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Kierkegaard and the Ash'arites on reason and theology

digital Kierkegaard and the Ash'arites on reason and theology
title Kierkegaard and the Ash'arites on reason and theology
publisher Vita e Pensiero
format Article | Pdf
online since 02-2014
issn 00356247 (print) | 18277926 (digital)
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Neither the Ashʻarite nor Kierkegaard’s system of theology are anti-rational, for Kierkegaard regards the contradiction present in the object of faith as absolute rather than logical, suggesting thereby the existential dialectics for understanding this contradiction instead of resolving it. The Ashʻarite also hold that one can understand the existence of God through absolute reason, or reason which is not commanded by sharʻ (religion), yet such understanding does not lead to any practical outcome. The anti-rationalism option is thus rejected. The other two options here are supra-rationalism and rationalism. Kierkegaard’s theology is that of suprarationalism while the theology of the Ashʻarite is rationalist. Faith, Kierkegaard says, is not rational because it will be undecided by the abeyance and postponement of philosophical reasoning, by the approximation of historical evidence, and
because of the lack of confidence in the Bible; however, it is not irrational because if the contradiction is present in the understanding of faith rather than in existence it is supra-rational. For the Ashʻarite, however, faith can be made rational and justified through the command and guidance of sharʻ in order to find sound reasoning. Reason has no contribution in Kierkegaard’s theology neither as a sine qua non nor as a sufficient condition. For the Ashʻarite, nonetheless, reason is a sine qua non but not a sufficient condition and is in need of sharʻ. Reason, in Ashʻarite theology, both fails to penetrate into all of the premises of the argument and falls short of binding man to accept its knowledge. It is sharʻ which comes into play in order to help reason both improve its objection and compensate the binding and obligation.

Keywords: reason, theology, Kierkegaard, the Ashʻarite, faith