Causality and Calculative Thinking: An Avicennian Response to Heidegger


Heidegger contrasts meditative thinking, which allows detachment from beings, with c lative thinking, which maintains an instrumental and interested relationship with them. In his view, the principle of reason is the main tool for dominating available things. He also embeds the Medieval essence-existence duality within this framework of causality geared towards manipulating beings, judging that the religious notion of creation failed to distance this duality from Greek essentialism. Now, by appropriating the Islamic notion of creation ex nihilo, Avicenna places an ontological indigence at the heart of the created world. He believes that a being necessary by something other than itself remains contingent in itself, even after being caused. Thus, knowledge of the cause doesn’t grant dominance over the thing but fosters detachment from contingent being, recognizing its dependence on an upstream otherness. Moreover, Meister Eckhart, who according to Heidegger perfectly illustrates meditative thought, is indebted precisely to this ontological poverty established by Avicenna. In addition to describing this possible objection from Avicenna to Heidegger, the more general aim of this study is to explore the possibility of an ethical and disinterested use of the principle of reason.


Avicenna Heidegger Causality Calculative Thinking Creation Contingency Meister Eckhart.