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The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Islamic translation) [Hardcover]

Al-Ghazali
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Feb 2002 Islamic translation
Although Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali lived a relatively short life (1058-1111), he established himself as one of the most important thinkers in the history of Islam. "The Incoherence of the Philosophers," written after more than a decade of travel and ascetic contemplation, contends that while such Muslim philosophers as Avicenna boasted of unassailable arguments on matters of theology and metaphysics, they could not deliver on their claims; moreover, many of their assertions represented disguised heresy and unbelief. Despite its attempted refutation by the twelfth-century philosopher Ibn Rushd, al-Ghazali's work remains widely read and influential.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition edition (1 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0842524665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0842524667
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 103,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Agent K
This really is a book of books, not only because of the depths to which this book submerges into regarding the realms of time and reality, but also towards explaining core as well as developmental theological aspects pertaining towards Islam, this is the key in this book, because one must remember the significant change in Muslim philosophical and theological expression this book had for centuries which is still existent today.

(I would like to point out the review written by Ouassini [with 2 stars] was unhelpful, I'm sure people want to know more about product quality and less regarding one's own academic/ideogical views) and picking up on the point of Ibn Rushd, who did in fact write an extensive refutation of this particular book. The works of Al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd had a huge impact upon the future of the Islamic and Western worlds, whereby the Islamic world had a greater interest towards Al-Ghazali's works on theology and philosophy, whilst the Western world had larger interests towards the secular discussions of Ibn Rushd, this altogether culminated towards influencing the political, economic, social and even military stuctures of these two civilisations from a philosophical and theological basis, hence I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in the above mentioned topics.

Furthermore this book has both the Arabic and English texts, the Arabic is classical so therefore will require some linguistic skills to understand, the English seems very old, however it only seems to be so due to the very complexity of the notions discussed, a very important prerequisite to this book is the understanding of the basics of logic (there is a basic book by W.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent edition 24 Aug 2004
By Tron Honto - Published on Amazon.com
Though only a sparse number of Medieval Muslim thinkers are familiar to Western readers, al-Ghazali is likely to be one of the most often mentioned names as THE representative classical intellectual of Sunni Islam. Not too rarely is he compared with the Christian intellectual giant, St. Augustine. This is not an inaccurate portrait. As such, many curious readers may desire to read something by al-Ghazali in order to sample his thought. This volume might be tempting to some since it is one of his most famous works. I regret to say that I must recommend against it, for although the work itself is a classic, a masterpiece of Islamic scholarship, it is also deeply abstruse. Moreover, there is little that is asserted in the positive sense of al-Ghazali's personal beliefs. Being that the main aim of the work is to show the feebleness and vanity of philosophy to surpass revelation, most of the work can be characterized as principally deconstructive. In this regard, it is as vicious as it is systematic, rigorous and disarming even if the consequences al-Ghazali pointed to, such as atomism and the denial of all forms of causality, appear highly tendentious to all modern currents of thought. All but the most intrepid readers, I fear, may despair at its contents. I wholeheartedly recommend the potential to start elsewhere, such as Deliverance from Error, an autobiographical work.

With this caveat in mind, a few words about this edition for the non-initiate. The translation and the editing of the Arabic text are absolutely top-notch, and the parallel placement of the English-Arabic columns are easily followed by those familiar with both languages. Accompanying the text throughout are expository and explanatory notes that are immanently useful for both understanding cross-referencing the text with the works of the likes of Ibn Sina and al-Farabi. The aim of this series to create a parallel of the `Loeb Classics' for Islamic Studies appears to be directly on course.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We need more! 16 Feb 2006
By Joseph Martin - Published on Amazon.com
We need more! The `Incoherence of the Philosophers' (Tahafut al-falasifa) is part of a series of books in which Ghazali intended to explain his position vis-a-vis philosophy and kalam. (For our purposes here, Kalam is speculative theology.) The first book, `The Aims of the Philosophers' (Maqasid al-falasifa), is a fair and neutral exposition of the philosophy of Avicenna. Indeed, as Marmura notes, Ghazali "wrote this work of exposition to explain the philosophers' theories as a prelude to his refuting them in the Tahafut." Note that although Ghazali speaks of both al-Farabi and Avicenna in the Incoherence he usually is speaking of Avicenna. The next book in the series is this book, the Incoherence, and it is intended to be the refutation of philosophy. Then comes `the Standard for Knowledge' (Mi'yar al-'ilm) which, according to Marmura, "is an exposition of Avicennan logic, the most comprehensive of such expositions that al-Ghazali wrote." Ghazali considered logic philosophically neutral and thus a fitting tool for both theologians and jurists. Note that this position is itself controversial among the defenders of orthodoxy - see, for example, what Ibn Taymiyya says about Greek logic. Now, Ghazali considered his work on logic an appendix to the Tahafut. Lastly, in this series, Ghazali writes his `Moderation in Belief' (Al-iqtisad fi al-i'tiqad) which is an exposition of Kalam, specifically, Ash'arite theology. This Ash'arite theology is the type of Kalam that Ghazali then adhered to. Of this Marmura says that in, "the Tahafut al-Ghazali intended to refute and negate; in the Iqtisad, to build and affirm what he declared to be true doctrine." So you see that the Tahafut is only part of a series of books that presented Ghazali's comprehensive position on philosophy (and kalam) at this point in his career. We now need the Islamic Translation Series to publish these companion pieces of the Tahafut so we too can see Ghazali's comprehensive view. ...But keep in mind that this is not his final view; after writing these books (1091-1095) Ghazali had his spiritual crises that led to his turn toward mysticism. This is, btw, a fine bilingual edition superbly translated; both Marmura and the Islamic Translation Series deserve to be proud. For those of you that still want more turn to the reply of the falasifa in Averroes, `the Incoherence of the Incoherence' (Tahafut al-Tahafut), which has been translated by Simon Van Den Bergh and contains over 200 pages of notes! I only give 4 stars (instead of 5) until the three books that were meant by Ghazali to be read with the Incoherence are translated and published.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Major Work 26 Jan 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
A first-rate translation, by a top scholar, of a great, rich, and historically important text by one of the most significant thinkers and most influential figures in Islamic history.
Does anything remain to be said?
Okay, a bit more: For anyone interested in the relationship between revelation and reason or between faith and philosophy, or in Islamic intellectual history, or in the history of philosophy, or in a number of other fields, this is a must-read.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars for the translation 4 stars because there is no comentary 22 Sep 2007
By Gogol - Published on Amazon.com
While this is an exellent translation and is especially useful in that it includes the original Arabic text. Sadly however there is little in the way of a biography of al-Ghazali or an in depth study of the book itself.

The introduction just gives the reader a brief introduction to the book itself and al-Ghazali. I would have liked a lot more of a comentary on the text and perhaps a comparison with ibn Rushds famous reply to this book the "Tahafut al-Tahafut"

The actual translation however, is well written and presented in an English that is fairly easy to understand thought the readers would need more of a background both in al-Ghazali and in philosophical thought in the Muslim middle ages. To help with this I would recomend first Watts Islamic philosophy and theology which gives both an exellent introduction to the topic and also the conflicting debates that raged throughout Islams history. Secondly I would recomend "On the harmoy of religion and philosophy" by Averroes better known as ibn Rushd. This book was a more brief reply to al-Ghazalis book.

It should be pointed out that al-Ghazali's writing of this book was concidered a turning point in Islamic history, it is generally thought that from this point onwards philosophy in the Islamic world went on the decline after receiving such a crushing blow from religion in the form of al-Ghazalis writings. While there wsa a decline in philosophy post al-Ghazali it is far too simplistic to claim that he was responsible for this (It is almost as bad as the Arab nationalist theory that the decline of philosophy in the Arab world was due to Turkish dominiance. Needless to say, this agrument completely ignores the fact that many 'Arab' philosophers were not even Arabs anyway). If anything, philosophy (albeit in another form) was studied even more so in the form of Sufism post al-Ghazali.

Well written and well translated but the reader will need a fair bit of background reading before starting this one.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Islamic Scholastic Masterpiece in English 15 May 2008
By D. J. Spaulding - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is an excellent volume for those interested in classical Islamic scholastic thought. Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali is in many ways to orthodox Sunni Islamic thought what St. Thomas Aquinas was to Roman Catholic theological and philosophical thought. The translation is good, however I would not suggest this book to someone not already familiar with classical philosophical (both Greek and Islamic) arguments. For one already familiar with the writings and arguments of Plato, Aristotle, al-Farabi, and ibn Sina (Avicenna), will find this book as an invaluable intellectual and philosophical source.
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