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Heidegger for Muslims

Heidegger for Muslims

Publisher: www.ummah.com

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Alhassanain (p) Network for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Heidegger for Muslims

By ProfUmar IbrahimVadillo

Dallas College



Table of Contents

Lesson 1 3

Introduction 3

Why is Heidegger important to us? 3

The Limits of Heidegger 3

How to Read Heidegger 4

Who Was Heidegger? 4

A Warning 4

Lesson 2:Thinking and Truth 6

Introduction 6

The Path Towards Thinking 6

The Shocking News 6

What Is The Problem? 7

Essential Thinking 7

The Myth of Common Sense 8

The Usual Concept of "Truth" 9

References: 10

Lesson 3: Logos and the Birth of Philosophy 11

Introduction 11

Logic and The Later Greeks 12

Conclussion 14

The Philosophy of the Greeks and Ibn Rushd 15

References 15

Lesson 4: Man and Human Sciences 16

Introduction 16

The Significance of Dasein 16

The Characteristics of Dasein 17



References 23

Lesson 1


First, you have to know what to expect as a Muslim out of the study of Heidegger. He was not a Muslim, so we are not looking for answers about what is Islam. He cannot give them to us. What Heidegger can help us with is to understand the way of thinking that has become predominant in the West, and by extension all over the world. He called it Metaphysics. The word is not his, but he re-captured the original meaning of the term and gave it an encompassing meaning as a tool to define the way of thinking of the West. That way of thinking can also be called Philosophy. Heidegger gave also a new meaning to this word taking from the original meaning and intention of its Fathers, the Ancient Greeks. He placed the beginning of Philosophy with the works of Plato and then Aristotle. And he said that this way of thinking, philosophy, carried an inherent error from its beginning. He called that error: "the forgetfulness of Being.". As a first approximation to his thinking we will say that Heidegger maintained that Philosophy cannot think Truth; or -which is the same-, that what philosophy calls truth is not Truth.

Why is Heidegger important to us?

Because all of us have been educated to think in the Western way of thinking. The only way of thinking which is available in our schools and Universities, that is, the thinking of science, the thinking of technology, the thinking of theology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc. We have accustomed ourselves to think this way. It is so normal, that we do not even find the need to explore our way of thinking any further. We take for granted that we way we think "is " the way of thinking.Full stop. So, why go any further about something which is normal? We simply do not see it as necessary. Then Heidegger appeared. When he said: "our way of thinking has a fundamental defect", everybody was shocked. Heidegger's new thinking put in question the unquestionable, the unthinkable: the very essence of our thinking. But what is so peculiar about Heidegger's critique is that he did not bring another epistemology, another philosophy. He did not question philosophy within philosophy. He declared nothing other than "The End of Philosophy". He closed the shop of a way of thinking that had been around for the last 2,500 years. The awesome thing is that this thinking was not just"a thinking " it is "our thinking". The thinking with which we have created everything around us, the thinking with which we think about ourselves, the thinking with which we think technology, democracy, economics and even God. This is what was so shocking. And this is why Heidegger is so important. And it is even more important to us, Muslims, than to anybody else. We can understand Heidegger in a way thekaffir never will. In a sense Heidegger, without knowing, was speaking for us, and thekuffar who have not understood him, probably never will.

The Limits of Heidegger

Heidegger left something unresolved. He finished Philosophy. But he could only vaguely point out the way forward. He resolved this problem with what he calls "poetry", not just any poetry, but the poetry of the one who is no longer himself.The one that lets "the things show themselves" to him. The one who is no longer the observer, but the observed. But he could not go any further. I would not say that what he pointed out was nothing, it was very important. But nobody yet has picked up this unfinished affair. Because the resolution of the End of Philosophy is only one: Islam. After Heidegger's closing of the shop of philosophy, only Islam can take over. The only possible destiny of the thinking of the West, of the West itself, is Islam. This is why I say that Heidegger spoke to us, because only we, the Muslims, can finish his affair.

How to Read Heidegger

You have to understand that Heidegger is questioning our own way of thinking. But how are we going to think Heidegger other than with our way of thinking? This is all we have. Would not our way of thinking prevent us from thinking Heidegger? And the answer is: it would. This is why to think Heidegger you have to prepare yourself. You have to allow yourself to walk with him a little. You have to lose yourself a little. If you do not, if you hold onto your way of thinking too early, you will not get the picture. You have to walk with him long enough so that you can understand. Once you have reached this level, you will be able to understand Heidegger with the same easiness that you read a novel. Then Heidegger becomes extremely easy. If not Heidegger becomes obscure and difficult, which is how most people (philosophers) experience him.

Who Was Heidegger?

Martin Heidegger was born in Germany in 1889 and died in 1976. He was the last of the philosophers, the one who declared that End of Philosophy. His main work was “Being and Time” (1927) which was a major breakthrough in thinking. It was received with enormous enthusiasm and fear by his contemporaries, many of whorealised the vastness of the achievement. Then he wrote over a 100 other books that cover thousands of articles and essays. His work is still not completely published. In a sense we have not finished discovering Heidegger. Other important books are: On the Essence of Truth,Holderlin and the Essence of Poetry, Early Greek Thinking, The Question Concerning Technology, Letter on Humanism, On the Way to Language, and many others equally interesting.

It is important also to know who Heidegger is not. He is not an existentialist, because Heidegger was a lot more than that and you cannot put him in the same category as Sartre. He was not a phenomenologist, because although he learned from Husserl, he went beyond his teacher.

A Warning

Thinking with Heidegger is to think at the edge of thinking. You are moving into the frontline of thinking. This is a bit like going ahead of your time. You will be experiencing the possibilities of a world that is not yet there. Heidegger will changefor ever the way you look at sciences, anthropology, politics, sociology or theology. You will not be able to be persuaded by their proofs and their reasoning, which you will find deficient and partial. This is going to make you feel like a man sent back to theMiddle Ages. You will say to yourself: what are these people doing surrounded by superstitious beliefs, fantasies which they endorse with their own fantasy way of thinking? You are going to be at odds with your time.

But the reward, the immense reward is that you will be able to experience the glory of yourdeen with all its magnificent wonders and possibilities free of all the clouds of nonsense and superstition with which it has been surrounded in our present days. But also at an individual level, you will be able to get rid of the clouds that our way of thinking inevitably imposes on the personal understanding of our own religion. When you look in retrospect you will think that you are different. Be prepared for a great adventure that will set you free to enjoy your Islam even more.

Now we can start.

Lesson 2:Thinking and Truth


As a start I have taken two famous essays of Heidegger "What is Called Thinking?" and "The Essence of Truth" and combined them to produce a first approximation to Heidegger's thinking. We will revisit these essays later as we progress. The idea on a gentle entry into his thinking is recommended to get used to his "fundamental ideas". Nevertheless I am going to go a little bit faster than him for the sake of abbreviation and by taking advantage -when appropriate- of our own understanding of knowledge in Sufism.

The PathTowards Thinking

Heidegger describes the coming torealisation of his thinking as a path of opening followed by a leap. This final leap will set you into a new position with regard to your understanding of the world. What comes before is the preparation for that leap.

Heidegger wrote:

"By way of a series of lectures, we are attempting to learn thinking. The way is long. We dare to take only a few steps. If all goes well, they will take us to the foothills of thought. But they will take us to places which we must explore to reach the point where only the leap will help further. The leap alone takes us into theneighbourhood where thinking resides. The leap will take us abruptly to where everything is different, so different that it strikes us as strange." [WT, p.12]

The Shocking News

Heidegger sets his thinking apart from scientific enquiry (or philosophical enquiry). He, in fact, prepares us for the shocking news that we are about to encounter, which is that science "does not think". Obviously, the type of thinking that he is referring to is not the thinking to which we are accustomed. The way of thinking that we are accustomed to, from school and University, is the thinking of science. He is saying that the type of thinking that we are used to is blind to a fundamental matter, a matter that escapes us because of the way we enquire. And that to which "our thinking" is blind is the true element of thinking: Truth. The true element of thinking is Truth. Yet scientific thinking, which takes its roots in philosophy, is blind to Truth. It can only enquire about the essence of Truth, but not Truth. And what is the essence of Truth in philosophy, is the result of enquiring through what?where ?how ? This is what Heidegger calls essential thinking (essentialism), which is completely different than thinking.

Heidegger says that science does not think, it only has "to do with thinking". This "fashion" of thinking -as he calls it- is only useful in as much as you are aware of the gulf that there is between thinking and "to do with thinking". What we are saying is that the way of thinking of science is a limitedone, due not to the restriction imposed by every field of thinking, but based on the way it thinks (it does not matter what.) That way of thinking is useful if you understand its limitations, but if you give to this fashion of thinking absolute validity it turns into superstition. Then, instead of being useful, it becomes a danger. This is like looking at the world through a red filtered lens. This is useful to understand the different intensities of red in nature. But you cannot conclude as the result of your research that the world is red. This is scientism, which equals superstition. In conclusion, we need to understand that there is a gulf, an unbridgeable gap, between thinking and science.

Heidegger wrote:

"For it is true that what was said so far, and the entire discussion that is to follow, have nothing to do with scientific knowledge, especially not if the discussion itself is to be a thinking. This situation is grounded in the fact that science itself does not think, and cannot think -which is its good fortune, here meaning the assurance of its own pointed course. Science does not think. This is a shocking statement. Let the statement be shocking, even though immediately add the supplementary statement that nonetheless science always and in its own fashion has to do with thinking. That fashion, however, is genuine and consequently fruitful only after the gulf has become visible that lies between thinking and the science, lies thereunbridgeably . There is no bridge here -only the leap. Hence there is nothing but mischief in all the makeshift ties and asses' bridges by which men today would set up a comfortable commerce between thinking and science." [WT, p.8]

What Is The Problem?

The problem as we said before is the way/fashion of thinking. That way of thinking turns "what must be thought" away from it. But that which withdraws from this way of enquiry is in fact the most important. That which withdraws from science is what true thinking is all about: Truth.

Heidegger wrote:

"What must be thoughtabout, turns away from man. It withdraws from him. But how can we have the least knowledge of something that withdraws from the beginning, how can we even give it a name? Whatever withdraws refuses arrival." [WT, p.8-9]

When Heidegger says from the beginning he means from the beginning of this way of thinking, that is, the thinking since Plato that we call philosophy.

Essential Thinking

One of the ways in which Heideggercharacterises philosophy is that it is essential thinking. Essential thinking is a way of thinking which enquires about the essence of things.

Heidegger wrote:

"According to ancient doctrine, the essence of a thing is considered to be “what” the thing is." [QCT, p. 4]

We ask the question concerning the essence of something when we ask "What is it?"

Here let me gave you a gigantic step forward, that thekuffar cannot understand. You cannot define Allah by what?, where?, or how? Allah is beyond measure. He is not comparable to anything. The same is applicable to Truth. Truth cannot be understood by asking what?, where?or how? We reach Allah, not by the inquisitive mind but through another approach altogether. We are not the observers, we are the observed. We are not questioning, we are the ones questioned. This is what the Sufis callIhsan . The difference between these two approaches is "the leap".

This understanding produces a complete change in our relation to Truth and thinking. It implies that we do not manufacture "fashionable Truth" (according to our fashion of thinking). There is no such thing.Who ever tries to reach Truth with that way of questioning it only encounters something else:himself . Truth withdraws from essential (philosophical) questioning. If the enquirer is not aware of the limitation, he will think that what comes forward as the answer of his enquiry is the Truth, but it is not. And that enquirer will forever be confused. If that enquirer enquires about God, he will reach a concept of God, but not Allah. This is the world of theology. Theology does not think.

The Myth of Common Sense

Heidegger explains the reason behind the difficulty (or negligence) to question deeply into thinking itself. He explains: since our way of thinking has become normal, we assume "what is the point of questioning it?" The need to question it becomes immediately superfluous. Some of the common myths thatprevents this deep enquiry are the concepts of "common sense" and "the obvious".

We take the argument from here and Heidegger says:

"No one can evade the evident certainty of these considerations. None can lightly neglect their compelling seriousness. But what is it that speaks in these considerations?"Sound" common sense. It harps on the demand for palpable utility and inveighs against knowledge of the essence of beings, which essential knowledge has long been called "philosophy".

Common sense has its own necessity; it asserts its rights with the weapon peculiarly suitable to it, namely, appeal to the "obviousness" of its claims and considerations. However, philosophy can never refute common sense, for the later is deaf to the language of philosophy. Nor may it even wish to do so, since common sense is blind to what philosophy sets before its essential vision.

Moreover, we ourselves remain within the sensibleness of common sense to the extent that we suppose ourselves to be secure in those multiform "truths" of practical experience and action, of research, composition, and belief. We ourselves intensify that resistance which the "obvious" has to every demand made by what is questionable.

Therefore even if some questioning concerning truth is necessary, what we demand is an answer to the question as to where we stand today. We want to know what our situation is today. We call for the goal that should be posited for human beings in and for their history. We want the actual "truth". Well then - truth!

But in calling for the actual "truth" we must already know what truth as such means. Or do we know only by "feeling" and "in a general way"? But is not such vague "knowing" and our indifference regarding it more desolate than sheer ignorance of the essence of truth?" [ET, p.136-7]

The Usual Concept of "Truth"

Heidegger wrote:

"What do we ordinarily understand by truth? This elevated yet at the same time worn and almost dull word "truth" means what makes a true thing true. What is a true thing? We say, for example, "It is a true joy to cooperate in the accomplishment of this task." We mean that it is purely and actually a joy. The true is the actual. Accordingly, we speak of true gold in distinction from false. False gold is not actually what it appears to be. It is merely a "semblance" and thus it is notactual . What is notactual is taken to be the opposite of the actual. But what merely seems to be gold is nevertheless somethingactual . Accordingly, we say more precisely: actual gold is genuine gold. Yet both are "actual", the circulating counterfeit no less than the genuine gold. What is true about genuine gold thus cannot be demonstrated merely by its actuality. The question recurs: what do "genuine" and "true" mean here? Genuine gold is that actual gold the actuality of which is in accordance withwhat , always and in advance, we "properly" mean by "gold". Conversely, wherever we suspect false gold, we say. "Here something is not in accord". On the other hand, we say of whatever is "as it should be": "It is in accord." The matter is in accord." [ET 137-8]

Before we continue let me recall what we have advanced so far on this topic. Heidegger points out that the word "truth" has becometrivialised in our language. Let us take some advantage here because of the fact that we are Muslims. We sayAllahul Haqq . Truth in that sentence dwells in another realm than when we use the word truth in ordinary language. This common use of the word truth is already betraying any access to Truth. What we mean when we use the word true in ordinary language already points to something very different than in the sentenceAllahul Haqq .Haqq in Islam refers to the One, which is hidden from us by our own veiling. Truth in ordinary language is a code in a "game of accordance". This is the accordance between a propositionor statement (logos in the Greek sense, and we will come to this later) and the actuality of the thing spoken about. This means that not only our thinking betray us also our language betray us in our quest for true thinking. It leads to confusion.

"However, we call true not only an actual joy, genuine gold, and all beings of such kind, but also and above all we call true or false our statements about beings, which can themselves be genuine or not with regard to their kind, which can be thus or otherwise in their actuality. A statement is true if what it means and says is in accordance with the matter about which the statement is made. Here too we say, "It is in accord" Now, though, it is not the matter that is in accord but rather the proposition." [ET, p. 138]

What all this thing means is that access to the Truth has changed its meaning from being "unveiling" (inpresocratic or pre-philosophical thinking this is called "unconcealment ",aletheia in Greek) meaning the one that enquires needs unveiling so that the Truth can manifest to him; to another meaning, a theory of correspondence between a statement and what we understand by the entity itself. The first approach, "unveiling", is what we understand as knowledge in Sufism and through Sufism we have a clear indication of what it means. The second, "a theory of correspondence" is philosophy. Throughout the history of philosophy the meaning of what we understand by the "entity" itself (Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Leibniz, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche have produced different definitions) has changed but the basic formulation of correspondence to reach Truth has not. This leads Heidegger to make a History of Philosophy, a history of Metaphysics, based on the development of the understanding of that entity against which the statement is compared in search of accordance. We leave all this for another chapter. At this stage what we want to simply understand is that this theory of correspondence in which modern thinking dwells does not reach Truth. Truth withdraws from this way of enquiry and it is never reached. Therefore the very matter of knowledge is never reached. Therefore there is no thinking, or what we call thinking has lost its element.


• WT, "What is called Thinking", Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1968.

• ET, "On the Essence of Truth", article written in "Pathmarks ", Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998.

• QCT, "The Question Concerning Technology", Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1977

Lesson 3: Logos and the Birth of Philosophy


The word logos transport us to the world of the Ancient Greeks. The Ancient Greeks discovered a very powerful and exciting "idea". They discovered a new way of thinking. This way of thinking started with Plato's fascination of "theory". The "idea" that one could understand the universe in a detached way, by discovering the principles that underlie the profusion of phenomena. It was, indeed exciting. But Plato and the tradition that followed after him got off on the wrong track by thinking that one could have a theory of everything -even human beings in the world- and that the way human beings relate to things is to have an implicit theory about them. Plato gave to his way of thinking a universal validity.

Heidegger was not against this "theory" of the Greeks. He thought it powerful and important -but limited. The way of thinking which evolved from this fascination of theory, and the methodology with which it was accomplished are the themes here before us. This radical thinking of the Greeks which was initiated with Plato became the ground of the way of thinking of the West which has reached us today. This way of thinking is called Philosophy.

This investigation takes us to that point in history in which this event took place. The turning point was Plato. Yet, we refer to the time before Plato as the pre-socratic time. Socrates did not write, we know of him through Plato. So, we use Plato as the starting point of philosophy. What was it happened at this juncture that had such a profound consequence in thinking? What is the nature of this single event that was going to be carried forward for the next 2,500 years? What was before this way of thinking, from which this way of thinking moved away? How did it move away?

We speak of the Early Greeks as the thinking before Socrates and the Later Greeks after Socrates. The later is the thinking of Philosophy as elaborated by Plato and Aristotle, the philosophers. The former is the thinking of Heraclitus and Parmenides, the poets (not yet philosophers).

Aletheia andThe Early Greeks

For the early Greeks, man stands in an intimate relation with Truth, deriving his own nature from that bond and existing as "the locus of the self-disclosure of Truth". At the same time he seeks to struggle with himself to allow Truth shine through what prevents its disclosure. The Early Greek word for truth wasaletheia which is compounded by the privative prefix "a-" (not) and the verbal stem "-leth -" which means "to escape notice", "to be concealed". The truth may thus be looked upon as that which is un-concealed, that which gets discovered or uncovered. [BT, p.57]

We can easily relate (understand) this way of thinking before Socrates, because we have the advantage of Sufism. The Sufis have spoken of man as "the locus in which lights manifest" and that particular locus is not placed in the brain, but in the heart. In the heart of man the lights manifest. Man is engaged in this relationship: he cannot escape from it. Man is created with this feature: this capacity with which man can reach his Creator. Theprocess by which man comes closer to Allah, is in the language of Sufism, "unveiling". Unveiling is the removing of thenafs , of the self. The self has no business in the knowing. In that sense, the self is not the instrument of knowledge, the self cannot think Allah. Allah manifests to him, in the process of his submission to Him: when you submit to Allah, Allah gives you knowledge of Him. Covering theTruth, is clearly expressed by the termKufr . Uncovering what covers the Truth is in itself knowledge.

Naturally, we are not saying thepresocratic poets were Sufis. They did not know Islam, they could not be Sufis. Their thinking is not Sufism. What we are saying is that we are better prepared to understand the language which they used. This is important in order to understand what happened during and after the Birth of Philosophy. It will help us to understand the gap that was created and the departure that took place. This is what matters to us. We have no further need to explore thepresocratics . They have nothing of use to us. We have enough with Islam.

Heidegger focuses on two poets: Parmenides and Heraclitus. He wrote lengthy works on their way of thinking. For us this has only a scholarly interest, but not an interest in what we have set as our goals in reading Heidegger. It is enough for us to know their names, their place in the chronological history and to understand their way of looking at truth. That's all.

Having understood this background, now we are ready to understand the Birth ofPhilosophy, that took place with Socrates/Plato.

Logic andThe Later Greeks

For the later Greeks, man stands in a detached relation with Truth, deriving his own nature from that detachment and existing as "the logical maker of truth". Here the word logic is crucial to understand this "detached relationship". Here for us the word "detached" means to look away from, to separate from,to depart from. In a sense it is the opposite of being intimate, meaning being close, seeking closeness. The Sufis speak profusely about intimacy throughout their vast literature.

The expression "logic" is an abbreviation of the Greek "logike ". To complete its meaning, the word "episteme" must be added: "logike episteme", or the science that deals with logos. Here logos means as much as speech, specifically in the sense of statement, predication. Statement means to say something about something, such as: the body isheavy, the triangle is equilateral, etc. Such statements express a determining something as something, a "determinatio " [without -n]. We call this determining thinking. Accordingly logic, the science of logos, became the science of thinking.

What is important to us here, is that a way of thinking was created that took its basis in logos. This way of thinking is already determined and limited by its own attachment to logos. What stems out of thinking through logos is the "relationship to truth" which comes associated to the determining of something AS something. That determining implies a measuring up of that which the statement is made, theadequatio ,the correctness, what we generally mean by the truth of the statement.

Heidegger wrote:

"Logos can be made adequate or made inadequate, true or false. Every factual statement or factual logos is necessarily either true or false. (A claim to be sure which will occupy us a great deal later)" [MFL, p.2]

The logic of the Greeks brought a new way of relating to truth that was going to change everything from then on. Truth is through logic a theory of correspondence. It is no longer "unconcealment " (aletheia ). The new relationship has a new direction: it goes fromthe I (the subject who states) to the truth of the entity (the object which is stated). This is an inversion of the previous approach, in which Truth manifests to us.

Thinking in the form of statements is always thinking about "something". It cannot think about nothing. This expression, "thinking about nothing" is ambiguous. First, it can mean "not to think". Butthinking cannot be not thinking . Therefore thinking has to bring everything to be thought, including nothing (what cannot be thought as logos; nothing as in the logic of "God is nothing"), into "something" first. That "something" is what can be thought and expressed through logos. Whatever logos cannot express cannot be thought. This is already placinga exclusion of what cannot be captured by that way of thinking, that is to say, is an exclusion of what is illogical.

When this limitation is not understood, logic goes beyond itself and claims a universal capacity. It claims for itself the capacity to think everything. What in fact it does is that it reduces everything to what can be thought logically. Truth is the first victim. Truth is no longer seen throughaletheia , but it becomes a theory of correspondence: if a statement is in accordance with the entity, then it is true. Whatever "is" before or beyond the statement which "is" still part of the entity is "disregarded" and it does not affect the correctness of the statement. When later philosophers (the Scholastics) discover this fascinating way of thinking of the Greeks they applied it to "knowledge" of God.God, inevitably is reduced to "something" (logical) in order to be thought. Yet, God is neverthought, only the concept of God is thought. The problem here is that the result of logic's claim of universality is that "everything" must become something, before it can be thought.

Heidegger wrote:

"As science of thinking in general, logic simply does not consider thinking qua thinking of this or that object of such-and-such properties. It does not attend to the special what and how of that to which thinking relates. But this disregard of the particular subject-matter and way of being of the thing thought about never implies that thinking in general does not relate to anything. It only implies that the object of thinking is irrelevant -as long as that about which thinking thinks confront us, as such, as "something"."[MFL, p.3]

The definition of what is "something", that which can be thought through logic, will evolve through history, creating what Heidegger defined as a history of being, or a history of philosophy. The method remains Greek, but the definition of "being something" or simply "being" that can be thought will change with time. The rules of thought that came from this system of "correspondence" have remained always unclear. That lack of clarity is what triggered thesystematisation of this way of thinking in search of clarity (what in fact thissystematisation achieved was a further detachment from Truth), and it is the basis in which we can speak of a history (as evolution) of philosophy. The logic that developed under the impetus of Plato and Aristotle solidify into an academic discipline only in theStoa (the Stoics) in the last centuries before the Christian era. Centuries later, when we reach Kant (along with Leibniz) the true father of modern science, the mark of the Greeks is still there. Kant wrote in the Pure Critique of Reason:

"That logic has already, from the earliest times, proceeded upon this sure path is evidenced by the fact that, since Aristotle, it has not required to retrace a single step, unless, indeed, we care to count as improvements the removal of certain needless subtleties or the clearer exposition of its recognized teaching, features which concern the elegance rather than the certainty of the science. It is remarkable also that, to the present day, that logic has not been able to advance a single step, and thus to all appearances it is a close and completed body of doctrine. That logic should have been thus successful is an advantage which it owes entirely to its limitations, whereby it is justified in abstracting -indeed, it is under obligation to do so- from all objects of knowledge and their differences, leaving the understanding nothing to deal with save itself and its form." [MFL, p.4]

We will not yet address ourselves to the fact that Kant himself, though quite unclearly and uncertainly, took a step which turned out to be the first step forward in philosophical logic since Aristotle and Plato. But Kant did not break from logic, he was a reformer of logic, he was another philosopher.

That Greek event, which we have called the birth of philosophy, has reached us today with the samevigour and fascination with which it was first encountered. That event, the birth of philosophy, is still present with us through the modern sciences with which "our world" is being constructed today.


The birth of philosophy represented the creation of a way of thinking that transformed the nature of our relation to Truth, and implicitly our understanding of Truth. This transformation replaced knowledge from being understood asunconcealment to a theory of correspondence of logos. This transformation changed the way man himself was going to be understood. The intimate relation that bound the seeker to Truth as a "locus of the self-disclosure of Truth" was transformed into a detached relation that alienated the enquirer from Truth as a "logical maker of truth". This departure was the event of the birth of philosophy.

Our criticism of philosophy does not mean that this way of thinking is useless. Our criticism is that this way of thinking is limited. The lack of awareness of this limitation is the danger. Its claim to have absolute validity is the danger.

This event was born in Greece, but in went beyond the Greeks and it fascinated and shaped the way of thinking of the West, that is, philosophy. That way of thinking discovered by the Greeks is embedded in the way of thinking of what later came to be known as modern science. We are living in a world dominated by the singularity of that event that took place 2,500 years ago. It is important to know it if we are to understand the way we think today.

The Philosophy of the Greeks andIbn Rushd

We want to briefly depart from our discussion on Heidegger to point out an interesting event in our history around the figure ofIbn Rushd .

Christianity, this dark religion, ignored and destroyed the thinking of the Greeks. The Greeks had been almost forgotten in the West. Islam on the other hand, had interactions (good and bad) with it. The most notable of these interactions is the famous argument that took place between al-Ghazali andIbn Rushd . Al-Ghazali wrote the "Incoherence of the Philosophers" (Tahafut al-Falasifa ), andIbn Rushd replied with the "Incoherence of the Incoherence" (Tahafut al-Tahafut ). The matter of the argument was the writings ofIbn Sina , who had incorporated traces ofneoplatonic doctrine stemming mainly from Plotinus (via Aristotle and Proclus) to which were added some elements of Persian tradition.Ibn Sina sought to integrate all aspects of science and religion in a grand metaphysical vision. Both Al-Ghazali andIbn Rushd criticised him. And in their own way, they were both right. Al-Ghazali , simply denied any involvement with this Greek way of thinking from a pure Islamic perspective.Ibn Rushd deniedIbn Sina too, but he left the door open to use this way of thinking provided that its limitations were understood.Ibn Rushd , popularly known as the Muslim philosopher, was not a philosopher (Ibn Sina was a philosopher) but he open the door to philosophy.Ibn Rushd , wrote the book "Decisive Treatise and Exposition of the Compatibility of Religious Laws and Philosophy" where he examined the limits of philosophy under the overall supremacy of the Revelation. Unfortunately the explosion of sciences that appeared under theMurabitun in al-Andalus , of whichIbn Rushd was a fundamental part, was slowly destroyed by the brutal incomprehension of theMuwahidun . The inheritance ofIbn Rushd , was "stolen" from us and its translations triggered the "re-discovery" of the Greeks in the West, but without the limitations he had placed on the basis of the supremacy of the Revelation andShariah . Our chance of leading science within theShariah was lost and we never managed to catch up with it again.

There is no point in mourning. AndIbn Rushd's view of philosophy can help us very little today. The philosophy of Aristotle has unfolded into a scientism through the work of Descartes, Leibniz, Kant and others, whichIbn Rushd would not have even imagined. In this sense al-Ghazali was right. But I preferIbn Rushd , because he anticipated the potential, provided that the limits of this way of thinking were understood. We owe to ourselves, to recapture this issue and to set the parameters once again. This is a task for our generation.


1- BT, "Being and Time", Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1962.

2- MFL, "The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic", Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1984.