Two senses of jahl

Avicenna, Kitāb al-Shifā ͗; al-Mantiq, Kitāb al-Burhān (ed. A. Afifi, Cairo: 1965) III.4, 214-215:

Among ignorance (al-jahl), there’s that which is simple (basīṭ), which is merely the absence of knowledge ( ͑adam al- ͑ilm) in the soul. […]. And among ignorance, there’s that which is composite (murakkab), and it is not merely an absence; rather, there’s in it, together with the absence of knowledge, the existence of an opinion that is contrary (muḍād) to it, and it is ignorance by way of possession (qunya) and habit (malaka). […]. And this is only called ‘compound’ ignorance because there’s in it a conflict (khilāf) [with] knowledge and an opposition to it in two respects: the first is that the soul is devoid of knowledge, and the second is that, with its emptiness of knowledge, there has occurred in it the contrary (ḍidd) of knowledge.


The return of the non-existent

Suppose some x comes into existence at t, persists for a while, and then ceases to exist. Question is: can x ‘return’ (yu’ād) to existence, say at t’? Assume that sort of thing can happen. If so, then would also have to return to existence alongside x, insofar as it is a part of what individuates x as x. But in that case, t and t’ would be identical; and therefore, x’s return to existence would be the same thing as its beginning of existence. But that’s clearly a contradiction. And thus, the initial assumption is necessarily false.

Poetic syllogizing

There’s a certain kind of qiyas, the shaykh states in the mantiq of the Najat, 2.1-3, 9 (ed. Danishpazuh, Tehran: 1985), that

 .(…) لا يوقع تصديقاً البته و لكن تخييلا يرغب النفس في شئ أو ينفرها أو يقززها أو يبسطها أو يقبضها

That’s the poetic syllogism; it grants no tasdiq proper, only affective states. Most of tasawwuf amounts to poetic syllogizing.

From the corporeal to the incorporeal

Bahmanyar – the famous disciple of Avicenna – has a short, little known treatise entitled On the levels of existents (ed. S. Poper, Leipzig: 1851). The work is rather technical, assuming a lot on the part of its reader. It is devoted to issues involving four kinds of immaterial being (i.e., God, the separate intellects, celestial, and human souls). Read more

Sirr fi’l-idrak

Allamah Hilli (d. circa 1325) was an important Shi’i philosopher-theologian. He was a student (a critical and perceptive one) of the renowned ‘ustad al-bashar’ (teacher of mankind), the Avicennian philosopher Nasir al-Din Tusi (d. 1274).

Hilli wrote a lot, pretty much covering the entire range of the intellectual (‘aqli) and transmitted (naqli) sciences of his day. From the former category, there’s this one work called Al-Asrar al-khafiyya fi’l-‘Ulum al-‘aqliyya (Hidden Mysteries in the Intellectual Sciences).  Read more

TOC for Razi’s Sharh al-Isharat, namat III

One of the things Fakhr al-Din Razi (d. 1210) is known for is the systematic structure and lemmatization he introduced into Avicenna’s enigmatic Al-Isharat wa’l-Tanbihat in his commentary on that work. Below is an example of such structuring activity. It’s the table of contents for namat III  from his Sharh al-Isharat (ed. A. Najafzada, Tehran: Ajuman-i Athar wa Mafakhir-i Farhangi, 2005). Read more

Intellect without limits

No doubt, it’s very difficult to precisely understand ‘divine matters’ (ilahiyyat) – you know, things having to do with God, His relation to us, and the like. But why? The source of the difficulty is due either to: (1) something about the very nature of such objects, (2) something about us as knowers, or (3) something else entirely.  Read more