Psychology and Virtue in Al-Ghazali's Ethics

Michael Shindler

Abstract


In a time where ignorance brings tension between cultures, and blindly justifies violence and hate, the need for knowledge, understanding and wisdom is urgent. In the West, most of us find ourselves mystified by a growing cultural force resistant to Western ideologies. Instead of seeing this as an inherent antagonism, we should foster understanding of other cultures and avoid hate, violence, fear and war. This paper will explore a complex ethical system based on Muslim orthodox theology and the mystical philosophy of the Sufis. Al-Ghazali (1058-1111 C.E.) is one of Islam’s most prominent and profound figures. His ethical system reflects his deep commitment to reconciliation between orthodox theology and mystical practice. From al-Ghazali we will dive deep into the human psyche and find the origins of the ethical human. Through knowledge of this prolific figure, we can hope to gain some understanding of a rich and elegant religious culture.

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University of Victoria