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Al-Ghazālī’s Sufi Account of Faith

  • Zain Ali
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion book series (PFPR)

Abstract

Al-Ghazālī’s case for scepticism aims to challenge the common-sense view of the world. He maintains that the deliverances of sense perception and human reason are not trustworthy. If we concede this form of scepticism, then we must also be prepared to suspend the enterprise of philosophy of religion. The philosophy of religion involves engaging with theistic belief through a process of critical reflection, thus assuming a degree of trust in sense perception and human reason as guides to truth. Consequently, if we do not trust our cognitive capacities to grasp truth, then there would be little motivation to critically reflect on our faith commitments. Once we concede that truth is beyond our grasp, it would be pointless either to seek truth or to guard against casual and arbitrary commitment through a process of critical reflection. In response to this view, I have argued that the Ghazālī’an strategy assumes that the possibility of being in a dream state is reason enough to withhold trust in our cognitive capacities. This approach can in turn be used against the sceptic; that is, we can be entitled to trust, since it is also possible that our cognitive capacities are in general trustworthy. We can also adopt an attitude of fallibilism, which is the view that we can, in general and for the most part, trust the deliverances of our cognitive capacities.

Keywords

Religious Belief True Belief Cognitive Capacity Sense Perception Human Reason 
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Notes

  1. 3.
    I have adapted this argument from Immanuel Kant. See Paul Guyer. ‘Immanuel Kant’, (ed.) E. Craig, Routiedge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (London: Routledge, 1998Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Quran (Brentwood. MD: Amana Corp., 1993)Google Scholar
  3. 23.
    Michael Sudduth, ‘Reformed Epistemology and Christian Apologetics’, Religious Studies, 2003, 39: 303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 33.
    John Bishop and Imran Aijaz, ‘How to Answer the de jure Question about Christian Belief, International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, 2004, 56: 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 43.
    Duncan Pritchard, ‘Reforming Reformed Epistemology’, International Philosophical Quarterly, 2003, 43: 43–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Zain Ali 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zain Ali
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AucklandNew Zealand

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