Lecture II: Summary

The second lecture in Iqbal’s Reconstruction is titled “The Philosophical Test of the Revelations of Religious Experience.” The lecture is divided into two main section. In the first, shorter section, Iqbal looks at one of the most significant past efforts to apply the philosophical test—scholastic arguments for the existence of God—and declares that project to be unsatisfactory. The second section is Iqbal’s attempt to argue that the revelations of religious experience can pass the philosophical test. Iqbal’s overall task is two-fold: First, to describe the character of Reality through a philosophical criticism of scientific knowledge as well as the deeper levels of conscious experience; and second, to show that it is the same Reality that is revealed in and through religious experience.

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How to Read Superficially

When a reader is grappling with a challenging text—such as The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam by Muhammad Iqbal—it’s important for the reader to watch out for possible misinterpretations. I don’t mean that one must avoid all misinterpretations—for that is impossible, given the imperfect nature of language and general human fallibility. Rather, I mean that one must remain open-minded in relation to one’s understanding of the text, allowing it to evolve over time. So long as I keep an open mind, I am willing to re-consider my understanding of what the author means, as well as to replace it with a better and more convincing interpretation whenever necessary. In fact, if I take a book or an author seriously, then I must adopt the proper scientific attitude, prioritizing the truth of the matter over all other considerations.

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Lecture III: Overview

One of the conclusions of the first lecture in The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam is that the content of religious experience cannot be communicated, except indirectly in the form of judgments, otherwise known as “revelations.” Starting from this point of departure, the arguments of the second lecture produces the following conclusions:

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