Ibn Taymiyya’s “Common-Sense” Philosophy

In Amber L. Griffioen & Marius Backmann (eds.), Pluralizing Philosophy’s Past: New Reflections in the History of Philosophy. Springer Verlag. pp. 197-212 (2023)
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Contemporary philosophy of religion has been fascinated with questions of the rationality of religious belief. Alvin Plantinga—a prominent Christian philosopher—has contributed greatly to the exploration of these questions. Plantinga’s epistemology is rooted in the intuitions of Thomas Reid’s “common-sense” philosophy and has developed into a distinctive outlook that we may coin, Plantingian (Calvinist) Reidianism. This chapter aims to propose that, in fact, the central ideas of that outlook can be seen prior to Reid (and John Calvin), beyond the confines of exclusively Christian and European circles, in the theological epistemology of the Damascene Islamic theologian, Taqī al-Dīn Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328 CE). In exploring the contours of a Taymiyyan worldview, primed upon the notion of fiṭra, Ibn Taymiyya can be seen to have developed a faculty-based account of knowledge, moderate foundationalism, and a distinct “Reformed” epistemology. Within the midst of these developments, Ibn Taymiyya offers a potential framework for a “common-sense” philosophical methodology. Taken together these ideas form the basis for the intuitions of Plantingian Reidianism. Therefore, Plantinga might have looked to an earlier figure working in another tradition for historical support and inspiration for his religious epistemology.

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Jamie B. Turner
University of Birmingham


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