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Sadradin Shirazi (1571 - 1640), known also as Mulla Sadra, spoke of the primacy of Being and promoted a new ontology, founding a new epistemology. Mulla Sadra's ontology is an important philosophical turn and contribution to the understanding of the development of Muslim philosophy and thought. This comprehensive study of Mulla Sadra's philosophical thought explores his deSadradin Shirazi (1571 - 1640), known also as Mulla Sadra, spoke of the primacy of Being and promoted a new ontology, founding a new epistemology. Mulla Sadra's ontology is an important philosophical turn and contribution to the understanding of the development of Muslim philosophy and thought. This comprehensive study of Mulla Sadra's philosophical thought explores his departure from tradition; his turn to the doctrine of the primacy of Being; the dynamic characteristics of Being and the concept of substantial change; comparisons with Heidegger's fundamental ontology; and the influence of Mulla Sadra's ontology on subsequent Muslim philosophy. Of particular value to students of philosophy, Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, philosophy of religion, and general readers who seek to understand Muslim philosophy, this book explores the significance of the doctrine of Mulla Sadra and its impact on subsequent debates in the Muslim world....

Title : Mulla Sadra's Transcendent Philosophy
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ISBN : 9780754652717
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 142 Pages
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Mulla Sadra's Transcendent Philosophy Reviews

  • Mauro
    2018-08-27 02:06

    Mulla Sadra’s philosophical ‘turn’or shift from the philosophical position of the primacy of essence (Suhrawardi) to the primacy of Being and to thinking of Being as the primordial metaphysical reality is similar to the ontological enterprise of Being and Time by Martin Heidegger. Mulla Sadra describes Being as a conscious transcendent reality that has a purpose in manifesting itself. It is the first principle beyond the gradations of its own modalities. For this reason Mulla Sadra’s metaphysics, unlike that of Heidegger, should be seen as an onto-theological system with a metaphysical objective and a realized end. Mulla Sadra believes that Being and essence, like the ground and the grounded, areontologically inseparable, and are different realities in the ontological region of becoming only in thinking and for thinking.In Mulla Sadra’s ontology, essences belong to the realm of the contingent beings, which are finite. Being is the only reality and knowledge is derived from Being. Being is the primordial reality on which the multiplicity of the contingent world stands. But Being itself, as the reality of all things, is simple: what is real in everything is its being rather than its essence. All things are present in God’s simple being. When God thinks about Himself and this self-knowledge does not involve duality of the intellect and the intelligible, God comes to know about everything, including all particulars, without suffering multiplicity. God’s knowledge of particulars or His modalities is nothing more than self-knowledge. As a consequence of this, the self-knowledge of God is the knowledge of the world, because the world is the self-manifestation of God. All beings are grounded on Being and are known by it, but at the same time Being cannot be defined. Being, then, is the ontological as well as epistemological precondition for the world and our cognizance of beings.Mulla Sadra believes that the identity of a person relies on the intellectual form of that person, which exists in the mind of God. For God, a person is the same; otherwise he or she is not the same. From this interpretation, we can conclude that the renewal process of the world is not externally caused or is not something in contrast to Being. Whatever goes through change is one of the modalities of Being, which has a temporal dimension and belongs to the region of becoming. A human being, as a combination of intellect and body, is nothing more than a modality of Being; or, more precisely, an individuation of Being.Mulla Sadra’s ontology, in particular the doctrine of systematic ambiguity of Being. bridges the gulf between unity and multiplicity. This bridging is realized on the ground of the principle of identity in difference or unity in diversity. Being as a unity and identity contains the multiplicity of its own modification. The external world is characterized by unity and diversity. Diversity is a mode of the single and simple reality of Being that exists only on the ground of unity. Since the systematic ambiguity of Being is nothing more than an increase or decrease in the intensity of Being, the trans-substantial change is an existential movement. It happens to Being as a change in the intensification of Being rather than a change in essence.For Mulla Sadra, the world emanated or originated from Pure Being. Emanation can be seen as a temporal origination of the world, as everything in the world is determined by trans-substantial movement. All beings in the world go through change and are preceded by the temporal non-existence of their beings. Ontic beings continually come into existence and pass away. Every moment in this substantial change is death and rebirth of the same being with a new substance and a new form. Death exists only in this sense as a constant substantial change. Non-being, like being, becomes the reality of all beings. The world is, thus, a temporal surfacing of the reality of Being, which continues eternally. It is a temporal origination from a non-temporal origin. The temporal originality of the world and the notion of perpetual trans-substantial change seem to contradict one another. It is stated on one hand that the world is originated and on the other Mulla Sadra insists on the idea permenant change. Here, perpetuity does not mean that the world is eternal in the sense that it has no beginning, or that everything existed eternally without beginning. If the world is in a state of flux, nothing will remain perpetual, and only in this regard can we say that the world is in constant change and renewal.Change is a movement from potentiality to actuality but not in an Aristotelian sense because it includes change in substance. There is a constant substantial change, which gives a new identity to the existents at every moment. In the region of becoming, nothing remains the same and nothing resists the stream of this continuous flux and renewal.Being is in a self-evolutionary process and it is the only cause that determines this process. The existential movement of the world is not blind or capricious. It is for a purpose. Being, which is identical with God in Mulla Sadra’s onto-theology, has no direct causal relationship with this continuity or with the trans-substantial change of its own modalities. There is an intrinsic motive vehicle responsible for accomplishing this task. This motive is the mystic force of love(‘ishq). The relationship between the self and the Reality in Sufism is primordially emotional rather than theoretical. Mulla Sadra is in agreement with Ibn Sina that even prime matter is infected by love. His argument supporting this idea is based on the positivity of prime matter. Prime matter is the realm of potentiality and potentiality is something positive, or that which exists. Being is a reality commonly shared by all existents, including prime matter. To all beings, whether at the level of potentiality or actuality, the divine attributes (knowledge, will and power) function with various degrees of intensity. These attributes belong to Being or the inner reality of all beings. Prime matter, which is at the bottom of the descending process of emanation and is considered to be pure potentiality, is capable of receiving forms and becoming actual. More specifically, it has longing and affection for forms. This mystic love penetrates all modalities of being as a motive to assist their progress towards perfection. It prevails everywhere, and wherever there is existence there will be love and longing for perfection. The degree of intensity of ‘love’is not only in consciousness, such as in human beings. It also exists equally in all beings. Matter, as the most deficient and lowly ranked of all beings, should have a high degree of intensity of ‘love’ for the higher ranks. As a consequence, the world, including inanimate beings, can be seen as a loving body with various degrees of intensity of love and longing for perfection.The philosophical consequences of trans-substantial change can be summarized in three points: the temporal contingency of the world; the infection of being by non-being or nothingness; and the relativity of truth and values. Trans-substantial change is an indication of the non-being of beings that have not yet come into existence. Every being is preceded by its own non- being. The passage of being into non-being and non-being into being is ‘becoming’. Mulla Sadra insists that all contingent beings, including the human consciousness, are preceded by their own non-existence in the world. In the region of becoming, where the evolutionary process rules and changes in substance as well as accidents take place, there is no room for deterioration or corruption. All beings strive to move upwards from a lower to a higher rank of existence. Change in Mulla Sadra’s ontology is evolution and an irreversible progress. Nothing can be considered eternal or stable. Everything is in constant change, including human society and our understanding of reality. A consequence of this is that no system of belief can claim absoluteness and finality for itself because novelty prevails (the relativity of truth and values).Before Mulla Sadra, Muslim philosophers such as Ibn Sina, Suhrawardi and the Sufis advocated the idea that reality should be apprehended directly by intuition rather than by rationalistic discourse. Suhrawardi, whose epistemology had a significant impact on Mulla Sadra, is critical of discursive knowledge and, like Ibn Sina, relies on intuition or knowledge by illumination (ishraq); Nevertheless he does not discard discursive knowledge. He even finds sense-perception necessary for acquiring knowledge as he believes that there are certain things which can be known only by perception. Mulla Sadra, like Suhrawardi, advocates the priority of knowledge by ‘presence’rather than ‘representation’. Knowledge by presence has the advantage of apprehending the known object directly without mediation by concepts. The human intellect does not only know the object, it also experiences it.In intuition, consciousness comes in direct contact with reality without being mediated by representations. This kind of knowledge, which is not representational or translated into concepts, is absolute and perfect in comparison with knowledge by representations or scientific knowledge (Henri Bergson).Intuitive knowledge, like perception, is direct and non-representational. There is no mediation between the knower and the known. It is knowledge by ‘presence’in which the distinction between the known and the knower is abolished. One object that is really grasped by intuition, as stated by Suhrawardi, is the ‘self’. The possibility of knowing, whether acquired by our sense-experience or intellect, is based on the ‘presence’of Being in one form or another. The reality of knowledge is inseparable from the reality of existence. The variety of levels of the modalities of Being is revealed to different levels of perception (al-idrak). Since there are three levels of existence (mind, soul, body. Generally speaking, in the ontological division of Mulla Sadra there are three modalities of Being: the realm of unity and simplicity includes the Necessary Being, heavenly spheres and the intellect in human existence; the modalities in the realm of diversity and multiplicity consist of the ontic beings and the perceptive soul in human existence; finally, at the lowest level of ontological division, there is the realm of matter with pure potentiality to receive forms. This realm also includes the human body. Human existence is shared by all three modalities. The human intellect is in the first realm, the perceptive faculty belongs to the second, and the body to the third. There will be three levels of perception: sense-perception, imaginal perception and intellectual perception.In sense-perception, the human soul reflects upon the external object using five senses. Each of these senses is given a specific task and receives a particular form of the sensuous quality of the external object. This passive attitude of the human soul in sense-perception is followed by attention and awareness. Although it is difficult to accept that sense-perception in Mulla Sadra’s epistemology is mere passivity or acquisition, we can still state that imagination, unlike sense-perception, requires some skilful activity. The human soul creates its own images without relying on the external world to produce them. The power of imagination at the same time is not limited to the creation of these subjective images; it transcends the realm of subjectivity and attains the ‘World of Images’ (‘alam al’khayal), which is held by thinkers such as Ibn ‘Arabi and Suhrawardi to be a real world beyond the world of corporeal beings. n this case, there will be two kinds of images: subjective images, which are created by the power of imagination, and objective images, with their own ontological reality outside the human soul. The human soul, after becoming aware of the form of the external object by sense-perception, is able to recall that form and reflect upon it by imagination (takhayul), even when the object is not present. Imagination is an important faculty of the human mind for grasping the realm of ideas between the physical and intellectual worlds. According to Ibn ‘Arabi, imagination is in the domain of the human soul and a faculty between sense-perception and intellect. The world of imagination (Barzakh) is an intermediary realm between the corporeal and non-corporeal worlds. For Ibn ‘Arabi, Barzakh is the world of creative imagination and he describes it as ‘alam al-mithal, the ideal world, where all opposites become self-manifest.In intellectual intuition, the human intelligence becomes aware of the transcendent forms that exist ontologically in a Platonic sense. These transcendent forms, however, are not universals; each is seen as an individual, non-corporeal being. The realm of intellectual intuition contains the transcendent Platonic Forms. It is also the realm of the Active Intellect. The human intelligence becomes one with the forms through its union with the Active Intellect. This union between the Active Intellect and multiple individual souls does not affect the simplicity in the nature of the former. The Active Intellect and its knowledge of the realm of the Platonic Forms remain simple and identical, because this rank of being is perfect and remote from the abode of multiplicity and the influence of trans-substantial change. Our knowledge of the world is also in constant change and is always both relational and temporal, with the exception of the objects of intellectual perception such as the divine attributes, which are perfect and remain the same. The unity of the intellect and the intelligible occupies an important place in Mulla Sadra’s philosophy. This problem has been discussed from antiquity, including by some Muslim philosophers before him, but Mulla Sadra expressed dissatisfaction with their positions and sought to solve this problem on his own metaphysical foundation of the primacy of Being. The intellect and the intelligible are both beings and modalities of the same reality. They are identical because they share the principle of identity, but are separate in belonging to the same reality in different ways. Their difference, which cannot be understood without their identity, is due to their proximity to and remoteness from Being.Knowledge by presence has characteristics of its own that distinguish it from knowledge by representation. Furthermore, in knowledge by presence the distinction between intelligent and intelligible disappears. The knower and the known object unite as one being. Finally, this type of knowledge is beyond the domain of demonstration by reason. The intellectual intuition as the source of knowledge by presence becomes a mystical tool of cognition (al-kashif), or in the Bergsonian sense it becomes the fountainhead of metaphysical knowledge beyond the reach of scientific analysis. Mulla Sadra’s metaphysics can also be seen as the unity of Being; but that unity, which is the ontological condition for the existence of the intellect and the intelligible, remains transcendent.