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Al-Ghazali on Mysticism and the Eternity of the World

All Stanford students are invited to join Zephyr for this two-part discussion of some classic texts by Al-Ghazali.

Al-Ghazali on Mysticism and the Eternity of the World
Al-Ghazali on Mysticism and the Eternity of the World

Time & Location

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May 15, 2024, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Zephyr House, 2345 Dartmouth St, Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA

About the Event

All Stanford students are invited to join Zephyr for this two-part reading and discussion of some classic texts by Al-Ghazali.

In our first session, we will discuss Ghazali’s famous spiritual autobiography, the “Deliverance from Error”. Facing a skeptical crisis, Ghazali considers the claims of the various groups that seek the truth, and, finding all others inadequate, embraces the doctrines of the sufis. He thus charts a course from skepticism through philosophy to mysticism. Ghazali’s explanation of his spiritual journey both makes for compelling reading and raises important questions about the nature and limits of rational inquiry.

In our second session, we will dig deeper into some of the dissatisfactions with the philosophers of his day that Ghazali only touches on in the “Deliverance from Error.” In particular, we will focus on Ghazali’s dispute with the philosophers over the eternity of the world as treated in Ghazali’s legendary The Incoherence of the Philosophers. The philosophers’ belief in the eternity of the world is, in Ghazali’s opinion, one of the three beliefs that make the philosophers not just in error, but infidels. (The other two are the denial of the bodily resurrection and the denial of God’s particular providence.) Ghazali’s dispute with the philosophers raises profound questions about creation and time.

The “Deliverance from Error” may be found here. Participants with limited time should focus on Ghazali’s description of his skeptical crisis (§5–17), his discussion of the philosophers (§25–60), and, especially, his treatment of sufism and prophecy (§102–20, §121–4).

The excerpt from the Incoherence (together with some other occurrences of the same or similar arguments elsewhere in Ghazali’s corpus) may be found here.

Dinner will be provided to participants. Please RSVP so that Zephyr can plan accordingly. If, for any reason, you find yourself unable to attend after registering, please let us know so that we can update our headcount.

Questions about this event can be directed to Landon Hobbs (lhobbs@zephyr.org).

About the speaker

Landon Hobbs is Research Fellow and Director of Academic Programming at the Zephyr Institute. His research area is Ancient Greek philosophy, with a focus on Aristotle’s metaphysics, especially Aristotle’s understanding of causality and his use of causal principles. Landon came to Zephyr in 2023 after completing his PhD in Philosophy at Stanford.

Eligibility

All Stanford students are eligible to participate in this event.

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