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ISBN 978-954-07-3605-1

THE SCIENCE AND EDUCATION AT


THE BEGINNING
OF THE 21ST CENTURY IN TURKEY

VOLUME: 2

Editors

Prof. Dr. Recep Efe


Prof. Dr. Ordenbek Mazbaev
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zdravka Kostova
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vedat Çalışkan
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rıza Sam
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Neslihan Sam
Assist. Prof. Dr. Mehmet Bayartan
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emin Atasoy

St. KliMENt OhRiDSKi UNiVERSity PRESS


SOfiA • 2013

ISBN 978-954-07-3605-1
CONTENTS

• Preface���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������
• Biography and Academic Works of Prof. Dr. Oğuz EROL����������������������
• Contents������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������

I. SOCIOLOGY

PICTURE IN MIND: SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY AND SOCIETAL GENDER: ��������� 3


Ayşe Serap BELLİ
GLOBALIZATION AND INFORMATION SOCIETY IN THE CONTEXT OF DANIEL
BELL AND ANTHONY GIDDENS EXPLANATIONS: ���������������������������������������������������� 9
Celalettin YANIK
RETHINKING POLITICAL ECONOMY IN NEO-LIBERAL ERA: AN EVALUATION
IN THE CONTEXT OF LATEST GLOBAL CRISIS: ��������������������������������������������������������� 21
Esra GÜLER
SOCIOLOGY AS AN ENDEAVOUR FOR DEVELOPING A SECULAR MORALITY:�� 36
Fatih ARSLAN
COMPARISON OF SUSTAINABILITY PROBLEM IN HEALTH FINANCING
BETWEEN EU COUNTRIES AND TURKEY: ������������������������������������������������������������������ 46
Fehmi Ali ILDIR
URBAN POVERTY AND URBAN TRANSFORMATION (DENIZLI SAMPLE):����������� 59
Gönül İÇLİ
A GENDERED SPACE: HOME-BASED WORKING WOMEN: �������������������������������������� 76
Gül AKTAŞ
A REVIEW OF WOMEN’S CHANGED/BEING CHANGING IDENTITY IN TURKEY
FROM THE ASPECT OF MODERNIZATION: ������������������������������������������������������������������ 88
Gülsen DEMİR, Fazilet DALFİDAN
THE SOCIO-HISTORICAL GENESIS OF ISLAMISM IN TURKEY: ������������������������������ 101
Güney ÇEĞİN, Rıza SAM
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ORGANIC LINK BETWEEN GLOBALIZATION AND
CAPITALISM IN REALIZING CURRENT WORLD SYSTEM:��������������������������������������� 115
Hande ŞAHİN
THE METHODOLOGICAL ADVANTAGES OF RELATIONAL SOCIOLOGY OVER
SUBSTANTIALIST SOCIOLOGY: THE NOTION OF SOCIAL CAPITAL OF PIERRE
BOURDIEU: ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 126
Hasan TÜZEN, Mustafa GÜLTEKİN
AN ESSAY ON PRIMITIVE: ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 133
Hasan TÜZEN

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THE SCIENCE AND EDUCATION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 21ST CENTURY IN TURKEY

CHANGE AND INDIVIDUAL IN THE RECENT TURKISH SOCIETY: ������������������������ 138


Huriye TEKİN ÖNÜR
CHANGING FAMILY STRUCTURE IN OUR DAY: ��������������������������������������������������������� 148
Mehmet MEDER, Zühal ÇİÇEK
CHINESE MIGRATION IN RUSSIAN SECURITY PERCEPTION: MYTHS AND
REALITIES: ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 181
Mert GÖKIRMAK
POSTCOLONIALISM: GATEWAY OR WALL IN IDENTITY FORMATION?:��������������� 197
Meryem AYAN
WITHIN THE SCOPE OF LIBERALIZATION OF MARKETS IN TURKEY,
EMERGENCE OF REGULATORY AUTHORITIES AND REGULATION IN ENERGY
MARKET: ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 206
Murat ŞAHİN
THE DICHOTOMIES OF ECOLOGICAL ECONOMY AND FREE MARKET
ECONOMY: NATURAL SUSTAINABILITY INSTRUMENTALISM: ����������������������������� 214
Neslihan SAM, Rıza SAM
COMPARISON OF CLASSICAL MARXISM WITH CLASSICAL ANARCHISM IN
THE CONTEXT OF PROLETARIAN DICTATORSHIP: �������������������������������������������������� 226
Pınar KAYA ÖZÇELİK
THE VALUE OF THE PRINCIPLE OF “NO CRIME AND PUNISHMENT WITHOUT
LAW” IN TURKISH DISCIPLINARY LAW: ��������������������������������������������������������������������� 243
R. Cengiz DERDİMAN
GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS AND LIVES UNDER SURVEILLANCE:������� 256
Rıza SAM, Neslihan SAM
THE ROLE OF ORGANIZATIONAL EMPLOYMENT OVER WORKERS’ DAILY LIFE
PATTERN IN TURKEY: ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 270
Serkan GÜZEL
CONTRADICTION BETWEEN WORK LIFE AND NON-WORK LIFE WITHIN
SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE: ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 289
Serkan GÜZEL
MOTHERHOOD IN SOCIETY AND THE SOCIOLOGY OF MOTHERHOOD: ������������ 298
Sevinç GÜÇLÜ
RELIGION AND SACRED PLACES IN NOMADIC SOCIETIES: AN INTERDISCIPLI-
NARY INQUIRY: ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 316
Vefa Saygın ÖĞÜTLE, Süheyla İrem MUTLU
IDENTITY PATTERNS OF UNIVERSITY YOUTH ACCORDING TO GENDER: ��������� 339
Vehbi BAYHAN
AMERICAN IMAGE IN TURKISH PRESS (1945–1960): ������������������������������������������������ 348
Yüksel MARIM, Rıza SAM

xxii
CONTENTS

INVESTIGATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN UNEMPLOYMENT AND


CRIME IN TURKEY BETWEEN THE YEARS 1970–2008: ��������������������������������������������� 369
Zehra Berna AYDIN, İ. Nezih ABANOZ
ASSESSMENT OF THE SERVICE QUALITY IN MUNICIPALITIES CLOSED DOWN
IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW NO 5747: EXAMPLE OF MUNICIPALITY OF
GÖRÜKLE – BURSA PROVINCE: ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 383
Zehra Berna AYDIN, Nihal AÇIKALIN, Cantürk CANER

II. PHILOSOPHY

HEIDEGGER ON TECHNOLOGY “TECHNOLOGY PRECEDES SCIENCE!”:������������� 409


Mehmet Ali SARI, Ferhat AĞIRMAN
KUÇURADI’S CONCEPTION OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF VALUE: ������������������������������ 421
Ogün ÜREK
FEMINISM, GENDER AND REPRESENTATION: ����������������������������������������������������������� 431
Derya AYBAKAN SALİYA
ART AS A LANGAUGE: SCHOPENHAUER AND HEIDEGGER: ���������������������������������� 435
Işık EREN
COUNTERING MISCONCEPTIONS: �������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 439
Isil KOÇ
FUTURE TEACHERS IN TURKEY (ADAPTATION OF AL-FARABI’S SYSTEM OF
IDEAL STATE TO EDUCATION): ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 447
Fazıl KARAHAN
IBN SINĀ’S FORMULATION OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE: ‘THE NECESSARY EXIS-
TENT APPREHENDS INTELLECTUALLY ALL THINGS IN A UNIVERSAL WAY’: ������� 459
Hülya YALDIR
A PHILOSOPHICAL VIEW UPON ASSESSING LITERARY WORK: ���������������������������� 484
Işık EREN

III. GEOGRAPHY

FOUNDATIONS IN THE OTTOMAN URBAN CULTURE: �������������������������������������������� 489


Mehmet BAYARTAN
DEVELOPMENT OF INTERNATIONAL TOURISM IN LITHUANIA: INTER-REGIO-
NAL COMPARATIVE ASPECTS: �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 496
Eduardas SPIRIAJEVAS
RIVER DRAINAGE CHARACTERISTICS OF BIGA PLAIN: ����������������������������������������� 504
Alaeddin ŞENCAN, Recep EFE

xxiii
THE SCIENCE AND EDUCATION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 21ST CENTURY IN TURKEY

ELECTRIC ENERGY IN TURKEY ITS IMPORTANCE AS A SECONDARY ENERGY


SOURCE: ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 514
İsmet AKOVA
A STUDY ON THE CHANGES THAT THE FORESTLANDS IN TURKEY (THRACE)
HAVE UNDERGONE FOR THE LAST 50 YEARS: THE FORESTS OF ISTRANCA
(YILDIZ) MOUNTAINS: ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 529
Duran AYDINÖZÜ, B. Ünal İBRET
RAIL TRANSPORT IN TURKEY: �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 542
Erol KAPLUHAN
A RESEARCH IN THE FIELD OF INDUSTRIAL GEOGRAPHY: DENIZLI TEXTILE
INDUSTRY: �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 560
Erol KAPLUHAN
THE IMPACT OF GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS ON SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN
BANKING SYSTEMS: �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 580
Naci YILMAZ
THE FORMATION AND DYNAMICS OF THE AQUATIC COMPLEX ON ARAS
WATER JUNCTION RESERVOIR IN THE SOUTHERN CAUCASIA ���������������������������� 591
Fatih İMAT, Nazım BABABEYLİ
SOLID MATERIAL CURRENT IN RIVERS OF NAKHCHIVAN AUTONOMOUS
REPUBLIC IN SOUTHERN CAUCASUS AND ITS EVALUATION: ������������������������������ 599
Nazım BABABEYLİ, Fatih İMAT, Gültekin SÜLEYMANOVA
ANALYSIS OF TEMPERATURE SCHEDULE VARIATIONS WITHIN BASHKIR CIS-
URAL FOREST-STEPPE ZONE: ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 607
Elvira GALEEVA, Rita GALİMOVA
SAHARA DESERT DUST IN THE MEDITERRANEAN BASIN: ������������������������������������ 618
Taner ŞENGÜN, Kemal KIRANŞAN
AN OVERVIEW OF INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITIES INTTHE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
BEFORE THE REPUBLIC: ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 633
Mesut DOĞAN
THE AWARENESS OF THE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS ABOUT OF THE CULTURAL
HERITAGE AND THE TOURISTIC VALUES OF TURKEY IN UNESCO WORLD
HERITAGE LIST: ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 640
Turhan ÇETIN, Mavi AKKAYA
RUSSIAN ETHNICITY ON KAZAKH TERRITORIES: MIGRATION, GEOGRAPHICAL
DISTRIBUTION AND DYNAMICS IN KAZAKHSTAN POPULATION: ����������������������� 660
Mehmet ARSLAN
GEOMORPHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE COASTAL AREA IN THE
EAST OF AYVALIK: ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 683
Abdullah SOYKAN, İsa CÜREBAL, Recep EFE, Süleyman SÖNMEZ

• About the Authors��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 693

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PHILOSOPHY

IBN SINĀ’S FORMULATION OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE:


“THE NECESSARY EXISTENT APPREHENDS INTELLECTUALLY
ALL THINGS IN A UNIVERSAL WAY”

Hülya YALDIR

INTRODUCTION
Al-Ghazālī’s attack in Tahāfut al-Falāsifah (The Inconsistency of the Philosophers)
is directly levelled at the leading Muslim Neo-Platonist philosophers, viz al-Fārābī and
Ibn Sīnā, and indirectly, at other Greek pioneers like Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus. In
this book, he demonstrates the weakness of their arguments on seventeen points, and
thus regards their views as incorrect, religiously problematic, or heretical. Besides,
he carefully points out three teachings from Ibn Sīnā’s philosophy: (1) That the world
has existed from eternity (i.e., the world has no beginning in the past and is not created
in time), (2) That God knows universals, but not particulars (i.e., God’s knowledge
includes only classes of beings (universals) and does not extend to individual beings
and their circumstances), and (3) That there is no resurrection of bodies, but only of
spirits (i.e., after death the souls of humans will never again return into bodies). On
these three issues, al-Ghazālī considers the philosophers as infidels. For their views
in regard to these issues suggest the opposite of the teachings of Islam, and therefore
the chimerical claims of the falāsifa must be overruled.
In this article, I would like to investigate Ibn Sīnā’s treatment of the Divine
knowledge in general, and more specifically, God’s knowledge of particulars. Having
discussed the fundamental differences between human and Divine knowledge, I
would question whether Ibn Sīnā’s own account of the Divine knowledge would
happily fit with the teachings of Islam? To clarify the issue, I would occasionally refer
to al-Ghazālī’s and Ibn Rushd’s criticisms of Ibn Sīnā’s alleged thesis, that states that
God’s knowledge is of universals only.

1. GOD, THE PRINCIPLE OF ALL EXISTENCE, IS PURE INTELLECT


Al-Ghazālī considers the philosophers’ conception of God as wholly un-Qur’anic
and un-Islamic. Having adopted that premise, he argues for the destruction of their
views on God’s knowledge. For, according to them, God neither knows Himself nor
any particular event. In the Eleventh Discussion of Tahāfut, al-Ghazālī calls into
discussion the Islamic (Ash‘arīte) view of divine knowledge. He noted that:

For that which is willed must nec­essarily be known to the willer. On this they built
[the argument] that everything is known to Him because all [things] are willed
by Him and originated by His will. Hence, there is no generated being that is not
originated by His will, nothing remaining [uncreated] except Himself. And as long
as it is established that He is a willer, knowing what He wills, He is necessarily a
living being (Ghazālī, 2000: 125).

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THE SCIENCE AND EDUCATION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 21ST CENTURY IN TURKEY

In these lines, al-Ghazālī faults the philosophers’ conception of God and stands
by the Ash‘arī conception, defending it on religious ground. For him, Avicenna’s
cosmology, that is, his emanation theory, leads to a denial of God’s will in the process
of generation of the universe. Having denied that God has will, Ibn Sīnā is unable to
prove that God has knowledge of the particulars of His creation. In this regard, al-
Ghazālī writes that:

[Now] according to you [philosophers], God enacted the world by way of necessity
from His essence, by nature and compulsion, not by way of will and choice. Indeed,
the whole [of the world] follows necessarily from His essence in the way that light
follows necessarily from the sun. And just as the sun has no power to stop light,
and fire [has no power] to stop heating, the First has no power to stop His acts,
may He be greatly exalted above what they say. This mode [of expression], [even]
if metaphorically named an “act,” does not at all entail knowledge for the agent
(Ghazālī, 2000: 128).

Nonetheless, it may perhaps be useful to refer to Ibn Sīnā’s own position on


this specific issue. According to Ibn Sīnā’s metaphysics, God is conceived to be
the necessary being, causes of all causes, pure intellect and pure activity. In the
Metaphysics of the Healing, the philosopher himself states that ‘The Necessary
Existent is above perfection, because not only does He have the existence that
belongs only to Him, but every [other] existence also is an overflow of His existence
and belongs to Him and emanates from Him’ (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 283). In these lines, the
universe is considered to be an eternal emanation from the Necessary Existent. But,
how can contingent beings emanate from the Divine Being without introducing some
form of plurality and change in Its Being? We are informed that God’s knowledge
is the cause of the existence of the universe. Does not knowledge of the created
things cause plurality and change in the knower? Ibn Sīnā certainly believes that the
knowledge of the Necessary Being eternally involves the potential existence of the
whole cosmic system. In the Metaphysica in the Dānish Nāma-i ‘Alā’i (The Book of
Scientific Knowledge), the philosopher writes about wisdom or complete knowledge
(‘ilm) of the Necessary Being: he stresses that:

And the Necessary Existent knows all things as they are, even with respect to
their complete causation (tamāmī), since Its knowledge of things comes not from
second hand information, from intermediaries, but from Itself; for all things and
the causes of all things are due to it. In this sense wisdom can be attributed to the
Necessary Existent and Its wisdom consists of having complete knowledge (‘ilm).
The Necessary Existent is that being to Whom the being of all things is due, Which
has endowed all things with the necessity of being. It has also bestowed necessity
upon things external to Its own necessity in a similar manner (Ibn Sīnā, 1973: 70).

In Ibn Sīnā’s metaphysical scheme, God is identified with pure intellect and
pure thought, and thereby He is permanently active. In this regard, the philosopher

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PHILOSOPHY

himself states that ‘The Necessary Existent is pure intellect because He is an essence
dissociated from matter in every respect... He is a pure intelligible, because that which
impedes a thing from being an intelligible is its being in matter and its attachments.
This is the impediment preventing [the thing] from being an intellect’ (Ibn Sīnā, 2005:
284–5). In these words, Ibn Sīnā, like other Muslim philosophers, claims that God is
pure intellect to the extent that He is wholly detached from the material element, and
therefore absolutely transcendent. God cannot be considered as a body, or substance
composed of form and matter. At this point, the philosopher makes a significant
distinction between intellect (understanding, or intellection, or thought) and matter.
The nature of matter, or body, merely consists in its being something extended in
length, breadth and depth, and indefinitely divisible. But, the intellect, whose nature
is simply to think, can exist and operate in the absence of any physical substrate. To
be sure, the nature of intellect is opposite to that of matter. Intellect is pure activity,
but matter is pure passivity. God, being a pure intellect, does not exist in matter, and
has eternal knowledge of all intelligible thoughts. From the assumption that God
Himself is knowledge, it can be inferred that thought and knowledge are identical
in God. That is to say, the object of knowledge is exactly the same with the intellect
of the knower. A similar argument also appears in al-Fārābī’s al-Madīna al-Fadīla,
where he expresses it as that: ‘The First is different (from man); the intellect, the
thinker and the intelligible (and intelligized) have in its case one meaning and are
one essence and one indivisible substance. ...Thus the fact that it knows and that it is
knowable and that it is knowledge refers to one essence and one substance’ (Fārābī,
1985: 73).

2. WHY IS HUMAN KNOWLEDGE DIFFERENT FROM DIVINE


KNOWLEDGE?
For both, al-Fārābī and Ibn Sīnā, there is a radical difference between the process
of knowing in a human being and that of God. Neither the content of God’s knowledge,
nor His way of knowing are the same as, or similar to, with that of man. At the
beginning of his ‘Explanation of the Condition of Prophethood and Apostleship’ in
the Mi’rāj Name, Ibn Sīnā expresses his view concerning the nature of human beings
more clearly as that:

Know that Absolute Truth [Haqq], may He be exalted, created human beings
from two different things. One is called body [tan], the other, spirit [jān]. He brought
each from a different world [‘ālam]. He brought together the body by gathering the
humours [akhlāt] and combining the elements [arkān], and He united with it the
spirit, through the influence of the Active Intellect. He adorned the body with parts,
such as hand, foot, head, face, belly, frame, sensation, and other things, and gave
each one, such as the heart, liver, and brain, a suitable function (Heath, 1992: 112).

It is clear from those lines that the philosopher conceives of a human being as
the union of body and soul, just like other living beings in the sublunary world. He

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THE SCIENCE AND EDUCATION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 21ST CENTURY IN TURKEY

specially emphasizes the importance of the human body for the function of the soul
(Zedler, 1978: 165–77). The human body is described as the mixture of humours and
combination of the material elements, which are known to be the ‘simple bodies’ that
are the primary components of all bodies (Ibn Sīnā, 1970: 34–8).These simple bodies
are in fact the four elements; air (light, hot, and wet), water (heavy, cold, and wet),
fire (light, hot, and dry), and finally earth (heavy, cold, and dry). The combinations
of these elements contribute to the characteristics of the human beings. For example,
by reason of the earthy element ‘the parts of our body are fixed and held together into
a compacted form; by its means the outward form is maintained’ (Ibn Sīnā, 1970:
35). The state and the perfection of a material body are ultimately dependent on the
balance of the mixture of these elements. The human body represents the best and the
most perfect and well-balanced composition. The temperament of the human being is
determined by the interaction of the ‘qualities’ of these four elements. The different
qualities ‘alternately conquer and become conquered until a state of equilibrium is
reached which is uniform throughout the whole’ (Ibn Sīnā, 1970: 57). Therefore,
the equilibrium of the contrary qualities determines ‘the temperament’ of the human
being. All diseases and abnormalities affecting the human body are the result of the
destruction of this equilibrium in the contrary qualities. Like steps of a ladder, in
the human body, the elements, humours, and the members of the body are closely
interconnected with one another. A person’s good physical health is dependent on the
harmonious relationship between them (Nasr, 1978: 251–60; Zedler, 1978: 165–77;
Heath, 1992: 53–54).
Ibn Sīnā considers the members of the body as ‘instruments’ by means of which
‘the passions and the actions of the mind (soul) are achieved’ (Ibn Sīnā, 1970: 93). The
components of the human body (i.e., the elements, the humours, and the members of
the body) have a disposition to function in a specific manner. But, this disposition of
the bodily organs is not sufficient to give rise in human beings to all their movements;
there must be something else that is the ‘soul’, which is the real cause of all sorts of
movements in the human body as well as in other living beings. The role of the soul
in the function of the bodily movements is argued by Ibn Sīnā from observation. He
noted that:

We observe that certain bodies sense and move voluntarily. We observe, in fact,
that some bodies feed, and grow, and reproduce their like. That does not happen on
account of their being bodies. There must be something to them to cause these things
apart from physicality. Whatever it is that gives rise to all these functions (and, in
general, whatever acts as an initiating source of action) cannot be wholly devoid
of will. That is why we call it ‘soul’. This name is applied to things not because of
what they are, but because of what they do, that is because of the activities of which
the soul is cause (Ibn Sīnā, 1969: 555).

Following the Aristotelian tradition, Ibn Sīnā separates the character of bodies into
two categories: ‘material’ and ‘formal’. The material character of bodies represents

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PHILOSOPHY

their lifelessness and inactivity. And the physical characteristics of bodies, or pure
materiality, are not sufficient for the activity of natural bodies. Further, the material
components of the bodies only possess potentiality for action; and without the aid
of the soul, they are just inanimate and passive lumps of matter. For this reason,
all living or moving bodies need a soul as a form to provide an initiating source of
actions. The intrinsic motions in bodies, for example, upward motion of the fire or
downward motion of the stone do not arise from the material constituents of the
bodies, but from their formal character. In contrast to the inert and passive body, the
soul is considered to be the animating, or activating principle. If it is compared to the
material components of the body, then the soul should be the form of the body. When
a certain degree of perfection and purity is reached in the mixture of the elements of
the bodies, the Active Intellect attaches to them the faculties of the mineral, vegetable,
animal, as well as human souls.
In the same way as Aristotle, Ibn Sīnā defines the human soul in terms of the
unification of the three subordinate parts. Each of them is also considered to be the
soul (nafs) and has its own particular functions and entelechy (perfection). In the
Kitāb al-Najāt (The Book of Salvation) the philosopher defines the soul as follows:

The soul is like a single genus divisible in some way into three parts. The first is
the vegetable soul, which is the first entelechy of a natural body possessing organs
in so far as it is reproduced, grows, and assimilates nourishment. The second is the
animal soul, which is the first entelechy of a natural body possessing organs in so
far as it perceives individuals and moves by volition. The third is the human soul,
which is the first entelechy of a natural body possessing organs in so far as it acts by
rational choice and rational deduction, and in so far as it perceives universals (Ibn
Sīnā, 1952: 25).

It is interesting to note that Ibn Sīnā is in sympathy with the Aristotelian concept
of the soul as form of a particular living body. Along the same lines as Aristotle,
he provides a general definition of the soul by pointing out that the soul is ‘the first
entelechy (the first perfection) of a natural body possessing organs that potentially
has life’ (Ibn Sīnā, 1952: 25). It is acceptable to believe that such consideration
implies that the soul is the capacity of the organism, which functions in various
ways. Certain functions of the body, namely, that of the soul, cannot exist without a
living organism. Thus, the three parts of the human soul gain subsistence in particular
organs of the human body. For instance, the vegetable soul subsists in the liver, the
animal soul resides in the heart, and the rational soul live in the brain (Heath, 1992:
113). There is a hierarchical relationship among the three kinds of souls, namely
the vegetable, animal and the rational. For instance, the animal soul consists of the
faculties of the vegetable soul (feeding, growth, and reproduction), but possesses its
own independent performances such as, motion (i.e. the power of desires like anger,
and power of the movement of the body) and perception involving the internal and
external sensory faculties. In a similar fashion, the rational soul has the capacity

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that balances the activities of the animal and vegetable souls, but at the same time
contains its own independent faculties such as the practical and theoretical. Ibn Sīnā
believes the performance and the perfection of the functions of the three parts of the
human soul is determined not only, by the capacities of the organs but also by the
external factors that affect the person’s physical health in one way, or another (Ibn
Sīnā, 1970: 175–6, 183–240; Zedler, 1978: 170–2; Heath, 1992: 157–8).
Ibn Sīnā continues to argue that the elements, humours, and the parts of the
body such as, liver, heart, and brain possess their own temperament, or disposition
to function in certain ways, are not sufficient to explain the activities of living
organisms. The various members of the body must be provided with the different
kinds of souls (i.e., vegetable, animal, and rational, all of which are alike soul, force,
or energy) by an external cause – that is the Active Intellect – to give rise to a number
of distinct functions. Thus, a physicalistic, or a materialistic account of the nature of
human beings does not appear in Ibn Sīnā’s philosophy. For he does not believe that
human beings are nothing but collections of physical processes. The real cause of the
manifestations of the activities of living organisms, or the functioning human body, is
the ‘soul’. The organizational structure of matter cannot explain the complex activities
of living organisms. For example, from the viewpoint of the ‘identity theory’, which
is a version of physicalism, if we claim that we are having a sensation or thought,
as a matter of fact we are claiming that our brain is producing something as a result
of its electro-chemical interactions (Smart, 1991: 171). But Ibn Sīnā would say that
the material components of the body requires various kinds of souls to give rise to
different actions such as growth, movement, sensation, imagination, or thought. Thus,
without a vital or animating principle a person is nothing but an inert body.
So, when we consider these statements, it is therefore clear that the nature of
man is completely different from that of Divine Being. The human beings require
bodily faculties, in particular the workings of sensation and imagination so as to
acquire knowledge. For different kinds of sensory and imaginary information, we,
as created beings, possess the five ‘external’ senses, as well as the ‘internal’ senses
of the animal soul. These internal faculties are (1) the faculty of common sense, (2)
the faculty of retentive imagination, (3) the faculty that is called the compositive
imagination in regard to animals and the cogitative imagination in regard to humans,
(4) the estimative faculty, and (5) finally, the preservative or recollective faculty, i.e.,
memory (Ibn Sīnā, 1959: 163–9; Idem, 1952: 30–1; Druart, 1983: 331; Knudsen,
1982: 480).
These internal faculties can be conceived as the various grades of imagination
(and also sensation). They are located at the different parts of the brain, and thus, they
carry out their activities through the divergent subsections (‘ventricles’) of the central
nervous system. Ibn Sīnā himself makes it clear that imagination is not a purely
intellectual faculty, but it specially requires the human body; it resides in the brain,
and therefore, is a physical faculty (Ibn Sīnā, 1952: 41–5). The philosopher appears
to be reluctant to accept the idea that all psychological processes can be attributed

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to the immaterial rational soul, or the theoretical intellect. There are some special
mental activities whose operation requires the existence of the body, in particular
the working of the central nervous system. The power of imagination in particular is
possessed by an embodied human being (i.e., the mind-body unification), but not by a
pure immaterial rational soul. Therefore, the powers of sensation and imagination in
essence differ from that of pure intellection or understanding insofar as they operate
by means of a ‘ventricle’ of the central nervous system (Druart, 1983: 331; Davidson,
1992: 95–6). It is clear that the internal and external faculties of man are tightly
rooted in his physical constitution. Our external senses, namely sight, hearing, smell,
taste and finally, touch enable us to make contact with the material world in a direct
manner. Via each of those internal sensory and imaginary faculties, we are able to
comprehend and abstract ‘the forms of all the sensibles’ (Ibn Sīnā, 1952: 27).
However, the Divine being does not require any of these physical faculties in
order to make contact with the sublunary and translunary worlds, and thereby, acquire
knowledge of these realms. Ibn Sīnā particularly emphasizes the difference of God’s
knowledge from that of man, not just in nature, but also, with regard to the process of
the acquisition of knowledge. For human beings, as creatures equipped with specific
organs, are deeply involved in matter and exist in a physical world. The specific
organs of the body, by means of which the knowledge of sensory and imaginary data
(in particular, the knowledge of individual objects) is acquired, are always causally
affected by the objects around us in the external world. The hierarchical order of
these faculties existing in both man and animals, like sensation and various grades
of imagination, is actually dependent on the order of the material forms obtained
from the objects of the material world. The way of human knowledge is either by the
senses (i.e., sensation and imagination), or by the intellect. These two powers lead in
man either to the knowledge of particulars, or of the knowledge of the universals.
In fact, human intellect needs to cogitate upon the particulars that are abstracted
from matter, in order to prepare itself for the reception of the intelligible abstract
concepts from the higher principle. In other words, examining the particular forms, or
images in the faculty of the ‘compositive imagination’ prepares the soul for the moment
when the abstract [intelligible concepts] emanate upon it from the Active Intellect
(Ibn Sīnā, 1959: 235, 286; Idem, 1960: 413; Corbin, 1988:62–3; Netton, 1989: 165).
The animal faculties somehow help the rational soul to receive intelligibles from
the Active Intellect, but later on, they become a hindrance to the higher intellectual
activity of the human soul. It appears that when the soul is considered as a whole, Ibn
Sīnā tries to establish some kind of relationship between the faculties of the animal
soul, and the faculty of the rational soul, that is to say, between imagination (i.e., the
substratum of the individual forms) and the human intellect (i.e., the substratum of
the intelligible universal forms, or concepts).
It is clear that for Ibn Sīnā, on the one hand, the human being perceives individual
objects by senses and on the other, universal existents by intellect. The process of
separating form from matter in a certain existent gives rise to the knowledge of

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individuals in man. However, individual objects perceived around us in the world


are constantly changing. This indicates the fact that permanent change in the things
perceived, produces a permanent perceptual alteration in man’s intellect. Due to this
fact, one’s awareness and judgments in regard to these objects, are at the same time
also constantly changing. In addition, as created entities, human beings are unable to
get a full understanding of the things in the world by reason of their limited capacities.
Therefore, their perceptions, ideas, or judgments regarding them are always changing
and thereby, not immune from errors, or mistakes (Leaman, 1985: 109).
In essence, human beings are entangled in matter and live in a location in space
and time in a material world with a certain upbringing and culture. This means that
they are necessarily limited by certain conditions. That is why their understanding of
things are only partial, variable, and sometimes, defective. Ibn Sīnā clearly argues
that human knowledge must not be compared with divine knowledge. For man
acquires awareness of the individual and universal existents by means of the two
ways, that is, the senses and the intellect. To be exact, unlike the divine being, humans
cannot have a full awareness of all intelligibles as a unity at once, but rather attain
them progressively. In fact, this means that human knowledge proceeds in a gradual
manner from the particulars to the universal forms. The objects known to humans are
the cause of their perception. By the change in the things perceived, their perceptions
in relation to them are also changing, and the plurality of the objects is the cause of
the plurality of their perceptions.
However, God’s knowledge is definitely not similar to humans in so far as His
knowledge is the cause of all existents, while man’s knowledge is limited to their
effects. Being completely different from one another in essence, these two kinds
of knowledge (Divine and human) stand in opposition. That being the case, man’s
knowledge is always passive and temporal, while God’s knowledge is always active
and eternal. His knowledge gives rise to the existence or non-existence of the beings,
but the conditions of existents do not cause the existence of His knowledge. However,
it is the existents or objects which produce man’s knowledge, but it is not the case
that man’s knowledge causes the existence, or nonexistence of beings or objects.
Thus, in contrast to humans, God’s knowledge is timeless, eternal and universal.
Despite the multiplicity of the objects of His knowledge, this fact does not bring
forth any change in His essence, because God is a unity. Thus, without multiplicity,
God knows all existents and intelligibles in an all-encompassing fashion as a unity
at once, since He is their actual and eternal cause. The difference between human
and divine knowledge consists in the fact that human knowledge is dependent on
sense perception and imagination, but divine knowledge is purely intellectual. In this
regard, Ibn Sīnā states that:

When corruptibles are intellectually apprehended in terms of the quiddity denuded


[of matter] and the things that attach to it that are not individualised, they are
not intellectually apprehended inasmuch as they are corruptible. If apprehended

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PHILOSOPHY

inasmuch as they are connected with matter and the accidents of matter, with a
[particular] time and individuation, they would not be intellectually apprehended but
would be sensed or imagined. …Each sensible representation and each imaginative
representation is apprehended inasmuch as it is either a sensory or imaginative
representation by an organ that is divisible. And, just as the affirmation of many
acts for the Necessary Existent is [to attribute] to Him imperfection, so would
the affirmation of many acts of intellectual apprehension. Rather, the Necessary
Existent apprehends intellectually all things in a universal way; yet, despite this, no
individual thing escapes His knowledge (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 287–8).

So, if the quiddity of an object could either take on existence, or remain non-
existent, it can be regarded as a possible or corruptible being. When the quiddity
of an object accepts existence via matter, the object in question is individualised.
And whatever is individualized with matter, along with its qualities, is either
sensed, or imagined. Man’s acquirement of sensory and imaginary representations
of particularised objects necessitates the occurrence of physiological activity in his
brain. Therefore, the existence of a body, and of the total complex system of feelings,
imaginings and sensory perceptions are absolutely fundamental to what it is to be a
human being. Without the operation of the faculties of sensation and imagination,
man cannot acquire the knowledge of particulars existing in the sublunary world at
all. However, God does not have a body, or cannot be related to anything physical.
He does not require the existence of sensory and imaginary faculties so as to have
knowledge of existents in the universe. As being their actual and eternal cause, God
knows everything (i.e. all existents and intelligibles) in an all-encompassing fashion as
a unity at once. However, in the Qur’an there are some anthropomorphic expressions
which appear to attribute to God some sensory perceptions like hearing and seeing.
Why is this then? In his Tahāfut al-Tahāfut, which was designed to provide a full
rebuttal of al-Ghazzālī’s criticism of the philosophers, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) shed
light on this matter by stressing that:

The philosophers only avoid ascribing to the First hearing and seeing, because this
would imply its possessing a soul. The Holy Law ascribes hearing and seeing to God
to remind us that God is not deprived of any kind of knowledge and understanding,
and the masses cannot be made to grasp this meaning except by the use of the terms
‘hearing’ and ‘seeing’, and for this reason this exegesis is limited to the learned, and
therefore, cannot be taken as one of the dogmas of the Holy Law common to the
masses. And the same is the case with many questions the solu­tions of which the
Holy Law leaves to science (Ibn Rushd, 1954: 274)

It is evident that, like Ibn Sīnā, Ibn Rushd intends to eliminate theological
anthropomorphism that allows us to think of the Divine in human terms, and
assimilate God’s attributes to human attributes. Those texts of the Qur’an which
involve the phrases referring to the ‘hand’, ‘face’, ‘eyes’, of God, or ascribe sensory
perceptions like hearing and seeing to the Deity should not be accepted literally,

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but only interpreted metaphorically or figuratively. If they are accepted literally as


theologians did, we turn God into an immortal man. And in this case, we are in a
position where we always have to defend the absolute difference of God from His
creatures, and emphasis on the otherness and transcendence of God. For Ibn Rushd,
as for other Muslim philosophers like Ibn Sīnā, those texts of the Qur’an ascribing
sense perceptions to God are only used for the masses to remind them the fact that
that ‘God is not deprived of any kind of knowledge and understanding’. Those texts in
question have esoteric meaning that could only be disclosed to the elite or learned.
There is no doubt that the nature of God is totally different from that of man.
The Divine Being is a pure intellect and totally transcendent insofar as He is not a
body, or a substance composed of form and matter. His nature does not include any
material element whatsoever, and therefore He is immune from the possession of
sense-faculties and perceptions like hearing and seeing, and so on. In fact, besides
the material element, the existence of a soul is also required for a being to possess
different kinds of sense-faculties and perceptions. But, being a pure or simple being,
God cannot be a soul either. So, God and humans have completely different natures.
This clearly implies the fact that the process of obtaining knowledge in human and
God is not the same at all.

3. GOD KNOWS ALL EXISTENTS IN A UNIVERSAL MANNER


For Ibn Sīnā, there is a fundamental distinction between the process of knowing of
the Divine Being and that of the human being. God knows all existents in a universal
manner insofar as He is their actual and eternal cause. In the case of Divine being,
there is no real distinction between the object of knowledge, and the intellect of the
knower. In other words, the object of knowledge is considered to be exactly the same
with the intellect of the knower, God (Leaman, 1985: 91). When giving an account
of God’s nature, Ibn Sīnā clearly states that God is intellect and for this reason He is
a pure being. God is ‘immaterial’ inasmuch as He is immune from the possibility of
intermingling with matter and its attachments. God’s essence is ‘[at once] intellect,
intellectual apprehender, and intelligible’ (Emphasis added) (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 285).
In a sense, the intellectuality of the Divine Being is firstly equated or associated
with the absence of matter or of material elements from His nature. But beyond this,
God’s being as a pure intellect means more than simply the absence of matter. It also
involves the meaning that God’s knowledge is always causative, active, and thus
perfect. As the ultimate cause, God knows general principles or genera and species
(but not through the agency of particulars) in an eternal manner. Particulars are
known by Him through the general principles or genera and species.
This implies that knowledge of unchanging and eternal things can only be
possessed or known by an unchanging and immortal or eternal intellect, while
knowledge of varying and temporal things could be possessed by a changing and
mortal intellect. If God’s knowledge is considered to involve the corruptible aspects
of reality (i.e. particulars), as the knower He must correspondingly be corruptible and

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PHILOSOPHY

possesses sensory and imaginary faculties in the same way as human beings. And
certainly, this idea is not an attractive one for a believer to approve. However, if this is
not accepted, we are left with the suggestion that an immutable and immortal intellect
must only possess the knowledge of immutable and eternal things. In this case, we
have a conception of God who is totally unconcerned with the particular events of the
material world in which we live. Here we have the sort of God, who is not interested
in appeals or prayers for intervention in this world, or in the hereafter. This being the
case, the idea of immortality, therefore the idea of an hereafter, becomes meaningless
for the individuals (Leaman, 1985: 109).
According to Ibn Sīnā’s emanationist cosmology, God, as being pure intellect,
appears to have no direct relation to the contents of the material world. Surely, coming
to be and going out of existence are the fundamental characteristics of the physical
world. God is unchangeable, and immortal or eternal intellect, and hence He bears
no direct relation to such a changeable world. If this is the case, He has no relation to
physical space and finite time as well. The philosopher defines time as the quantity,
or measure, of motion. Time is actually dependent upon change. This means that
without change and motion, there is no time at all. Physical things exist in space, a
condition of corporeality. Motion occurs in time, one of the conditions of movement
or change. Nasr, one of the renowned experts of the Islamic Philosophy, makes it
clear that ‘If there were no coming into existence and passing away of things there
would be no before or after, because an object comes before another if it exists while
the other is in a state of nonexistence (‘adam)’ (Nasr, 1978: 225). Additionally, he
thoroughly explains what Ibn Sīnā means by the conception of ‘motion’ as follows:

Motion, according to Ibn Sīnā, who here follows Aristotle, is ‘going from
potentiality to actuality in time either in a continual or a non-immediate manner.’
When an object is between potentiality and act it is in motion. Motion may also
be considered as the first entelechy (kamal) of that which is in potentiality and the
gradual actualization, depending upon time, of what is potential. An object moves
because it still has something potential and therefore imper­fect in it, because it
seeks perfection as part of the total purpose of the Universe. Motion depends not
only upon the mover and moved, time and space, but also upon an origin and an
end (Nasr, 1978: 227).

Change (and also, time) is the consequence of the unification of matter and form
in a substance, along with its accidents. The union of form and matter constitutes
particular objects. A substance can only be individualized by its matter that is
considered to be a passive element in the substance. Without matter, form alone is
not sufficient for the individualization of a substance. In the case of a human being,
for instance, the body is required as an essential instrument for individuation of the
human soul. This means that ‘the body is not the cause, but a necessary occasion for
the existence of the soul. The necessary role of the body in the individuation of the
soul is the source of the soul’s natural desire for its body’ (Druart, 1988: 39).

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For Ibn Sīnā, God does not need to know contingent beings or events in space
and time as human beings do. Since, if it were the case, His nature, or essence would
be changeable as the nature of these objects or events (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 287). But the
Necessary Existent has to be of an unchangeable nature, or essence. The philosopher
gives the example of an eclipse so as to explain how God knows particulars or
particular events occurring in the sublunary world in a universal way. We know that
time is the quantity, or measure, of motion. An eclipse is a natural event that involves
a change, or movement in time. In the process of time, for human beings, there are
three moments by means of which they are able to be aware of an event (eclipse) as
something. In other words, they apprehend the event of eclipse from three different
timing process (i.e., before, present and after). There are three moments in the process
of eclipse; before an eclipse, during the eclipse, and after the eclipse. Before an eclipse,
human beings are aware of the fact that this event is not occurring yet. In the course of
the eclipse, they are aware of the fact that this event is occurring at the present time,
whereas after the eclipse, they have the knowledge which has already occurred and
thereby this event remained in the past (Belo, 2006: 181). This indicates that in the
case of human beings, the process of knowing is changed in accordance with process
of motion, or an event taking place in time. It would be better to say that along
with the process of eclipse, man’s knowledge, idea, or judgment concerning it is also
altered. This implies the fact that the eclipse, which is a natural event, is a temporal
process, or motion that occurs in time. The temporal process of change, or motion
is therefore, the cause of the temporal process of time. Man acquires knowledge in
a temporal process due to the temporal process of the natural events (e.g. eclipse).
Whatever is known in a temporal process, it is always subject to alteration. But the
process of knowledge in the case of Divine being never takes place in such temporal
process. God timelessly knows the process of eclipse or any event in the sublunary
world in a universal way. Ibn Sīnā himself explains this by stressing that:

If, however, you introduce time into this, whereby at a given time you know that
that eclipse does not exist and then at another time that it exists, then your [former]
knowledge ceases when [the eclipse] exists, but a new knowledge comes to be.
There will then be in you the change to which we have referred. And it would not
be true that you are in [the same state] at the time of the clearing [of the eclipse]
as you were before [its] clearing. This [applies to you] who are temporal and exist
in moments of time. But the First, who does not enter time and its governance, is
remote from making a judgment in terms of this time and that time by way of His
being in it and by way of this [involving] a new judgment on His part and a new
knowledge (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 290).

The process of apprehension of individuals involves perceiving material elements


and their differences, and this gives rise to change in the knower. The universals can
only be apprehended by the intellect, while the individuals are grasped by the sensory
faculties alone. Ibn Sīnā’s formulation in regard to divine knowledge suggests that

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PHILOSOPHY

every particular event existing in the universe is known to God in a universal manner,
and that in this process there is no reference to material elements, their qualities, or
specific time and space in His thought. As for al-Ghazālī, this idea has the implication
that God does not know particulars or particular events at all. In connection with the
matter, his assessment appears in his masterpiece, when he confirmed that:

This is a principle which they believed and through which they uprooted religious
laws in their entirety, since it entails that if Zayd, for example, obeys or disobeys
God, God would not know what of his states has newly come about, because He
does not know Zayd in his particularity. For [Zayd] is an individual, and his actions
come temporally into exis­tence after nonexistence. And if He does not know the
individual, He does not know his states and acts. Indeed, He does not know Zayd’s
un­belief or [acceptance of] Islam but only knows man’s unbelief or [acceptance
of] Islam absolutely and universally, not as specified in [particular] individuals
(Ghazālī, 2000: 136).

In Ibn Sīnā’s cosmology and cosmogony, God, as being pure intellect, appears to
have no direct relation to the material world and its contents like matter, form, time
and space. One certainly needs the sensory faculties, which require the existence of the
mind and body unification, for the apprehension of particulars. Sensations, imaginations
and passions are the consequences of the psycho-physical interactions occurring in a
hybrid entity, that is, the human being. But sensory equipment cannot be attributable to
God. This being the case, one might ask the question whether God knows particulars
or His knowledge merely covers universals? Is it possible for Him to know temporal
processes in the world at all? Al-Ghazālī’s reply to this special question appears to be
certain; ‘as regards the specific prophet individually, He does not know him. For that
is [only] known to the senses. [Likewise,] He does not know the [individual] states
proceeding from [the Prophet] because these are states divisible through the division
of time pertaining to a specific individual. The apprehension of [these states] in their
diversity necessitates change [in the knower]’ (Ghazālī, 2000: 137).
Al-Ghazālī, as a supporter of the Ash’arite tradition, tries to reinforce the Islamic
doctrines of God’s knowledge as well as that of the divine causality, while arguing
against the views of the devoted follower of the Aristotelian thesis on these issues.
Regarding the process of the creation and operation of the universe, he utterly supports
the idea of God’s sovereignty and omnipotence over and above the idea of natural
efficient causality and that of the secondary agents. The world is not pre-eternal, but
it is rather originated through God’s eternal will and knowledge. All existents (i.e.
universals or particulars) are known to God in so far as He continuously wills the
temporal origination of the universe. Al-Ghazālī epitomizes this view at the beginning
of the Eleventh Discussion of the Tahāfut as that:

[All things] other than Him being originated from His direction through His will, a
necessary premise regarding His knowledge become realized for them (Muslims).
For that which is willed must necessarily be known to the willer. On this they (true

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believers) built [the argument] that everything is known to Him because all [things]
are willed by Him and originated by His will. Hence, there is no generated being
that is not originated by His will, nothing remaining [uncreated] except Himself…
He is a willer, knowing what He wills’ (Ghazālī, 2000: 125).

It appears that al-Ghazālī contradicts the religious view of God’s knowledge


with the Aristotelian thesis. But Ibn Rushd seems to reluctant to accept the Ash‘arite
conception of God, but rather shares the view of the philosophers. For him, theologians
like Ghazālī are in favour of an anthropomorphic conception of God, by means of
which the Divine is thought of in human terms, and His attributes are assimilated to
human attributes. Thus, the discrepancies between the eternal and temporal realms
are not truly understood. In his famous book, Ibn Rushd reminds his opponent of the
difficulties of the religious view of God’s knowledge as that:

Ghazālī’s objection… is that it is possible that God’s knowledge should be like the
knowledge of man, that is that the things known should be the cause of His know­
ledge and their occurrence the cause of the fact that He knows them, just as the
objects of sight are the cause of visual perception and the intelligible the cause of
intellectual apprehension; so that in this way God’s producing and creating existents
would be the cause of His apprehending them, and it would not be His knowledge
that would be the cause of His creating them (Ibn Rushd, 1954: 284–5).

In his defence of the view of philosophers against Ghazālī, Ibn Rushd continues
to argue that the nature of God’s knowledge is fundamentally different from human
knowledge. In the same way as Ibn Sīnā, he points out that God’s knowledge is always
active, causative and therefore, perfect and eternal, whereas human knowledge is
always passive, potential, and thus, imperfect and temporal. He states that:

But it is impossible, according to the philosophers, that God’s knowledge should be


analogous to ours, for our knowledge is the effect of the existents, whereas God’s
knowledge is their cause, and it is not true that eternal knowledge is of the same
form as temporal. He who believes this makes God an eternal man and man a mortal
God, and in short, … God’s know­ledge stands in opposition to man’s, for it is His
knowledge which produces the existents, and it is not the existents which produce
His knowledge (Ibn Rushd, 1954: 285).

Ibn Sīnā’s emanationist schema has been considered by al-Ghazālī as being


completely irreligious and an impediment to God’s causation in the world. Ibn Rushd
does not consider this emanationist schema to be non-Aristotelian theory either. But
no matter what they think, Ibn Sīnā insists on the idea that God knows all existents
in an all-encompassing fashion, inasmuch as He is their actual cause. He stressed in
this respect that:

[T]he First, through His essence, knows all things; that this is because He is the
principle of all things; and that He knows things in [terms of] their states, since

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PHILOSOPHY

He is the principle of a thing or things whose states and movements are such and
such, and [knows] that such and such [things] result from them, [knowing this] to
the utmost detail and in the order that necessarily belongs to this detail in terms of
what is received and what is conveyed. These things, then, would be the keys of
the hidden things which no one knows save He. God is the most knowing of hidden
things; He is the knower of the unseen and the seen: and He is the Mighty, the Wise
(Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 290).

Every particular process occurring either in the celestial or in the terrestrial world
is known to God in a universal way as eternal, everlasting, and unchanged. In other
words, God knows particulars along with their causes in a universal manner without
appealing to a specific time and space.

4. THE MEANING OF THE TERMS “UNIVERSAL” AND


“PARTICULAR”
In order to understand this issue, it may perhaps be useful to clarify the meaning
of the terms “universals” as well as “particulars”, and see what Ibn Sīnā means by
their use? According to Marmura, the term ‘universal’ is used in some passages
which are related to this theory so as to refer to three things, closely interrelated with
one another: ‘(a) the nature of God’s knowledge as such; (b) the manner of God’s
knowledge; and (c) the object known by God’ (Marmura, 1962: 300)

4.1. THE NATURE OF GOD’S KNOWLEDGE


We are informed by Ibn Sīnā that the most fundamental characteristic of ‘God’s
knowledge is ‘universal’ in the sense that it is ‘conceptual’, or ‘intellectual’ (Marmura,
1962: 301). Perhaps the best way to give an account of this issue is to make a clear
distinction between the nature of God’s knowledge, and that of human beings once
more. In the case of the latter, as we pointed out earlier, sense organs and sensory
faculties, like sensation and imagination are necessarily required so as to provide
the soul with material images. These are necessary for the acquisition of abstract
intelligible thoughts from the emanation of the Active Intellect (Hasse, 2001: 39–73).
In his psychology, Ibn Sīnā argues that the human being is a union of the soul
and body. The human soul involves the powers of the vegetable and animal souls
besides its own faculties. The function of the vegetable soul is considered to be
reproduction, growth, and nourishment. In addition to the faculties of the vegetable
soul, the animal soul consists of powers of motion (involving the power of desire
and the power of movement of the body) and of perception involving the internal
and external senses. The five external senses are touch, smell, taste, hearing, and
sight. As for the internal ones; they are the faculty of common sense, the retentive
imagination, the sensitive imagination, the cogitative or rational imagination, the
estimative faculty, and finally the memory. By means of those faculties man is unable
to acquire, or grasp the universal intelligible thoughts, that is, first and basic principles
of human thought, but only the empirical perceptions or forms, which are basically

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characterised as ‘particulars’. The objects of the human intellect (i.e. theoretical


intellect) are the abstract intelligible thoughts. The human being cannot abstract them
through the medium of merely observing and reflecting on the sensory images in the
faculties of sensation and imagination, but they are particularly given or handed over
to the intellect by an external source, namely the Active Intellect. As a consequence
of its own essence the Active Intellect necessarily and continuously emanates those
intelligible thoughts into the human soul. Images are presented to the human intellect
by the imaginative faculty (or faculties), and as a result of that the human intellect is
prepared for acquiring intelligible thoughts from the emanation of the active intellect.
In this regard, Davidson states that “Images are transformed into universal concepts
‘not in the sense that they are themselves transported from the imagination [takhayyul;
properly: the compositive imagination] to the human intellect, ...but in the sense that
examining them prepares the soul for the abstract [concept] to emanate upon it from
the active intellect’” (Davidson, 1992: 93).
It appears that, in Ibn Sīnā’s vision, the recipient of the material images is the
soul, but not the intellect. In other words, the objects of the physical world affect the
sensory and imaginary faculties and thereby, human beings are able to form images
or concepts in regard to them. So, ‘Sensory apprehension is the apprehension of the
changing and implies change in the apprehender’ (Marmura, 1962: 301). However,
such sensory organs or faculties that require the existence of body, and also the
kind of intellect, which is called a material one that is an absolute potentiality for
abstract intelligible thoughts, cannot be attributed to the Necessary Being, or God.
As being pure intellect, the One Necessary Being is totally detached from all material
constraints. Here, in the first place, the term ‘universal’ appears to refer to the ‘eternal’
and ‘changeless’ nature of God’s being. Unlike created beings that are possible in
essence, ‘God is eternal and changeless’ (Ibid). His eternity is particularly conceived
in terms of an absolute detachment from time, space, matter and any other temporal
references. Ibn Sīnā writes: ‘The First, who does not enter time and its governance,
is remote from making a judgment in terms of this time and that time by way of His
being in it and by way of this [involving] a new judgment on His part and a new
knowledge’ (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 290).
Still in this context, the term ‘universal’ is also used to express the changeless,
eternal or transcendental (a priori) nature of God’s knowledge. Unlike man’s
knowledge, God’s is considered to be changeless, and outside of time and space.
According to Marmura, ‘God’s changeless and eternal knowledge is discussed in
many contexts, but most articulately in the passages explaining how God knows
such a particular temporal event as an eclipse’ (Marmura, 1962: 301). All particular
beings in the universe come under the corresponding species and genera. God knows
particular objects, whose quiddity might either receive existence or continue to be
nonexistent, through simply knowing these species and genera. This actually means
that He knows particular things, or events by knowing the universal laws of physics
that overflow from His own essence. In this regard, Ibn Sīnā himself states that ‘the

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PHILOSOPHY

Necessary Existent apprehends intellectually all things in a universal way; yet, despite
this, no individual thing escapes His knowledge’ (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 288).
In some contexts, the term ‘universal’ further refers to the nature of God’s
knowledge as ‘one’. It is well known that in Ibn Sīnā’s metaphysics, the divine
knowledge is considered to be exactly the same as the divine essence. The divine
essence does not involve multiplicity in so far as it is simple, or one. In the same way
as His nature, God’s knowledge is also simple or one. In connection with the matter,
Ibn Sīnā himself writes that:

He intellectually apprehends things all at once, without being rendered multiple


by them in His substance, or their becoming conceived in their forms in the reality
of His essence. Rather, their forms emanate from Him as intelligibles. He is more
worthy to be an intellect than the forms that emanate from His intellectuality.
Because He intellectually apprehends His essence, and that He is the principle of all
things, He apprehends [by] His essence all things (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 291).

It is clear from the passage that the divine knowledge is considered to be the
self-knowledge that does not give rise to multiplicity, or plurality in the knower
(Marmura, 1962: 302; Leaman, 1985, 110). God’s knowledge of the existents is
immutable and timeless inasmuch as He knows them through only ‘one’ knowledge.
Although existents, which are known by God are multiple, God’s knowledge of them
is not multiple, but solely ‘one’. In regard to the issue, Leaman, one of the most
eminent experts of Islamic philosophy, writes that:

While it is true that the objects of such knowledge are indeed many and
constantly variable, nonetheless the knowledge that there are such objects at the end
of the process of emanation and that God is their source can be regarded as just one
act of knowledge. The suggestion is that God could, as it were, know everything that
exists all at once, where the multiplicity of the contents of the knowledge claim does
not challenge the status of the claim to be just one assertion (Leaman, 1985, 110).

When existents known by God are taken into consideration, Ibn Sīnā makes it
clear that there are two sorts of multiplicity. The first is the multiplicity of permanent
objects of knowledge, and the second is the multiplicity of temporal objects of
knowledge. Although the first category involves the genera and species which are
timeless and immutable in quality, the second one includes the ordinary events and
existents of the sublunary world which are contingent, finite and mutable in nature.
The philosopher names the former kind of knowledge (i.e. the knowledge of the
genera and species) as the ‘vertical’, while the subsequent one (the knowledge of the
everyday events and existents) as the ‘horizontal’. The attainment of the ‘horizontal’
knowledge necessitates the apprehension of a succession of concepts that are in
harmony with the objects of knowledge. But the objects in question follow one
another in a time. This being the case, the knowledge of this kind is fragmentary
and insufficient, because it requires the apprehension of many temporal things or

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events at different times. In this case, the affirmation of many acts and of many
concepts concerning the knower is inevitable. If this is the case, we attribute to the
knower imperfection due to the quality of knowledge. God’s knowledge does neither
necessitate the affirmation of many acts nor the affirmation of many concepts. If it
were the case, this would involve change and imperfection in the Necessary Being.
But this is not acceptable in God. Everything in the universe is known by Him in a
universal way. The claim here has the implication that He knows all existents through
‘one’ knowledge, irrespective of ‘many’ taking place in a temporal succession (Ibn
Sīnā, 2005: 287; (Marmura, 1962: 302).

4.2. THE MANNER OF GOD’S KNOWLEDGE


The manner of God’s knowing is totally different from that of human beings.
In the case of God, the sensory organs and material images are not required for the
acquisition of universal concepts. The nature and construction of reality is grasped by
God all at once, and therefore His knowledge is not discursive, but intuitive. Ibn Sīnā
considers the temporal beings or events as members of the whole series of beings or
events. The following passage explains how the whole series of beings or events are
apprehended by God in a timeless intuition as that:

The first and essential act of the First Truth, however, is to intellectually apprehend
His [own| essence, which in itself is the principle of the order of the good in existence.
He thus intellectually apprehends the order of the good in existence and how this
ought to be–not [however] through an intellectual apprehension that moves from
potentiality to actuality, nor [through] an intellectual apprehension that moves from
one intelligible to another, … but by one act of intellection (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 327).

It is clear from the foregoing lines that the nature of God’s knowledge is ‘purely’
intellectual. It is always active, causative and therefore, perfect. But the nature of
human knowledge is not purely intellectual. It rather consists in sensory and imaginary
perceptions that necessitate the presence of the body. The human knowledge is the
consequence of its objects. Man’s sensory organs provide the soul with material
images, which are essential in the preparation of the intellect for the acquisition of
the universal concepts from the emanation of the active intellect. On some occasions,
Ibn Sīnā appears to argue that the human intellectual faculty can receive abstract
concepts or thoughts by contemplating the sensible particulars existing in the retentive
imagination of the animal soul. But in any case, by reason of the intellection of these
abstract concepts, man’s intellect moves from potentiality into actuality.
The stages of potentiality with respect to the human intellect are closely related
with the acquirement of the abstract intelligible thoughts. The incorporeal soul (i.e. the
theoretical intellect) of the infant at the beginning of life does not contain any thought
at all. It is merely a pure potentiality for thinking. And this potentiality gradually
develops in the course of the growth of the child. The potential stages of the human
intellect are labelled as that: ‘the material intellect’ (‘aql hayūlanī), the ‘habitual

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PHILOSOPHY

intellect’ (‘aql bi-l-malaka), the ‘actual intellect’ (‘aql bi-l-fi’l), and the ‘acquired
intellect’ (‘aql mustafād). They also can be named as the ‘absolute potentiality’,
the ‘relative potentiality’, and the actualised or completed potentiality, the absolute
actuality. The stages of the potentiality of the human intellect are compared to a
person’s capacity for writing. The infant has the potentiality, or capacity for writing,
but does not yet know anything about writing. Thus, the infant is claimed to have
an ‘absolute potentiality’ for writing. Later, the infant grows and becomes a more
mature child, who starts to discover the pen, inkwell, the shapes of the letters, and
the rules of the writing, but does not actually begin to write. At this stage the child is
considered to be in a state of ‘relative potentiality’. If the child has learned to write,
but is performing this activity without actually thinking (or in an automatic way),
he is said to be in a state of ‘relative actuality’. And lastly, if the child performs the
activity of writing deliberately and rationally, he is in a state of ‘absolute actuality’
(Ibn Sīnā, 1952: 33–5; Davidson, 1992: 83–5; Harvey, 1975: 47–8). Similarly,
the stage of the material intellect represents absolute potentiality for intelligible
thoughts. As soon as the material intellect possesses the first intelligible thoughts, it
becomes ‘relatively potential’. Having acquired the basic principles of knowledge,
the intellect is able to infer second intelligible or derivative propositions by means of
syllogism in a mechanical way. But when this intellectual activity is carried out by the
intellect ‘actively’ and ‘intentionally’, it reaches the stage of the ‘acquired intellect’
(‘aql mustafād), that is, the absolute actuality. At this last stage, the human intellect
actively possesses ‘intelligible thoughts’ and thereby, the human being consciously
and knowingly cogitates them. But the acquisition of the intelligible thoughts by
the human soul takes place with the help of an external source, that is, the Active
Intellect. In other words, these forms, or ideas are imported in the human intellect
through the emanation of the Active Intellect, and accordingly they are acquired from
‘without’ (Ibn Sīnā, 1959: 48–50, 241; Idem, 1952: 33–5).
In every case, it appears that man’s knowledge is discursive, and therefore unable
to comprehend all reality at once. In contrast with human ways of thinking, God is
aware of all intelligibles and existents instantaneously. He does not run through from
one thought (or concept) to another so as to apprehend the aspects of the reality. He
knows all existents, including the temporal relations between events in the world
in a timeless intuitive act at once. As a matter of fact, objects in the universe exist
as a consequence of God’s causal power, decree and knowledge. Unlike the human
knowledge, as the Divine essence, the Divine knowledge is ontologically and causally
prior to the existents. In other words, the ultimate cause of all existents is due to
causal power of God. By reason of His causality, God knows them (i.e., the effects)
eternally. By knowing Himself as the First cause, He knows the entire causal series
emanating from His essence as that:

He intellectually apprehends His essence and apprehends that He is the principle


of every existent, He apprehends the principles of the existents [that proceed] from

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Him and what is generated by them. There is, among the things that exist, nothing
that is not in some manner necessitated by Him [as] cause—this we have shown.
The collision of these causes results in the existence of particular things. The First
knows the causes and their corresponding [relations]. He thus necessarily knows to
what these lead, the time [intervals] between them, and their recurrences (Ibn Sīnā,
2005: 288).

God’s knowledge (ʿilm) of His own Essence and thereby, of his creation takes
place all at once. This intellectual act is described as the power of intuition. Ibn Sīnā
argues that in an intuitive act, the middle term of syllogism is grasped by the mind in an
imperceptible time instantaneously, without having gone through a reasoning process
that takes place in time. The manner of God’s knowing Himself, and thus his creation,
is explained by some commentators, notably, Leaman who noted in this respect that:
‘It is appropriate to describe this mental event as intuition since intuition describes the
instantaneous grasping of the syllogism’s middle term, and God, as it were, timelessly
understands the middle terms of all the syllogisms and thus the vital nexus of the
sort of universe which flows from his essence’ (Leaman, 1985: 112). Similarly, in
connection with the matter, another commentator, in particular, M. Marmura stressed
that ‘We must interpret his (Avicenna’s) denial that God’s knowledge does not move
from “concept to concept” to apply to the ontological series as well as to the temporal.
The entire ontological series is conceived instan­taneously, intuitively. God knows, as
it were, all the necessitated consequences in a timeless intuition. In other words, there
is no discursus in God’s knowledge’ (Marmura, 1962: 303). As a rationalist, Ibn Sīnā
seems to think that the basic structure of the whole reality is grasped by intuition
of ‘Divine Intellect’. He describes intuition as an act of mind, or intellect by which
the intellect itself instantaneously apprehends the middle term of syllogism. In other
words, ‘the power of intuition is quickness of apprehension’ (Ibn Sīnā, 1952: 36).
Via the process of intuition, the Divine Intellect is aware of all the middle terms of
the syllogisms that express the basic structure of the terrestrial and celestial realities.
God’s apprehension of the structure of the universe through syllogism takes place in
a perfect and instantaneous manner.

4.3. THE OBJECT OF GOD’S KNOWLEDGE


In Ibn Sīnā’s vision, God’s knowledge appears to be confined to universals,
unique events, or the universal principles. This being the case, it is argued that He is
only concerned with the unique events that are the formal aspects of reality, instead
of individual manifestations of that reality. Unique events or the universal principles
stand for a formal or logical feature of material reality in contrast with individual
appearances of contingent phenomena. It appears that universals, unique events, or
the universal principles, that is, the formal (logical) aspects of reality constitute the
objects of divine knowledge with regard to the world in which we live.
Sometimes, the term ‘universal’ is also used in connection with particulars existing
as the only members of their species. They are known to the Divine intellect in a

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PHILOSOPHY

conceptual or universal way due to their changelessness. With regard to ‘particulars’


in Ibn Sīnā’s theory, Marmura points out that ‘if we have two particulars A and B
and if A is the only member of its species and if B is a particular attribute to the
first, then both these particulars can be known individually without the necessity of
direct sensory apprehension. God, therefore, we must conclude, whose knowledge is
purely conceptual, can only know these kinds of particulars’ (Marmura, 1962: 307).
God’s knowledge of the particulars takes place in a ‘universal’ manner. This means
that the Divine Being does not know the particulars in their contingent state via
sensory apprehension. Instead, as pure intellect He intellectually knows them in their
universal, abstract, and general state. Ibn Sīnā himself makes it clear that: ‘He would
thus apprehend particular things inasmuch as they are universal – I mean, inasmuch
as they have attributes’ (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 288).
With the example of the eclipse, as mentioned earlier, Ibn Sīnā intends to show
that God, as a pure intellect, has absolutely, no relation to the individuated time or
an individuated circumstance at all. It also implies the idea that the Divine intellect
apprehends particulars, even contingent and corruptible ones, in a universal way.
It would be better to say that the First apprehends intellectually all things in their
universal, abstract, and general aspects. As an intellectual apprehender He comprehends
all particular things or events in their abstract nature and attributes, irrespective of
time, space, or an individuated circumstance (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 288). The knowledge
of general, abstract and universal aspects of things does not necessitate the existence
of sense organs, or the existence of an individuated time, space or condition. God
does not know corruptible particulars in all their contingent states. Instead, He rather
knows their general natures or their universals, or formal aspects. In the case of
human being, from experience it is clear that the apprehension of such particulars in
all their contingencies requires the existence of sense organs as well as the existence
of the contingent time and space.
In spite of his claim that ‘the Necessary Existent apprehends intellectually all
things in a universal way’, Ibn Sīnā appeals to a Qur’ānic quotation that supports the
idea that God apprehends every single particulars, even contingent and corruptible
ones, on the sublunary world in the same way as the translunary one. Indeed the
following Qur’ānic verse (34.3) declares the absolute sovereignty of God’s will and
knowledge on his creation: ‘Not [even] the weight of an atom in the heavens and
the earth escapes Him’ (Ibn Sīnā, 2005: 288). Ibn Sīnā’s appeal to such statements
appears to be contradicting his previous claim that God knows intellectually all
particulars in a universal way. If the knowledge of every single particular requires
the existence of the faculties of sensation and imagination, then the sensory and
imaginary apprehension of the contingent states of that particulars will thereby, give
rise to change in the knowledge of things and also in the knower. This certainly would
not be in harmony with his thesis that the knowledge of God is changeless in nature.
As pointed out previously, there are however two kinds of particulars in Ibn
Sīnā’s theory where some are the only members of their species, whereas others

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are not. God knows the previous kind of individuals to be individuals by reason of
their unchanging nature; and the universal concepts that represent those kinds of
individuals have also the quality of being unchangeable nature. Thereby, the kind
of knowledge that consists in such universal concepts does neither imply change,
nor imperfection in the knower. In this regard, commentators stated that ‘It is this
aspect of changelessness, which means that the material individuals, which are the
only members of their species, like the sun and the moon, for instance, can be known
by God without the application of any sensory apparatus’ (Leaman, 1985: 113). In
connection with the subject matter, Ibn Rushd wrote that:

For the knowledge of individuals is sensation or imagination, and the knowledge


of universals is intellect, and the new occurrence of individuals or conditions of
individuals causes two things, a change and a plurality in the perception; whereas
knowledge of species and genera does not imply a change, since the knowledge
of them is invariable and they are unified in the knowledge which comprehends
them, and universality and individuality only agree in their forming a plurality (Ibn
Rushd, 1954: 280).

Despite his endorsement of the philosophers, Ibn Rushd tried to distance his
own view from Ibn Sīnā’s theory of God’s knowledge of particulars as a universal
knowledge, especially his contention that God knows particulars in a universal way.
He confirmed that:

The most competent philosophers do not call God’s knowledge of existents either
universal or individual, for knowledge which implies the concepts of universal and
individual is a passive intellect and an effect, whereas the First Intellect is pure act
and a cause, and His knowledge cannot be compared to human knowledge; for in
so far as God does not think other things as being other than Himself His essence is
not passive knowledge, and in so far as He thinks them as being identical with His
essence, His essence is active knowledge (Ibn Rushd, 1954: 280).

CONCLUSION
As a result, we can say that God’s knowledge of particulars appears to be one
of the significant issues within an Islamic context. In this respect, al-Ghazālī charged
Muslim philosophers, in particular al-Fārābī and Ibn Sīnā, with unbelief (kufr) on
this specific issue. From the premise that the philosopher’s conception of God is
completely un-Qur’anic and un-Islamic, he undertakes to demolish their views on
God’s knowledge. At this point, the main target of al-Ghazālī’s criticism was actually
Ibn Sīnā’s thesis that God knows particulars in a universal way. Nevertheless, for
al-Ghazālī, it is quite clear in the teachings of Qur’an that God knows not only
universals but also all individuals, or every single thing that exists in the translunary
and sublunary worlds. Such knowledge is absolutely vital so as to pass judgment on
individuals both, in the temporal and everlasting worlds. Particularly, in Islam it is
believed that His knowledge of individuals is crucial for His determination about the
predestination of the human soul after the destruction of the human body. Moreover,

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in the teachings of Islam it is also clear that God knows each individual prophet who
is sent by Him for the salvation of the whole of humanity.
The nature of God’s omniscience is certainly declared in the Qur’an. This being
the case, the idea that God would create the world, in which we live and then wilfully
disregard it, is certainly not an appealing idea to Islam. The absolute omniscience is
the attribute of God alone, by which He perfectly and eternally knows all things in the
universe. Thus, having all knowledge (past, present and future) at once is the attribute
of God alone. Undoubtedly, the Qur’an offers many verses in regard to the nature
of God’s omniscience. For instance, in a verse of the Qur’an we are informed that
God is a witness of His own knowledge stating that: ‘But Allah beareth witness That
what He hath sent Unto thee He hath sent From His (own) knowledge. And the angels
bear witness: But enough is Allah for a witness’ (Qur’an (Q): IV: 166). We are also
informed that God knows everything in the universe whether it is significant, or not.
As confirmed that: ‘With Him are the keys Of the Unseen, the treasures That none
knoweth but He. He knoweth whatever there is On the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf
doth fall, But with His knowledge: There is not a grain In the darkness (or depths) Of
the earth, nor anything Fresh or dry (green or withered), But is (inscribed) in a Record
clear (to those who can read)’ (Q: VI: 59). Moreover, we are also informed that God
even has the knowledge of thoughts. As declared that: ‘It was We Who Created man,
and We know What dark suggestions his soul Makes to him: for We Are nearer to him
Than (his) jugular vein’ (Q: 50: 16). Besides, it is also stated in the Holy scripture that
God has the eternal knowledge of generations and corruptions of the living creatures;
inanimate, or created things in the universe. As confirmed that: ‘And Allah did create
You from dust; Then from a sperm-drop; Then He made you In pairs. And no female
Conceives, or lays down (Her load), but with His Knowledge. Nor is a man Long-
lived granted length Of days, nor is a part Cut off from his life, But is in a Decree
(ordained). All this Is easy for Allah’ (Q: 35: 11: Yusuf Ali, 1997).
Ibn Sīnā believes that the Qur’an involves figurative and anthropomorphic
expressions relating to God’s knowledge. They are provided for the use of the masses
in order to show them the fact that God is not devoid of any kind of knowledge and
understanding. But, the deeper meaning of these expressions can only be understood
by the intellectuals who equipped with higher rational abilities and wisdoms. Thus,
for him, God has the eternal ‘conceptual’ knowledge of everything in the process of
the creation. Everything is known by Him in the conceptual sense. The particulars
known in this way do not alter God’s knowledge.
Although Ibn Rushd stands by the philosopher’s conception of God, he finds
fault with Ibn Sīnā’s thesis that God knows particulars in a universal way by reason
of its annihilation of the differentiation between divine and human knowledge.
The process of human knowledge necessitates the existence of the sensory and
imaginary perceptions, as well as the presence of the mental faculty of abstraction.
Man’s knowledge can either be particular since it involves sensory and imaginary
experiences, or universal, since it is abstracted knowledge – it involves the act of
pure mind for the abstraction of universals from individual forms or substances. This

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being the case, God’s knowledge cannot be compared with human knowledge insofar
as it is neither particular nor universal (or conceptual). Also, the Divine knowledge
is not caused by the existents. To be sure, Ibn Rushd agrees with Ibn Sīnā on the idea
that, by contrast with human knowledge, God’s knowledge is causative. But he is
reluctant to accept Ibn Sīnā’s formulation that God knows particulars in a universal
way. For the Divine knowledge, it cannot be considered as universal, or particular.
From these reflections, it is clear that in reality, the essence of God’s knowledge is
not knowable to the human mind. Unlike human beings, God is not mixed with matter
(i.e., body), or surrounded with material conditions, time and space, and therefore, does
not perceive particular things, or events in the way human beings do. The idea of God’s
knowledge of universals appears to be more fitting with an Aristotelian framework.
For the God or Unmoved Mover of Aristotle is not expected to know or think every
day events of the contingent world. But, the issue of God’s knowledge of particulars is
extremely important within an Islamic concept. The Qur’an clearly declares that God
knows not only Himself (His essence) but also all individuals in the universe.
God’s knowledge is permanently and eternally active, causative and thus perfect
at all times. This being the case, it cannot be considered as universal or particular.
Regarding the essence of the Divine knowledge, Ibn Rushd comes to a conclusion
that ‘since knowledge of the individual is for us knowledge in act, we know that
God’s knowledge is more like knowledge of the individual than knowledge of the
universal, although it is neither the one (universal) nor the other (particular)’ (Ibn
Rushd, 1954: 207). It seems that this type of evaluation can only be considered to
apply to human beings. Undoubtedly, God’s knowledge transcends both types, that
is to say, it is neither universal (conceptual) nor particular (sensorial). In an absolute
sense, God’s knowledge cannot be understood by the human mind. As being infinite,
it is unintelligible to the finite human mind. Neither science nor philosophy can
provide an adequate rational account for how God knows things in the universe. But
in accordance with the Holy structure, the sincere believers simply have faith that
God has the power of knowing and intervening in all events, even the thoughts of the
individuals, in the universe at any moment, whenever He wills to do so.

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