Razian prophecy rationalized

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 32 (3):401-425 (2023)
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Abstract

Abū Bakr Muḥammad bin Zakariyya’ al-Rāzī (865–925) is generally known as a freethinker who argued against prophecy and revealed religion based on arguments from fairness of God and rationality. Recently some scholars argued that Razi was not as radical as the general interpretation takes him to be. Both the freethinker and conservative interpretations seem well supported based on difference bodies of evidence. However, the evidence is based on secondhand reports. In this paper I argue there is an interpretation of prophecy which is supported by primary sources and can reconcile these putatively contradictory positions. Under my interpretation Razi allows for prophecy based on the rationality of moral deference in certain circumstances. In this picture one function of prophets is to act as moral experts for deference. This interpretation provides a synthesis of the freethinker and conservative views. Razi is conservative in having room for prophecy because of his dualist nature of humanity, and Razi is still a freethinker who values reason above all, because moral expertise requires excellent command of reason.

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Hüseyin Güngör
Princeton University

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