THE VARIOUS KINDS OF SCIENCES.
PREFATORY DISCUSSION 2
On man's ability to think, which distinguishes
human beings from animals and which enables
them to obtain their livelihood, to co-operate to
this end with their fellow men, and to study the Master
whom they worship, and the revelations that the Messengers transmitted
from Him. God thus caused 3 all animals to obey man and to be in
the grasp 4 of his power. Through his ability to think, God
gave man superiority over many of His creatures.
1. Man's ability to think.
I T 5 SHOULD BE KNOWN that God distinguished man from all the other animals by an ability to think which He made the beginning of human perfection and the end of man's noble superiority over existing things.
This comes about as follows: Perception - that is, consciousness, on the part of the person who perceives, in his essence of things that are outside his essence - is something peculiar to living beings to the exclusion of all other being 6 and existent things. Living beings may obtain consciousness of things that are outside their essence through the external senses God has given them, that is, the senses of hearing, vision, smell, taste, and touch. Man has this advantage over the other beings that he may perceive things outside his essence through his ability to think, which is something beyond his senses. It is the result of (special) powers placed in the cavities of his brain.7 With the help of these powers, man takes the pictures of the sensibilia, applies his mind to them, and thus abstracts from them other pictures. The ability to think is the occupation with pictures that are beyond sense perception, and the application of the mind to them for analysis and synthesis. This is what is meant by the word af'idah "hearts" in the Qur'an; "He gave you hearing and vision and hearts." 8 Af'idah "hearts" is the plural of fu'dd. It means here the ability to think.
The ability to think has several degrees. The first degree is man's intellectual understanding of the things that exist in the outside world in a natural or arbitrary order, so that he may try to arrange them with the help of his own power. This kind of thinking mostly consists of perceptions. It is the discerning intellect,8a with the help of which man obtains the things that are useful for him and his livelihood, and repels the things that are harmful to him.
The second degree is the ability to think which provides man with the ideas and the behavior needed in dealing with his fellow men and in leading them. It mostly conveys apperceptions, which are obtained one by one through experience, until they have become really useful. This is called the experimental intellect.
The third degree is the ability to think which provides the knowledge, or hypothetical knowledge, of an object beyond sense perception without any practical activity (going with it). This is the speculative intellect. It consists of both perceptions and apperceptions. They are arranged according to a special order, following special conditions, and thus provide some other knowledge of the same kind, that is, either perceptive or apperceptive. Then, they are again combined with something else, and again provide some other knowledge. The end of the process is to be provided with the perception of existence as it is, with its various genera, differences, reasons, and causes. By thinking about these things, (man) achieves perfection in his reality and becomes pure intellect and perceptive soul. This is the meaning of human reality.