The Relationship Between Kalam and Philosophy and Tafahut Tradition in the Ottomans

This study is built on two main principles: the first it to take on an illuminating perspective by developing an outlook centered on Tahafut in assessing the philosophical debates from the time of al-Ghazali until the end of the Ottoman Empire with special emphasis on the interaction of Islamic theology and philosophy. The second principle is to build a scholarly background, well embedded in the historical perspective of the period under consideration, about the books and authors of Tehâfüt, which share a key role in the discussions of Islamic theology and philosophy. This study underlines the fallacy of the argument which stated that the interest in philosophy diminished in the Ottoman scientific world; on the contrary, it argues that the relationship between Islamic theology (kalam) and philosophy was in fact a reflection of the triple scientific understanding comprising of Islamic theology (kalam), philosophy and sufism, all of which were expressed in terms of a more philosophized version of theology. While sufism was itself able to constitute a field of its own, philosophy was able to find expression only within the context of Islamic theology. Seemingly unfavorable, this situation is in fact a demonstration of how different disciplines were questioned and discussed philosophically in the Ottoman scholarly tradition. This article pursues the line of this tradition starting with Ghazzali's Tahafut and becoming more vibrant with Averroes's criticism up to the end of the Ottoman period. Gaining momentum in the Ottoman period with Mehmed II's interest in philosophy, Tahafu tradition has received support from almost every sultan and administration. As a result, the Tahafut tradition that emerged out of the debates between philosophy and Islamic theology early on is a fruitful intellectual topic with various manifestations over the ages.


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