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The West and IslamReligion and Political Thought in World History$
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Antony Black

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199533206

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199533206.001.0001

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Approaches to Political Thought

Approaches to Political Thought

(p.112) 6 Approaches to Political Thought
The West and Islam

Antony Black (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Despite their shared Abrahamic and Platonic legacies, Europe and Islam developed markedly different approaches to theology, philosophy, and political theory. Muslim philosophers used Plato and Aristotle to provide a rational understanding of the caliphate and the Shari'a. Even this attempt at rationalism did not take root. Muslim political thought became dominated by the ‘consensus’ established, solely on the basis of revealed texts, by orthodox jurists. Reason was a supreme value but it did not mean open-ended enquiry. Problems were to be solved by a more thorough application of religious norms. Philosophy, seen as a means of better understanding revealed truths, revived in Europe from the 12th century and developed continuously. Western thinkers developed a distinction between faith and reason. They saw Cicero and Aristotle as complementing scripture. This eventually made possible non-religious theories of the state and its constitution.

Keywords:   theology, philosophy, Plato, jurists, consensus, faith, reason, Cicero, Aristotle

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