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Conceptions of Self-Determination in Fourth/Tenth-Century Muslim Theology: al-Bāqillānī’s Theory of Human Acts in Its Historical Context

AuthorsThiele, Jan
Issue Date2016
PublisherCambridge University Press
CitationArabic Sciences and Philosophy - a Historical Journal 26 (2): 245-269 (2016)
Abstract[EN] Man's individual responsibility is a very central notion in Muslim theology. Rational foundations for moral responsibility presuppose, however, that man has in some way control over his actions. It was therefore of central concern to theologians to formulate theories of action that were coherent enough to account for human self-determination. This article examines al-Bāqillānī's reflections on human acts and attempts to contextualise his thought within the discussions of his time. I will briefly review the Muʿtazilites’ theory of freedom of action, against which the Ašʿarite school developed its own position. I will then outline the fundamentals of the opposing standpoint adopted by Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ašʿarī, who proposed to base human self-determination on voluntariness. Finally, I will discuss how al-Bāqillānī drew on and further developed al-Ašʿarī's ideas. Based on the extant volumes of al-Bāqillānī's Hidāyat al-mustaršidīn, I argue that he attempts to coherently organise the school's understanding of the famous theory of “acquisition” (kasb) by affirming two fundamental principles: a) that human acts are created by God and b) that there is nevertheless a real correlation between man and his “acquired” acts.
[FR] La responsabilité individuelle de l’homme est une notion centrale en théologie musulmane. Or une justification rationnelle de notre responsabilité morale présuppose que nos actes sont d’une certaine manière sous notre contrôle. Pour les théologiens, il était donc important de formuler une théorie de l’acte humain qui tienne compte de l’autodétermination humaine. Cet article analyse les réflexions d’alBāqillānī sur le sujet de l’acte humain dans le contexte des discussions qui eurent lieu en son temps. Je récapitulerai brièvement la théorie muʿtazilite du libre arbitre, théorie à laquelle s’opposa l’école ašʿarite en formulant sa propre position. Ensuite, j’esquisserai les fondements du point de vue d’Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ašʿarī qui proposa de baser l’autodétermination humaine sur la volontarité. Finalement, je discuterai comment al-Bāqillānī développe sa théorie en partant des idées d’al-Ašʿarī. Sur la base des volumes préservés de la Hidāyat al-mustaršidīn d’al-Bāqillānī, j’argumenterai qu’il envisage de donner plus de cohérence à la célèbre théorie d’“acquisition” (kasb) en soutenant deux principes: a) l’acte humain est créé par dieu; b) malgré cela, il existe une corrélation réelle entre l’homme et son acte “acquis”
Publisher version (URL)https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/arabic-sciences-and-philosophy
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