Islamic Philosophy and Quantum Mechanics

by Aanand Krishnan

Basic science, and quantum mechanics in particular, should be required study for anyone who wants to do Islamic philosophy.

For example, the concept of imkān-e-ashraf is disproved by the granulation in quantum levels. Nature is not continuous as medieval Islamic philosophers (and western scientists until the 20th century) had imagined it to be.

Another example (and this is a foundational problem) is that in Islamic philosophy, reality ‘out there’ is unimpacted by the observer. Even if someone verbally acknowledges this, the reality is that Islamic philosophy (unlike the Vedanta and Madhyamakarika of Nagarjuna) did not create the tools needed to understand the impact of the observer on the observed. Islamic philosophy inherited the Greeks who considered observation to be a passive act.

Once again, quantum mechanics has shown that observation indeed impacts the observed. But we still go around discussing theories of m’alum bil-arad and m’alum bi al-zāt.

So, don’t go around parroting ibn Sina – he wasn’t a prophet. He was a scientist, and philosopher, who made observations and laws based on what was known at that time.

Those theories are no longer valid, plain and simple. If Islamic philosophy (and theosophy) has to move forward, it has to get out of the 16th-century mode of thinking. It’s sad to see bright Muslim youth trying to approach Islamic philosophy without a basic grounding in modern science. All they end up doing is defending archaic theories of ibn Sina and Sadra, and doing philosophy by taqlīd.

I gave up on Islamic philosophy primarily because I found it to be inadequate and unsatisfying and outdated. The second reason being that Islamic philosophy and metaphysics tries to attach itself to revelation based on fabricated narrations (hadith of ‘aql, which I have written about) and fantastic and absurd interpretations of the Qur’ān. In other words, it is both an intellectual and spiritual red-herring.

Wallahu ‘alam.

Deeper exploration: An Intro to the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics by Aanand Krishnan, for the Bidayat al-Hikma Study Group

This article was originally published on facebook and reproduced with permission.

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