Al-ghazali on power, causation, and 'acquisition'

Philosophy East and West 57 (1):1-13 (2007)
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Abstract

: Al-Ghazali on Power, Causation, and 'Acquisition' Edward Omar Moad In Al-Iqtişādfial-I'tiqād (Moderation in belief ), at the end of his chapter on divine power, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali writes, "No created thing comes about through another [created thing]. Rather, all come about through [divine] power." A precise understanding of what al-Ghazali means by this statement requires an understanding of his conception of power. Here, we will articulate this conception of power and show how it renders a distinctive occasionalist thesis that follows from al-Ghazali's doctrine of the pervasiveness of divine power. Second, we will review an argument by al-Ghazali against natural necessity and show that the argument turns on the clear implication that, on empirical grounds, al-Ghazali's conception of power is the only understanding of causation that we have. This follows from an epistemology of power held by al-Ghazali that bears basic similarities to that of John Locke. Third, we will address the tension between such an epistemology of power and the implications of occasionalism with a look at al-Ghazali's discussion of the theory of kash, or 'acquisition.'

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