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14 Stellenbosch L. Rev. 349 (2003)
The Influence of Al-Ghazali and Ibn Sinda on Descartes

handle is hein.journals/stelblr14 and id is 351 raw text is: THE INFLUENCE OF AL-GHAZALI AND
IBN SINA ON DESCARTES*
Nazeern M1 Goolam
BA LLB MCL
Associate Professor, University of South Africa
1 Introduction
This article is a sequel to a paper published a few years ago by the same
author and entitled Islamic influences on European legal philosophy
and law.1 In that article it was stated that at the dawn of the 21st
century, it is necessary to engage in a renewal of thought outside the
European/Western tradition and to reappraise the contribution of
Islamic legal thought to European legal philosophy and law. That
contribution, discussing primarily the influence of the great intellectual
activity of Islamic Spain in the l1th and 12th centuries on medieval
western Europe, focused particularly on the impact of Ibn Rushd's (1126-
1198) Aristotelian commentaries on the thinking of St Thomas of
Aquinas. It also included a brief overview of the history and development
of Islamic thought. Brief references to the impact of the work of Ibn Sina
- in particular his greatest philosophical work, the Kitab al-Shifa (Book
of Healing), translated into Latin as Liber Sufficientiae - on metaphysics
and later Christian philosophy were made.2
In the discussion on the transmission of knowledge from the Islamic
world to Europe, it was stated that the Italian Gerard of Cremona
translated as many as 71 scientific treatises from Arabic into Latin and
that the entire Aristotelian corpus was 50 translated. This, of course,
included the works of the great Islamic philosophers such as Al-Kindi,
Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Al-Ghazali.3
It should be borne in mind that Saint Thomas of Aquinas was
influenced, not only by Ibn Rushd, but by Ibn Sina as well. In his work
De Ente et Essentia in which St Thomas formulates the distinction
between essence and existence he relies heavily on Ibn Sina to support his
* The author wishes to thank Unisa's Research and Bursaries Committee for the research grant in 2002
which enabled him to conduct this research at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London
University and the Bodleian Library in Oxford, as well as the NRF for a grant which enabled him to
visit the Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization in Kuala Lumpur in 2002.
1 See 1999 Fundamina 44-67.
2 Goolam 1999 Fundamina 48; see also Haren Medieval Thought (1985) 122 and Jordan Western
Philosophy from Antiquity to the Middle Ages (1987) 343.
3 Goolam 1999 Fundamina 50; Weeramantry Islamic Jurisprudence. An International Perspective (1988)
21.

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