1. Mental Existence
have divided existence into two types: objective (or external) existence and
mental (or psychological) existence. Mental existence represents the existence
of subjects in the mind when they are imagined or function as subjects for
predicates in propositions. Such subjects or mental existents might have an
extension in the outside, as well as not.
For example, we
sometimes consider ‘non-existence’ as the subject, and pose a number of
judgments for it in the mind and in propositions which are true but lack
external objectivity. Besides, concerning non-existent and impossible objects
(agreement of opposites), we sometimes imagine the universalities (as well as
existents, completely detached from all their characteristics) in the mind. A
universal thing, whether a concept or a judgment, is created in the mind, and,
as we know, is of an abstract existence; however, since it has no existence in
the outside world; it exists in another place, i.e., in the mind. The existence
of such existents is called mental existence. The perception of such an
existence is instinctive, and everybody perceives and accepts it by his inner
sense (This issue supports the idea of mental existence).
The division of
existence into mental and external ones could also be generalized to the
division of quiddity. Accordingly, it can be said that quiddity or essence is of
two types: external and mental.
suggests that this important philosophical issue has no record in Greek
philosophy, and is among the findings of Muslim philosophers and Islamic
philosophy. Apparently, the first person who devoted an independent chapter to
mental existence in his book was Fakhr Razi, the well-known Iranian theologian
(in his al-Mabahith al-mashriqiyyah).
In the introduction of his book, he states that he has been inspired by the
ideas of his preceding philosophers in writing this book.
The issue of mental
existence has two aspects. On the one hand, it has an ontological dimension,
since it is a kind of existence which has been weakened to a great extent and
lost the features and effects of external existence. However, in its own turn –
and not in opposition to external existence – it is an external existence (since
man and his soul and mind possess such an existence), yet, when it is contrasted
with an objective external existent, it is called mental existence.
On the other hand,
this issue is an epistemological one and deals with the formation of knowledge
and awareness in man and his relation with the outside world.
philosophy, epistemology is separated from ontology and appears in a different
horizon, so that, unless the problem of knowledge is clarified, there will
logically remain no context for ontology. Nevertheless, these two disciplines
have been intermixed to some extent in Islamic philosophy, where man’s knowledge
is related to the knowledge of existence. In systematic philosophical
discussions, however, epistemology comes before ontology and other philosophical
issues, and is considered as their threshold. Mulla Sadra has discussed the
topic of knowledge – of which mental existence is a part – in different places
for specific philosophical considerations. We will refer to a part of this issue
in the discussion of the unity of the knower, the known, and knowledge.
The issue of mental
existence can be viewed as a link between ontology and epistemology, clarifying
the relation between man and the world. The issue of the correspondence between
the external world and the mind is posed and analyzed in this part. Most Muslim
philosophers believe that what is formed in the mind is the very essence or
quiddity rather than an image, so that if a quiddity refers to an external
existent and, in fact, belongs to the category of knowledge, it will be the same
as the quiddity of the external object which has been transferred to the mind
without its objective existence and external effects.
* * * * * * *
* * *
In the past, a number
of important and technical criticisms were targeted at the problem of mental
existence which many philosophers were unable to respond to or solve. For
example, they said that knowledge and perception are qualities (which are called
mental qualities) that occur to man’s mind (and the soul), while if the essence
of an external object enters the mind, it is necessary for it to turn into a
mental quality, and the changing of essence into accident is impossible.
Second, when we gain
the knowledge of a thing in terms of its quantity or other accidents (except for
its quality) and internalize it, we have, in fact, transformed it into a mental
quality. However, as we know, according to philosophical-logical definitions and
data, the ten-fold categories (Aristotelian categories) are completely different
from each other in essence and quiddity, and can never turn into each other.
Some Muslim philosophers and theologians tried to respond to this objection
through resorting to false justifications, and some others, due to not knowing
the answer, completely denied the issue of mental existence. However, to solve
the problem, Mulla Sadra propounded one of his philosophical masterpieces which
could also be employed in solving other related philosophical intricacies.
Therefore, the issue of mental existence can be considered as one of the
innovations of Mulla Sadra’s school of thought.
To disentangle this
problem, Mulla Sadra resorted to logic and started analyzing ‘predication’ in
propositions. Normally, when a predicate is predicated on and attributed to a
subject, it is intended to demonstrate or express the existence of the predicate
in the subject. Generally speaking, this could be true only when the predicate
embodies existence, and the subject is an extension for it, as in the
proposition, ‘Man is greedy’.
Mulla Sadra maintains:
“There is another kind of predication which can be found in propositions such as
‘Man is a species’. Here, the intention is to state the identity between
the subject and the predicate; that is, referring to the unity of two apparently
different quiddities. This kind of predication is called haml-i awwali /
dhati (primary and essential predication), since it is only true about
essences, and since it is ‘primary in truth /or falsity, and the proposition
given in the previous paragraph is called haml-i shay’a-i sana’i
(prevalent technical predication).
The other important
logical point which Mulla Sadra has referred to in the same place is that
logicians commonly believe that for the realization of the ‘contradiction’
relation between two things, it is necessary to observe unity in eight
conditions (subject, predicate, place, time, potency and act, general and
particular, condition, and relation). Nevertheless, he adds a ninth condition
and states that for contradiction to be realized, in addition to unity in the
above-mentioned conditions, unity in predication is also necessary. In other
words, both of them should be of the type of either common or primary essential
predication; otherwise, there would be no contradiction.
He solved the problem
of mental existence in the same way and said that when the external essence or
quality (or any other accident) occurs to the mind and develops mental existence
(and is, in fact, denied external existence), we can conceive of two different
kinds of predication: 1. This mental existence is conceptually and essentially
in unity with the external existent in terms of quiddity and, as a result, is
predicated on it through the so-called haml-i awwali (primary and
essential predication); 2. However, when we examine its status and existence in
the mind, we see that it is a ‘mental quality’, and, therefore, of the type of
the so-called haml-i shay’a-i sana’i (prevalent predication, since we
are, in fact, faced with its existentiality. When we imagine an essence or
accident in the outside, we attend to its external effect; nevertheless, when
the external effect is negated, i.e., when it enters the mind, it is only a
quality, and this is the key to solving the problem.
Mulla Sadra uses the
word ‘particular’ in his example: The proposition, ‘The particular is not
applicable to multiple things’, must be viewed in two ways: 1) since in
practice and in the outside, the particular is not the universal, it is an
extension for the label ‘particular’. However, as in the above proposition the
word ‘particular’ is considered to include all the particulars of the world, it
is a universal (an extension for universal) and by no means a particular (in
other words, it is a universal existentially and practically, but a particular
conceptually and essentially).
Thus the ‘particular’
is, in a sense, not universal and an opposite for it, 2) in another sense, it is
a universal, including numerous extensions. However, there is no contrast
between these two propositions: ‘particular is particular’ and ‘particular
is universal’, since one is of the type of primary essential predication,
and the other of the type of prevalent technical predication.
Concerning the problem
of mental existence, it should be said that all the essences and accidents that
occur to the mind are mental qualities, since their existence in the mind is
realized through prevalent technical predication. Yet, comparing to each other,
they are either the external concept of essence or an accident which is
predicable to it (through primary essential predication). Moreover, essence is
the same essence and accident which exist in the world.
2. Unity of the
Intellect, Intelligible, and Intelligent
This issue partly
pertains to the relation between man and his knowledge. Mulla Sadra’s
epistemology has been scatteredly discussed amid the different parts of his
philosophy, and, in every part, one of its dimensions has been introduced. In
his tackling of this issue, Mulla Sadra responds to the following questions:
1. Is our knowledge
separate from us and only a mirror-like reflection of external objects in our
mind and senses?
2. Is the way knowledge
reaches man similar to the pouring of something into an empty container, and
their relation like the one between the container and the content, or is it a
function of man’s mind (and soul) and its effect?
As we know, there are
several ideas about knowledge in preceding and modern philosophical schools in
the West which suffer from certain shortcomings and are not supported by any
logical arguments. However, to demonstrate the essential relation between
knowledge, the knower, and the known, Mulla Sadra has presented a number of
In the light of his
theory, and on the basis of a series of philosophical arguments, Mulla Sadra
proves that the perceiver, the mentally perceived object, and knowledge, itself,
are the same and one. As he, himself, says, ‘the intellect, the intelligent, and
the intelligible’, or ‘knowledge, the knower, and the directly known (subject)’
are in unity with each other. This issue is known as the ‘unity of the
intellect, intelligent, and intelligible’.
It should also be
added that, here, by the perceived object (or the intelligible), he means the
same form which has been produced in man’s mind, which is technically referred
to as the directly known (subject), rather than the external object which is
called the indirectly known (fact / object).
The issue of the
unity of the intelligent and intelligible is basically related to the unity of
the knower or the perceiver (the knowing agent) with the directly known, i.e.,
the same mental existent and the same intelligible and known in man’s mind,
rather than its external existence. This is because it is a certain fact that
objects never enter our mind exactly as they are through our perception and
knowledge of them.
disagreements in this regard center around the question of whether the
picture-like quiddity of objects in the mind (the so-called directly known by
each individual in the process of perception) is in unity with his intellect and
soul or not.
If the answer to the
above question is positive, knowledge, the knower, and the known, all, refer to
the same reality, and analyzing this reality into three different things is only
the product of man’s mental power. In other words, the relation among them is of
the type of the one between the creator and the created, rather than the one
between the container and the contained.
* * * * * * *
* * *
This issue has a long
historical record, and we might be able to find its roots in Ancient Iranian
It has been said that it was Porphyry (232-304 A.D), Plotinus’s student, who for
the first time wrote a book in this regard, and that is why this issue has
become famous in his name. Before Mulla Sadra, no one had posed any argument for
it, or, at least, we do not know of any.
Ibn-Sina and a group
of Peripatetic philosophers did not agree with this theory, since, in their
opinion, there was no rational and demonstrative method for proving it. At last,
Mulla Sadra found it of interest, started studying it, and in the course of a
revelation he received during his period of ascetic practices in the suburbs of
Qum (in 1037 A.H, when he was 58 years old), he found the related arguments and,
following a philosophical approach, proved his theory.
In addition to an
extensive explanation of this issue in his al-Asfar, Mulla Sadra has also
dealt with it in some of his other books, and written an independent treatise on
it. Obviously, the philosophical demonstration of this old and obsolete theory
was of high importance to him, and we might even say that it was the most
important theme in his epistemology, since he conceives of his success in
demonstrating this issue as a miracle, the result of the direct assistance he
received from God and the Holy Lady (M’asumah, the daughter of the 6th
leader of Shi’ites, who has a shrine in Qum in her name), and the fruit of his
ascetic practices, worships, and lamentations in God’s Presence.
* * * * * * *
* * *
arguments concerning this issue have been based on his other principles, the
most important of which perhaps include ‘the principiality of existence’, ‘the
trans-substantial motion’, ‘soul’s creativity’, ‘gradation of existence’, and
‘the difference between primary and prevalent predications’. In order to
understand Mulla Sadra’s arguments in this regard, one should first perceive the
meaning of ‘unity’ (ittihad). Obviously, unity in the sense of having two
different existents, objects, concepts, or quiddities become one is impossible
and absurd. Clearly, two separate things or two contradictory concepts are
always two things and will never become one. This is the same objection than
Ibn-Sina and others advanced against this issue, because they assumed that the
unity between the intelligent and the intelligible is of this type.
Moreover, the meanings
of ‘perception’ and ‘knowledge’ or rationalization need to be clarified here.
The perception of things means ‘presence’, and presence means the ‘existence’,
rather than appearance, of that thing before the perceiver, since ‘presence’ is
other than appearance.
Now the question is
whether the ‘existence’ of each ‘form’ of the perceived object is separate and
independent from the ‘existence’ of the perceiver (or the intelligent), or in
unity with it and has come into existence through that existence.
The answer to the
above question is that if the existence of each were different from the other,
each of the two had to be conceivable without the other (while it is impossible
to have perception without a perceiver or a perceiver without perception).
Accordingly, perception and the ‘form’ that is perceived and enters the
mind are not anything other than the mind and the soul, so that they
would have to appear before it. Rather, they are a part of it, and are made by
the mind itself; they are the same as the existence of the soul and have
presence for it. Again, it is emphasized that there is a difference between
‘presence’ and ‘appearance’.
* * * * * * *
* * *
Another argument here
is that there is a mutual relation between the perceived object and the
perceiver, which is technically referred to as correlation. Related examples
include the relation between a child and his father, the owner and his property,
or a husband and wife.
This mutual relation,
at all times and in all cases, makes it necessary for one side to come into
existence or be assumed if the other side is in existence or is assumed; in
other words, their separation from each other is impossible. According to
Islamic philosophy, two correlatives are identical and commensurate in terms of
their existence, non-existence, and potency and act.
Therefore, if there is
a perceiver, there is also a perceived, and it is absurd for one of them to
exist actually while the other is non-existent. Besides, since this relation is
merely an ‘existential relation’, it is absurd for it to involve more than the
existence of one of the two. Thus, since the relation between the perceiver and
the perceived is of the type of correlation, both of them have the same
* * * * * * *
* * *
Let’s review this
argument once more: As mentioned previously, perception means the presence and
existence of the ‘form’ of the perceived object, and there exists nothing like
‘perception’ in separation from the form of the perceived object in the mind
(unless we separate them from each other through mental analysis). ‘Perception’
and ‘the perceived’ or the cognitive form are two different things in concept,
but the same thing in existence. That is,
On the other
hand, ‘perception is the act (or passivity) of the perceiver; no act is ever
separable from its agent, and their existences are the same as each other. In
fact, the existence of acts or passivity in man is no different from the
existence of the agent or the patient.
Thus the existence of
the perceiver (the knower or the intelligent) is not separate from the existence
of his knowledge and intelligence, and both of them exist through one
‘existence’, i.e., they are in unity. Accordingly, wherever there is knowledge,
there is inevitably a knower, too, and both are interdependent and correlative,
so that if the existence of the knower fades away, there would remain no
existence for the perceived, either. Thus,
A combination of
the above two relations leads us to the conclusion that the knower and the known
(and knowledge) exist through one existence, and are in unity with each other.
Clearly, what is
intended by the perceived is its mental concept and quiddity rather than its
* * * * * * *
* * *
There are certain
subtleties in knowledge that require profound analysis and careful treatment,
and cannot be discovered through the simplistic approaches that some
philosophers might follow. Pre-Sadrian philosophers viewed knowledge and its
consequences as accidents that occur to the mind (or the soul) exactly in the
same way that dust covers the surface of a table.
Mulla Sadra rejected
this idea, since he believed that, firstly, the soul is creative and can negate
external existence to quiddities existing in the outside, create them exactly as
they are in itself, and grant them mental existence.
Secondly, ‘the form of
knowledge’, i.e., the knowledge whose form is made in the mind, like any form
(as in Aristotelian philosophy), requires matter (hyle), and the matter
of the form of the mind and knowledge is the very human soul. In fact, man’s
knowledge or intellection is a part of his identity (a part of his soul) and
develops his existence.
Peripatetics, matter or hyle is a potency for the ‘form’, and form plays
the role of the cause for the hyle. Hyle and the faculty of the
soul, through receiving or creating certain forms of perception and knowledge,
grant actuality to themselves and, as a result, grow more, and with every step
they take towards intellection and perception, they come one step closer to
In other words, man’s
soul is a like a tabula rasa (while tablet) which is the same as pure
potency: the more its intellect (and intelligible), which is created (and
caused) by itself, the more its actuality, and the higher its perfection.
philosophers believed that the relation between knowledge and intelligibles, on
the one hand, and the soul, on the other, is like the relation between the
container and the contained (and its secondary perfection);
however, Mulla Sadra proved that the intellect and intelligibles of the soul are
the product of its own endeavors, as well as the developmental motion of man’s
existence, and that with every bit of knowledge that is gained, something is
added to man’s existence (and the primary perfection
of the soul); it is more like adding a brick to a building in its process of
completion, rather than splashing some paint on it or filling a container with
The more knowledge
reaches man’s soul, the grosser and the more perfect his existence. Thus man’s
knowledge (and perception which is the introduction to knowledge) is a part of
his existence, rather than one of the accidents that might occur to him.
Perception has always
been, and still is, one of the themes raising a great amount of commotion in
philosophical discussions. Mulla Sadra has a particular theory in this regard,
too, and it seems to be more accurate and comprehensive than the ideas of other
philosophers’ classification of perception into sense, imaginal, rational, and
However, he does not agree with the way they qualify them, and, ultimately,
maintains that perception is of three types: sense perception, imaginal
perception, and rational perception.
Mulla Sadra believes
that the origin of all perceptions is the external object, which, immediately
after entering the mind, obtains some degree of immateriality. He adds that,
basically, all human perceptions are immaterial, and do not depend on a specific
matter in the brain or the body for their existence, since matter, which is
essentially followed by the trans-substantial motion, and its every moment is
separate from the other, has no self-awareness, much less to be aware of another
The mind, which,
according to some philosophers, is like a receptacle for knowledge, is nothing
other than the very perceptions and pieces of knowledge that man’s soul creates
through its specific power of creativity.
We discussed imaginal
perception previously in an independent section, thus in what follows, we will
deal with the other two types of perception, namely, sense and rational
Mulla Sadra believes
that sense perception has different stages:
This stage consists of the reflection of external facts by the five senses. He
conceives of this stage as the effect and reflection of an image on a
photography negative, and maintains that it is too imperfect and low to be
called perception and result in knowledge for man. This stage consists of a
series of code-like signals that create a faint picture in the brain (and in
early philosophers’ words, in the common sense).
This stage is only
halfway through perception, and empiricists, who equate reflection on the senses
with perception, have sufficed to half of what really takes place, and, thus,
they cannot deny the complete process of perception.
At this stage, it is the human soul’s turn to gain knowledge from these images
and codes. Here, two important elements are necessary for sense perception:
‘attention’ and ‘awareness’. Attention is a psychological phenomenon, and has
nothing to do with the body. Unless the soul’s attention is completely focused
on the functions of the five senses, none of the signals transmitted by them can
be regarded as perception.
We have also seen in
practice that man, while crossing the street, does not perceive all the things
his senses (such as sight and hearing) experience, unless he pays attention to
‘Attention’ is also a
psychological phenomenon, out of the realms of the body and the brain. Attention
is the result of man’s ‘attention’ to those things which have ‘presence’ for
him. Awareness is the very presence of external objects in man’s mind (and
soul). Mulla Sadra calls this attention and awareness of the soul as ‘presential
In Islamic philosophy,
knowledge and perception are divided into two groups: acquired knowledge and
consists of what is acquired through the five senses. It can introduce and
present the quiddity (rather than existence) of objects to the mind. In Islamic
philosophy, the cognitive form that is created in the mind is called the
As to his acquired
knowledge, man is never confronted with the ‘existence’ of perceived things,
because, as mentioned in the part related to mental existence, external
existence cannot enter the mind without declining to the degree of mental
existence, and is, in fact, not perceptible (that is why we perceive the fire,
but its existential features, i.e., warmth, do not come to the mind). In
acquired knowledge, man only deals with the ‘quiddity’ of objects; hence, his
knowledge of phenomena lacks their characteristics and effects, and is useless.
is, however, a direct kind of knowledge, needless of the mediation of the
senses, and is interpreted as ‘intuition’. This knowledge involves the
characteristics of the perceived existent. When a person looks at objects with
his inward intuition, it is as if his ‘self’ has turned into the ‘self of the
perceived object’, and the separation of the agent of perception and the object,
as well as the distance between them, will not be sensed.
Sometimes, we perceive
our own existence without the interference of our senses, and all our
perceptions, including our feelings, desires, thoughts, internal motivations,
affections, and perceptions, and psychological acts are in the form of
presential knowledge. It is at this point that we reach the third stage of sense
This is the important stage of sense perception after the soul’s ‘attention’ to
and presential knowledge of the signals transmitted from the five senses. Here,
the soul, through its power of creativity,
and through making a model of those signals, reconstructs the ‘quiddity’ of the
perceived object for itself, and substitutes it for the quiddity of that
external existent. And as we know, the quiddity of every object consists of the
totality of its reality, of course, without the existential effects of its
perception is not in the form of the indwelling and presence of the form of
external objects in the mind; rather, it is a kind of ‘creation’ that is
manifested in the form of ‘emanation’ from the soul. Besides, all the previous
stages of perception consist of, in fact, a series of peripheral and marginal
contributions or so-called prerequisites, rather than true reasons. Therefore,
knowledge cannot be separated from the knower (the unity of the knower and
The important point in
such an interpretation of sense perception is solving the problem of the
correspondence of the perceived external object with perception or knowledge
(subject), which is technically called the correspondence between the directly
known and the indirectly known. This point is at the center of philosophy, and
is considered as the basis of all sciences.
The solution to the
problem of the correspondence between the outside and knowledge, or between the
truth of knowledge and perception lies in the unity of the quiddity of the
directly known object and the perception of the indirectly known or the subject.
Mulla Sadra believes that a perception which fails to unveil the truth does not
result in knowledge acquisition. Quiddity is the very external and objective
reality of objects which has taken off the dress of external existence, and put
on the dress of mental existence. And since the criteria for ‘unveiling’ is the
very quiddity of objects, i.e., its limits and definitions, whenever we have
access to the quiddity of something through acquired knowledge, we have gained
the knowledge of that thing. All the primary and secondary qualities,
quantities, attributes, and states of objects could be found in their quiddity,
and perceived by means of the senses.
Mulla Sadra does not
deny the error of the senses; however, he believes that what is known as the
error of the senses is, in fact, an error in making correspondences and
judgments. He maintains that man’s estimative faculty interferes with his
judgments, and leads him towards committing errors. Error is an exceptional
issue with respect to people suffering from mental diseases, and does not damage
the universal principle of the truth of perceptions.
* * * * * * *
* * *
Intellectual perception means the presence of the universal
form of any intelligible before the mind (and wisdom).
is what man’s mind and soul perceive universally (abstractly and free from any
relation) is divided into three groups: ‘primary intelligibles’, ‘secondary
philosophical intelligibles’, and ‘secondary logical intelligibles’.
consist of those universal principles and known facts which are abstracted and
inferred from external objects and phenomena, such as the principles of natural
sciences, physics, chemistry, and the like. Aristotelian intelligibles are of
are those universal forms and issues that man abstracts from particulars, such
as individuals and objects. When studying these intelligibles and universal
concepts, we sometimes encounter certain common universal issues among them. For
example, they are either a cause or an effect; either one or multiple; either
potential or actual. Moreover, they might consist of those universal attributes
that qualify the objects out of the mind. Such secondary universals are called
secondary philosophical intelligibles.
There are also some
other secondary intelligibles whose receptacle of qualification is the mind,
such as universal abstraction and being particular, which are called secondary
logical intelligibles. There is a linear relation or connection among these
perceptions, including sense and intellectual perceptions, and its degrees could
be assimilated to the degrees of water temperature. The degrees of this line are
different from the fixed degrees on a ruler, and, in fact, they represent a kind
of fluctuation in mental and psychological acts that indicates the soul’s
descent and ascend. Such intelligibles have been explained and demonstrated in a
number of philosophical books.
* * * * * * *
* * *
According to common
people, imagination means a series of free and sometimes baseless images which
have no share of reality. Psychology views imagination as a phenomenon or force
in humans that can freely create some objects or scenes that, like dreams,
occupy man’s mind.
philosophers considered imagination as one of man’s internal faculties and
powers. For them, his external perceptions were obtained through the five
senses, and his internal perceptions included common sense,
imagination, imaginal memory (conceptual intellect), and faculty of the
estimate. They also held that imagination was the vault of those forms which
entered the mind through common sense, and memory was the reservoir of concepts
and meanings. At the same time, imagination was equipped with another faculty
which could synthesize the received forms and pictures at free will like an
experienced director, and the faculty of estimate could construct the concepts
as it wished. For Peripatetics, all these faculties dealt with particulars, and
it was only the faculty of the intellect that dealt with universals.
spokesman of Illuminationist philosophy, claimed that imagination had a
receptacle other than man, consisting of an intermediate world (purgatory)
between the world of the sense and matter and the world of intellects. He called
this the world of Ideas or disjunctive imagination. The world of Ideas is
stronger and more important than the material life, and weaker and lower than
the world of intelligibles and intellects. According to his Illuminationist
theory, all immaterial and beyond-sense forms come into existence in the world
of imagination and Ideas. In this world, there is no trace of matter, but
objects enjoy form and quantity there inside and resemble the things we see in
our dreams without using the outward eye.
philosophers believed in the existence of two worlds for man: world of sensibles
and world of intelligibles. However, Suhrawardi said that there existed three
worlds, and added the world of Imagination to the two stated previously. This
was the very limited world of Ideas, which Ibn-Arabi has sometimes referred to
as the world of imagination. This world provides the basis for his worldview.
Mulla Sadra, too,
believes in the three-fold worlds. He agrees with Peripatetics and other
philosophers concerning the world of intelligibles, and with Suhrawardi and
Ibn-Arabi concerning the world of imagination or Ideas. In his books, he refers
to imagination as one of man’s internal perceptions; nevertheless, he disagrees
with these two schools in certain respects:
Peripatetics, who did not believe in the immateriality of imagination, he
considers it, like the faculty of the intellect, as being separate from man’s
organs (Peripatetics had assigned to it a specific place in the structure of the
and as possessing the characteristics of abstract things. Of course,
Peripatetics’ belief in the immateriality of the faculty of the intellect, and
Mulla Sadra’s belief in the immateriality of the faculties of the intellect and
imagination are both based on accepting and believing in the philosophical
immateriality of the soul which philosophers had demonstrated through their
is a psychological phenomenon in man, in Mulla Sadra’s view, it is neither in
the imaginal faculty nor in the brain; rather, it is a creation of the soul and
depends on the immaterial aspects of man’s soul.
Second, in contrast to
Illuminationists, Mulla Sadra maintains that imagination exists in man and in
the soul, and is dependent on it, rather than in the external world depending on
itself. Illuminationists called this type of imagination Idea or disjunctive
imagination; accordingly, Sadrian imagination has been called conjunctive
Mulla Sadra considers
all types of man’s perceptions as the acts of the soul (not affections) for
which the senses and other perceptive faculties function as tools. As the soul
is immaterial, all its particular and universal perceptions are immaterial and
needless of the body. Through his faculty of imagination, even without copying
from the data of the senses, man can create forms which resemble God’s
innovative creation (creation from non-existence)
in every respect.
According to the
theory of the true three-fold worlds, i.e., the worlds of sense, Ideas, and
intelligibles, which Mulla Sadra also agrees with, and on the basis of the
principle of the correspondence between man’s internal three-fold perceptive
faculties, i.e., sense, imaginal, and intellectual perceptions, and the above
three-fold worlds, he believes that man’s soul enters the world of the sense
through the perception of sensibles, the world of Ideas through imaginal
perception, and the world of intellects through the perception of universals and
In Mulla Sadra’s view,
imaginal forms are of two types: 1) those forms which are received even without
employing the content of the mind and memory, through the reflection of the
beyond-sense realities on the mirror of man’s soul, or through the coordination
and resonance of man’s soul (microcosm) or macro-anthropo (macro-cosmos); 2)
those forms which take control through man’s faculty of imagination, and, by
means of a skillful synthesis of some of the forms recorded in the mind,
construct new forms, such as a winged-horse or a gold mountain.
Perhaps the origin of
Mulla Sadra’s opposition to Suhrawardi’s theory of disjunctive imagination is
the existence of this second group of low-value imaginal forms to which Mulla
Sadra assigns no place in the disjunctive world of Ideas.
Due to conservation of essences and the impossibility of categories’
transforming into each other.
al-Asfar, vol. 1, p. 292, Mustafawi Publications.
Mulla Sadra, Treatise on the Unity of the Intellect, Intelligent, and
Intelligible, Direct reference has been made to this point at the
end of the first essay of this treatise.
al-Asfar, vol. 3. p. 313, Tehran.
This difference is the same as the one between nomen and phenomenon.
In his books, Mulla Sadra expresses his doubts about estimative
perception, and equates it with imagination.
The issue of creativity has been extensively discussed in Islamic gnosis
and Mulla Sadra’s school of thought, , as illustrated in the part on
mental existence. For more information, refer to the article written by
Seyyed Muhammed Khamenei, ‘Creativity and Man’s Vicegerency’.
Sensus Communis in Latin.
At the end of the hole, the front part of the brain.
This is because, like the body, the soul possesses certain senses such
as sight (insight). Man can experience it and gain certainty about its
reality when dreaming or dying.
Al-Mabda’ wal-ma’ad, vol. 2, p. 647, Mulla Sadra Philosophy
Foundation Publications. Al-Asfar, vol. 8. p. 234.