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Sources of Dualism in Modern Rationalist Thought: Implications for Islamic Economics

This paper follows on from the previous one in this series on the incursion of rationalist thought into Christendom. In this paper, I show how the sequence of socio-political events in Europe at the turn of the 16th century provided an opportunistic environment for rationalism to supplant religion as the dominant paradigm for human thought. It gave birth to the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and their nemesis, the Romantic Movement. All of them sought to assert the primacy of human agency in the process of knowledge generation. But from inception, scientific thought itself was split between the competing claims of both intellectualism and empiricism. After discussing the key features of each episteme, I show how despite considerable efforts in the occidental world to reconcile this bifurcation, none has produced a satisfying synthesis. This dichotomy now abides not only within the individual psyche but also across the entirety of the socio-scientific enterprise and all of its institutions and artefacts. Its implications have been previously described as a watershed in the history of humankind, instituting an intellectual crisis of great import. More importantly for this study, I then juxtapose some of these outcomes vis-à-vis the agenda of Islamic economics and finance, to demonstrate the inherent dissonance between the two systems of thought. Lastly, I introduce the reader to the third and last part of this study, to appear in another edition of this series, where I demonstrate that when mainstream economics fell under the grip of rationalist philosophy, it suffered, as a result, the same fate of atomisation and methodological individualism

Working paper 632
1 September 2016
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