Augustine and Good Will



Is Good Will Easy to Have?

Augustine in FCW 1 argues that it is easy to have a good will. One only has to will a good will then she will have one. According to Augustine, good will is “a will by which we seek to live rightly and honorably, and to attain the highest wisdom” FCW 1.12, p.19). If Augustine believes that a good will is easy to have, it implies that to will to live rightly and honorably and to attain the highest wisdom is easy to have. I did not find this theory convincing, since there are some empirical counter-examples that challenge his claim. My thesis: Despite what Augustine maintains, having a good will is not easy.

Augustine’s argument can be roughly formulated as follows:

  • Virtue is more powerful/superior than vice.
  • The soul is more powerful/superior than body and its desires.
  • The soul is able to master bodily inordinate desires.
  • The inferior can’t master a superior.
  • The will is in the power of the will.
  • A good will is “a will by which we seek to live rightly and honorably, and to attain the highest wisdom.”
  • The good will “cannot be stolen or taking away” either by its superior or its inferior (FCW 12. p.22).
  • Most people always will a good will. (Perhaps, it is a missing promise by Augustine.)[1]
  • Therefore, it is easy to have a good will.

Will is a property of the mind.

To Augustine, will in general and good will in particular is, perhaps an essential, property of the mind.[2] As long as the mind exists, the will is present too. As he maintains, “Should we then not rejoice a little that in the mind we have something – I am speaking of the good will itself – in comparison with which all the things we have mentioned are completely unimportant, things in pursuit of which we see many people spare no efforts or avoid no dangers?” (FCW 1.12, p.21). Hence, it is not possible to have a mind without having a will, since the former entails the latter.

According to Augustine, there are two types of goods. Goods that our possession over them is temporary, like wealth, beauty, and power. These transient goods not only can be taken away, but losing them is not in our power. On the contrary, the second types of goods are those that our possessions over them are eternal and not only the acquisition of these types of goods is in our power, but maintaining or losing them depends on our will. Unlike transient, external goods that can be taken away from us, good will is eternal and cannot be taken away from us. As an essential part of the soul, they can survive any worldly generation or corruption. The good will as an eternal good survives the generation and corruption in the world.

In the next step, Augustine tries to establish that the soul is more superior to material objects, including bodily inordinate desires. By the virtue of being eternal, the second types of goods are superior to the transient goods. Because the soul is more powerful than matter and virtue more powerful than vice. It is in the power of the soul to overcome inordinate desires. Indeed, Augustine subscribes to a neo-Platonic principle that an inferior cannot master a superior.

By doing this, he then claims that the will is in the power of the will. “Then I think you see now that it lies in our will to enjoy or to lack such a great and genuine good. For what is so much in the power of the will as the will itself?” So far, Augustine’s argument does not support the contention that good will is easily obtained. It merely establishes that we always have access to will, including to a good will or an evil will. Augustine’s next move should show that what make us to will a good will while we can have an evil will, given the fact that giving up to the inordinate desires and therefore to an evil will is easier for a significant number of people. To avoid this problem, Augustine needs to assume that we are naturally inclined to “seek to live rightly and honorably, and to attain the highest wisdom;” otherwise, we could have not a good will as easy as Augustine thinks.

However, there is a major problem with Augustine’s contention that having a good will is easy. Despite Augustine’s claim, to have a good will is not so easy if we are not naturally inclined to have a good will. There are significant numbers of wicked people who not only do not prefer to have a good will, but also willingly and knowingly prefer to have an evil will. If the good will were easy to have, abundance of good will in human societies would be a reasonable expectation. Unfortunately, what we witness in the world is far from the abundance of good will. Augustine himself witnessed the dark aspect of humanity in his own time. It might be due to these concerns that later Augustine admits that an unaided will cannot overcome evils, and one needs God’s grace to live rightly.

[1] Augustine maintains that a good person always seeks to prevent evil, but it is not the same as believing that most people will a good will. If most people did not a good will, it follows that it is not easy to have a good will.

[2] When Augustine asks his interlocutor Evodius whether he has a good will or not, he is clueless about whether he has a will or even he wants to know that whether he has one. After Augustine presses him more, he admits that he not only has a will, but it is a good one.

Cyber-defamation: Cyberbullying’s Cowardly Cousin

When we think of cyberbullying, we tend to think of teenagers tapping away at their phones or computers, too young and immature to fully comprehend the impact of their words or the consequences of their actions.

The unfortunate reality is that too many adults are stooping to the same petty tactics with deliberate, malicious intent, emboldened by the anonymity and/or immunity that the cyber world can offer. As cyberbullying laws tighten, abusers are becoming more creative in how they can digitally terrorize their targets. They choose tactics that safeguard them from culpability, but inflict the same level of distress to their victims.

What is Cyber-Defamation?
Cyberbullying laws vary from place to place. Generally, cyberbullying can be defined as “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.”

Despite the strides that have been made in anti-cyberbullying legislation, what constantly slows down reform is the persistent and inaccurate perception that what happens online “doesn’t really count,” that abuse conducted in the digital world holds less weight than abuse in the real world. Yet so often cyber abuse is an extension of preexisting abuse in reality. Cyber abuse can and does emerge when the victim is no longer available to the abuser in the physical realm.

While there is still a lot more to be done in policy-making to bring cyberbullying to a complete end, by now many abusers and stalkers realize that contacting their victims directly through text, email, or the like could wind themselves in deep trouble should the victim show such evidence of harassment to the police.

To sidestep any legal accountability for their actions, abusers now resort to cyber-defamation, where they do not contact their victim in any way, but utilize social media and other online platforms to destroy their victim’s reputation. That way the abuser can relish in their online abuse with very little if any consequences.

What is Cyber-Defamation meant to accomplish?
Cyber-defamation is intended to accomplish three main goals for the abuser:

(1) It intends to preserve their false image by demonizing the victim.
Abusers who stoop to cyber-defamation are usually very conscientious about their own public image and view their victim as a threat to that image. From that fear of exposure cyber-defamation occurs. Once their image is one the line, these abusers take a Machiavellian approach where no act of retaliation is too cruel or vicious.

(2) It intends to damage/destroy the victim’s social support.
Isolation is one of the most deadly weapons in the abuser’s arsenal, so if the abuser is no longer in a position to isolate their victim themselves, they must rely on others to do it for them. They will do that by spewing gross exaggerations and full-blown lies to everyone in the hope that everyone will sever their association with the victim.

(3) It continues the abuse.
Regardless of what the relationship between abuser and victim was, cyber-defamation becomes a way to continue punishing the victim, to show them that they will never be fully free of the abuser. It is the abuser’s way of saying, “You thought life was so miserable with me? Watch this!”

The Impact of Cyber-Defamation
Cyber-defamation can just as emotionally distressing as cyber-bullying. Depending on how much the abuser’s and victim’s social circles intertwine, the abuser can wreak serious social and/or economic havoc for their victim. Their social circles may not even intersect at all, yet the abuser uses social media to track down the family, friends, co-workers and anyone else close to the victim, people they don’t know or even really care about, all with the intent to destroy the victim’s good name.

Cyber-defamation can sometimes be even worse than cyber-bullying because it is a type of abuse that does not guarantee intervention from a higher authority should the victim complain about the abuser. So often abusers try to mask their abusive rhetoric as free speech. Often a victim’s only possible recourse is a civil lawsuit for defamation, an option that is an unpractical gamble unless the victim can prove a certain degree of tangible damage beyond psychological distress. Personal accountability for cyber-defamation should also be based on the severe emotional pain brought onto the victim.

Perhaps a victim has a sympathetic social circle and their reputation is saved, but does that mean the abuser’s actions should simply be ignored? Let’s say someone tries to stab me in the back, but I turn around and prevent them from doing so. Does their failure to kill me mean that the police should just ignore the attacker’s murderous intent? Of course not.

That mentality should be applied to cyber abuse as well. Just because circumstances beyond the abuser’s control prevented them from inflicting a certain level of desired damage does not mean that their malicious online behavior should be swept under the rug.

Such antagonistic behavior should not be overlooked because it has far-reaching implications beyond mere threats to one’s reputation. Cyber-defamation goes hand-in-hand with cyber-stalking, since the abuser must keep tabs on their victim to know to whom and where they should showcase their online smear campaign.

As stated earlier, cyber-defamation can come into play when the option of abuse in reality has been removed. However, the information the abuser gathers through cyber-stalking and cyber-defamation could bring about the potential for real-life abuse in the future, which leaves the victim in a constant state of fear. No one should have to deal with the anxiety of looking over one’s shoulder until the day the abuser’s self-restraint snaps and online abuse doesn’t satisfy them anymore.

What Should Be Done?
We all need to work together to push for cyber-defamation to be classified as a cyber crime with real consequences. Without that, abusers with continue to abuse their victims gleefully. The lack of contact between abuser and victim does not promise the absence of abuse. The abuse is real and countless people are living in fear because of it. Cyber-defamation is not free speech; it is hate speech, and it has no place in the civilized world.

Written by Amy Sophiamehr

Some Reflections on Teaching


Teaching in its core is a process of reciprocal character building. By reciprocal character building, I mean a lifelong process of learning from teaching. Character building requires high level of self-awareness and like any process; it requires time, therefore, patience. It is character building because to be a good teacher, one needs to internalize certain traits and values that only solidify through time. In fact, we can talk about a class of essential teaching traits and call them intellectual virtues[1]. To mention a few, virtues such as effective listening, clarity in speech, clear communications, ability to ask right questions, capturing students’ attention, analytical mind, and ability to synthesize information are some of the few intellectual virtues that an effective teaching requires. However, these virtues are obtainable through habitual long-term practices. Teaching for me is an opportunity to actualize these intellectual virtues in myself. There are other necessary intellectual virtues that I think are necessary for students to learn. A good learner needs also to develop certain intellectual virtues similar to the teacher’s virtues, to mention a few, open-mildness, curiosity, effective listening, and valuing learning. My teaching philosophy and method constructed so that I can develop these virtues.[2]

Theories and Methods

My teaching philosophy is centered on enhancing students’ abilities of thinking and understanding. As psychology of many of us indicates, thinking is a difficult task. From an evolutionary point of view, we are programed to think mostly when there is an immediate external threat. In a “normal” situation, we tend to go with the current and stay within our comfort zones. This is true also historically. As our historical experiences indicate, it is in the time of sociopolitical crisis in which thinking becomes a necessity. For instance, in the Late Medieval and early modern time, when an old world was dying and a new world was yet to be born, we are witnessing extensive intellectual activities. Regardless, the point is that despite evolutionary obstacles, we have certain obstacles against thinking that are exclusive to our modern time. In fact, teaching students thinking in a world in which there are many forces that encourage them to avoid thinking is extremely challenging. As a result, a teacher’s task to teach thinking is highly difficult, especially in today’s loud and distracting world. We are told that with the advancement of technology and science, we are able to employ computers and smart devices to think for us and solve our problems. There are some popular and attractive ideologies that discourage thinking by claiming that they have found ultimate solutions for human’s most complex problems. The media glamorizes some certain way of life that thinking is reduced to the skills of obtaining material goods only. Mostly, humanities are viewed as luxuries that student take in small doses. It is not a rosy time for teaching thinking. I think as teachers, we need to teach students to thinks about these trends of thoughtlessness.

Thinking partially requires acknowledging complexity of reality and avoiding the temptation to give up to the ideologies that offer oversimplified solutions. However, the question that every genuine teacher is facing is that despite all the obstacles against thinking and temptations that encourage thoughtlessness, how can we redirect our students’ attention toward genuine thinking? How can we help students to not only to avoid viewing thinking as a chore, but view it as a joyful intellectual activity? Furthermore, how can we help them to develop essential intellectual virtues? My teaching philosophy is an attempt to respond to the above concerns.

For me, teaching is turning students from passive recipient of information into active participants of learning through employing a Socratic way of conversation. I never have found transmitting “knowledge” to students as a sufficient condition of teaching.

To me, teaching is a multifaceted intellectual activity. What makes teaching exciting is combination of varieties of intellectual activities that happen at the same time. There is no doubt, that teaching new ideas should be an important component of teaching, but teaching should not stop there. It is about how to analyze and synthetize new ideas in the way that it provides better understanding of our surrounding, others, and ourselves.

Furthermore, another main teaching method that I use is to redirects students’ intellectual attentions by first employing a critical analysis of what they already cherish blindly and then to consider the alternative views. Our opinions are usually our judgments about facts or about other opinions. Judgments can be true or false, fair or unfair. Hence, making judgment needs to be learned, especially in our society that we have to engage in conversations with others, and sometimes with opponents, about a range of issues. Hence, I view teaching students how to think as a vital part of their individual and public life.

I view teaching my students intellectual humility as an essential way for their intellectual growth. One might argue that human beings are incapable of obtaining the truth due to their limitations in reason. However, one also can argue for a more obtainable goal, that is, possibility and desirability of acknowledging our false beliefs or opinions. We might grant that the truth is not obtainable; however, a collective collaboration for discovering falsehood is not only possible but also highly desirable. This optimistic epistemology opens the possibility of discovering falsehood and thinking as a collective collaboration for discovering flaws in our opinions. Teaching students this possibility is giving them intellectual hope to view thinking not only useful but also enjoyable.

I agree with Ratcliffe’s analysis of the bias view on rhetoric, which reduces rhetoric to teaching writing and reading. To her, this reductionist view sacrifices listening in favor of writing and reading while it is equally important as other important components of rhetoric. Therefore, she attempts to give a broader definition of rhetorical listening to respond to the flaws of reductionist composition studies. The main goal is to include a variety of ignored discourses. Traditionally, listening has been subordinated to writing and listening; it viewed as the less important component of rhetoric and something that we all always do and no need to be studied. According to her, biases against listening are deep-rooted in the history of Western theories of rhetoric. She maintains that although Aristotle discusses the importance of analyzing speech, he is blameworthy for not focusing on how to listen. To conquer these biases against listening, she tries to shift the focus of rhetoric toward listening.

She believes that rhetorical listening exhibits the communicative potentialities needed for a more comprehensive compositions inquiries in order to be friendlier to the cross-cultural discussions. Following Heidegger’s contention about the phenomenon of forgetfulness and failure to listen to the Being in the Western history of thoughts, she begins her inquiry by an etymological analysis of logos. The noun logos and the verb legein both mean “saying” and at the same time “laying.” The second sense of legein is laying someone’s speech before us, so it entails listening. It is this latter sense of listening in logos that has been neglected in the history of rhetoric, according to Ratcliffe. However, as the etymology of logos indicates, saying and listening are closely interconnected. Ratcliffe attempts to revive this forgotten aspect of logos.[3]

I think it is reasonable to think that listening dooms worthy only if we believe that a genuine conversation is possible. By the genuine conversation, I mean a conversation that is believed by the interlocutors as a way of pursuing the truth. For this reason, what authenticates listening and worthy of practice is possibility of objective truth. In the absence of truth, listening loses its value too. Hence, teaching rhetorical listening is insufficient if it is not paired with teaching the value of pursuing the truth. It is the area that ancients’ wisdom about the role of character building in education comes into play. What I have learned from Aristotelian pedagogy, and it is useful for rhetorical listening, is that one of the main goals in education should be character building so that students are able to appreciate the nobility of pursuing the truth.

In the end, whenever I teach, I always try to find an effective way to convey my ideas. For this reason, I think an effective teaching involves an effective self-reflection, too. After each class, I review my teaching retrospectively, what I have said, how I have said, what were students’ responses, what were my flaws, and how I can overcome those flaws? Keeping a teaching journal has helped me tremendously to accomplish these goals. Journaling about my teaching has helped me tremendously to think more clearly about my teaching skills and flaws.

Practices of Teaching

It has happened many times that my students called a particular idea false by calling it old. Often, my first response to this kind of misjudgment is to ask them whether ideas are similar to technology or not. We expect that the newer technology is more efficient and better the old one. In this context, old means less efficient and having more flaws. However, I try to show my students that this judgment is not applicable to ideas. New ideas can be false and even dangerous, and old ideas can be true and more useful. I ask them to imagine the time that fascism was introduced to people for the first time. For the contemporaries, this was a novel, attractive ideology. It claimed to be scientific, useful, open to employ new technology, and even liberating. It gave people a sense of identity. The opponents were considered as opponents of novelty and new science. Today, we know that these views were dangerous and were part of a dangerous ideology. If one was subscribed to their presumptions, that was equating the new with truth and advancement, then they would likely to disarm themselves intellectually and unable themselves to criticize fascism. I have found this line of arguments convincing to my students or at least provide them some foods for thought.

Once to draw my students’ attention to the role of presumptions in shaping our understanding of reality, I did a little of performance. First day of the class, I went to the class twenty minutes earlier than the class time. On the board, I wrote, “Professor Amin will be ten minutes late today,” then I sat on a chair in the area that students supposed to sit. Gradually, students entered the class, and they started to talk to me, thinking that I was one of them taking the class. I pretended that I was a student. When all students came to the class, I walked toward the front of class behind he podium. Then I told them that I was their teacher. They were all confused and did not know should believe me or not. Some of them laughed, showing that they thought I was kidding. I asked them how many of them thought I was a teacher and how many thought that I was a student. The class was divided. Some of them believed I was a teacher and some believed that I was a student; the rest just did not have any idea. Eventually, as a metacognitive practice, I asked each of them to review the reasons that made them to think either I was a teacher or a student. Through this metacognitive practice, they would see which presumptions led them to their judgments. The objective of this activity was to learn the role of presumptions in our judgments and how to reflect critically on presumptions. In the rest of semester, I drew on this activity and our concluding discussions.


Another useful and memorable class activities that I had this semester, and students responded positively, was about analyzing a picture. It was the rabbit-duck picture. This activity’s main component was metacognition practices and also involved critical reflections on belief formation. The picture is very simple and represents a duck and at the same times a rabbit. However, the simplicity of the picture introduces complex puzzles.

We look at the picture, and we see a rabbit, and we look at it again at we see a duck. We see two things while the picture is the same. We even do not need to change our perspective to see two things. The picture remains the same, and our perspective remains the same. However, we see two different things. How can we explain that? Every adequate explanation needs to acknowledge the complexity of the issue. In fact, an issue that seemed so simple in the first glance becomes extremely puzzling. From students’ responses, I could tell that it was engaging. I liked the fact that they were puzzled and tried to solve the puzzle. My point was to show them that things, even though they might appear simple to us, are not that simple. Hence, seeing the complex reality that we live in requires deep thinking.


            As I tried to indicate above, as a teacher, I define my job as an attempt to teach students thinking. I view thoughtlessness as the most dangerous thing that can happen to a person or a culture. Unfortunately, in our today’s world there are powerful forces that reinforce thoughtlessness. Teaching, for me, is a way of life to fight the forces that tried to push us down to the level of sub-humans by promoting thoughtlessness.      


[1] I borrow the notion of intellectual virtues from Aristotle in his book Nichomachean Ethics, where he discusses four classes of virtues, one being intellectual virtues.

[2] I cannot help to remember a humorous story from a class that I taught on Iranian cinema at Spring 2013 at OU. In the beginning of the semester, I explained to students that understanding Iranian culture in general and classical literature is essential to have a good grasp of Iranian cinema. So since Persian classical literature is heavily influenced by Sufism, I explained Sufism whenever in the movies there were references. Several months after the end of semester, a student from the class emailed me and told me that he had converted to Sufism because of my class. I did not know to view this as an accomplishment or as an instance of failure. First thing that came to my mind was that I was not preaching Sufism in my class and tried to explained things objectively as mush as it was possible for me. However, by character building I do not mean to pursue students to adopt certain doctrines. Education will suffer if it is replaced by indoctrination.

[3] I agree with the sprit of her criticism about the traditional rhetoric, but I cannot agree with extent of her criticism. Socratic dialogues-based of philosophizing is operates on active listening. Furthermore, Plato’s modification of Socratic dialogues where he tries to imitate a form of writing that is closer to the form of dialogue, listening is at the center of learning and teaching. I think the Socratic way of teaching can responds to the problem of abandoning listening in composition studies.

Works Cited

Aristotle. Nichomachean Ethics. Trans. David Ross. Oxford: Oxford University Press.        1998. Print.

Heidegger, Martin. Language, Poetry, Thought. New York: Harper Perennial Modern       Classics. 2013. Print.

Ratcliffe, Krista. “Rhetorical Listening: A Trope for Interpretive Invention and a ‘Code of           Cross-Cultural Conduct.’” Vol. 51, No. 2. Dec., 1999, pp. 195-224.

Vivian, Bradford. Being Made Strange: rhetoric beyond representation. New York:           State University of New York Press. 2004.Print.

Wardy, R. The Birth of Rhetoric: Gorgias, Plato and their Successors, London:        Routledge. 1996. Print.

Plantinga and Problem of Horrendous Evils (2)


In fact, Plantinga’s logical solution of evil reinforces addressing the problem of the evidential evil by pushing the problem of evil to realm of what God can actualize. However, since Plantinga’s solution does not account for horrendous evils, I think it is necessary to test his logical solution in the face of horrendous evils.

However, one may ask how much and what types of evils may diminish the value of free will? Does the value of free will always outweigh regardless the potency and intensity of evil? I think there are some evils that diminish the value of free will. In the next section, I give my reasons why I do think free will is not value that can justifies the existence of evil always.

Does Elvin Plantinga’s solution solve the Problem of Evil?

            Plantinga’s solution to the problem of evil explains away some of the evils, but leaves horrendous evils out. In fact, his solution is insensitive to the distinction of non-horrendous and horrendous evils. He does not distinguish between these types of evils, or he does not think that this distinction impacts his solution. However, in my opinion since his solution relies on the contention of God’s goodness, it cannot be indifferent to the problem of horrendous evils, since it is a threat to the goodness of God. First about the distinction between horrendous and non-horrendous:

After all, not all evils created equal. In my morning jogging, I might step on broken glasses that negligent drunkards throw on the sidewalk last night. That is an evil that I would suffer. However, although I will suffer from a bleeding wound, this might not cause me to question the value of my life and makes me to think that I would prefer never have existed rather than facing this suffering. I might not even come to conclusion that if those drunken people had no free will, the world would be a better place. In fact, it is possible that those drunken people have used their free will for good purposes too and their right doings exceeds their wrongdoings. In this situation, no matter how much I suffer from my wound, I can agree with Plantinga that it worth it that God gave us free will even though one of the byproducts of it was irresponsible drunk people behavior to throw their bottles on the sidewalk.

On the other hand, horrendous evils rob the meaning and worth of someone’s life, either from the life of those who suffer from horrendous evils or of those who cause them to others. Horrendous evils are defined, Adams explains, “as evils the participation in (in the doing or suffering of) which gives one reason prima facie to doubt whether one’s life could (given their inclusion in it) be a great good to one on the whole… Nevertheless, that very horrendous proportion, by which they threaten to rob a person’s life of positive meaning, cries out not only to be engulfed, but to made meaningful through positive and decisive defeat.”[4] Horrendous evils, as Adams definition suggests, “doubt the positive meaning of their lives.” For instance, if a child witnesses the massacre of their parents and this tragedy impacts its brain development irreversibly that influences his entire life and people close to him is an example of horrendous evil. Or if people starve to death and only possible way for them to survive is cannibalism can be another instance of horrendous evil. These instances of calamities that have not been isolated instances in human experiences, are intrinsically bad and regardless of the contexts that created them or the possible of good results that they might produce are bad in themselves. Therefore, contrary to what Adams maintains, the reasons that they give for losing life of its value and meaning is objective and not prima facie. Hence, an utilitarian view of evil cannot justify them, since it fails to see the potency and intensity of horrendous evils.

Some theologians have argued in favor of the merit of suffering for spiritual growth and character building so that in the end of suffering, the person will eventually appreciate the goodness of suffering. However, as the definition of horrendous evil entails, since it casts doubt on the value of life, the value of free will or hope and faith in a benevolent or omnipotent God diminishes too. Needless to say that faith and hope in a benevolent and omnipotent God are necessary for a person’s spiritual growth.

The worst thing that can happen to a person is that because of experiencing horrendous evils, he thinks that his life has lost its value and he preferred he never has born. He, also, has not only lost his hope and faith in goodness of God, but perhaps he no longer trust in that God. On the other hand, because of his mistrust in goodness of God, he fears the wrath of a vengeful God against himself as a nonbeliever. It is the worse situation to be in, suffering from the trauma of horrendous evils and at the same time fearing God’s revenge for lack of faith that seems impossible to gain. “For God cannot be said to be good or loving to any created persons the positive meaning of whose lives He allows to be engulfed in and/or defeated by evils—that is, individuals within whose lives horrendous evils remains undefeated” (Aadms). However, how the goodness of God is compatible with this sort of sufferings?

What horrendous evils imply is the lack of a natural justice in world in which devoid of a global force to overbalance of evil by good.[5] Here it is important to make a conceptual distinction between two meanings of natural justice in the world. The first meaning is that the world is such that there is no mechanism to prevent horrendous evils happening against innocent people. The second meaning of the lack of natural justice is that there is no mechanism to overbalance of evil by the good or punishing the evil for their wrongdoing. The first meaning of the lack of natural justice means that Plantinga’s notion of God “as a producer of global good” is questionable and the second notion of the lack of natural justice in the world questions the validity of the contention of the goodness of God.

Why do horrendous evils diminish the value of free will?

Horrendous evils by definition not only rob the victim’s meaning of life, it also diminishes the value of free will. Hence, the fact that free will is the greatest good for humanity is questionable. In fact, in the face of horrendous evil, free will loses its values. Plantinga’s free will defense grounded on the greatest good that free will produces and God could not deprive human being from this greatest good. However, in the face of horrendous evil, free will undercuts its own merits as the greatest good, since a greatest good cannot cause horrendous evils. Free will can be defended as a conditional good, like power or wealth that can benefit some and corrupt the rest. So it is tempting to ask that, could God bestow some people free will, but deprive others form it due to its potential dangers? At least, logically it is conceivable to think about an alternative world in which some people had free will and the other did not.

Plantinga maintains that if God had good moral reasons, he might allow evil in the world. God in his account is a producer of global good who has distributed free will evenly to the whole human beings, and the evils that have occurred and will occur are investable byproduct of this global good. However, horrendous evils are exactly those evils for which we cannot give a good moral reason. In other words, those are evils that outweigh the value of freewill. One may grant Plantinga’s view that free will is one of the greatest goods. The problem of evil is deeper than existence of some evils that are byproduct of a global good. The problem of evil is that we live in a world that contains horrendous evil. Natural justice is not constitutive of the world. By this I do not mean that if there were a natural retributive justice to punish the evil and prevailing good. Even in this case, the suffering that the innocent people went through can compensate for the horrendous evil that they went through. By the lack of a natural justice in the world, I mean that the world is such that horrendous people happen to good innocent people, and there is not mechanism to prevent that.

Plantinga’s response to horrendous evil is that because of our inherently limited rational capacity, we cannot understand God reason. Even this acknowledgement in our human understanding is praiseworthy, but this acknowledgement of ignorance of God’s reasons cannot be used as a reason for the goodness of God. These divine inaccessible reasons for allowing horrendous evils can be possibly good or bad; we do not know. And since the existence of horrendous evils cast doubts on God’s goodness, we know that those inaccessible reasons neither can be used to confirm the goodness of God nor can be use to falsify His goodness. It can be for no reason at all except the fact that He has an extraordinary power and He is such exceptional being who is allowed to treat all creatures whimsically. Or it can be for good reasons. However, using this intrinsic ignorance as a reason for God’s goodness is a circular reasoning, since in the face of horrendous evils, God’s goodness is questionable.[6] The fact that our humanly perspective sees the horrendous evils incomprehensible is sufficient to cast doubt on the value of free will, and it does not require a godly perspective to see its possible merits.

I did not find Adams’s suggestion to the problem of horrendous evil satisfactory. On this she maintains, “It is enough to show how God can be good enough to created person despite their participation in horrors—by defeating them within the context of the individual’s life and by giving that individual a life that is a great good to him/her on the whole”. This suggestion is unsatisfactory because it ignores what horrendous evils entail. If, as Adams admits, horrendous evils robs someone’s live of its values and make him to think that he would wish he would never was born, then because of this belief, he is not justified to think that God by giving “a life that is a great good to him/her on the whole,” he is better off now because as a result of suffering from horrendous evil, the victims already have formed a belief, perhaps justifiably, that their lives have lost its values. Therefore, they cannot be grateful for such a meaningless life. However, if we think that this belief-formation is valid and legitimate, then we must acknowledge the validity of their beliefs.                   



Even we grant Plantinga that it is a logical impossibility for God to give people freedom of will without granting them the capacity to do evil, the problem for a theist is the avoidable evils.[7] It is within God’s power to prevent these contingencies. God’s foreknowledge coupled with his creating power can prevent contingent evils. Furthermore, Plantinga’s logical solution makes considering horrendous evils investable while his solution does not takes the problem of horrendous evils into account. In fact, Plantinga’s generic solution is silent about how the goodness of God can survive in the face of horrendous evils.

The problem of horrendous evils challenges Plantinga’s solution on two levels. The first is his contention about the goodness of God and the second the value of free will. For this reason, his solution cannot be indifferent to horrendous evils, since they cast doubt on the value of free will as the greatest good. Plantinga argues that free will is so vital for our moral character that it justifies the existence of evil. However, horrendous evils cast doubts on the value of free will. Plantinga’s solution attempts to rescue God’s responsibility from all sorts of evils, while it does not explains away the problem of horrendous evil and its threat to the goodness of God. That is why I think his global approach is ineffective to address the problem of horrendous evil.



[1] Plantinga has Mackie in mind here who believed that it is impossible for (1) and (2) both to be true. Mackie’s thesis is known as the logical problem of evil. To Mackie, (P) a perfectly good God always would eliminate evils as much as he could and (Q) there is no limit to what an omnipotent God can do. Unlike Plantinga, Mackie believes that (P) and (Q) are both necessary. To Plantinga, a perfectly good God can sometimes permit evil if it is morally justifiable, like in the case of free will, and there is, in fact, a limit to what God could or could not do. Therefore, Plantinga maintains, there is no inconsistency between (1) and (2).


[2] Plantinga’s view of God is a caring Being that cares about human sufferings. He even suffers when we suffer. In his autobiographical essay, “Self-Profile,” he states, “The chief difference between Christianity and the other theistic religions lies just here: the God of Christianity is willing to enter into and share the sufferings of his creatures, in order to redeem them and his world. Of course this doesn’t answer the question why does God permit evil? But it helps the Christian trust God as a loving father, no matter what ills befall him. Otherwise it would be easy to see God as remote and detached, permitting all these evils, himself untouched, in order to achieve ends that are no doubt exalted but have little to do with us, and little power to assuage our griefs. It would be easy to see him as cold and unfeeling – or if loving, then such that his love for us has little to do with our perception of our own welfare. But God, as Christians see him, is neither remote nor detached. His aims and goals may be beyond our ken and may require our suffering; but he is himself prepared to accept greater suffering in the pursuit of those ends” (36).

[3] The example of Hitler is not an isolated case or an evidence of particular evil; it is in fact a paradigmatic evil.


[4] Despite what Adams thinks, I do not think that the reason that horrendous evils give are Prime facie. In fact, those reasons can be objective or legitimate.

[5] In the eve of modern world, this worldview had extensive consequences in moral and political thought. For instance, Machiavelli’s main concern is that how one must live his live while there is no natural justice. In a world that good people will suffer and evil individuals will live happily. His solution was creating a political environment in which predators by fighting each other would cancel each other’s destructive ambitions.

[6] Adams acknowledges that we possibly cannot know about those divine inaccessible reasons, but at the same time it does not prevent her to use this as a reassurance for God’s goodness. She compares our ignorance of God’s reason to a two-year-old heart patient who does not know why his mom agrees to surgery. She states, “Nevertheless, if there are variety of ignorance, there are also varieties of reassurance. The two-year-old heart patient is convinced of its mother’s love, not by her intimate care and presence through its painful experience. The story of Job suggests something similar is true with human participation in horrendous suffering: God does not give Job His reasons-why, and implies that Job isn’t smart enough to grasp them; rather Job is lectured on the extent of Divine power, and sees God’s goodness face to face! Likewise, I suggest, to exhibit the logical compossibility of both dimensions of Divine goodness with horrendous suffering, it is not necessary to find logically possible reasons why God might permit them” (Adams).

[7] It is also when we assume that free will is a desirable value under all circumstances. Due to the vast amount of evil that occurs in the world, it is doubtful that free will can justify this vastness of evil. As Rowe states, “Someone might hold, for example, that no good is great enough to justify permitting an innocent child to suffer terribly. Again, someone might hold that the mere fact that a given good outweights some suffering and would be lost if the suffering were prevented, is not a morally sufficient reason for permitting the suffering” (“The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism 3”).

Works Cited

Adams, Marilyn McCord. “Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God.” Aristotelian Society. Vol. 63. 1989. pp.297-310.

Hasker, William. “Providence and Evil: Three Theories.” Religious Studies, Vol. 28, No.1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 91-105. Print.

Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil. New York: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2002. Print.

Plantinga, Alvin. “Self-Profile.” In Profiles. Edited by James E. Tomberlin and Peter van Inwagen. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company. 1985. Print.

Plantinga, Alvin. The Nature of Necessity. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1974. Print.

Rowe, William L. “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism.” In The Evidential Argument from Evil. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1996. Print.

Ibn Arabi and the Metaphysics of Creation


Adam is a paradigm by which, Ibn Arabi explains what one may call the metaphysics of creation. [1] By metaphysics of creation, I mean the account that he gives of creation, its reason, and and. To Ibn Arabi, Adam shows the possibility of human relationship and its nature with God. The possibility of human relationship with God started with Adam and has transmitted through him to human being. This possibility started with the creation of Adam; hence, it is eternal, azali. Indeed, Adam represents his notion of the Perfect Man. Therefore, the description that he gives of human being represents the Perfect Man not necessarily the existing human being.

Ibn Arabi makes a distinction between God’s Reality and Essence. The paradigm of Adam explains how the Reality wanted to see itself. The Reality desired to reflect on its Names and Essence; therefore, he created Adam. God without creating Adam was able to reflect on itself. In fact, Ibn Arabi believes that there are two types of self-reflection. The first is reflecting on oneself without mediate and the second is self-reflection through a medium. It seem that he believes each way of reflection will result in distinctive findings. Hence, God’s self-reflection without a medium would not be the same as his reflection through creation of Adam. The Cosmos in general and Adam in particular are the medium through which God reflects on itself. He uses the mirror as a metaphor and an anthropomorphic description to justify God’s reflection through a medium. He believe when one tries to see oneself without a mirror, his perspective is confined by his position. Indeed without employing a mirror one, for example, cannot see his back. However, a mirror, if it is polished enough, may give a comprehensive image of oneself. It also helps the viewer to see parts of himself that without using a mirror would be hidden from him. Hence, a mirror not only makes self-reflection possible but also gives a comprehensive and more precise image of the self. By the same token, Cosmos and Adam function as media through which God will have an all-inclusive perception of himself. As Ibn Arabi states, “For the reality, he is as the pupil is for the eye through which the act of seeing take place. Thus he is called insan [meaning both man and pupil], for it is by him that the Reality looks on His creation and bestows the Mercy [of existence] on them” (51). This perception of human being places human being above all existing things. No being, even angel, have a closer place to God than human being.

However, this extraordinary position of human being mostly refers to the human’s potentiality rather than to his actuality. In fact, Ibn Arabi, by referring to the Quran (XXI:91)[2] maintains that God has given human being potentiality to ascend to the divine realm by becoming the Perfect Man, insan al-kamel. It is for the Perfect Man that God has created the universe. Adam, as representation of the Perfect Man, Ibn Arabi believes, is the seal of God’s creation; “Even so is the Cosmos preserved so long as the Perfect Man remains in it.” As a result, it is Adam as the Perfect Man that make the relationship of God possible for human being.

Ibn Arabi in the most chapters of his book The Bezels of Wisdom deals with the same concerns; however, in each chapter he gives new explanations for each problem. In chapter twenty three he is responding to his fundamental guiding questions that reflected in the majority of his work. He once again returns to questions of the relationship between God and Cosmos, his knowledge of the particulars, oneness of God, and plurality in the world. The chapter starts with a short poem that explains God and the human being need each other. The simile that he uses is food. To Ibn Arabi, we are food for God as God is food for us. We need God to nourish our soul. In fact, not only us, as human being, is food for God, but “Should the deity wish for Himself sustenance, Then the whole of existence is food for Him.” In fact, Ibn Arabi’s God is close and accessible to the human being not inaccessible deity that his greatness merely evokes awes in his worshipers. His God is actually a mystic’s lover.

After the first passage, he introduces the hakim Luqman. Ibn Arabi quotes form the Quran that Luqman’s wisdom is God given. Introducing Luqman’s wisdom is an introduction to the problem of God’s knowledge of particulars. He believes since Luqman had a God given wisdom he was given the greatest divine boon. Wisdom, Ibn Arabi believes, is a potentiality. When the wisdom is expressed, it becomes an actual wisdom; however, when it is unexpressed remains a potentiality. For instance when Luqman gives his son advise, he is showing his expressed wisdom. Ibn Arabi quotes the Quran when he is giving advice to his son, “O, my son, consider this tiny mustard seed, which God would bring forth were it to be [hidden] in a rock, whether in heaven or earth” (XXXI: 16). This expressed wisdom, even is uttered by Luqman, is God’s beliefs that in fact have been expressed by Luqman. God has knowledge of the smallest objects in the material world. His knowledge is not only of the universals by knowing the nature of a master seed, heaven and or earth. Nothing is hidden from him. Responding to the problem of God’s knowledge of particulars leads his discussion to God’s relationship to the world.

Since God knows everything about even the smallest object, He must be the essence of everything. He maintains, “By what was expressed and what was unexpressed, Luqman realized that God is the essence of everything known, ‘the known’ being a more general term than ‘the thing,’ being as indefinite as possible” (236). Since Luqman was taught wisdom by God, “expressed or unexpressed” he comprehended that God is the essence of everything. Ibn Arabi maintains since the essence of everything is God, then plurality in world is compatible with oneness of God.

In fact, God exists in the essence of everything; therefore, all existing things reflect His existence. The plurality that we see in the world is, in fact, the manifestation of the One, since there is a unity of Essence. The plurality in the world is the plurality of the essence but the plurality of its attributes and accidents. However, he makes a distinction between his account on nature of God and reality. According to Ibn Arabi’s account, Asharites believed the essence of things even it is reality it is not Reality; therefore, God cannot be the essence of things. However, if the essence of the things were not God, then an abstracted God from reality would be hard to experience. Since God omnipresence by being the essence of every existing thing, including the essence of human being, it is possible to experience him in every existing thing as well as within us.

[1] By paradigm, I mean its classical meaning. In ancient Athens, to make columns faster sculptures used a model that helped them to make many pieces of columns simultaneously.

[2] “the breathing into him”

On “Modern Islamic Philosophy”

images-3What one may call “modern Islamic philosophy” is not continuation of traditional Islamic philosophy, but rather scattered intellectual activities resulted from translating some of the Western philosophy discussions into Islamic languages. However, if by Modern Islamic philosophy one means the traditional Islamic philosophers who manage to continue doing philosophy until the modern time, their philosophy, generally speaking, has no connection with the modern world. Or the practitioners of traditional philosophy, so far, were not able to give a convincing account for the usefulness and competent of traditional philosophy mostly not due to the limitations of traditional philosophy, but because of the traditional philosophers’ limited understanding of modern philosophy. To make the traditional philosophy relevant to the modern world, one needs first to show learning from ancient philosophers is possible and desirable. Second one needs to show that what we can exactly learn from ancients that modern thinking cannot teach us, and third show the limitation of the modern thinking. These kinds of philosophers have not yet emerged in the Islamic world, and they are the philosophers of future. Since it requires arduous intellectual labor and wisdom that will only come into existence gradually.

Even though philosophy continued in Persianate world after the death of Averroes; however, it has been a marginal intellectual activity among Persian thinkers who consider philosophy as a kind of intellectual ornament. From the traditional philosophers who lived in the modern time, we can name Jalal Ashtiyani as one of the Mulla Sadra’s scholastics commenter, Allameh Hossein Tabataba’i, and Mehdi Ha’iri Yazdi whose philosophy is mostly continuation of the Ishraqi School and Mulla Sadra’s philosophy. From the modern philosophers, one can mention the influential Iranian thinker Adul Karim Sourosh, who studied analytic chemistry in England. In the Arab world, one may name al-Jabri, Muhhamad Arkon, Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, Aziz al-Azmeh all educated in the Western universities.

The lack of a living continuous tradition in Islamic world makes the possibility of modern Islamic philosophy unlikely. By tradition, I do not mean a religious tradition, but a living intellectual frame of reference for philosophical thinking that makes creative thinking and new questions possible. Comparing to Europe, where a continuous living tradition of philosophical thinking exists, the modern philosophy came into existence from within the European philosophical thinking. However, it does not mean that European did not engage in dialogue with other cultures. Averroes’s philosophy caused more heated debate in the Christian Middle Ages than in the Islamic world. In fact, the traditional thinking has collapse in Muslim countries perhaps since four century ago due to its contact with modernity and its. The symptoms of the collapse of tradition are enormous and can be seen both on theoretical level and practical level. On the theoretical level, the traditional Islamic philosophy lags the problems with which the Islamic civilization is dealing since four century ago.[1] In fact, Muslims were not able to produce world-class thinkers like Ibn Sina, Averroes or Mulla Sadra since four century ago.

In fact, many attempts by modernists, such as Said Jamal al-Din Afghani, Muhammad Abdu, Rashid Reza to modernize Islamic tradition have failed. For instance, Said Qutb as the founder father of some extreme groups is a product of modernizing attempts. Said Qutb neither has the intellectual depth of Abdu nor has the keen instinct of diagnosing of Afghani or Reza.

The modernists failed to fulfill their promises, which was reconciling Islam with modernity. Maybe one of the reasons of their failure is abandoning the tradition and pretending that it never has been existed. The result of abandoning the tradition has been the emergence of modern extreme tendencies that claim they are rooted in the tradition while they have no firm understanding of the tradition either. These extreme reactionary groups, advocating a return to the past while their attitude toward the past is selective, and it is merely to morph tradition into political ideologies, have had catastrophic consequences. Abandoning the tradition is neither possible nor desirable. At the same time, the path to return to the past is closed. However, the reasonable attitude toward the traditional philosophy is laying down the theoretical foundations that make learning from it possible.


[1] Poverty and sociopolitical problems in Muslim countries are the symptoms of a broader crisis. This crisis can be identified as a civilizational crisis that has happened by a break with tradition. Muslims can neither return to their past nor they can find a place in the modern world. This state of intellectual void and suspension and confusion has given birth to emergence of “solutions” and treatments that were more fatal than diseases.


The Ascent of Intuition and Descent of Philosophy in Islamic Civilization


From al-Kindi in Baghdad to Ibn Rushd in 12th century of the western Islamic world and from Mulla Sadra in Shiraz and Mulla Sabzivari in the 19th century in Khurasan, Islamic philosophy has taken a dramatic journey. Muslim philosophers became familiar with philosophy through translation from Greek and Syriac into Arabic under Abbasid dynasty while Ishaq ibn Hunain the head of Dar al-Hikma gathered a group of bilingual and trilingual scholars to transfer Greek sciences into Arabic. Muslim philosophers considered Plato and Aristotle as the climax of ancient wisdom. From the dawn of philosophy in the Islamic world, they became the careful readers and commentators of the two Greek philosophers as well as other Greek philosophers. Although the foreign origin of philosophy was the favorite slurs of anti-philosophy tendencies; however, philosophy was in the center of intellectual activity till the age of Ibn Rushd (1126-1198). With the death of Ibn Rushd not only philosophy starts to move from the center of intellectual activities to the margin of Islamic civilization, but it also went through an internal transformation. After the death of Ibn Rushd, philosophy becomes, borrowing Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi’s terminologies, more intuitive. The question is that why philosophy became increasingly intuitive while the early Muslim philosophers consider the alternative, which was demonstrative or discursive philosophy, superior. The increasing fascination of Muslim philosophers with intuition determined the fate of Islamic philosophy. Islamic philosophy became more intuitive gradually without a strong intellectuals opposition to argue for the alternative and to question the epistemological merits that its advocates attributed to intuition. In the absence of a strong discursive philosophy opposition, the philosophical merits of intuitive philosophy remained unquestioned.[1]

Due to the special place of intuition in Islamic philosophy, analyzing the role of intuition in Islamic philosophy gives us a deeper understanding of Islamic philosophy as whole. Intuition gradually occupies a central place in Islamic philosophy. The implications of the growing role of intuition in Islamic philosophy are an under-examined subject. The notion of intuition has many related concepts in the Muslims’ philosophy. Intuition has been known with a variety of familial concepts such as mushahada, wahy, mukashifa, elham, kashf, vojdan, vajd, and finally what was known as ilm a-lhudhuri. When we are dealing with intuition, we are talking about a loose conceptual apparatus with special epistemological significance. For this reason, talking about intuition within the context of Islamic philosophy is not possible without some degree of simplification. However, simplification has its own virtues. (It assists) For the sake of brevity, I will focus on the place of intuition in Suhrawardi and Ghazali’s philosophy as two influential philosophers who tried to lay down a theoretical foundation for intuition. With Suhrawardi and Ghazali philosophy went under major changes. Ghazali’s attack delegitimized philosophers and with Suhrawardi Islamic philosophy’s focus shifted from a more or less discursive or conceptual philosophy to intuitive philosophy. Suhrawardi’s intuitive philosophy set the agenda for the rest of Islamic philosophy.

Ghazali’s disappointment with rational sciences and his seclusion

            Ghazali’s, suspicion toward philosophical thinking symbolizes a growing unfriendly attitude toward philosophy in the Islamic philosophy. In fact, Ghazali’s disappointment with philosophy and public life becomes an increasingly popular model for intellectual life. Ghazali in his Rescuer from Error gives a moving story about his disappointment at the rational sciences and philosophers. His disappointment, as he explains, is rooted to the doubts that rational sciences raise in the practitioners. A logician, Ghazali believes, can be certain about the validity of his logical method and the certain knowledge that it can produce. Now if a logician believes that his opinions against religion have the same degree of certainty that his logical beliefs have, then he will be misled by logic. By the same token, other rational sciences can produce the same false certainty. However, it does not mean that Ghazali denounces all types of knowledge. He believes that rational sciences if are not contradictory to religion should not be rejected. At the same time, he believes that they are potentially harmful if they cause the practitioners doubt religion. For this reason, Ghazali warns about the potential harms of rational sciences. However, his attitude toward philosophers is tougher. One of his concerns is to explain what is in philosophy that makes its practitioners unbeliever. “Qutb al-Din, Sharh hikmat, 16, remarks that the science of lights deals with the First Principle, the (celestial) the intellects, and souls. That which is based upon it includes most of physics, some of metaphysics, and, in general, that which is known by intuition” (Walbridge and Ziai 170).

Ghazali in his treatise recognizes three methods of knowledge. The first is the method of theologian, the second is the way that Ismailis advocated, the third is philosophical thinking, and finally the mystical or Sufism. He maintains that only mystical method leads to certainty. Through his search for certainty, Ghazali noticed that his previous knowledge were not well-thought and were not based on robust knowledge since they have not passed the test of doubting. Since he has not reflected on them carefully, he noticed that what he considered as knowledge was not in fact knowledge at all. Ghazali: “As to doubt concerning what I know, there is none. Thus, I knew that whatever I did not know in this manner and was not certain of in this way was untrustworthy and insecure knowledge; and every knowledge that is insecure is not certain knowledge” (61). Therefore, he started his journey to seek the truth with casting doubt on what he dubbed as knowledge previously. Ghazali’s doubts about the certainty of his beliefs are legitimate doubts and any truth seeking person cannot avoid doubts about the validity of his method of inquiry or truthfulness of his beliefs. However, the significant about Ghazali’s doubts is his conclusions.

However, Ghazali explains that his certainty about his sensory and rational knowledge was restored through intuition nit necessarily through rational proof. As he eloquently explains,

Eventually, God cured me of this disease and my mind was restored to health and balance. The rational necessary beliefs were once again accepted and trusted, both securely and certainly. This did not come about by composing a proof or by an arrangement of words but rather by a light that God Almighty cast into my breast, which is the key to the greater part of cognizance. Whoever, supposes that enlightenment depends upon explicit proofs has narrowed the expanse of God’s mercy. (Ghazali 63)

The restoration of certainty on his rational knowledge and his other beliefs, as he explains, was not a result of “composing a proof or by an arrangement of words,” but it was through “a light that God Almighty cast into my breast.” A doubtful thinker like Ghazali with keen analyzing skills when it comes to intuition gives up his critical position and accepts the truthfulness of his beliefs that has found through intuition. Ghazali never poses any question about validity of the approach he uses. Intuition equates certainty in his view. According to Ghazali’s account of knowledge the intuition is the sufficient condition of certainty, but a rational proof might be necessary condition of knowledge, but never can be sufficient.

However, Ghazali praises the method of mysticism and its superiority to the rational scientists as such, “It became apparent to me that what was most distinctive about them [Sufis] and specific about them was what could not be attained through teaching but rather ‘tasting,’ the ‘state’ and a ‘transformation of attributes.’ There is a world of difference between knowing the definitions of health and satiety, their causes and their preconditions, and actually being healthy and satiated” (77). According to his analogy, intuition is more potent faculty than reasoning.[2] However, Ghazali never gives a consistent account why one should think that intuition is more potent than reasoning. As one might say, analogy cannot function for reasoning. His analogy apparently shows his epistemological preference; however, it does not provide any reason for his preferences.

In fact, what Ghazali introduces as the bases for robust knowledge and certainty, namely intuition, becomes the paradigm of thinking in the Islamic philosophy. Contrary to Descartes, who tried to restore his certainty through “composing proofs” or “arrangement of words,” Ghazali obtains his certainty through a “God-given” immediate perception. In fact, it is the presence of this intuition that gave Ghazali justification to believe that his previous knowledge was true and reliable.[3] Knowledge is obtainable through true intuition, which a mystic can have through mystical discipline and purification of the soul. Therefore, knowledge-seeking is not necessarily through employing the methods of proofs and giving a rational account based on well-constructed and consistent arguments but through immediate perception.

What is important about Ghazali’s attack against philosopher is that, as Ibn Rushd mentions, he expresses his doubts in his popular works, which were accessible to the general public. This is, in fact, an important point that Ibn Rushd makes. With this move, Ghazali popularizes intuition and a not-very-friendly attitude toward philosophy. If mysticism before Ghazali was an elitist movement limited to a small group of individuals, after him it became a popular movement which one of its central theme has been scorning reason. Ghazali’s attack against philosophy has a negative aspect without offering a convincing rational alternative. However, Suhrawardi tries to lay down a theoretical foundation for intuitive philosophy, an attempt that shaped the rest of Islamic philosophy. Ghazali’s intuition-based knowledge-seeking finds a rigorous epistemological justification in Suhrawardi’s Illuminist Philosophy.

Suhrawardi and Intuition:

Suhrawardi’s hikmat al-ishraq (Philosophy of Illumination) is an important historical moment in the Islamic philosophy. It is with Suhrawardi that a shift of focus happens in the Islamic philosophy. Suhrawardi attributes intuitive philosophy to Plato, Empedocles, and Pythagoras and Peripatetic philosophy to Aristotle. However, he places intuitive philosophy above the discursive philosophy. Although Suhrawardi is committed to discursive philosophy and does not denies its usefulness; however, intuition has an epistemic privilege over discursive philosophy.

To understand the shift of focus that happened in Islamic philosophy with Suhrawardi, one needs to analyze the role of intuition in his philosophy. Suhrawardi in his introduction to his book Hikmat al-Ishraq (The Philosophy of Illumination) gives a useful description of his approach and explains the method of his book as intuitive. Suhrawardi: “But the present book has another method and a shorter path to knowledge… I did not first arrive at it through cognition, but rather it was acquired through something else. Subsequently I sought proof for it so that should I cease contemplating the proof, nothing would make me fall into doubt” (2-3). However, although Suhrawardi finds his knowledge not through “cognition” but “through something else,” he feels committed to give a rational account of his intuitive knowledge. The question is that why Suhrawardi tries to give a consistent rational account of his intuition? What did make Suhrawardi to feel committed to justify his intuition philosophically while he believes a discursive philosopher will not benefit form his book? Answering these questions is not easy given the fact that he mentions that he sought rational proof so that “ should I cease contemplating the proof, nothing would make me fall into doubt.” On the other hand, he believes that justification of his intuitive beliefs are independent form his discursive philosophy. He does not explain more about the relationship between providing rational proof as way to buffer doubts and secure certainty; on the other hand, he believes that he has not arrive at knowledge “through cognition.” To explore these questions, we need to go into more details of his philosophy.

There is no question that Suhrawardi believes that one can obtain certainty through discursive philosophy. However, the intuitive philosophy is a shorter and a more secure path to knowledge than discursive philosophy. Intuition, to Suhrawardi, is a more competent epistemic tool. Suhrawardi gives a useful explanation of the distinction between discursive philosophers and intuitive philosophers.

Suhrawardi’s distinction between intuitive philosophy and discursive philosophy reveals the superior place of intuition in his Philosophy of Illumination. According to Suhrawardi’s epistemology, there are two types of philosophies: intuitive philosophy and discursive philosophy. Philosophers or students will be classified based on their engagements in either of the two philosophies. The genuine and competent philosopher is the person who has mastered both philosophies. A person who is proficient in only intuitive philosophy is more worthy than one who is only proficient in discursive philosophy.[4] As Suhrawardi mentions, he has written the Philosophy of Illumination for students who are familiar with both intuitive and discursive philosophy, and “there is nothing in it for the discursive philosopher not given to, and not in search of, intuitive philosophy” (4). In other words, the intuitive philosophy is not dependent of intuitive philosophy and a pure discursive philosopher cannot arrive at intuitive philosophy merely relying on discursive philosophy. The question is that what intuitive philosophy has that discursive lacks?

Ilm al-Husuli and its Theory of Truth

Suhrawardi answers this question through criticizing Peripatetic philosophy and its champion Ibn Sina who is a discursive philosopher in his view. Islamic philosophers divided sciences into two general divisions. The first division was knowledge by acquiring, ilm al-husuli and the second was knowledge by presence. He believes that Ibn Sina’s epistemology solely relies on ilm al-husuli, which is knowledge through using mediates such as conceptions, logical tools, and argumentations, and it fails to appreciate the epistemological merits of ilm al-hudhuri, which is only obtainable through immediate knowledge, namely intuition. “Knowledge was essentially the unmediated presence of the thing known to the conscious knower” (Walbridge 204).

            Ilm al-husuli’s theory of truth is a version of what today one may call the correspondence theory of truth. Based on this version of truth the truthfulness of a statement is dependent to its correspondence to reality. A statement is only true only if it denotes the object to which it refers. The statement of “Stockholm is the capital of Sweden” is true only if there is a city names Stockholm and that very city is still the capital of Sweden. A knower cannot assent that his statement is true if his statement has not the above mentioned condition. In ilm al-husuli, there is an unbridgeable gap between the knower and the object of knowing.

Suhrawardi sees the gap between the knower and the known object as a defection of ilm al-husuli’s theory of truth, since makes infallibility of knowledge unlikely or less probable. However, a true knowledge, Suhrawardi believes, requires an immediate relation between the knower and the known object, if one wants to know the essence of things. Ilm al-hudhuri makes the infallible knowledge through overcoming the gap between the knower and the known object. In fact, it is the unity of the knower and the known object that makes true knowledge possible. The unity of the knower and the known object is, in fact, the epistemic privilege that intuitive knowledge has over discursive philosophy.

For a belief to be true in Peripatetic philosophy, it must correspond to reality. The statement of “The Philosophy of Illumination is written by Suhrawardi” is true only if we have enough reasons that indicate a person whose name was Suhrawardi lived in a certain time and wrote that book. If we find new evidences that show the book was written by another writer, then the statement of “The Philosophy of Illumination is written by Suhrawardi” renders to be false, since it no longer corresponds to reality. In discursive philosophy, the correspondence requirement to determine the truth-value of a belief, which is correspondence of a belief to its object in reality in order to be true, operates based on a distinction between the knower and the object of knowing. However, since intuitive philosophy maintains that there is not any gap between the knower and the object of knowing, the possibility of error diminishes in ishraqi philosophy. In fact, intuitive philosophy tries to prove infallibility of intuition by removing the possibility of error. It is worthy of mentioning that when there is no possibility of error, the possibility of certainty vanishes too, since certainty is only obtainable only if it is a result of a process of undermining to possible doubts. Therefore, it is not clear that how intuition can be certain if there it is impossible for an instance of intuition to be false. The intuitive philosophy by removing the possibility of falsehood, it removes the possibility of certainty too.

However, the unity of the knower and the object of knowing in intuitive philosophy give self-awareness an epistemological significance. Suhrawardi believes that the only true knowledge of the self is immediate knowledge that is obtained through self but not something else, namely representations or attributes of the self. If knowledge of the self was through its attributes, then self-awareness was not possible. However, self-awareness is possible, since mind is self-conscious and it has access to its essence directly without the mediate of representations or attributes. Therefore, maintaining that mind knows its essence through the mediate of its attributes is absurd. More importantly, self-awareness is an instance of knowledge by presence, a prim example of the unity of the knower and the known object.

            Ilm al-husuli is dependent on the ilm-hudhuri opposite than what Peripatetic philosophers believed. What makes error possible is when the possibility of corresponding exists, since in immediate knowledge there is no distance between the knower and the known there is not need for correspondence; therefore, there is no possibility for error. Ilm al-hudhuri is infallible, since there is not distance between the knower and the object of knowledge. Intuition is part of a truth-seeking science, which he calls it “the science of lights.” The goal of the science of the light is to unveil the First Principle.

Intuition and Justification

What justifies the truthfulness of intuition is not necessarily a rational account. The function of rational account is to make it understandable for the beginner of intuitive philosophy, and rational account is not necessary to justify an intuitive belief. An intuitive belief is such that it is justified because of its special epistemic status that it has. In fact, intuition is not a pre-cognitive experience that only becomes justified if it is sufficiently supported by a rational account. The truthfulness of an intuitive belief is independent from its relevant rational account. The truthfulness of an intuitive belief is relevant to the approach through which an ishraqi obtains the belief. In fact, once an ishraqi obtains an intuitive belief through a reliable process, the truthfulness of the intuitive belief has been secured independently from a rational account that the ishraqi offers. The rational account is merely for educational purposes, namely for those who want to take the path of ishraq.

To have a better understanding about the role of intuition in Suhrawardi’s philosophy one needs to answer the question why Suhrawardi believes that a discursive philosopher will not benefit from his book? According to Suhrawardi, the discursive philosophy seeks knowledge through the mediate of philosophical conceptualizing. Intuition in discursive philosophy is not absent from the knowledge-seeking process. In discursive philosophy, however, intuition is merely a pre-philosophical perception without justification. Therefore, to justify a belief, one needs to give a rational account. And without a rational account, it is no more than an unjustified belief. However, for an intuitive philosopher what justifies a belief is the performative process of obtaining knowledge. In fact, the performative nature of justification is very crucial in intuitive philosophy. I think it was this performative dimension of intuitive philosophy that made it appealing for Sufism, and made philosophy either losing its independence or gradually being dissolved into Sufism. I think the performative aspect of justification in intuitive philosophy needs further clarification.

What gives intuitive philosophy a performative dimension is the action that a knower should perform in order to maintain his ilm al-hudhuri sound. In order to do that, the knower needs to keep his inner vision sharp, which requires constant purification of the soul and heart. This performative aspect has a justificatory force, which means that it secures the justification of an intuitive knowledge. In ilm al-hudhuri the truthfulness transforms from the approach through which the intuitive belief has been obtained to the content of the very intuitive belief. It is the performative requirement of justification that makes adopting an ascetic life inevitable for an ishraqi. For this reason, the notion of philosophical truth is inseparable from an ishraqi ideal philosophic life, which is a constant purification of the soul purging it from its attributes that distort an ishraqi inner vision and prevent him from gaining intuition.

It is the constant need for purification of the soul that makes self-consciousness necessary for an intuitive philosopher. A person who wants to purify his soul from all the attributes, which in fact are foreign to the mind, needs to be able to distinguish between his essence and his attributes. Mind potentially has the ability to know itself by distinguishing between itself and its attributes. Mind is evident to itself by intuition. Mind is self-conscious, and it knows itself not through its attributes but itself. Attributes are foreign to the mind; therefore, if one believes that mind knows itself through its attributes, it means that mind knows itself through something else, which is absurd. Suhrawardi believes it is impossible. For this reason, self-consciousness finds an epistemological significance in intuitive philosophy. In fact, Suhrawardi holds the same beliefs about mind the he maintains about vision. “It [vision] consists of a sound eye being in the unveil presence of something illumined… Most important, vision requires a self-aware being. Knowledge, like vision, consists in the unveiled presence of the object of knowledge before the self-aware knower” (Walbridge 209-210).

The Islamic philosophy after Suhrawardi is more or less expansion of his ishraqi philosophy. Suhrawardi sets agenda for later Islamic philosophers. We see that the notion of the unity of the knower and known object plays a central role in Mulla Sadra’s philosophy. In fact, after Suhrawardi the intuitive philosophers were without rivals and in the absence of thinkers who could challenge the epistemic privilege they attributed to intuition, intuitive philosophy found a decisive victory over discursive philosophy

Superiority of intuition found its expression in the notion of the unity of the knower and the known. It is worthy of mentioning that when there is no possibility of error, the possibility of certainty vanishes too, since certainty is only obtainable only if it is a result of a process of undermining to possible doubts. Therefore, it is not clear that how intuition can be certain if there it is impossible for an instance of intuition to be false. The intuitive philosophy by removing the possibility of falsehood, it removes the possibility of certainty too. We only can be certain about what we belief only if we are able to refute what we know is incompatible with our beliefs. If there is no possible way to know what is incompatible with an intuitive belief, then an intuitive belief cannot amount to certainty. In the absence of a rational account to justify an intuitive belief, an intuitive philosopher never would be able to distinguish between a psychological certainty, which is not well supported by adequate reason, or epistemological certainty, which is based on good reasons.

Most important, if intuition is infallible and there is no possibility of error, then why should one philosophize? Philosophy as Socrates has defined it is seeking wisdom through discovering errors. Suhrawardi believes, “The words of the Ancients are symbolic and not open to refutation.” When there is no possibility of errors, it implies that it is not possible for us to seek wisdom either. In fact, if what Suhrawardi says about the “words of Ancients” is true about his philosophy too, then intuitive philosophy is an argument for impossibility of philosophy.


The story of decline of philosophy in Islamic civilization is two-folded. One aspect of the decline is due to the transformation that philosophy went internally, namely decisive victory of intuitive philosophy, and the second dimension is due to the lack of intellectual opposition to offer the alternative. All civilizations need to create a delicate balance between the rational tendencies and extra-rational inclinations such as reason and revelation or it variations like intuition.[5] As historical experiences, like late Middle Ages Europe, shows a reasonable amount of tension between the reason and revelation will give birth to fruitful intellectual offspring. In fact, a reasonable tension will shape intellectual debates between groups that define the relations between the two tendencies differently. Some groups may emphasis on reason more than they put on revelation whereas the other group might put more emphasis on the latter. If any opposing view finds a decisive victory over the other side, then a civilization will loose its livelihood.

In the Islamic civilization the popular acceptance of intuitive philosophy gradually drove out the discursive philosophy from the mainstream of intellectual life to the margin. Sufism popularized the intuitive philosophy and Islamic civilization lost its balance. Intuitive philosophy was partially responsible for the imbalance in the Islamic civilization. The reason I say partially is that philosophy would not become marginalized if a strong intellectual opposition could resist and strived to challenge the epistemological merits of intuition on the one hand and gave a convincing account for the epistemological advantages of the alternative, which was discursive philosophy.

If there were equally competence philosophers in the opposite camp to defend the autonomy of reason and why reason should be a framework to understand intuition and if there were intellectual debates between these two competing camps, we would witness fruitful intellectual results within Islamic philosophy. The intuitive philosophy remained unraveled and without challenge; therefore, the useful and intellectual tensions died out. Hence, in the Islamic civilization the balance shifted against “rationalist” tendencies. Intuition made philosophical thinking to fall into what al-Farabi considered inferior to demonstrative philosophy i.e., the world of allegories, images, metaphors, symbols, and rhetoric (balaqah). The decisive victory of intuition was the defeat of Islamic philosophy.[6]


[1] One related question is that Muslims had access to the same sources of knowledge that Christians had in the Middle Ages. However, we see different intellectual results. Philosophy continued to grow in the West and had extensive cultural influenced. How relatively same knowledge had two different results in two cultural contexts?

[2] If discursive philosophy is inadequate, and it cannot lead to a robust knowledge, one cannot jump to the conclusion that intuition is superior.

[3] One might agree with Ghazali about the limitation of discursive philosophy; however, his reasoning for limitation of discursive philosophy cannot be used as a ground for justification for the superiority of intuition. To prove the merits of intuition, one needs to give an independent justification from the inadequacy of discursive philosophy.

[4] Furthermore, Suhrawardi states that, “The world will never be without a philosopher proficient in intuitive philosophy” (3). Since they are the “Poles,” who make the continuation of grace possible.

[5] I have barrowed the notion of balance in civilizations form Friedrich Nietzsche. He believes that before Socrates, the central derives and forces for the greatness and livelihood of the Greek culture were emotional drives or sentiments represented in the Dionysus (Διόνυσος) who was the god of wine, pleasure (ερως), and festivity. However, there were rational forces as well that were represented in the god of reason, Apollo (Απόλλων). The rational forces were basically forces that stopped Athenians from excessive pleasure. For this reason, he maintains that in Greek culture, it was a balance between Dionysian drives and Alloponian constrains, mostly tilted toward non-rational, pleasure based drives. However, he believes that Socrates rational approach toward life disturbed the balance of Greek culture and paved the way for its destruction.

[6] However, the story of philosophy was different in the Christian world. Due to Christian theology that was defined as the science of faith and its declared purpose was to give a rational account of faith, maintaining a balance between reason and revelation was essential. For this reason, the tension between reason and revelation did not drive out any side of the tension. In fact, a healthy and reasonable tension between reason and revelation gave birth to heated debates that lasted for centuries in Europe, one of the debates with wide consequences was the debates between via moderna and via antiqua that give birth to further intellectual skirmishes and cultural movements such as Renaissance and Enlightenment.

Works Cited

Al-Ghazali. “The Rescuer form Error.” The Medieval Islamic Philosophical Writings.           Trans. Muhammad Ali Khalidi. Cambridge University Press. 2005. Print.

Razavi, Amin. Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination. Curzon. Richmond. 1997. Print.

Suhrawardi. The Philosophy of Illumination. Trans. John Walbridge and Hossein   ZiaiBrigham Young University Press. Provo. 1999. Print.

Marcotte, Roxanne. “Reason (ʿaql) and Direct Intuition (mushāhada) in the Works of

Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī (d. 587/1191)” Reason and Inspiration in Islam I.B.Tauris Publishers. London. 2005. Print.

Marmura, Micheal. “Al-Ghazali.” The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy.            Cambridge University Press. 2005. Print.

Walbridge, John. The Wisdom of the Mystic East: Suhrawardi and Platonic Orientalism. State University of New York Press. New York. 2001. Print.

Walbridge, John. The Leaven of the Ancients: Suhrawardi and the Heritage of the Greeks. State University of New York Press. New York. 1999. Print.

Walbridge, John. “Suhrawardi and Illuminationism.” The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. 2005. Print.

Wisnovsky, Robert. “Avecina and the Avecinnian Tradition.” The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. 2005. Print.


Plato on “the Ancient Quarrel between Poetry and Philosophy” (2)


Socrates’s response to Gorgias’s second claim, that the main focusing of a rhetorician are matters of just and injustice, is that if the main focus of rhetoricians is the matters of just and unjust, then they need to have a robust knowledge of the just and injustice, and this knowledge is obtainable through philosophical inquiry, since rhetoric per se cannot supply this knowledge. In another challenge, Socrates states that if the main concern of rhetoric is just and unjust matters, then the students of rhetoric must be just too. However, Gorgias admits that some students of rhetoric are unjust, which is contrary to his former claim that rhetoric teaches students justice. After Socrates has refuted Gorgias, Callicles, who advocates a type of political realism based on a naturalistic justification, enters the dialogue. First, he distinguishes between nature and convention. He frames domination of the strongest as a natural law (483e3), which may be in conflict with convention. He introduces his first thesis as such, “But I believe that nature itself reveals that it’s a just thing for the better man and the more capable man to have a greater share than the worse man and the less capable man. Nature shows that this is so in many places; both among the other animals and in whole cities and races of men, it shows that this is what justice has been decided to be: that the superior rule the inferior and have a greater share than they” (483c8-d6). He maintains that conventional beliefs that often view privileges attached to domination of the stronger blameworthy. To him, all justifications for acting just are attempts from the weaker to subjugate the stronger, and rhetoric is a skill to give a dominating position to those who are stronger by nature. His view of rhetoric presupposes that rhetoric makes the mighty mightier, and might makes the right of domination. Callicles should be considered as one of the founding fathers of the paradigm of thinking that reduces all discourses to ideology, and since everything is an ideology, then the goal of each discourse should be domination or winning. This reductionist view rules out the reasonability of ideas and sees them as mere power relations. Hence, if reasonability of ideas are denied and ideas are mere power relations, then pursuing power should be the only desirable life, since pursuing wisdom is no longer possible or wisdom itself is reduced to strategies of gaining power and domination. If wisdom in the sense of cultivating the faculty of seeking the truth is either impossible or undesirable, then education is reduced to the battlefield of ideologies where students learn various strategies to dominant their opponents. In this context, listening to the other sides’ arguments is only for the purpose of responding to rivalry, in fact, in the sense of “know thy enemy.” Listening is no longer a way of genuine learning and thinking. In fact, Callicles’s authoritative account of rhetoric reveals that it is indifferent about human soul. For his indifference about the soul, his teachings are either do not help the soul to flourish, or even worse the will be harmful to it.

Another important Plato’s critique is the rhetoricians’ lack of knowledge about human soul. If rhetoric is the art of persuasion, Plato asks, should not the rhetorician have a deep understanding of their audiences? By understanding the audience, Plato mean something deeper than what we today advise our students about knowing their audience. By this Plato means the knowledge of soul. According to Plato, the highest part of the soul is the rational faculty, and an effective rhetoric must see the rational faculty as its main addressee. The soul has lower parts too, which are the honor-liking and the appetitive parts. A defective and bad rhetoric in contrast addresses the inferior parts of the soul to suppress the rational part of the soul.

Does Plato mean that rhetoric is bad and must be abandoned? Despite to what Robert Wardy in The Birth of Rhetoric (2005) states that Plato was against rhetoric, it is doubtful to believe that Plato was against all sorts of rhetoric. He maintains, “Plato’s response to Gorgias in his dialogue the Gorgias is to present us with the most emphatic reaffirmation of the Parmenidean ideal, a scheme of philosophical dialectic utterly distinct from and immeasurably superior to rhetoric, which is fiercely castigated as nakedly exploitative emotional manipulation” (51). Plato himself was one of the greatest of rhetoricians and speechmakers. Some of the images that Plato has created such as the image of the Cave are one of the most profound images of Western civilization. His dialogues indicate powerful uses of rhetorical devices, and it is no exaggeration to state that any accurate interpretation of his dialogues is almost impossible without understanding their dramatic aspects. If he opposed rhetoric, we might expect that he would refrain from using rhetoric. So, the question is how can we make sense of Plato’s critique of rhetoric? By answering this question, one is able to answer what can we, as moderns, learn from Plato’s critique of rhetoric.


Plato’s critiques of rhetoric provide useful insights for modern rhetorical education. By emphasizing logos, it defends the rationality of rhetoric. It also shows where rhetoric can go wrong and how we can bring it back on the right track if it does so. It is possible for a piece of rhetoric to be persuasive not through a sound logos, but merely by appealing to authority or emotions. Of course, good rhetoric employs ethos and pathos effectively, but only if logos governs the two components, then it is a sound and healthy rhetoric. As the Socrates in the Phaedrus states, “then the conclusion is obvious, that there is nothing shameful in the mere writing of speeches. But in speaking and writing shamefully and badly, instead of as one should that is where the shame comes in. I take it”[1] (Phaedrus 258d1–5).


[1] This is R. Hackforth’s (1952) translation.

Works Cited

Annas, Julian. An Introduction to Plato’s Republic, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1981. Print.

Bloom, Allen. (trans.) The Republic of Plato, translated with notes and an interpretive essay, New York: Basic Books. 1968.

Cicero. De Oratore. Ed. David Mankin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2011. Print.

Derrida, Jacque. Of Grammatology. Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1974. Print.

Griswold, Richard. “Plato on Poetry and Rhetoric,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2016.

Hackforth, R. Plato’s Phaedrus, translation with introduction and commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1972. Print.

Heidegger, Martin. Language, Poetry, Thought. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 2013. Print.

Kraut, Richard. “Introduction to the Study of Plato,” in The Cambridge Companion to Plato, R. Kraut (ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–50. 1992.   Print.

Rosen, Stanley. 1965, “The Role of Eros in Plato’s Republic,” Review of Metaphysics, 1965. 18: 452–75.

Seigel, Jerrold. Rhetoric and Philosophy in Renaissance Humanism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1968. Print.

Vivian, Bradford. Being Made Strange. Rhetoric beyond representation. New York: State University of New York Press. 2004.Print.

Wardy, R. The Birth of Rhetoric: Gorgias, Plato and their Successors, London: Routledge. 1996. Print.

نقدی بر تفسیر کالمو از فارابی

کتاب «گسست از آتن: فارابی به مثابه بنیان‌گذار» نوشته‌ی کریستوفر کالمو تفسیری بدیع و جسورانه از فلسفه فارابی بدست می‌دهد. این کتاب به سال ۲۰۰۵ بدست انتشارات «لکسینگتون» نشر یافته و شامل یازده فصل است. کالمو که درس‌آموخته فلسفه است فارابی را یکسر از دریچه‌ای نوین می‌نگرد. تفسیر او از فارابی شایسته درنگ و ژرف‌کاوی است.  


فارابی بنیان‌گذاری همانند ماکیاولی و دکارت

به گمان کالمو، فلسفه فارابی اگر چه فهم و تفسیری روشن از افلاطون و ارسطو بدست می‌دهد اما به فرجام به گسستی از این دو فیلسوف یونانی می‌انجامد. مراد کالمو از گسست فارابی نه اعراض از فلسفه قدمایی بلکه گسست از آن از رهگذر بدست دادن تفسیری نوآیین است. همچنین مراد او از بنیان‌گذار بودن این نیست که فارابی فلسفه‌ای یکسر نوین پایه ریخته است.

دور نیست که ادعای کالمو در فضای اندیشگی ایران، که بیشتر زیر چیرگی تاریخ‌گرایی است، طنینی غریب داشته باشد. بنا به باور رایج، گسست از فلسفه قدمایی برای فارابی، به دلیل محدودیت‌های معرفتی ناممکن بوده است. تارخ‌گرا ادعا می‌کند که گسست از فلسفه قدمایی نیازمند مقدمات تاریخی و معرفتی بوده که در اختیار فارابی نبوده است. باری کالمو به گروهی از ناقدان تاریخ‌گرایی تعلق دارد که فارابی را ورای این نظریه می‌نگرد. این اندیشمندان اندیشه فلسفی را دارای قابلیت اندیشدن به امکان‌های معرفتی می‌دانند که لزوما در بند چارچوب‌های تاریخی نیست. به هر روی، می‌توان پذیرفت که هیچ گسست مطلقی در تاریخ روی نداده است و همواره عناصری از دوره کهن در نظام نوین حضور دارد و نقش فعال ایفاء می‌کند. هیچ دستگاه جدیدی یکسر بر مبنای نوینی استوار نگشته  و آنچه در واقع رخ داده است حضور عناصر دنیای قدیم در چارچوب جدیدی بوده است.

کالمو گسست فارابی با دنیای قدیم را گسستی از سنخ گسست فیلسوفان سپیده‌دم دنیای مدرن می‌داند. از این رو، او فلسفه فارابی را با ماکیاولی و دکارت دو بنیان‌گذار دنیای جدید قابل قیاس می‌داند. به باور او فلسفه فارابی، همانند اندیشه‌های ماکیاولی، «خودبنیادی» سیاست و بویژه استقلال سیاست از فلسفه را به رسمیت می‌شناسد. همچنین همانند  فلسفه دکارت، روش جایگاه کانونی دارد. او برمی‌نهد که عناصری از دگرگونی نوآیینی که دکارت در روش پژوهش علمی ایجاد کرد نیز نزد فارابی موجود است.  

کالمو یکی از نتایج تفسیر نوآیین فارابی از این دو فیلسوف یونانی را رسیدن به «خودبنیاد»ی سیاست از فلسفه می‌داند. فارابی، به زعم او، چونان ماکیاولی از خودبنیادی فلسفه دفاع می‌کند چرا که او نیز همچون ماکیاولی باور دارد که علم سیاست دارای مبانی ویژه‌ی مستقل از فلسفه است                            

گسست از فلسفه قدمایی؟

تفسیر کالمو از فارابی جسورانه است. باری، او توضیح نمی‌دهد که چرا فارابی گسست از افلاطون و ارسطو را مطلوب تلقی می‌کند و آیا این مطلوبیت با دیگر سویه‌های مهم فلسفه فارابی سازگار است یا خیر.

به نظر می‌رسد که تفسیر کالمو از فارابی فروکاهنده است. باور به اینکه فارابی سیاست را بریده از سیاست می‌داند و می‌خواهد دشوار است. بنا به یک دلیل اساسی، جدایی سیاست و به زعم او «خودبنیادی» سیاست نمی‌تواند مطلوب فارابی باشد و در حقیقت فارابی نمی‌تواند پاره‌ای از پیامدهای این خودبنیادی را بپذیرد. بر خلاف ماکیاولی، از نظر فارابی قدرت هدفی در خود نیست و این فلسفه است که غایت مطلوب سیاست را تعیین می‌کند. تعیین این غایت مطلوب نه تنها فقط از فلسفه بر‌میآید بلکه این تنها فلسفه است که می‌تواند نسبت این غایت را با روح و نفس تعیین کند چرا که این تنها فلسفه است که می‌تواند فهمی بسامان از نفس ارائه دهد.  در فلسفه فارابی هدف از سیاست تربیت نفس است و تربیت درست نفس بدون شناخت ژرف و بسامان از نفس امکان‌پذیر نیست. این جنبه‌ی فلسفه فارابی یکسر پایبند افلاطون و ارسطو است و برای فارابی گسست از آن مطلوب نمی‌توانست باشد.

از نظر ماکیاولی از آن‌رو که سیاست حوزه‌ای مستقل از فلسفه است  به فرجام قدرت هدفی است در خود. هنگامی که تشنگان قدرت برای کسب قدرت با هم می‌ستیزند برآیند این قدرت‌طلبی جمعی به فرجام ایجاد توازن نیروها ست. همچنین در نگاه او این شیوه‌ی خود-تنظیمی، که در چارچوب آن همه برای کسب قدرت تلاش می‌کنند، موثرترین شیوه‌ی مهار قدرت‌طلبی است. به باور ماکیاولی در وضعیت کسب قدرت از سوی همه سامان خود-تنظیمی پدید می‌آید که در آن مصالح عمومی بهتر تأمین می‌گردد. پرسش اینکه از نظر فارابیِ کالمو چه تضمینی وجود دارد که از دل قدرت‌طلبی‌های همگانی مصلحت عمومی تأمین گردد و یا تنها آن‌که قدرت‌مندتر است از رهگذر ابزارهایی که در اختیار دارد می‌تواند فریب‌کارانه نفع خود را عین مصالح عمومی جا بزند مطرح نمی‌گردد. همچنین کالمو نمی‌پرسد که از نظر فارابی چگونه این قدرت‌طلبی همگانی می‌تواند به تربیت روح و نفس شهروندان کمک کند؟ پرسش از روح و تربیت و بالندگی آن کانون فلسفه فارابی است. از نظر او همه دانش‌های نظری و عملی را باید در پرتو تأثیری که بر تربیت و بالندگی روح دارند سنجید. از این‌رو، روشن نیست که فارابی از چه رو می‌بایست خودبنیادی سیاست را امری مطلوب تلقی کند در حالی که

سودمندی فلسفه از نظر فارابی بدست دادن شناختی بسامان از نفس است. آنچه که علوم دیگر را به فلسفه وابسته می‌کند ضرورت شناخت نفس و دریافت چگونگی تأثیر دانش‌های گوناگون بر نفس است. هیچ علمی از آن نظر که علم است نمی‌تواند-مستقل از فلسفه- به مطلوبیت و یا ناسودمندی خود پی‌ببرد. علم شیمی پاسخی برای سودمندی شیمی و مهمتر از آن خطرات احتمالی آن برای زیست بشر ندارد. به این دست پرسش‌ها، بدون فلسفه نمی‌توان پاسخ گفت.             

فارابی و دکارت

آشنایان با فلسفه دکارت می‌دانند که این فیلسوف از میان علت‌های چهارگانه ارسطویی، تنها علت فاعلی را برای تبیین علمی لازم و ضروری دید. او هم  در کتاب «گفتار درباره روش» و هم در مجموعه « پاسخهای ششم»اش علت غایی را در تعلیل و تبیین علمی نه ضروری دانست و نه لازم. بجای آن، او تنها علت فاعلی را برای تبیین مکانیکی از جهان بسنده و ضروری دانست. از نظر او، روش علمی می‌بایست تنها محدود به توضیح وتبیین ابعاد کمیت‌پذیر ماده باشد که براساس قوانین مکانیک عمل می‌کنند. با این روش نوین، دکارت بر آن بود تا «علم جدید» را از مابعدالطبیعه ارسطویی جدا کند. بر همین نمط، کالمو باور دارد که فارابی از رهگذر تفسیر ویژه خود از افلاطون و ارسطو از مابعدالطبیعه آنان می‌گسلد و مبانی نوآیینی برای فلسفه پی‌ می‌ریزد که بر پایه آن فلسفه دانشی می‌گردد تنها برای درک پدیده‌های این عالم و دانشی که  محدودیت‌های شناخت بشری را به رسمیت می‌شناسد. از آن‌رو که فارابی دانش مابعدالطبیعه را برای بشر دست‌یاب نمی‌داند، غایت علم را خدمت کردن به بشر تعیین می‌کند. پرسیدنی است که آیا کالمو حق دارد که فارابی را با دکارت قیاس‌پذیر بداند تا بدانجا که گسست دکارت از فلسفه ارسطویی را نهفته در فلسفه فارابی تلقی کند؟   

گویا ترین بیان نسبت دکارت با مدرنیته را هگل در اثر خویش «تاریخ فلسفه» آورده است. او میگوید هنگامی که با دکارت روبرو ‌می‌شویم در حقیقت از راه دیگری به خود می‌رسیم. این سلوک چیزی نیست جز سوژه‌گرایی. از این‌رو، بی‌راه نیست اگر مدرنیته را چیرگی سوژه‌گرایی دکارتی بنامیم. دکارت ارسطو را از دریچه انیشمندان اسکولاستیک سده‌های میانه می‌شناخت. دکارت هدف از دانش نظری را یاری به دانش‌های عملی می‌دانست که به کار رفاه بشر می آید.

دکارت برای رسیدن به یقین روش شک دستوری را پیش می‌کشد که هر اندیشه کهن را در زیر چکشِ  شک‌ ویران می‌خواهد. برای بیان روش خود او از استعاره ویران کردن بنایی بهره می‌گیرد. او برمی‌نهد برای آنکه بتوان بنایی استوار ساخت می‌بایست هر سازه‌ی استواری را با شک دستوری ویران کنیم. آنگاه پس از یافتن بنیادی مستحکم بنایی نوین را بازسازی کنیم. در این راه، هر آنچه که از شک‌های بنیادی جان سالم بدر برده پایه دانش نوین خود می‌نهیم. از نظر دکارت پایه‌ای‌ترین آگاهی که از این شک دستوری جان سالم بدرمی برد، آگاهی به خودِ-اندیشا است. ذهن شکاک دکارتی با هر شک سازه‌ای از دانسته‌های پیشین را ویران می‌کند و در مسیر این ویرانی با دانسته‌ای روبرو می‌گردد که شک ویران‌گر دستوری را تاب می‌آورد. آن سازه ویران‌ناپذیر «کوگیتو» است: «می‌اندیشم، پس هستم.» خودِ-اندیشا می‌تواند به همه چیز در جهان خارج از جمله وجود خود جهان خارج شک کند. اما هرگز نمی‌تواند به خودی که می‌اندیشید شک کند. چرا که  ذهن چیزی نیست جز اندیشایی که می‌اندیشد و اندیشیدن از نظر دکارت همواره خود-‌بازتابی است.

شکی نیست که فارابی نیز در پی درافکندن بنایی است که از گزند شک و شبهه در امان است و بی‌شک در این راه به ناچار یقین‌های آرامش‌بخش را با تیغ شک به زیر‌آورد. اما فارابی هیچگاه چونان دکاردت روش بنیان‌افکن شک دستوری را پیش نکشید. سخن بر سر آن نیست که کاربست شک دستوری برای زمانه فارابی ناممکن بود بلکه سخن بر سر این است که گسستن از مقدمات قدما مطلوب فارابی نبود چرا که گسستن از آن مقدمات نتایجی دربرداشت که نمی‌توانست مطلوب فارابی باشد. این سخن با باور به اینکه فارابی گاه از مابعدالطبیعه چونان ریتوریک سیاسی بکار می‌گیرد سازگار است.  

نقد پنهان مابعدالطبیعه از سوی فارابی، بر خلاف آنچه کالمو می‌پندارد، به معنای مسلط کردن علوم عملی بر علوم نظری نیست. در حقیقت برای فارابی یکی از نتایج ناپسند این زیروزبر کردن معرفتی برتری دادن سویه‌های زیرین و پست‌تر روح بر سویه‌های برین و والاتر آن است. چرا که از نظر فارابی علوم نظری میوه والاترین سویه نفس است. از این‌رو، فارابی بر خلاف مدرن‌ها نمی‌توانست بپذیرد که غایت مطلوب و سعادت بشر به کار گیری دانش نظری و عملی با هدف چیرگی انسان بر طبیعت است. باری این موضع فارابی با باوراو به بکارگیری حکیمانه علوم عملی برای خوشبختی بشر ناسازگار نیست.

فارابی بی‌شک اندیشمندی اصیل و خلاق است با نوآوری‌های اندیشه‌برانگیز اما او نه بنیان‌گذار مکتب نوافلاطونی است، چنان که پاره‌ای از شارحان او بیان کرده‌اند، و نه بنیان‌گذار از سنخ ماکیاولی و دکارت آن‌چنان که کالمو استدلال می‌کند.  


Colmo, Christopher, Breaking with Athenes: Alfarabi the founder. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2005.

Descartes, René, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothoff, Dugald Murdoch and Anthony Kenny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3 vols.1984-1991.

Gillespie, Michael Allen. The Theological Origin of Modernity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2008.

God and Problem of Evil: Plantinga’s Profile


The problem of evil constituted a serious challenge to theism ever since the Abrahamic prophets have introduced the notion of an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good God. The challenge is to explain how an all-powerful, all-good God could allow such a vast amount of evils in the world. We can provide a long list of paradigmatic evils that history has recorded and also surrounded our world (Evidential Problem of Evil). However, Alvin Plantinga, in his book, The Nature of Necessity, defends the logical consistency of theism and claims that believing in an omniscient, omnipotent, and all-good God is consistent with acknowledging the existence of evil. As he puts it, the two premises that

(1) God exists and is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.


(2) Evil exists.

are not inconsistent. Plantinga maintains that conjunction of propositions (1) and (2) is not necessarily false and claims that he has proven that (1) and (2) are in fact consistent. “The resources of logic alone do not enable us to deduce an explicit contradiction from their conjunction. But then presumably the atheologian—he who offers arguments against the existence of God—never meant to hold that there was a formal contradiction here; he meant instead that the conjunction of these two propositions is necessarily false, false in all possible worlds” (The Nature of Necessity 165).[1] If an atheologian is to prove that the claim of inconsistency in the theist’s account, must therefore, needs to posit a proposition that is both necessary and in conjunction with (1) and (2) constitutes a contradiction. Plantinga has argued that finding such a premise is extremely difficult.

Plantinga’s Proof of consistency

Plantinga, to show that it is possible for (1) and (2) both to be true, therefore, consistent, appeals to the notion of free will. Plantinga believes that the free will defender needs to find a proposition that is consistent with (1) and at the same time entails (2). That proposition itself does not need to be true. All it needs is that to be consistent with the proposition (1) God exists, and is omnipotent, omniscient, all perfectly good and at the same time, it entails the existence of evil. That proposition with the above two conditions is, “… it is possible that God could not have created a universe containing moral good (or as much moral good as this one contains) without creating one containing moral evil” (167). To him, God created the world within the constraints of necessities. For, “God, though omnipotent, could not have created just any possible world he pleased” (168). In fact, this latter point is crucial for his defense of free will. God could not have given us free will and at the same time made us freely to do good things or refrained us from evil things. If he did, we would not have free will. It is a logical impossibility to think that free will is consistent with preventing all evil doing. In fact, the existing evil in the world is a byproduct or undesirable consequences of our free will.

Despite what Leibniz believes, to Plantinga, God in the moments of creation did not have a whole range of choices of possible worlds from which he could have chosen the best possible world. Rather, he merely created contingent things such as heavens, mountains, animals, and humans. God did not create necessary things, such as “himself, or numbers, propositions, properties, or state of affairs” (169). Those necessary things always have existed. To create something means to have a beginning, while the necessary things have no beginning in time. They are eternal entities. “God has created Socrates, but actualized the state of affairs consisting in the latter’s existence” (169). Therefore, it is misleading to believe that God has created everything. To say that x is created, it is to say that there was a time that x did not exist. Numbers as non-created things always existed so as God himself and his attributes. God did not even actualize non-creatable things. “So if we speak of God as actualizing a, we should not think of him as actualizing every state of affairs a includes. But perhaps we may say that he actualizes every contingent state of affairs included in a; and perhaps we may say that God can actualize a given possible world W only if he can actualize every contingent state of affairs W includes” (169). After these distinctions, he asks whether an omnipotent God could actualize any possible world that he pleases?

Obviously, his answer is no. Therefore, he concludes that God could not create a morally free agent without giving them ability to do evils. However, the value of having free will and being able to do evil is greater than if we were created as individuals with no freedom and no ability to do evils. The question is that, even if we grant Plantinga that evils in the world are, if fact, necessary evils that even God could not eliminate, then is the question of evil settled? I doubt it. I think the problem of evil, in Plantinga’s account, is not settled, but it is moved from the level of necessities to the level of contingencies. Therefore, one may ask, is there any unnecessary evil in the realm of actualization that God could have eliminated or can eliminate, but he did or does not? I will answer this question in the next section.

Plantinga Examined

            I believe we can modify Mackie’s thesis of logical inconsistency of the theist’s account of evil so that it shows the inadequacy of Plantinga’s solution. To Mackie, (P) a perfectly good God always would eliminate evils as much as he could and (Q) there is no limit to what an omnipotent God can do. Unlike Plantinga, Mackie believes that (P) and (Q) are both necessary. However, to Plantinga, a perfectly good God can sometimes permit evil if it is morally justifiable, like in the case of free will, and there is, in fact, a limit to what God could or could not do. Therefore, Plantinga maintains, there is no inconsistency between (1) and (2). However, in light of Plantinga’s critique of Mackie in The Nature of Necessity, one can reintroduce (P) and (Q), so it might constitute a logical inconsistency between (1) and (2).

One may agree with Plantinga that (P) is not necessary. Unlike what (P) states, God may permit evils either if there is a moral justification for it, therefore, not-(P) or God could not create whatever state of affairs that he pleased, therefore, not-(Q). A perfectly good God could prevent contingent evils as much as he can (Pa), and there are no limits in God’s power to actualize contingent things (Qa). If so, the problem for Plantinga is that there are some contingent evils that God could have prevented, but he did not. Therefore, I think in light of (Pa) and (Qa), (1) and (2) constitute a contradiction.

Is there any evil in the realm of contingencies that God could have avoided, but He has not? We can grant Plantinga that God could not have actualized every logically possible world; even doing so, the question of evil has not been settled. Plantinga’s notion of creation as actualization limits God’s creative power to the realm of contingencies, which is the realm that could had been different than it has been actualized. For example, God could had created a world in which Donald Trump did not run for presidency, or if created him, instead of having locker room talks, he would had read more useful books. However, since the world has been actualized in the existing way, where Donald Trump has run for presidency, even God cannot change it. Changing the past is a logical impossibility and God, to Plantinga, cannot make impossibilities possible. An omnipotent God cannot actualize every possible world, let alone the best possible world.

So the question is that, “is there any evil that does not emerge from necessities but from contingencies?”[2] Creating certain individuals is within the power of God and by refraining from creating certain people, he would not violate any necessity. God could refrain from creating Hitler, for instance, or people like him who made people suffer unnecessarily, but he did not.[3] In the time of creating him, God, due to his foreknowledge, knew about what crimes he would commit. So the question is that why did God create Hitler? God not only created Hitler, but put him in a situation that he committed horrendous evil. God could have created millions of people that he has not. There was no necessity to create certain people whom God knew would use their free will to commit gratuitous or horrendous evils. So the existence of evil is not necessarily the existence of those evils that spring from necessities, if we accept Plantinga’s account of free will, but the problem is the existence of horrendous evils that emerged in the realm of contingencies, evils that could be avoided by an omnipotent God that Plantinga believes has a foreknowledge. If so, then (1) and (2), unlike what Plantinga states, are not consistent.

My position is not same as Paul Helm’s when he states, “Any agent who freely and knowingly sets up a deterministic process with a certain outcome must be responsible for that outcome, but on the level of contingencies.” Plantinga would agree with Helm that God set up a deterministic process. Plantinga would reply to Helm that what he calls “a deterministic process” might be only “state of affairs” that God did and could not create but merely actualized it, and since God has not created this state of affairs, he is not responsible for the outcome of this state of affairs either. However, I think this problem exist for Plantinga, who does not argue for determinism, but on the different level. Even if we agree with Plantinga about free will, still it does not explain the existence of evil that is not caused  from necessities, but from contingencies. It is compatible with human free will if God refrains from creating some evil agents who committed horrendous evils. Plantinga does not rule out that refraining creating certain human beings was not within God’s actualizing power. God could have given human beings free will, and at the same time refrained to create individuals who committed horrendous evils, such as raping children, Hitler, Stalin, professional dehumanizers, and so on. The rest of evils, of course, would be impossible for God to avoid since they are an outcome of free will.


Even we grant Plantinga that it is a logical impossibility for God to give people freedom of will without granting them the capacity to do evil, the problem for a theist is the avoidable evils.[4] It is within God’s power to prevent these contingencies. God’s foreknowledge coupled with his creating power can prevent contingent evils.


[1]                 Plantinga has Mackie in mind here who believed that it is impossible for (1) and (2) both to be true. Mackie’s thesis is known as the logical problem of evil. To Mackie, (P) a perfectly good God always would eliminate evils as much as he could and (Q) there is no limit to what an omnipotent God can do. Unlike Plantinga, Mackie believes that (P) and (Q) are both necessary. To Plantinga, a perfectly good God can sometimes permit evil if it is morally justifiable, like in the case of free will, and there is, in fact, a limit to what God could or could not do. Therefore, Plantinga maintains, there is no inconsistency between (1) and (2).

[2]                Plantinga’s view of God is a caring Being that cares about human sufferings. He even suffers when we suffer. In his autobiographical essay, “Self-Profile,” he states, “The chief difference between Christianity and the other theistic religions lies just here: the God of Christianity is willing to enter into and share the sufferings of his creatures, in order to redeem them and his world. Of course this doesn’t answer the question why does God permit evil? But it helps the Christian trust God as a loving father, no matter what ills befall him. Otherwise it would be easy to see God as remote and detached, permitting all these evils, himself untouched, in order to achieve ends that are no doubt exalted but have little to do with us, and little power to assuage our griefs. It would be easy to see him as cold and unfeeling – or if loving, then such that his love for us has little to do with our perception of our own welfare. But God, as Christians see him, is neither remote nor detached. His aims and goals may be beyond our ken and may require our suffering; but he is himself prepared to accept greater suffering in the pursuit of those ends” (36).

[3]                The example of Hitler is not an isolated case or an evidence of particular evil; it is in fact a paradigmatic evil.

[4]                It is also when we assume that free will is a desirable value under all circumstances. Due to the vast amount of evil that occurs in the world, it is doubtful that free will can justify this vastness of evil. As Rowe states, “Someone might hold, for example, that no good is great enough to justify permitting an innocent child to suffer terribly. Again, someone might hold that the mere fact that a given good outweights some suffering and would be lost if the suffering were prevented, is not a morally sufficient reason for permitting the suffering” (“The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism 3”).

Works Cited

Hasker, William. “Providence and Evil: Three Theories.” Religious Studies, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 91-105. Print.

Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil. New York: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2002. Print.

Plantinga, Alvin. “Self-Profile.” In Profiles. Edited by James E. Tomberlin and Peter van Inwagen. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company. 1985. Print.

Plantinga, Alvin. The Nature of Necessity. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1974. Print.

Rowe, William L. “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism.” In The Evidential Argument from Evil. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1996. Print.