks that it thinks itself and that it thinks other things-we answer: What you assert is wrong on two points. The first is that according to us sight could be attached to itself, just as one and the same knowledge can be knowledge of other things and of itself, only in the usual course of events this does not happen; but according to us the interruption of the usual course of events is possible. The second, and this is the stronger argument, is for us to say that we concede this for the senses; but why, if this is impossible for some senses, is it impossible for others, and why is it impossible that there should be a difference in the behaviour of the senses with respect to perception although they are all in the body? just as sight differs from touch through the fact that touch, like taste, can only come to perceive by being in contact with the object touched, whereas separation from the object is a condition of sight, so that when the eyelids cover the eye it does not see the colour of the eyelid, ‘ not being at a distance from it. , But this difference does not necessitate that they should differ in their need to be in a body, and it is not impossible that there should be among the senses something called intellect that differs from the others in that it perceives itself.

I say:

The first objection, that the usual course of events might be interrupted so that sight might see itself, is an argument of the utmost sophistry and imposture, and we have discussed it already. As to the second objection, that it is not impossible that a bodily perception should perceive itself, this has a certain plausibility, but when the motive is known which led the philosophers to their assertion, then the impossibility of this supposition becomes clear, for perception is something which exists between the agent and the patient, and it consists of the perceiver and the perceived. It is impossible that a sense should be in one and the same respect its own agent and patient, and the duality of agent and patient in sense arises, as concerns its act, from the side of the form and, as concerns its passivity, from the side of the matter. But no composite can think itself, because if this were so, its essence would be different from that by which it thinks, for it would think only with a part of its essence; and since intellect and intelligible are identical, I if the composite thought its essence, the composite would become a simple, and the whole the part, and all this is impossible. When this is established here in this way, it is only a dialectical proof; but in the proper demonstrative order, i. e. preceded by the conclusions which ought to precede it, it can become a necessary one.

Ghazali says:

The sixth proof is that they say that, if the intellect perceived through a bodily organ like sight, it would be just as incapable of perceiving its own organ as the other senses; but it perceives the brain and the heart and what is claimed to be its organ, so that it is proved that it has no organ or substratum, for otherwise it would not perceive the brain and the heart. 

We have the same kind of objection against this as against the preceding proof. We say it is not inconceivable that sight should perceive its subject, for that it does not perceive it is only what happens in the usual course of events. Or shall we rather say it is not impossible that the senses should differ individually in this respect, although it is common to them all to be impressed on bodies, as has been said before? And why do you say that what exists in a body cannot perceive the body, and how do you know its impossibility in all cases, since to make an infinite generalization from a finite number of individual cases has no logical validity? In logic it is stated, as an example of an inference made from one particular cause or many particular causes to all causes, that when we say, after learning it by induction through observing all the animals, ‘all animals move the lower jaw in masticating’, the crocodile has been neglected, since it moves the upper. ‘ The philosophers have only made the induction from the five senses, and found this known common feature in them and then judged that all the senses must be like this. But perhaps the intellect is another type of sense which stands in regard to the other senses as the crocodile stands to the other animals, and in this case there would be some senses which could perceive their substratum although they were corporeal and divisible, and other senses which could not do this; just as the senses can be divided into those which perceive the thing perceived without contact, like sight, and those which cannot perceive without contact, like taste and touch. Although, therefore, what the philosophers affirm creates a certain presumption, it does not afford reliable evidence.

But it may be said by the philosophers: We do not merely point to the enumeration of the senses but lay stress on a proof, and say that if the heart or the brain were the soul of man, he could never be unaware of them, and never for a moment not think of them, just as he is never unconscious of himself; for nobody’s self is ever unaware of itself, but it is always affirming itself in its soul, but as long as man has not heard any one speaking about the heart and the brain or has not observed them through the dissection of another man, he does not perceive them and does not believe in their existence. But if the intellect inhered in the body, it would necessarily either think or not think of this body continually; neither the one nor the other is the case, but it sometimes thinks of its body and sometimes does not. This can be proved by the fact that the perception which inheres in the substratum perceives that substratum either because of a relation between itself and the substratum-and one cannot imagine another relation between them than that of inherence-and then the perception must perceive its substratum continually, or this relation will not suffice; and in this case the perception can never perceive its substratum, since there can never occur another relation between them; just as because of the fact that it thinks itself, it thinks itself always and is not sometimes aware, sometimes unaware of itself.

But we answer: As long as a man is conscious of himself and aware of his soul, he is also aware of his body; indeed, the name, form, and shape of the heart are not well defined for him, but he regards his soul and self as a body to such an extent that he regards even his clothes and his house as belonging to his self, ‘ but the soul or the self which the philosophers mention has no relation to the house or the clothes. This primary attribution of the soul to the body is necessary for man, and his unconsciousness of the form and name of his soul is like his unconsciousness of the seat of smell, which is two excrescences in the foremost part of the brain resembling the nipples of the breast; still, everyone knows that he perceives smell with his body, but he does not represent the shape of the seat of this perception, nor does he define this seat, although he perceives that it is nearer to his head than to his heels, and, in relation to the whole of his head, nearer to the inside of his nose than to the inside of his ear. Man knows his soul in the same way, and he knows that the essence through which the soul exists is nearer to his heart and breast than to his foot, and he supposes that his soul will persist when he loses his foot, but he does not regard it as possible that his soul should persist when his heart is taken away. But what the philosophers say about his being sometimes aware of his body, sometimes not, is not true.

I say:

As to his objection against the assertion that a body or a bodily faculty cannot know itself, because the senses are perceptive faculties in bodies and do not know themselves, this assertion indeed is based on induction, and induction does not provide absolute evidence. ; As to Ghazali’s comparison of this to the induction which establishes that all animals move their lower jaw, this comparison is only valid in part. For the induction that all animals move their lower jaw is an imperfect one, because not all animals have been enumerated; whereas the man who assumes that no sense perceives itself has certainly made a complete induction, for there are no other senses than the five. ‘ But the judgement based on the observation of the senses that no perceptive faculty is in a body resembles the induction by which it is judged that all animals move their lower jaw; for, just as in the latter case not all the animals, in the former not all the perceptive faculties are enumerated?

As to his saying in the name of the philosophers that if the intellect were in the body, it would, when it perceives, perceive the body in which it is, this is a silly and inane assertion which is not made by the philosophers. It would only follow if everyone who perceived a thing had to perceive it together with its definition; but that is not so, for we perceive the soul and many other things without perceiving their definition. If, indeed, we perceived the definition of the soul together with its existence, we should of necessity know through its definition that it was in the body or that it was incorporeal; for, if it were in the body, the body would be necessarily included in its definition, and if it were not in the body, the body would not be included in the definition. And this is what one must believe about this problem.

As for Ghazali’s objection, that a man knows of his soul that it is in his body although he cannot specify in which part-this indeed is true, for the ancients had different opinions about its seat, but our knowledge that the soul is in the body does not mean that we know that it receives its existence through being in the body; this is not self-evident, and is a question about which the philosophers ancient as well as modern differ, for if the body serves as an instrument for the soul, the soul does not receive its existence through the body; but if the body is like a substratum for its accident; then the soul can only exist through the body.

Ghazali says:

The seventh proof. The philosophers say that the faculties which perceive through the bodily organs become tired through the long-continued performance of the act of perception, since the continuation of their action destroys the mixture of their elements and tires them, and in the same way excessive stimulation of the perceptive faculties makes them weak and often even corrupts them, so that afterwards they are not able to perceive something lighter and more delicate; so for instance a loud voice and a strong light hinder or corrupt the perception of a low voice and delicate objects of sight afterwards; and in fact the man who tastes something extremely sweet does not afterwards taste something less sweet. But the intellectual faculty behaves in the opposite way; a long observation of intelligibles does not tire it, and the perception of important necessary truths gives it strength for the perception of easy observations and does not weaken it, and if sometimes tiredness may befall it, this happens because it makes use of and gets assistance from the imaginative faculty, so that the organ of the imaginative faculty becomes weary and no longer serves the intellect.

Our objection to this follows the same line as before, and we say that it may well be that the bodily senses differ in this; and what is true for some of them need not be true for others-yes, it may be that the bodies themselves may differ and that some of them may grow weak through a certain type of movement, whereas others may grow strong through a certain type of movement, not weak, and that when this type of movement has made an impression on them, it causes a renewal of strength in them so that they do not perceive any new impression made on them. And all this is possible, since a judgement valid for some is not valid for all.

I say:

This is an old proof of the philosophers, and it amounts to this: that when the intellect perceives a strong intelligible and afterwards turns to the perception of a slighter, it perceives it more easily, and this shows that it does not perceive through the body, since we find that the bodily perceptive faculties are impressed by strong sensations in a way which lessens their power of perception, so that after strong sensations they cannot perceive things of slight intensity. The reason is that through every form which inheres in a body the body receives an impression, because this form is necessarily mixed with it; for otherwise this form would not be a form in a body. Now since the philosophers found that the receptacle of the intelligibles was not impressed by the intelligibles, they decided that this receptacle was not a body.

And against this there is no objection. For every substratum which is impressed congruously or incongruously by the inherence of the form in it, be it little or much, is necessarily corporeal, and the reverse is also true, namely that everything corporeal is impressed by the form which is realized in it, and the magnitude of the impression depends on the magnitude of the mixing of the form and the body. And the cause of this is that every becoming is the consequence of a change, and if a form could inhere in a body without a change it might happen that, there could be a form whose realization did not impress its substratum.

Ghazali says:

The eighth proof is that the philosophers say: ‘All the faculties of parts of the body become weaker, when they have reached the end of their growth at forty years and later; so sight and hearing and the other faculties become weaker, but the intellectual faculty becomes strong in most cases only after this age. ‘ And the loss of insight in the intelligibles, through illness in the body and through dotage in old age, does not argue against this, for as long as it is proved that at certain times the intellect is strong notwithstanding the weakness of the body, it is clear that it exists by itself, and its decline at the time of the declining of the body does not imply that it exists through the body, for from a negative consequent alternating with a positive consequent there is no inference. For we say that, if the intellectual faculty exists through the body, then the weakness of the body will weaken it at all times, but the consequent is false and therefore the antecedent is false; but, when we say the consequent is true, sometimes it does not follow that the antecedent is true. Further, the cause of this is that the soul has an activity through itself, when nothing hinders it and it is not preoccupied with something. For the soul has two kinds of action, one in relation to the body, namely to govern and rule it, and one in relation to its principles and essence, and this is to perceive the intelligibles, and these two kinds of action hinder each other and are opposed to each other, and when it is occupied with the one action, it turns away from the other and it cannot combine both. And its occupations through the body are sense-perception and imagination and the passions, anger, fear, grief, and pain, but when it sets out to think the intelligible it neglects all these other things. Yes, sense-perception by itself sometimes hinders the apprehension and contemplation of the intellect without the occurrence of any damage to the organ of the intellect or to the intellect itself, and the reason for this is that the soul is prevented from one action through being occupied with another, and therefore during pain, disease, and fear-for this also is a disease of the brain-intellectual speculation leaves off. And why should it be impossible that through this difference in these two kinds of action in the soul they should hinder each other, since even two acts of the same kind may impede each other, for fear is stunned by pain and desire by anger and the observation of one intelligible by that of another? And a sign that the illness which enters the body does not occur in the substratum of the sciences is that, when the sick man recovers, he does not need to learn the sciences anew, but the disposition of his soul becomes the same as it was before, and those sciences come back to him exactly as they were without any new learning.

The objection is that we say that there may be innumerable causes for the increase and the decrease of the faculties, for some of the faculties increase in power at the beginning of life, some in middle life, some at the end, and the same is the case with the intellect and only a topical proof can be claimed. And it is not impossible that smell and sight should differ in this, that smell becomes stronger after forty years and sight weaker, although they both inhere in the body, just as those faculties differ in animals; for in some animals smell is stronger, in others hearing and sight because of the difference in their temperaments, and it is not possible to ascertain these facts absolutely. Nor is it impossible that the temperament of the organs also should differ with individual persons and conditions. One of the reasons why the decay of sight is earlier than the decay of the intellect is that sight is earlier, for a man sees when he is first created, Whereas his intellect is not mature before fifteen years or more, ‘ according to the different opinions we find people to have about this problem; and it is even said that greyness comes earlier to the hair on the head than to that on the beard, because the hair on the head grows earlier. If one goes deeper into these causes and does not simply refer them to the usual course of nature, one cannot base any sure knowledge thereon, because the possibilities for certain faculties to become stronger and others weaker are unlimited, and nothing evident results from this.

I say:

When it is assumed that the substratum of the perceptive faculties is the natural heat, and that natural heat suffers diminution after forty years, then intellect must behave in the same way in this respect; that is, if its substratum is natural heat, then it is necessary that the intellect should become old as the natural heat becomes old. If, however, it is thought that the substrata for the intellect and the senses are different, then it is not necessary that both should be similar in their lifetimes.

Ghazali says:

The ninth proof is that the philosophers say: How can man be attributed to body with its accidents, for those bodies are continually in dissolution, and nutrition replaces what is dissolved, so that when we see a child after its separation from its mother’s womb fall ill a few times and become thin and then fat again and grow up, we may safely say that after forty years no particle remains of what was there when his mother was delivered of it. Indeed, the child began its existence out of the parts of the sperm alone, but nothing of the particles of the sperm remains in it; no, all this is dissolved and has changed into something else, and then this body has become another. Still we say that the identical man remains and his notions remain with him from the beginning of his youth, although all the bodily parts have changed. And this shows that the soul has an existence outside the body and that the body is its organ!

The objection is that this is contradicted by what happens to animals and plants, for when the condition of their being small is compared to the condition of their being big, their identity is asserted equally with the identity of man; still, it does not prove that they have an incorporeal existence. ‘ And what is said about knowledge is refuted by the retention of imaginative forms, for they remain in the boy from youth -to old age, although the particles of his brain change.

I say

None of the ancient philosophers used this proof for the survival of the soul; they only used it to show that in individuals there is an essence which remains from birth to death and that things are not in an eternal flux, as was believed by many ancients who denied necessary knowledge, so that Plato was forced to introduce the forms. There is no sense in occupying ourselves with this, and the objection of Ghazali against this proof is valid.

Ghazali says:

The tenth proof is that they say that the intellectual faculty perceives the general intellectual universals which the theologians call modes, so that man in general is apprehended (whereas the senses perceive the individuality of a definite man), and this universal differs from the man who is perceived by the senses, for what is perceived by the senses is in a particular place, and his colour, size, and position are particular, but the intelligible absolute man is abstracted from all these things; however, in him there is everything to which the term ‘man’ is applied, although he has not the colour, size, position, or place, of the man perceived by the senses, and even a man who may exist in the future is subsumed under him; indeed, if man disappeared there would remain this reality of man in the intellect, in abstraction from all these particular things.

And in this way, from everything perceived by the senses as an individual, there results for the intellect a reality, universal and abstracted from matters and from positions, so that its attributes can be divided into, what is essential (as, for example, corporeity for plants and animals, and animality for man) and into what is accidental (like whiteness and length for man), and this reality is judged as being essential or accidental for the genus of man and plant and ofeverything not apprehended as an individual perceived by the senses, and so it is shown that the universal, in abstraction from sensible attachments, is intelligible and invariable in the mind of man.

This intelligible universal cannot be pointed at, , nor has it a position or size, and in its abstraction from position and matter it is either related to its object (which is impossible, for its object has position and place and size) or to its subject (which is the rational soul), and therefore the soul cannot have a position or be pointed at or have a size, for if it had all these things what inheres in it would also possess them. z

And the objection is that the idea of a universal which you philosophers assume as existing in the intellect is not accepted by us. ; According to us nothing inheres in the intellect but what inheres in the senses, only it inheres in the senses as an aggregate which they cannot separate, whereas the intellect is able to do so. Further, when it is separated, the single part separated from its attachments is just as much an individual in the intellect as the aggregate with its attachments, only this invariable part’ in the mind is related to the thing thought oft and to similar things by one single relation, and in this way it is said to be a universal. For there is in the intellect the forma of the individual thing thought of which is first perceived by the senses, and the relation of this form to all the individuals of this genus which the senses perceive is one and the same. If, after seeing one man, someone sees another, no new form occurs to him, as happens when he sees a horse after seeing a man, for then two different forms occur in him. A similar thing happens to the senses themselves, for when a man sees water, one form occurs in his imagination, and if he sees blood afterwards, another form occurs, but if he sees another water, no other form occurs, but the form of the water which is impressed on his imagination is an image for all individual stretches of water, and for this reason it is often thought to be a universal.

And in the same way, when for instance he sees a hand, there occurs in his imagination and in his intellect the natural position of its parts, namely the surface of the hand and the division of the fingers in it and the ending of the fingers in the nails, and besides this there occur to him the smallness or bigness of the hand and its colour, and if he sees another hand which resembles the first in everything, no other new form occurs to him; no, this second observation, when a new thing occurs, does not produce an impression on his imagination, just as, when he sees the water after having previously seen it in one and the same vessel and in the same quantity, no new impression is produced. And he may see another hand, different in colour and size, and then there occurs to him another colour and another size, but there does not happen to him a new form of hand, for the small black hand has in common with the big white hand the position of its parts, differing from it in colour, and of that in which the second hand agrees with the first no new form is produced, since both forms are identical, but the form of the things in which they differ is renewed. And this is the meaning of the universal both in sensation and in intellect, for when the intellect apprehends the form of the body of an animal, then it does not acquire a new form of corporeity from a plant, just as in imagination the form of two stretches of water perceived at two different times need not be renewed; and the same happens with all things that have something in common.

But this does not permit one to assert the existence of a universal which has no position whatever, although the intellect can judge that there exists something that cannot be pointed at and has no spatial position; for instance, it can assert the existence of the creator of the universe, with the understanding, however, that such a creator cannot be imagined to exist in matter, and in this kind of reality the abstraction from matter is in the intelligible itself and is not caused by the intellect and by thinking. But as to the forms acquired from material things, this happens in the way we have mentioned.

I say:

The meaning of the philosophical theory he relates is that the intellect apprehends, in relation to the individuals which have a common species, a single entity, in which they participate and which is the quiddity of this species without this entity’s being divided into the things in which the individuals qua individuals are divided, like space and position and the matters through which they receive their plurality. This entity must be ingenerable and incorruptible’ and is not destroyed by the disappearance of one of the individuals in which it exists, and the sciences therefore are eternal and not corruptible except by accident, that is to say by their connexion with Zaid and Amr; that is, only through this connexion are they corruptible, and not in themselves, since if they were transitory in themselves this connexion would exist in their essence and they could not constitute an identity. And the philosophers say that, if this is established for the intellect and the intellect is in the soul, it is necessary that the soul should not be. divisible in the way in which individuals are divisible, and that the soul in Amr and in Zaid should be one single entity. And this proof is strong in the case of the intellect, because in the intellect there is no individuality whatever; the soul, however, although it is free from the matters’ through which the individuals receive their plurality, is said by the most famous philosophers not to abandon the nature of the individual, although it is an apprehending entity. This is a point which has to be considered.

As for Ghazali’s objection, it amounts to saying that the intellect is something individual and that universality is an accident of it, and therefore Ghazali compares the way in which the intellect observes a common feature in individuals to the way in which the senses perceive the same thing many times, since for Ghazali the intelligible is a unity, but not something universal, and for him the animality of Zaid is numerically identical with the animality which he observes in Khalid And this is false, and if it were true, there would be no difference between sense-perception and the apprehension of the intellect.

The Third Discussion

And after this Ghazali says that the philosophers have two proofs to demonstrate that the soul after once existing cannot perish.  The first is that if the soul perished this could only be imagined in one of these three ways: either (1) it perishes simultaneously with the body, or (2) through an opposite which is found in it, or (3) through the power of God, the powerful. It is false that it can perish through the corruption of the body, for it is separated from the body. It is false that it can have an opposite, for a separate substance has no opposite. ‘ And it is false, as has been shown before, that the power of God can attach itself to non-being.

Now, Ghazali objecting to the philosophers answers: ‘We theologians do not admit that the soul is external to the body; besides, it is the special theory of Avicenna that the souls are numerically differentiated through the differentiation of the bodies, for that there should be one single soul in every respect and in all people brings about many impossibilities, for instance that when Zaid knows some. thing Amr should know it too, and when Amr does not know something Zaid should not know it either; and many other impossibilities follow from this assumption. ‘And Ghazali adduces against Avicenna the argument that when it is assumed that the souls are numerically differentiated through the differentiation of the bodies, then they are attached to the bodies and must necessarily perish with their decay.

The philosophers, however, can answer that it is by no means necessary that, when there exists between two things a relation of attachment and love, for instance the relation between the lover and the beloved and the relation between iron and the magnet, the destruction of the one should cause the destruction of the other. But Avicenna’s opponents may ask his partisans through what the individuation and numerical plurality of souls takes place, when they are separated from their matters, for the numerical plurality of individuals arises only through matter. He who claims the survival and the numerical plurality of souls should say that they are in a subtle matter, namely the animal warmth which emanates from the heavenly bodies, and this is a warmth which is not fire and in which there is not a principle of fire; in this warmth there are the souls which create the sublunary bodies and those which inhere in these bodies . And none of the philosophers is opposed to the theory that in the elements there is heavenly warmth and that this is the substratum for the potencies which produce animals and plants, but some of the philosophers call this potency a natural heavenly potency, whereas Galen calls it the forming power and sometimes the demiurge, saying that it seems that there exists. a wise maker of the living being who has created it and that this is apparent from anatomy, but where this maker is and what His substance is is too lofty a problem for human understanding. ‘ From this Plato proves that the soul is separated from the body, for the soul creates and forms the body, and if the body were the condition for the existence of the soul, the soul would not have created it or formed it. z This creative soul is most apparent in the animals which do not procreate, but it is also evident in the animals which do. And just as we know that the soul is something added to the natural warmth, since it is not of the nature of warmth qua warmth to produce well-ordered intelligible acts, so we know that the warmth which is in the seeds does not suffice to create and to form. And the philosophers do not disagree about the fact that there are in the elements souls creating each species of animals, plants, and minerals that exists, and that each of them needs a directing principle and preserving powers for it to come into existence and remain. And these souls are either like intermediaries between the souls of the heavenly bodies and the souls in the sensible bodies of the sublunary world, and then no doubt they have absolute dominion over these latter souls and these bodies, and from here arises the belief in the Jinn, ‘ or these souls themselves are attached to the bodies which they create according to a resemblance which exists between them, and when the bodies decay they return to their spiritual matter and to the subtle imperceptible bodies.

And there are none of the old philosophers who do not acknowledge these souls, and they only disagree as to whether they are identical with the souls in our bodies or of another kind. And as to those who accept a bestower of forms, they regard these powers as a separate intellect; but this theory is not found in any of the old philosophers, but only in some philosophers of Islam, because it belongs to their principles that the separate principles do not change their matters by transformation in respect of substance and primarily, for the cause of change is the opposite of the thing changed. s This question is one of the most difficult in philosophy, and the best explanation that can be given of this problem is that the material intellect thinks an infinite number of things in one single intelligible, and that it judges these things in a universal judgement, and that that which forms its essence is absolutely immaterial . b Therefore Aristotle praises Anaxagoras’ for having made intellect, namely an immaterial form, the prime mover, and for this reason it does not suffer any action from anything, for the cause of passivity is matter and in this respect the passive potencies are in the same position as the active, for it is the passive potencies possessing matters which accept definite things.

The Fourth Discussion

Having finished this question Ghazali begins to say that the philosophers deny bodily resurrection. This is a problem which is not found in any of the older philosophers, although resurrection has been mentioned in different religions for at least a thousand years and the philosophers whose theories have come to us are of a more recent date. The first to mention bodily resurrection were the prophets of Israel after Moses, as is evident from the Psalms and many books attributed to the Israelites. Bodily resurrection is also affirmed in the New Testament and attributed by tradition to Jesus. It is a theory of the Sabaeans, whose religion is according to Ibn Hazm the oldest.

But the philosophers in particular, as is only natural, regard this doctrine as most important and believe in it most, and the reason is that it is conducive to an order amongst men on which man’s being, as man, depends and through which he can attain the greatest happiness proper to him, for it is a necessity for the existence of the moral and speculative virtuess and of the practical sciences in men. They hold namely that man cannot live in this world without the practical sciences, nor in this and the next world without the speculative virtues, and that neither of these categories is perfected or completed without the practical virtues, b and that the practical virtues can only become strong through the knowledge and adoration of God by the services prescribed by the laws of the different religions, like offerings and prayers and supplications and other such utterances by which praise is rendered to God, the angels, and the prophets.

In short, the philosophers believe that religious laws are necessary political arts, the principles of which are taken from natural reason and inspiration, especially in what is common to all religions, although religions differ here more or less. The philosophers further hold that one must not object either through a positive or through a negative statement to any of the general religious principles, for instance whether it is obligatory to serve God or not, and still more whether God does or does not exist, and they affirm this also concerning the other religious principles, for instance bliss in the beyond and its possibility; for all religions agree in the acceptance of another existence after death, although they differ in the description of this existence, just as they agree about the knowledge, attributes, and acts of God, although they differ more or less in their utterances about the essence and the acts of the Principle. All religions agree also about the acts conducive to bliss in the next world, although they differ about the determination of these acts.

In short, the religions are, according to the philosophers, obligatory,  since they lead towards wisdom in a way universal to all human beings, for philosophy only leads a certain number of intelligent people to the knowledge of happiness, and they therefore have to learn wisdom, whereas religions seek the instruction of the masses generally. Notwithstanding this, we do not find any religion which is not attentive to the special needs of the learned, although it is primarily concerned with the things in which the masses participate. And since the existence of the learned class is only perfected and its full happiness attained by participation with the class of the masses, the general doctrine is also obligatory for the existence and life of this special class, both at the time of their youth and growth (and nobody doubts this), and when they pass on to attain the excellence which is their distinguishing characteristic. For it belongs to the necessary excellence of a man of learning that he should not despise the doctrines in which he has been brought up, and that he should explain them in the fairest way, and that he should understand that the aim of these doctrines lies in their universal character, not in their particularity, and that, if he expresses a doubt concerning the religious principles in which he has been brought up, or explains them in a way contradictory to the prophets and turns away from their path, he merits more than anyone else that the term unbeliever should be applied to him, and he is liable to the penalty for unbelief in the religion in which he has been brought up.

Further, he is under obligation to choose the best religion of his period, even when they are all equally true for him, and he must believe that the best will be abrogated by the introduction of a still better. Therefore the learned who were instructing the people in Alexandria became Muslims when Islam reached them, and the learned in the Roman Empire became Christians when the religion of Jesus was introduced there. And nobody doubts that among the Israelites there were many learned men, and this is apparent from the books which are found amongst the Israelites and which are attributed to Solomon. And never has wisdom ceased among the inspired, i. e. the prophets, and therefore it is the truest of all sayings that every prophet is a sage, ‘ but not every sage a prophet; the learned, however, are those of whom it is said that they are the heirs of the prophets.

And since in the principles of the demonstrative sciences there are postulates and axioms which are assumed, this must still more be the case for the religions which take their origin in inspiration and reason. Every religion exists through inspiration and is blended with reason. And he who holds that it is possible that there should exist a natural religion based on reason alone must admit that this religion must be less perfect than those which spring from reason and inspiration. And all philosophers agree that the principles of action must be taken on authority, for there is no demonstration for the necessity of action except through the existence of virtues which are realized through moral actions and through practice.

And it is clear from this that all the learned hold about religions the opinion that the principles of the actions and regulations prescribed in every religion are received from the prophets and lawgivers, who regard those necessary principles as praiseworthy which most incite the masses to the performance of virtuous acts; and so nobody doubts that those who are brought up on those principles are of a more perfect virtue than those who are brought up on others, for instance that the prayers in our religion hold men back from ignominy and wickedness, as God’s word certifies, and that the prayer ordained in our religion fulfils this purpose more truly than the prayers ordained in others, and this by the conditions imposed on it of number, time, recitation, purity, and desistance from acts and words harmful to it. And the same may be said of the doctrine of the beyond in our religion, which is more conducive to virtuous actions than what is said in others. Thus to represent the beyond in material images is more appropriate than purely spiritual representation, as is said in the Divine Words: ‘The likeness of the Paradise which those who fear God are promised, beneath it rivers flow. ‘; And the Prophet has said: ‘In it there is what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor ever entered the mind of man. ‘And Ibn Abbas said: ‘There is no relation in the other world to this world but the names. ‘ And he meant by this that the beyond is another creation of a higher order than this world, and another phase superior to our earthly. He need not deny this who believes that we see one single thing developing itself from one phase to another, for instance the transformation of the inorganic into beings conscious of their own essences, i. e. the intellectual forms. Those who are in doubt about this and object to it and try to explain it are those who seek to destroy the religious prescriptions and to undo the virtues. They are, as everyone knows, the heretics and those who believe that the end of man consists only in sensual enjoyment. When such people have really the power to destroy religious belief both theologians and philosophers will no doubt kill them, but when they have no actual power the best arguments that can be brought against them are those that are contained in the Holy Book. What Ghazali says against them is right, and in refuting them it must be admitted that the soul is immortal, as is proved by rational and religious proofs, and it must be assumed that what arises from the dead is simulacra’ of these earthly bodies, not these bodies themselves, for that which has perished does not return individually and a thing can only return as an image of that which has perished, not -as a being identical with what has perished, as Ghazali declares. Therefore the doctrine of resurrection of those theologians who believe that the soul is an accident and that the bodies which arise are identical with those that perished cannot be true. For what perished and became anew can only be specifically, not numerically, one, and this argument is especially valid against those theologians who hold that an accident does not last two moments.

Ghazali accused the philosophers of heresy on three points. One concerns this question, and we have already shown what opinion the philosophers hold about this, and that according to them it is a speculative problem. The second point is the theory attributed to the philosophers that God does not know individuals, but here again we have shown that they do not say this. The third point is their theory of the eternity of the world, but again we have shown that what they understand by this term has not the meaning for which they are accused of heresy by the theologians. Ghazali asserts in this book that no Muslim believes in a purely spiritual resurrection, and in another book he says that the Sufis hold it. According to this latter assertion those who believe in a spiritual but not in a perceptible resurrection are not declared heretics by universal consent, and this permits belief in a spiritual resurrection. But again in another book he repeats his accusation of heresy as if it rested on universal consent . And all this, as you see, is confusing. And no doubt this man erred in religious questions as he erred in rational problems. God is the succourer for the finding of what is true, and He invests with the truth whomever He chooses.

I have decided to break off my inquiry about these things here, and I ask pardon for their discussion, and if it were not an obligation to seek the truth for those who are entitled to it-and those are, as Galen says, one in a thousand’-and to prevent from discussion those who have no claim to it, I would not have treated all this. And God knows every single letter, and perhaps God will accept my excuse and forgive my stumbling in His bounty, generosity, munificence and excellence-there is no God but He!

The End

This concludes the complete translation of the book. The translator’s notes which are another volume have not been included here. If you have any suggestions or corrections do let me know.

What I would like to do besides adding the translator’s notes is to link the sections directly to al-Ghazali’s original work. Al-Ghazali’s original work has been translated by M. Marmura who mentioned in his introduction that S. Van Den Bergh has made errors in the translation due to his understanding  of al-Ghazali’s work that Ibn Rushd quotes above. 

E-mail: m@hozien.com.