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Interviewing Abou Yaareb Marzouki / Islamia,Indonesian Islamic Journal

Islamia,Indonesian Islamic Journal
Interviewing Abou Yaareb Marzouki
Prof. Islamic International University Malaysia

Introduction:
Let me first thank you for this friendly invitation to speak out some of my humble opinions and to address my brothers in Indonesia, in a language I have never used before I came to Malaysia, in order to teach philosophy in Usul al Din. Let me also congratulate you for the precise and extend knowledge of Arab modern intellectual production and the deep insight revealed by the diagnosis of the real crisis our civilization is suffering from: the intellectualism.
To begin with, I would like to classify your questions in five kinds and a thesis which is presupposed in all your questions. The first question spells out this thesis as a general syndrom of the Islamic current crisis.
1- The characterization of the projects presented by Arab intellectuals as epistemological and critical essays, either from a supposed modern (Jabiri) or postmodern (Arkoun) background (the thought of the two other examples, Hanafi and Tizini, being only mentioned but not characterized) and the possible comparison of these projects with the postmodern projects (questions 2&3).
2- Evaluation of Jabris project (question 4 which is double: value and nature of his project).
3- Evaluation of Arkouns project (question 5 which is double: adequateness of the concepts he uses and result of his project).
4- Legitimization of the intellectual style these intellectuals have chosen by two Islamic traditions: the question 6 hinting to the status these intellectuals allot to two Islamic intellectual traditions (Mutazilism and Averroism) and to a possible similarity with these traditions .
5-The characterization of my proper intellectual effort:
a- negatively as shunning the western intellectual tradition (with two subsidiary questions: possible critique of western intellectual styles and methods and possible benefit in using them to tackle our own crisis)
b- and positively as applying traditional Muslim thinkers (questions 7&8).



First question:

1-The problem inflicting Muslims today is complex and intricate; economicaly underdeveloped, politically unstable and disintegrated, morally and religiously decline. However, it has been commonly acknowledged that the major problem faced by Muslims lies in the intellectualism. What is your general comment on the present state of affairs of Islamic intellectualism?

To answer the first question obtains with a simple lying bare of the thesis. It needs not to be expanded upon because the diagnosis of intellectualism is not only one of your questions. It is the underpinning of each of them. Thus, it will be dealt with consequently. Let me therefore use it as the topic of an introduction to my answers. If I rightly guess the construal you give to this term, you mean that the treatment used by our thinkers is defined by two negative aspects:
a-These projects are unable to help understand the current Islamic crisis and motivate an authentic commitment of Muslim population.
b- These projects are therefore pure intellectual representation unrelated to the true crisis experienced by our Ummah, because simple superficial application of ready to wear ideologies;
Unless we understand that the nature of the Islamic crisis and its recurrent stand, we will continue to seek improvised remedies and consequently depend upon false solutions as alternative to the patient scientific treatment. Indeed, intellectualism as such may be conceivable when the style of treatment of the problems has a comparable conceptual age with the adequate formulation of the social and cultural phenomena tuckled: we cannot jump to interpretative treatment without the requested minimal scientific description of the phenomena and the data the situation is determined with.
This is why intellectualism as an intellectual playful light dealing with any serious situation cannot happen without being backed by a scientific treatment of it. Intellectualism, in any developed society, is an attitude of leisure which presupposes the hard work of the scientific researchers and a long tradition of mutual determination between the social phenomena and the theoretical practices related to them.
But when one tries to play the same exercise in a culture in which the adequate formulation of the social and cultural phenomena lacks and the theoretical practices related to them is either no more live (discourse and practices of our tradition) or not yet effective ( discourse reduced to ready wear ideological clothes), it will be a pure verbalism i.e. a pure eidle talk. No dialectical dynamics i.e. mutual determination in the deep streams of the live society will stem from this play: this is why, in this case, the term intellectualism is generally used in a pejorative acceptation. One may conclude that intellectualism is twofold:
1- Genuine one which cannot exist but in a society in which the hard work of adequate formulation of the data and problems is seriously and continuously knitted,
2- False one which is a simple aping of the first kind without the conditions of possibility of a meaningful discourse: interpretive meta-discourse is non sense when the theoretical strata to be interpreted run out of inspiration.
Let me illustrate this idea by a rapid answer to the possible comparison between the projects of Arab intellectuals and the postmodern thought. Our intellectuals seem absolutely unaware that their projects are absolutely opposite to those of postmodern thinkers: the postmodern thought is trying to free the westerner culture and society of the pathologies of subjectivism and metaphysical dogmatism, our intellectuals are trying to sow these pathologies in Islamic soil by a rear guard battle of Enlightenment. This why I wonder how can they pretend to use the same methods and attitude?
An other illustration can obtain if we compare the Mutazilism and Averroism which are used as legitimization of an alleged rationalist attitude by the tradition to the rationalism these thoughts were trying to imitate. Aristotle was not a simple commentator of philosophical texts in an exegetic attitude, even if he was nicknamed by Plato as the reader. He was an active producer of creative theories aiming at tackling real problems at two levels:
1-Scientific discourse on a natural and social levels: how to lay the foundations of a scientific knowledge of natural, biological symbolical, and ethical phenomena on a universal mathematics which he has systematically tried to apply in all these fields. But he never pretended that his theories were the final word: he presented them as tentative and provisory explanations.
2-Meta-scientific discourse on an epistemological and ontological levels: how to find out methods and principles able to help bridge the scientific discourse of Mathematics and the ethical discourse of Politics in order to render the Socratic attitude possible vis a vis the Sophists one? This was the aim of his Organon which is not only a logical opus magnum but also the first foundation of poetics, rhetorical discourse, critical discourse and finally hermeneutics.
The reader will characterize the second term of the comparison by the simple uses and abuses of our intellectuals who are trying to find in the rationalism of Averroes the forefather of their own! As for Mutazilism, let us limit ourself to philosophy and avoid to expand upon Kalam. The only observation I can say is that I cannot understand how one can be coherently Mtazilite if one is sincere and truthful.
One can claim that rationalism is a true foundation of religious belief, if and only if he is unaware that metaphysical rationalist attitude is an irrational belief in the absolute sovereignty of reason. If one tries to balance this belief in order to let a space for religious belief as Kant has done in late westerner tradition, he adopts no more a Mutazilite version of rationalism (which is a dogmatic and metaphysical one) but in a critical attitude which is rather similar to Asharite attitude: the famous waqafa himar ash-Saheikh fil-Aqabah by which Al Ashari has addressed his teacher Aboub Ali Al-JubbaI.
This decisive Asharis objection stems from a deep critique of the negative (skepticism origin of all stubborn fideism) and positive (source of all metaphysical fanaticism the last one being the Enlightenment totalitarianism) dogmatism. These two pathologies of the existential attitude vis a vis the ontological and religious truths are the cause of Islamic spiritual disorder since the famous Mihnah (about the Ontological status of Quran) and are currently represented by our two fanaticisms: religious and secular fundamentalisms
I again congratulate you indeed for this diagnosis and would like to answer all the questions with this idea as background. I beg you to favor me an other thing: let me answer your questions in an order of my choosing. This does not prejudge that your order is not good but because I would like to be systematic in the answers related to my proper intellectual effort and way of thinking. You will guess the reasons why this is necessary in order to indirectly answer the other questions without directly evaluating the oeuvres of the authors you have chosen as examples: I dont like gratuitous polemics.
As a matter of fact I will not directly evaluate these authors, because I dont like to be presumptuous and judge oeuvres which continue to be elaborated by their authors. So the questions 4 and 5 will not be explicitly satisfied. A sketchy answer may be envisoned between the lines. The answer will be twofold as the questions you have addressed to my own work. Otherwise I will repeat my self: when I characterize the work I am trying to elaborate I indirectly characterize the stances and methods I have intentionally shunned. Thus, two titles will define my answers: question 8 which includes the questions 2, 3 and 6 and question 7 which includes the questions 4 and 5.

The questions: 8 (and implicitly the questions 2,3&6).

8- We have understood that you had studied under famous contemporary western thinkers and philosophers like Michel Foucault and Paul Ricoeur. However, compared to other Arab/Muslim intellectuals you rarely refer to them in your writings. You rather prefer referring to classical Muslim scholars like Ibn Khaldun an Ibn Taymiyyah. What do you think that Muslin intellectuals today can and cannot take/benefit from Foucault? Or do you have any critiques on Foucault especially when applied to Islamic studies?
2- After the Arab defeat in the Six day War in June 1967, many Arab intellectuals have come up with ambitious intellectual projects. Hasan Hanafi for instance launched a project he named al-Turath wa al-Tajdid, Jabiri intiated Naqd al-Aql al-Arabi, Arkoun Naqd al-Qql al-Islami, Tayyib Tizini Min al-Turath ila al-Thawrah, and many others. What is your opinion about this intellectual phenomenon ?
3-What is interesting to observe from all these intellectual projects is that they all intend to critique an epistemological foundation of Islamic intellectual tradition that they think responsible for the decline of todays Muslims. Is it what they are doing similar to what postmodern thinkers like Jurgen Habermas, Derrida, Foucault , Paul Ricoeur, and others do to modern western philosophy who criticized a project of Enlightenment which glorified reason?
6-Many Arab Muslin intellectuals now are glorifying Ibn Rushds and Mutazilites rationalism as a model to revive contemporary Islamic Intellctual? What is your comment on this matter. Do you think that it can help Muslims to solve their present intellectual problems? Or you probably have other Muslim thinkers that better for Muslim intellectuals today to emulate?

Your information about the learning I have received from these great professors is true. M. Foucault was professor in the University of Tunis during all my undergraduate studies in philosophy at the Ecole Normale of Tunis. I have been his student three successive academic years: 1966-7; 1967-8: 1968-9. Professor Ricoeur has not been professor in our university but he has visited us many times and many others included Derrida and the great French translator and commentator of Hegel.
I have also studied in the University of Paris Sorbonne III, IV and VI, Philosophy, Law and Economics. My Master thesis was about the central problem of the two Tahafuts: the Concept of Causality. My thesis of 3rd. cycle was about The status of Mathematics in Aristotelian Science and my thesis dEtat is about: Nominalism : the Problem of Universals. In the tradition French system the these dEtat was double: the principal one and the complementary. So my principal thesis was about the Universals in general and the complementary one was about their determination in the oeuvre of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Kahaldun. The Concept of Causality and the Status of Mathematics in Aristotles Science wer written in French the two parts of the these dEtat are written in Arabic. The first two works have been translated in Arabic and published.
Let me amend a little bit the information related to my relationship to the western intellectual tradition. I dont shun the western though but I use only the sources which I judge utile for the studies I am interested in. I use the Greek and the German philosophies, when needed. They represent for me the beginning and end of the westerner philosophical formulation of the problems I am dealing with. The when needed means when there is a close relationship with our tradition in order to define the characteristics of the Islamic formulation of the similar problems.
Two conceptual formulations are similar if they play the same role in the treatment of the fundamentals of human society. As adept of philosophical universalism and of Islamic vision of Human Fitrah, I believe in the identity of these fundamentals. The unique condition should be to limit the comparison to comparable stages of development of societies and historic consciousness i.e. to the same problematic historical conjuncture. Let me illustrate this idea by two concrete examples.
First example:
The traditional Muslim scholars were challenged to devise methodological devices and epistemological strategies which will help solve two kinds of problems:
a- to materially establish and systematically understand the holy texts: Quran and Sunnah and to institute a universal state whose frontiers are expanding in function of the expansion of the message.
b- To rationally induce from them ethical, legal, theological and political systems of principles and institutions able to organize the ethical and social life of the community and to define a coherent world view.
In this case they created almost ex nihilo the sciences of Arabic language, the sciences of textual critique in order to establish the authenticity of the holy texts (Quran with little difficulties, and Hadith with huge problems). They can borrow the institutions of the empires they have conquered but they cannot use the sciences of other languages or of other textual critique or other historical events in order to solve their own theoretical problems related to their theoretical and practical use of Reason.
They have to invent their own solution to their own problems. This does not mean that they were unaware of the solutions other civilizations have proposed. Their attitude towards these traditions was generally inspired by the coranic concept of tasdeeq wa haymanah i.e. critical sifting of the traditions before espousing the universal elements as pertaining to Fitrah. This is the principal reason of their refusal of the adoption of the solutions proposed by our falasifah who have adopted a dogmatic attitude towards the simple adoption of these solutions.
The situation we have described, even if limited to humanities, is similar to the situation in which the Greeks were challenged by the necessary re-foundation of the mathematical and logical devices yet invented by Egyptians and Mesopotamians, in order to inaugurate a renewal of the natural sciences and their practical application in their social life.
The content of the historical situation is different ( theoretical use of reason and science of nature for Greeks/practical use of reason and science of history for Muslims), but the rational structure is the same: how to devise theoretical and methodological solutions in order first to understand the phenomena and then to use this understanding in the application of the theories which may be translated in institutions and tools. Of course each of this experience did not ignore the second dimension of any human society: the Greeks have dealt with the practical use of the reason (Socrates) and the Muslims with the theoretical use of the reason( The status of Natural science) Each of these two experience has failed: the Greeks have killed Socrate. The Muslims have killed Natural science.
We can negatively prove the similarity of these historic experiences. The two inventive attitudes died down when Greeks and Muslims adopted the same dogmatic attitude: when they believed that the first foundation was the final one and renounced the continual self-critique and creative attitude. This is why their thought became a verbal commentary about their past findings forgetting the continual unveiling of reality and of the unveiling itself.
The problem of our first encounter with Greek philosophy has been complicated by the fact that the philosophical tradition we have inherited was overwhelmed by the late Antiquity which is of this decadent kind of thought: it was very difficult to tell the true philosophemes from the ideological mythemes. The natural sciences and their philosophy were almost reduced to an ideology where Alchemy, Astrology and Magic practices were presented as philosophic knowledge (See the Encyclopedia of Ikhwan as-Safa for examples or/ and all the logomachies of the philosophic tasawwaf) or, in the better case, to a kind of humanities study: commentary on texts without scientific practices.
I fear that all the intellectualist projects you have mentioned are of the same species: simples logomachies about westerner fashion of teacher of Philosophy who have accepted the reduction of philosophical discourse to an ideological adn political activism obsessed by the will of direct action rather then by the knowledge (which may be an indirect action as theoretical foundation of technical or ethical application).
Second example:
When Descartes has tried to devise a post Aristotelian philosophy in order to re-ground the post-Ptolemean science or the Copernecian science, he was confronted to a double challenge: to ground the new science and to present an alternative to the modus vivendi established by the Middle ages between Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology. He has not talked about these two challenges: he dealt with them as theoretical problems and devised theoretical solutions which are considered as the foundation of all modern thought.
And when Leibniz has discovered that Descartes has not resolved the problems of the appropriate Method of the new science- even he has written two Essays on the question- but has only changed the attitude of the Subject of knowledge, he has not talked about this idea, he has rather initiated the two great revolutions of the modern knowledge: the formalistic logic or Caracteristique universelle and the Calcul infinitesimal. In a nutshell: these two philosophers, even if their solutions are different as far as the vision of continuity or discontinuity between Ancient and Modern philosophies and sciences are concerned, were in the same time scientists and philosophers. They were not practicing intellectualism.
The two principles of the vision I try to implement are determined by the general nature of thoughts efficacy and the specific difference between physical and spiritual diagnoses and treatments. The general nature of thoughts efficacy resides in the double level of the productive thought: we cannot philosophize separately about texts, we have to relate them to real practices of effective knowledge i.e. of knowledge dealing with determinate difficulties, like those I have mentioned in these examples.
The specific difference between the physical and spiritual diagnoses and treatments may be illustrated as following. We can easily use the current medical art to cure the pathologies of any human being of the past. But we cannot have the same attitude when we deal with cultural and social deficiencies of the past: the attitude should be like that of any psycho-analytical treatment whereby the patient himself should raise the painful memories. The essential part of spiritual medication is the raising of painful memories. This is the true meaning of the solution Heidegger has defined as Die Augabe einer Destruktion der Geschichte der Ontologie as far as the forgetfulness has obliterated the meaning of Being, and consequently endangered the Destin of the West.
It has nothing to do with the playful heaps of any butterfly a la Derrida, let alone those who emulate him! The Destruktion der Geschichte der Ontologie implies that this Geschichte has been constructed as delirium in a metaphysical and systematic narrative more or less adequate to the Geschehen of the civilization itself: Heideggers Destruktion is not possible without Hegels Konstruktion.
Any effective diagnosis has first to interpret the symptoms in the terms of their concrete manifestations before it can tackle their causes. This is why I were obliged to go back to Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Taymiyyah who have tried to diagnose the reasons of the decadence they were the witnesses of, practicing at once a Konstruktion and a Destruktion of the real Geschehen and of its own Verstehen as adequate archeological strata of the Islamic civilization.
But I did not go back without the current hindsight which cannot be but both tooled with the philosophical and scientific formation I have, and determined by the historical situation of our Islamic civilization. My intention was not to borrow solutions from the past: the unique aim of this hindsight of Ibn Tyamiyyahs and Ibn Khalduns diagnoses was to understand the final denouement of the conflictual relationship between philosophy and religion in their systematic formulation.
Why now I prefer Greek and German Philosophies to the sources you hint to and which effectively I rarely use in dealing with to my philosophical concerns? I do so, because I try to avoid the obstacles which I believe were the causes of the failure of our first encounter with westerner thought. Our first tentative philosophic training has promptly stopped. The reasons, I believe, are essentially twofold:
First, the attitude of simple adoption of the results of the thought and not the learning of the thinking itself: philosophy was not for our falasifah an intellectual critical thinking accompanied by a productive scientific creation, but a simple corpus of knowledge to learn by heart as a holy text. The commentaries were exegesis rather than scientific confrontation between explanatory theories and phenomena to be explained.
The clear evidence of this idea may be illustrated by the fact that all our philosophers without exception have omitted the major element of the works of Aristotle: the preliminary discussion of the various hypotheses in each of his treaties before he chooses his own solution. They considered this debate as simple dialectical exercise and pretend prune his text in order to keep the only scientific content of his oeuvre i.e. the solutions he has chosen even if the progress of knowledge in their time was a clear falsification of these solutions !
Our modern intellectuals are adopting the same attitude: the hypothesis chosen by the authors they are imitating are for them final truth able to remedy to our spiritual pathologies! They seem in need of supply, so they seek prefabricated spare parts in any popular epitome of the intellectual fashion of the instant! Who can forget the slogan of scientific socialism!
Second, to depend upon intermediaries without tracing back the sources: all our falasifah have learnt Greek philosophy and science from translations without trying to go back to the text themselves and without practicing true science. The rare exceptions were not falasifah. They were either mathematicians and physicians ( like Ibn Qurrahs Grand Son, al Biruni, Ibn al Haitham and al-Tussi who were not strictu sensu falsifah). The same phenomenon is reedited now.
I think that I have not to mention that almost all our current mahregian intellectuals are using German theories via simple French translation or French imitation. Yet, French imitation of German Philosophy is embedded in a national pride aiming at a certain demarcation and innovation (Foucault, Derrida and Ricoeur). I fear that the Arab imitation of the French imitation of the German creation will melt down to a bare verbal plagiarism, a battery of ideological slogans.
Some of them are explicitly limiting their references to two French philosophers with, sometimes, vague reference to Foucault: G. Bachelard and P. Lalande. But, the background of their explanation of Aql Arabi can be traced back to the school of New Arab Averroism which glorifies the Latin Averroism and specifically the version given to it by Ernest Renan.
These French authors their importance notwithstanding, I dont see the utility of their use in the double task I try to achieve, even if I believe that any thought as such and for itself is useful:
1- First I try to uncover the causes of the failure I have mentioned. Thus I cannot adopt the same attitude which is for me the primordial reason of this failure. This is why, I decided to study Greek, Arabic and German Philosophies, the French Philosophy being my starting point when I was young and before I became aware of this necessary stance.
2- Second I try to understand how is it possible that the Holy Coran has presented principles of a possible religious and political organizationwith explicit interdiction of any spiritual and temporal authorities except that of the Ummah itself as universal obligation (Fardhu Ayn): which conditions are necessary in order to render this solution of absolute direct Ummah-craty in spiritual and temporal realms possible: this Ummah-cracy is explicitly defined by surah al-Asr whereby the Tawassi bil Haqq or Ijtihad collectively organized and the Tawassi bis-Sabr or Jihad collectiverly organized are the condition sine qua non of avoiding al-Khusr i.e. the spiritual and temporal failures. The solution of this problem is my first concern. I am working hard in order to answer this question, but the way is very long and I dont see the end of the tunnel.
The first task is the very problem of the reception of Greek thought by Islamic tradition: which culminated in the debate between al Ghazali and Ibn Rushd. I have tried to understand this reception in my Essays on The Concept of Causality by al Ghazali and The Status of Mathematics in Aristotelian Science.
The second is the very problem of the reception of Islamic thought by German tradition: the substance of which is materialized in the debate between Kantian Enlightenment and Hegelian Philosophy of History. This philosophy of history opposes the success of the Reformation whose thought would be dialectical and speculative to the failure of Islamic Enlightenment whose thought would be metaphysical and logical.
All my concern is focused on these two problems each of which is double. As a matter of fact, the reception of Greek thought or the failure of the first encounter with westerner thought cannot be completely explained by the shortcomings of our thinkers. So we have to dive deeper and uncover the over determinant phenomenon in this failure. This is why I asked these questions to Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Kahldun.
These two authors have diagnosed the failure and presented in final analysis before the total breakdown of Muslims thought the alternative which should be scrutinized, if we like to have a new departure. The first has diagnosed it from the religious-textual starting point, let us say from a hermeneutical vision. The second has diagnosed it from a socio-historical starting point , let us say from a analytical vision.
But the hermeneutical vision has as target the explanation of the socio-historical situation of Muslims in its relationship with the misunderstanding of the principles of Universal religion. The analytical vision has as target the explanation of the religious-textual situation of Muslims in its relationship with the misunderstanding of the principles of universal History.
Ibn Taymiyyahs hermeneutical enterprise ended up in an analytical revolution whereby he operated a total revision of the Aristotelian version of logic and metphysics used by Islamic phalsafa, kalam and mystics, which he considers as the real ground of the misunderstanding of universal religion. Ibn Kahlduns analytical enterprise ended up in a hermeneutical revolution whereby he operated a total revision of the Platonian version of history and politics used by Batiniyyahs vision of History, which he considers as the real ground of the misunderstanding of universal history.
Since then, the philosophical debate in Islamic thought was no more commentary on text but confrontation of fundamental theories with essential spiritual and historical determinations of humankind. The universal level of the debate was adequate with Islams claim to be the universal religion of Fitrah i.e. of man as such. Neither Ibn Taymiyyah nor Ibn Khaldun have talked of a specific Islamic or Arabic Reason:
1- The first has tried to deconstruct the metaphysical discourse in order to re-ground a critical logic, theology and ontology able to help understand Coranic philosophy of religion as universal message.
2- The second has tried to deconstruct the meta-historical discourse in order to re-ground a critical history, anthropology and ontology able to help understand Coranic philosophy of history as universal process.
3- It seems therefore that these thinkers were the first step to philosophically understand Islamic textual and historical hermeneutics and hence they can be the starting point of a new departure.
It is not easy to illustrate the dynamics of these two revolutions let alone to demonstrate it in this interview, but those who have read these authors understand perfectly the meaning of these hints and clues. They should understand now why I believe that the thought of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Khaldun represents both an underpinning foundation of the Sahwa and and of the Nahdha, but without being really understood because of the alleged postmodernist specificity (and consequently relativistic vision) advocated by our intellectuals. Unfortunately the first has been reduced to the faqih of the most retrograde sect of our religious thought; the second to the ideologue of the most retrograde sect of our secular thought.

Question 7 (it implicitely includes the question 4&5):

7-Being an active participant in the contemporary project, how do you see Muslim intellectuals have to start to revive their intellectual tradition as it had been developed before?
4- One of the participants in contemporary Islamic/Arab discourse is Muhammad Abid al-Jabiri. Since his publication of Takwin and Bunyah al-Aql al-Arabi, which constitute a lager project of his Critique of Arab Reason, many critiques as well as appraisals have been addressed to him. What do you say of Jabiris Critique of Arab Reason? Do you think Jabiri have profound epistemological foundation in his critique?
5- A part from Jabiri, there is another intellectual figure who actively promotes the idea of critique of Islamic reason; that is Mohammad Arkoun. In his several writings, Arkoun often used concepts and terms usually applied in postmodernism discourse like logocentrism, deconstruction, episteme, archeology of knowledge act, as tool of analysis to critique Islamic intellectual traditions. I have at least two question related to this matter?
a-Fist, do you think that Arkoun has appropriately employed postmodernist framework in his study?
b-And, secondly, do you think Arkoun succeeded in his attempt to deconstruct Islamic Reason?

I dont know how, because I dont pretend that my proper investigation has found the magic solution or the Pierre philosophale. But I can say how they have not to do by the simple fact of analyzing the current failure of our intellectual enterprise. Let me precise a very useful idea which can help understand why it is difficult to accept the current solutions proposed by the Arab intellectuals mentioned in the questions. All of their solutions stem wittingly or unwittingly from the second reception (Islam by German Philosophy) and seek the solution in the first reception (Greek philosophy by Muslims) heedless of the relationship between the two receptions. As a matter of fact, the bulk of the conception of these monstrous concepts of Islamic Reason or Arabic Reason they are criticizing are Hegelian (Der Volksgeist).
Islamic Reason is monstrous concept because Reason, in Islamic acceptation, cannot be but universal: it is the Idrak Fitri and not the freezed products of this Idrak which can be called Aqliyyah. But in that case we would talking about a retrograde vision of Mentality: like the pseudo concept of primitive Mentality. Arabic Reasion is racial acceptation because, as explained in the work you have mentioned, it means the definition Renan has given to Semitic incapacity to philosophize. Furthermore, one can say that almost all the Orientalistic negative version of representation of Islam stem from the status Hegel has allotted to Islam in his philosophy of History: in the fourth poque the Islamic Religion is the negative face of the Reformation, i.e. Islam was a failed Reformation.
So they are criticizing a distorted image of an unknown multiple functioning of reason in Islamic culture. This image resulting of the abovementioned double reception has nothing to do not only with Islam as transcendental Truth, but also with Islam as historic phenomenon, variously revealed in social, cultural manifestations. This variety of functions reason has achieved in Islamic culture is absolutely unknown by the authors of these projects: they purely and simply talk about the distorted image resulting of the double reception which is unknown too.
Those of our intellectuals who pretend to be Marxists has uncritically adopted the idea of Ernst Bloch in his article on Ibn Sina, who pretends that Averroes was the ultimate fruit of the Aristotelian left which is the forefather of the Hegelian left and hence the forefather of Arab Marxism and Secularism. Those of our intellectuals who pretend to be epistemologists are either superficially Hegelo-Marxists (via the dialectical vision of Bachelard) or superficially Hegelo-Positivist (via Ernest Renan).
This is why they all come back to Averroes in order to ground the new rationalism. The unique reason is the place accorded to Latin Averrroes by the orientalists, because I dont see any scientific or philosophic idea stemming from him, which can be used in order to help resolve our minor problems, let alone the problem of the relation between religion and philosophy in theoretical manner in order to organize a secular regime via the famous theory of double truth.
As for those who pretend practicing Hermeneutics, I believe that they are confounding all with all, because they have a flawed idea of Hermeneutics. Every knowledgeable man who has studied the true sources of this method knows that it has been specifically elaborated in the intention of understanding religious texts with the express presupposition of the phenomenological epoche as far as the question of worldly truth or untruth as adequatio rei is concerned.
It is a method which tries to understand the existential and transcendental meaning of religious message and experience. If one begins by not believing in religious message and experience being Marxist, how can he or she talk of Hermeneutics? How can it be that now our intellectuals -who have never invented any linguistic device, or logic tool use, or philosophic concept, or scientific theory- dare call Hermeneutics the simple pseudo-Marxist attitude of desacralization with the falsification criterias attitude of empirical knowledge ? Can we talk of extra-text truth in literary critique, let alone in a holy text? The attitude of these pseudo-critiques is neither hermeneutical nor philosophical: it is a pure and simple ideological enterprise.
In a final observation I would like to show the incoherence of the common attitude of Arab intellectuals: to be modern or/and postmodern and to advocate an averroist or/and a Mutazilite vision of truth and philosophy. How one can be modern let alone postmodern if he continues to believe that the Burhan (Demonstrative Reason) is the upper level of the function of the Reason and the Bayan (All stiles of linguistic expression of the ideas) is the under level in a logocentric hierarchy the negation of which is the very principle of postmodern thought?
And they are not shy to talk of the linguistic turn, hermeneutics and postmodernism! Is it possible to talk of Burhan without the presupposigion of first principles i.e. absolute metaphysical initial truths? Even Ibn Taymiyyah, before any modern and postmodern critique of this illusion, has ridiculed it! He has proven that the principles are simple hypotheses which are relative to the aim of the theory. This is why he has annulled the ontological difference between essential and inessential attributes of things: all attributes are pragmatic characterization related to the practice concerned with: they are posited in the initial definitions and axioms of the theory.
How can one talk of critique of logocentrism in Islamic culture, when every body knows that the conflictual relationship it has had with Greed tradition was its very refusal of Greek logocentrism? And which of the meanings of this term the intellectual you mention is interested in? It has as much meaning as logos has i.e. at least five. Therefore Logocentrism means firstly mathematical proportion , logical necessary inference reduced to indicative discourse , ordinary linguistic expression out of thought , all modes of linguistic expressions the indicative discourse being the less important one and finally perceptive intuition or nous . Derrida construe this term as systematic logical discourse the example of which is Hegelianism: this is why it was its favorite target. It means logos in general i.e. a meaning in which all linguistic plays are included.
If the author you mention means the third and fourth acceptations, he cannot be postmodern. If he means the first, the third, the fourth and the fifth, he cannot criticize Islamic use of Reason. Indeed, it is known by any body that the very attitude of Islamic great thinkers was the refusal of this reductionism: the nous cannot be reduced to the second meaning, i.e. the logical necessary inference in the indicative discourse, the holy text being compounded of all the modes of expression: namely Ibn Hanbal, as-ShfiI, al-Ashari, al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Khaldun.
Normally he should limit his critique to the falsifah rather than to the religious thought: but he seems from those who sing the same song of talking vaguely about reason. Finally how can these authors seek the Enlightenment with the tools of its very negation, i.e. the tools of postmodern thought? If someone helps me understand these incoherencies I will be very grateful


2017/2004