Tuesday, April 1, 2014

517: Reason in Arabic philosophy

I am still puzzled by the words of Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī  (854 CE – 925 CE), who asserts that reason is the basis of our human existence:

“In sum, reason is something without which our state would be the state of beasts, infants, and the insane.”, he wrote.

An American catholic bishop compares  in public his president Obama with Stalin and Hitler. Entire nations get into turmoil by a simple drawing. How reasonable is religion? How reasonable is it to be a believer in this or that?

For me the concept of reason is closely related to tolerance, to exchange of arguments, coming to conclusions based on facts and logical reasoning.

Our present subject of study is Arabic philosophy, but also and more often called Islamic philosophy. It shows that you can’t understand the one without  the other.

Contrary to our previous subjects, Chinese and Indian philosophy, it was not to difficult to keep all kinds of theology outside, 

but in the present case the entire history of the subject is so closely intertwined with theology, which is Quran, that I have to deal with this.

In one of my lectures on Indian philosophy I said that the Indians went so far as to concede, that if one wishes to debate with an opponent, one must first find a common epistemological ground upon which to argue. 

In case of Christianity or Islam belief is true, actual knowledge and the source of this knowledge is a book and the source of the book is revelation 

and the revelation is some mental state of the author(s) of the book and this mental state should be accepted as a justified source of information.

al-Razi said: :Through reason we arrive at knowledge of the Creator -He is exalted!- which is the most immense knowledge we can to attain, and the most beneficial object of our aspiration. “

This brings up the question “Is reason a means to show the rationality of our beliefs, to show the reality of revelations?” 

 In English the word reason  has long had, and still has, a large number and a wide variety of senses and uses, related to one another in ways that are often complicated and often not clear.

However, there is one particular sense of the word in which it, with its synonyms or analogues in other languages, has figured prominently in philosophical controversy. 

This is the sense, sometimes distinguished typographically by an initial capital, in which the term is taken to designate a mental faculty or capacity, in which reason might, for example, be regarded as coordinate with, but distinguishable from, sensation, emotion, or will.

This allows me to ask,  what are human beings in a position to do, in virtue of their possession of the faculty of reason? What, by means of reasoning, are we in a position to achieve?

And we have to ask these questions, because by referring to the rationality to use what is written in some book, in our world it is apparently justified to compare a current president of the US with Stalin and Hitler, or to simply murder people with car bombs or to blow up yourself.

In other words, in the context of our present subject, Islamic philosophy, there is all reason to question the rationality of belief.

Humans, claimed Aristotle, are rational animals. However, recent psychological studies purport to show that people systematically deviate from canons of logic, probability theory, decision theory and statistics.

Reasoning is central to the acquisition and improvement of our beliefs. If a belief is recognized as sustained through defective reasoning, it is not rational to maintain the belief.

If we look at our world of today and see things happen which are beyond reason, can we judge them by making reason the standard, or transcends belief reason?

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: Thank you…^_^
[13:21] Roo: who are you thanking?
[13:21] Zanicia: Bravo Prof.
[13:21] Roo: have you finished already?
[13:21] Roo: オゥ☆ ohhh
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: now its discussion time
[13:21] herman Bergson: You for your attention and presence :-))
[13:21] Roo: ah
[13:21] Zanicia: yes
[13:21] Roo: your welcome.
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: well islam is for once the most violent of all religions
[13:22] herman Bergson: It always has been Bejiita
[13:22] Areyn Laurasia: It's not the fault of any religion but rather the interpretations of such by flawed reasoning..
[13:22] oola Neruda: yes
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: they take for granted its ok to murder the ones different thinking and even marry away small children in some cases
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: totally insane i d say
[13:22] Zanicia: true
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: but i think the original quran is not saying that
[13:22] oola Neruda: is it the religion or the people who want power etc... USING it as the excuse for what they call others to do
[13:23] oola Neruda: divine right of kings
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: but some extreme people have modified it
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: its not reason i d say to go by those rules
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: that they use but they seem to believe that
[13:24] herman Bergson: My point today is more the observation that we make reason  or say rationality to a standard to judge human behavior in an ethical sense
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: then the wuestion is what is the true reason
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: question
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: theirs is not
[13:25] herman Bergson: The Declaration odf Human Rights is a product of reaon....
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: yes that i call true reason
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: and a will to make peace with each other
[13:25] herman Bergson: and we declare what it states as RIGHTS....based on reason...or?
[13:25] Roo: and also the judicial system is a product of reasoning also
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: not blowing each other up all you can with jihad or similar things
[13:26] herman Bergson: Indeed Roo
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: peace and happiness is a basic drive for people naturally thats why id say this must be true reason
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: one of the things
[13:26] herman Bergson: And here we have Islamic Philosophy.....intertwined with Quran...with beliefs
[13:27] oola Neruda: reason and morality are not necessarily the same thing
[13:27] herman Bergson: they aren’t oola, no
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: also science is reason because it seeks the real truth and no supernatural frabbajabba
[13:27] herman Bergson: it is reason that defines morality....
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: how things REALLY work
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: therfore science = reason as well
[13:27] Areyn Laurasia: what if.. science is tied to religion in the end?
[13:28] herman Bergson: Well Areyn I was just thinking about that....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: but then its no real science because science is to truly have seen how it is
[13:28] herman Bergson: Just take this....
[13:28] oola Neruda: reason should be a-moral
[13:28] Areyn Laurasia: science is not all solid facts.. the deeper you go, the more unknowns there are
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: if i can really see a god, or santa clause then if isn’t it scientifically proved that they exist
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: same with ghosts but not before that
[13:28] herman Bergson: one of the fundamental philosophical questions is the relation between knowledge and belief
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: and so far i’ve never seen any of these things
[13:29] herman Bergson: Knowledge and belief....
[13:29] herman Bergson: But take reason and our assumption that is our faculty to define life....
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: complex it is for sure
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: but very interesting
[13:29] herman Bergson: this is in fact a belief...
[13:30] oola Neruda: good point, Herman
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:30] herman Bergson: and science..its axioms are based on beliefs...and tested every day
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yet we call science knowledge.....
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: indeed, we for ex know how atoms are made up because we have studied and seen that it really is this way
[13:31] herman Bergson: which implies the assumption of certainty....matter of fact...never changing....stable....
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: therefor we know most about how the world works but not all, at least not yet
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: some is still hiding
[13:31] oola Neruda: bu it isn't
[13:31] herman Bergson: yes this assumption is based on belief....for instance the belief that all began with the Big Bang...
[13:31] oola Neruda: but it isn't ... stable
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: the big bang theory is not nailed 100 %
[13:32] oola Neruda: schroedinger's cat
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: just a theory
[13:32] herman Bergson: In other words....
[13:32] herman Bergson: knowledge is relative....
[13:32] herman Bergson: not absolute...
[13:32] Zanicia: nailed? It is hopelessly flawed!
[13:33] herman Bergson: That brings us back to religious belief and its claims that it is knowledge
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: but you must at least see some sign of a thing before you can say it is really there
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: not like with gods, how many people have actually sensed the presence of one
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: not many i thing even of the believing group
[13:33] oola Neruda: so much theory is what they see in equations....and it comes out as knowledge
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: or even more seen one
[13:34] Merlin: yes I do not entirely agree with that statement the knowledge is only relative
[13:34] herman Bergson: And there we are Bejiita....who draws the line between what is and what is not?
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: its tricky indeed but i want to see a thing for myself and not accept it just because some book says it without more detailed fact around it
[13:35] Areyn Laurasia: I do not see electricity but I know with it's absence my computer would not work.
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:35] Areyn Laurasia: can I deny it's existence?
[13:35] herman Bergson: No Aryen....
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: and if u stink the finger in an outlet u get a nasty shock
[13:35] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:35] Zanicia: Bravo Areyn
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: so its really existing
[13:35] herman Bergson: and it isnt necessary either....
[13:35] Merlin: there are other ways of seeing something than just visually
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: so electricity is fact, no magical force
[13:36] herman Bergson: only when you claim that the eyes and ears are the only sources of information then electricity does not exist....
[13:36] herman Bergson: but we have indirect means of observation AND  DEDUCTIVE reasoning here
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: also we know how electricity works, that it is because electrons can move between metal atoms
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: and the principle of induction that make generators possible
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: all this we know
[13:37] herman Bergson: It is like higgs particles....
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: its fact, not magic
[13:37] herman Bergson: you can not see them....
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:37] herman Bergson: but based on what you can see you can logically deduce that this or that would react on this or that which only can be the case if....and so on
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: was just a theory but now they are at least almost sure it is there however cern NEVER says something is really there until they have a sigma 5 on it which is 99.999999999999% certainity
[13:38] herman Bergson: I have no problem with that
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: same with dark matter
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: also just a theory so far
[13:39] herman Bergson: my "problem" with Islamic philosophy is caused by what I see happening in teh Islamic world....
[13:39] herman Bergson: But  not in the entire Islamic world tobegin with
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: indeed, its going all out of control, more violent then ever
[13:40] herman Bergson: and the apparent lack of reason sometimes
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:40] Areyn Laurasia: why is that?
[13:40] Roo: becasue people have different morals
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: i think its cause they fear they will loose their power and get desperate
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: trying to eliminate the opposers
[13:40] herman Bergson: So...in the next lectures I'll look into the history of that world....to find an answer to the current situation
[13:40] Areyn Laurasia: would that violence be there without external instigation?
[13:41] herman Bergson: yes Areyn......
[13:41] Merlin: There are often crimes in UK which we discover were from ethnic minorities
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: well before they went into iraq it was better then it is now
[13:41] Merlin: Muslims typically
[13:41] Merlin: such as child abuse cases
[13:41] herman Bergson: Same here Merlin.....
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: same in egypt, the arabic spring turned into a tragedy
[13:41] Merlin: But nobody is allowed to make this observation
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: making it worse and not better
[13:41] herman Bergson: But it has nothing to do with being muslim.....
[13:41] Merlin: that they are mostly muslims who do this
[13:42] herman Bergson: that is about cultural integration....
[13:42] Merlin: It is F-ing illegal to speak out
[13:42] Merlin: Tony Blair introduced this
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: no but same principle, as long its not theated its calm but when the mighty ones fear their beliefs and power is under a threat hell break loose
[13:42] Merlin: Damn him
[13:43] Gemma Allen: there is a short distance between being upset by crime and associating it with minorities
[13:43] herman Bergson: We have a politician here who publicly asked "Do you want more or less Morrocans in The Hague?"
[13:43] Gemma Allen: nto a good idea
[13:43] herman Bergson: and the crowd yelled "Less..less.less....!!!"
[13:43] Merlin: hehe
[13:43] herman Bergson: Utmost stupidity...
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: its so complex and so hard to get all details about what is really happening in the world now but ive seen so many tragic things in the news ect
[13:43] Roo: thats not funny really.
[13:44] Gemma Allen: right
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:44] herman Bergson: A lot of people filled a complaint at the Court against this person at the moment....
[13:44] Zanicia: Damn good idea if you ask me.....in my country we are not asked abd are becoming completely overrun with foreigners
[13:44] Areyn Laurasia: who wouldn't want to stay in their own country if they can?
[13:44] Gemma Allen: oh dear this is deteriorating
[13:44] herman Bergson: Indeed Areyn....
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:45] Roo: it did along time ago Gemma
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: they flee for a reason
[13:45] herman Bergson: But I think we are drifting away from our topic of today now :-))
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: that bombs rain on them
[13:45] Gemma Allen: i mean the discussion here
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: and other awful things
[13:45] Gemma Allen: exactly
[13:45] Areyn Laurasia: back to reason :)
[13:45] Roo: yes i agree Gemma
[13:45] herman Bergson: YEs....plz
[13:46] herman Bergson: But I agree...this issue touches on many questions....
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: very many
[13:46] herman Bergson: But I'll continue in the enxt lectures with the historical dievelopment of how it ended up like it is now....
[13:46] Gemma Allen: who aare the muslim philosophers ??? are then teh imams?
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: id say this is one of the most complex subjects we have dealt with so far
[13:47] herman Bergson: No historically they arent Gemma
[13:47] Gemma Allen: or are there actual philosophers within the religion
[13:47] Gemma Allen: or outside of it
[13:47] Zanicia: outside certainly
[13:47] herman Bergson: That is what we have to find out.....
[13:47] oola Neruda: there are poets in that culture that i consider philosophers too
[13:47] Gemma Allen: ok'
[13:47] oola Neruda: but not in the same way as western philosophy
[13:48] herman Bergson: the point is that Arabic philosophy has leaned heavily on Greek philosophy around 650 - 900 CE...
[13:48] Gemma Allen: ah
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: aaa i see
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: hmm think it sounds familiar that they have some connection far back indeed
[13:48] herman Bergson: on the other hand there was the political development motivated by Mohammed and hsi Quran...
[13:49] herman Bergson: ti is not the same story...but so closely involved with each other...
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:49] herman Bergson: I hope we'll discover what the difference is between Arabic philosophy and the other half....
[13:50] herman Bergson: what is it...Quran....muslim culture....?
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: indeed and who was really this mohammed
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: is he a god or what is he really?
[13:50] oola Neruda: we can ask that same question of Christianity... is it the culture or the bible
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: never understood that
[13:50] herman Bergson: Just a man Bejiita...
[13:50] Areyn Laurasia: definitely not a god :)
[13:50] oola Neruda: he was a prophet
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: he was some prophet as i get it
[13:51] Gemma Allen: nono
[13:51] Merlin: you could say that about Jesus too
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: its a bit like buddhism, is also a real person and no god
[13:51] Merlin: in the case of Jesus it is even more vague
[13:51] Gemma Allen: well the three religions all eminate from the same background
[13:51] Merlin: Abraham
[13:51] Gemma Allen: abraham is considered the father of the three
[13:51] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: trus
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:51] Merlin: Abey babey
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: there we have a connection
[13:51] herman Bergson: There is little known about the historical Jesus person.....but he has lived...and was killed by the romans for political reasons....maybe the only facts we have
[13:52] herman Bergson: With Muhammed it is a different story...
[13:52] herman Bergson: There is more documented about his historical existence
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: have jesus even existed for real and also if he did was he really born at year 0?
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: and who was he then and what was it that made him the son of god?
[13:52] Merlin: oh we havent time to get into this
[13:53] herman Bergson: You may assume that the Jesus person indeed really has existed
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: this must have come from something that really happened
[13:53] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:53] Gemma Allen: he has been documented in historical writings outside the bible
[13:53] herman Bergson: But again....let's stick to Islamic philosophy now :-)
[13:53] Gemma Allen: and the year is within 4
[13:53] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:53] Gemma Allen: true
[13:53] Merlin: yes please Herman
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: cant just have been a myth someone just wrote down ike a book author
[13:53] Gemma Allen: no bejita
[13:54] herman Bergson: I think it is best to await the next lecture to get on the right track again :-))
[13:54] Gemma Allen: ok good idea
[13:54] Areyn Laurasia: agreed :)
[13:54] Gemma Allen: ty
[13:54] herman Bergson: So, thank you all for your participation....
[13:54] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...^_^
[13:54] Gemma Allen: will try to be on time tuesday
[13:54] Zanicia: Thank you Herman
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: wow this was great
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:54] herman Bergson: Have a nice weekend you all ^_^
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: ot more to think about
[13:54] Areyn Laurasia: Thanks for the insight. Lovely weekend to you too

[13:54] Bejiita Imako: cu soon

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