What is Neil deGrasse Tyson's Academic Story
Has al-Ghazali led to the decline of science in Islam as Neil Tyson claims?
This is an old myth from the days of orientalism. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is often edited precisely by people who simply read popular reports from the likes of Tyson (or Skeptoid Podcast or The New Atlantis ) that were produced with no understanding of the history of science or human thought. The fact is, Ghazzālī nowhere stated that reason or knowledge are useless. On the contrary, he was trying to construct a better model of human reason and natural knowledge than previous philosophers, hence the title of his book The incoherence of the philosophers . The "philosophers" in the title are literally "lovers of knowledge" (φιλόσοφος) from the Platonic tradition; Ghazzālī does not criticize the knowledge itself. In the words of a historian of philosophy,
Ghazali makes it clear that his aim is to refute the metaphysical theories of Islamic philosophers, rather than their natural sciences. [...] Indeed, the misguided zealot who attacks science in the false belief that he is defending religion does harm not to science but to religion. It does this damage, argues Ghazali, precisely because the science is demonstrable and safe. If it actually contradicts religion, then the latter becomes suspect and not science.
Michael Marmura, "Ghazali and Demonstrative Science." Journal of the History of Philosophy , Volume 3, Number 2, October 1965, pp. 183-204
Or to quote Ghazzālī's own words:
The best thing atheists are pleased about is that the defender of religion declares [that the results of an astronomical observation] contradict religion. Thus, the way for [atheists] to refute religion becomes easy when like-minded people [such an argument] are made a condition [of their truth].
Quoted in Basit Bilal Koshul: "Ghazzālī, Ibn Rushd and Islam's Residence in Modernity: A Comparative Analysis" Islamic Studies Vol. 43, no. 2 (summer 2004), pp. 207-225
Ghazzālī lived from AD 1058 to 1111. His criticism of the religionists' blind devotion to Aristotelian metaphysics surfaced in France over a century later (the famous convictions of 1210 and 1277). Richard P. Aulie, a science journalist and Protestant Christian, suggests a causal link between the two events:
Al-Ghazali's place in the rise of modern science is clear and significant. It lies in its opposition to large parts of Aristotelian thought and that through its theistic affirmation of creation. Creation meant for him a coming into being; Creation was an expression of the divine will. For him, arising meant that creation was separate from the Creator. By affirming creation and rejecting eternity, he helped to leave an inescapable doubt in the heart of Aristotelian thought. ... [T] his creed was bequeathed to Christianity by Islam in the later Middle Ages to become an integral part of the rise of science during the Renaissance.
Richard P. Aulie, "Al-Ghazali Contra Aristotle: An Unforeseen Overture to Science in 11th Century Baghdad". Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith vol. 45 (March 1994): 26-46.
It is completely anachronistic, let alone philosophically dubious, to object to Ghazzālī's philosophy for placing too much emphasis on theology and divine revelation. For these reasons one could also object to Thomas Aquinas or Duns Scotus. As in Aquinas and Scotus, Ghazzālī was not intended to describe natural mechanisms, but rather to accurately describe human reason and its relationship to the world. His work is often compared to Descartes, although it differs greatly from epistemology. He is also compared with Kant and Wittgenstein, namely:
While Ghazzālī does not formulate the subject that way, the fundamental mistake of philosophers is that they associate the results of logical thinking with empirical reality. Centuries before Wittgenstein, Ghazzālī argues that philosophy violates its own rules and violates an area for which it has no jurisdiction.
Koshul, "Ghazzālī, Ibn Rushd and the stay of Islam in modern times"
A blogger named Ibrahim Arsalan responded directly to Tyson and wrote:
The quarrel that Al Ghazali would have with the philosophers, and that Averroes would have with him, is about the nature of aristotleic metaphysics, not the demonic nature of scientific thought. Such an attack by Tyson on Al Ghazali is ridiculous considering that it promoted the development of secular methods and is later lauded by European secular thinkers whom Tyson is so fond of praising. Furthermore, Tyson is wrong when he says of Al Ghazali: "... from his work arises the philosophy that mathematics is the work of the devil". Al Ghazali named the sciences and mathematics of his time actually mamduh (commendable), adding "... because of their absence the community would be reduced to narrow straits."
You can find out more about Ghazzālī in this podcast: History of Philosophy Without Gaps. This podcast also covers the full spectrum of Islamic philosophy in his time and after him.
- How can I get success and peace
- Stores Google Analytics consumer data
- What can be found in wetlands
- How does Google earn with Google Map
- Are there any analytics companies in Hyderabad
- Why are not all prisons as safe as possible?
- What are the implications of the truth
- Where can I learn advanced math online
- Who captains Jules Verne's submarine Nautilus
- How well do you work with others
- What makes you mad at NFL football
- What colors go with burgundy Bandhgala
- Is it wrong to kill an ant?
- How does a Gemalto security token work
- What is Bosch's reliability in relation to dishwashers
- Where can I play football in Vishakhapatnam
- What do Bulgarians love about Russia
- The iPod Touch has a Bluetooth function
- What problems can e-books for libraries cause
- My wife is being followed
- Why have all psychiatric clinics closed
- Have you ever been pwned
- What makes you someone
- Why is volunteering necessary
- Are there hormones in milk
- Is online advertising ineffective
- Space travel is worth it
- What for is translucent face powder
- Did asteroids ever hit Jupiter's core?
- Which is cheaper concrete or asphalt driveway
- Is anesthesia possible without amnesia
- Add or multiply exponents
- Are vegetables protein