الانكسار المراوغ للعقلانية: من ابن رشد إلى ابن خلدون / The Evasive Defeat of Rationalism: From Ibn Rushd to Ibn Khaldūn


Ali Mabrook



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مبروك, علي; Mabrook, Ali

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[The author argues that contemporary Arab rationalists attribute the failure of rationalism in contemporary Arab thought to external factors, namely social and political authoritarianism. Likewise, they blame the failure of medieval Arab rationalists to their conflict with the ruling ideology of their time. The explanation betrays an apologetic position, rather than a probing investigation. The author of this article, in contrast to the above, searches within the history of Arab rationalism for internal aspects of its fragility that made it unable to withstand pressures and march forward. He argues that medieval Arab rationalism had in fact assimilated authoritarian structures and hierarchical orders within its own supposedly independent thinking. The privileging of the upper versus lower, and the intellectual elite versus popular masses were intrinsic divisions in the mind-set of Ibn Rushd. His hermeneutics betrays an authoritarian tendency that is thinly masked. In fact, as the author argues, the discourse of Ibn Rushd crystallized within the dominant Ash'arite discourse and links dialectically with al-Ghazālī's texts. The Ash'arites provided the over-arching discourse in medieval Islam, and not even Ibn Rushd managed to rid himself from its impact. Soon enough, Ibn Khaldūn reversed the relation of Ibn Rushd to the Ash'arites: Instead of presenting a rationalist discourse masking Ash'arite foundation as Ibn Rushd did, he presented an Ash'arite discourse enveloped in rational methodology. His intellectual instruments modified the wide-spread practise of transmission based on a chain of authorities, in favor of rational and reflective examination of history. However, rationality for Ibn Khaldūn was an instrument which masked conventional wisdom and hegemonic thought. Between Ibn Rushd whose surface rationalism betrays a deep-rooted Ash'arite conservatism and Ibn Khaldūn's outright Ash'arite worldview supported by rationalist methods of investigation, the circle of Arab rationalism enclosed a compromise. Modern Arab intellectuals, the author asserts, continue to defend rationalism and modernism (borrowed form the West) while remain traditional on the deep level. Rationalism both in the medieval and the contemporary Arab culture has remained an unfinished project.]

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