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The fourth chapter examines Ibn Rushd’s account of causality. It will be argued that Ibn Rushd’s theory of causality comes very close to Neo-Platonistic participatory accounts, despite his strong Aristotelian tendencies. Ibn Rushd, like Ibn Sīnā, finds the basis of causal efficacy of entities in their participation in the pure existence-act of the First. The most important implication of this understanding of causality is that despite the occasionalist critique that we do not and cannot observe a necessary connection between cause and effect, for Ibn Rushd, the moment one defines existence as pure act, it metaphysically makes more sense to accept causal efficacy of entities, for they participate in the pure existence-act of the First. The chapter also examines the differences between Ibn Sīnā and Ibn Rushd that stem from the latter’s efforts to address some of Ghazālī’s challenges. Ibn Rushd agrees with Ghazālī in that plurality can emanate from the First without emanationist intermediation and solely based on the nature-capacity-form of beings. This view establishes a closer connection between the First’s existence-act and the world than Ibn Sīnā’s metaphysics allows.
Between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, Muslims experienced multiple crises. The Crusaders and the Mongols destroyed the urban infrastructure and the public order across a vast Muslim geography. On the one hand, the fall of most Muslim states, except the Ayyubids and then Mamluks in Egypt, and Berber dynasties in Morocco/Andalus, weakened the ulema–state alliance. On the other hand, the perils of the Crusades and the Mongol invasions led many Muslims to seek safety from the ulema–state alliance. In general, both the Crusader and the Mongol invasions led to a deterioration of mercantile and scholarly activities in many Muslim cities. Muslim countries still produced such remarkable scholars as Ibn Rushd and Ibn Khaldun. Another scholar, Ibn Taymiyya, wrote on the theory of the ulema–state alliance. Meanwhile Western Europe was protected from destructive invasions after the halt of the Mongol invasion in Eastern Europe. In this context, Western Europe witnessed socioeconomic and political transformations. This chapter first analyzes the Muslim world and then explores these Western European transformations.
This chapter begins by examining Muslims’ military, commercial, and intellectual achievements between the seventh and eleventh centuries. At that time, most of Islamic scholars (ulema) were funded by commerce, while only a few of them served the state. The merchants flourished as an influential class. The chapter goes on to analyze the beginning of the intellectual and economic stagnation in Muslim lands in the eleventh century. It explains how, gradually, the ulema became a state-servant class and the military state came to dominate the economy. The alliance between the ulema and the military state diminished the influence of philosophers and merchants. This changing distribution of authority led to the long-term stagnation, if not the decline, of Muslim intellectual and economic life. This gradual process began in the eleventh century and continued for centuries, as subsequent chapters elaborate.
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