The philosophers have also affirmed that heaven is an animal which obeys God by movement and by drawing near Him; for every voluntary movement arises for the sake of an end, since one cannot imagine that an act and a movement can proceed from an animal which does not prefer the act to its omission-indeed, if the act and its omission were to be equipollent, no act could be imagined.
Further, approach to God does not mean seeking His grace and guarding oneself from His wrath, since God is too exalted for wrath and grace; similar words can only be applied to Him metaphorically, and they are used in a metaphorical way when one speaks of His will to punish or to reward. ‘ Approach cannot mean the seeking of an approach to Him in space, for this is impossible; the only meaning it can have is of an approach in qualities, for God’s existence is the most perfect and every other existence is imperfect in relation to His, and in this imperfection there are degrees and distinctions. The angels are nearest to Him in quality, not in place; and this is the meaning of the term ‘the angels in His proximity’ -namely, the intellectual substances which neither change nor alter nor pass away, and which know things as they really are. And the nearer man comes to the angels in qualities the nearer he comes to God, and the end of man’s nature lies in assimilation to the angels.
And when it is established that this is the meaning of ‘approach to God’, and that it refers to seeking approach to Him in qualities, then this consists for man in knowledge of the realities of the existents and in his remaining eternally in the most perfect condition possible to him; for indeed permanence in the utmost perfection is God.
As to the angels in His proximity, any perfection that is possible for them is actual with them in their existence, since there is no potency in them which could emerge into act, ‘ and therefore they are in the utmost perfection in regard to everything but God. And by ‘heavenly angels’ is meant the souls which move the heavens, and in them there is potency, and their perfections are divided into what is actual, like their circular shape and their appearance, which exists always, and what is potential, namely their appearance in a definite position and place; for any definite position is possible to them, but they are not actually in all positions, for to be in all of them at once is impossible. And since they cannot be at all times in all particular positions at once, they try to exhaust all these particular positions by being in them specifically, so that they do not cease to aim at one position and one place after another; and this potentiality is never ending, nor do these movements ever end.
But their one aim is to assimilate themselves to the First Principle, in the acquisition of the utmost perfection within the bounds of possibility with respect to Him, and this is the meaning of the obedience of the heavenly angels to God. And their assimilation is acquired in two ways. First, in completing every position specifically possible, and this is aimed at by first intention; secondly, by the order proceeding from their movement through the diversity of their configuration in trine and quartile, in conjunction and opposition, and through the diversity in the ascendant in relation to the earth, so that the good which is in the sublunary world can emanate from it, and all that happens arise from it. And every soul is intellective and longs for the perfection of its essence.
Everything he says here about the philosophers is a philosophical doctrine, or its consequence, or can be regarded as a philosophical doctrine, with one exception, when he says that heaven seeks by its movement the particular positions which are infinite; however, what is infinite cannot be sought, since it cannot be attained. Nobody has held this doctrine but Avicenna, and Ghazali’s objection to it, which we will mention later, is sufficient, and according to the philosophers it is the movement itself in so far as it is movement which is aimed at by heavens For the perfection of an animal, in so far as it is an animal, is movement; in this sublunary world rest occurs to the transitory animal only by accident, that is through the necessity of matter, for lassitude and fatigue touch the animal only because it is in matter. b The whole life and perfection of those animals which are not affected by tiredness and languor must of necessity lie in their movement; and their assimilation to their Creator consists in this, that by their movement they impart life to what exists in this sublunary world.
This movement, however, does not occur according to the philosophers in first intention for the sake of this sublunary world; that is, the heavenly body is not in first intention created for the sake of this sublunary world. For indeed this movement is the special act for the sake of which heaven is created, and if this movement occurred in first intention for the sake of the sublunary world, the body of the heavens would be created only for the sake of this sublunary world, and it is impossible, according to the philosophers, that the superior should be created for the sake of the inferior; on the contrary, out of the superior there follows the existence of the inferior, just as the perfection of the ruler in relation to his subject does not lie in his being a ruler, but his being a ruler is only the consequence of his perfection. In the same way the providence which prevails in this world is like the care of the ruler for his subjects, who have no salvation and no existence except in him, and especially in the ruler who for his most perfect and noble existence does not need to be a ruler, let alone that he should need his subjects’ existence. ‘
The objection to this is that in the premisses of this argument there are controversial points. We shall not, however, pay any attention to them, but shall revert at once to the final intention the philosophers had in view and refute it from two standpoints.
The first is to say: ‘To seek perfection through being in all possible places may be foolishness rather than obedience; is it not in some degree like a man, who has no occupation and who has adequate means to satisfy his wishes and needs, and who gets up and walks round in a country or in a house, and declares that by doing so he approaches God and that he perfects himself by arriving at all possible places, and says that it is possible for him to be in these places, but not possible for him to unite all the places numerically, and that therefore he fulfils this task specifically and that in this there is perfection and an approach to God? Indeed, it is his foolishness which makes him do such a stupid thing, and it may be said that to change positions and pass from place to place is not a perfection which has any value or which may be an object of desire.
And there is no difference between what they say and this.
It might be thought that the silliness of such an argument either comes from a very ignorant or from a very wicked man. Ghazali, however, has neither of these dispositions. But sometimes unwise words come by way of exception from a man who is not ignorant, and wicked talk from a man who is not wicked, and it shows the imperfection of people that such conceits can be addressed to them.
But if we concede to Avicenna that the sphere aims through its movement at a change of positions, that this change of positions is what conserves the beings of this sublunary world after giving them their existence, and that this action is everlasting, can there then exist an obedience more complete than this? For instance, if a man exerted himself in guarding a city against the enemy, going round the city day and night, should we not regard this as a most important act of approach to God? But if we assumed that he moved round the town for the end which Ghazali attributes to Avicenna, namely that he only sought to perfect himself through trying to be in an infinite number of places, he would be declared mad. ‘ And this is the meaning of the Divine Words: ‘Verily thou canst not cleave the earth, and thou shalt not reach the mountains in height. ‘2
And his assertion that, since heaven cannot complete the individual numerical positions or join them, it has to complete them specifically, is a faulty, incomprehensible expression, unless he means that its movement has to last in its totality since it cannot be lasting in its parts. For there are movements which are lasting neither in their parts nor in their totality, namely the movements of the transitory; and there are movements which are lasting in their totality, transitory in their parts, but notwithstanding this such a movement is said to be one in ways which are distinguished in many passages of the books of the philosophers. And his assertion that, since heaven cannot complete them numerically, it completes them specifically, is erroneous, since the movement of heaven is numerically one, and one can only apply such an expression to the transitory movements in the sublunary world; for these movements, since they cannot be numerically one, are specifically one and lasting through the movement which is numerically one.
The second is to say: What you assert of the aim can be realized through the movement from west to east. Why, then, is the first movement from east to west, and why are not all the movements of the universe in the same direction? And if there is an intention in their diversity, why are they not different in an opposite way, so that the movement from the east should become the movement from the west, and the reverse? Everything you have mentioned of the occurrence of events like trine and sextile and others through the diversity of movements would happen just the same through the reverse. Also, what you have mentioned of the completion of the positions and places would happen just the same if the movement were in the opposite direction. Why then, since the reverse movement is possible for them, do they not move sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another, to complete all their possibilities, if it is in the completion of all their possibilities that their perfection lies? It is therefore shown that all these things are phantasms without any substance; for the secrets of the heavenly kingdom cannot be attained through such phantasms. God alone can manifest them to His prophets and saints through revelation, not through proof, and therefore the later philosophers are unable to give the reason for the direction of the movement of the heavenly bodies and why they have chosen it.
This objection is sophistical, for the transference from one question to another is an act of sophistry. Why does there follow, from their inability to assign the reason of the diversity in the directions of the movements of heaven, their inability to give the reason for the movement of heaven or to say that there is no reason at all for this movement? But this whole argument is extremely weak and feeble. However, how happy the theologians are about this problem! They believe that they have refuted the philosophers over it, since they are ignorant of the different arguments by which the philosophers have arrived at their reasons and of the many reasons that are required and must be assigned to every existent, since the causes differ through the variety in the natures of the existents. For simple existents have no other cause for what proceeds from them than their own natures and their forms, , but in composite things there are found, beside their forms, efficient causes which produce their composition and the conjunction of their parts. The earth, for instance, has no other cause for its downward movement than its attribute of earthiness, and fire has no other cause for its upward movement than its own nature and its form, and through this nature it is said to be the opposite of earth. Likewise, for up and down there are no reasons why the one direction should be higher and the other lower, but this is determined by their nature. And since the differentiation of directions is determined through the directions themselves, and the differentiation of the movements through the differentiation of the directions, no other reason can be assigned for the variation in the movements than the variation in the directions of the things moved, and the variation in their natures depends on the variation of their natures; i. e. some are nobler than others.
For instance, when a man sees that animals in walking place one leg in front of their body before the other and not the reverse, and asks why the animal does this, there is no sufficient answer except to say that an animal in its movement must have one leg to put forward and one to support itself on, and therefore an animal must have two sides, right and left, and the right is the one which is always put forward first because of its special potency and the left the one which always, or mostly, follows, because of its special potency; and it cannot be the reverse, so that the left side became the right, since the natures of the animal determine this, either through a determination in a majority of cases, or through a constant determination.
The same is the case with the heavenly bodies since, if a person asks why heaven moves in a particular direction, the answer is that it is because it has a right and a left, and especially because it is evident from its nature that it is a living being, only it has the peculiarity that the right side in a part of it is the left side in another part, z and that although it has only this one organ of locomotion it moves in opposite directions like a left foot which can also do the work of a right . And just as the answer to the question whether the animal would not be more perfect if its right were its left, and why the right has been differentiated to be the right, and the left to be the left, is that the only reason for this is that the nature of the side called right has been determined by its essence to be the right and not the left, and that the left side has been determined by its essence to be the left and not the right, and the noblest has been attributed to the noblest; in the same way, when it is asked why the right side has been differentiated for the movement of the highest sphere to be the right and the left side to be the left (for the reverse was also possible as the case of the planets shows), the only answer is that the noblest direction has been attributed to the noblest body, as upward movement has been attributed to fire, downward movement to earth. As to the fact that the other heavens move in two contrary movements’ besides the diurnal, this happens because of the necessity of this opposition of movements for the sublunary world, namely the movement of generation and corruption, b and it is not of the nature of the human intellect that it should apprehend more in such discussions and in this place than what we have mentioned.
Having made this objection against the philosophers and asserted that they have no answer to it, he mentions an answer which some of the philosophers give.
Some philosophers say that since the perfection occurs through movement, from whatever side it may be, and the order of events on earth requires a diversity of movements and a determination of directions, the motive concerning them of the principle of movement lies in the approach to God’ and the motive of the direction of movement in the diffusion of good over the sublunary world. But we answer: ‘This is false for two reasons. The first is: if one may imagine such a thing, let us declare that the nature of heaven demands rest, and must avoid movement and change, for this is in truth assimilation to God; for God is too exalted to change, and movement is a change, although God chose movement for the diffusion of His grace. For through it He is useful to others and it does not weigh on Him nor tire Him-so what is the objection to such a supposition?
‘The second is that events are based on the diversity of the relations which result from the diversity in the directions of the movements. Now let the first movement be a movement from the west, and let the others move from the east, then the same diversity will arise as is needed for the diversity of the relations. Why then has one direction been specially chosen, since these varieties require only the principle of variety and in this sense one direction by itself is not superior to its contrary? ‘
This theologian wants to indicate the cause of this from the point of view of the final cause, not of the efficient, and none of the philosophers doubts that there is here a final cause in second intention, which is necessary for the existence of everything in the sublunary world. And although this cause has not yet been ascertained in detail, nobody doubts that every movement, every progression or regression of the stars, has an influence on sublunary existence, so that, if these movements differed, the sublunary world would become disorganized. But many of these causes are either still completely unknown or become known after a long time and a long experience, z as it is said that Aristotle asserted in his book On Astrological Theorems. 3
As to the general questions, it is easier to discover them, and the astrologers have indeed come to know many of them and in our own time many of these things have been apprehended which ancient nations, like the Chaldaeans and others, had already discovered.
And for this reason one cannot doubt that there is a wisdom in the existents, since it has become clear through induction that everything which appears in heaven is there through provident wisdom and through a final cause. And if there are final causes in animals, it is still more appropriate that there should be final causes in the heavenly bodies. ‘ For in the case of man and animal about ten thousand signs of providence, have become known in a period of a thousand years, and it seems not impossible that in the infinite course of years much of the purpose of the heavenly bodies will come to light. ‘ And we find that about these things the ancients give some mysterious indications which the initiated, that is the most highly reputed of the philosophers, know how to interpret.
As to the two reasons in Ghazali’s argument, the first, that assimilation to God would determine heaven to be at rest, since God is too exalted for movement, but that God has chosen movement because through it His grace can be diffused over transitory things-this is a faulty argument, since God is neither at rest nor moving, ‘ and the motion of body is nobler for it than rest, and when an existent assimilates itself to God it assimilates itself to Him by being in the noblest of its states, which is movement. As to Ghazali’s second point, it has been answered previously.
And they assert that the heavenly angels are the souls of the heavens, and that the cherubim which are in the proximity of God are the separate intellects, which are substances subsisting by themselves which do not fill space and do not employ bodies, and that from them the individual forms emanate in the heavenly souls, and that those separate intellects are superior to the heavenly angels, because the former bestow and the latter acquire, and bestowing is superior to acquiring, and therefore the highest is symbolized by the pen’ and it is said that God knows through the pen, because He is like the engraver who bestows as does the pen and the recipient is compared to the tablet. And this is their doctrine. And the discussion of this question differs from the preceding one in so far as that what we mentioned previously is not impossible, because its conclusion was that heaven is an animal moving for a purpose, and this is possible; but this doctrine amounts to the assertion that the created can know the infinite particulars, which is often regarded as impossible, and in any case, has to be proved, since by itself it is a mere presumption.
What he mentions here is, to my knowledge, not said by any philosophers except Avicenna, namely that the heavenly bodies have representations, not to speak of the fact that these representations should be infinite, and Alexander of Aphrodisias explains in his book called The Principles of the Universe that these bodies have no representations, because representations exist only in animals because of their conservation, and these bodies do not fear corruption, and with respect to them representations would be valueless (and likewise sensations). ‘ If they had representations they would also have sensations, since sensations are the condition for representations and every being which has representations necessarily has sensations, although the reverse is not true . Therefore to interpret the indelible tablet in the way Ghazali says that they do is not correct, and the only possible interpretation of the separate intellects which move the different spheres by means of subordination is that they are the angels in the proximity of God, s if one wants to harmonize the conclusions of reason with the statements of the Holy Law.
And they prove this by saying that the circular movement is voluntary and that the will follows the thing willed, b and that a universal thing willed can only be intended by a universal will, and that from the universal will nothing proceeds. For-so they say-every actual existent is determined and individual, and the relation of the universal will to the individual units is one and the same, and no individual thing proceeds from it. Therefore an individual will is needed for a definite movement. For every particular movement from every definite point to another definite point the sphere has a will, and this sphere no doubt has a representation of this particular movement through a bodily potency, since individuals only perceive through bodily potencies and every will must of necessity represent the thing willed, i. e. must know it, be it an individual or a universal. And if the sphere has a representation and a comprehension of the particular movements, it must of necessity also comprehend what follows from them through the diversity of their relations to the earth, because some of the individuals of the sphere are rising, some setting, some in the middle of the sky for some people and under the earth for others.
And likewise it must know the consequences of the diversity of those relations which always arise anew through the movement, like trine and sextile, opposition and conjunction, to other such heavenly occurrences; and all earthly occurrences depend on heavenly occurrences either directly, or through one intermediary, or through many; and in short every event has a cause, occurring in a concatenation which terminates in the eternal heavenly movement, some parts of which are the causes of others.
Thus the causes and effects ascend in their concatenation to the particular heavenly movements, and the sphere representing the movements represents their consequences and the consequences of their consequences, so as to reach the end of the series. And therefore the sphere observes everything that occurs and everything that will occur, and its occurrence is necessary through its cause, and whenever the cause is realized, the effect is realized. We only do not know the future events because all their causes are not known to us; for if we knew all the causes, we should know all the effects, for when we know, for instance, that fire will come into contact with cotton at a certain moment, we know that the cotton will burn, and when we know that a man will eat, we know that his appetite will be satisfied, and when we know that a man will walk over a certain spot lightly covered where a treasure is buried, and his feet will accidentally touch the treasure and he will perceive it, ‘ we know that he will be rich because of this treasure. Only as a matter of fact we do not know these causes. Sometimes we know part of the causes, and then we guess what may happen, and when we know the more important or the greater f part of them, we have a sound opinion about the occurrence of these events; but if we knew all the causes, then we should know all the effects. However, the heavenly occurrences are many and, besides, they are mixed up with earthly events and it is not in human power to observe the causality of all these. But the souls of the heavens perceive it through their perception of the First Cause and through the observation of their consequences and the consequences of their consequences, to the end of their concatenation. ‘
And therefore they say that the man who dreams sees in his dream what will happen in the future through being in contact with the indelible tablet and observing it. And when he observes a thing it remains often in his memory as it really was, but sometimes his imagination hastens to symbolize it, for it is of the nature of this faculty to represent things through things which, in some way or another, are related to them, or to transfer things to their opposites; and the thing that was perceived is then effaced in his memory, but the image belonging to his imagination remains there. Then it is necessary to interpret what his imagination symbolizes, e. g. a man by means of a tree, a woman by means of a shoe, a servant by means of some household vessels, and a man who observes the paying of the legal alms and the poor-tax by means of linseed oil, for the linseed in the lamp is the cause of the illumination; it is on this principle that the interpretation of dreams is based. ;
And they assert that contact with these souls takes place in a state of languor, since then there is no obstacle; for when we are awake we are occupied with what the senses and our passions convey to us, and occupation with those sensual things keeps us away from this contact, but when in sleep some of these occupations are obliterated, the disposition for this contact appears. And they assert that the prophet Muhammad perceived the hidden universe in this way; however, the spiritual faculty of a prophet has such power that it cannot be overwhelmed by the external senses, and therefore he sees in a waking condition what other people perceive in their sleep. “ But his imagination also pictures to him what he sees, and although sometimes the thing he sees remains in his memory exactly as it was, sometimes only its representation remains, and such an inspiration is just as much in need of interpretation as such dreams are. And if all events were not eternally inscribed on the indelible tablet, the prophets would not know the hidden world either awake or asleep; but the pen has indelibly fixed what shall be till the day of resurrection, and the meaning of this we have explained. And this we wanted to impart to make their doctrine understood.
We have already said that we do not know of anyone who holds this theory but Avicenna. And the proof which Ghazali relates rests on very weak premisses, although it is persuasive and dialectical. For it is assumed that every particular effect proceeds from an animate being through the particular representation of this effect and of the particular movements through which this effect is realized. To this major premiss a minor premiss is joined, that heaven is an animate being from which particular acts proceed. From these premisses it is concluded that the particular effects, and the particular acts which proceed from heaven, occur through a particular representation which is called imagination; and that this is not only apparent from the different sciences, but also from many animals which perform particular acts, like the bees and the spider. ‘
But the objection to these premisses is that no particular act proceeds from beings endowed with intellect, except when this act is represented through a universal representation, and then endless individual things proceed from it-for instance the form of a cupboard proceeds from a carpenter only through a universal representation which does not distinguish one particular cupboard from another. And the same thing happens when the works of animals proceed by nature’ from them. And these representations are an intermediary between the universal and the particular perceptions; that is, they are an intermediary between the definition of a things and its particular representation . But if the heavenly bodies have representations, then they must have representations that are of the nature of the universal, not of the nature of the particular representation which is acquired through the senses. And it is not possible that our acts should proceed from particular representations, and therefore the philosophers believe that the represented forms from which the definite acts of animals proceed are like an intermediary between the intelligibles and the individual forms represented, e. g. the form by reason of which non-carnivorous birds flee from birds of prey, and the form by reason of which bees build their cells. ? The only artisan who needs an individual sensible image is the one who does not possess this universal representation, which is necessary for the origination of the individual things. e
It is this universal image which is the motive power for the universal will which does not aim at a particular individual; and it is the individual will which aims at a particular individual of one and the same species-this, however, does not happen in the heavenly bodies.
And that a universal will should exist for a universal thing in so far as it is universal is impossible, since the universal does not exist outside the soul and has no transitory existence. And his primary division of will into a universal and an individual will is, indeed, not correct; otherwise one must say that the heavenly bodies move towards the definite limits of things without the definite limit being accompanied by the representation of an individual existent, in contrast to what happens with us. And his assertion that no individual is realized through the universal will is false, if by ‘universal will’ is understood that which does not distinguish one individual from another, but represents it universally, as is the case with a king who arranges his armies for battle. ‘ If, however, there is understood by ‘will’ its being attached to a universal entity itself, then it must be said that such an attachment is not a will at all, and there does not exist such a will except in the way we have explained .
And if it followed from the nature of the heavenly bodies that they think sublunary things by way of imagination, they must do this through universal imaginations which are the results of definition, not through particular imaginations which are the results of senseimpressions. And it seems quite clear that they cannot think sublunary things through individual representations especially when it is said that what proceeds from them proceeds from them by second intention. However, the doctrine of the philosophers is that the heavenly bodies think themselves and think the sublunary world, and whether they think the sublunary world as something different from themselves is a problem that must be examined in places specially reserved for this problem; and in general, if the heavens know, the term ‘knowledge’ is attributed to our knowledge and theirs in an equivocal way.
As to the theory he gives here about the cause of revelation and dreams, this is the theory of Avicenna alone, and the opinions of the ancient philosophers differ from his. For the existence of a knowledge of individuals actually infinite, in so far as it is an individual knowledge, is impossible, and I understand by individual knowledge that kind of apprehension which is called representation. But there is no reason to introduce here the question of dreams and revelation, for this leads to much controversy, and such an act is an act of sophistry, not of dialectics. My statement, however, that the imaginations of the heavenly bodies are imaginations intermediary between individual and universal representations is a dialectical argument; for what results from the principle of the philosophers is that the heavenly bodies have no imagination whatever, for these imaginations, as we have said already, whether they are universal or particular, aim only at conservation and protection; and they are also a condition for our intellectual representation, which therefore is transitory, but the intellectual representation of the heavenly bodies, since it is not transitory, cannot be accompanied by imagination, for otherwise it would depend in one way or another on imagination. Therefore their apprehension is neither universal nor individual, but these two kinds of knowledge, universal and individual, are here unified, and because of this they can only be distinguished by their matters. And in this way knowledge of the occult and of dreams and the like can be acquired, and this will be explained perfectly in its proper place.
And the answer is for us to ask: How will you refute those who say that the prophet knows the occult through God, who shows it to him by way of revelation, arid the same is the case with the man who has visions in his sleep, which he only sees because God or an angel inspires them in him? We do riot need any of the things you have related, and you have not the slightest proof for introducing the Holy Law by mentioning the Tablet and the Pen; for true believers do not in the least understand by ‘the Tablet’ and ‘the Pen’ what you have mentioned, and the way to embrace the religious dogmas is not to refuse to admit them in the way they must be understood. ‘ And, although the possibility of what you have said is granted, so long as you cannot indicate why you deny the correctness of the sense in which these religious terms are understood, the reality of what you say- cannot be known or verified. Indeed, the only way to arrive at knowledge of such things is through the Holy Law, not by reason. The rational proofofwhat you have said is primarily based on many premisses, the refutation of which need not detain us, but we shall limit ourselves to the discussion of three propositions.
The first proposition is that you say that the movement of heaven is voluntary, and we have already settled this problem and shown the futility of your claim.
If; however, to oblige you the grant you this voluntary movement, the second proposition is your saying that heaven needs a particular representation for each particular movement, and this we do not concede. For according to you there are no parts in the sphere, which is one single thing and is only divided in imagination; nor are there particular movements, for there is only one continuous movement, and in order to complete all the places possible for it, it is sufficient for the sphere to desire this one movement, as you have indicated yourselves, and it will only need universal representation and a universal will.
Let us give ail example of the universal and the particular will to make the intention of the philosophers clear. When, for instance, a man has a universal aim to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, from this universal will no movement follows, ‘ for the movement occurs as a particular movement, in a particular direction, and of a particular extent, and the man does not cease, in directing himself to Mecca, to form new representations of the place one after another, where he will go and the direction lie will take, and every particular representation will be followed by a particular will to move from the place which lie has reached by his movement. And this is what they understood by a particular movement which follows a particular will; and this is granted, for the directions, when lie takes the road to Mecca, are many, and the distance is undetermined, and lie must determine place after place and direction after direction, passing from one particular will to another.
But the heavenly movement has only one direction, for it is a sphere and moves oil its axis in its own space, going neither beyond its own space nor beyond the movement willed. There is therefore only one direction and one impulse and one aim, like the downward movement of the stone, which tends towards the earth in the shortest way, and the shortest way is the straight line, and the straight line is determined, ‘ and therefore this movement needs no new cause besides the universal nature which tends to the centre of the earth while it changes its distance from the earth, and arrives at and departs from one definite place after another. In the same way the universal will suffices for this movement, and nothing else is required, and the assumption of this proposition is a mere presumption.
As to Ghazali’s words:
And the answer is for us to ask: How will you refute those who say . . . . We do not need any of the things you have related. this answer is based on tradition, not on reason, and there is no sense in introducing it in this book. The philosophers examine everything there is in the Holy Law, and, if it is found to agree with reason, we arrive at a more perfect knowledge; if, however, reason does riot perceive its truth, it becomes known that human reason cannot attain it, and that only the Holy Law perceives it. , Ghazali’s argument against the philosophers about the interpretation of the Tablet and the Pen does not belong to the problem under discussion, and there is therefore no sense in introducing it here. And this interpretation of knowledge of the occult, according to Avicenna, leas no sense.
The rational objection he adduces against Avicenna over this problem is well founded. For there are for heaven no particular motions of particular distances that would require imagination. The animate being which moves through particular motions in particular spaces imagines, no doubt, these spaces towards which it moves, and these movements, when it cannot visually perceive these distances; the circular, however, as Ghazali says, moves qua circular in one single movement, although from this one movement there follow many different particular motions in the existents below it. These spheres, however, are not concerned with those particular movements, but their only intention is to conserve the species of which these particulars are the particulars, not to conserve the existence of any of these particulars in so far as they are particulars, for, if so, heaven would surely possess imagination.
The question that still needs to be examined is whether the temporal particulars which proceed from the heavenly movement are intended for their own sake or only for the preservation of the species. ‘ This question cannot be treated here, but it certainly seems that there exists a providence as concerns individuals, as appears from true dreams and the like, e. g. the prognostication of the future; however, in reality this is a providence concerning the species.
The third proposition-and this indeed is a very bold presumptionis that they say that, when heaven represents particular movements, it also represents their results and consequences. This is pure nonsense, like saying that, when a man moves himself and knows his movement, he must also know the consequences of his movement vertically and horizontally (that is, the bodies which are above and under him and at his side), and when he moves in the sun he must know the places upon. which his shadow falls and does not fall, and what happens through the coolness of his shadow because of the interruption of the rays of the sun there, and what happens through the compression of the particles of earth under his foot, and what happens through the separation of these particles, and what happens to the humours inside him by their changing through his movement into warmth, and which parts of him are changed into sweat, and so on, till he knows all the occurrences inside and outside his body of which the movement is the cause or the condition or the disposition or the aptitude. And this is nonsense which no intelligent man can believe, and by which none but the ignorant can be beguiled. And this is what this presumption amounts to.
Besides, we may ask: ‘Are these different particulars which are known to the soul of the sphere the events which are occurring at the present moment or are future events also brought in relation to it? ‘ If you limit its knowledge to present events you deny its perception of the occult and the apprehension of future events through it, by the prophets in the state of wakefulness, by others in their sleep; and then the point of this proof disappears. For it is indeed presumption to say that he who knows a thing knows its consequences and results, so that if we knew all causes we should also know all future events. For, indeed, the causes of all events are to be found at present in the heavenly movement, but it determines the effect either through one intermediary or through many. And if this knowledge covers the future also, it will not have an end, and how can the distinction between particulars in the infinite future be known, and how can many different particular objects of knowledge, of an infinite number and without an end to their units, be collected in a created soul, at one and the same moment without any sequence? ‘ He whose intellect does not perceive the impossibility of this may well despair of his intellect.
And if they reverse this against us with respect to God’s knowledge, God’s knowledge is not attached to its object in its correspondence with the things known, in the way this attachment exists in the case of things known by created beings, but as soon as the soul of the sphere moves round like the soul of man, ‘ it belongs to the same kind as the soul of man, and also it participates with the soul of man in the perception of individuals through an intermediary. , And although no absolute knowledge can be had about this, it is most probable that the soul of the sphere is of the same kind as the human soul; and if this is not most probable, it is possible, and the possibility destroys the claim to absolute knowledge they put forward.
And if it is said, ‘It is also proper to the human soul in its essence to perceive all things, but its preoccupation with the consequences of passion, anger, greed, resentment, envy, hunger, pain, and in short the accidents of the body and what the sensations convey to the body, is so great that, when the human soul is occupied with one of these things, it neglects everything else; but the souls of the spheres are free from these attributes, and nothing occupies them, and neither care nor pain nor perception overwhelms them, and therefore they know everything’-we answer: ‘How do you know that nothing occupies them? Does not their service of the First and their longing for Him submerge them and keep them from the representation of particular things? And what makes it impossible to suppose other impediments than anger and passion? For these are sensual hindrances, and how do you know that these hindrances are limited in the way we experience them? For there are occupations for the learned through the excellence of their interests and the desire for leadership which children are unable to imagine, and which they cannot believe to be occupations and hindrances. ‘ And how do you know that analogous things are impossible for the souls of the spheres? ‘
This is what we wanted to mention about those sciences to which they give the name of metaphysical.
As to his regarding it as impossible that there should exist an immaterial intellect which thinks things with their consequences, comprising them all, neither the impossibility nor the necessity of its existence is a self-evident fact, but the philosophers affirm that they have a proof of its existence. As to the existence of infinite representations, this cannot be imagined in any individual, but the philosophers affirm that they have a proof of the existence of the infinite in the eternal knowledge and an answer to the question how man can attain knowledge of particular events in the future through the eternal knowledge, namely that of these things the soul thinks only the universal which is in the intellect, not the particular which is particularized in the soul. For individuals are known to the soul because it is potentially all existents, and what is in potency emerges into act either through the sensible things or through the nature of the intellect, which is prior to sensible things in reality (I mean the intellect through which sensible things become stable intelligibles, not, however, in such a way that in this knowledge there are representations of an infinite number of individuals). ‘ In short, the philosophers assert that these two kinds of knowledge, the universal and the particular, are unified in the knowledge which is separated from matter; and when this knowledge emanates in the sublunary world it divides itself into universal and particular, although this knowledge itself is neither the one nor the other. z But the proof of this or its contrary cannot be given here. And the discussion here about these questions is like the assumption of geometrical propositions which are not well enough known to meet with immediate assent and which are not convincing at first sight. And Ghazali mixes one part with another, i. e. lie starts objecting to one part of the theory through another, and this is the worst method of discussion, because in this way assent neither by proof nor by persuasion can be obtained. ;
Likewise the problems about the differences between the souls of the heavenly bodies and the soul of man are all very obscure, and when such things are discussed in a place not proper to them the discussion becomes either irrelevant or dialectical and superficial; that is to say, the conclusions are drawn from possible premisses, like their assertion that the irascible and the concupiscible soul hinder the human soul in the perception of what is proper to it. It appears from the nature of these and similar sayings that they are possible and are in need of proofs, and that they open the way to many conflicting possibilities.
And this closes what we decided to mention of the different assertions which this book contains about theological problems; this is the most important part of our book. We shall now speak on physical problems.