Atomism in Islamic Thought

  • Alnoor Dhanani
Reference work entry

Atomism, the view that there are discrete irreducible elements of finite spatial or temporal space, played a significant role in Islamic intellectual history. It was upheld by most practitioners of the uniquely Islamic discipline of kalām. However, some practitioners of kalām (i.e., mutakallimūn) as well as all but one of the practitioners of falsafa (i.e., falāsifa – those engaged in the Neoplatonized Peripatetic philosophy of medieval Islam) were antiatomists. There was thus a lively debate between atomists and antiatomists, regarding not only matter theory, but also other areas of natural philosophy and cosmology, particularly theories of space, time, void, motion, and causality.

Kalām has no counterpart in the Western tradition. Even though primarily theological in orientation, it is not equivalent to theology. The subject matter of kalāmincludes not only theological topics, e.g., the nature and attributes of God, prophecy, and revelation, but also philosophical problems of...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

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  • Alnoor Dhanani

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