[3.5] Al-Ghazali on Causation and Miracle

In the Incoherence of the Philosophers, al-Ghazālī (Algazelus, 1056-1111 AD) delivered an influential critique on Avicennan theories of causation (see [3.3.8]). His aim with this critique was to soften the rigid necessitarian theory of Arabic Aristotelians, to make room for God’s miracles described in the Qur’an.

Al-Ghazālī’s theory of causation is presented in the following OntoUML diagram:

Al-Ghazali on causation and miracle
EfficientCauseEfficient cause as explained by Aristotle (see [1.3.12]) or Ibn Sina (see [3.3.8]).causes Effect
EffectEffect as explained by Aristotle (see [1.3.12]) or Ibn Sina (see [3.3.8]).
CausationCausation relates efficient cause with Effect. In Al-Ghazali’s view, the Causation is not necessary, meaning that there are (few) cases when the existence of the Efficient cause does not result in the existence of the Effect.relates EfficientCause with Effect; characterized by God’sHabit
God’sHabit“he maintains that causal processes may simply be the result of God’s habit and that He creates what we consider a cause and its effect individually and immediately.”
GodMonoteistic (Abrahamic) God.has God’sHabit; performs Miracle
Miracle“When God wishes to perform a miracle and confirm the mission of one of His prophets, he suspends His habit and omits to create the effect He usually does according to His habit.”


First published: 12/03/2020