Underpinning the historical development of philosophy in Western Thinking , the role of the subject –object phenomena can be traced quite clearly from the Aristotelian Socratic era to that of St Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274).
Perhaps the most significant development in the realm of this thinking ,took place during the late 17th century with Immanuel Kant ,followed by the German philosophers of the Romantic era , during the 19th century on the part of such thinkers as Arthur Schopenhauer, F.W.T. Schelling ,G.W. Hegel usw. T
The purpose of this article is not to provide a comprehensive overview of these philosophers , but rather to place them within a context under the rubric of subject –object development.
However, it was the incorporation of Greek into the Western Thinking that enabled this phenomenon to develop , whereby Western scientific analysis became possible at all. In order for there to be analysis of an object, the observer must be separate from the object under observation. This is what the line of philosophical development enabled.
Within the realm of Islamic thinking, there has been no such parallel development.
A major component , and indeed the translation of the word Islam itself, is “submission” to Allah’s will, thus crippling the analytical process.
Historically seen , up until the 8th century , there had been two opposing divisions within Islam. The first of these was Hanbalite-Ash’arite formular, i.e.complete submission and no presence of free will. The second was the Mu’tazilites which indeed recognized reason as part of the Islamic thought realm. For some reason however during this century , the side which began to prevail , was that of the first above mentioned sphere. Indeed, the inclusion of the Aristotelian Socratic philosophy was rejected entirely by the Islamic world.
With such a dominance, occasionalism, resulting from there being no inherent underlying order became reality. Thus, If nothing is ordered, it can’t be analysed. This has been put forward by Robert R. Reilly in his fascinating book: “The Closing of the Muslim Mind” How intellectual Suicide created the modern Islamist Crisis- 2015, Wilmington Delaware.
The Western World did indeed incorporate Greek thinking into their philosophers ands this author maintains that this has facilitated the developments of both science and economies in the West , which not one Arab country can exhibit.
However, before we rest on our laurels, we in the West must pose ourselves the profoundly serious question , employing the terms applied by Fydior Dostojevski in his novel :
“ The brothers Kamarazov”. The problematic of strict separation of subject and object seems to have been of paramount to concern to him , as this novel makes clear. In it, Ivan is the Secular Humanist and Aljoscha , his brother, is a monk. Dostojevski places Ivan under the rubric of fused subject and object, whereas his monk brother Aljoscha still holds the traditional strict separation between subject-object . This is a continuation of the Aristotelian – Thomistic line. I have dealt with this theme in a previous article which can be found on my website.
What will happen to Western Civilization if the accumulated capital acquired from the legacy of Aljoscha finally expires, leaving Ivan entirely alone in the field ? Will this mean a philosophical return on the part of the West to the 8th century?
There are still some pockets of Aljoschas in existence, but will they be of sufficient strength to be able to survive the onslaught?
I sincerely hope so