Islam students at LUC

Hayy Ibn Yaqzan vs. Robinson Crusoe

Posted on: February 7, 2010

I was a little surprised that I was the only one who liked the Hayy story (or at least I was the only one who raised my hand anyway).  Maybe its just because most people don’t like to read in general?  Anyway, it reminded me of a few different stories I’ve read, most closely Robinson Crusoe.  Crusoe was, of course, someone who was washed onto an island after he was already an adult, but then he spent 28 years there more or less by himself.

The main weakness of stories like this (and the movie Cast Away would  also roughly fit into its model, in needing to be able to adapt quickly to your surroundings and then finding some way to keep your sanity all by yourself) is that nothing much happens.  The whole time you’re waiting for a climax and denouement that never really comes.

I actually appreciated the ending of Hayy Ibn Yaqzan-it seemed to ring true for me.  He finally found people and realized that most people are hopeless and chooses to go back into solitude.  The most interesting philosophical aspect of the text was that Yaqzan is a person who is extremely perceptive on issues of physics, biology, science, and reason.  Yet, he uses reason to come closer to God, whereas I think most of the time reason is seen as the enemy of religion, and faith is more paramount.  I didn’t necessarily buy his reasoning, I just found it interesting that that was the direction it took.

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