The Existential Explication Of Time In Mulla Sadra’s Philosophical System


Reza Akbarian


In his philosophical system based on the concept of  wujudlesse, Mulla Sadra gives a definition of time, which is related to wujudlesse by virtue of which it can be conceived. His conceptualization of time is fundamentally different from that of Avicenna. Among the Muslim philosophers, the relationship and transition of Aristotelian conceptualization of time ought to be sought in Avicenna’s philosophy. Like Aristotle, Avicenna asserts that time is the measure for motion, expounding it as a natural concept in natural philosophy. Time, Avicenna believes, is an essential concept, which finds a place in the categories of Aristotle and that, which is inflicted on objects through motion. In many of his words, Mulla Sadra gives the same explanation. After facing vague and debatable points concerning time and after a final analysis on the question of motion, he, however, postulates a new theory, which solves the problem of time and the trans-substantial motion

Mulla Sadra does not put away with Aristotelian conceptualization of natural time nor does he believe it is original. He believes that natural time is a derivative of the existential time, which he expounds as a metaphysical issue in his ontology. Mulla Sadra’s thought concerning wujudlesse culminates in the theory which as an innovational one was first propounded in his philosophy. This theory is the concept of the essentially time-bound fluid wujudlesse. In this theory, time is not a container for physical objects but an existential attribute for them. This attribute emanates from their manner of being and concerns with their identity.

On the same basis, time, Mulla Sadra claims, is the truth of the fluid wujud and the time-boundness of physical objects serves as the continuity in their existence. His words concerning the four dimensions of physical objects have total certitude. This consideration concerning the ontological state of time leads us to the notion that time in its continuous identity is a unique stage of the stages of primal causes and an inferior stage of the inferior stages. Of course, he asserts that the stages of the truth of existence are like the truth of existence. Such a conceptualization of time may be found neither in Greek philosophy nor in Aristotelian philosophical system. To accept such a statement, Mulla Sadra is led to the trans-substantial motion and offers it as a new fundamental for his philosophical system.

This article attempts to present a general picture of time in Mulla Sadra’s ontology and explain his theories on the reality of time in relation with the trans-substantial motion in order to clarify how and why the concept of time has found another imprint in the light of Sadrian wujudlesse and why it differs from what Aristotle and Avicenna have proposed in his regard.


The Importance and the Status Of Time in Mulla Sadra’s Ontology


Mulla Sadra’s struggle to define time defies the views of those who believe that time emanates from the mind.

Mulla Sadra uses Aristotle’s concept of time as his point of departure. Aristotle states that time is so intimately associated with motion that in defining them one cannot be possibly separated from the other. Time is the measure for motion regarding priority and posteriority. Aristotle has sought to define time based on the natural philosophy and associate it with motion; however, Mulla Sadra has proposed the necessity of an existential view for the understanding of the reality of time in his discussions on time. He places stress on this point that the understanding of the reality of time relies on the abandoning of the general model which natural philosophy has provided within the framework of Aristotelian philosophy for understanding nature.

In Mulla Sadra’s philosophy, Aristotelian natural motion gives place to the existential trans-substantial motion emanating from the perpetual source of Divine grace. It must be noted that the source of grace does not create motion, but interrelated perpetual forms the product of which is motion. This thought does not correspond with Aristotelian thought in content or in the relation among the four causes. All motion, which Aristotle sees in nature and from nature, Mulla Sadra  sees in existence and associates it to the Diving creative power.

It is through this point that Mulla Sadra’s philosophy finds a deep disparity with Aristotle’s philosophy because Aristotle proposes his theory on nature in physics and through it, it leads to the metaphysical disparity between palpable and impalpable existences whereas Mulla Sadra holds that motion is related to metaphysics and propounds it under one of his philosophical divisions entitled the stable and fluid being. What he means here is the reality of existence, not the concept of existence. The distinction between the reality of existence and the concept of being is of such great significance that one cannot properly understand his metaphysics unless one first understands this distinction.

Mulla Sadra’s thought on time relies on this distinction. Time, he holds, is the reality of the fluid being and the fluid being is one of the stages of the objective reality of esse. This idea is properly understood when we consider the exact meaning of the existent, namely what is and the esse that is being and existing as an all-important point in the transcendent philosophy. Mulla Sadra lays his philosophical system on the basis of the primacy of esse over quiddity and based on that, he travels from the common conceptual matters in the past philosophy to the existential discussions, constantly placing stress on the necessity of distinguishing between the two meanings of esse, that is, the existent which is the second philosophical intellect and the external objective reality of being which may be perceived by immediate knowledge. Instead of distinguishing between the mobile object and the immobile object which refer to the two beings, he proposes the idea of distinction between analogical stages of the reality of esse through transition from the existent to the existence. He asserts that the reality of esse has two stages: the stage of stable being and the stage of the fluid being which time and the reality of the fluid being are the indispensable necessity.

The important point that assists us in explicating the issue of time is that the analogical gradations of the reality of esse are but the manners and manifestations of the reality of esse and that all the universe from the sublime beings to the physical objects is metaphysically one and the same. Concerning unity and diversity, Mulla Sadra propounds that the esse is one and manifold at the same time, adopting it as one of the most important principles in his metaphysical system. He affirms that the existent exist through their illuminationist relation with the physical objects. Thus, they should not be imagined as independent beings, related to their source.

This contemplation upon the ontological state of particular beings leads us to the idea that the esse is a unique reality with different and diversifying stages based on the weakness, perfection or imperfection, priority or posteriority and so on. Time is a continual state of the prime causes and one of the inferior stages of the esse.

This idea gives a total spin to the question of time and a newer and deeper outlook to the philosophers. According to this idea, time is the manifestation of the wujudlesse. One cannot consider any distinction between it as one of the stages of esse and the variable being as another stage as in earlier philosophical systems between the nature and metaphysics. In this world vision, the superior degree, the principle of inferior degree and the inferior degree are but the continual manifestation of the superior degree.

In explicating this view, Mulla Sadra sees the origin of this universe and the beings in existence and seeks its source in wujudlesse. He holds that the esse is a pervasive affair, encompassing everything and that everything gains its existence from it. Time, which is a transient identity and existentially dependent on its own cause is no exception to this rule, and is encompassed by the reality of esse.

The quality of universality of the reality of esse in its different stages including time does not in the least correspond with the quality of the whole over the parts or the quality of the general referential concepts over small ones. Mulla Sadra asserts that it is impossible to conceive the universality of the reality of esse in different stages. In his eyes, the esse or the ultimate reality is something with brightness and understood not by reason but by some inward illumination. Thus, he postulates that such a reality cannot be conceived by the mind and grasped unless through immediate knowledge.


Sadrian Realization of the Reality of Time

Concerning the reality of time, there are diverse ideas according to which time is a concerted measure and quantity. In many of his words, Mulla Sadra accepts this definition. However, after proving the trans-substantial motion and explaining the time boundness of the existence of physical objects, he offers a new definition of time hitherto unprecedented. And it can be regarded as a fundamental change in the history of philosophical thought. He opposes this Avicenna’s idea that motion in substance is impossible and propounds the trans-substantial motion within the critique of his worldview. Thus, he criticizes the views of the Aristotelians concerning time, space and space.

     He agrees with earlier philosophers that time is a restless reality inflicted on objects through motion. He first accepts these two characteristics for motion that time is a divisible matter and of the quantitative categories and indivisibly related to motion; however, he, finally, postulates that this can be a fundamental difference shared by his predecessors on the reality of time. In his eyes, time, motion and the physical existent enjoy a unified existence. He rejects the duality between motion and time as he claims that motion and time are no external accidents for the material beings.

     Mulla Sadra has an exact statement on this case arising from his view on substance and accident. His conceptualization of the relation between substance and accident differ from those of Aristotle and Avicenna. He states that the attribute of any object arises from the stages of the existence of substance. The general consensus is that objects are in need of their own attributes in their distinction; however, according to the primacy of esse in the transcendent philosophy, these diverse attributes are no distinctive qualities but the signs of distinction.

All beings are a priori things-in-themselves and distinctive from each other; and due to this distinction in identity, their attributes differ, but not otherwise. Thus, each being is but an identity, which appears in different forms. According to this statement, distinction is not imposed on the beings from the outward but spring from the inward of the beings. As such, any attribute of any object is exactly the attribute of the particular existence of the object; thus, the motion of the object is exactly like the identity of the object.

     This conceptualization of time by Mulla Sadra must be regarded as one of his innovations. On this basis, the source of priority or posteriority of objects has to be drawn from the accidents. There is a time and space for every motion and coming out of that space or that time is coming out of the existence of oneself. It is impossible that a thing, which is not contained within a space, should be contained within a space and the thing, which essentially knows stability, cannot accept time. Time is the sign of the thing which can essentially accept time and its identity is internally associated with time; hence, it cannot be conceived that the physical objects be emancipated from the bond of time or space and find a being indifferent to time and space. Thus, the material beings cannot be held to be essentially quiet and at unrest due to time.

In such an existence, time becomes a sign of priority or posteriority, but not its cause. Mulla Sadra extends the essential priority or posteriority to an identity, which is essentially endowed with innovative and different manners, and this difference roots itself in the essential priority or posteriority and the priority and posteriority are not capable of being collected within it.

     The exact meaning of essential priority or posteriority in physical objects is that the time-boundness of accidents and their sequence of events emanate from them, not from the external factors. Based on such analysis, time is not like a container in which accidents are placed. Each accident is so bound to its time that one cannot be possibly separated from the other. These are all due to the fact that the time of each object is, ipso facto, a facet of that object, not an object outside of it; in other words, the container and the contained are one and the same.

     Thus, in Sadrian concept, time does not fall into the category of accidental quiddities nor is it like a container independent of the physical objects contained by matter, but time is the essential strengthener of physical substance; hence, all physical objects and phenomena have a time of their own, for time is a quality of their qualities.

     Time, Mulla Sadra states, is an invisible continuity or a fourth dimension of the physical being. According to him, the time-boundness of objects is the sign of continuity in their being. His words on the four dimensions of objects are have manifest certitude; in his exact analysis, objects have two continuities: temporal and spatial. Spatial quality generates three geometrical dimensions and temporal quality springs from the inward overflow of physical beings.

The statement quoted above best reveals Sadrian concept of time. That the time is the fourth dimension of matter and has no other entity other than this in the outside, is a grave step in discussing the reality of the existence of time. The reason of reiterating this point is due to the quality of its novelty in the transcendent philosophy. The Sadrian concept of the fourth dimension is not to be associated with Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The four dimensionality of physical objects in Sadrian concept is metaphysical and non-empirical. This dimension is not a quantitative dimension but an existential one, which emanates from the manner of the being of the physical objects and concerns itself with its identity. Time is, in fact, a fluid identity and an innovated being of which the mind is capable of abstracting a rational consideration, that is, the time. According to this statement, motion is not to be accounted as an essential concept, but a fluid being which, in the outside, is like the motion and the fluid being and only through the analysis of reason can the mind distinguish between them.

     On this basis, many predicates on the question of time find answers different from what was proposed in earlier philosophical systems. Thus, it can be safely asserted that it is impossible to offer an essential definition for the nature of time in the transcendent philosophy, for such a definition falls into the category of essential concepts and that is why Mulla Sadra is held to have stated that time and motion are rational considerations for the physical beings and the fluid being wujud.

The Perception of the Existence of Time And its Rational Consideration


This concept of time is best perceived when we differentiate between the reality of the being of time in the outside and the concept of time. What has been so far proposed is the reality of the being of time but not its concept. The reality of the being of time, which is, indeed, the reality of the being of time, is exactly the thing, which has, nor is identity. Thus, one must go to it  to understand it.

     Instead of the sensual experience proposed by Aristotle, Mulla

Sadra propounds the immediate perception of the existence of time. According to him, the realization of the reality of fluid existence is other than the realization of time and the conceptualization of time is other than its rational consideration. The conceptualization of time adumbrates the reality of the existence of time, but within the limit of a conceptual opening, just like when we make of our souls a concept like ipseity, which we understand and use it as an acquired mode for the immediate reality.

The conceptualization of time is evident, that is primal and precedent. What is grasped at by our minds without the intermediary of any factor is exactly the conceptualization of time; however, the reality of the existence of time is hidden and veiled as the reality of the fluid existence. Mulla Sadra asserts that the evidentness of the conceptualization of time does not commonly mean that it is metaphysically evident as well. Thus, he seeks to elucidate this concept of time in his philosophy and set forth its necessary principles.

     In his analysis of reason, Mulla Sadra concerns himself with time. Unlike Aristotle, he proves time in the outside through analysis of reason but not through sensual receptions and inward experiences. He believes that time is a philosophical intellectual consideration, but not an essential sensual concept and discussing it is a hundred percent philosophical and metaphysical, not a discussion within the realm of natural sciences and empirical receptions. Because he believes that the concept of time is not achieved at through abstraction or the generalization of sensual perceptions but is reached at through mental analysis of immediate percepts like other metaphysical categories.

This fact, considering the point which we shall mention by Mulla Sadra, can be explained differently: since time belongs to the rational considerations of esse, the status of time is not manifestly separate from the status of esse, but what lies in the outside is only a restless essence and these two are only separate from each other in analysis of reason as is the case with all metaphysical concepts which imply different kinds of esse. As stability is not an attribute inflicted upon the object from the outside, time is not an attribute to be inflicted from the outside on the fluid being but the two concepts imply two kinds of esse.

     Prior to the transcendent philosophy, time was counted to be the prime categories and essential concepts; however, based on the principles of the transcendent philosophy, time does not exist outside of the esse, but abstracted from the manner of the being of time. Thus, as Mulla Sadra believes in the primacy of esse, one cannot accept time and motion as abstracted from the manner of the fluid being as an external accident for the mobile being. Generally speaking, he introduces quantities and measures as analytical accidents, not the external accidents. However, the important thing which in Mulla Sadra’s philosophy is regarded an innovation is that in his eyes, time and motion are both abstracted from the manner of the fluid being. This is the thing, which cannot be found in earlier philosophies. The issue of the analytic accidentality of time for motion can be found in Avicenna’s corpus. Mulla Sadra’s innovation is the second intellectuality of time and motion for the fluid being.

     Mulla Sadra explains the rational consideration of time differently and offers a new theory on each. The following statement is the most lucid one:.

     The rational consideration as Mulla Sadra puts it, is self-acting consideration and we know that all second intellects are used in this sense. It cannot be debated that he does not mean imaginary or illusionary but intellectual consideration. This is what has taken the name of analytic accident concerning the accidents of time on motion and is called second intellect in the case of time and motion in relation to the fluid being.

     Although Mulla Sadra regards time as the analytic accident for motion and time and regards motion as the second intellect for the fluid being, he explicates in many cases the outward unity of time, motion and the fluid nature. These three affairs are different in the mind, but in the outside, they exist in one existence. It is obvious that time is what we interpret as the reality of the being of time and count it as the fundamental of time in the transcendent philosophy.

     So far, we have talked on the perception of the reality of the existence of time and the rational consideration as viewed by Mulla Sadra in comparison with Avicenna. Now let us consider what Aristotle states about this.

     Time, Aristotle asserts, is an essential concept. He has treated this issue in physics. He has striven to offer a picture of time to be conceived by the ordinary mind and this contrasts with that of Kant who claims that time is not an empirical concept derived from experience.

According to Aristotle, time is an empirical-sensual concept. Yahya Ibn adi and Abulhasan Ibn Samah, the two expounders of Aristotelian philosophy, stated: as Aristotle has informed us of the wonder of the rejecters of time, he does not need to provide probative evidence for the existence of time, for the sense is more powerful than any probative evidence; the evidence for the truth of this statement can be sought in this Aristotle’s statement that: we sense time and motion simultaneously, for when something affects our bodies in the dark, if some sort of motion is implanted within our minds, we perceive time at that very instant and when it crosses our minds, we perceive that there has been a motion with it.

     Aristotle recognizes the fundamental role of time in our minds and is aware of the truth of the subjectivity of nature of time; he has made reference to the close relationship between intellect and time.

     It can be questioned in this matter whether time can exist without the presence of intellect and spirit. Because when one does not count, there is surely no number. Aristotle does not tend to reject time in the outside nor does he tend to regard as an illusionary matter. He wants to show that there is a relationship between intellect and time, because according to Ross, he has accepted the existence of motion in the absence of self and has refuted the measure, that is time. Counting does not create parts but it affirms the already extant things. Copleston quotes this point by Ross. According to Copleston, this corresponds with Aristotle’s belief about the unity. Parts are potentially united and the mind is created by the mind.

The Perception of Reality through Moment


The distinction between moment and time and also the relationship between the two in the history of philosophy is of great importance. By resorting to the conceptualization of moment, man can find the feeling of being in eternity. In Aristotelian philosophy, and the philosophy of the illuminationists such as Al-Suhrawardi and Mulla Sadra, moment has a special place. In their views, moment does not mean religious moment in which the divine grace is extended to all beings and the finite has become infinite.

To understand the reality of time and also the reality of the fluid being, one must accord more attention to the fluid moment. As we said, Mulla Sadra regards time as fluid identity and innovative being from which the mind is capable of abstracting a rational consideration known as time. Concerning the reality of time and its rational consideration, we have talked. Now let us see what sort of relationship exists between time and moment.

     By moment, we mean potential moment, from which time is derived and known as the fluid moment of time. Mulla Sadra believes that it is a real affair, which time is actualized with its overflow and one can regard it as the maker of time. As long as reality is not reached at, and does not cross it, neither the motion in the outside nor time is actualized. Those who have rejected moment in this sense, believe that the proponents of moment have sought to regard a being independent of the reality of time and the fluid being while it is not so. Moment, in this sense, is held to be a philosophical concept and has the origin of abstraction in the outside.

     In philosophy, moment has a different meaning, which is usually interpreted as the active moment. The active moment which is the side and the measure of time and the common limit between the past and the future is derived from time. It is true that moment in this sense a non-existential affair and abstracted from the lack of the continuity of time to the infinite, but, it is extant and one cannot regard it as an illusionary affair.

The issue of time and moment and the relationship between the two is closely associated with the two meanings of the traversed motion and the mediated motion. Mulla Sadra does not hold motion within the category, but he regards it as the manner of fluid being. Unlike the ostensible meaning of the Sheik’s words, he believes in the external existence of traversed motion. Rejecting the negation of the external being of the mediated motion, he seeks to justify the Sheik’s words in this regard. He believes in the existence of traversed motion and the external existence of mediated motion.

     According to Mulla Sadra there are two distinctive philosophical stages for the trans-substantial motion and the fluid being. On the one hand, it has a continuous existential unity and on the other hand, it has a being dependent on the originator. Mulla Sadra holds that there is a continuity for the trans-substantial motion and interprets it as time, he regards separation necessary for the trans-substantial motion, calling it the potential limit contained by the fluid moment. The bond and the separation offer a richer image of Mulla Sadra’s reality of the fluid being.

     According to Mulla Sadra, the past, present and the future are a real affair in time and as long as it is not actualized and destroyed within the limits of time, the actualization of the next limit does not become possible but the important point is that the priority and posteriority in the parts of time do not contrast their togetherness in the esse but are like their togetherness in their esse. What is necessary is that the proponents of the correlative be together because of their correlative and the manner of the continual innovative time is their innovative union and not conceived because of their weakness. In fact, Mulla Sadra regards for time a similar existence with non-existentiality in the sense that each part of its existence necessitates the negation of another part and the esse of such a being is like restlessness and overflow.

Hence, there are, according to Mulla Sadra , two stable and unstable beings for the fluid being; in other words, it is something constant and continual and on the other hand, innovated. The first part is the traversed motion but according to the second one, time is not constant and the presupposition of survival in time is implausible, for its origination is like destruction and its survival like anihilation. Mulla Sadra holds that we can regard reality for both. The innovative side which is the origination and destruction is real and the motion as a continued fluid unit is a real affair; in other words, time is constant and transient; however, considering the identity of time, the obvious inference is that its origination is like its destruction.

     Based on such a view, Mulla Sadra regards the union as the necessity of the manners of the continual being. He holds that the presupposition of the absence of union between the points of motion destroys the mobile unity, rendering the motion meaningless. The existential union, namely the presence of all past beings in the present beings of objects is a unique reality which contains within it all the existential perfections of past beings and the existential perfections of a supreme being by virtue of intermediary. Although this being is accidental, it contains all its part within its identity. This contrasts with those who say that there is an existential distinction between the past and the future. It is evident that this unique identity is not potentially absolute because of its present and past and future, but the more the existential activity of an object increases, the more its powers decreases in the future. On the same basis, the past, future and the present are instrumental in giving shape to future.

     That which one of the three phases of time is to be the origin, one has to accept that time is a united reality whose actualization relies on the past, present and future. When there is no past, the present is not actualized and as long as the present is not actualized, there will be no future. According to him, outpacing is the attribute of time. It is the present without which the priority and posteriority hold no meaning and it is the past which is regarded for time as a necessary thing.

     Concerning time and moment, he accepts that the moments do not strengthen the reality of time but are elements in which time can be analyzed. For time and motion, Mulla Sadra regards moments and the potential limits actualized by a fluid being and it is interpreted that the giver of life emanates a prototypal form differing from its priority and posteriority.   

Time and the Trans-substantial Motion


The trans-substantial motion and moment are so closely interrelated that one cannot ignore one to understand the other. Mulla Sadra offers a proof for proving the trans-substantial motion one of whose prerequisites is related to the understanding of the reality of time. Time, he believes, is both the analytic accident for the motion and for the fluid being. After he demonstrates that the priority and posteriority root themselves in the accidents and that the time is not an independent container for the physical objects and the priority or posteriority are inherent in the beings, he encounters this question what kind of being this nature is which is mingled with priority or posteriority. By providing answer to this question, he is led to infer that the being, which is mingled with it and embodies it, is a self that is accompanied by priority and posteriority. The important point is that the priority and posteriority that Mulla Sadra encounters at the beginning of his journey is other than the priority and posteriority that he is led to at the end of the way. The first one is an evident affair whereas the second one is the existential priority or posteriority and that which is not perceived by the senses.

     Thus, Mulla Sadra  offers a proof for the motion of objects through the recognition of the reality of time as a fluid dimension of the dimensions of physical beings. He asserts that each physical being is time bound and has temporal dimension and as any being which has such a continuity in its being, it will have a gradually acquired being and will have extensive parts in the span of time. The inference is that the existence of the physical essence is a gradual, transient and innovative existence and when it is involved in the time bound objects, it is the time of the trans-substantial motion and the interception of the trans-substantial motion is the interception of time. This view indoctrinates us that the matter and the essence are prone to fundamental motion and as the personal identity is not actualized without geometrical dimensions, it is not actualized without temporal dimensions and one cannot imagine any physical objects which is constant in time and equal compared to other objects.

     According to this view, the entire universe is a continual motion and this motion is like the existence and its identity. In fact, the entire universe is a mobile with a single motion and each motion is part of the corpus of this unique motion, which gains a new identity. The sign of this eternal motion is time, which is eternal in flow and implicative of a fundamental motion in the universe which never leaves the universe to itself and creates a new world in any moment.   Thus, the exact meaning of trans-substantial motion is that all particles are in a constant state of destruction and origination. This continual destruction or origination embraces not only all states of objects but their entire identity as well. That man’s soul is a time-bound being, and that time has a dimension of being and not a gradual attribute, is a sublime understanding for Mulla Sadra. This sounds like what Heidegger says. In his Magnus Opus  “Being and Time”, Heidegger states that man’s soul is bound to time and offers a similar picture to what Mulla Sadra gives of tans-substantial motion though there are fundamental differences between the two philosophical systems.

     One of the most important differences is that in Mulla Sadra’s philosophy, time is closely associated with continual origination like the esse. The meaning of continual origination is one of the most important concepts in Islamic thought. This idea has been differently interpreted by different Muslim scholars. Besides the Asharite philosophy, we have before us the innovation of the mystics best depicted by Ibn Arabi. After Ibn Arabi and his nexus with mystical thought, one can interpret the trans-substantial motion as one of the most original interpretations of the continual origination.

     Considering what Mulla Sadra  has stated on this score, each physical phenomenon is susceptible to change in its essence and its existence in any presupposed moment is other than its existence in that particular moment and the act of continual origination by the Most High is constantly going on.

     According to the trans-substantial motion, no self remains extant and in two successive moments, no two similar selves can be found. Even in cases when scientifically speaking some change occurs, there is a lural identity in the trans-substantial motion. The trans-substantial motion implies that all changes, which occur in a way, whether quantitative, qualitative, physical or chemical emanates from the essence of objects.

     Another point is that not only in this turning point, the physical and the chemical changes, there is a trans-substantial motion but a new phenomenon is originated in the universe and gains a new identity as no two particles are equal in two moments whether the apparent motion is observed or not.

     Now, it can be better understood why one cannot say that the universe is and that the time passes over it; however it must be said that the world of the next moment does not exist, and must be originated. In fact, the passage of time is the passage of the universe, not the remaining of the universe and the passage of time over it. The passage of time means the motion of the universe and the motion of the universe means its gradual origination, and the gradual origination means its origination in the each moment. In this regard, Mulla Sadra uses the term the renovation of identity. The universe is a series of renovated identity, an identity that is constantly being renovated.

In certain cases, Mulla Sadra generalizes this term to all other than God and agrees with the philosophers who believe in the renovation of objects. As a result, he accepts the notion that the will of God is in the work of creation. Mulla Sadra generalizes this statement to man’s soul as well. In his eyes, the truth of man’s soul is the truth of a gradual and fluid existence originated from the first stages and leading to the divine truth. In this universe, each being is, in essence, existentially poor and this has no other meaning than this that everything in this universe is but non-existent; hence, if it is left to itself, it runs in the course of its destruction because of his existential poverty. Thus, every object can have a momentary existence because in that moment when it is brought to the world of existence, the soul of that object draws it to the realm of non-existentiality. That every being is prone to negate itself due to its existential poverty, is exactly the same meaning, which is extracted from the meaning of flow and innovation. Here it is that the concept of the new origination or continual origination is actualized from the common part of these two factors, namely the existential poverty of all objects and the emanation of divine grace from the metaphysical source.

Deeper than this, no one can speak of the dependence of the creatures on the Creator and the constant necessity of the universe.  The momentary character of the universe elucidates its necessary appearance and shows that the universe is in state of flowing and passing in state, appearance, essence, identity and the dependence and the necessity has penetrated to the very core, overwhelming its entirety. Mulla Sadra uses the glorious verse to prove his point, “   ” On this Mulla Sadra  states:


There is nothing more speculative and deeper than the trans-substantial motion in the work of God. This is the meaning of the philosophical meaning of new origination stated in the Holy Qur’an, “.”


From the viewpoint of the mystics, the meaning of creation guarantees the common meaning of time. They do not extend time to this meaning of the beings. According to them, all beings are time bound in this sense. The other meaning of time is what they interpret as innovation, and origination in the natural world. Mulla Sadra places great stress on this point and explicates it in relation to the trans-substantial motion.


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