In his lecture, Mr. Alizadeh addressed the central question: Is it possible to “Islamize” Western human sciences? The answer to this question, he says, is dependent on the scientific rationality we follow and its strategies. He identifies two strategies for scientific rationalization for both natural and human sciences:
Pseudo –science has no system of justification that would facilitate inter-subjective intelligibility or does not serve a definitive need in society – and hence lack applicability. Both qualities render it ineffective or of no benefit to society.
However, human sciences have a particular characteristic that sets them apart from natural sciences: they are culturally dependent. This cultural dependency influences it descriptive, analytic and explanatory schemes. Moreover, cultural dependency produces – and impresses - a particular value system on human sciences. Coherence and consistency of human sciences with the value system of society produces what Alizadeh calls “the Cultural legitimacy of human Sciences”.
On the basis of these three strategies – a system of justification that achieves inter-subjective intelligibility; a scientific production that serves a definitive need of society and hence accomplishes applicability; and cultural relevance or dependency that impresses a particular value system on the humanities – Alizadeh proceeded to answer the fundamental question: Can we transfer Western human sciences to Muslim countries?
He starts with asserting that Western natural sciences – to be accepted by Muslims -need to pass – or meet – the two criteria of rationalism and effectiveness; while human sciences need to meet – beside rationalism and effectiveness – the criterion of cultural legitimacy. He then identifies two levels – or readings - implicit in the term Islamic Science: First, the lower level that only requires that the foundations of the particular science and its teachings do not contradict the principles of Islam and the ruling of the Sharia, on one hand; and that they facilitate the realization of the interests of the UMAA , on the other. The second – and higher – level of reading is based on the extraction of the foundations or principles of science directly and methodologically from the Islamic sources (Qur’an and Sunna).
This is the criterion of legal reasoning ( Huj-jiy-ya). Alizadeh focused in his lecture on the lower level of analysis and explained the three criteria of inter-subjective intelligibility, effectiveness and applicability, and cultural legitimacy. He pointed to systematic errors in certain Western approaches to science such as reductionism and its manifestations in hermeneutics, phenomenology, positivism and historicism. He also pointed to different form of determinism in history, psychology, biology, etc; and the reactionary trends, particularly in European philosophy such as Existentialism. The resultant prejudice and abandonment of scientific neutrality produced other trends such as racism, orientalism, anti-Semitism and fascism with far reaching consequences on human relations and world history.
In his concluding remarks, Alizadeh returned to his fundamental question: What is the process that would facilitate the transition of Western human sciences to Muslim societies that could be called “Islamization”? In providing a logical answer to the question, he cited three criteria that should be considered: the achievement of inter-subjective intelligibility, meeting a definitive need in society or applicability and the third is what he calls cultural legitimacy.
For the full text of the lecture (in Arabic) please click here.
For Mahdi Alizadeh's bio, please click here.