Abu Bakr Razi’s Understanding of the Philosophy of ExistenceJune 26, 2021
The issue of basing the relationship between the “one, unchanging, eternal” and the “many, changing and later” existence with a consistent and understandable approach has always been on the agenda of philosophers as an important dimension of the existence problem throughout the history of thought.
Razi tries to explain this issue with a system he calls the five eternal principles (al-kudemâu’l-hamsa) that also characterizes his philosophy. Against his claims, which he put forward by making use of Harran Sabi and Ancient Greek thinkers, Razi insisted that the basic elements of the system, which he insistently defended as his own (Ebû Hâtim er-Râzî, 2003: 88), were the Creator (al-bari), the nafs (the universal soul), the ghost (the shapeless first substance). ), still (space, absolute space) and dehr (absolute time). According to the philosopher, who considers each of these to be eternal, but distinguishes between them in degree and nature, the creator and the soul are active, ghostly passive, and still and dehr are neither active nor passive (Bedevi, 1990: 56; Kaya, 2007: 479). According to Razi, who first revealed the existence of the Creator (Bari) principle based on the hierarchy and orderliness prevailing in the world, behind this order and organization, the possessor of absolute intelligence and perfect wisdom; just and merciful; there is an eternal creator God, who encompasses all things with his knowledge, will and power.
Although God, the creative principle, created the world without any necessity, the determination of the moment of creation required the discovery of another eternal principle, which is the universal soul (Razi, 1939: 282-284). The universal soul, which was an active principle like God but could only know what it could experience, was in a desire and desire to activate the specter, the third eternal principle, to bring about the world. However, since he is not as knowledgeable and powerful as God, his failure in this relationship he wanted to establish led to chaos. As a result of the union that took place with the help of God, who took pity on this state of the soul, as a requirement of his infinite wisdom and mercy, the ghost took shape and the world came into being. If this desire and desire were not found in the soul and God did not have mercy on it and help it, the world would not exist (Ebû Hâtim er-Râzî, 2003: 94). While this approach of Razi reminds the doctrine of the fall of the soul in Platonist and Neoplatonist philosophy, it also evokes the cosmic mind-matter relationship in the understanding of emanation. In addition, Razi, by connecting the creation of the world to the soul’s passion for matter, says that the evil in the world is not caused by God but by the relationship of the soul with matter (Kaya, 2007: 480).
In short, while Kindi dealt with the problem called “God-realm relationship” as grounding the notion of “creation out of nothing” on a philosophical ground, Fârâbî and Avicenna tried to explain this relationship with the theory of “emergence or cosmological minds”, and Averroes joined the discussion with the thesis of “continuous creation”.
Mankind is faced with natural disasters, wars, injustices, famines, diseases, etc., both in the physical world and in social life. He cannot help thinking about the cause of all kinds of negativity. Although at first glance, a reason for every negativity can be found, the issue of how to reconcile this situation with the belief that there is an absolutely good, just, wise and powerful God and that he is the true creator of everything that happens is a philosophical problem under the title of “the problem of evil and theodicy”. It has always remained on the agenda of philosophers and has been among the arguments of atheist thinkers.
In Razi’s system, it is inevitable to have a passive principle besides two active principles for the creation of the world; because it is unthinkable that creation comes from nothing and nothing. Therefore, as an eternal and passive principle on which creation is directed, there must be phantom, that is, absolute matter. However, the specter, which Razi regards as an eternal principle, is different from the specter in the Aristotelian tradition. The phantom (first matter), which is accepted as pure power and possibility that has not yet taken any form in peripatetic philosophy, points to irregular particles or atoms that are extremely small but have a volume in Razi’s system. The realm of matter and objects, which Razi called the second ghost, came into existence as a result of the union of these particles and their order, as a result of the interaction of the soul with the help of the Creator. The diversity in the world of bodies is related to the density and sparseness of the atoms participating in the combination. Likewise, it is the number of atoms in the combination that determines the weight and lightness of the objects (Razi, 1939: 220-225).
As the fourth principle, Razi (still) speaks of absolute space. Since atoms or ghosts, which are in the position of eternal and passive principles, also have volume, it must be accepted that they exist in a space. In this respect, Razi speaks of two separate spaces, one universal-absolute and the other partial-relativistic (relative). Absolute space, which means “the void in which there is no object”, is the space (feza) that has to be considered together with the existence of the eternal ghost. Absolute space, which is not related to any object, is eternal and infinite.