We say: Mankind is divided into two categories; one, the men of truth who have acknowledged that the world has become and know by necessity that what has become does not become by itself but needs a creator, and the reasonableness of their view lies in their affirmation of a creator; the other, the materialists, believe the world, in the state in which it exists,, to be eternal and do not attribute a creator to it, and their doctrine is intelligible, although their proof shows its inanity. But as to the philosophers, they believe the world to be eternal and still attribute a creator to it. This theory is self-contradictory and needs no refutation.
The theory of the philosophers is, because of the factual evidence, more intelligible than both the other theories together. There are two kinds of agent: (t) the agent to which the object which proceeds from it is only attached during the process of its becoming; once this process is finished, the object is not any more in need of it-for instance, the coming into existence of a house through the builder; (2) the agent from which nothing proceeds but an act which has no other existence than its dependence on it. The distinctive mark of this act is that it is convertible with the existence of its object, i.e. when the act does not exist the object does not exist, and when the act exists the object exists-they are inseparable. This kind of agent is superior to the former and is more truly an agent, for this agent brings its object to being and conserves it, whereas the other agent only brings its objects to being, but requires another agent for its further conservation. The mover is such a superior agent in relation to the moved and to the things whose existence consists only in their movement. The philosophers, believing that movement is the act of a mover and that the existence of the world is only perfected through motion, say that the agent of motion is the agent of the world, and if the agent refrained for only one moment from its action, the world would be annihilated. They use the following syllogism: The world is an act, or a thing whose existence is consequent upon this act. Each act by its existence implies the existence of an agent. Therefore the world has an agent existing by reason of its existence. The man who regards it as necessary that the act which proceeds from the agent of the world should have begun in time says: The world is temporal through an eternal agent. But the man for whom the act of the Eternal is eternal says: The world has come into being, from an eternal agent having an eternal act, i.e. an act without beginning or end; which does, however, not mean that the world is eternal by itself, as people who call the world eternal imagine it to be.
Ghazali says, on behalf of the philosophers:
The philosophers might answer: When we affirm that the world has a creator, we do riot understand thereby a voluntary agent who acts after not having acted, as we observe in the various kinds of agents, like tailors, weavers, and builders, but we mean the cause of the world, and we call it the First Principle, understanding by this that there is no cause for its existence, but that it is a cause of the existence of other things; and if we call this principle the Creator, it is in this sense. It is easy to establish by a strict proof an existent for the existence of which there is no cause. For we say that the world and its existents either have a cause or have not. If it has a cause, this cause itself either has or has not a cause, and the same can be said about the latter cause, and either we go on ad infinitum in this way, and this is absurd, or we arrive at a last term, and this end is the First Cause, which has no cause for its existence and which we call First Principle. And if the world existed by itself without cause, then it would be clear what the First Principle is, for we only mean by it an existent without a cause and which is necessarily eternal. However, it is not possible that the First Principle should be the heavens, for there are many of these and the proof of unity contradicts this, and its impossibility is shown on examination of the attribute of the principle. Nor can it be said that one single heaven, or one single body, the sun or any other body, can be the First Principle; for all these are bodies, and body is composed of matter and form, and the First Principle cannot be composite, as is clear on a second examination. Our intention is to show that an existent which has no cause is eternal by necessity and by universal consent, and only about its qualities is there a divergence of opinion. And this is what we mean by a first principle.
This argument carries a certain conviction, but still it,is not true. For the term `cause' is attributed equivocally to the four causesagent, form, matter, and end. Therefore if this were the answer of the philosophers, it would be defective. For if they were asked which cause they mean by their statement that the world has a first cause, and if they answered, `That agent whose act is uncreated and everlasting, and whose object is identical with its act', their answer would be true according to their doctrine; for against this conception, in the way we expounded it, there is no objection. But if they answered `The formal cause', the objection would be raised whether they supposed the form of the world to subsist by itself in the world, and if they answered, `We mean a form separate from matter', their statement would be in harmony with their theory; but if they answered, `We mean a form in matter', this would imply that the First Principle was not something incorporeal; and this does not accord with philosophical doctrine. Further, if they said, `It is a cause which acts for an end', this again would agree with the philosophical doctrine. As you see, this statement is capable of many interpretations, and how can it be represented there as an answer of the philosophers?
And as to Ghazali's words
We call it the First Principle, understanding by this that there is no cause for its existence, but that it is a cause for the existence of other things.
This again is a defective statement, for this might be said also of the first sphere, or of heaven in its entirety, or generally of any kind of existents which could be supposed to exist without a cause; and between this and the materialistic theory' there is no difference.
And as to Ghazali's words:
It is easy to establish by a strict proof an existent for the existence of which there is no cause.
This again is a defective statement, for the causes must be specified, and it must be shown that each kind has an initial term without cause-that is, that the agents lead upwards to a first agent, the formal causes to a first form, the material causes to a first matter, and the final causes to a first end. And then it must still be shown that these four ultimate causes lead to a first cause. This is not clear from the statement as he expresses it here.
And in the same way the statement in which he brings a proof for the existence of a first cause is defective, i.e. his statement:
For we soy that the world and its existents either have a cause or have not ....
For the term `cause' is used in an equivocal way. And similarly the infinite regress of causes is according to philosophical doctrine in one way impossible, in another way necessary; impossible when this regress is essential and in a straight line and the prior cause is a condition of the existence of the posterior, not impossible when this regress is accidental and circular, when the prior is not a condition for the posterior and when there exists an essential first cause-for instance, the origin of rain from a cloud, the origin of a cloud from vapour, the origin of vapour from rain. And this is according to the philosophers an eternal circular process, which of necessity, however, presupposes a first cause. And similarly the coming into existence of one man from another is an eternal process, for in such cases the existence of the prior is not a condition for the existence of the posterior; indeed, the destruction of some of them is often a necessary condition. This kind of cause leads upwards to an eternal first cause which acts in each individual member of the series of causes at the moment of the becoming of its final effect; for instance, when Socrates engenders Plato, the ultimate mover, according to the philosophers, is the highest sphere, or the soul, or the intellect,z or all together, or God the Creator. And therefore Aristotle says that a man and the sun together engender a man, and it is clear that the sun leads upwards to its mover and its mover to the First Principle. Therefore the past man is not a condition for the existence of the future man. Similarly, when an artisan produces successively a series of products of craftsmanship with different instruments, and produces these instruments through instruments and the latter again through other instruments, the becoming of these instruments one from another is something accidental, and none of these instruments is a condition for the existence of the product of craftsmanship except the firsts instrument which is in immediate contact with the work produced . Now the father is necessary for the coming into existence of the son in the same way as the instrument which comes into immediate contact with the product of craftsmanship is necessary for its coming into existence. And the instrument with which this instrument is produced will be necessary for the production of this instrument, but will not be necessary for the production of the product of craftsmanship unless accidentally. Therefore sometimes, when the posterior instrument is produced from the matter of the anterior, the destruction of the anterior is a condition for the existence of the posterior, for instance, when a man comes into being from a man who has perished, through the latter becoming first a plant, then sperm or menstrual blood? And we have already discussed this problem. Those, however, who regard an infinite series of essential causes as possible are materialists, and he who concedes this does not understand the efficient cause. And about the efficient cause there is no divergence of opinion among philosophers.
And as to Ghazali's words:
And if the world existed by itself without cause, then it would be clear what the First Principle is.
He means that the materialists as well as others acknowledge a first cause which has no cause, and their difference of opinion concerns only this principle, for the materialists say that it is the highest sphere and the others that it is a principle beyond the sphere and that the sphere is an effect; but these others are divided into two parties, those who say that the sphere is an act that has a beginning and those who say that it is an eternal act. And having declared that the acknowledgement of a first cause is common to the materialists as well as to others, Ghazali says:
However, it is not possible that the First Principle should be the heavens, for there are many of these and the proof of unity contradicts this;
Meaning that from the order of the universe it is evident that its directing principle is one, just as it appears from the order in an army that its leader is one, namely, the commander of the army. And all this is true.
And as to Ghazali's words:
Nor can it be said that one single heaven or one single body, the sun or any other body, can be the First Principle; for all these are bodies, and body is composed of matter and form, and the first body cannot be composite.
The statement that each body is composed of matter and form does not accord with the theory of the philosophers (with the exception of Avicenna) about the heavenly body, unless one uses `matter' here equivocally. For according to the philosophers everything composed of matter and form has a beginning, like the coming into existence of a house and a cupboard; and the heavens, according to them, have not come into existence in this sense, and so they called them eternal, because their existence is coeternal with the First Principle. For since according to them the cause of corruption is matter, that which is incorruptible could not possess matter, but must be a simple entity. If generation and corruption were not found in sublunary bodies, we should not draw the conclusion that they were composed of matter and form, for the fundamental principle is that body is a single essence not less in its existence than in perception, and if there were no corruption of sublunary bodies, we should judge that they were simple and that matter was body. But the fact that the body of the heavens does not suffer corruption shows that its matter is actual corporeality. And the soul which exists in this body does not exist in it because this body requires, as the bodies of animals do, the soul for its continuance, nor because it is necessary for the existence of this body to be animated, but only because the superior must of necessity exist in the condition of the superior and the animate is superior to the inanimate. According to the philosophers there is no change in the heavenly bodies, for they do not possess a potency in their substance. They therefore need not have matter in the way the generable bodies need this, but they are either, as Themistius affirms, forms,z or possess matter in an equivocal sense of the word. And I say that either the matters of the heavenly bodies are identical with their souls, or these matters are essentially alive, not alive through a life bestowed on them.
To this there are two answers. The first is that it can be said: Since it follows from the tenets of your school that the bodies of the world are eternal, it must follow too that they have no cause, and your statement that on a second examination such a conclusion must be rejected will itself be rejected when we discuss God's unity and afterwards the denial of attributes to God.
Ghazali means that since they cannot prove the unity of the First Principle, and since they cannot prove either that the One cannot be body-for since they cannot deny the attributes, the First Principle must, according to them, be an essence endowed with attributes, and such an essence must be a body or a potency in a body4-it follows that the First Principle which has no cause is the celestial bodies. And this conclusion is valid against those who might argue in the way he says the philosophers argue. The philosophers, however, do not argue thus, and do not say that they are unable to prove the unity and incorporeality of the First Principle. But this question will be discussed later.
The second answer, and it is the answer proper to this question, is to say: it is established as a possibility that these existents can have a cause, but perhaps for this cause there is another cause, and so on ad infinitum. And you have no right to assert that to admit an infinite series of causes is impossible, for we ask you, `Do you know this by immediate necessary intuition or through a middle term?' Any claim to intuition is excluded, and any method of deductive proof is forbidden to you, since you admit celestial revolutions without an initial term; and if you permit a coming into existence for what is without ends it is not impossible that the series should consist of causal relations and have as a final term an effect which has no further effect, although in the other direction the series does not end in a cause which has no anterior cause,' just as the past has a final term, namely the everchanging present, but no first term. If you protest that the past occurrences do not exist together at one moment or at certain moments, and that what does not exist cannot be described as finite or infinite, you are forced to admit this simultaneous existence for human souls in abstraction from their bodies; for they do not perish, according to you, and the number of souls in abstraction from their bodies is infinite, since the series of becoming from sperm a to man and from man to sperm a is infinite, and every man dies, but his soul remains and is numerically different from the soul of any man who dies before, simultaneously, or afterwards, although all these souls are one in species. Therefore at any moment there is an infinite number of souls in existence.
If you object that souls are not joined to each other, and that they have no order, either by nature or by position, and that you regard only those infinite existents as impossible which have order in space, like bodies which have a spatial order of higher and lower, or have a natural order like cause and effect, and that this is not the case with souls; we answer: 'This theory about position does not follow any more than its contrary;' you cannot regard one of the two cases as impossible without involving the other, for where is your proof for the distinction? And you cannot deny that this infinite number of souls must have an order, as some are prior to others and the past days and nights are infinite. If we suppose the birth of only one soul every day and night, the sum of souls, born in sequence one after the other, amounts at the present moment to infinity.
The utmost you can say about the cause is that its priority to the effect exists by nature, in the way that its superiority to the effect is a matter of essence and not of space. But if you do not regard an infinite sequence as impossible for real temporal priority, it cannot be impossible for natural essential priority either. But what can the philosophers mean when they deny the possibility of an infinite spatial superposition of bodies, but affirm the possibility of an infinite temporal sequence? Is this theory not really an inept theory without any foundation?
I say: As to Ghazali's words:
But perhaps for this cause there is another cause and so on ad infinitum . . . and any method of deductive proof is forbidden to you, since you admit celestial revolutions without an initial term: To this difficulty an answer was given above, when we said that the philosophers do not allow an infinite causal series, because this would lead to an effect without a cause, but assert that there is such a series accidentally from an eternal cause-not, however, in a straight line, nor simultaneously, nor in infinite matters, but only as a circular process.
What he says here about Avicenna, that he regarded an infinite number of souls as possible and that infinity is only impossible in what has a position, is not true' and no philosopher has said it; indeed, its impossibility is apparent from their general proof which we mentioned, and no conclusion can be drawn against them from this assumption of an actual infinity of souls. Indeed, those who believed that the souls are of a certain number through the number of bodies and that they are individually immortal profess to avoid this assumption through the doctrine of the transmigration of souls.
And as to Ghazali's words:
But what can the philosophers mean when they deny the possibility of an infinite spatial superposition of bodies, but affirm the possibility of an infinite temporal sequence?
The difference between these two cases is very clear to the philosophers, for from the assumption of infinite bodies existing simultaneously there follows an infinite totality and an actual infinite, and this is impossible. But time has no position, and from the existence of an infinite temporal series of bodies no actual infinite follows.
Ghazali says on behalf of the philosophers:
The philosophers might say: The strict proof of the impossibility of an infinite causal series is as follows: each single cause of a series is either possible in itself or necessary; if it is necessary, it needs no cause, and if it is possible, then the whole series needs a cause additional to its essence, a cause standing outside the series.
The first man to bring into philosophy the proof which Ghazali gives here as a philosophical one, was Avicenna, who regarded this proof as superior to those given by the ancients, since he claimed it to be based on the essence of the existent, whereas the older proofs are based on accidents consequent on the First Principle! This proof Avicenna took from the theologians, who regarded the dichotomy of existence into possible and necessary as self-evident, and assumed that the possible needs an agent and that the world in its totality, as being possible, needs an agent of a necessary existence. This was a theory of the Mu'tazilites before the Ash'arites,s and it is excellent, and the only flaw in it is their assumption that the world in its totality is possible, for this is not self-evident. Avicenna wanted to give a general sense to this statement, and he gave to the `possible' the meaning of `what has a cause',' as Ghazali relates. And even if this designation can be conceded, it does not effect the division which he had in view. For a primary division of existence into what has a cause and what has no cause is by no means self-evident. Further, what has a cause can be divided into what is possible and what is necessary. If we understand by `possible' the truly possible we arrive at the necessary-possibles and not at the necessary which has no cause; and if we understand by `possible' that which has a cause and is also necessary, there only follows from this that what has a cause has a cause and we may assume that this cause has a cause and so ad infinitum. We do not therefore arrive at an existent without cause-for this is the meaning of the expression `entity of a necessary existence'-unless by the possible which Avicenna assumes as the opposite of what has no cause we understand the truly possible, for in these possibles there cannot exist an infinite series of causes. But if by `possible' is meant those necessary things which have a cause, it has not yet been proved that their infinite number is impossible, in the way it is evident of the truly possible existents, and it is not yet proved that there is a necessary existent which needs a cause, so that from this assumption one can arrive at a necessary entity existing without a cause. Indeed, one has to prove that what applies to the total causal series of possible entities applies also to the total causal series of necessary existents.
The terms `possible' and `necessary' are obscure, unless one understands by `necessary' that which has no cause for its existence and by `possible' that which has a cause for its existence;' then, by applying the terms as defined to the statement, we say: Each member of a causal series is possible in this sense of `possible', namely, that it has a cause additional to its essence, but the series as a whole is not possible in this sense of `possible'.'' And if anything else is meant by `possible', it is obscure. If it is objected that this makes the necessary existent consist of possible existents and this is impossible, we answer: By defining `necessary' and `possible' as we have done, you have all that is needed and we do not concede that it is impossible. To say that it is impossible would be like saying that it is impossible that what is eternal should be made up of what is temporal, for time according to you philosophers is eternal, but the individual circular movements are temporal and have initial terms, though collectively they have no initial term; therefore, that which has no initial term consists of entities having initial terms, and it is true of the single units that they have a beginning, but not true of them collectively. In the same way it can be said of each term of the causal series that it has a cause, but not of the series as a whole. And so not everything that is true of single units is true of their collectivity, for it is true of each single unit that it is one and a portion and a part, but not true of their collectivity; and any place on the earth which we choose is illuminated by the sun by day and is dark by night, and according to the philosophers each unit has begun, but not the whole. Through this it is proved that the man who admits temporal entities without a beginning, namely, the forms of the four elements,' cannot at the same time deny an infinity of causes, and we conclude from this that because of this difficulty there is no way in which they can prove the First Principle, and their dichotomy is purely arbitrary.
The assumption of infinite possible causes implies the assumption of a possible without an agent, but the assumption of infinite necessary entities having causes implies only that what was assumed to have a cause has none, and this argument is true with the restriction that the impossibility of infinite entities which are of a possible nature does not involve the impossibility of infinite necessary entities. If one wanted to give a demonstrative form to the argument used by Avicenna one should say: Possible existents must of necessity have causes which precede them, and if these causes again are possible it follows that they have causes and that there is an infinite regress; and if there is an infinite regress there is no cause, and the possible will exist without a cause, and this is impossible. Therefore the series must end in a necessary cause, and in this case this necessary cause must be necessary through a cause or without a cause, and if through a cause, this cause must have a cause and so on infinitely; and if we have an infinite regress here, it follows that what was assumed to have a cause has no cause, and this is impossible. Therefore the series must end in a cause necessary without a cause, i.e. necessary by itself, and this necessarily is the necessary existent. And when these distinctions are indicated, the proof becomes valid . But if this argument is given in the form in which Avicenna gives it, it is invalid for many reasons, one of which is that the term `possible' used in it is an equivocal one and that in this argument the primary dichotomy of all existents into what is possible and what is not possible, i.e. this division comprising the existent qua existent, is not true.
And as to Ghazali's words in his refutation of the philosophers:
We say: Each member of a causal series is possible in this sense of `possible', namely, that it has a cause additional to its essence, but the whole series is not possible in this sense of `possible'.
Ghazali means that when the philosophers concede that they understand by `possible existent' that which has a cause and by `necessary existent' that which has no cause, it can be said to them `According to your own principles the existence of an infinite causal series is not impossible, and the series in its totality will be a necessary existent,' for according to their own principles the philosophers admit that different judgements apply to the part and to the whole collectively. This statement is erroneous for many reasons, one of which is that the philosophers, as was mentioned before, do not allow an infinite series of essential causes, whether causes and effects of a possible' or of a necessary nature, as we have shown. The objection which can be directed against Avicenna is that when you divide existence into possible and necessary and identify the possible existent with that which has a cause and the necessary existent with that which has none, you can no longer prove the impossibility of the existence of an infinite causal series, for from its infinite character it follows that it is to be classed with existents which have no cause and it must therefore be of the nature of the necessary existent, especially as, according to him and his school, eternity can consist of an infinite series of causes each of which is temporal. The fault in Avicenna's argument arises only from his division of the existent into that which has a cause and that which has none. If he had made his division in the way we have done, none of these objections could be directed against him. And Ghazali's statement that the ancients, since they admit an infinite number of circular movements, make the eternal consist of an infinite number of entities, is false. For the term `eternal', when it is attributed both to this infinite series and to the one eternal being, is used equivocally.'
And as to the words of Ghazali:
If it is objected that this makes the necessary existent consist of possible existents, and this is impossible, we answer: By defining `necessary' and `possible' as we have done you have all that is needed, and we do not concede that it is impossible.
Ghazali means that the philosophers understand by `necess: that which has no cause and by `possible' that which has a cause, and that he, Ghazali, does not regard it as impossible that what has no cause should consist of an infinite number of causes, because, if he conceded that this was impossible, he would be denying the possibility of an infinity of causes, whereas he only wants to show that the philosophers' deduction of a necessary being is a petitio principii.`
Then Ghazali says:
To say that it is impossible would be like saying that it is impossible that what is eternal should be made up of what is temporal, for time, according to you philosophers, is eternal, but the individual circular movements are temporal and have initial terms; therefore that which has no initial term consists of entities having initial terms, and it is true of the single units that they have a beginning, but not true of them collectively. In the same way it can be said of each term of the causal series that it has a cause, but not of the series as a whole. And so not everything that is true of single units is true of their collectivity, for it is true of each single unit that it is one and a portion and a part, but not true of their collectivity.
Ghazali means that it is not impossible that what has no cause should consist of infinite effects in the way the eternal, according to the philosophers, consists of temporal entities, which are infinite in number. For time, according to the philosophers, is eternal, and consists of limited temporal parts, and likewise the movement of heaven is eternal according to the philosophers, and the circular movements of which it consists are infinite. And the answer is that the existence of an eternal consisting of temporal parts, in so far as they are infinite in number, is not a philosophical principle; on the contrary they deny it most strongly, and only the materialists affirm it. For the sum must consist either of a finite number of transitory members or of an infinite number. If the former is the case, it is generally admitted that the members must also be generically transitory. For the latter case there are two theories. The materialists believe that the totality is of a possible nature and that the collectivity must be eternal and without a cause . The philosophers admit this infinity and believe that such genera, because they consist of possible transitory constituents, must necessarily have an external cause, lasting and eternal, from which they acquire their eternity . It is not true either, as Ghazali seems to imply, that the philosophers believe that the impossibility of an infinite series of causes depends on the impossibility that the eternal should consist of an infinity of constituents. They affirm that the eternity of these generically different movements must lead to one single movement, and that the reason why there exist genera which are transitory in their individuals, but eternal as a whole, is that there is an existent, eternal partly and totally, and this is the body of the heavens. The infinite movements are generically infinite only because of the one single continuous eternal movement of the body of the heavens. And only for the mind does the movement of heaven seem composed of many circular movements. And the movement of the body of the heavens acquires its eternity-even if its particular movements are transitory-through a mover which must always move and through a body which also must always be moved and cannot stop in its motion, as happens with things which are moved in the sublunary world.
About genera there are three theories, that of those who say that all genera are transitory, because the individuals in them are finite, and that of those who say that there are genera which are eternal and have no first or last term, because they appear by their nature to have infinite individuals; the latter are divided into two groups: those, namely the philosophers, who say that such genera can only be truly said to be everlasting, because of one and the same necessary cause, without which they would perish on innumerable occasions in infinite time; and those, namely the materialists, who believe that the existence of the individuals of these genera is sufficient to make them eternal. It is important to take note of these three theories, for the whole controversy about the eternity or non-eternity of the world, and whether the world has an agent or not, is based on these fundamental propositions. The theologians and those who believe in a temporal creation of the world are at one extreme, the materialists at the other, while the philosophers hold an intermediate position.
If all this is once established, you will see that the proposition that the man who allows the existence of an infinite series of causes cannot admit a first cause is false, and that on the contrary the opposite is evident, namely, that the man who does not acknowledge infinite causes cannot prove the existence of an eternal first cause, since it is the existence of infinite effects which demands the necessity of an eternal cause from which the infinite causes acquire their existence; for if not, the genera, all of whose individuals are temporal, would be necessarily finite. And in this and no other way can the eternal become the cause of temporal existents, and the existence of infinite temporal existents renders the existence of a single eternal first principle necessary, and there is no God but He.
Ghazali, answering this objection in the name of the philosophers, says:
The philosophers might say: The circular movements and the forms of the elements do not exist at the present moment; there actually exists only one single form of them, and what does not exist can be called neither finite nor infinite, unless one supposes them to exist in the imagination, and things which are only suppositions in the mind cannot be regarded as impossible, even if certain of these suppositions are supposed to be causes of other suppositions;' for man assumes this only in his imagination, and the discussion refers only to things in reality, not to things in the mind. The only difficulty concerns the souls of the dead and, indeed, some philosophers have arrived at the theory that there is only one eternal soul before it is united with bodies, and that after its separation from the bodies it becomes one again, so that it has no numerical quantity and can certainly not be called infinite. Other philosophers have thought that the soul follows from the constitution of the body, that death is nothing but the annihilation of the soul, and that the soul cannot subsist by itself without the body. In that case souls have no existence except in respect of the living, and the living are beings limited in number, and their finitude is not denied, and those that have ceased to exist cannot be qualified at all, either by finitude or by infinity, except when they are supposed to exist in imagination.
Then Ghazali says:
We answer: This difficulty about the souls has come to us from Avicenna and Farabi and the most acknowledged philosophers, since they concluded that the soul was a substance subsistent by itself; and this is also the view taken by Aristotle and by the commentators on the ancient philosophers. And to those philosophers who turn aside from this doctrine we say: Can you imagine that at each moment something comes into being which will last for ever? A negative answer is impossible, and if they admit this possibility, we say: If you imagine that every day some new thing comes into being and continues to exist, then up to the present moment there will have been an infinite collection of existents and, even if the circular movement itself comes to an end, the lasting and endless existence of what has come into being during its revolution is not impossible. In this way this difficulty is firmly established, and it is quite irrelevant whether this survival concerns the soul of a man or a Jinni, the soul of a devil or an angel, or of any being whatever. And this is a necessary consequence of every philosophical theory which admits an infinity of circular movements.
The answer which lie gives in the name of the philosophers, that the past revolutions and the past forms of the elements which have come from each others are non-existent, and that the non-existent can be called neither finite nor infinite, is not a true one. And as to the difficulty he raises against them as to their theory about souls, no such theory is held by any philosophers, and the transference of one problem to another is a sophistical artifice.