On Coercion and Freedom in Classical Islamic Thought

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Tornero Poveda Emilio


In this study, after contrasting the views of Kant and Aristotle on responsibility and freedom with respect to coercion, and after brief considerations on the issue of freedom in Islamic thought, we review what the most representative thinkers of the classical Islamic area have said about coercion. These thinkers are, above all, the mutakallimimūn, the “theologians” of Islam, particularly the Mu'tazilites, the group which gave the greatest place for reason in their discussions and standing out among them ‘Abd al-Jabbâr (d. 1025), whose analyses dealt most with this matter. Finally, the opinion of ‘Abd al-Jabbâr is contrasted with those of al-Bâqillânî (d. 1013) and Algazel (d. 1111), whose solution is very close to that of Kant.

A short appendix follows to illustrate the issue raised through the reflections of Semprun and Améry on their experience of coercion – that is, torture – suffered.


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Universidad Complutense