From Representationalism to Pragmatism: Muhammad Iqbal's Reading of Religion in Modernity

Faizi, Mian Muhammad Nauman, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Ochs, Peter, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

This project examines Muhammad Iqbal’s (d. 1938) "The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam," one of the most significant texts of modernist Islamic philosophy. I argue that The Reconstruction’s project of reconciling pre-modern scriptural texts with modern philosophy and science displays two interwoven, deeply conflicting epistemological tendencies, which I call Iqbal’s “representationalist” and “pragmatic” tendencies. I argue that, on the one hand, Iqbal attempts to secure the capacity of religious claims to bear rationality and truth by arguing that both pre-modern religious claims and modern science offer identical and non-competing representations of reality. The Reconstruction argues that both religion and science make claims that obey the principle of non-contradiction; therefore, both practices of reasoning are “at home” in the epistemological and cultural universe constituted by modernity. On the other hand, Iqbal’s pragmatic tendency seeks to demonstrate that the function of knowledge claims is to diagnose and correct the problematic practices of reasoning in which those claims are situated. The “truth” of practices of inquiry, whether philosophic, scientific, or scriptural, is a function of their capacity to address and repair broken practices of reasoning. According to Iqbal’s pragmatic tendency, knowledge-claims are verified with respect to their capacity to resolve the problems that afflict an epistemological context, rather than in their capacity to accurately describe reality. This project identifies and clarifies the various ways that The Reconstruction wrestles with representationalist and pragmatic models of inquiry in its attempt to articulate the meaning of philosophic frameworks, religious practice, scientific claims, and the authority of scriptural claims for modern Muslim subjects.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Islamic Philosophy
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