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Moffatt S.J., John (2021) Secondary Causality In The Worlds Of Fakhr Al-Dīn Al-Rāzī. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study builds on the work of Ayman Shihadeh, Bilal Ibrahim and Michael Noble, among others, and explores the place of secondary causality in scientific and theological accounts of the universe offered by the Ashʿarī philosopher-theologian, Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 1210). Three of his works, the Mabāḥith al-mashriqiyya, the Sharḥ al-Ishārāt and the Maṭālib al-ʿāliya provide the primary focus. The study investigates how Rāzī, a thinker in the Ash‘arī tradition, discusses secondary causality in his critical but creative dialogue with Ibn Sīnā’s thought and with the wider philosophical traditions of East and West. It traces how he develops a distinctive account of the world and its relation to God that is philosophically respectable and satisfies Ash‘arī kalām’s concern to protect divine power and freedom of action. The investigation is set in the context of Rāzī’s account of the content and substructures of the universe, his epistemology and logic and his treatment of kalām and Avicennan arguments for the existence and wisdom of God. It analyses his response to Ashʿarī criticism of philosophical positions on divine freedom, God’s knowledge of particulars, the origination of the world and the resurrection of the body. It reflects on his own deeper purposes and commitments apropos reason, salvation, science and religion. The argument concludes that Rāzī does accept some form of secondary causality throughout his work. Though he is not an Ashʿarī occasionalist, he nevertheless answers a major theological concern of Ashʿarism, and affirms the absolute sovereignty of God over all events, while also affirming a universe that includes natural and intelligent agent causes. In the course of his writing, he moves beyond narrow kalam-falsafa debates into an eclectic search for universal wisdom guided by reason and confirmed by revelation.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Ayman Shihadeh
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2024 11:25

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