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.

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Ismaili apophaticism

In his Masari’ al-musari’ (Qum: 1984, ed. H. al-Mu’izzi), a work devoted in part to a refutation of Ismaili theology as represented by Abd al-Karim Shahrastani, the Avicennian philosopher Nasir al-Din Tusi sums up in my view the best way to deal with their characteristic brand of tanzih. In criticizing Shahrastani’s account, Tusi writes (pp. 87-8, tr. Mayer, modified): Read more

A muta’alih argument against ‘existence’ as instantiation

A ‘quiddity’ is simply that which makes something the kind of thing that it is – excluding anything that isn’t constitutive of its identity as that thing. Example: equinity, whatever its content, is a quiddity by virtue of which a horse is a horse and not, say, a cow. In its meaning, equinity or horseness excludes any property that isn’t essential to horses qua horses, like e.g., being white, swift, a particular size, etc. Read more

The eternal as possibly caused

A friend of mine expresses his doubts about whether something eternal can have a cause. The two predicates seem to him to be mutually exclusive such that to be eternal would seem to straightforwardly entail being uncaused. So, on this view, if x is not caused then x is simply eternal and, contra-positively, if x is not eternal then x is caused. Read more