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SUHRAWARD (d. 1191) AND HIS INTERPRETATION OF AMCENNA'S (d.

1037)
PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Roxanne D . Marcotte
Institute of Isamic Snidies
McGill Univesity

Marcb 2000
A thesis submirred to the Fwlcy of Graduate Studies an Reseach in p d a l fufiLmen~
of the requiremenuof the degree of W.D. Ui IsiPnic Studies

O Roxanne D.Marcotte
1+1 Natianal Library
0fc-a
Bibiiothquenationale
du Canada
Acquisitions and Acquisitions et
BiMiographic Services senrices bibIiographiques

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The author retains ownership of the L'auteur conserve la proprit du


copyright in this thesis. Neither the droit d'auteur qui protge cette thse.
thesis nor substantial extracts fiom it Ni la thse ni des extraits substantiels
may be printed or otherwise de celle-ci ne doivent tre imprims
reproduced without the author's ou autrement reproduits sans son
permission. autorisation.
Auteure: Roxanne D. Marcotte
Titre: Suhrawardi (m. 1 191) et son kterpretation de l'anthropologie
philosophique d' Avicenne (d. 1037)
D eparcment: b i m t e of Islamic Studies
D iplome: Doctorat en Phiiosophie (D.Ph.)

L'hterpr&don par Suhrawtud d e 1' anthropologie philosophique d' Avicenne depend, en


fair. du systeme pripateticen, et cela, en depit de son motif de la Lumire et de la prdonunance de
l'imagination qu'il inuoduit. Sa definition de l'me ne s'eloigne pas de faon significatwe d e celie
d'Aviceme: sa dfinition en tant qu'entlichie et de substance. son incorporalite, sa pr-existence,
ou le file des paeumata. Par contre, ii critique le materialisme d'un certain nombre d e posirions
adoptes par Avicenne. Ce qui est en jeu, c ' e s l'unit ontologique de l'me que Suhrawardi peroit
mmme tant menace p a la localisation dam le corps des facults responsables de la reprsentation
- les imigination auive et passive. de mme que f estimation - et de leu= objets. A p e s avoir
aitiqu les thories "extmmissive" et "intromissive" de la vision, Suhrawardi inttioduit sa propre
thorie qui a pour but d'expiiquer la virion mystique. U rduit les facults internes responsables de la
rep2sentation d'Avicenne une seule facult, prefxant meme 1' accent sur le rle que joue l'me
dans la perception. U analyse la conaaissance de soi en discutant de l'apprehension primai= de
l'existence individuelle, de 1'identite personnelle, du caractre non mdie de ce type de cornaissace,
et de la question del' individuaion. Au niveau conceptuelll'intellection demeure logiquement premire

par rapport 1'imaginaion, alors que les discussions p a u n t sur l'intelligence a p t e , ses fondons.
et la conjonction de 1'me r a t i o ~ e l l e- la lumire-Isfahbad - avec l'intelligence agence - le ptincipe
lumineux - sont avicenniens. Les concepts pistmologiques tels que 1'intuition et la contemplation
mystique, auciaux dans le dbat sur la primaut de la c o ~ a i s s a n c emystique sur La connaissance
philosophique. Les propos de Suhrawardi et d'Avicenne entourant la nanice de la connaissance
prophtique contrastent avec la nature d e la connaissance mystique en intmduisant les fonctions
ngative et positive de la facult d'imagination, c'est-&-direle rle de cette dernire dans le processus
& prirticularisation des vrits universelles et sa fonaion mimtique. Les discussions eschatologiques
introduisenrl'ide de la survie de l'imagination ncessaire pour que les mes puissent faire 1' experience
de la rtribution (divine) et a k d r e leur perfection dans l'au-del - mentionne par Avicenne
seulement par quelques allusions mais dveloppee par Suhrawardi; alors que la possibilit d'une
metempsychose n'en pas totalement &carre. Suhwardi introduit deux sphkes distinctes - m e r et
amh ha& - qui deviendront le substrat "pneumatique" for l a facult imaginative.
-4uthor: Roxanne D. Marcorte
Titie: Suhreffardi (d. 119 1) and His k a e r p r d o n of Avicenna's (d. 1037 )
Philosophical -4nttropology
Depanma: uistitute of Isiamic Saidies
Degree: D oaot of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Suhraffardi's interpretation of Avicenna's philosophical anthropology gteEitly depends on


the Peripatetic system. in spite of its novel fight motif and the famlty of imagination's pred amuiance.
His definition of te soul does not depart sigdficandy from -4vicenna's: its defirntion as an ~arelechy
and a substance, its i n c o r p o r w , its pip-existence, or the rale of the vital spirits - paeumdya.
However, he mticizes the mam5dism irnplied in a number of -4vicennan thesa. At issue is the
ontological uniy of the soul that S h w e r d i perceives ta be jeopardized by the locdization in the
body of the representatiye faculties - the auive and passive imaginations and the estiniririon - and
their objects. After CririQzing the "eartramissive"aad the "intromissive" theories of vision,Suhrawardi
introduca his own Unminnrive rheoy in an effoet to Eimutaneously accaPnt for mystical vision. He
&O recuces -4vicenna's faculties responsibfe for representntian to a single faculty. focusin. on the
soul's d e in perception. SuhrrrwraQ ailalyses self-knowledge, discussing the priniary mareaess of
one's own dstence, self-idedty, the umnediated charauet of this type of Lilowledge, and the issue
of individuaiim.At the conceptuallevel, intellectionis logicaiiy prkr to imagination,while discussions
about tbe active intelligence,irs functions,u i d the conjunction of the cational saul - the Isfahbad-light
- wirh the active heLligence - the @bt prinaple - stiLl rem& Avicennan. Epistemdogical concepts
such as intuition and mystia contemplation become central in the debate over the primacy of
mystical knowledge over philosophical kuowf edge. Sulirriwd i 's and Avicenna' s discussions about
the nature of prophetic knowledge am then co-ted with the naaire of mysrical knowledge by
iiiP.oducing the negarive and positive f d o n s of the frcPtcy of i ~ ~ n , its role in the
onunely,
partidarizasion of univmd trutbs and its mimetic function. The survivd of the imaginative faculry
is iaded by Avicem, but expicitly developed by Suhrawdi. Its Survival is reqoited foc the
experiencmg of divine cetribution and the perfecting of souk in the afterlife; while metempsychosis
lurks in the background.Aad f d y . Suhmvadi h r o d u c e s two distinct spherg - Ether and Zarnharir
- that become the 'pneumatic" subsarira for the posthumous adVities of the imaginative faculry.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

M y first and mon lasting debt is m a r d s m y thesis advisor professor Hermann Landolt who
has telentiessly suggested pa3kuhreadings of the Persian atbe Arabic,indicatd possible alternarive
iaterpiaarions. even disagreed with many of my readings or conjectures. 1 would iike to thank the
pmfessors who guided m y wLlectPd joumeys, especially chose at the Iastitute of 1slam.i~Studies
(McGili University): Professors W. Hallaq, D. Liorle, M. Estalanri, E. Onnsby. S. A M 1 must
indude J.-R. Milot as weii as the Arabic ianguage teachers of the UniverSite de Montri, tbe Lnstinit
Bourghiba des Langues mvames de Wnivecsit Tunis - 1, and the Language Center at the Jordanian
University, as weii as the Pgsian laquage teachecs of the Loghat Name-ye DeWhoda InSitute.
1-C.P.S.(Tehcan) and the University of Tehrrni, and the pfessom that have welcomed os I tbeir
c l ~ s ea
s the University of Jardan and the Univ- af Tebtaa-
The wmpletion of tis thesis wotd have been impossible without tbe finanual support
pmvided by a naraber af ~ t i o n -sin the forms offdowsiups for reseach or travel grants:

Depatmental Travel Graat , Insttute of Islamic Studies, M e


Uwiptrs&y (mp ta Paris, France)
ocanadian Cammittee of the Middle East Smdies Association
(CANMES) Gradue Strident T m 1 Grant (rip to Washington,
DC and Dayton,OH, USA)
Alma Mater Student Travei Grant (eip to Binghamton, New
Y a k , USA), M e U k i e m i i
Depa~mentalFeiowsiup, Insitute of Islamic Studies, M i
udl-e
-Alma Mater StudentTravel Granf (crip to StJohn, Newfomdland,

- 19% (Sommer) -
Canada), M i UmM-
Bome Qubec-Tunisie - Arribic Laquage Studies, Tunisia.
Bo- 4s- W I J : & W d e 7hms

.M
Fonds FCAR for Ph. D. - @&?C%-
Honomy Aiaiur Tagge Fdowship. McGili Major Fellowship,
i udldlwm@
-Depaimnental Feilowship, Insritute of IsiMUc Studies,M e
udl-pers*
iv
A nomber of individuals aad institutions must be mentioned for tbeit sincere support and
assistance in the pursuit of my academic goals: Professoc Man: Pelchar. Dean of the Facult de
Thologie et de Sciences Reigieuses. sthe Universit Laval (Quebec City) and the pfessors of the
faculty for the oppohimS. to teach our first class. an intensive idtroduaory course on Islam (summer
of 1999) as lnvited Professor; h f e s s o r Suzanne Foisy, Ditedor of the Departmem of Philosophy, at
the Uirivecsit du Qubec Trois-Rivies (UQTR)and the professors of the department who have
made it possible for us to w h a murse in On& Pbilosophy (Wrater of 2000) - Islamic Philosophy
- as L m and f a the opporninity to become a referee f the Hemmzrc JO& of&e CiPdara'i

Professor Marie-Andre Roy, Director of the Dpartement des Sciences Religieuses of the Univemit6
do Qubec Montral (UQAM)who made it possible for us to joia the Executive Cornmirtee of The
Canadian Sociefy for the Study of Religion (CSSR) / L a Socit canadienne pour l'enide de la
religion (SC=) for rhe year 1999-2000 as Member-a-Large / Consdre end for which it was a
pleasure to judge the Undagraduse Snideat Essay Contest that yea; the laie Professoc Ahmad
Tafazzoli and Professor Jaieb Amzegar. of the University of Tehtan, FltCUIy of Arts. who have
made my stay in Teliraa most pleasant by huving me work on a Fnxcb trsnslafion of a seaion of the
Dt.nta2 duriag the Winter of 1995; the Dire- of the Languqge Cenier of the Depment of
Modern Lanpages. rir the University of J d a n . who has kincy invifed me ta be a Guesr Lecrurer in
the Fail of 1993 and the Wuet of 1994. my first dass m m expef5ance.
1 have bad the opporainity to prsent the fdisof my cesesrch ar a number of scholaly
confetences both in Canada and abmaci:
13 "Srihtawardi(m. 1191) et les fecalcis interna selon le commenrRine de SbahmzW(m.
ca 1288) sor le &ifmrsr &II ."Quatrime confetence ePt5openne d' tudes iraaiemes
(Societas Irenologica Eotopml), Monde Iranien CNRS, P w s , Sept. 6- 10.1999.

12 "The New StatPs of Imaginai Forms: Suhnrwardi's Departure from A v i c e ~ a n


Psychology,," Medievalist Association of M c a (MAA). W-n, D.C.,A@ 8-11.
1999.
11 "Self-Consciousness. Self-Idedy. and Self-Knowledge in Sohrriwardi," Medievai
Piiilosophy and the Ciassical Tradition in Idam. Judmsm. and Chrisrianiry. University of
Dayton, Ohio, April 11-13. 1999.

10 "Religious Epistemology FS 4izWQf Epistem01ogy: nie Knowledge of Pmphets and


Theosophw in the Walrs of Siihrnrpdi." 17th Annuai conffxence SIPS / SAGP 1998.
Biaghamton University.Binghamton, New York. Oct 23-5.1998.
9 "Echatology and the Imaginative Facuity Avicenna a d Suhnmrdi" 17th Annual
conference SSIPS / SAGP 1998, Biagbamton University. Binghamton. New York,Oc.
23-5,1998.
-8 "Mtaphysique neoplsmicienne orienrale ct antmpologie pbllosophique," XXVIIe
Congr& de l'Association des socits de philosophie de langue franaise (A-SPLF.),
v

Univemite Lcival, Qaebec. Qubec, August 18-22.1998-

7 "Suhrawardi'sPresenfial Knowledge and the SoulosKnowledge of ItseJf." 42nd Aanual


Corigtess Canadian Philosophical Asseation ( C P A / A.C.P. 1998) at tbe 1998 Congress
of the Social Sciences and Humanities (H.S.S.F.C. / F.C.S.H.S.), University of Ottawa,
Oaawa. Ontario, May 27-30, 1998.

6 "The Philosophical Antbropology of the BUS- d-Ou/db and the Ykzo'aa-t:


Two Works Anributecl to Siihrawatdi, S9ayd2 a/-I-," Second Biennial Coafence on
Iranian Smdies (S.B.C.I.S.), Behada, Mayland. May 224.1998.

5 "La nocion de ~ ~ ~ Y :M uneI solution


Y au probl-e pose par les "formes suspendues"d e
Suhniwardi (m.1191)." Congr& annuel de la Socic de philosophie du Qubec (SPQ). 66'
congrs de 1'Associarioncaaadiennefranaisepour l'avancementde la science 1998 (ACFAS),
Universit Laval,Qubec, May 11-5,1998.
-
4 "Avicenna and Suhrawardi on Imagination ( m m @ & ) , " 16th A M UConference
~
SSIPS f SAGP 1997. Biaghamtoa UnivaSity, Binghamton.New York, Oct. 244,1997-

3 "The FZLCU&ies of the Soui in Submrardi's Mys&icalInterpretacion of Avim's


Psychology," 41st Anmal Congress CPA 1997 at the 1997 Comgress of Leamed Societies,
Mernoriai University, Se.-John's. Newfoundland, June 1 4 . 1997.
2- "Un aicique de la thorie visPeile dans la psychologie diAFriceane(m. 1037): Suhrawardi
(m. 1 19l)," Co- annuel de la Socir de pbiiosopbie du Quebec(SPQ). 6Se congrs d e
1' ACFAS 1997, Univemit du Quebec 4 Trois-Rivites (UQTR), Td-Rivires. Qubec,
Mry 134,1997.
1 " inteileu and Intriirion in the Philosaphical Works of al-Subrawadi," 15th Annuai
Conference SSIPS !SAGP 1996, Binghamtan University, Binghamton, New York. Oct.
25-7.1996.

1 would also Wte to mention a number of studies that have or WU


appecir and from which
some sectionsof the thesis are daiveci:
4 "Metaphysiquenopl~~~nicieme otientale a a ~ o l o g i phdosopbique."
e A- du
m e C o !de 1 ' ~ i a u dks d &ami&!s de PMcuyzpIire de hqpue Fhmpzzk Ltv
m&paapq~,acFnh, mh$we, t?d&ab (Universit Laval. Qubec, 18-22 aoat, 1998). 2
vols. (Sainte-Foy, Qubec Presses de 1'Umvecsit Lavai) (Forrhcomiag)

3 "Reason ( 'ql) and Direct Inaiirion (mus!w9& ) in the Work of S m al-Diu


S u h m w d (d. 1191)." F i ' D d i m M i H a m rw ~ ~ , ed. Todd
Lawson (Forcbcoming)
2 "Sumwawdf'sPsychology in the P h p i s of the W i c -lra [ n e F i e s of
@&]: Some Remarks," in ?Be Qw'& a d PMmp&QP/R&'kuzs , S. Haadaroh, RI
AJ.McGregor, E. R.Aiexandrin, R. Macatte,S. Muiyati. A. ALibay and D. Sreigerwald. A.
MILLin (Yogya Katta, Indonesia. Indonesian Academic Society XXI. 1998),5 1-64.
1 "PhilosophicaiReason V m s Mysical intuition - Shihab al-Din Suhtrrwardi (d. 1191),"
AaqueY& ~ o s r p r r o 0 (Madrid,
a Spain) 7 (19%): 109-126.
1 wouid also ike to chank the staff of the Library of the Institute of Islamic Studies - Saiwa
Ferabian. Steve Milier. Wayne St-Thomas, and Mr.Gak - fbr their relentess help and the editorial
heip Asad Shaker and lisa Alexandrin.
Most imporraatty, 1 musc tbauk m y aunt Denise and Shahed, a very vety dear ffiend, who
have b a hm d e d mewit rheirunceasingmoral support duringthese numemusyerirs. The completion
of this dissertation would not have been possible without it.
CHAITHt FOUR .Divisionof tbe Soul ...................................................................................... 121
.
Vegetative Animal, and Human Soul .............................................................................. 121
Fivefold Division and Localisation of Faculties ............................................................... 122
Rejeaion of Diffetxmt Faculties in a Bodily Organ .......................................................... 123
Two Distinct Faculties and Functions ................................................................................ 124
Problem of RecoUedion ................................................................ ....................................... 126
Rejerrion of Fivefold Division of the Soul ........................................................................ 129
A Tenebrous Faculty and Ruling Lights ............................................................................ 132

CHAPTER FIVE -Percepion ...................................................................................................... 138


Visual (Sensible)Perception ................................................................................................ 138
The Enramissive Theay of the Light Rays ........................ . . ......................................... 138
The lntromissive Theory of the Forms of Objects ............................................................ 141
Narure of His Refutations .................................................................................................... 144
Theory of Vision Adopted by Suhmwardi ........................................................................... 146
Conditions of Vision ............................................................................................................ 148
Ruling Light - Isfahbad-Light .............................................................................................. 151

CHAPTER SIX .The Faculty of Cemgiaion ...............................................................................156


Nature of the F a d r y of Imaginaion .................................................................................. 157
The Avicennan Strudure ......................................................................................................158
Unity of Functions of the Animal Soul .............................................................................. 160
Marerialiry or Immateriality ................................................................................................. 162

. Suhnwardi's Modified and Simplified Version ................................................................... 166


Contents of Imagination a d of the Rational Soul .............................................................. 167

SEVEN .E-olw
Self-Knowledge
................................................................................................
..................................................................................................................
Self-Consciousness.............................................................................................................. 179
177
177

Self-Identity ......................................................................................................................... 182


UnmediatedNature of Sell-Knowledge ................................................................................ 183
Individuation and Pesonal Individualiry .............................................................................. 190
Intellection ........................................................................................................................... 196
Practical and Theoretical Intellects ....................................................................................... 197
The Process of Intellection ................................................................................................... 201
The F d r y ofImagination ................................................................................................... 210
The Active Intelltgence ........................................................................................................ 213
Conjuction with the Divine Realm ..................................................................................... 219
Divine Spi& Logos,and tight ............................................................................................ 225
Philosophy vs Mystical Erperience .................................................................................... -230
Ontology of Light ...................................................... ......................................................... -233
,

Essence of Presential Knowledge ................................................................................. 2 3 6


cHAlTHt EJGHT-Prophe~ol~gy ................................................................................................. 5 4 3
Prapbetic ffiowledge vs Theosophical Knowledge .......................................................... 245
One or Many Epistemological Pmcesses ......................................................................... 149
Metaphysicai Considerallons .................. .. ................................................................... -253
A~hropologicalConsidermoo......................................................................................... -256
The Notion of intellective Conjunaion ............. .................................................................. 258
The Faculty of Imagination ................................................................................................... 260
Divine Signs and Interprerarion ....................................................................................... -266

CIMPTERNINE -Escbrdogy ....................................................................................................... 273


Bodily Rennection ............................................................................................................ 273
Mffempsychosis ................................................................................................................. 278
Avkema and the Survival of the Individual Self ................................. ............................... 284
Avicenna ruid the Survival of the Imaginative Faculty ....................................................... 286
Suhrawardi's Escharology and the Active Imiiginatioa ...................................................... 295
A Separare World of Imagination ....................................................................................... 305

CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................................ 313


The foliowing translitmion of Arabic and Persian will b e ued. It should b e noted chat the
&T''m&@ ( ;) is transiitemtecl by "ab," udess it occrics within and i ; d r S i or m~2 (attributive)
The btrmaIa ( . ) occurring in the initiai
construction. in which case it is transliterated by "a."
position is omttted, it oniy appenrs in the forms of "a.""i,"or " u ." according to its vocalization.

=k

=g (Persian)
=1

=ni

=p (Persian) =II

=h
=W

=h(t)p
=y(i)
= a ( eciim4sd)

= ay (diphtongs)
= aw (diphtongs)

The translations of Arabic and Pgsian texts are mine, unless specified otherwise. 1 have
opted to stay close to the original Persian and Arabic texts, thus providing translaions thac are
more Literal than fiterary. The definite article is usuay omitted in the trancription of Arabic,
unless the words are part of an i#N& constructionin the onginal texts.

The f ollowing words are neitber italicized nor uansliterated throughout tbis work:

madrasah (s) rlmm (9 Islam Suf'i (s)


Ulama (s) Shaykb (s) hadith (s)
A. Arabrai
An. al- And alus
A.C.P.Q. Americari Cathoiic Philosophical Quarterly
-4.H. -4nalecra Hussdiana
A.H.D.LM.A. Archives d'histoire doctrinale et Litteraire du Moyen Age
A. 1. Annales islamologrqaes
A.O. Acta Orientalia
AS. Asiatische Smdien / h d e s asiatiques
A.EA Anaquel d e esnidios arabes
A.S .P. Arabic Saences and Philosophy
B.EO. Buiiain d ' ecudes orientales
B .C.A.I. BuUetin critique des Annales islamiques
B.LE. Bulleth de 1' Institut d ' w p t e
B.LFA.0. Bulletin d e l'Institut franais d'archologie orientaie
B .P.M Bulletin de pbiiosophie mdivale
B.S.F.P. Bulletin d e la socit franaise d e philosophie
B.S.O.A.S. Bull& of the School of Oriental and Aftican Studies
C.I. Cahier de l'imaginaire
Dialogue
Der Islam

G.A. Graeco-Arabica
Haazdard Islarnicus
Harvard Theologicaf Review
1.B.L.A. Revue de 1' Insritut des Belles Lettres Arabes
1.c. islamic Culture
LI. Indo-Iraatca
LN. Iran Nameh
1.0. I s l d c Quarteriy
LS. Islamic Studies
J. al-Jinicah
J.A Journal asiatique
J.A.O.S. Journal of Amencan Oriental Society
J.H.A.S. Journal for the Histocy of M i c Science
J.HAs.S. Journal of the History of Asian Studies
J.H.P. Journal of the Hismry of Philosophy
J.N.E.S. Journal of Near Eastern Studies
J.P. Joiirnal of Philosophy
J.R.A.S. Journal of the Royal Asiiitic Society
M. The Momst
Mu. Le Museon
M.LD.EO. Melanges de l'Institut dominicain d'ewdes orientaies di. Caire
M.M. Maghreb-Machrek
M.S. MusLM World
M.St. Medievai Studies
M.U.S.J. Mlanges de i' U niversite Saint Joseph
M.W. Musim World
Or.
os.
Ot.
Phronesis
Philosophical Forum
R.C. R e w e du Caire
R.EF.M. Revista Espagnols de filosofia Medieval
R.E.I. Revue des enides islamiques
R-HR. Revue d' histoire des religions
R.H.S. Revue d'histoire des sciences
R.M.M.M. Revue du monde musulman a de la Mditenane
R.P.L Revue philosophique de Louvain
R.T. R e w e thomiste
S.C.R. Studies in Comparative Religion
S.I. Studia Islamica
S.Ir. Studia hmica
S.M. Sctipta Mediterraneta
S.T.F.M. Studi suila Tradizione Fiiosofica Medievale
al-Taw&d
Viator. Mediwal and Renaissance Studies
Zetschrift der deutchen morgedandschen Geselischafts

E.I. Eacyclopedia of Islam. l st ed.


E.I. = Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed.
E.R. Encyclopedia of Religion
E.ltanica Encyclopedia Iranica
E.R.E Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics
Ad hawiyah Adhawgah fi al-Maciid
Avicenna's ( Avic.) Av~ceruia'sPs)~chology:an English Translation of "Kitab ai-
Najiit."Book II. Chapter VI (Rahman)
Danish ,Phys. Danish-niimah-yi 'AS?.Tablciyar
Diredives (Dr.) L e livre des directives et remapues (Goichon)

Mubiythiit
Najat ai-Naja min al-Gbaraq fi B a r al-Dalalit
Shifa' . Nafs Avrcemas " De Anima";Being the Psychological Part of
"Kitab al-SWaa'." (Arabic Tex) (Rahman)
Sha* Kitab Uth1pyi al-Mansb il3 Ar&
ai-tac fiqat 'al2 HawShi Kitb al-Nafs ila Arim

Abraj Risalat ai-Abrj


ALwah al-Aiw. ai-'Imiidiyah
'Aql 'Aql-i Surkh
Archange (Arch.) L'Archange empourpre. quinze traits et rcici mystiques
(Corbin)
A w ~ z - Par-i
i Jibx'd

Lan&ar KitSb al-Lam&& f i al-Haqii'iq (ed. Maclf)


Lama@& (Meta.) Ki- al-Lam.& fi d-Heqi'iq (ed. Najaf-Ghuli) [Mecaphysin]
Lughat Lughat-i Muriin
Man&iq ManGq a i - T d w @ a
MashsriC Kiti al-Msharic wa al-Muti%d#&
Mystical (Myst.) The Mystical and Visionary T r d s e s (Thackston)
Muqiwama KitZbal-Muqitwam&
Oeuvres philosophiques et mystiques, 1
Oeuvres philosophiques et mystiques, II

1
In the footnotes, vanslaions of Avicenna's and Suhnwardi's wocks are induded in parenthaes.
Opera. III Oeuvres philosophiques et mystiques. III

Sih Risiilah az S haykh-i I s h q . al-Alw* al-' hadiyah.


Kalimat al-Tqawwuf, al-LamdSt.
Sagesse (Sag. ) Le Livre de la sagesse orientale (Co&)

al-Waridat wa ai-Taqdsat
V-Eagis, Arabic sad P d Titles of Suhrawatdi's W h
On the Beiiefs of Wise Men = r
Risalah fi tiqd al-Hukam~'
The Cham of Gabriel's Wing = .&i-i Par-i Jibra'il
A Day with a Group of Sufis = Rz bii Jamcat-iSfiyih
Flashes of Light = ai-lani.& fi al-Hq'iq
Garden of the Hearrs = Bastan al-Qulb
Lntimations = ai-Talwihat
Invoaons and Prayers = al-UTaridatwa al-Taqdisat
Knowledge of the Divine = Y azdiin Shinakht
Language of the h t s = Lughat-i Mtan
The Lova' Friend = Mnis al-'Uhshq (also known as the Treacise on the Realiy of
Love)
Mystical Stations = Maqim ai-Sfiyah (&O knowa as Remarks on Sufim)
Oppositions = ai-MuqawamSt
Orientai-Uwiinative Wisdom = -a al-Ishrq
Paths and Conversations = al-Mashari' wa al-Mu@ra@i~
The Red Inteiiea = 'Aql-i Surkh
Remarks On Sufism = Kalimat al-Teawwuf (also known as the Mystical Stations )
Rays of Light = Partu-nUah
Some Arabic Poems = Min Ash'arihi al-'Arabi
The Sound of the Snurgb = S&-i Snurgh
Subtelties [Witticism 1 = L ~ ' i f(aiso known as Tasteful Remarks arid Splendid Points =
Kaiimat al-D hmqiyah w a al-Nukat al-Shawqiyah)
Tastehl Remarks and Splendid Points = Kalimat al-Dhawqiyah wa al-Nukat al-Shawqiyah
= (also known as Subtelties = Ltqa'if)

Tablets Dedicated to 'Imad ai-Dn = al-Aiw. al-'Imadiyah (Persian and Arabic)


A Tale of the Occidental Earile = Qissat al-Ghurbab al-Gharbiyah
Temples of Light = Hayakil ai-Nr (Persian and Arabic)
Treatise of the Binl = Risalah al-Tayr (also known as T d a t i o n of the Treatise of the
Bird = TatjamahRiPah al-Tayr)
Tmatise On the High Towers or the Signs of the Zodiac = Risalat al-Abtaj
Treatise On the Stae of Chiidhood = Risalah f i usilat al-Tufliyah
Treatise On the Reality of Love = Risalah fi Haqiqa d-'Ishq (&O known as the T h e
LoverseFriend = Mais al-vshshq)
PHILOSOPMCAL ANTHROPOLOGY

PROBLEM OF PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPCLOGY


Since the dawn of t h e , questions regardhg the human nature have always been important
for homankuid. Tbey, in fact, became inregrd parts of human speculations; perhaps, they were even
at the origin of the philosophicai quest into the meaning of iife and werythhg which it encompassa
- the naturai world. the greater cosmic atder. and the world of the Go& - on account of cheir
insmtabilhy. Here is what M d i Sad6 (d. 1641).one of Suhrawardi' s spiritual hein, has to say
h o u t the kaowledge of the seul. "know thrd the i ~ e knowledge
r of the soul is one of those
ememely d i f f i d t [fields of] knowledge."'
Avicenna's and Suhrawardi's philosophical investigauons into the m r e of the sou1 do not
c o z l s t i ~ whtg
e has corne to be commonly known as psychology. Nowadays. a science of the soul is
no longer envisioned in temu of aniquated existeda1 or phiiosopbicd coaceptions regerdlig irs
nanue, fwcaoas or origh. But the fact remlins that, aithough psychology has become a disapline
with is own scientific methods, on ttie other hand, philosophicd queries have peroiaed and have
pmvided ample material on which to spgulsre - e.g., philosophjj of mind. Psychology seeks t o
probe iato the iiaure of the inner funaionhg of the human psyche
-4s a modern discipline, it does not find its arigins in Medieval conoepcions; rarher, i t t m k
shspe wit the works of such indipiduals a~ Ribot (d. 1879)who conceived of the field of psycbology
wi&csutrelyrngon ancient notions of the soul, m d Lachelia(d. 1 8 S ) w h o conceivedit as encompassing
the m h of sensible conzuousness. In bie beginning of the 18th centut~,psychology with its
modem meanjng, emerges as the result of a disthcrion established between a notion of psychology
defmed as a ruional investigation into the nature af the sou1 d the empirical investigation of the
phenorneni of coiucious s u e s - in the worh of Christian Wolff (d. 1754). a disciple of Leiblz and

' He c m ~ ~ byc s "in which the philosophem were aceediqgly n c g l d d , d a p a tbe lmgttt
of th& investigraians, tbe power of th& thoughts aod the fquency of th& endeavours in the fidd. This
InimIsdge can only be ;iopuind from illuminrtian &am(~qb&$)fiam the lunp-=die of Rophecy ( m r 3 U z ~
;r/-n&l~m ) aad thmugh foUowing the I i g b of R&?aan ( n e&-H&U- ) and Propilethood
{p/-nMW) and the Iantems of the Book ( acl-krbri)and the Tradinon (id--) tbat hrs c m e down
ta us in the Pah of our Imams, mastem of guidance (-ph) and infdiibibty, rom tbeir vlcesow the Seal of
the Rophets ...," cf. MuUI S a d e , PI--rd- (Isfahan: Shahnyzx Books, 1342/1962), 234; quoted
in Moms, 711k W r i- of* w , 131; cf. Carin, "Laplam de Molh S;idrSi," 81-113.
tacher of Kant. This distinctionrested on d e r snempts to d a m b e q.nematicaiiy meatPl processes
- Locke (d. 17941, Berkeley (d. 1753). Hume (d - 1776).or Condillac (d. 1780). Modern preoccupsaions
with the working of the mind find, however, th& precursors in the works of D e s c m (d. 1650)
who was perhaps the first who offered an interesthg sm+- on the minds of mimals. but, more
imporiantiy,who esrablished a p a a l l e l i u n between "psychic"facts and "phyisological"facts, although
his preoccuprioos were e s s e d d i y maaphysicalf A few yeaus ealier, Bacon (d. 1623) in bis D e
prescnted psychology as a science of the soul. of its substance. of its faculties, of it
objects, and so on. preoccupations that are at the hem of Avicenna's and Suhraward s philosophical
anthropology. Sa11 -lier, Bakd (d. 1590) conceived of psychology in terms of the petfection of
man, the study Of his sou1 and of its origin.
These developments are quite tecent if one considers the whole Lristory of the herest of
humenkind in the h a n soul. The western ongins of speculations on its natwe date back to
p S o d c schods of the 61 anrmy B-C? There invesrigations were fuirher pursued by Gaien,
Pl-, Atistode and later Greek and Helienic writers. Their respective works and themes will make a
tremendous impact on the deveiopmeiit of philosophical ezlthropology w h h h hl&c tradition. By
the 11th end 12th centuries (the period covered by this study), the study of the soui enmmpasses a
rmniber of philosophicd issues and physiological considerations (inherited from the medicd tradition
of Greek phpicians, namely Galen),
Like a number of important Islamic philosopbers, Suhnrwardidid n a develop a philosophicd
anthropology that was grounded in a medicai pnictice, un&e -4vinna. He never mote treatises on
medical maners, even if he was schooled in the mditional Peripatetic comiculum (that induded
medical theories) thac be folimed in the differem inteileauai &des he attended (M-hah, I$ahn,
Rom, or Akppo). In fa^, Sohrawardi's philosophicd mthmpology, , the one of A v i i = e ~ ais
,
couched in a conceptual framewk that is esseddiy metaphysicai. For this reason, investigarions
they undectook h m the aanve of the soul a* essentially philosophical, hence,the emphasi of thi
study on the terms of pbilosophical enthrr,plogy rather than psychology. Du* rhis petiod, the
study of the sou1 d
i encompassed pbilosophicai investigeions h t o its nature and dl issues Linked to
its fate, before and after death. -4lrhough the study of the soul w a s often concerned with mare
pragmatic psycho-medical investigations. a mere empiricist ourlook is generally absent from
Suhtaffardi's ~ o r k s save
, some descriptions of psy-cholagicd states associated with a number of
passions (e.g., anger).
h the last decades. a number of works on Suhrawardi have addressed a number of issues
(Ziai ,Amm Razavi,a Wdbridge. Din&@.None have provided a thorough analysis of his philosophical
T h i s study purpm to shed some light on Suhrawardi's philosophid m~hropology,
~~1thropology.
but, mcre specifically, on the relation that it has with Avicenna's own philosopbrcal anrhropolog)..
For this purpose, we will use an essentially comparative approach - a comparison of SnhniwabI's
theoy of the soul wirh Avicenna' s.
Suhrawardi did contribute positively with a number of philosophid hnovatioru - id logiq
physics or metaphysics. As Ziai notes, Suhmardi' s major work,the C?%dom.
Ch'd-H~mLjl~ ~e

cannot be unde~toodin isolation from his other works - essentiaUy the four dogmatic treraises -
whch "present syscemaridy a new farmuldon of Nonetheless, S ~ w a r d does
i
d h t h a ~b e had been, in his youth, an d e n t follower of Peripatetic philosophy. Suhrawardi
believed tha a number of Peripatetic doctrines and theses were valid aad coastkuted some of the
founding principles of his own refarnulation. This constitutes Suhtawdi's -4vicennan Peripatetic
heritage which we will ay to illustrate. We will try to show where Suhrawatdi adopts Peripatetic
Avicennan positions and how he departs from the later tradition on a number of issues related to the
soul. Our god is not to depiu Suhrawardl as the initiator of an original and typically Eastern
"Iiluminerionist"philosophy - 0th- have done so (Corbin, ~asr).'Our main concern is more with
intellectual history What is the Peripatetic substratum of Suhmardi's more personal conhibution to
Islamic Philosophy?

CHAPTERS OF THE THESIS


The fiRt chapter provides a general historical background to the advent af an Islamic
philosophical anthropology. A quick incursion into the Greek aad H e l l d c period - indudmg the
hfluedtial Neophnic phase - introduces foreign elements into hfamic vedition that helped to
create aphilosophically d c u l a t e d Inlamic anthropology. Although Christian and Islamic theological
debates were of some importance, it is with at-kindi and at-Fm-bi that a truly philosophical tradition

Zai, A 3 m w - . e 14, LO, 14,115.


Nu,"The Spmtd of the IUuminationutSchool ," 160-7 1;6.
Corbia, SmbmmYd'Alrp.
develops in Islam hvicenria owes much to the Laer. This philosophical ~~ttkopology
is then
introduced with , first, rtn exploration into what aonstitutes Islamic philosopbical anthtopology and,
second, a prese1mtion of -4viceana's works where he discusses the humad sa11 Findy, Suhrawardi's
own endeavors me inrroduced d e r the preseittafion of a brie survey of post-A~cemandevelopments
till the t h e of Sukasverdi to provide an overview of a span of more thad a hundred and fifty yetirs -
Babmanyk- b. Manban, Ibn Zaylah, al-Lawkari, al-Ghaziil, ai-ShahrastanI,Fakhr al-DIn al-Raa and
-4b al-Baraka al-Baghdadi.

The second chapter rwiews S u h mardi' sscant biographical data sC8tferedin a few biogm@tk
in o r d a to sketch his emly Life and education (from Sohraffard to Marghah, .fahan. Rm. arrd then
to Aieppo). -4 bnef p r e s m t i o a of the soao-polirical CO- and the mounting opposition from the
Ulamas of Aleppo WUd u d e ta sorne of the possible causes of Suhtawardi's tragic de& in .Lileppo.
Tuming ro Suhrriwardi's wocks, a number of problems arie with the snidy of the Suhmvc~dian
corpus. First, the chronology of bis work c m only be, at best, tentatively estabLished. Second,a
classification of his works is &O problematic, for they -ver a whole spectrum of literary genres:
poems, B o o k o f U o e l i k e t e m . diegorical treatises, pilosophical ooqendiums, iginal mystico-
philosophial treetises, and iuitiatory narratives and parablm with -0% symboic Ilgaage. Third,
the question of his intelleaual allegiance remains the boae of contention amongst Suhrawardian
ckclei: Can one Eiaim that be was solely a mysac or Sdi or a philosopber, ie., in the Greek or
PmpaOXic sense, or was he en eclectic thinket? In spire of divergertt vkws regarding his works or
diegiance, Suhrawdi writes about philasophical inth+opology in ail of his philosophical wrirings
(as he does in most of bis allegorical works). In fact, a number of his works do contain septuate
seaions that discuss the soul, the intemal f d h e ! ? ,reason, m d so on.
The first part of the third chapter explores the nature of the soul in the wotks of bath
A v i c e m and Siihrawatdi. They provide a definition of the soul's oahire in tams of its perfection -
Le., as an entelechy - and of its subsantiality whch introduces the issue of inmrpeality of the
soul. Tbe next discussion cearm on the debate over the pre-existence of the soui and the amditions
they set for its sristentietion - Le., the phystcal aad cosmologid conditions that d e the sublunar
world and comnrnnd the conditions of its existedaion. Fiaally, a discussion on the soui-body
relation wili conclude chis seaion. The second part of the thd chaptw explores the philosophical
concept of the vitai spirit (pdeumra - C ~ J-)"ely relaed to soul-body dation issues. Distinct
from the divine spirit, the +-ta1spirit is divided h o a arrniral, an animal, and a psyehic spirit, the
1- behg the most noble of ail. Thea. the different fundons of these vital spi& and, more
specificrrlty, of the humaa psychic spirit which serves as an intermediary between soul and body are
discussed. ELHEIUy. the association with or close proyimiry of the psychic spirir with the rational soul
will highlight rts importance for the process of qresentation.

ki the fourth cfiepter, we discuss the division of the sou1 into wgetative, animal, ?nd homan
souls, the latterb e i q the object of further division, especiaiy ac the htmd of Avinna who iatroduces
a fivefald division of the inner semes. Suhrawardi's aitique of this A~cennsnposition seeks to
peeserve the ontological unity of the soul More specificdy. there ere tbe issues of the localkation of
two i n r d senses - the faculties of active Unagination and entmatton - in the same bodily* organ
(the brain) and the relafed issue of recollection. Hence, Suhraffardi prPposes to reject this fivefold
division and replace it with 8 single faculty that can embrace the three (Avicennrni)facultiesresponsible
for r e p ~ e s a a t i o n Finrlly,
. the typically Snhrawardian light motif reappem in his Mitapretation of
the internal faculties.
The fifth chapter htroduces y a another c e n t r d aspect of S u h a d i ' s philosophical
anthropology - sensible perception The most important pqception for Suhmwardi is vision. He
aiticizes m r o h e d c a l y . physiologicaliy, and physically both the " extramissive" theocy of vision,
associated with Plato, and the "intt.omissiveWth- of vision, assouated with -4tistotle. Aithough he
appears to adopr a rheoy of vision thac awes much ta the Avicennm tradition, he introduces bis
"illtimiiia<ve"VI S I ) th- of vision for which he enurnefates cmnditions: the notions of pesence,
a face---face encounter, absence of ve and, m0.a importantiy, the p.esence of light. Finally, we
will discuss the d e of the niiing iight, ie., the Isfahbad-light. as the ptinciple of viaon at the heart
of Suhrawatdi's reinterpretarion of vision
In the sixth chapter, we discuss the most imponant of inner faculties for Suhrawardi's
philosophical aarhropology- the f w of imagination. In fact ,the latter can only really be understood
once its ricapre and f u n d o n s are d y s e d whicb is, to some extent, shaped w i t b a g e n d Avicennan
conceptuai ftamework, atthough h e does eriticize the Avicennan pontion by redroducing a notion
af mity, i.e., of the f u n d o n s of the human soul. This leads ta discussions on the materid or
immnerUl nanue of the f a d r y of imagimtio~tSuhrnwardi finally adopts a rnodified version of the
Pecipatetic division of the imer senses,but which raissa number of difficultie, especialiy with his
oonception of a single internai sense responsible for representation, e.g., the nature of this single
fenilty of representdon (imagination), its cantent, and its independence fmm the r d o d soul
(ooul- bady relation).

The fun patt of the swnch chapta addresses epistemological issuer. the fiRt bang self-
knowledge. Hem,Avicem' s notorious hypothetical exarnple of the *' suspendedmperson becornes a
w u d e to Suhrawardl's discussions on self-knowledge. Suhrawatdi's matment of self-knowledge,
however, exhibits a cornplexit). to which -4vicenna only alludecl. Ln fact, Suhrawardi wiU o f f a a
nunibec of arguments to uphold a g e n e d conception of self-hwledge: the pFimiay maeness of
one's own existence, self-idedty. uie unmediated character of this type of knowfedge - i.e., not
t h u g h am image, a form, a notion of the self, or an amibute of the self - and the issue of
individuation
The second part of the seveatb chapter focuses on intellection UTeWU see how Submvarch's
tointerpretation of Peripacetic philosophy does not completely do maywth the later's epistemolagical
distinctions: reason divided h o practiad and theoretical or intellects divided into nuaxerial, habituai,
active, and acquired. We will then discuss the =es of processes of inteiiection. More impoitandy, in
Sohrawardi's d e r p r R a t i o n of Pet;Pataic epistemology, a ceirain aspect of the imaginative faculty
appeers to preserve its infetior position Glj-B-W the inteilective prinaple - the rationai soal.
Altbough the faculty of im~giaatiaais unable to eccess mversal trnths (on account of its association .

with m 6 s l i t y ) , it is nsponsible for medi- the rationni soul's particultu knowledge b y means of
its ability to epresent Uiilversds (tniths, f h p ~ c i p l e s a
, divine revelation) for the 1- . The
a a i v e intelligence is d s o of importance for isteilection: as the source of the mionai souls, as the
priaciple of tbe ~ a l i z a t i o nof human intelligence, aild as tbe pvier of forms rn our souls and
pimal mrwer. These discussions wiU dmhme with the debate ovet the m r e of the telacion human
d o d souls can have with the d v e intelligence: 1s it a union (J&I ) or a conjunction ( J G l ) ?
Finally, Suhrinirrrrdi makes a number of p d l e l s berne- the active intelligence and the divine spirit,
the logos, and light. Tbe last pait of titis cbapter d y s e s the rekionship berneen philosophical and
mysticai knowledge in terms of two epistemoiogicd concepts - intuition (wa ) and mystical
contemplation ( Z - L ). Suhrawards emphasis on the l~fferis then explained in ternis of the
onoblogy of Iightthat structures bis personal itueqmtuionof mysticd knowledge. Findiy,an exposition
of the essence of his ptesential knowledge is provided.
The eight chapter discwses issues asscximed with M c e n n . ' ~ and S ~ w a r d s
pphetologies. -4n important discussion p- to the nature of prophetic ltnowledge as opposed ta
theosophical knowledge and the distinctions thac sec them apart. More importantly, mgtaphysical
consideratioas - entanaion (Avicennan) or iLIumhdon (Suhmwardian), cetestid intelligences and
souis (or lights) as intermedimes - anci antbropofogicalc o n s i d d o n s - dispositions, desire, spiiituril
errercises - must be discussed to provide answers to the question of the nature of this kmwledge.
Once mare the issue of inteUetive conjMction is raised, but with regards to prophas, theosophgs,
**
saints, and sa on, and the knowledge of drvine - divine revelations, inspirations, visions, oc dreams.
&

At the h e u of the epistemologicaf procen thla accounts for this type of knowledge lies tbe faculry
of imagination whicb ,in thh process, bas tcpo fnnetions. The first function of imaginaion is n~gntive.
Le.. it must not intemene in the process of recepcion of metaphysicai ovths - i t musc fade away to
leave the intellect d e . This is p d c u l a r l y crue of Avicenna. In a number of passages. it is s i d a r f y
m e of SrrhrafwarQ's concept of active imaginarion. thus paving the way for the ascetic life he
advocates and which is amducive to pisiomry experiences. h.loreover, it is - as a faculty unable to
access the Mivaa1 - subadinate to the rational soul, the Isfahbad-light principle. The second role

of imagiriltion is positive: it c m ceceive infocmation that originates at the metaphpical level (mediared
by the light-intekCrive). It is essentidy able CO represent what the sou1 perceives through ifs
In this process, notions of reflection
expmence of the light (Srihrawerdi)- the intellective (-4tiCem).
(i-e., the mefaphor of te mirror) aad hifarion become central to accoum for the process of reception
by the faculty of imagination and its d e r to the f~cultyof comdlm E
- which is. in tum.
responsible f o i the sensible actPalization of these matterS. This type of knowledge reqirites drat rhese
di* agas be tnterptpted.
The ninth and las chaper focuses on the natore and conditions of the sou1 and in the
afterlife - Le., io eschatolagical fate. Bodily resuxreaion is the first issue to be addressd. For
A v i c a , a spirinial resunoaioa aad not a bodity and physical resmection is possible. But how is
sueh a spinnial resurriection (-4vicenna) or some son of bodiiy resurrection (Suhrswardi) to be
expfained in order to account for divine retribution? Suhrrwardi's own scatemeats on the possibility
of some sort of bodily re~umectionraises the issue of a possible merempsychosis. Trrurmigration of
the soul alrio vises with the belief in the pre- or pst-existenceof the soul, dthough both Avicerma
end SAwawardi erpicity negare such a possibrliry. They have, nonetheless. been clccused of ha-
adapted positions indicative of the possibility uf some transmigration. This is espeudy true of
Suhniwardi, whose position is more runbiguous chan the one of .4vioenne. Findy, the feailty of
im@mtion is centrnl for the pttirosophical e x p ~ o boch
n aithor provide of the survival of

individuality as a condition for the advent of divine retribution. A v i c e m allnded to the k v a i of


the haginarive faculty thtu Suhniwardi further develops. But an a f m imt;aUy imnrrUiein a m d y
suMve? To enswer this question, botb authors appeal to the possible casmological d a t i o n chat the
humas sools c m enablish. Subraward, conrray to Avicenna,proposes the existence of an independent
haginal world. It is at this junction that cosmology and eschatdogy meet.
ONE

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Islamic philosophical anthmpologg owes much to the Greek tradttiod A brief ercums into
Greek phdosophy will help introduce some of the central themes of Suhrawardi's philosophical
aathropology. These themes include the soul's nature. the seat of this faculry which imparts Life.
motion to the human body, as well a s wiit, intellection. the soul's origin. its life before and a f w the
Me of the body, and so o n
The debate about the soul's nature were shaped by two major Greek schools of thought
which remauid influentid for centuries. On the one hand, the Platonic tradition offered a r a d i d
srance on transcendence; on the other hand, the ,4ristotelian tradition proposed an immanent position.
Plato (ca. 427-347 BC) distinguished between the rational and non-rational patts of the soul, the
former representing the ultimate reaLity of t h e sou1 and which could dispense altogahet with the
senses. He assected that t h e cational p a t ~
of tbe soul is inmortal and offered proofs of its nmortality
(in the TUnew and the Phzedo ).* in f a a the rational soul. as the tegent faculty. is g e r i d y
l o w e d in the brain. as Hippocrates maintrrined. However, some texts name 0th- organs as its seat
(e-g..the stornach or the iiver)? Muiy other concepuons of the soul are present in Plero's works. e-g..
that ir is the source of motion and M e , its tripartite division (exemplified by the metaphor of the
chariot rider and his two horses). or its role in the weakness of the ~ 1 1 1 . ~
These have found their way into Islamic philosophical anthropology. either in their pure
Plfitonic fonn or, more often. in conjundion with accretioas of Galenic, Aristoteiian oc Neoplatonic
traditions. Two other important Platonic doctrines find their way d o Suhrawardi's wocks. Fkt,
there is the doctrine of recoliection (mwmnms ). This doctrine posits a prior existence of the soul

One of the fvst contecnporaxy studies of greek psycholcigical smdies was Snell, 2 % ~ D z k v ~ oqf
&b&d. Anotha important smdy is tbe one b y Bremmer, ZeEjuIy Gmrk C o ~ o f ~ e S o r d .
2
Piato, Ph&, 7Oc-72e.
Plato, Triaetus,70d-e and 7%. The Liva W said co enable reason to pmjea images on its smootb
refiechng surface in order to b e able ta exert an duence on beast-like &sires, cf. Ibid., 71% in additmn, it
pkp3 a role in diviaacion trough dreams and viaans, cf. Ibid., 716.
Plato, Rqua&b'i,437d-441c.
which. subsequently, becomes entrapped in the body and whose only desire is to release itself from
its corporeal prison. This is the consequence of Suhrawarcfi's reintroduction of a doctrine of Platonic
Ideas, albeit in a modified focm. Avicenna does not seem to have adopted this d o c t ~ eThe
. cecond
Platonic doctrine reintroduced by Suhrawardi is Plato's conception of an intuitive vision which
associates knowing wirh the a a of seeing. This notion is crucial to Suhtawardi's epistemology.
Finally , Suhraw ardi appears to understand the human soul as akin - to some extent - to the divine
sou1 . N C thai
~ the iourney to know itseif amounts to a journey to know the ultimimae realitytYS
The other major tradition chat offer& original theories regarding a number of issues relateci
t6 the soul is the Aristotelian tradition. These cheories are found in Aristotle's (d. 322 BC) works,
essentially his Oa the. Sou/ (the Pm-Psucb&. cr the D e .-Incirtti of the La&) . This is perhaps the
single most influentid work for the develapment of lacer philosophicd anthropologies, whetber
Christian, Jewish, or Islamic. For hsmnce, most major psychological treatises may be included in the
category of De &s Litecature , as thqr consist for the most part of commentaries on this work,
eg., the commentaries of Alexander of Aphrodisias (fl. ca. 200 CE). Themistius (d. 388 CE). or
vicem ma^
In On &k
Seul, Aristotle adopts a more n a t u ~ approach
t to ihe study of the soul. The
marked duatism of Plam is replaceci b y a more organic relation baween body and soul. Consequently,
Aristotle intrduces a more monistic conpcion of the soul. The body no longer entraps the soul.
Rather, the body serves the soul and becomes its instrument. th& mlationskp being in agreement
witb Atistotle's hylornotphic conception of the world. The fate of the soul, as a form, is now
incrinsicaily Linked to the functioning of the body. The soul becames simultaaeously a petfection
( twel&I) of the body, wbile requiring the body in o r d e to be inaantiated7 These conceptions
will fuid their way uito Aviceiina's conception of the nature of the soul with some Neoplatonic
acuetions.
In his biological works, Aristotle argues in favor of the heart (the seat of beat) as the seat of
the soul. regent of the bodya Furthemiorel in ANfode's OBtik Saul.important issues were raised
for which the Islamic Peripatetic tradition was to offer some of its own solutions. Avicenna developed

Plato. hfao, 81c; d.Idem, Ph- which is an the soul;cf. Idem. Rfp&.ic,516.9-51Sb.
Giiermo, LrrcrcpaM z b b e "Deitmdza "drAniX4cdks-af-K3.M~yd-F&1-
Aristotle, Cb &r&uI. II, 1. 412a26-30; cf. Ibid ,412a11-12. Atbough the soul (Mnd) and body
ae integraed,t h e wouid nor seem to be yiv mam faa belief in personalimmortllity.
Anlwle. ~ p p i ~ a ilRcjllil/iirm,
ur 11, 7.652al0-1 1 - The b l a n tempering the hem of the heart, cf.
Ibid., 652b26-30.; cf. Idem, hIa;rPaya;rJ, D.1,1013a4-5; d.Ibid., Z, 10, 1035b25-28.
a dassificzation of the inner senses chat tried to overwme the shanconiings of Aristotle' s conception
and, thaeupon. differentiated between dilferentadvities associated with theprocess of reFresentation.'

Aristode proposed a slightly different classification of the different y p e s of soul ci-m the
one found in Plao. He also departs from Plato's theory of recollection and proposes a conception of
knowledge or of rationai processes in terms of an acquisition of knowledge that is achieved through
a process of abstraction from an original state of rrrbuhast~ which A v i c e ~ aand Suhrawardi wili
deem insufficient. More irnportantly, i t is the notion of intellect b a t is at the h e m of Anstotle' s
epistemology and which wiii be commented at length by both authors, Furthermore. contrary to
Plato. Aristotle greatly emphasized the unity of the sou1 and the body. This. however. will not
prevent his noetics from presenting signs of tensions evinced by the emergrng problem of the
aurnber and the nature of the intellects. In short, the question that remaineci unanswered was the

nature of the human (active) inteiiea: was it immortai o r not, immanent or transcendent. Furthmiore,
the perenniai metaphor of ligbt symbolizing intelledion recurs in Aristotle' s works, where it becornes
the symbol of the active nature of the intellect!' AU these d i f f m t issues w a e to shape later
Helienistic, Christian, Jewish and Islamic noetics."
The fate of later Hellenistic and post-Aristotelian developments WU remain dependent, for
the most prirt, on the issues and problems raised and dweloped b y these nipo major traditions
regardhg the soul. Numerous positions will be adopted tbat will Vary accordhg to the theorecical
frame adopte: eithe Platonic or Aristotelian. This wili becorne apparent with the presentation of
Avicema's positions which, although g e n w identified as Peripatetic, they share much with a
number of Platonic and Neoplatonic conceptions. The cornpromiing attitude of Avicenna towards
both traditions will re-emerge in die works of Suhrawardi, albeit his greater inchation towards the
Platonic aad Neoplatonic traditions.

A brief sketch of the Greek heritage for conceptions and doctrines related CO philosophical

anthropology would not be complete without the mention of Galen of Pergarnus ( c . 2 10 CE).
Although his inteilectual legacy is mainly in the field of medicine, h e engaged in philosophicai
debate (monof his phtlasophial works, however, have perkhed)!z Fm instance. Galen's survivhg

9
Aastocle. Oa&9eSoal,III, 3,427alo-429a9.
10
Anstorlc, Oa &Sou/l III, 5,430a10-25. The thoreticai sool can be imxpmtacecf as constitutig
the dMae dement inman,or that Gd,or the first pinciple, is pure contemplation,cf. cf. Anstale, Muiamzazbezc~oa
5 z # , X, 7,1177a12-117808 and Ibid., X,8,117019- 1 179a32; cf. Hameiin. La&5eMG.&l h&k, 25-8.
11
For a general background to lslamic noetics , cf, Macotte, " ibn Miskawayh's Concept," 10-63.
12
TieIecnan, Gdcw, Y&. His tracts & & P ! ; C , / e and oie F&Mortr (agtunsr Anstale)
works contain his extensive verbatim qnotations from the otherwrse lost O ! rhe Sou1 by the Stoic
Chr).sippus of Soici (c. 205 BC)." Galen's own amitude towards metaphysicai questions was guided
by bis owa b m d of empiriusm." His ideas about che soul were ofcen based on a syncretic perspeaive
whch did not constitute a precise and unifonn systern of thought - although they encompassed
medical. physiological and psychalogicai amsiderati~lis.'~
Nonethelesi. Isiamic philosophgs did discuss a number of positions found in Gaien's works.I6
For instance. regarding the locus of the rational part of the soul, Galen, favorable to Plato's ttipartite
division, opted for the brain. while anger. associated with the irascible soul, regdeci in the heat;
&sire. assocated with the concupiscent soul, resided in the beily (specified by Galen as the ~iver).'~

The problem yet to be soived was the maiiner in which the other parcs of the buman soul in the h e m
and the liver could aauaily communicate with the rational part in order to m e n c e , as they
obviously do,volition. Others, su& as the Peripatetics. most of tbe Stoics and a number of physicians
Iocated the main psychic functiom ia the hein.'' This was. in part. solved with Galen's the0ry of the
paeluzfau or vital spints that connected di the different facuities of the soui. the loftier part being
the rational pan ~f the sou1 and which WU be discussed by Avicenna and Suhrawardi

NEOPLATONISM AND THE PSEUD EPLGRAPHICAL WORKS


blamic philosophers greatly depended on later Hellenistic developments for their
understanding of ancient Greek philosophy. Neoplatomsts like Plotinus and Proclus - h e m to the
Platonic tradition - had a great impaa on later intapreiauons. The Neopletonists were.by and large,
Platonists,but they managed to introduce mystid elements - at times gnostic - d o th& phiiosophical

14
H e refuses to cake a stand on a number of issues: the soui's i m m d i t y and embodiemmt, the
nature of G d (as opposed to bis existence), the eceraity of the world, whether the w a i d Bcists in a void, cf.
T i e h a n , G A ,mlxx n. 22.

16
Lyons, " & th* A h t e o f M m rn 'A6 Ibn Ri* Sn's Epitorne," 18 1 - 17 1 [translation of Gaien's
work]; cf. Idem. "The Kh-&*d-AU+ad 'Ah ibn R i h i i n , " 65-7 1.
17
On the histoncal iduence of Gaien,cf. Temlan, G a i m .
18
Tielemaa, CR/m, T i e a wntes that "Tbrough an d e d procas of s p n d s m , the
ailturd ambiance of authon like Plutarch, Galen and others had Pminrlated msly elements from various
schods ta the point where they were no Longer felt to be d~sanctiveof thae scbools. The procedure of ferretmg
out 'Platonisms,' 'Stoicsms" and 'A~toceliPn;.Fms'rn the pbilosophcal wtitings of the W o d is barren
prccisefy bcclruse it faits to take rccount of the implications of t
hpmss of synaetisrn,"cf. Ibid., xM-wi.
Galen had foilowed courses of ail four man scbools of philosophy,P l a t o h , Aristoteltanirrn, Stuicism, and
Epcruernism, cf. Ibid.,xviii n. 12.
~~ecnlatioos.'~
~ h e s later
e developments are not only crucial for the understanding of rhe development
.
of phtlosopbical ideas. e.g . the introductton of a theory of emanation; they a e central to a number of
Awcenna's interpretations which Suhtawardi Iater developed. One of the most interestmg studies on
the soul in the Neoplaonic period is Merlan's work in which an incisive analysis of the soul is
offered?
The single most impottant Neoplatonic work is perhaps the pseudo- ?hwlqf ofrlrZi.r&le
(translated b y 'Abd al-Masih b. Na"imah al-Himsi) for and revised by al-Kindi, d u ~ the
g reign of
al-Ma'mtin (r. 813-33).~'~his
work was larer attributed to Aristotle and, consequentl).. was responsible
for much of the Neoplatonic coloring of many later attempts at interpreting and understanding
.eistotle8s thought.P In Light of contempomy scholarship, it i s now attributed to Porphyry (ca-
233-305) end his I'sqcge n and to Plotinus (205-270) and bin bd'(pens N .V. VI).*~
Porphyry's authorship of the Arabic paraphrase of the ,!ZWP~I&
has. however. been contested on the
gmunds that it contradicts his views in other ~orks.~Uncontesrably.
this work had a grea impact on
Avice~lnawho commented itWz6
A mention must also be made of Proclus' f i b m dc C Y U !widely
, commented o n in the
Christian Middle Ages and similarly falsely attributed to Aristotle. It consists of a shorter version of
Rochs' ~ e m t n zof
s ~ 0 and draws
~ greatly
/ "
from~Plotinus' ~iratuds Some works d&g
witb issues usually related to the soul such as vision or dreatn. have also been falsely attributed to

a
Malan, hfonqzwp'ltirm; 15.Idem. "GreekPhlosohy," 14- 132.
21
Fakhy,M;Rwy, 32;cf. Ibn al-Nadim, n e "fi-" dd-Na&, 11,606; d.Badawi, d - h . ~ h l
d" 'Apfiyubd - A @ . ., 50; cf. Zimmerman. " The O n p ," 1 12. For tbe Arabic text, d.pseudo- Ibwl4ey
d a e , 1-164.
22
It seems, acmrding to N w (in h ~ English
s mtroduction) that this erroneous amibution occurred
sometime after d-Kin&, cf.Plotmus. UiCim- [ Eiuntdr " f Z 5 d q g "~22w Hr& ofM&n%] (ed.&htiyiZuii.
6; d.zirnmennan, "The Orrgurs." 213.

%
FaLhry, A h 5 . q d ldiumi ~ ~ o P / r y d.
32; , F. W. Zimmennan, "The Ocigins of the
So-called M q e v of Aristotle," 1% d.KnPs. "Platinchez les anbes." ,263-95-
a
D 'Anwna Costa, "Pqhyry,"47-88.
26
Avicenna, Sh& , 35-74;d.tram. of a number of passages in Vajda, " Les notes d' Aviceone,"
345406.
TI
Wdzer, " BrmyIus," 133%; d.Pinb, "Uneversion arabe,"201.
m o t l e (e.g.. the pseudo-,Aristotelian texts of Gregorios Thtiumanirgos). These have survived dong
with other -4rabic texts dealing w ith shilar issues.'"

THE ISLAkIIC MILIEU


Articulace philosophicd speculation s a a r to whac had previously been developed by the
Greek and Hellenistic tradiIons simply did aot exist at the tune of the nascent Muslim communiry,
e-g.. the tribal soctety of Arabia. I t has b e n argueci that the absence of a distiuctively indigenous
philosophical tradition was due to the pre-[slamic conditions of the Arab community as well as to a
-ber of socio-historicalfactors psniculrr CO the rapidly expanding Muslim society-=
The situation. however. changed rapidly. The existence of a Christian commumty and the
thriving intellectmal actiwties of its scholtirs at the heart of an increasingly expanding MusLim empire
was of grearimportance. Origindy.it =as these Christian scholars who, as ttanslators, wereresponsible
for introducing new philosophical rem, issues and problems. Their role, however, was not solely
technical. in fact, they made use of philosophical arguments m defend their own faith against
Muslim &tics, who, in mm, rapidly l m e d to be apologists thernselves. H a c e , apologetic and
polemical debates and works musc have been another possible vector of contact between ancient
philosophicai ideas and the Islarnic tiltidition.
The main Christian nters were the School of Alexandna and the School of Harrin, and the
Nestorian (Iranian) School of Jundishpr. Harm and otber Syzan centers were essentially the fvst
places where Greek thought florished, before the advent of 1slm." These w a e centers that fonered
xnuch interaction between Greek and Heiienistic ideas and the burgeoning Islamic culture. Ln those
Christian circles, the transmission of ancient know ledge k o Arabic was achieved by way of a S w a c
interlude in the uanslafion movernent (from the ~ t e e k )T. ~h e is no doubt that the development of

29
G;+je. Sda. This wo*, in addition to an in~oducrionon tbe Greek background of Aristotelian
psychology and the Ambic tnnsJaaons of Ansmie's UTuic. Sou1 , contains the texts and the Gnman
m l a t i a n s of Gregorios's triro varions (95-1 13, 114-129). a - d a - A r r n a t e ~ texc on Dreams (130-135). a
doxography of Galen on Dreams (130-5), and a text of Alexaader of Apbrod~siason Sight (140-63).

a
PM, AmWc iMd tjlt.Ards, 35-41; dong with the Iranian mi&ietl, cf. Ibxd., 58-60 and the
mediai ardes, cf. [bid., 163-5. The Sabaeans of &miin,who considerd themsehes the esoteric foiiowm of
the Prophet Idns or Hermes, were also to h d u Hermetic idesa into I s i m , cf. C m , & & . , 4 1-2,
183-7; cf. Tirdieu. 'Sabicns coraniques et a!%btens de Hamm,"1-44.
n
Petas. AnSrar&c5 h b r t r ; cf. Madhur, L '%mon :-&fc cf. Lyons, ed., A a Arw61c
Trmadmh of 3ncpltizirn ; cf. Idem, "An Arabic Tramlaion," 426-35. See ais0 the numerous editions of
Badawi.
an Isiamic Peripacetic philosophical ttadition to which Avicenna beloaged could not have corne to
life nichout the introduction of a nomber of veq- important works from the Greek and Hellenisric
traditions - works like Aristotle's On rbr S u / and ir subsequent and numerous commentaries
which were cnicial CO tbe dewlopmenr of Islamic philosophical inthropology.
A very good survey of the process of transmission is found in Pecers' rlnjtade rmdhe Ambs

.which desaibes the transmission of the .4ristotelian corpus as weU as a number of other philosophical
. ~ Peters shows. the Islamic philosophical tradition owes a great deal to the effons of
~ r a d i t i o n sAs
.
Ishiiq b . eunayn for bis rnwltuion of important philosophicd Greek warks including Aristotle' s Qa
i;aeSou1and his On &e SPHSS
nnd.!!emamon
,3" and the works of Ga1en. A numb er of commentaries

on Aristotle's Oa&eSoul were &O tt811~1~fe.~~


lshq also prodoced abridged workr and q-stematic
textbooks out of the Galenic corpus, which had almost ail been translrted by the end of the 9th
cenairy and used by Muslim physicians?
This brief sketch of Greek and Kelledistic traditions ind~catesthe increasidgly cornplex
philosophical heritage t h a helped to shape Islamic philosophical tradition. T o b m d Islamic philosophy
ES ecleaic and unable m ditinguish amongst the different Greek schods is a hast. judgment which
does a dissavice to IsIamic phiiosophy as a whole. Hellenistic developments are, for the most part,
responsible for the misnterpretation of Anstotle and Plato - whether in the form of commentaties of
Aristotle's w a k s (Aexander of Aphrodisias a Themistius), or in the form of original works (the
e c l e d a s m of pst-Anstotelian thifikers such as Galen). The heritage of Pfato and Aristotle was,
therefore.greaciy shaped b y the iatelieaual legacy chey generated. These la= H ellenistic developments
greatly d a d e d the fate of Islamic philosophy as a whole.
In f a a , the Aristotelian-Plaonic vasus Neoplatonic division remaineci nrong. Distinct western
and eastern traditions developed within Islamic philosophy. On the one haad. t h e was an Arisrotefian
tradition diat cuimlated in a revival of Aristotelianism with the works of Averroes (Ibn Rushd); on

a
For the Platouic tradition,cf. Pererr, Anjtor/e;1%1dLrrrAmbs,
168-74: for the BPm-yah mowment,
d.Ibid., 174-83; and far tc Paipatetks of Baghdad, cf. Ibid., 160-3.
M
Peters, ~ i s ~ u40-5.s It was
, Abu Bishr Mata b. Yns, a physician, who wmte a
C O ~ ~ Z L I C an ~ ~it~ a~ i
I L it; , Edam-, La P Z -
s referred to the ~ n i 5 s u r & i 1 cf. ,8Q 1.
3s
Hunayn, the facher of Ishq. mansiated Aristocle's ulr &4/ into S p a c , while the fi=
coqlete ansJztian into h b i c was done by Isfiap b. Hunap, cf.Ibn al-Nadim. n e ' F i & " d d - N e ,
vol. II, 605. For the Arabic edition, cf. Anstotle, lT ;d-N&s, ed, 'A. Bsidaw; cf. Pecers, Rnjmre//cs@us,
$0-5.Tbc amibution of this translation to Ishaq b. Hunayn is qu&onable, cf. Hasan, "Notes on the Edition,"
fl-71; cf. An;rl&m'DeioWn~~-eule ~ f c ~ . d e q m a d e A u a p b u e rb i i d e r ~ d ~ c z 5 a U b e h i f i ~
iw
,ed. R. Arnzen.
35
Su-ohmaier,"Galenin Arabic," 188.
CHAPTER ONE - 15

the o h e r hand. an e a s m Isl&c phifosophical tradition with its distinctively Neoplatonic hallmark
chat was perpetuated b y A v i c e ~ and.
a even more so by Suhrawardi and his successocs. The Neoplaonic
influence was felt within the circles as diverse as the Ism$ili tradition and the Ikhwiin al-Safa',
Neoplaoniw in th& own right.3
The question that rem- to be answered is the foilowing: What, then, is Penpatetic phdosophy

and the philosophical anthropology it proposes? Sezgin has listed under the nesding of ps)ichology at
least fifty five German articles and books thar deal specificaiiy with one issue o r another telared to
the soul in hlamdom (dong with reviews of a numba of orha wcrks) A nurnbe of these works
cfiscuss Peripaeric vlews.

The philosophrcal trnthropology proposed by the Peripateticsfin& its origins in the cornbinauon
af a number of factors. Fi=, there is the histoncal devdoprnents that imparted a new impenis to the
Aristotelian corpus. and, more importaatly foc the purpose of this work, with the trms1ation of
Aristotle' s Oa d e Seul,
h addition, there is the whole post-Aristotelian corpus associated with this partial= work
and the question of the soul, e.g., the later Neoplatonic commenttvies, but also Galen's medico-
physiological doctrines. Furthermore, the reception of the Greek hentage was shaped by the emergence
of a Neoplatonic tradition,e.g.. Plotinus' and Procius' wb. Finally, the importance of the tension
rhat arose between the two major traditions - Aritoteliaiiism and Plaonism - with the Arabic
pseudepigraphical Neoplatonic works aaributed to Aristotle (the pseudo- TZewIofl of cez'sl~k)
should not b e ~nderestimated.~
Cozisequently. Islamic Peripatetic d o a ~ e adopted
s varying attitudes towards Anstoteiian
doctrines, a phenornenon not so different frorn the Heknistic PeripateCic tradition, for iluince,
sorne (Lke Abidus) incorporated unpottant Aristoteiian doctrines in their chought; while 0th- (like
Atticus) incorporated more Stoic and Platonic eiements. This seems to have also been the case for

Philo of A l e x a n d n a In the Islamic coatext. Qu@ b. Lqa and al-Kindi integrated a numba of

n
r r Walker, m P h d m . i . ; n /Sziim , xii, 27-28; on the human
Netton, hfudzin M i q s d v l ~ ~ ~;Scf.
s d , Cf. Maguet, h p b r / ' z dm d
i -* ,227-72, and on reincarnation and remmeclion, cf. Ibid.,
383403;cf. D e Smet, La QuztiruIkokl ia~cU'.
CHAPTER ONE - 16

elements from the Galenic traditioa"


Caution should. however. be exercised in the attribution of an epithet such as Peripatetrcs
(o&L
) to Islamic thinkas. The notion of a Peipatetic school in Islamdom embraces a numba

of philosophical daarines introduced with Neoplaconism dong Aristoceiianism. For instance. al-Farabi
and Avicema incorporatecf within their personal syntheses a Neoplatonic rnetaphysics, e-g.. an
ananationkt schemey as weii as physiological and psychological ideas borrowed from Galen -
espeually the distinction between the spirit and the sou1 (+) and the notion of vital spirits.
i.e.. che pdeumarts
.
Nourished by the hristatelian corpus, Petlpateric philosophy nonetheless , whether Hellenistic
a Islamic departed from the formerby adopting Platonic or Neoplaronic doctrines. This is alretidy
true of the first commentators of Aristotle. e-g., Alexander of Aphrodisias. Furthemore. the closing
of the School of Alexandria (529) led to the introduction of pirilosophy at the SiGianid cou- (the

court of Khusr) whicb mcluded Aristocelianism. Platonism as w el1 as Stoicism , Pythagmsm and
~eo~latonistn?
The inteilectual and spirinial horizons of the Islamic miiieu by nature monotheistic. cacher
than monistc, helped sbape Islamic Peripatetic thought.* Cosmological conceptions were infhienced
by c c d o n i s m , while eschatological conceptions were elaboretecl to account for the religiously
revealed texts. Islamic philosophm were primarily concerned with integrating this religious data
witb a view to elaborsting their own philosophical synems.
Moreover, whde modem scholarship would consider someone iike Averroes as a Pmpatetic
, ~Peripatetics whom Suhrawadi had in mind id his numaous attacks against that
p t r e ~ e k f i ethe

41
Amid, %xt sur pp&dwe d;.ln h e , 14, 22-23; cf. Walzer, " t'veil de La philosophie
islamique," 11-3.
a
Cdverfey, " Docaines of the Soul,"257.
Q
Some S m c demeas can also be fowd in the wmks of the theolagians who were iaaueuced by cbe
cultPral centers dose to the Chrisrians, and through a variey af sours such as the commentatas of Anstotle's
works, e.g., Alexanda cd Aphrodisias and the translaions of the Greek physiaaat sudi as Gaiai. Hypoaates,
and the schoal of the pneumatics ( @ S @ - j), Mrskawayh's translation of the Lw& @BIS ( T&uh of
Cebes) a same of the moral wricings of al-Kin&. cf. Jaadane. t M B M dm *asme,
~ 45; ci.Amine "Le
stmcisme,"90-1,8 1-5.
44
Joliva,"The Developmait of Philosophcal Thought,"37-68; cf. Ivry, "An EPaluaion," 13545.
4s
Bada*, M @ 5
7 hda d-b b .
Anbough some authors - like Ibn
46
and the propoaents of a uniry of eristence [ , r d 1
- crn be qinte moatzac.
47
A v e ~ ~ eniacism
s' is d i r e ~ e dtowirard b#h al-GhazaL- and Avicenna's Plaoonisiog Peripatetitisn ,
Cf. Utcoy, /ItlRcrcbd(A p+tnrrs) ; cf. A d d e z , "Ibn Rushd," E L -1.3 (1971 ), SWb-Z0a.
school was none other than Avcenna Avicenna' s philosophicai heritage classifies him as a proponent
of Peripatetic philosophy (this is how he is usudy coasidered by Islamic philosophers), alrhough
such a g e n d categorizaion of his work does not account for tbe numecous Neoplacodic idhiences

that b e Uicorporaws.

. .
Suhrawardi on the other hand conceives his own thought, especidly after his dream-vision
of Aristotle, to be distinct from that of the Peripatetics. i.e.. distinct from a number of their domines
in philosophical anthropology, espeady their conception of knowledge.
Ln the development of an Islamic philosophical tradition. the Qur'anic tradition occupies a
place of chaice. The Qur'anic view of the human soul had an impact on intellectual debates. gi-g
rise to the theological debates regarding irs nature and Me. It also ifluenced most philosophical
w orks.T h e seems tittle doubt s that philosophers sinrely trieci to incorporate a Qur'anic conception
of man, soul, afmlife, etc. Wherher or not this was successfuiiy achieved, the relaion between
philosophic and Qur'anic vadirions was at bea seaineci. This relationship is exemplified by al-Ghazali' s
aiticism of phiiosophy in his UrCCSItilltite oE&e PMosopbe. Le.. philosophical stances taken by
al-FZiiabi and Avicema. Nevertheles, the di tinctive characteristic of Islamic philosophy may be
truly d a s t o o d only once the celigious elemenr are ai integrated within tbeir respective philosophical
systems.

The Qur'iinis essearialiyareligioustext: God' srweiationto humankind. Itisnotaphilosophical


-&se, although ir was influential in shaping not only notions about the soul and the spirit, but also
the nature of theological investigations into the nature of the soulP8 More thm a cenmxy after the
revelation, theological or philosophical investigations or speculations on the nature of the soul had

not yet flourished. Furthermore, the Qur=c tradition did not offet. sytematic views on such notions
as the spint ( C J J ) or the soul CU). Theologians. on the other hand. adopted Qur'aoic notions on
the soul. defuiiog the spirit ( C I J ) , more or l e s , in terms of ~ b t l body
e (+ ?A).altough their
S e w s varied h m a relativeiy materialin view to extreme spiritualist interpretations that helped to
foaer the creaion of an Islamic philosophy often desdbed as resolutely theistic9

43
The Q d Z n States that, "They put questions m you about the Spaif. Say: 'the Spmt is at m y Lord's
mmmand. Little indeed is the knowiedge vouchsafed to pou' ," Q., 1 7:85.
49
Clvalqr, 'Doctrirtes of the Soul," 254-264; cf. Macdonald, "The D welopment of the Idea of
Spirit in idam,"307-51.
50
D e Boer, "Soot ( M u s h ) , " 746a-747a. esp. 745b-746a; cf. Wdzer, 'L'veil de La philosophie
islsuniguc;" cf. MacdoiiPld, "The Develaprnent of the ldea of S p i t in Miun," 3 17.
The Mu'taili-tes. the ficst rarianalisr t h e o ~ o ~ i a nwirh
s . ~ individuals
~ ldce al-'AUaf oral-Nazziim.
conmbuted to these debates by discussing sensation. percepciori, imagination, pleasure and pain. as
weli as issues related to the wiii, to freedom. or to the nature of the soul = For instance. et-'AiLaf
(Muhammad b. al-Hadhayl) seems t o have believed that the soul was distinct h m the spirit. rhat the
spirit was distinct and different from life, and that Life was an accident Like the five senses, while
reason was a distinct faculty altogether capable of grasping the general and the abstraa?
Al-Nazzm (Abu Ishiiq Ibrahim b. Sayyiir), on t h e other hand, believed the son1 to be t&e
living patt of a human being that accounted for life, while the spirit, a subtle material substance,
peneintted di pans of the body and was a mere insuurnent for the soul. It ISwith the Muctaziltesth&
probably occurred the f k t linking of the soul with the body as a condition of its rewards and
punishments in the afcer~ife.~
Theologilns )= also discossed issues penaining to philosopiticd anthropology,
e.g., Ab d-Hasan al-Ashcari (d. 324/935) and later evpounded by such men as Ab Bakr al-Biiqlianl
(d. 1013).% They rapidly spread chroughout the different centers of leaming that were established to
teach Islamic tenets and doariries. But witb the development of systematic t h d o g y arose issues thac
pertaked specificaiy to the soul, eg.. to the distinction b m e e n the soul and the spirit or to die
nature - material or spirimal - of the s ~ u l . ~ ~
The burgeoning htellectual iife in Islam did not. at first. eiicit much Interest in the question
af the sou1 G r j i l l + ). The rranalation of older work recovered mostly scienuric works in
medicine. mthenatics, optics, and so on?' The emagene of whe we label here philosophical
anthropology appeilrs to have occurred only during the 3rd / 9th century, when Aristotle's O !&e
Sou( had been translated dong with its commentaries. These became the foundatiom of most later

51
Fakhty, "The Muetadite View of Man," 107- 12 1; d. Nader, Le m e pbrlarpphq~tcder
1CJUhrpira; cf. M w u d , L~JWJG&I~~Q~;C.
; cf. F e , ' S M Fundamenrai Assumphons," 5-18. ; cf. B a n a d ,
"Lanaion de Un ," S L 36 ( 1 9):2 3 4 5 and 37 (1973): 27-56.
Q
Bari-, NaaUr , vol. 1 , 54-99. TM, CanaZimrn , 65-77.For the histoncal context of the
development of theology, cf.Gardet and Ammiiti, l i & w d ' M ,21-93 and 101-124; d.Dhanani, ZkP&iK.irl
7arrvydKrAW.

!a
Nada, Le sp.drne@d4#lpbliue 46- m u ' ~ n ~ 2 1 11,.2 8
55
Amaida, "Ibn Rushd, " E L~ (1971). vol. 3,909b-920a

n
For a general ovmew of the issues relateci to the soui in theoiogical circles, cf. Ibn Qayyirn
d-Janiyab , Ki- &-!@.
SB
Bada*, La&imzzdon; Cf. Kraus, "Plotin chez Les d e s , " 263-295.
CHAPTER ONE - 19

Islamic philosophicd develupments and. by the same coken, of most works in philosophicai
antfiropology. It is prharily, b u t not solely. to this tradition chat Avima and Suhrawardi belong.
Muslim and Christian philosophers writuig in Arabic elaborated cornplex doctrines and
systems to a-unt for the nature and funcrions of G e s o ~ i . ~ ~
Al-Kmdi (d. 866).generally considered the facher of Islamic pbilosophy, wss the first t o
have introduced Neoplaromc doarines of the soul into what are. perhaps, the earliest works of
Arabic and Islamic phiosophy. He may have done this after revising 'Abd &Ma* al-Nzimah's
translation of the pseudo- 7 2 ~ 0 1of
0f~f & x ~ d ~ P
Al-Kindi's interest in philosophical aathropology is best illustrated by at least two works on
the subject uiat have been ascribed ta him: q g s of td-kihFoa&eSouL A C o ~ ~Ssue- q of
L k e Thiibit b .Qurmh (d. 90 1). al-Kindi wrote treatises based on N e o p l ~ i i i c
Aristotle' s 0ade~ou1.60
conception^.^' For instance.he adopted s chree-fold division of the human soul (vegerative. animal.
and d o n a l ) , the highes behg the rational sonl. His aeatrnent of the rational parr of the soul
( n d c s ) h a aiready been studied by Joliva in a remarkablr work." Wh# is hece important is the
fact that the emergence of philosophical speculations on the sou1 coincided with the f i .anempts. in
the Isiamic world. at philosophising in the Ge& seme of the term.It is, therefm, not surptising that
the soul bearme a subject of philosophical eaquiry in the works of Christian Q u e b. Lqii, Thabit b.
Quirah, and the Muslim al-Kindi.
Qu?@b. L q i i (d. ca. 912), a contempowry of al-Kind, a phpsician and a mathernatiuan.
was one of the Fust to write a psycho-physiological treatise on the difference between the spirit and

the soul, a work that owes much to Stoic tntdition and the works of Galen. In this work, h e i d e d ~ e s
a purely physiological aspect of the spirit, which he considered a subtle body cuculating throughout
the body, through the veins and tbe arteries. It ISresponsible for sensation and motion. Although the
hear contains more blood in the nght cavity,the left cavity contains more spirit, which it acpuues
through the pulmonay actery and then vansrnits to the whole bodymm

59
Monnot, "Laplace de 1' homme," 84-94.
60
ai-Kin&. d-psR//I' ;J-J~~&JF~~-N~J. M&c;vgar B 5 j z in Idem, RlrWut Ir/-RMdi-, ed. M. A b
&&& (Cpro , 1950). vol. Il2 72-8 1;mentoned in Tlili, C~l~~mbapbd,
8% 149.

63
b u i s Cheikho, L a sac-r~mW&CV c-es en enS/sva (Beirut-Roma, 1983). 2 0 1 4 ; cf. J. W.
Livngsma, 'Qii- ibn L q Z s Psycho-pbynological Treaise On the Difkren bmeen the Sou1 and the
Spirit ( fi-1-Fq b?m ~'a-l-Ru&),
"SM 2 (198 1): 53-77; cf. Qustii b. Lqii, Ki&% ~J-FJuQ
&Rdb rrrr d - N 5 ,ed. Louis Cheikho, m i l / I t . e (Beirut) 14 (1909) and reedited m M i s
Qus. b. Lqii also reviews a number of definitions on the soul that are found in the works of
Pl-, Aristotle, Theophrasnis, Galen, and Hypocranis. He refutes the matmiaiistic Giterpretafion of
the soul by arguing tha the qualities of the sou1 are not objects of the senses and that. therefore, they
must constitute something other than the body and the bodily. He goes on CO distinguish between the
spirit and t h e soul. the laster being an unmaterial and impenshable substance separateci from the
bodyw The fanner is bodily. monal and perishable, s d g as an intennediary aitity becween the
sou1 and the body.65 These conceptions will r m r chroughout the histoy of Idamic philosophical
8~1thropology.
Al-Farabi (d. 950).the "second master," was gready influencecl by the Aristotelian school of
Baghdad and the Aiexandrian ideas that flourished in the 10th aentucy in thiz inteiiectual capital.&
He was familiar w ith Aristotle' s OB&eSuul,w hich h e mentions in his &XIW or;t&e htefltic~."

Foliowuig the first master, he conceives of the soul as h e first perfection ( e~ft3/&1ir)of a
nanirat body and the form of a material body. The soul, nonetheless. rernains a simple and spiritual
substance whose nature is completely distina from the nature of the body. He does na, however,
edapt Plato's notion of an eternal soul, which is conrrary to Islaniic teachings. Like Aristotle, he
proposes a fierarchical order of faalties - from the senses m the intellect - which will be fuctber
developed b y Avicenna and slightly modified b y Suhrawsrdi's criticism of the latter's five-fald
division of the i ~ e rsenses. Al-Fatabi's concepaon of knowledge wiii include intdectual
contemplaion and prophefic visions. where the eaive deligence plays a great role* Similar views
wiil h d their way into AWcenna's own reformolarion of inceilectual contemplation and prophetic
visions.

d ' ~ ~ I m p a i / w o p Sr -i b s , musulmans cr &&en, ed. L. M ' b u r , L. Cheikho, et G. Edd avec des


trrductions de Er;nts grecs d'Aristote, de Platon et de Pythagae par Ishaq ibn Honein, pubhs dans la revue
a - b 2 . q par les pres L. Mdouf, C. Edd et L Cheikho (Franldort: h e r v a , 1974); rnentioned in mi.
ChzDliSma,78-88. It was aiso edrted in /an ~ ~ R r . ~ ~ .
64
The immacarality ofthe sou1 is pmposed b y the pueudo- 73cdogyufAnjrd', 45.1-9.14.

66
Rescha, A/-/5#?5&-; d.T U , Canmbrmbn, 150-205. One of his raichers in philosohpy was
Yhann Ibn Kain, a Christian who belongcd to the Alexandrian schoot of philosophy, and who instructed
him in Bqbdad sdter 940. ai-F* i was aisa dose to Ab Bishr M d Ynk (d . 940). one of tbe great figures
ctf Chridan PaipaoPtic schod that florisbed in Baghdad, cf. Araaida, "L'histoire de la pense," 117-68; cf.
Walztr, A/-IrmrafsPe-*dc..
67
ai-FarabF, RzHcrblTd- 2ql, 15; for an English tram., ci. Hyinan, "Aifarab: The Letter Concen*
the W e c t , "2 15-6;cf. Baawi, HiriWrtr,vol. 2,549-50. A French mauslaion @ased on the Latin and Arabic
texts) is king prepared b y Roiasas Haman h d o l t and Fabienne Piromet.
CHAPTEX ONE - 21

Al-Farabiis not. however, a full-fledged Aristoceiian. He depatts from Aristotle. for instance.
with respect to the role he arcributes to rhe imaginative faculcy6' Lam thiilkas. up to Mulla Sadd
and Sabmviiri, includiag Avicema a d Suhrawardi. will debate this faculey at length - which facule).

is the heart of the human soul' s ability ro represenc images and to conceive of absttact fomis. This
faculty becomes central to the elaboration of a prophetic e p i s t e r n ~ l o gin
~ ,the works of borh Avicenna
and Suhraw ardi

A general evaiuation of al-Farabi's philosophical thought must conclude that the two major
Greek traditions (Aristotelian and Platonic) coexist side by side, e.g.. in 72e H m q y o f &t.'Op~Na/ls
sWes." Al-Frabi' s understanding of ancient philosophy or ta the Islamic tradition is
o f t i r TRO

not unusual. In f a a . simiiar syncretic views had already b e n held b y Galea7'


Philosophical anrhropology s-ed a n d e r impomm purpose. It provided the theoretical and
philosophical Foundaions of ethical disrnulse and ~pecrilation.~~
Centrai to most ethiail rreatises is
the question of the soul, its conditions of perfectibility. its passions, weaknesses, and diseases. Ibn
Miskawayh (d. f 030).wirh his works on &CS, iliusuates weU the extensive use of the usage of the
notion of the soul in ethical tl.ea~ises.~~
He was not. however, the first ta do so. The Christian Y a y i
b. 'Adi had written an earlier work on the Ra2kemeae dCbcvucztr which Ibn Miskawayh cakes as
a model?
Neoplatonic conceptions of the soul found their way iato Ibn Miskawayh's Rehkwmw 01
and7his5~ i r l r w ~ u - s ? in plrzicular, the belief in the du.lity of soul rrid body. The
a ~ a ~
Aristoteiian notion of the "mean"form part of Ibn Miskawayh's notion of equilibrium (JI L 1 ) of
the humours, which is composed of the tempeaments (GI:, ). Fucthermore. Miskawayh discusses

69
Walzer, 'al-Faribi's Theory ," 206-2 19. A rewaluation of Walzer's and Rahman's contribuaon is
p r o p d in Daiba, " Praphetie und tihik,"Z9-753.

76
The second chapta of his ItUitur SU- deais exdnsvely with the soul, w M e the thrrd chaper
pcrtains to prophecy, cf. Ibn Mskawayh, id-Filwrd-&gb;r, ed. Salih 'Udaymab wirh French crans. by Roger
Arnalda; cf. Idem, " a-Famir/-4rirvInEngl. tram. Sweetmim in Idem. 1d;M ad GIinhk irbedqgr, vol. 1,
p. 1, 84-185; cf. Idem, "Miqalah ... 6 al-Nafs wa al-'Aql," in Arkoun, ed., "Deux dpitres de Mishayh,"
BEO. 17 (1 96 1-62): 20-65 (Arabic numbering, 10-55); cf.Idem, " Maqalah Li-1-Ustidh Abu 'Ali Miskawayh,"
in Bada*, cd., DU-a, 57-97.
CHAPTERONE - 22

the imaginative faculty and its epistemic role and, t - i and foremost. the prophaic rprjfemc - as
do Ancema and Suhrawardi" These and many more issues related to philosoptiical aiirhropology
disasseci by Ibn Miskawayh will find their way into the works of later ethical works. e.g.. in those
of a l - ~ h a z a l l . ~
AU these precursors to Avicenoa and Suhrawardi borrowed ideas, concepts. doctrines, and
arguments from what was an Icreasingly important Hellenistic philosuphical heritage. At times.
Islamic philosophers opted for an Aristoteiian conception of the soul. At 0th- times, they opted foc a
more Neoplatonic conception. Most often, however. they generaily integrared w i h h their own
philosophical systems a mixture of elements borrowed from both traditions. Bo& Aristotelianisrn
and Neoplatonism - the two major currents - w a e chus cenmd co the development of an Islamic
philosophical anchtopology.
The philosuphers who made use of the analytical toois. the concepts and the methods of -

Helienistic philosaphers were essentialiy the proponents of Peripatetic philosophy. al-Kindi usrially
b e h g considered the first Islamic Peripaetic philosopher. The term Peripatetic, however,included a
wide spectrum of phiioopbicd ideas. Nonetheless, it always refleaed theimportance of the Ansrotdian
substratum of Islamic Pgipatetic phiiosophy (+ tiY ) Ir was the incorporated. integrneci. yet
oompted element~of Aristoteianism chat defined one's affiliation with the Islamic Peripaeuc
aiovement.
This poses certain difficulties, since the pseudepigraphical works d b u t e d to Aristde had
become part of the Islamic Aristotelian tradition. There seem to be no outspoken h s t o ~ l i a n
tradition, save Averroes' (d. 1198) effort tu r a r n KI the basic teachmgs of Atlstotle. For instance.in
Iranian tradition, figures Like Mir D M d (Mu&unmad Biiqir Astarabdi) (d. 1631-2) cannot be
.
e a d y classilied. He is ofren associated with the Peripatetic rrtidition. Yet he wrote "ecstaric confessions"

which associate hun more resdity with the Plounian tradition, wirh its docuine of rnrjrical union?
Another example, are the writings of Mir Ab al-Qasim Findiniski (d. 1640-1) who is. on the one
hmd, considered a Pecipmtic for his anri-Phtonic treatise on movement; and, on the other hand, a
Plamnia for his treacise on dchemy, which c o n k ovenly "esoteric"viewsm In spite of the

77
Marcotte, "Imagination," 45-55; cf. Idem, "Ibn Miskawayh," 1-13; cf. Idem, "The Role of
~ a t i a n , 37-72.
"
coexistence of these two major traditions. philosophicai works seem to have generally preserved (at
least for purposes of classification) t h e original opposition estalished between the m o major ancienr
philosophical traditions - the Perpatecics and the Orientai-Uuminists ( . - , S I +! ) or what Corbin
ailLF die "Neoplaromsrs of ~slam.
""

AVICENNA'S (980-1037) PHILOSOPHICAL A ~ H R O P O L O G Y


AWcema' s scientific interets are impressive: he excelled in medicine, mathematics. logic,
pharmacology. dong with philosophical speculatioa" His metaphysical system has aiways fascinsred
those w ho studied his works - both Muslim and Christian, commentator and detractor. The importaace
of his works was mich tbat the Avicennan tradition beaune quicldy the standard teachig on logic,
physics, philosophicai anchmpology. and metaphysics. It was mught, commented, criticized, and
refbted di over the Islaaiic world. It constitutd the fundamentai teaching for Suhrawardi. who
developed bis own thought in Mariighah, or ITfahiia, where he studied the works of the proponents of
tradition, e-g.. al-Siiwt (or al-SSvaj).
Avice~an
Avicema's philosophical outiook determined his positions on a number of issues relating to
buman saul. Like most Peripataic t h h k m , his phiiosopbical perspective is, at times. c e w y
emP;t;cist - bis doctrine of the soui's individuation has been labdied b y some as "introspective
' ~ others have chereccerized Aoic~a'sconcem with the empincal phenornena a
e m p i n ~ r n .while
"sennialisttendencYYna

hl fact, A v i ~ a ' sempincism reflecc the Arhtotelim substrats of his philosophical


anthropology and the cientifically otiented mind of the physician that he was, iike Galen. This
deteraiined, in part, same of the more empmcisc positions that he advocated - at times adopting
aacient doctrines, at 0th- taking issue witb them. For instance. he posits the existence of cbe body
as the condition for the existentiation of the sou1 as well as its individuation, e-g., the notion of

~M,LMH ( s e chlpter m the nature of the n > ~ l ) . ' ~

a
Corbin, H h m , 219,288,462-3. The latter a e said 'to -t the Plmmc archetypes in terms
afZoroastrian angelotogy,"cf. bid., 288.
e
Corbin, 1F1I3nwe,219; cf. Michot, "Les sciences physques," 04-71; CF. Anrwati, "Les drvigom,"
323-335-Logic, for Avicem, is the instrument &a enables us to krtp the higha auths, cf. Goichan, "La
nouveaut,"4 1-58; d.Idem, "La pia de la dfirution," 95-106; cf.Sabra, Avicenna on the Subject," 746-64.
"

83
Mumura. 'Avicema and the Roblem," 238.
E.g .,Mustafa Bey N d .cf. El Ahwani, 'La thorie de h connnassanse,"3 L .
84

85
Jaussens, An Amzmed fiatirpnfdby,53-5. Janssens refm to Mahdavi's Fdn& Ntrntb.icaapr
JW(AICRMS&Z..-I-
Ba-zSw and to A.Mw&'s E k d & b1&big174b&P A w#Inm&we , 142- 169, 99 77-109; cf.
A w c m a ' s philosaphical anthropology is essentially concerneci with everything which pemtim
to human beings and. more specificallg. to the human soul and its van'ous states and faculties. The
human sou1 in philosophical eaquiry is an objecc in its own tight and is included w i t h the more
g e n d framework of his phdosophicd investigations. Enquiries into the nature of the soul are
distinct from other concecm of the P@~iirrF.which also discasses the nanrral sciences (eg.,Cire
contains a secrion (VI)on the soul in the N&LM.~~)."

A distinction within Islamic philosophy is often made between an eastern and a western
philosophical tradition At the h e m of this distinction lies the ARstotelian and the Neoplatonic
traditions inheited from the Greeks Both traditions were metamorphosed into a more indigaious
philosophical midition as a more Islamic theological, ethical, psychological, and mystical charaaer
gradually emerg ed.
The eastgn tradition to which Avicenna belongs is resolutely Neoplatonic. Avicenna's
Peripateticism is,in fact. gteaty indebted to Neoplatonism and. thus, srhibits what might be catled
an accentuated ''spll.itualistn tendency. This has been argued by El Ahwaai, who does not deny that
t h e is a certain empiilcal basis to Avicenna's phiiosophical speculations, but who also notes that
the concern for the empirical reaiity of experience is nothing but a prelude to "inspination, to
illumination thmugh the d i r e a union with the Agent h t e ~ e c r .F" a~ El Ahwani. it is the aapiotion
of rhis non-sensible knowledge that is at the heart of Avicenna's epistexnology: the soul's knowledge
of itself does not require any input from the bodily , or a s a consequence of its auachment to the
materiai body. Avicenna's Peripateticism is best ilhistrated wtth respect to the itrinsic differences
that exist between body and soul, the origui of the soul's knowledge (i.e., the Necessary Existent),
end the possible union of the soul witb the inteliemial worid These different issues WUbe dealt
with in the following chapters.
There are, however,a number of possible readings of Avicenna' s philosophy: (i) a d o n a l i s t
interprecation exemplified by the -dies of AmdieMarie Goichon and Dimitri Girtas; ()a religious

Anawati, "Latradition mplusCTite," 24649.


86
This is tbe dassicd Pefipatetic clprrifrcation of kaowledge in w k h the study of the sou1 becomes
one af the abjects to be rationaiiy h w n and investigated. The same holds m e , for instance, for Abu
ai-Bardt (Hibat Aiiab) al-Baghdadi whose Cd-& contains a section on the sou1 in ttie -A, cf.
A M al-Baraka al-BaghdaQ, rrl-Mu~ t , i t r f i d ~ 3& vols.;
, cf. Ibn Manban, d-T e J .
07
For a f u l y good occount of the transmission of Greek tbuught ta the Islamic world see the works
of Petas, espmdJy f a che trarwmissian of the ArisCotelran corpus, cf. Peters, h . W J S " a a d & ~Arzs; cf.
Idem, Rrriaam%Am6ur.
m
E Ahwani, 'La thwne de la c o ~ s a n c e , 33-38.
"
interpretation which bighlights bis concems as a rehgious Muslim thinker exemplifiecl by the studies
of Louis Gardet; and (iiil a mysticd and gnostic interpretation of his works illustrared by a number
of Henry Corbin's works.
Ln f a a , Avicenna's distinctive brand of Pecipateticism has been associateci with the whole
"Oriental"pbiiosophy debate. Positions have varied romtotal dismissal of the existence of a distinctive
"orientai" philosophy utas as),^ to a total endonement of this interprtauon. ar times. conceiving it
as the m e Aviceman position that exhibits his more mature and esoceric thought ( G d e t ' s conchsion
that a " n a t u d mystick%n"is expresseci in t h e concluding chaprw of Avicema's Rem&) " Nasr
draws the same conclusions as Garder about the Rem& and Avicenna's three visionary and
degorical tredses. For him. they illustrate his " Oriental" ehdosophy.g2
Otha c o n r e m p o q authors have highlighted Avicenna' s mysticism ( ~ o r e w e d ~Anawui.
e?~
Mehren who edited at the mm of the ceitury a number of Avcenna's allegaiail treatises. watt?
and hati?. For Corbin. Suhrawardi is the - m e succesor," che heir of Avicaina inasmudi as he
pursued the Avicennan project of a truly "Onentalnphilosuphy-* These diffaent readings of the
tradition lead to a number of confiicting conclusionsregardhg the trae nature of A v i c e ~ as'
Avice~an

ex.,
philosophy, especidy, on the nature of the soui. W i W Islainic u a d i ~ o n ,Suhrawardi sought to
depart forrn Avicenna, whom h e considered a P eripetic.

There is no doubt that philosophicd anthropology c o d t a t e s an important facet of Avicenna's


philosophicai preoccupations. A glance at his writings on sou1 suffices to convince us that his
interest in haman psychology did not wane throughout his Me. For him, philosophy aims at perfectiag
the human sou1 through its perception of its true reality. Here, the speculative supersedes and niles
over die practicai (i-e.. axions)."

89
El Ahwani, 'La thorie & la connaissance,"40-3.
90
Gutas, 'Avinna." 79b-8Ob; cf. Idem, A 63- , 140- 1. For a criticisrn of Gutas' apprcach CO
imuitive knowledge (O&), cf. Matmura, 'Plotting the Course," 333-342;cf. Gucas' inhx"pretzion of Ibn
Tufayi's howiedge (only through the d - S m a) of the e-ce of an Avicennan E;isern philosophy, cf.
Idem. "Ibn Tufapi,"222-58.
91
Gardet, La ~ grnaque.
I I L Z U ~ C P
92
Nasr, *ibn SnLIIb~,'*
249; cf. Idem. " LRPoduction to the Mps9ca.i T d t i o n , "368.
93
Morewedge, "The Iagic of Fmlaationism," 467474.
W
Watt, I r J . ; C P a r / ' y i u ~Tbmfw,
d 73.
9S M.w)Z, 3 4 , 6 2 ; Rahman, "Aviceina ;and Ortbodox Islam." 668 n2,669-670.
8
Corbin, B ~ z a r r '246;
, cf. Idem, A memu,39.
Frr rhit cl~&firmtinn 1-3Hprirh A l i ! ! 7 n 1- cf rhrm A mkwnil 145- cf r m h l m ~ n T h
CHAPTER ONE - 26

Compared with .4viceuna. Suhrawardi's works have a distinaive division of knowledge.


A v t c e ~ a ' sphilosophicai anthropology is found in the ,Wi~R-Lulu or the ~hyxrcsof a number of his
works.* a PRipatetic tradition. Suhrawardi. on the other band. includs the audy of the sou1 il tie
N#du RF
of such w orks as his /atcmakrkr~. dL3-I . o r again Templessofh,&~s,
b bat, on the
ochm hand, attempts to introduce elernents of philosophical anthropology within the framework of
his mecaphysics. For instance, in his CI?'kwtrril-UIu&u~~w CfiSdom . psychologicai considerations
are introduced at the beginning of what is usuaily oonsidered to be the metaphysical part of this
work
in this more personal work. Suhmwardi thus remranges the Peripatetic classificatioa so as to
incorporate considerations of philosophcal anthropology -ai& the seaion on metaphysics. This

shift mght be the precursor of Mulla SadrS's lacer departure from the classical Peripatetic classification,
w h f h placed the study of the soul withh the realm of metaphysics.pPIt is. however. noteworthy, that
eveu Avicema, at the end of the ItIk2p4y.n~~
of his Cm.iarroduces and discusses certain issues
that ~ r usudy
e induded in the s e d o n s On &e of the Nikm&h. e.g.. pr~phers'~
Avicenna's philosophical anthropology is not a mere commentat'y on the Afistotelian and
pseudepigrapbicai corpus. Aithough h e did wtire a commentary o n Aritode' s O!rheSoul and the
pseudo- Z?kwl&y c r f A d d e ,A v i c e ~ departs
a from the Aristotelian division of the On &&eSu.-
origindy in three parcs. He ignores and dismisses the historicai part origiaally found in the first
book of the Oa &e SouL
Furthmore, dthough Avicenna's discussions on the soul foliow the generai struaure of
AFistotie' s Oa &e Sovl, he introduces issues not raised in the latter, e-g., the theory of vision.
Avicenna's depatare from purely Aristocelian positions is illustrated, for instance,with his nuanced
stance on Acistotle's c l a h that the sou1 is mereiy the form of the body. A more maked difference,
however, is Avicema's discussions regardhg self-knowledge and his "flying person" hypothesis
which are evidently absent not only from Aristotle's work but from his philosophical prmmxpation
These discussions about self-knawledge wdi corne t o occupy the cents stage of Suhrawardi's
episternological conceptions.
In some instances, Avicenna goes bq~ondAristotelian conceptions on the human soul - e.g .,

98
Anawati, N W y n j 7 u e du Saglir* , 1-IV, vol. 2 , 87-280; cf. Anawai, "La ciassriicaton des
sciences,"62-66.
99
N m ,"Sadr al-Dn S m - , "953,953-8.
CH- ONE - 27

he intmduces a fivefold classification of the intenial senses and discusses the ultimate detiny cf the
human soul in the afteriife. Avicenna's works on the soul are far frorn simply ArismteEan; he adopts
a mhet Platonic division of the soul and a Neopiatonic cosmology with its hierarchy of divine
intelligences and souk of the spheres. Moreover,Avicenna adopts a more dualistic position regardhg
the soul than the one adopted b y Aristocle. He assumes that the soul is an immater,al being united
with tbe body aftec it cornes into b e h g (&=JI ). Similm dudistic conceptiom about the human soul
frnd their way into Suhrawardi's w& However. h.Iuila *cira's metaphysics later tries to overcome
the dualinic approaches of Avicenna and ~ u h r a w m d . ' ~
The problem of chranology of Avicema's clfferent wmks makes it difficult to envision a
clear evolucion in h i , thought. A number of his works c m . nonesheless, b e divided inro different
By the same token. A v i c e ~ aappears to have adopted d i f f a n t positions regadkg
peri~ds!~
important issues of his philosophical anthropology. For instance,his Fkwlhksof&eSou1 (dedicated
to the -r Nh b. M-tj is an earlier work that presents positions - especially on the definition of
the sou1 - that are d s e r e n t from those of later w orks like Remeh. h earita works, Awcema more
readily a o p Acistoreian positions. The soul is defiaedas an entelechy. In his later wo&, there is a
Mt tuwardr e new conception of the sou1 in ternis of its substantialityYm

The problem of the histuc5uty of the various elements of APiceaaaVs philosophical anthropology
is beyond the scope of this study. However, we W U prefer his middle and later works , since they
exhibit Avicenna's resolutely more mature ideas. These will help us exploce his different views of
bis definitions, conceptions or arguments of bis philosophical anthropology, especiatly in che seaions
On &e Sou1 - e.g., of the C&e. the Sd12111bn and the R
-
. Orher impolrant later works
contauiiag discussions on the soul wrll complete passages from the aforementioned works; these
include such works as the D r s c u s ~ kthe
, Cornmenrqy o n the pseudo- T b e ~ l ~ d ' A n i . r & and
the Ghsses on Aristotfe's O
f
f &e Sou!,where A v i c e ~ apresents, at t h e s , interesthg depattures
from classical iarecpretations. especially in his eschatological positions. Some smaller wks, such as

LOI
El Ahwany, "La cha-ie & ia connfiamce," 23.; cf. Monnot, "Laphce de l'homme," 90.
102
Muiii S a d 6 proposes that, based on "substantial motion" (&,agt 2 S p ) and on "systernltic
ambigriiry of ex~stenoe"( J ~ J+dl9
I 9 ). the sou1 is f i n t generated corpordy. besi& the body
as a bodily form; then, rhrough substancial motion it changes into an irnmaeriai eatiy, cf. Moms, M W a m ;
cf. Haq, "The Psychalogy of Mulla SadrZ," 173-181. For his definition of the soul and hir soluhon ro
Suhrawardian d d s m , cf. Jambet, "L'me humaine," 21 1-36;cf. Nasr, "Post-Avi~enaian,"337-44.
im
Michac, -ire, 1-9.
104
El Ahwany , " La thmie & la ccwnliss;ince,"22-3.
CH- ONE - 28

the Ltnec pn d e ,!%qppwxme oihe L 7 d hre14&i&fc) Fonns die De& amibuted to A v ~ c ~ M ~ .


are d s o important for discussioas chat penain to the raional sou1 Below is a l i a of rhe worlrs of

A v i c e ~ that
a address issues of phrlosophicd anthropology.

1. Eariier works

II. Middle works

LOS
Michot, jike Ergin, Aaarvati and Mahdavi, believes thar the ir(-fisZM fi I-SLfcd I--W#@%tf
f x l - M ~ ~ l i d - j 5 C is
qq , Michot, "Avicenna's ' Lettgon the Disappearance,"
m a t probably A v i c e ~ a n6.
96;cf. Idan, " UL'Eptre sur la disparition," 152-L 70; cf. Black, "Aviceana on the Ontologid," 425-53; cf.
Micbot, 'Prophicie et divination,"507-535; cf. al-Mac--, "A Treatise On the Sod," 13 1 -44.

107
Aviceaaa, &Sz& &Mi&&' nl-hiaYd , ed. N m - [cf. ed. Kurd 'Ali,in I d a , /Cfip~?LfSf
irl-mfi, sur la pmcse," L W 1 18; many passages vanslated in french, cf.
250-56.cf. Mcho~," L '@~m
h'IiCba, D . & .
1
Michot considers it to be p o s w i a to &SM', cf. Mchot, Bec, 6,6n29; cf. Michot,
'Avicenne, La DcslrirvnrZa uk I"&C Section 1 de 1'E j &x & I ' a e ," 239-2S6. F a a aanslahon of
s d o n 13, d. Michot , "Prophtie et divination selan Avinne ," 507-534. Passiges tcansizted in Frencb, cf.
Idem, Des&&e; cf. Michat, "Les quesaans sur les tats & l'esprit,"44-53 (he attributes it NLjsLarrayh or to
someone belangine to tbe circie of the ILhrran aisafa' ). For a transLarion of section 16 (Epilogue) , cf. Gutas,
I , and in French, cf. Michot, -Cu,
A C I I ~ ~32-3 34.

110
Some passages are rransl-d
in French, cf. Bad--, M M ,vol. 2,6724,678-9.
Ill
M a i French tranzlation,cf. Micbac, L' eschatologie dans le d i m e d e la guidances d'Avicenne,"
"

138- 152; cf. Idem, D e n & .

113
Achena et Mass, Lc.bbcre& scz#Ie, vol. 2 , 13-92.
CH-ONE - 29

HI. L a m works

8. Rt%tlt&~aad.-ld!k?~hb~
(c>l+&.ll ~l~~=$l):"'
9. D~Scus~bos
(o&&ll ):Ils
10. Chzmrfiaq--an che pseudo- Throlqgy-of.-IStzde>( -4
1 +d $1 41 s vils
&-Ji &:
I l . W o r e on Arismtle's OntorSou/ (u+II, ~~&.p.&aG+Lll
+ J ~ : ' [ ~
12. O n & e H u m ~ F ~ u ~ ~ ~ d I r s P ~ p
( i .rg K
1 I0
J am! 2 +LL?I e + J l j ) :
13. A /;rwJ'carlrOnr&RartondSouf (&.LUy I i i l l +?YS j ) : l t 7

Avicenna's symbolic tales - such as &'&y/h YIqz.& and SidrUaWIt aod~%sd - contai.
discussions relevant to a study of tiir philosophical anthropology These works, however, will not be
the main focus of this study. These types of writings present their own brand of difficulties when
a t t e q t r n g to unearth their philosophical substtata. Moreover, w e will not undettake an extensive

and deraileci mdy of the dwelopment of Avicenna's own philosophical a n t h r o p ~ l oLet


~ ~ it. ~be~ ~
said that our omission does not imply that these ueatises are mystical and, therefore, devoid of any
philosophical pniiciples.l '

LI4
Goichon, Bwrrs, I I I , 303-35; cf. Michoc, ' D e la joie e& du bonheur,"49-60; cf. Inati, h{vsftc.
115
Ibn Sina, MaAw&Z, 122-239,$8 1-500. For a pYtzal French tramdation of sechans 9 6 259.252,
353,355, 365,366, 378,464,468 and parts of te sections 99 274,238, 364,368, 383,4S5,427, cf. Michoc,
D d e ; rhe translimon of $9 457 and 467. For a partial French translation of sect~ans$5 55,33 1,332,346.
358,370, 376, 380, 381, 42 1-23, 426, 427, cf. Pines. " La conception," 21-98 [repnnted in Pines, CaC/&ed
W&,vol. 1,181-2501;cf. Micha. "Cultes, Magie etintellection."220-233;cf.Idem."hrpmse d'Avicenne
Bahmany et ai-Wh-143-221. ," There is also a translation of a L-r& un &anpplom Dh-uple,cf.
Gutzs, A ~z;Crna~;,56-60 whch caresponds to hfubdmb~2,245,225-8,8 258,246.
A madation of the M m a r of a C l r q / c f 5 R ! v is a h s a r t from BadawF's edition. but only
art;rnt in the Mord-receanon of h f i ~ m ,~d. 7 the outline of t h letter in Pmes, "La 'Philoso+e
Orientaie" d'Avicenne et sa polmxque contre les Baghdadicns," 35-37 and " appendi."
flb
Fragments eanslared, cf. Micot, Des&%&;cf. Idem. "Tables de carcespondanaes,"23 1-250. Tius
is diffaen&from the Mu- lF d-Nds ( of ArrLdcde m &e Sou/) amibutcd to Avicenna, but
wrtteo by Gregarios Thaumaturges ,cf. Gatje, S C U ~ C O , [Arattic azxt].
114-29
117
There are two otha works whose wtheacity is doubced by M~choc,the fi lC& itci d-MS
fJ--iui r r iA ~ Wrd-IIE&,
~ & ~ S k r i i(A
Z 181-92) arid hI'i-ii' 'U rr/-W~, d.&hot,
xxix-mw. Guzi also wnsiders the first as spririoiis, cf. Gotas, Am- , 33 1;d. BrockeimaM, GAL , 1,
591-96, and Idem, G d , Supp. 1.8 13-22; d.Mlchot, "aL'pitresur la connaissance,"479499.
110
Anud, i 3 s - z ~ ;
1L9
Petb;ips the fast translation m an European lmguque is Mehrea, 'L'oiseau: trait mysnque
d'Avicenne," 1 1 pages; cf. Mehren, Tmitis m e u e r ; cf. Goichon, Le n W f de X i 6. Yhp51 (Paris:
Desde de Brauwer, 1959) and Corbin, A ~~;R.~ccirl'enkzi~
POST-AVICENNAN DEVELOPMENTS TILL SUHRAW-A.RDi
It is not the purpose of this smdy to enurnerate all those who, in one way or another, feit the
influence of A w c e ~ a ' works.
s Nonetheless , between Avicema' s death in 1037 and Snhrawardi' s
own passing in 1191, there elapsed more chan a hundred and f i years. More chan five generatons
of Islantic scholars came to be, a great number of whom disseniinated A v i c e ~ a ' thought.
s
Both disciples and critics wroce commentmies on the master's most important works as well
as a number of origmal worksl" The Avic-an tradition inchdes Avicema's own sudents and
th- disciples. T h e f k t generations of students are mostly commentators, translators and ptoponents
of the A v i ~ a ntradition A number of their texts have survived. sorne in the f o m of either
commentaries or correspondence, Le.,Avicenna's responses to the queries of his disciples.
Avicerina's disciples include Abu .Mwr b. Zaylah (d. 1048). who also wrote commefitaries
on & % ~ /~
h ~t@ % tBahmanyi
:''' Ibn M a t z b h , whose questions are answered b y Avicema in the
D~CVIMT-'"Ab 'Ubayd J*aoi (d. afrer 1037). Avicema's disciple and student, close cornpanion
, ' ~ ~'Abd AU&
and b i ~ ~ r a p h e rAb &Mac- (d. 1038 or 1058) for whom Aviceana wmte his
7i+a~jroa La W . There is also a correspondence between Birni and Avicenna which coarains
al-MaC@mi'sdefence of vicea ana^'
It is n a yet ciear if any of their works contain substantial personal doctrines specific to
philosophical anthropology. A closer andysis of chese early t a c t s mght ~ ~ v e hteresting
al new d a a ,

LM
Rahman, "Avicenna and His Contempauies," 75-87. For a more exhaustive Ltn of his snidents ,
cf. the Pers= introduction of Dibip s cd. of LawM ' s Bi?p"& d-Hqq,"
74-6.
121
Mebren, Tr&i +yxpfms, fasc. 1. H e wmte a summary of the P h p a of the Sb.', cf.
Sayhaqi, TIcbntm* SR- d-&;aEI;zb,, 92; iR addition,he wrote a book on the sou1 and some l e m (rzs7- ),
cf. Ibid., 93; cf. Brockeimaun, GAL , Supp. 1,600,829,817.
122
A v i c e ~ qi d - r C f u & z z , 1 1 9-246; cf. Ibid., ed. Bidarfu; cf. Daiber, " BahmanyY, Kia," SOlb;
cf. Michot, "La rponse d'Avicaine Bahmanyr et ai-Kimni," 147-221.
123
ai-JzjTm, 5Ztf ;d-Syi?t3 &-Ra % , 1642; cf. the review of U l i m a ~ For
. a review of the edinon
and the German, English and Fraich trrnslaions (P. Kratiss, A. J. Arberry, G. M.Wickens, M.Achena and H.
Masse), cf. G m u , A miema, 22-30. AbU TJbayd JzjGn (d. a f m 1037) wroce a P a s i u i version of 6.
Yq-, while an Arabic cornmencary of the work was done by Husayn b . Zaylan of Idahan (d. 440 1 1CM),
wbiie some fkagments of hrr K+*r Tm35IJ-Mhave m v e d , cf. Bmdrelmann, G A ,Supp. 1,828; cf.
Cabin, ~~, 246.
124
A ~ l ~& aZ , 'irr d-%+y, 1-27 (Tm&%, 1- 15; Riai%?, 109-34); cf. Brm and Ibn Sina,
d - . P 'm il/Ajm;brb.Macemi dso wr- a Rrk&5tfiZ&b&;r/-Muf5iitr, d.Brockelmuin, G A . Supp.
1, 828; cf. hW m s of de F i A&sa/u~c.A ~ ~ " ; ~ . Mof RF m s (" Bewtise der mer absoluten
Erscheirungsforimenn),cf. Bmckelmann, GAL , Band 1 , 5 9 9 . There is also a ;i/-rZfufiqSf wrr A '&al- 'Ugl
rn a i - .wa Tm3 Itl-Itfubd& ' and a fiSi& TaC&5
fi =~I;UIZI;V~~AUJ~ (the latter a h b u t e d to inm); the
fast two tides are metioned in Bayhaqi, T2ahnz~*SIw&ul-&tmRb, 95-6.
if not on Avicenna. then perhaps his disciples. AU these ms&2 and texts exist. in one forai or
another, and a thorough study of th& content, namely, their phiiosophical anthropology, remains to
be undertakm

Avicenna's snidents and disciples kept dive an Avicennan Petipataic tradition. Some wrote
compendium-tike works in which issues related to the hurnan sou1 are found, e.g., K i Bahmanyiir b.
al-Marzbn(Adh&iiyjiiu) (d. 1066).oaeof Avicefufa'spupiis during hissayin HamadBn(L0 15- 1024)
and Efahin (1024-1037). Besides nis mle ln the composition of tbe DI~CUSSI&,Ibn Marzbiin
commented and transmitted A v i c e ~ a ' sphilosophy with his 71k Al;rruktmcnr (a summtuy of
Aviceana' s Bmk ofSaknce ) which contains a book On &e Souif (section on the N ~ ~ L I C
). I '"
Issues relateci CO philosophical m h p o l o g y were pm of orrgoing debates. Bahmanpar, for
one, wrote a more personal work entitled On &e Opur/Os d r b e Pmplc&iS R*tadiL.g Idfimmoo
tac ~ o d u a d l i s ~ ~ ~ 1 1 ;Fa@
r e sb.. 'Muhammad
~ Ab al-'Abbas al-Lawkari (d. 1113). BahmmySr's
student, was respomible for the disseminaion of Aviceruiaa tradition throughout K h u t a s a , where
he was barn. He w r a e a popular work whose objective was t o present the thoughts of al-F~t8biand
Avicenna entitled the Ecphjbbct o f d e R d t y ro &e T i ,which contairis a book on
L w ,P4m-k and I~z&&~Ics.'~ A saidy of the phiiosophical anthropology of Bahman* b.
M a b s l l and Ab al-'Abbiis al-Lankpi remains m b e w d a a r

A p d e l tradition, more critical of Avicenna's Pmpatetiasm, developed mostly at the


hands of theologians - al-Ghazali (d. 1 1 11). al-Shahrastarir (d. 1 153). and Fakhr al-Dn al-RP (d.
1209), a contemporay of SuhrawardI. They were critical OF most philosophical doctrines, theories
and ideas which domines they deemed capable of undermining fundamental Islamic doctrines and
bekefs, although tbeir thoughts were greatly iafiuenced b y Avicemm's Peripateticisn.
Avicennan Peripaceticism. therore, found itseif at the h e m of phitosophical debaes, and

ia
Hiir ;r/-T&k7 was aimed a t solving difficulties found in Avicenna's ;I/-SxtZ', cf. Ibn M a r z b a ,
d - T w . Foc a Persian e t i o a of the & - T M ,d.Idem, J4ua-1.JJai~N i q y ; there eltisu a Russian
tfanslicion made by A V.Saga&epa (1983-196), cf. Daiber, "Bahmanyiir, Kii," SOlb and 502b.
u6
The hf~agr~d fi~-m~r/-11.fishsh0% fi Umioc &-Nd5 REI QUwi3hi, cf. D aiber, " Bahmanyr- Kia ,"
5021; cf. Brkeimanri, G A , Band 1, 594 and dao. Two leaers of Avicenna appended to the ms. of the
Mi&- p s e r v e d in Egypt are addresseci to Shaykh ai-FadiJ, most probably B a h m a n F , cf. Daiba,
" BahmtnySr. 5022.
127
The WC and h Z k + j p a , cf. DbcE*~introducnon m his edition of Lawkari's B'r-
&%D'iMd g i i [Metaphysics), 23, 26-7. Amoagst bis students were Ab 'AhQattan ai-MarvaW
who wrote a Ba& oa &e K;nowlec&wof* I f T d (Km-&-~'KilyhaS n S W f ) ,Afdai al-Dib b. G i l a who
wmte a book on Zbe.~ c x ofaCae lP&' ( HudITtb d- mm),
and AsCdal-MllyhiM who became a teacher
at the famous NzanzSyah school in Baghdad, cf. the English prda by Mohaghegh rn a l - L a w M , Biya
rp/-&sqq bi@Lin& &-Se [M~aphpScs],7-8; cf. Daiber, " Bahrna.um, Ki2," 502b.
remaineci so until - and beyond - the t h e of Suhrawardi. e.g.. one of Suhrawardi's teachers in
Isfabiin, al-Siiwi's glosses on A v ~ c ~ M ~td--/Irir/t.f
's in response co al-Shahrascihi' s cririasin of
'~ Peripateticism lived on in ai-Tsi's (d. 1574 ) Comme~fi-ay
~ v i c e n n a .AIice~811 on A v i c e ~ as'
Rammb, a defence of the laaer's philosophy agaiiist the attacks of Fakhr & D i a a i - R a s own
commentary on the same work '"
Al-Ghazali studied the thooghts of the phiiosophers whicti h e snmmruized in 7% P u p z e s
a prelude to hie fanmus ?Bir h d t r m c e o/&e tbr;/o.svpStrs (a faithful
of &e ~~i/osopbtys.'~
h b i c rendering of Mcenna's Persian Bmkd'Smtmce ). The later w ork is an auack on philosophical
doctrines which seemed to contradtct the teneo of <he Islam - essentiaiiy Avicenna's and al-EGir&i's.'31

Consequently, phdosophy was to lose a great deal of its credibility as an [slamic discipline

The blow which a i - G h d - srnick against philosophy ironcally aiused its dissemination to centers
far from Baghdad. It ttavelted westward to Andalusia. where it flourished with such authors as Ibn
Bjjah (Avempace) (d 1139). Ibn n f a y l (d. 1185). and Averroes (Ibn Rushd), and eastward to
Maghiph. Isfahan a Khur&ia '31
Ai-Ghazii's attack on philosophy, coupled with the end of Peripatetic philosophy in t h e
West after Avetmes, prepared the ground for the spread of iiiumuiationist doctrines of Suhrnwardl,

the gnaris of the school of Ibn 'Arabi (638/1240), and accordhg to Coit>in, the metaphysics of
Sufism and the traditional teachiags of t h e Imams of Shicism (Haydar Ami, Ibn Abi Jumhr,
15-16t.b c.).lm
Moreover, a number of al-Ghazls works address issues pertahing to philosophical

128
al-SSw, J i r d '&tl/-.S&hs%-, ci. Broclrelnrann, GAL, Band 1,763.

131
GhazA's T&;-dar d-crr/S#dM[ jrb2 ha3bmn of &e P?jihro/xrs 1. ed. Marmura. Three
cardinal a c ~ s P i o n swere held against the philosophers in general. but agunst Avicema (and al-F-i) in
pItrriuliit: their negation of (i)creaaon erdtiro,()God's knowledgt of parficulais, and (iii) bodily cesucredon,
cf. Watt, Srbr F i aerdkvde dd-GbiIlZiLCj,37ff.Zaya al-Din al-nmlyn al-hqanl (Lzviag in 1136) seemr
to have writtm a Book afRr./Oav~&u f & e P M k q n b ~ (fi- s fi ad-RH rd~trlFdaf&), cf. Bayhsqi,
TiwairrmsJIwa&-&km&, 1n-6.
132
A v a r ~ e became
s the greatest commentaor on Aristotie, replying to ai-Ghazfis aihcism of the
phdabophcrs %di hu own lilcatbxnce of uir I a a t b e m ~of the Philosophas, cf. Euglish tram. Van den
B q , A~ ' ~ f mTc H
~ i' iJ-TMW.
ia
Nasr, Z&meM&m S v ,55; cf.Corbin, Htnarm,
220,352.
anthropology dong with a cri~icismof some of its tenets. especiaily in his h w b ~ f f
ofed e
His rZikirk&P td--dnr+-&
~i4dos.@m.'~ ts a n o t h a important, often negleaed work of his which
should b e studied for its psychologid elements. especiaiiy regardhg intellection.'"
The great polemin al-Shahrastani also criticized philosophy on theological grounds. in
pslcicular, Avicenna's rheory of emanaion and the fate of the sou1 in the d t e r l ~ e .Moreover.
'~ his
Bo& oa &9e Rehi@ rmd&e contains aa entire seaion on Avicetma's thought and some of
its un-Islamic tenetsLnH e wrote a number of 0th- w o h which attacked spedicaiiy the docuines
of the philosophers. but which have yet CO be studied for bis criticism of th& philosophical
enthiopology.u8
And fnaiiy. Fakhr al-Di.a l - ~ a rf"i iike Suhmardi. studied philosophy and jurispmdence
wit4 Majd al-Diu al-JIli in Marghah. Afteral-Ghazali,he was the staunchest critic of the philosophers
with hi9 Come0ili-y on Avicennaas Re& and his Qurires.s~wcrofuir Rem& '" His
olticrsni is found m a nuniber of works such as the ehof M%&m and his polemical Bmkof
CO~~U~F
;wWhile ~ SCofleonS,a summu
S Ihis of the doctrines of the philoophers and of the
cheologians,contains a refutation of A v i c e ~ a ' sargument agaht the transmigration of the sou1 and
ageinn his proof for the soul's irnm~r[~lity.'~'
His mon important work is. pahaps. his LTnnrd

1%
Jabre, La n e de cnbNd'; cf. Pines, "Quelques notes," 1 1-16;cf. Kempfner, "Rationalisme et
myrhque," 153-60; d.Gianoti, "The Secrets of the Soul."

English trans. of Bucbmaa (and the older Gairdner) and the French trans. of Deladnre.
136 Madelung, 'Aspects of Isrn$ili Theology; the Pmphetic Chain and the G d Beyond Bang,"i
n
Idem, Re4pi.x~ XVII , 61; cf. Bayhsqi. 7-&
S&&S sMd &as ia h f r d i d /dam, Szwita n/-h5iimd,
1374.
in
al-Sh&msSn, Kit33 d-Mdd )CII d-N@d. For a French translation, cf. al-Shzhrslstanl, LIF.R ds
m!&izzw &a&-, tram. and h o . Gimaret and Monnot, val. 1; f a partid Engiish a~uiation, cf. Kaw
-
and Flynn, 1CImAmS k t d~D ! ' v L n a m; cf. al-ShahmSam-, Lr r.lr &s dpiuu & &s =as, crans. and intro.
Monnoc and Joliva, vol. 2; cf. Stegerwdd, Lu ~ p h d m 4 p . > b i p u er
e fhd~que & Sbwar;ir;zth5m.
J;I&/II53.
138
Shahra-, .
rCIqs&rl 'aa/-FdM-JI ed. ai-Jabr. H e aiso wrote gloses on Avicenna' s /&SS -
the feH&r ilrS- ' d S K d w &-Mi&@ (extant but unpublrshed), ci. Brockelninnn, GAL , Supp. 1,
817 (wnb a reply of 'Umar b. Sahi al-QTgli); cf. Cbid.. 762.
139
He comsponded wtb Iba 'Arabi, cf.Corbia, H?&, 374.
1JD
al-Ts and ai-Rzi, Sjiav&y~r/-LEaiV,a;cf. F. D. ai-RW, LubaT ~ d - ~ed, ~ offShahiW
, cf.
H m ,fie d p m r & k71k-k;
~dyCrcPdyCrcPw cf. Kraus, "The ConPoversies of Fakhr al-Dia Ri," 13 1-53;
."
cf. idem, " k s 'controverses*de Fakhr al-Din R a , "187-219: cf.Nasr, "Fakhr al-Diu4-Razi 642656.
Bmckelmann, G a , Band 1,593; cf. Ibid., Sripp. 1.8 17.; cf. F . D . ai-Rad, K+Jb d-/tfun4a~rt3.,
141

ed. rad trans. Kholaf,4-63.;cf. F. D. al-Raz, irl-ItI@~gw, 2334 and 234-35; d.Michot, "L'tschadogie
d'Avicenne s d o n F.D . ai-RaP ," 35-63.
(which contains a book Un &cSoul').a work critical of Avicerintur Peripateticism
h~~s!&#~trhzs
and presenting doctrines similm to chose found in Suhrawardi '" He also wrote a work On oie Sou1
nad &e Splii'td rn EYpunm'on of F1cu1n.s , an i m p o m t w ork for understanding his
philosophicd a r i t h r ~ ~ o l o ~ ~ . ' ~
Avicema's thought was to be subjected to another kind of cririusm. essentially philoso~hical
in naaire, by individu& like Ab0 al-Barakat al-Baghdadi and Suhrawardi. Abu al- Baraka b . Malakah
al-Bsghdiidi (d. ca. 1070) wrote the ~ a s ~ ~ ~ on O d - ~ of which the second volume, the
m M'j.dom
quivalent of a book On uie Sou/.contains his original reworking of Periptecic philosophical
aithropology." H e also wmte a work on noetics, ihe Sound- of u)e ausa /rom rjrrr. Tmdiiod
Rw* & QuX&yo/tir h impoltantiy
~ More~ .
. there are striklig similariries between
the thoughts of Ab al-Barakit and Suhrawardi - e.g., their angelology: the sonl's perception without
the need f a images; a certain unity of the inreniai senses: the notion of vision.'46 On occasion.
Suhrawardi rejets Ab al- B d S ' s theses. e.g.. on wisdorn a on The whole question
of the mlationsbip between these two authors bas yec to be anaipxi in tbe Lighr of deveiopments
within Islamic philosophical anthropology, between the chne of Avicenna and Suhrawardi.

'" F. D. &Ra-, ii/-rCfrrb&5~i;b u / - M - m , 2 vols; cf. Pines. 'L a conception de La connaissance de


soi,"54-5.

1 4
Ab0 al-BaaEa ai-Baghdadi, d-hfuhbm fiit/-&&&, vol. 2. According Co S . h e s , this work
mnsists of a criticism of the Perpuetic phdosophy of Avicenna and a teformulation of sorne of irs piuiosopha1
perceps, cf. Pina,"La conception,"21 7-2 18;forthesectionon Abu al-Bankat, cf.Ibid.. 2 17-58;cf. BroclreLmaan,
G A ,Band I,6M and Idem, G a ,Supp. 1, 763. A certain Ibn '- b. Fa-= Mahk Y d defendeci him
%;linsthis cntics and wrotc 7Be U *- ofClmiy ( Mu&>r II/-Taw&-if), cf. Bayhaqi, TarZmma Srv-
d-&brab, 1 10-1; d.Pines, "Notesan Ab-1-Barad%," 175-80.

146
Pines, " La conception de La cornassauce de soi," 54-5; cf. AL-Kheld~,"The Psychology of Ab
ai-Barrlt ri-Baghdi," 245-57.
147
Suhrawardl, ir/-rGfkba ', 8 171,436.1-437.12; cf. also 468 n. foc h e 5 and 472 n h a e the theses
hc rejecu re thme of Ab al-B;PriEit ai-Bqhdadi.
CHAPTER TWO

BIOGRAPHICAL SOURCES
There are several Arabic and Peman biographicd works which contain entries on Suhrawardi.
of which six were written within a century of bis de&, sorne written only within a few years. The
most coniprehensive source for his biography. according to O. Spies. is the SmL/ofrat.S e i s tmd
tbP Gdea uf de Fkm-wOs,a biographicai w ork written b y Shams al-Din al-Shahrazori (d. &ter
1288): The notice in rhis biographical w a k , although from a later period! conteins the most
extensive bibliogmphy of Suhrawardi's works, most certainly because of the fact chat al-Shahrazr

was the first commentata on Snhrawarbi's ~ ~ r u l - ~ u m U I l rCf2sdom ~ w d i as a foiiowa of


w r W ~ as
what hrs now become to b e known as the "illumir4tive" or " fhh@-"~ e d k i o n
This work is.
indeed, invaluable for the information it provides of Suhrawmds biographical data and of his
works.
Nevertheless, this work depends g r e d y oo infornation provided by earlier biogrsphical
a c c o m such as the De&s dtdd UrfcmtleoaOQ&e W
o f D k ~ M e d u I d i t . 1 2a of T&~
S e
of Ibn Khalikk (d. 1282): Like most historical works, Ibn Khalliko's own biographicai work is
SM o ~ ~ &R
tributary of data provided by earlier works mch as the S O Y I ~of V 'q
R~! !&e
Biq"ybhksofP&ya'd;-. a work of Ibn Abi Ugsybicah(d. 1268).nhom he cites more rhan once5
A srill erplia w ork is the D ! o ~ q u i L ' ~ e r rofc Yglt
r ~ (d. l228).'

' Spes. -t. TM&&, 1. F a the Arabic edinon, cf. Spies, ?&ZY Teder'. 90- 121. This edmon
is Nperior to Sbuns al-Di ai-Sldmazd, T Z*iI-@-: cd. Ab Shuwrab ,375-96.
2
There are drsaepancies betweea the Arabrc and the Persian rranslacioa, e.g., the Acabic text
repm that the dcarh of Suhr;iwdi occured at the age of 36,whde the Petsian ~anrlaionmentions that ttiere
am repats tbat he was 88, or 50,. S e Sharazri, N u o i r a r d - M , Peman tram. of Ta&5,454474, esp.
463. Aaother Ptmian translation, made by Di%'al-Dn DwrI (Tehran. 13 171 1938), is reported by Nasr, who
used tbelacterfor hiswork,d.Nasr. ZmcrCfux/~dlSyqw, 150 n.13.
cabin, U z j t . & k ' ~ p l t r 7 ~ h302
c*
Ibn KhdhkZn, tiC'PifjYy3&-A jwl , VOL 6,268-74 ( Ba k%dMw T , vol. 4, 153-9). Ibn KhaiiikZn
b w t o w n k thu WC& in 1256 in Caim, intcmiped his work for somc cime, c d d on his work in 1271, and
fimsbe ~tin 1274, see Fuck, " Ibn Khaltikaa," 832b-833a
S
ibn Abt U-ybi'ah (1203- 1268), Wpn irlAnbo'E TnbrrgS i r l - ~ p ~ z 7
a2* ,- 6 ; cf. ibn KhallikSn,
Wd<v13,267,268(/bnA ~ ~ U X3,Zvol.
F 4 , 153, t 54-5).
Y Sqt. Ibn 'Abd AUah al-Hama* (1 178-1228), MU* ir/-U&b5'li-/-Y*&, vol. 19,314-20.
C m TWO - 36

In addition to these w orks.there are two informative earlier works. First. there is the G h o
of d e M''.que for A# &e Hij;rmes of&e T&e . a work which is aimost contempocary with
Suhrawdi's death. having been wriaen in 1195-6 by a judge (&U ) nmed 'Imd al-Din al-bfahani
(na Saa ai-Din's secretarp).' residiag mon probably in ALeppa
l a the t h e . It relates. in great
details. the evenrs chat sumounded the accusaion which led to the execuuoo of ~uhrawardi.~
Second,
there is S a l e al-Din's biography written by a judge of Aleppo. Ibn Shaddad (d. 1285). entitled m e
-id P&i~is zmd &e YU..fiIdZt'n: 7be Bzbgn..& of Su/@ .&-Da whi ch is the source of
Yiiqt's informationg These sources T e s e n t the meagre data from which a reconsuuction. indeed
parrial, of Suhraward's life can be attempted.

HIS EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION


S u h m a r d i . whose fuil name was Y@p b. Habash b Amu.ak Ab al-Futh, Shihb al-DIii
.
al-Suhrawardi. was bom. in 1154. in the village of Suhraward near the modern of Zaiij3.u
what is now northwestem Iran, His ezuiy -dies in phiiosophy and jurisprudence (he was said to
have followed the Shafii school - -L)" were underraten with the Shaykh Majd al-Dia al-Jili (a
teacher of Fakhr al-Dn al-Razi) teaching in ~arghah."
Maraighab was, at that tirne, a center of leaming whch was to become famous after H ~ l a g ~ .
the Mongol coqueror, had built the weU-known observatory nem it and assembled the greatest
astronomeci of the day under the direction of Khwjah N w al-Din &Tusi (d. 1274). After some
thne spent diere, Suhrawardi is reporteci to have left MaHghah in search of isolation. Awtding to

Shahrazun. he went to Ifahm to carry on his ducation. contiming aud completing his formai
valiing with ?aitir al--nY a bgician with whom he read the ~ - ~ i r s u a & ~ s & o ~ ~ c ' ~

k s was p b a b l y ' h i i d ai-Dn al-lsfahanl (d. 1201) who wrate his d-Qud! fi IJ-F&
a/-@@, f a a French tram., cf. Mass, Caag* &/a S p e c~ de /ir PiJ&epiizrW& , and an Englh
.
t r a ~,.cf. H . A Gibb 7aeMC olWat&r P o mention is made of SuhrawarQl.
' h i i d ai-Diu ai-kif--, Bus%&~ J Y C Z U ~fi--4
~ Ta- d-Z;lm&, ap. 1 14. The BwtSn
A--' was writren in 1 195-6 and ~ x byd Ibn KballikEn, d.Idem, 1 14.

12
The accountof hisstayin I ~ i rsn asemfrom Y-qt's hZiuj&n and Uqb'ah's q p a and Ibn
KhdUSn's W 5 ~ cf. Shahraton,
, N U . ed. , Spies, W ;cf.ed.Shurraynb, 378;cf. Persian m.Tabris,
458. Perhaps, be was Zahir al-DFn al-Qr, cf Nasr, Zhrc.hI&.Sg-c3~, 56.
of the logician Zg.n al-Din 'Umar Ibn Sahliin ai-Siiwi or al-Savaji (d. ca. 1170)~''a work which
greatly infiuenced hun.15 Once his formai training was cornpleted and he had Ieamed dl that was
possible from Zahir al-Farisi. he set out to travel in p u m i t of knowledge.
The next period of his Life was marked b y his acquaintance with a number of Sufi masers.
He devoted this period of u-avel to learning from the inspired men he met. Shahradri, the disciple,
mentions how he used to practice spiritual exercises (oL
l= _, ), harsh (even if they were brief)
retreats +,( al& ). and medimtion. He set out m iive the ide of a true ascetic. as emaciated as
Christ. as an itinefanc mystic (UI Jd&Li I
- .
I C..

- Jesus b e k g the prototype of the ascetic.


whde the Qalandar being a type of Sufi mystic who abandons everything and wanders in the world
in search of spiritual nourishnient) engaging in swere and extreme ascetic exercises. at times fasting
up to a week" Hs pilgrimage for knowledge bmught tim al1 over Iran (from MariXghah to I$ahib).
and Shahmzfi mentions that he traveiied inca AnatoLia (the tben Bilad ai-R-). Diyarbakr (city
north of Maridui and the Present day Turko-Swan borders), and retumed co Syna, ending his travels
in ~ ~ ~ ~ 0 . l ~

g period of wandering tbat he met many of the Sufi masters


It was most probably d u ~ this
such as Shaykh Fakhr ai-Din al-Miridini (d. 1198) in ~Ziridn" who seems to have had g r a t respect
for tbe lad whom he befriended19 in the later sources. e.g.. Shahrazr. many anecdotes are reponed
about Suhrawardi's rota1 detachment of w orldly affairs. These reports, of witich it is impossible to
ascertain the d e g l ~ eof vemcity, coufd be explained by the dynamic pmcess that hagiographie

I4
d - S S u 6 flounshed ca 114s whose commenmies on Avicenna were m. defend ium especialiy
agsPnst ibn M a k i Abu &-Baraka al-Baghdadis(d.a 1 170) criaasm. H e wmce glosses (extant bar anpoblished)
on Aviceana's d N 5 , cespondmg to al-Shahrastani'scticicisms (esp. on logic). He is smd to bave wntten a
, Corbin, A nirnnc rrknkzi m i i u d . 20 1; cf. Ziai,
PaEian ccarunexmcy on Ibn S i ' s R r k W d - Z ? ~cf.
" Ebn SaMiin Svaji," 52a-53a:cf. Bayhaqi, TahmrnafSi*-* af-Nzhiu,127-9.
1s
46;Icf.
N ~ S I P ~ 1M ~M ~ i&
, =', 278,352.in Isfahiin, he would have m d i e d with Fakhr al-Dn
ai-RaW (d. 1209), dte gr- adversaty of philosopby,cf.Nasr, iFb/rcItfrrr%n S L . s53
. [but no indication is
faund rn the swres].
16
Shah-, IVizhaf,cd. Spies,94-5; cf.e. Shuwayrib, 3 78; cf. PerSan tram. Tabrizi,458-9
l7
hPhCPMi-, N&f, cd. Spia, 97; cf. cd. Shuwqwb. 379; cf. Parian mas. Tri>rin, 460.
Suhrawiudi mearions tbac this wuidering Me rn search of knowledge had led hm,wben he was abmc 30
(lana)years old, to fiad no one to kach him somechiag new (the last part of the /r/-Ifdfi.c wa d-Muaairf/#),
cf. SbdmzW, MW, ed. Spies, 379; cf. Pasizn ezns;.Ta&*-, 460. Mon probably Drpar Bakr, the regron
controled by the Artulnds, cf. Hurnphreys, Fmm G !. d*' ro n5e M q o b , 73 ; cf. Cahen, " Le Diyr Bakr du
tunps des premiers Uruquides,"219-76,
'' Y jiqt, hIui;.n,vol. 19,315.
19
Mardin is a city of present &y Turkish Kurdistan, cf. M u c h , F i - ? - - , sv * a J L . &ai
reads it to be I-ahih (although he dudes to the fact that it q h t bc Matdin), see Ziai, "Shihb ai-Dia
Suhrawudi," 434. The Persian M W i m becomes a l - M n l d b once Aratnzed, cf. Y qt, hfujkm , vol. 1 9 , 315.
l i t m r e undergoes. a process chat could. perhaps. account for the transmission of the cep- this
fiterature rnakes of the iives of the shg-khs whose rnemory ir purpom ro p ~ s e r v e g[t is ais0 d i ~ g
that period. before reaching Aleppo, that Suhrawardi would have mer such individuais as ' h i i d
al-Din Ab Bakr. the roa of Qat5 Arsliin b. Amiq (d. 1166). who d e d (r. 1185-1204) Kharpt
(Khaitpurt) after the de& of his fatber. and for whom h e w r m hjs -4rabic TubIr>~s
DedI~edfo

Y!ktkf t c / - ~ u 1Nothhg
.~ in Ibn A b i UsaybiCah 's SOU- o ~ / ~ c R ~ T L I u Rwroi4e
~;O~ &w
! 6!1$,,nph?~~
u~P~wz~ ~ M s relates
however , .
his stay ar bis courts or their encounter.

HIS STAY IN ALEPPO


Shaykh Diy' al-Diub. S q a r is said to have reported thar when Suhrawardi remrned from
Anatolia in 1183. he went to ~ l e p p at ~ M i e when al-Zahir (Ghiyath al-Dia) Ghzi b. -4yjiib (d.
o the
1216) - the son of Salm al-Dn al-Ayybi (Saladin) (d. 1 193) who nild over Egypt, Yemen and
ShGm (roughly present day Lebanon. Syria. and die whole of Palestine) - had just been assigned the
govemorship of ~ l e ~ ~ o . ~ ~
The sanie year, Aleppo &ad just been conqueced by SdiQ al-DFn. According to Humphreys.
"Aleppo had always resisted Sdadin more sorongly than any ocher place. It was fat more closely tied

to the Zangid dynasty than t h e o t k r Syrian towns, and both lts ams and religious notables had a

clear sense of cohesion and localidentity. Inaddition its urban militia was still a lively ocgankation. ..n2S
Conquemi. Aleppo was given, in the fomi of a land granr ( & U S ! ) , to Saa al-Dui's fourth son
l
al-Zahu who wrs made Sultan and n h o . e t tbat t h e , was only eleven y e v s old." in the same year.
but six month later, the laad grant was. however. transferred to one of his brorhers. al-'Adil (d.
1218). and this would be, according to the biographem. when Suhrawatdi arrived ia Aleppo; it would
have occurred during the six month al-Zturir had been the d e r of the city. By 1185. al-DZn
was m g to c u d the power of the Z q i d and Amiqid princes and anempting to reduce them
to vassaldom-nA year l a e r , al-'Adil rePgned his possssion end convol of Ateppo in what appearr

a)
Shah-, Nurajr,ed. Sples, 95; cf.ed. Shuwa)rib, 378;cf. Persian m s . Tlbnn, 459.
21
Pqavodi,"Shaykh-i Ishraq," 2-8.
22
Ibn Abi Usaybi'ah, Z/yU,
646.
D
YZqt, Mu*, vol. 19,315; cf. IbnAUsaylncah, @@n,643.
aa
Sali@ ai-= (1 137-93), b a n of Kurdish descent (Tiluit, Maopocamia). was the f m t Ayybid
s u l u of Egypt (1 175). H e entered the armp of Mir ai-Dia,naLing nnder the savice of h i s Onde (Asad
ai-% b. Shadhi Shirhh, lara became vizier in Egyp dter the death of Mr al-n (d. 1174) and then
prociaimed hmseif sultan; fighting the Crusaders, he was able to capture Jerosaian in 1 187.
25
Hmphreys, Fmm Sda& ro &M q d s , 55.
76
Humphreys, Fmm Scl/adrj,a &k
M i l s , 54-5.
to have been a politicaiiy motivated move in favor of an exchange of wmtotes in Egppt. Hence. i n
1186. al-Zahir. now f o u ~ a e nyetm of g e ,was senr back ta -4eppo as al-Malik al--. p ~ c ofe

Upon his d v a l . Suhrawardi went to the religious school ( L i u) al-Madrasah a l - ~ a l ~ w i ~ a h "


where he attended the lessons of Iftikhiir al-Din. the head of the Hanafiyah s ~ h o o l At
. ~ al-Madras&
al-&diwiyab. he debated with tbe jurists (sW)
and their -dents and was able to gain respect from
iftikhiir al-Dn. It is r~pottedthta Suhrawardi:

Attended the lesson of its shaykh, the distinguished Iftikhiir al-Din [of die Halawiyah
school]. He discussed with the jurists arnongst his -dents and others, and h e
debated with them on a number of questions. None of them were able to keep up
[idrellecniaiiy]with him, and h e gfaned the upper fiand over them. His mpetiorky
becamernadest m the Shaykh Iftikhr al-Din. Heace, he becamepat of bis gathering,
grew close [tohim] and came COfind his place amongst the people [of thesegatherligs]."

It is most probably in -4ieppo tha Suhrawardi wrote his f2rirntal-mumLar~1~~e


which he completed in 118631 the year before Sm al-Din Liberated Jenisalem from the F n n k s .
a
According to S h a h m ~ Wthis
, period would correspond approiumacely to the tirne. when Suhrmmrdi
would also have finished his P d s #nd C m ~ ~ l batmthe, age of aearly thirty yem old (ca.
1l85)?

This is the period which would prove to be fatai to Suhrawardi. The biographers have
recorded that he was a man who would always corne out V ~ U O ~ ~ O from
US a debate. most probably on
riccount of his abilry at expresshg his thought in the most eloquent ways. But he also seems ta have
bebaved in such a way as to display a condescendhg azrogance for the scholars of ~ l e ~ ~ Ibn
o . 'Abi
Usaybi'ah notes, -orring fmm Shaykh Sadd al-Din b. 'Umm. thar a fnendship had developed
between Suhrawardi and the Shaykh Fakhr al-Din ai-Mandini whom h e w ould often visit. Add the

Humphreys, Fmm S d & r o t a r M i s , 56.


28
Humphreys, Fivm S j I / i d i o /p &e LW!+,61-2. F a the politicai implications this had an
svenghtenng Salah al-Diil's position in CaVo aod Aleppo through tbe noaiinal saverieigaty of ai-Zahir and the
rue of al-'Adil, cf. idem, 62-3.
29
The edihon of the Zry-nhas G3+I wlnch is m m pmbably a typographicd miscake, d.Ibn Abi
Usaybi'ah, V@.tz,
643.
3)
Yiqt, Mujim, VOL 19,315; cf. Ibn Ab Usaybi'ah, % - 7 , 6 4 3 .
n
Y&% Muiimz, val. 19.315.
9
e* , (
9 279,258.4-5 ~ R F S C23
, 2).
33
Shahmzh, f
i*, ed. Spies, 96-7; cf. ed. Shuwaynb, 379; cf. Petsian -S. T;IbnP,460.
39
Ibn Abi Qaybi'ah , Vpial,
642,644.
Shaykb Fakhr al-Diaused to tell his disaples rhrr there was no one more intelligent (si) this
than
youth. o r more e l q u e n t (s)i
and uneguailed. Fakhr a1-D.n. however. was concamed for the Lad.
whose carelessness, rashness and unrescrained recklessness would, one da).. be the cause of h i s
donatall." In spite of the existence of a number of mecdaes in nluch he is described as often going
&out dressed as a poor man-" and without a t y pretension, ~ p o i t sabout the heedlessness of his
charaaer found their wsy into the biogrsphical works." ~ h i laner
s information. indeed. would easiiy
account for the fact that. wich the pas* of tirne, the mget of his adversaries rnaunted to the point
of causing bis dowrrfai.

THE SOCIO-POLITICAL CONTEXT


In order to understand the events tbat led to Suhrawardi's execution, it is necessary to

provide a g h p s e h t o the sociopolitical context of the tirne. It has been suggested that Suhrawardi
might have unwrllingly exacerbated the animosiy that was mounting against im by writulg a work
dediaated to 'ImHd al-Dia the rop of Q- ) Armq. the Salpq prince (-1
Airla ( D ~ w a d b. ) of
Kharpt (Khtirrpert), who in 1185 est8biished a collateral b m ~ c hof the Attuqids (he d i 4 around
1204)."
The Artxiqids were a Turkish dynasty who had s d e d in Diyarbakr, Nor* of Mridia and
the Sp-Turkish border. riround K w a and G d ; a collaterai branch had sealed around
Marida and Mayafariqin. They ruled mer some tenitories, often as vassds, for almost thme centunes
until the Ayybid conquest in 1232.
The rise of the Zangids halted the expansion of the Amiqids who became the vassals of Nr
a l - ~ u i "This was most pmbably Nr ai-Dui M w d b. Zangi (r. 1 146-1 174). Humphreys mentions
chat the Artuqids "repmsenfed more the Turkmen dian the GR& Saijqid mition anb hence were
wen more clearly oriented toward the political value of the steppe... hence, Sae al-Din had to
l
reconcile the guiding pinciples of " s h e d authonty and local autonomy" with these local rulers in
order "CO balance the ultimately irreconcilable cltiims of the absolutist altanate and collective
" ~ Zmgids mled over a cennirg in Mosul and ALeppo wirh a coilateral bnnch in
s ~ v e r e i ~ n t y . The

3s
b n Abi Usaytn'ah, 2/yvZ, 642.
%
Ibn Ab?Usayineah, WgrrO,
644.
n
Ibn Ab Usaylnah, 2/-, 644.
3e
1W; cf. Idem, "Saldjkids ," W6b -9SOa
Bosnurth, 71IPNi 1 d . c4pa&is,
39
195; cf. Cahen. " W d s , " 664a
Bosworth, ZkN~/Ef/td~~:D~l~tlCr,
4)
Humphrqrs , Imm Sida& fo rlicMcqpls,73.
Damasais and. at t h e s . in A L ~ ~ ~ They
O . ~ were
' also of Turkish aigins iike the . h q i d . while the
A n - i d swere of Kurdish origin. Inevitably ,with their expansionist policy in Diyarbakr and al-JaPrah,
they were to clash with the Ayyiibids. Twice Saa ai-Din f d e d to capture Mosul (in 1182 and
l
1185): eventudy. howeva. rhey had to give way under his might.& By this time. the Zangids and
the Arniqids were client States to the Aypbids. and the undeniable jealousy between the two was
stiil at w ork ar che political levela A furthet- elenent of discontent becween the two political pow ers

was the temtorial expansion of the Ayybids, at the expense of the neighbonng ruling dynasties, in
prricular the Zangids of Aieppo and Mosul, as well a s the Amqids of ~ i y i i h a k r . ~
In the politicai arena, another bastion of dissension threatened the politicai stabilit). of
Aleppo and its sumundings. This was the stronghold of the Ismi'lis (the Assassins) of Jabal
Wmyah, between Antioch and Hama (southwest of Aieppo). Altbougb, in some sense, they were
vassals of al-Malik a i - w r . they were not enurelg under his contml." The Isma'ilis of the Ni--
branches were often suspecteci of being at the origin of many of the outb- of social and political
discontent. In Persia and Syria, they often resorted to spectacular religious assassination, e .g ..the one
of Ni- al-Mulk (d. 1092). and launched raids from thek mountaui fortresses. S a l a al-Dia was to
be object of rno aempts of assasination (1 174-5 and 1 176).* As a result, an atmasphere of terror
was genemed.
In Syria, &eV F e n s was ro be Felt from about 1100 ta 1 2 7 3 . ~In Aleppo. the fire that
demaged the Great Masque in 1167-8 had been atuibuted. by some, t o the work of ~smii'ilis." S a .
in 1176-7. the Ismcil Nivvites mounted a inilitary expedition in Fhe south-west of ~ l e p p o i
.n~
1179-80, three years before Suhrawardi arrived in Aieppo. aftec the seizure of one of their fottresses.
Nizm agents were sent to Aieppo, where they set fire to several locations in the &y's market pface.
The newly established Ayybid ruiers in the region of Aleppo and Damascus were well

41
Gibb , "Zen@ and the FaIl OC Edessa," 5 15-6.
a
Bosworth, 7 2 e N c ~ f s ~ c D y 9 a ~191.
lks,
43
Hiiinphrep, FramSa/ud!ihtatr)ertf~oIs,
18,29-30.
49
Humphreys, F m SiJ&r;o*M@s, 45.
6
Humphreys, F i Sdau5ir a3 &e rCfqqo/s,8 1.
8
Drftai-, RteImrrr4Zs. 399.
47
Boswath , irae /danni qmirzpis, 68-9; cf. Lams, "The IsrnS'ilites and the Assassins,"
vol. 1 ,
99-132. F a the inteiiectuai history, espeaay of the docirine of the pfjnah , cf. Hodgson, 73.e Mir of
Asixmh, 160-209.
48
Elisseff, "Les monuments de Nr al-Dia. Inventaire, notes archologiques et bibliographiques,"
14.
49
By Siil& h i , cf. Edd, "Unegrsinde fauue," 64.
aware of the potenrial threas that these different poiiticd aspitacions represented. T h e scciopolitical
context of Aleppo and. by extension. of the surcounding territories rested on a balance of power that
theruhg Ayybids. especially af the cimeof S a l a ai-DIn.weretr)'mg to achievewith along-estabLished
indigenous aristocracy, oc, as Humphrey has labelled them. the "turban&" class (w c - -

) whose
J

"

power was based on its religious leadership and its large scale mercantile aad landownhg interets.'"
It was ths indigenous "aristocracy"which engaged in the onstniction of public (mosques
and schools) and private (bahs and houses) b uildings which were to earn them the " prophquity to
God" which issued from good deeds (&> ) It was also chis indigenous class that held unportant

political positions and oftm recaved stipends. Their leadership, however, wa most strongly felt
with their moral authority which was reflected by the upper l a y e of the le8~1edclass, represented by
the professors of the madrasah to which they were assoaated, and by the judges of the major
townss2

This is the period in which religious schools become indispensable as tools of propagarida
forpoLitical powas. Lnitially, the insinition of the religious schools was fostered by a will to counter
the development of the F@hmds' propagation of the Shi'i (Isncil)thought tbrough their own muse
oiXiow-e +(J I IJ). The establishment of tbese lesriiiiig institutions wes moa aprly achieved
by the Saljuq vizier Nizan al-Mulk (d. 1092) who vied to foster the instruction of ~sh'mite
and Shafi'i jurisprudence. HISname remained associated with these Sunni le-g centas, the
schools; in Iraq (opened in Baghdad in 1067 and Mosul), in Ja-, and Kbutasiin
where the f k t r h o o l ope& (Nishiipur, Balkh. Harat. and M~w)?Chamberlain and Makdisi, on
the other hand, argue that madrasahs were "private" waq'fs, i.e., religious endawments, and not as
activities of the state,although the waqfs had social,ideological and political usage. In any case, the
"airbuied" dass w e ~indeed.
. clodely related to the mlw.'
The city of Aleppo its& had a history of Shah advities, hawig once been dominateci by
the m o s celebrated of ail the city's r u h g dynasties. the Haaidanids who were Anib tribesmen. with

SO
Hurnphreps, F m S%7& m tac.M i d ! ,25.
51
Mo~v. An Ap&idN#-&k, 128-9.
52
Humphreys, Fr#rttSI&?& # tac'M t o ~ d i t23-4.
,
53
On the aeation of a nccnak of the madcasahs by Ni- al-Mulk, cf. Makdisi ," Mosiira Insiarhons, "
1-56. For a goad introductxon on the insti~itianof the madrasah, its origin, its develpment, and its mahods of
insrrpction, cf. MakdiS, 7ncRrir of Cd- ;cf. Sourdel, "Lesprofesseurs de mldzlra a Alep," 1 13-5.
54
Chamberlain writes that "rulas supporteci the ehtes upon whom they depended directly ... By
farinding inadtraas, powerfuf howeholds cauld insert themselves mto the cultmal,poiiai, and sociai liie of
the city, uid tum exising practices and relatonibips to their ontn benefit. This is how chantable fouadaiions
bccame instruments of politics,"cf. Chamberlain, KmwIh&r, S2.
two branches one in Mosul (905-991 ) and one in Aleppo (945-1004). the latter ruling over Aleppo
for over balf a century (with the capture of Aleppo by Sayf al-Dawlah) until its conquest by the
~ntimids.~~
The introduction of the institution of the religious schools in Aleppo served as a means to
aunter the influence of these dissenting M u s h s . i-e.. the Twelver Shiis. but dao the NizM
Ismli. just as had been done in the emtem part of the M u s h empire. The first religlous school in
the city was the al-Zajjap'yah school. begun in 1121 or 1 122 by ' ~ b dal-Ra@n of the Ban
d - C A ~ meacouqed
-. by the goveraor of Aleppo (Badr ai-Dawlah Sulaymiid). At first. uie opeding
of these S u n . reLigious inaimuons was m a wifh fiace objection from the SGi commttmty which
represented a Large portion of the population and which senseci the new uistitution to be a threat to
the growth and the survivai of their o w n religious comminity (ch& Sgi opposition had a h o n
disappeared iii the beginning of the nile of Zangi [1128- 1 1461 )Id
The establishment of funher d g i o u s scbools was done b y bis son Nr al-Din b. Zangi
(Sumi) (r. 1146- 1176)who, ar the begiarllng of his Rign was tolerant of Shitism. but who later. in
an aaernpt fo counter these unortbodox beliefs established both macirasah wilh the help of reiigious
eudowrnents (A;),and s D& clr/-&~& in the G m d M o q u e of ~ l e ~greatfy
~ o encouraging
. ~
the revival of the Sunni- f a i t h . He soon abolished (in 1 148) the Shi'i forms of prayer previously used
in Aleppo." He had. at least, three Shifici rnadrasahs, one Hanbalite and one Malikite a%[kw
established durhg his reignem During the same period. he also established a few convents. Le..
*a (eCii;Li) or nadi ( h k J ) ,e.g., the Khihaqah al-Qadim, the Khmaqah al-Q-r,
* which was
build u n d da the citadel. and a kbinagah exclusively fur w omea6'
The al-HalaciPiyah religiou school, where Submwardi first iauoduced himself opon his
arivd in Neppo, seems to have been, at chat t h e , the leading Hanafi school in the city. It had been
one (Saint Helen) of the four churches of the aty mrned into m o q u e s . in 1124, by Muhammad Ibn

s5
Bosworth, 73eNew / Z ~ M I C r n x r x b i r , 85-6; cf. Canard, &&oYr , vol. 1. 579-712. In 1001, a
pcace treaty was signcd berneen the F Z d cai~phal-tfaLim and the JWZJ? of Aleppo ,d.Canard, H amdaaids."
"

130b.
56
Edd, "Une grande famdie,"63.
SI
ELisseeff, " L a monuments & Nr al-Da," 56.15.
58
Gibb, "TheCateer of Nr al-Din,"5 13-27.
59
Daftat, Gnaa4Ur!,3 80.
60
Elisseff,"Les monuments & Nr al-Dm ," 9-1 1, 15.
61
Elisseff, 'Iris monuments & Nr al-Din," 9 , 12, 13. H e restored the first convent for davishes,
utablished by Sbams al-Haw- L'Iiiain 1115,cf. Ibid., 17.
CHAPTER TWO - M

al-khashshah. a member of a prominent Shi? family of the with whose f a d y a member of


the Ban a l - ' . 4 j d (who died in 1166) was comranrly in c o n f ~ i c t .In
~ 1147-8. the m o q u e was
restored and transfonned into a school where B w h a al-Din Abu al-Hasan 'Mial-Hasan al-Belkhi
was appointedb' Lata. Ibn al-'Mim (d. 1262). having the direcrnship (&g3) of the xhool. oecame
one of bs t e a c h w . It is interestkg to note that more than fifty percent of al1 the professors of
S h s i t e digious schools in Aieppo aad more than a third of the Hanafite schools. between ca. 1 155
and 1252. were "Esterners," 1.e.. scholats who came from Kurdistan. upper Mesopotamia. and
l m MMost pmbably, however, it seems t h a the bulk of t h e new arrivals entered Syria in the tirne of

Nr al-Din(d. 1f 74).07iAieppo. chere had been coIiflicts betweenthe t w o rnaprreligiauscommuaities.


the Shi% (essentialiythe Baai al-Khashshah) and the Sunni; but these. however. were not to last long.
This was less than nine years before Suhrawardi arrived in Aleppo:
Sauvaget has saggested th* proof of the efficacy of what he terms the 'Sunni
propaganda machine,' is contaiaed in the failure of the attempted ooup by Sgi
elements in 55S/ 1157. It also enableci the city to survive the sectarian mots of
570/1174. By al-Malik al-Zahir's t h e . relations between the Sunni and Shi'i
communities were good.69
The policy of al-Malik ai-Zahir (who took ove! the city in 1186) toward the Shi'is of Aleppo
seems m have been to try to win them over. He is known to have extendecl the distribution of

patronage beween the four Su-- schools of jurispudence, amongsr which the Shafi'i and the
HmafI predominated, but also to the ImamF Sh'i school of jurisprudence. The l i n h i or Twelver
Shiism. with its long bistory of quietism, was an oficialiy tolenued schism? According t c Ibn
'Adim. al-Malikal-Zahir settled a generoiis religions endowmenr on the newly completed Masfiad
al-Husayn in order "to wui the hearts of the Shi'ab of Aleppo .. . Leser gestiires included interceding

with the d e r of &nid for the release of a Sh'i genedogin.n7'

62
Morny , A n Ac~&dNZnaO1c,128.
63
Edd, "Unegmn& f a d e , " 6 3 4 .
64
Eliseff,"Les monuments de Nr ai-Dla," 8.
6
Morray, Aa A w ~ h i f N m b l4e1,-2.
66
Sourdel, "Les pfesseurs de madnsa Alep ," 1 134.
67
Humphreys , Fmm W .& tbe I~~o/IQo~s,26. Nr al-Din ( M w d b . Zargi , Amk of Aleppo
and Dal!mcus (d. L 174).
68
Abu al-Fadl b. Y&@ b . al-Khashshib, a Sgi, was executed as the leader of the revolt, Edd,
'Une grande faillllle,"64.
69
Morray, A n AIwa3dNcyribk, 13 1 ;cf. Sauvaget , " Halab ," 87.
m
Morray, An A w ~ ~ ; d N & v b I148.
c,
71
Morray, An AptrrdNibZc, 132.
CHAPTER TWO - 45

Furchermore. rasons for friction berneen the Suams Hmdi and Shafi'i schools of
jurisprudence had j u s appeared. For one thing. once Sali@ al-Dn took over Aleppo (in 1 183). he
rernoved from office people who were not Shafrci. like the father of Ibn 'Ad-kn ( a m a d b Hibai
MaLi).a Hariafi judge, Suhrawardi, coming to Aleppo, was entering the domain of this indigenous
.
aristoaacy, the "nirbaned"class whose mernbers were judges. teachers and h a m s of Aleppo stiii
negoaating witb the ne= Ayybid rulers their religions authority in te city. The Ayyiibid rulem. in
taking over the control of the city. had their own agenda The new rnlers needed the legitiming
acquiescence of this indigenous arisrocracyf2which occupied important functions. in pmticular, in
the religious schools, teaching Islaaiic jurisprudence. These were the positions where the interests of
the d e r and those of the leeding Surmi families rnerged."
Anober cause for conceni was the nature of the religions class. Tbe jutists of Aleppo. who
aere the bulk of the teschers, w e deeply conservarive as a whole." In spite of the Ayybid mle aiid
control over the city. the "men of the turban" rernahed an indirect threat (albeit lacking in military
forces):

The men of the Turan ... in the religious establishment could setiously embarniss
Saladin by publicly calling hirn to accoant for his actions; they could also undercut
his c l a h to be the m e spiritual heir of Nr a l - ~ i n
by~ refushg him moral and
propaganda
The situation in Aleppo was not exceptional nor different from other great centers such as
Baghdad. The social climate, in which this indigenous tuktocracy - the " men of the tuhan" - who in
fact represented, on the whole, the orthodox religious class, did not allow much freedom for dissenting
voics, no marter how well thought out any new idea might have been Any "devimt" belrd which
might be aired in the religious hospices ( Z JI j)of differ~ntorders , could be viewed by the orthodox
religious clam as a threat to its religious autority. The popularity of individual shaykhs could also
be seen as a threat. which could lead - fostered by resentment and jealousy on the behaif of the
indigenous religious ciass - to agitation requinilg a response by the rufer? One mch tragic case
appears to have been that of Suhrawardt

R
Morray, Aa &wbr'dN&nrble, 123, 124.
73
Morray,An AlphdN2a&bIc,130.
74
Morray,An Al~hdNacii0IcI 1 36.
75
Nr al-Dk ruled between 1146 and 1174 as a dcfender of Sunni Cslam against the FZwids and the
Crus&.
MOUNTING OPPOSITION
At the Halwyah religious school. Suhrawardi, h a v a become a close friend of Iftikh*
al-DFn.was gradudip fosterhg the animosity of the Local and indigenous jurists. He, wlio had corne
as a stranger to Aleppo and in the garb of a wandering mystic, was surpassing dl those b a t were
pcesent, And from that time on. "the jurim d u d e d against bim. sach that their slandgs against him
Having had wind of Suhrawsrdi's intellemal abilities at dispucation, al-Malik al-mir
in~reased."~'
is said to have convened a gatheRng of junsts and theologiaas of al1 schools of jurisprudence in the

They discussed and debated with hini, and [again] he gahed the upper hand oves
hem with his proofs Y-() and hi logical demonstmtions (w
* #
1s)
His supaiotity
became manifen to ai-- al-2)rhir.Hence, he became close ro him, took interest
in him, and devoted his attention to him."
A s a result of his ability at defeating his adverseries in disputdons (,&-- ) and debate

). al-Malik el-- took a liking to hirn and inviced him at his court in Aieppo (the
ntadef).al
Al-Malik ai-- was, in fact, a patron of the arts, e.g.. h e gave a land gram to Abu Ghariini
al-Shanf.sii Alepphe litemry figure." At his court, Suhnwarc6 made many enetnies for himself.
especiaiiy amongn the jurists of aU the different legal schools and the theologians with whom he
ued m debate. The wrath of those who had disputed with him was not long to corne. They "accused
hLn of apostasy [heresy] (JW!)and of professhg un-lslamic bdiefs (ii& o u senvious
~ ) . " " J ~ ~ and
of this stranger who had g h e d access so quickly to the d e r of Aleppo, they were preparing to seal
Suhrawardi's fate with a rehgious decree demanding his death. The only account of how these
afcudons came about - natwithstanding the accuracy of the report - is fouad in 'hiid al-Dn
ai-EfahaM's work, wriaen in 1195-6, p s t a few years dm the incident:

The jurists of Aleppo colluded against him,with the exception [?yof two juists.
sons of &mil; they both said, 'This man is a jurin and it is not mitable that his

" Y g t , M u j k m , vol. 19.3 15; cf.lbn A Usaytn'ab. 2/'j7.642.


IbnAb Usaybieah, Z&&u,644.
80
Yriqta, IS-fu,%i,vol. 19,3 15.
81
'Imad al-Din, Burciia Jtl-A&nie,150.
Morray. A ~ p o t d N Z i t b I i1,26.
83 Yiqc, h f u j d , vol. 19,315.
04
In faa, tbe sons of HamIl w a e , most pcobably, the l d i n g figures to plot these accusation, cf. Ibn
Kbdlitan, Wru/<@,Z R (IbdK i h B k t t S , VOL4 156-7).
debates in the citadel be brought to the mosque.' And di the jutists gathered and had
an assembly convened for him. Amongst ail of his works, tbem was an exegecical
work of the Qur'Sa according to his own opinion (g I,.). a book which he entitled
Th D . t i ~ r R d(edl $J1). and another book which was said to belong to
.
h the TaabItxsDd-mridro 'imad&-Di% used against him in the dispute. Tbey
did not know . however. what to say ta him regarding jurisprudence {J-%f (zL ).
They said to h h . 'You said in your works that God is able CO create a Prophet.
whereas this is ~ o s s i b l e . Then,
' he said to th-, 'There is no h m i t to His divine
foreordainment [divine decree] Isn't He the Wmighty? If He wills someching, it
cannot be impossible.' They said. 'Indeed.' He said. 'So, God is capable of d
things.' They smd, 'Except the creation of a Prophet, since it is impossible.' He said,
'So, is it impossible absolutely or not?' They said, 'You have indeed becume an
infidel ( .
).' They oonstnied grounds [for his condemnation] because, on the
whole. he was IackLig in m o n - mugh not in knowledge.= and amongst rhis [i-e..
ail the signs of his lack of reason] was chat be caiied his [own] sou1 " i n s p i d by the
aorld of Malakt" (a-l+ & , l l ,)?
After this incident, whether or not the incident actuaiiy occurred in tbese actual circumstances,
the orthodox reiigious class, most of w h o m we- jurists, agreed upon issuing a k g a l decree )

agaulst him, asking for his secution. Two of bis most ardent opponents were the Shaykhs Zayn
al-Din and Majd al-Dn. sons of ~ d . *
The same accusations of keligiosity found th& wayinto thework of S a l e ai-Da' s biographer,
Ibn Shaddad, who writes tha Sal* d-Dui was vwy observant of the precepts of reiigion and a
sincere believer in the teachings of the Divine Law;but. he:
Detested philosophas, atheins (G ), m a t ~ a l i s t s(+s~ i adversries of
) and d
Isianic law (+ 4I zjl& & ) He even ordemd bis son ai-MaWc al--, Prince
of Aieppo ... ta put ta &atb a youag m m named Suhrawardi t is raid thsr he bad
been accused of not ~ c o g d z n gthe ordinames of Islamic laws ( p l $LU l ir*
G). C
and of paying no regard to the doctrines of the f a i t h m
It is not yet clear what actuay then took place. Accordhg to YSqt' s account, it was the
religious leaders of Aieppo who informed mi@al-D1:
They then wrote about this to al-Malik al-N$r Sali@ al-Din and wamed tiim against
the corruption of the [tight] beliefs of his son through bis friendship with Shihal,
al-Suhrawardi, as weU as the [cight] beliefs of the people, if he were to temain
runongst them. Hence, Sali@ al-Dln wrote to hiP son al-Sabif and ordered him to kill

85
He had a k k of praaicai wisdom, nat being able to defend himself without jeapadizhg his
securitp.
*Imad al-Din, Buaih d-a-', 150- 1.
87
A lacer work identifies iem as the sons of Jabbal, cf. Ibn Kh4Uitan, R ~ v ~ ~272 z , AX~&UI s
G (/bn
, VOL4,156-7).
SB
Ibn Shaddad, iJ-A&m&, 10 ( : 10- 1 1).
'Wd.
[Suhrawardi]. pressure him into [Suhrawardi's execution], and insisteci. And the
joristr of Aleppo issued a religiour decree el)
for his e'recutioaB0
in the v d o n of Ibn Shaddad. however, it was al-Malik ai-Zahir. the d e r of Aieppo, who
had Suhrawatdi arrested. because he had been accused b y the religlous leaders of holding tenets that
were conrrirry to Islam: "al-Zahir. having sent this man to prison. reponed what had occurred to his
father. the Sultan. who ordered his son to have him killed.nw
In any case. it is, therefore. not surprising thar Sala al-Din. grappling with the jurists'
discontent, so readily acquiesced to the wishes of this "turbaned" class, most probably in order not to
idtate this very infiuentiai group of people whose support he needed to avoid any possible social
uncest in Aleppo.
Ibn Abi Usaybicahreports t h a Suhrawardi had been accused of being aa infidel&
;( ), and
that t sali&^ al-Dln sent a letter CO his son al-Malik a l - m r who was in Aieppo, which contained a
&cree by the hand of the judge al-Fwil which read as foiiuws. " k is necessary that this Shihab
.
al-Din al-Suhrawardi be killed and there is no possibility l'or him to be let free, or chat h e continue to
-. "91

I b n Khallikiln, however,acknowledges, more than half a century after Y iiqt, that conflicting
repom erristed regarding the cause of Suhrawardi's death - of disbelieving in God, of following the
, ~qeaking his mind. of being acciised of
system pmfessed by the philosophas of ancient t ~ n e sof
zuttdc~pd (Li& j ), i-e., of holding hereticai beliefs, and of heresy [apostasy. unorthodox views]

( a W ! ), while others took him for a saint and capable of mUedes (some occurring after Us
Ibn AbI U s v i c a heven repoirs what he heard from al-- Ibrahim b. Abi al-Fadl b . Sad+ who
r e t d s one su& occasion in which Subrawardi nould have perforrned some sort of wondmus deed.*
It is reported that he had been involved with alchemy. Sayf al-Diu a l - h d i recounted his encounter

with Suhrawardi and his pmfessed knowledge of future eventse He is said to have been accused of
daiming pmphecy, an accusation th& ShahrazM. the disciple. refutes.% Most of the reparts are

95
Ibn Khallitan, Wd?mi?,272 ( h A Z i 4 5 - Z s,
~ ml. 4,157).
%
ShabtlzPR, Ah&, ed. Spies, 97-8; cf. cd. Sbuwayrib, 379;cf. Persian crans. Ta~ti.
461. This is
absentfram Yaqt's MujWm,Ibn Abi U@mea's 'Ujyo, and K W i ~ ' s W 5 t @
merely speculations of the occurreace of an eartier atent.
The accusation of ztiwdqUrC/ is, perhaps, the most reveFiIIlig. A vague term. it might
eacompass an). rype of irreigiosi~.essentially a ~ejectionof the r w d e d lm. It coold, hawevw.
also include unorthodox beliefs tike the ones which are easily identifiable in the works of Suhrawardi.
The wave of zmdqnb ecaisations had previousiy oocwed d u ~ die
g rule of the caliph ai-Mahdi
(berween 782 to 786) when a great number of secretaries of Persian descent were condemned for
what imght have beea thek Manichean beliefs and their ascetic prabices?7A number of elernents
found in Suhrawardi. shilar to those just mentioned. may have led CO these accusations of zuodqd-

.
Furthermore. ShahraziJt.echoing Ibn Abi Usaybicah'srepoit huits to the fact that SuhrawardF.
endowed with impenioti~fand temeris., fame, and. not le=, heedlessness and rashness. might have
put off his guard and beed careless m his speech, thus contnbuting to his downfdl. For Shahraztiti,
this would not exclude the possiiiity tbat the religious leaders of Aleppo m u s have fostered such
resenment, not excludmg the possibilicy of their collusion in ar~ngingfor his d&."
Most of the reports would, then, tend to corroborate the thesis th& S u h w a r d i would have
been executed for sociopolitical reasons, i-e., in order to appease the religious class of Aleppo, o n
whom the Ayybids depended for the l e g h c y for their rule over the city,and whom Suhrawardi
had - perhtlps even madvatmtly - infuriaed. Socidly, debates were of the utmoa impottance for
tbe leanied eiite a s "the most purely agonistic form of interaction,"in which the " honor"of individuah
could be a f f i e d , strengthened or ruined. Furthermore, it was one of the ways for any newcomer to
gain a good r e p ~ c a t i o n . ~
More imporcaatly, siace there were no s t a e or corporate bodies that promulgated mes
doctrines. thme always existed a 'struggle" over the aipaty to define correct belief.lmASChamberlain
has vied to stiow, there were shaykbs who wauld "approach rulers especially to silence others
through violence," and one such example of this type of social struggle arnongst the learned elite
would s e e n to be the accusation chat was laid against ~ u h r a w a r d i ' ~ '
This tregic event rnay illusmtes the balance of power that was stnick between the rubg

IO1
A srsitc of oollpsion of insmted betweesi the learned dite ( 2 ) and the members of the mhng
groups, cf. Chamberlain, Khmdec#ptrad&aiJA3rcb;Cr, 172-3. 1 2 a. 132, 174-5.
.
Ayybids, namefy S a l a al-Din. and the "turbaned " class of Aleppo and, this in spite of the relationship
that was established between Suhrawardi and ai-Malik a l - m r . Suhrawardi having made rnostly
m i e s for himeif could not count on the mtercession of powerful men or a l e r s which could. i
z
some instances. make B possible to escape fmm a condenmation of death.loz It aeems t h a the "raison
d' etat" of the Ayybids was mightier.
Furthemore, k is not improbable that Suhrawardi's end was preapitared b y his involvement
in politid circles or. at l e s t , by his association with men of power and of influence. It might be
more difficuit,however, to argue that he aied co put into practice the policical side of lus 'illuminative"
philosophy which he is said "CO have taught" to many leadas of the r e g i ~ n . Ir
' ~is one thing to be
commissioned to write a work for a d e r who wouid act as a patron. and it is quite a n o ~ e to
r
a m d y engage in an ovat political program of propagation of one's own political philosophy. The
cfifficultylies maialy with the tristorical data thar have urvived and which do not cornobotare such
claims. This does not preclude the existence of poliucal implications of Subraward s pbilosophy.
The only facts that can b e cormborated are that Suhrawardi was requested to write a summary
of the thought of the theosophem (& - 0a1 & L S S ) for someone desavuig m o a.
probably 'Imad (al-Din QaH. the s a of Arsln b. Artuq)lol and fhar he befriended al-Malik
al-Zahit, even b e h g invited to the citadel.
There is no historical data, however, CO c o m b o m e the clam tbat Rukn al-Dui Sulaymali
Shah, Saljuq of Anatolia, befriended Submwardi and commissioned him to write his Rnys of @bfs
.105 This would be impossible if it were Ghiyih al-Duny wa al-Dia Sulayrniin ShSh who died in
116 1,la as Suhrawardi would have been but six yeats old , and stiU quite impossible if it were Rukn
al-Din Sulayrnin Shih. in Anatolia. suice he mled afLB Suhrawradils death. from 1197 to 1204.1m

lm Chamberiain, ~ u w l e ~ I M d ~ c r i r l A u ~173.
~;Cr,
103
Ziai, "The Sowre and Nature of Authority," 322 a. 48 [cf. Idem, "The Source and Natrice of
P a l i ~ c a lAutbority zn Suhrwordi's Philorophy of tmirman," in A a : . drbe M i on fi5e
MirJ ASJWZXS d 1 M c P h l ' b y (1 988)1. The sources to which tiu refers d o nor, how-, caritain
such frcts, cf. M a s W s inaoduaim to Ibn Bibi's O J - 3 al-Dn Husayn b. Mubarnmaci) whose work ds not
provide aay h d tact about the ci- chat Zi;U m a s , since the Sufi who ii mentioned in this work is m t
Suhrawardi Shpt+d - I E , cf. Ibn Bibi, A~WbiP--iSiJfjq&-p~RcM, 93; no infamaion is found in the
ocha priniPy sources collesrcd ia i h s wrxk mcb as the T H &=Srr/j* &Adiau/i, cf. Cbid., 345 or tbe
Mur;iunrirrcr/-A&&r-, cf. Ibid.. 402-3. h e r e is no mention of Suhraward in Talbot Rice's work on whicb
depends M. J. Mushkr's introduction, cf. Rice, ~ ~ ~ iA&=, r 61-4.~ r ~
ta
M ~ - i ~ m gH D
1,110.12-111.1.
'" Zai, "TheSourceand Namrie of Authoriy," 322 n. 48.
106
Bosnorth, 7atlvr.~/sIitdyr:Dynamks,
186.
im
Bosrrarth, 7bcNcik-/di~mzD~saks,
213.
Neirberis tbere m y hitoricai fact to daim that Sohrawadi was at the court of the Saljuq 'Al5 al-Din
. ' ~ would be impostibleas hentled in Anamlia between 1220 and 1 2 37.'- Funhermore.
~ a y - ~ u b i i dThis
the biographicd sources do not warranr the claim that Suhrawardi was, in fact, an "advisor" of
al-Malik a l - ~ . l ' ItOis perhaps more cautious CO o d y a f f k thae
Given the c o ~ e c t i o nbetween
s at l e m rhe Ban a l - ' ~ aand
i the SWi3 ,the appearance
of controversial thinkas like al-Suhrawardi could test the partngship of the mler
and the mu& 'h?mh7.. [i-e..the "turbaned" class]. But, while a w a ~ e s probably s
rernained, there are no reports of any more confrontations like that between al-
Subrawardi and al-Zahir. One of the reasons for this may have been a dearth of
thinkas like al-suhrawardil "
Furthamore, one repon mentions that h e had disciples ar pactisaas who, upon his death,
"dispased. aad left h h . " ' 1 2 -4lthough the r e p m is of a Later date. D would. in a way. coisobome the
fact that Suhmwatdi. with his own disciples - Le.. as a Sufi shaykh - or students - i-e.,as a c a c h e r
of philosaphy. jorispnidence, or theology - w ould have started to represent a threat to the religious
class of Aieppo. There was no way they would let him remain aaiongst them.

THE FINAL MOMENTS


Ln the end, Suhtawardi is said to have leaned from al-Malik al-Zahit that he would be
imprisoned. deprived of food and dnDk untit dearti arrives. Some accounts report that rhis is what
occumed. Yiiqt, however, reports that a l - w ordered his execution by strangulation, at the age of

38 (36 solar y-) lunar years:

This [news] reached al-Shihib, and h e asked al-Zahir that he be imprisoned in a


place and be deprived of food and U ti he d i d . So, this is what was done.
However, it is said thet a 1 - w orderd him to be strangled in his cell. H e was
strangled in the ~87/ll!Jl.'"
Ibn Khillilrui repom that this oecured in the aradel of Aleppo. on the 5& of Rajab, 587
(29" July,1191). '14 Ibn Abi Usaybicah omits ai-Zahir*s o c d a for his straagulaion. and ad& a report

lm
Ziai, "Tbe Source and Nature of Authorty," 322 n. 48.
109
Bosworth, I b e N t l ~ / s l k m c 4 ~ 213.
is,
IL0
Ziai ,"Tbe S-e and Nature of Authority ," 338.
11 1
Morny, An AcpbzdNaar&Ilr, 142.
112
Ibn KhzdiiEb, W41.i3,273(/bn- i,vol. 4,157-8).
11 3
Ywt. Mu+, vol. 19,3 16. This is also reparted in the Rrdp2, cf. Ibn Khallikiin, H e y r 3 ,
273 (/oa A 3 d M x a k , VOL 4, 157). ShahrazE esablishes his death to have beei in the yea 1190, see
SlhahrazM, Nu*, 463. Amin R a v i reporcs wrongty that Sohrawardiw as killed in 1 178, 1 181, or,a ~ c a d i a g
to Ibn Taghriiidi (in ius d - N t d -m ip tafi IbfuIUk MrJr wu ) 1208, cf. Amin R d ,
'Suhrawardi's," 11,46 ancl Idem, SuhmiwaF, 2 . 7 .
CHAPTERTWO - S!

by the Shaykh Sadid al-Dn M e m d b. 'Umar who said. "when the news of hrs execution reached
our Shaykh Fakhr al-Dln al-PvIariduii. h e said to us, 'didn't 1 use to say chat to you about him
before' ."Il5 Ibn Khdlik. reports that in the historid work of Sibt Ibn ai-Jawn thar Ibn ShaddZd har

On Fridey. the 29th of d o U n l h / / a , 587 [1 7m January. 1192]."'" after the hour of


praya-. the corpse of ShihSb al-Din al-Suhrawardi was c d e d out of the pnson of
Aieppo, and ali the pariisans of chat man dispersed and left him'"
In fact. Ibn ShaddZd wrote that, "he hung upon a cross for several days: then, he was
kilfed ." "'
Shahrazt3 wntes chat the real cause of bis death is not certain, since some sources say chat
he died of deprivation of food, others that he s t m e d himseif to de&, stdi others thar h e was
strangled. and others t h a h e was killed with a sword: rnoreover, i t is even reported that he was
thrown off the waiis of the citadel and sec on fire.'Ig
Reports of al-Malik &Zahir' s =action, however , might be indicative of the real tragedy of
these events. Soon aftg the death of Suhrawardi, al-Zhir regretzed his deeds, aad took reveuge on
those who had issued the decree foc his death: apprehended hem, arrested them, made them miserable,
and confkcated from hem a great sum of m o n e y . Al-Malik al-Zibk, although a youag d e r .
might have come to understarid the r e d motives behind the ~pligiousciass' accusaions, to which he
had b e n the instrumentai hand that resulted in Suhrawardi's death. Perbaps could it b e also ai-Malik
al-- religious inclindoas and his sympathy for reiigious men which motivated his later reaction

The Suhrawardi &air had been at the begiining of bis rule,when he was young and
inexperienced enough to be in awe of the orrhodox %l'aJ. By the summer of
1201, though. as we have seen, when he tbought he was dping, be summoned a
group of the nwm-' to rhe citadel to obtain t h a r blessing.lP

Ibn Khdilran, RW+v;is-,273 (finK i r w l 5 Z, wl. 4. 157).


115
Ibn AUsaybi'ah. Wy"3,642.
116
This is not reponed m Ibn SbaddPd's M~mZuk.Ibn Khallikan also rgem the r e p m which place
the date of bis d m in 1163 after Jzmiary 1192.
'17 In KhdhkZm. WdZpiZ,273 (/OR AXwXkm I,vol. 4. 157-8).
11 8
Ibn Shaddad , i W d i , t O ( SM& ' , 1 1 ); cf. Ibn Kfiaii;iran, H ; d v ~ @ 273
, ( Bn Khdkk-i k,
vol. 4,158).
119
Shahrazri, A
&*, ed. Spies, 98; cf. ed. Shuwayrib,380; cf. trafif. T W z l , 461.
120
YZq&, Muiian , vol. 19.3 16; cf Ibn AbF Ugaybi'ah, V J - a 644.
,
la
Morray, A n Afl&dN&&le, 142.
This.however, could in n o way change the course of things past.

ENUMERATION OF IilS WORKS


In the SrnHofkfieSp..b,
S b a h ~ rmentions
i 49 works wriaen or anributed to Suhrawardi.
includlig Suhrawardils translations of his own works IZI About 15 of these titfes have been 1 0 s r . ' ~
The extanr: works of Suhrawardi. including t h e translations of his own works, may be clasified into
the following five general categories.

1- MAJOR DOCTRINAL WORKS


The major doctrinal works of Suhrawardi could be said to constinite an q a M c whole -
indeed, a corpus. The first three w orks (of his tecralogy) lead ro his opus mgnum. According to
Suhrawardi's own indications, his earlier works consist of preludes to the later ones, . By and large.
the f k t three works dscuss many phiLosophical issues that are part of the Peripatetic tradition. In
addition, they contain elements of Suhrawardi' s own philosopbical and anrhropological ideas. This is
especialiy m e of the third wotk of bis tetralogy, which is,according to Suhrawardi, the intmdudon
to his main work. the &eaa</-~u&s&k &5j;dom.ud The following o r d a represents Snhraw d i 's
own classificaion of these works.

II - MINOR DOCTRINAL WORKS


The aiinor doctrinal works are mostly shorter treatises and they include a great deal of issues
similar to those found in his major doctrinal works, They do not, however. form a similar corpus;
rather. they aU expand on ideas discussed in the later works, often with s d a r developmems.

122
Shrbraurs biogcopbrcd note c m Suhrawardi was ed. and trazis., cf.,Spies and Khatak, m e
T / Y ~ &au ~ sItfyimsm,
c~ 90-122;the ist of bis works is on pp. 101-2. F a the editim of the Persian trans. of
the text , cf. Sh,- Niiir ir/-Arw~S, tram. T e ,454-75, esp. 4734. The P ersian trans. of Ti&-- is
quite faithhl to Spies's ed. (omission of tbree titles). A new non-critical Arabic edition of the text, only
mentions three of his w aks and s thus d5, cf. Shah-, 7B-B ed. Ab ShuwInb , 375-92.
esp. 381 n.1 and the Index, 42 1.
123
There is a mention of 8 w a k s in Ibn Abi Usayi'ah, vyn,646;5 works m Ibn Kballik%l,
Wid5pZ,270 {ibn 3, vol. 4,155) auid the hst in ra@t mentions 10 works (on U s aYI-Fipb [2] and
on &-Mu '&j PJ ). d.Y%qt.M u j . , vol. 19.3 16.
CHAPTERTWO - 54

discussions and arguments. Some of these treatises (no- I l and 12) have been atvibuted to other
thinkers lrke 'Ayn al-Quda al-Hamadani (d. 1131). or Sqyyid S h d al-Jufpini-. even Baba Afdal

(Arabic - PetSian)
(-Arabic- Pgsian)
(Pasian)
(Arabic)
(~ r a b i c ) " ~

( ,4rabic)
(Persian)
(Persian)

III - IMTIATORY NARRATIVES .4ND PARABLES


Another category distinct fcorn the previons cwo gronps is those works which Corin has
called the mis wkom&s and which Thackston &as rendemd as "visionary recitals." They
mnsist esrentiay of initiatory naratives, mostly short treatises W;L, ). that are v q symbolic in
nature a d w&en wirh esotmc undenones (some adllptiiig Zoroastrien and Gnonic terminologies).
Written almost exclusively in Persian, these texts often depict the initirtory journey that leads to the
experience of a more direct type of knowledge, e-g.,gnosis r&-) and iih~mination13J_;1!)-

IV - PHILOSOPHIC AND INITIATORY TREATISES


A foucth category includes Suhrawardi's commenteries, transaiptions of earlier philosophic
and initiatocy texts, sacred scriptures. Ir iricludes some poems (,lili) and "subtleties" or "wit&icsmn
(ci;Ibl)atttibuted to him. the latter having been coiiected in Shahrazri's biogmphical notice.

(Arabic)
(P6a.n)

125
Eg.,in the Y & + Sh1j,.%b5f and the BuszBr id-Qulb, cf. Nasr's introduaion in Opcru , III,
(55),(57-8).
126
Marcotte, " Suhrawardi's Psychology," 51-64.
V - LITURGICAL
F i d y , there are seven texts that contatn prayers. litanies. and uivocations. These works,
amsisting of hymns foc each day of the week and dedicated to the "angels r u h g the cosmos" with
a h i c h they share a similar purpose. can b e called '' Book of ~ o u n . ' ' ~

35. h ~ - ~ ~ ; rtcndPh?pp9S
0 1 2 ~ (Arabic)

PROBLEM O F CHRONOLOGY
Suhrawardi was a prolific writer, considering the faa that he died at a fairly young age-
There are, however, scarcely any bibliogtaphical indications to be found in his works.This absence
of intemal evidence makes the classification of bis warks very d i f f i d t . Moreover, a classification of
his wotks accmding to their genres does not ptovide many c h e s as to the chronology in which they
were wtinen. It is q u i t e difficult, if not impossible, to date most of his works.
It was Corbin who first provideci tbe best andysis of the problem raised by the cbronology

of the works of SuhrawaK1i and who suggested tentative dates for some of the works on the basis of
Massignon's and Riaer's earlier tud dies.'^ It is,however, possible to make some use of Suhrawar<n's
indications t o establish some order. In the introctuetion to his Uziital-mueWl**t~r G o b z , he
dininguishes between hP eerlier works and mis particulac book.'" He offers other indications for
readers interested in studying his works. La the introduction ta his Pi&s, he mentions that the P&s
Mjdom, but after the h&kt~&m
should b e read before the ~c,nau/-HudLLi;take . ls
m Furthemore,

in the @ps~&Ms.
he meatioas that tltis work is an appendk ( + l j ) to the htrdrtr&-ms.
the 1-r
behg too succinct to deal with aii the issues h e had intended to disc~ss.'~~
When one foiiows these
few indications intended for the novice, the l o g i d order intended for those wishing ta aquire
knowledge gradudiy should b e as foiows:

lia
Corbin. m, 1, i-xvi; cf.Massignon, Rrcud de Ce- and Ritter, " Philologika IX ," D.1 24
(1937)' 270-86 nad Ibid., 25 (1938). 35-86.
Noaetheless, one should rem& cautious when using Suhrawardi's own order of study to
infer their chronological classifications. His classification reflects p=i.madypedagogical concems

rather thm represent the m e sequence of composition Some iadications of this are found in his
Oppm~ir'otts where he mentions both the &rnrin/-Wu.t1~1'r-rCC'&dom and the P&s rmd

lx A doser look
Cod ~mutrods. et some passages of the Fldstes of L&?IF/f also reveals rhat
133
Suhrawerdi mentions b y name both the h r a t . 0 ' 0 ~ ~and the O&R&-U~U~S~.FP
J@sdo/n.
T h d o r e , these works must bave been either finished ar that tune. oc in tbe process of being
axnpleted. Furthmore, in the P t . o /rad Cm ~~EGUQ&S,many references are made to the &kat&-
C f i S d m ;'" the former even notes. j u s like the O p p . ~ b a sthat
.Uum&a~~re . it is a cmnplered
~ o r k . Anothef
'~~ work, the Remeh Oo SaGu31 meniions the O ! + Q L ~ - W U ~C& .'=P
t F~d o-mF
Corbin also notes chat the Tdl's Dd~cirtdto 'ht7d tr/-Da mentions the &~I~I~~/-~U&&Q-F-P

Cfijdhm, that the T ~ p ofLe&


l . (IV to VII) discusses the same doctrines and ideas as those put
forward in the &en&-H&u~~ve , and chat most of the initiatory treaiises presupposiag
??'Ij;dom
his " orientai-iiiumindve" fcjls!)
doctrine are usuay expounded in the lmer ~ o r k . ' ~
Corbin offers a good disassion on the difficulties in disthguishg the specificdy
philosophicai w 0 t h fmm the specifically mysticai w ~ r l c s .The
' ~ few iadicaions which Suhnxwardi
offers point to the possibility that a number of these works might have been written simultaneously.
This was c e r r d y the condusion drawn by Shahraziir, who mentions chat Suhrawardi was probabiy
writing simultaneolisly the Flrohes of&@, the htvna~~~ims, the Pds arad Coamsatrk. and the

v ~ ~ ~ - eQ. D. ShrSzi mentions that the FImhesofL&hf and the htuaub'om


~ ~ ~ - A P u m U a rI?2kiA0m.'~
were not Gnished when Suhrawardi began composing his Ch'en&-Dh&mk ~~idorn.'~

133
Luz@@ in S& RrkZitb (mentionsche &.r;O,e),
O and 1 46.14; cf. b&-,~-
(cd. Madoaf),142.1
52,I7S.l9-20.
134
4 144,401.12;cf. Ibid., 8185,4524 and 453.6;d.bid.,
hfi~~brn: 6 208,4842;cf. Ibid., Q 215,
W.5-6.
135
I t f a ~ f i ' , 8 111,505.12-14;
cf. Ibid.,@ 111,361.8-9;
cf., ICIugimmzri3,g 61,192.34.
CHAPTERTWO - 57
Furthermore. the problem af dathg is not resuicted CO Suhmwardi's major works. It seems
almost unpossible to date his shorter works. SuhrawardT hiniself mentions that a number of works

L&hf (a concise acmunt of the three main disciplines. Le.. logic, physics. r n e ~ a ~ h ~ ~Taking
a ) . ' ~ ~
a i l these inaications inro consideration, only a paltry few of bis works can be dated, and then only

P ' h zmd CO~WISI.&S ca, 30 years old, cia. 1183


7h&ftmDtdCIxtdro ' ; r m ~ d t r / l D ~ &ter ' h a d al-Da's ascension to the throne in
1185.
/n&hzuabns not fiaished when h e staaed the &&a&-
?F23dom
LYu.;aUuCI~~
0 n e ~ M - V I u ~ rCGSdom
;a~~~~ was completed 1186, at 33 years old
a d . 1191

The classification of the diffetpnt types of writings adopted b y other oontemporary


Suhmwardian scholm does not diffw greatly from the one proposed oy Corbin. Nasr has, by and
large, adopted Corbin'sstructutal approach. the only difference being bis inclusion of the KaowI+e
of& D i ~ & e (a work unlikely to have been written by ~ u h r s w a r d i ) 'Ui
~ the gmup of minor
ueatises. In addition, Nasr distinguishes between the symboiic and rnystical narratives, on the one
hand, and die transcriptions, translations and commentaries associateci with earLier philosopfiical
works, on the otber. He completes bis classification with a fifth c a t e g q , i.e., of and
supplications."
Amin Razavi's work follows a s i d a classification and highiights the importance of the
fifth cacegoy of ~ r i t i n g s . 'Amin
~ Razavi rnncludes tha it ir impossible co classify Suhraniadi' s
works into d a or later works and regards hem as a comprebensive wh01e.'~
Habibi holds the same opinion and prefen to Let Suhrawardi guide the order in wbich his
works were hended to be r a d , acknowledging, how wer. the facc that Suhraw d
i bimself, in rnany
places, cefers to a number of works in pmgress.'"

te
Corbin, q m ~I , ,v i i , xiv-
143
Soudavar,"The Concepts of " d-Ag* &&&" and " Yqrir-cS-bey " ," 267-69.
144
Nasr, irlkw M m h .!Gps, 58-9; cf. Idem, "Shihib ai-Din Suhrawardi," 125-53' H e adopu a
threefold division for his Persian w a b , cf. Nasr, "The Persian Works ,"4.
145
Amui Rn-, 'Thcory.*'48-9; cf. Idem, S . & z d , 8-9 The h J q i M z 3 d - S ~ @ & ais0 known
as the ~ u ' U n ~ d - ~ T - ; r l ~ lconspicuously
tvfis missmg from this lis&.
1 6
Amin Razavi. S u k z M , 25.
C m TWO - 58

FinaLIy. Ziai reitemtes the observaticas of earlier Suhrawardian scholars chat it i s impossible
to make a reai and sharp distinction becween a Periparetic and an "Ulutninerionis" period.'d Ziai hm
actually set out to revise thegeaerally accepteci views of a mysticd Suhrawardi represented essenGdi)
by Corbin and N w . Hrs book ~ u w l c d gwund/lumGu~oa
e presents a general synopsis of the most
neglected aspect of Suhrawards works, nameiy the sections on logic. especiaily those found in the
&iwta/-Humh~&r.'~) R5kdom and his 0th- major doctrinal works. The forthcoming English translation

(Ziai and Walbridge) of this work wifl include the fmt part thait contains the seaion on loglc as well
as Suhrawards critique of some Peripatetic phdosophical principles which Corbin did not include in

his own French translation. in contrast to other scholm, Ziai prefers to limit the categories of
Suhrawardi's works to three groups: the major works , d o n g with some of his shorter treatises. the
.
symbolic narratives, and.finally the devotional prayas and invocations!"

PROBLEM OF THE NATURE OF HIS WRITINGS


An analysis of Suhrawardi's works raises yet a n o t h s difficulry,Le.. of definhg the nature of
his works,w h c h is just as great as the one raised by th& chronology. Although be was schooled in
the Avicennan tradition, his intellectual output was quite diversified. He ernbraced a whole spectram
of geores and mbjects, range fmm poetcy to prose, phibsophy to commentaty o n the Qur'iin and
the hadiths, and mystical thought (Sufism).
The diversity of bis *rings renders d i f k u l t any attempt at classdy~nghis works. Most
interpretem have disagreed over their natue.'" Many s c h o l a ~- Massignon. C&. Nasr. Amia
Razavi, and Ziai - have a m p d to distiaguish berneen the more philosophicaily oriented wo&s
and chose that exhibit more ailegocical SUOCN~~S. Some scholars (Meh H L Yazdi, Sayyed
Husayn N e ,Henry Corbin, hhtiyanl) have ergued that Suhranrardi's cexts a e essenfially mydcal
in nature, ranking philosophy and its method a good second while f a - others (Hussein Ziai, John
Walbridge, Mehdi Amin Razavi), his works combine the mysticd and the philosophical, as two
oomplementary methods or "options" to ultirnately seeing the same reality. Conceming these two
methods. some (Ha5.uiYazdi) have argried &a he h s proposed a process which tarcs with philosophy
as a stepphg board tbat leads to the highest level, that of mystical experience. m e r s stdl (Nasr)
have argued tbat through asceticism and philosophy one anives at the mystical stage; whereas some
authas (Amin Razavi) have proposed chat besides the use of philosophy, as a valid method to attain

147
Haibi, 'Muqatidunah-yi Musahi@," in Subtswatdi, S % & ~ ,x-xi.
148
Ziai ,"Shihab ai-Din Suhrawardi,"435.
149
Zig, "Shthial-Dn Suhrsznardi,"436-7.
truths. "it was prauising ascetickm thet resulted in illuminati~n."'~'It is quite obvious that

interpraations regardhg the Suhniwatdian rnechod do not rally unmimit)..


The allegoricd works are more clearly rnysticd and heavily influenced by gnostic or hermetic
eiements. However, a distinction of this kind is not ver). useful for classifying Suhrawardi's works;
first, because both types of works seem to have been wntten simultaneously and, second, because it
seems, at least accordhg to Cocui, almost rmprobable b a t there was, indeed. a pureiy Peripatetic

pied. especiaily in view of the short penod of his lile which he dewwed to wrPing aii his w o k ~ . ' ~
This mighc best be exempiified by some of hi minor doctrinal works which contain many t).picaLiy
Periparetic elemenr, ag.. the Temples and the Tr;ibfeiffM&ed [O tliptidd-Dia.but
which contain simuitaneously numerous elements of Suhrawardi's o w n orientai-illuminative wisdom
phitosophy. In fact, w e n his deged Peripatetic works go beyond the A v i c e ~ a n
Per)p~&ctradition
-~ h a p with
s the exception of the F f a h s of Lt2h.r and, ta a lesser extent, the on tar
B ' e f sof WiFehfm,primarily because of their brevity.

In the prologue of the Clh'e~ral-Muwz&~~be


Wkdom , Subrawardi mentions t h a be has
writcen works foiiowhg the Peripatecic doariaes, giving as example the hhrzbom and the F f d e s
ofL&hr (a sunimmary of the forma).'" Even rtuz natement is a less than accurate description of
these works. Corbin has indicated that in the h&zul;rom,for instance,he departs from the main goal
he had set out to pursue, i.e., exposing the views of the Peripatetics. Ar the end of this work, he
mentions bis drerun about Aristode (which WUbe discussed later) who speaks to him but who is far
from presenodg Arisotelian or Peripateric views. Atistotle speaks more like Suhtawrtrdi or, for that
maaer, like a Neoplatonist - Plotinus and his vision - than the brstorical figure he is supposed to
persoaify.l~In anorner passage of the same work. as weii as in the Pauis tmd Cmmrrvk and
in his ~ p ~ s & iSufwawardi
. ' ~ opposes IPs ow n vision of Aristotle to the views of tbe ~ m ~ a t e r i cln
s.
In the P i s md C o a ~ / y ~ b m
he ,even
' ~ goes as far as to aiticize some Paipatetic positions.
Consequently, the stands and positions he adopts and defends are more indiartive of his own views

Ise Maalouf in the ptdace of his edition, 6.1Cfr4~a~it


a /
-mpn2;
a,cf.
l en,1, xiv-xv.
151
Amin Razav, "Suhtaward's," 1424.
152
C h i n , *en., 1, vii-vi
153
&Ch*, 4 3, 10.4-7 f w7
87-8).
159
Td-, $ 55-7.70.1-78.6.
1 5
4 144.401.7-18.
h f ' i ' , $ 11,361.1-13;cf. Ibid.,
156
Mi-23, 24, 147.15-148.2; d.Ibid., S S2-6l,l&9.6-lgZl4.
rn
Td-, 34 75-90, 105.1-121.6.
1 9
Ibid., $8 69-71,308.4-311.17;cf.Ibid., 72-8,312.4-319.17,
Mkrhi#f:~$98-113,340.4-364.16;cf.
than those of the Peripatetics h e is supposed to expose.'sg
Another depmure from the Avicennan tradition or the traditionai Avicennaa corpus is found
in Suhrawardi' s ~ P ~ & / - W U ~lF>j.dom.
~ Z I Ipstead
~ G Pof simply fallowing e fourfold division of
knowtedge - logic. mathematics. physics and metaphysics - found in such works as Avicenna's
or
BookofSi.n~c~ Rcua~kFo r the more common threefold division (excluding mathematics) thar
finds its way m most of his philasophical works. Suhrawardi divides this parcicular work into two
major sections. The first seaion contains diseussions on logic followed by a critical malysis of
certain hindsmental principles of Peripacetic p h i l o s ~ p h y . 'The
~ second section presents. in detaii. his
own phiiosophical interptetation of the - 4 v i c e ~ mtradition and covers topics such as ontology,
angefology , physics , eschatolagy. proph etology and. significaiu for h s study , phiosophical
antiimpology.
Furthermore, as many works appear to bave been written a the same time, i t woirld be quite
futile to mahe a formal distinaion beeween works which SuhrawerdI himself considered to belong to
bis Pgipatetic phase. before he aauaiiy "saw" the ~ight."' A pmof to the contrary is fouad in his
assertion (in the prologue of the 011en&-~um&&ne ZtZdom) that his bbzmbczs was written
according to P e r i p d c tradition, altbough it can be shown tbat tbis work contains eiements of
Suhrawardi's own reading of the Peripatetic tradition, even allusions to hic own personal positions.'"
fn spite of the persistent difficulty in dating the completion of the majalty of Suhrawardi's
works,most scholars do acknowledge that h e composed m o s of his treaises ovm s span of about ten
y-. The brevity of this period makes it difficult to conive how two distinct styles and modes of
thought might have occurrecf in succession. By way of conclusion, Let us resrate that it is Co& who
more tban half a cennny ago wrote that a conclusive chronological classification of Suhrawardi's
work was impossible 163

HIS N E L L E C T U A L ALLEGlANCE
Suhrawardi's inteliectual aiiegiance or degiances are an issue j u s as difficult to settle as
tbat of the nature of bis writings. Aithough a number of scholrns have addressed t h i s issue, some

i59
Thae have aiready been disassecl, cf. Corbin, ~ W J 1., vi
160
."
Falrhrg," al-Suhra*vardiw a M ~ d b u h u 15 1-68; 6:Fakhry ,"AI-Suhr;awardF'sCritaque,"279-84.
3.10.3- 10 ( Sw,87-8).
161
h d u c t i o n to the 5
I'%;brraf,
162
T d w @ . , $8 55-7, 70.1-78.6; cf. Ibid.,$8 75-90, 105.1-121.6; cf. the l a s cbapca; cf. Corbin,
q=J,1, ]ti.
163
Corbin, L#maaix zzmumnkns, 17.
fdty years of Suhrawardianscholaship have pmduced a vrinety of opintons regardmg the i n t e l l e ~ ~ a l
aegiances of Suhrawadi and the possible origin of a number of his ideas. The following discussion
will offer a panorama of opinions that have been propos& regardtg Su hrawardi' s inteliertual and
doctrinal affiliations. in the hope of iilustraulg the cornplex nanire of his intellectad heritage.
Suhrawardi criticized, rehterpreted and adopted a modified Peripatetic phdosophical
anthropology . Desctibing his ow n intellecnid journey in the prologue of the O/I'eul/-iZum..mw
LVkdozn. Suhrawardi writes rhat he had started out as a staunch Peripateuc, before expenencing true

howledge. His original Peripatetic training.therefore, sets the stage for two distinct facets of his
work. Such a supposedly genuine shift of intelledual aiiegiances carinor. hawever. be objectively
identifieciin his works olely based on thenature ofhis different writings. f i s phdosophical background
is essentiaily Peripatetic and dependent on the A P i c e ~ a acorpus. Indeed , numerous elemenrs of the
Petipatetic traditions were &O incorporated from his predecessors (e-g.. al-FrSbi). Again, it is not
the purpose of this work to identify these older elemenrs which have. quite naturally. found th& way
into Suhrawardi's own works via Avicenna's Peripateticism.
Neoplatonism and Plotinian ideas, essentiaily mediated by the pseudo- T b e ~ l & ~
ofrQlrjtd~

in circulation in the "Islamicate" w ~ r t d . were


'~ of undeniable importance for the elaboration of
Suhrawardi's thought'" Avicenna's own writings bear the hallmark of smag Neoplatonic feeniies.
whicb are. in l a g e part, responsible for the spiritualizrnion of Paipatetic philosophy.'~Anotha
important tradition responible for the incopporation and propegation of Neopiatomc ideas withui its
own philosophico-religioa system was the IsmBli tradition, w hich had incorporated many Neoplaonic
concepts, notions. and ideas.'" The debate over the notion of an "ocientsl" tradition in which these
Neoplatonic philosophies share, as opposed to a "western" tradition, has not been conclasively
resolved. This debate onginates with Avicenna's own allusions to mch orientai tradition A number
of scholarly discussions have tried t o address this issue - de vaux.'" ass si gnon.'^ ut as.'^ in es."^
and ~ a s r .This
' ~ s the tradition that S u h r a w d himself claims ro have pursu&.ln Walbcidge and

164
Hodgson, ?Be G r a t c n r of/ian,vol. 1,5640.
165
Marcotte, 'MLaphysiquenopktanicieme,"(forthcornmg); 6. Nettan, "The Neoplatonic Subsuate,"
247-60; cf. Marcotte, 'An Auemp r+ Deconstruction," 89-99: cf.Idem. The "Semiotrc" Enterpvse,"1-14.
1M
Waibndge. L a w .
167
Netron, I2tcrs/oZrNy~pkarnizs.
168
De Vaux, "La philmohie illuminative," 1-82.
la
Massignon, "La philosophie onentaie," 1- 18.
170
Gutas, " Ibn Tufayl," 222-24 1.
171
Pines, "La"philosopheaientaie" ," 5-37.
CHAPTERTWO - 6;!

Ziai bave discussed a further possible influence on Suhrawardi, namely possible Stoic doctrines or
conceptions that ma). have b e e n a the root of some of Suhrawardi's criticisms of Peripatetic
philosophy. '"
Another elernent of Suhrawardi's thought which conunentators have highlighted is Shl"isrn.
Ail the biogtapbicd w o r b , howa-er. report that Suhrawardi was a S h a c i and, therefore. a Srinal.
None refer to him as a Sui or. for &at matter, an 1sma"ilI. The former position is held by Corbin
w ho aiiudes to itis " aypto-Shici" positions, e.g .. in h e prologue to his On&~~t-r/-Ulu&~~~r+'t.'
Rij.dom
, where Suhrawardi sonnds as if he regretted t h e disappearance of the F@mid caiiphate. Bur, more
telling is his establishment of an ideal hierarchy of leadership (GYL - ;
k) of vuhich the earh is
never devoid. This leadership is both political and spiritual and it can be filed by someone. e-g.. an
Imam who possesses some sort of theosophical knowledge j d ' CL
~ I ) This individual is the one
w ho ceceives divine guidance. H e becornes the spiitual leader or the "pole" (& ).'"

The notion of pole is often idencified with the Hidden Imam of Shi'l tradition. For instance.
Ab R a y y a associaes rhis notion with the belief in a norion of divme guardianship (GdS).a S h f i
notion.1m This notion of "pole," however, does not aiaomaticaily have to be associated with the
Swi. It is more commonly associatecl with the mysticd tradition. in which the pole becornes the
Spiritual leader (e.g., Hujwr). N*r also notes chat Suhrawardi beiieved in the insWtion of divine
gutitdianship &J3).ln Corin notes that it a u l d have been against simdar ideas t h a the Sunni
refigious class (the ulamas) of Akppo r e a ~ e d . ' ~
It was, agaui. Corbin and, to a lesser extent, Landolt who have menrioned the presence of
IsmaL ideas in the works of SuhrawardL This is the explanaiion sometimes offered for his own
e x e d o a The Sumi Ayybids had triurnphed againsr the IsmaCitiF-d dynasy of Caim. The
"Great Resurrection" which was said to b g pu= spiritual islam had rently been proclaimed
~ the
at Aiamut (Augus. 8, 1 164). in the mounuth southeast of the Caspian sealR The newly conquered

Aleppo was still threatened by the Isma'E. It is possible that the damas of Aleppo or the Ayyubid

in
Nasr, "Ibn Sina's "Oriental Philosophy"," 247-5 1.
in
Corbin, esp. 2 8-9.
firi-&+??VIpVa,val. 2 . 2 6-9,
Ir4 .
Wairdge, Suhrawadi, 5 15-533; ci. ZiQi, K d O w f ' ,5 1.5863.59 a.3.62 a 1 and n3.63 n.3.
17s
fi%Mt, 8 5, 11.12-12.13 (*, 90-1).
176
Ab Ray*. L&@f d-Fidd& d-I&rzI;vRb,88-9 L ; and strongly infiuenced by the Qarrnatyab,
cf. Ibid., 91.
177
Ancf does not bdieve he was an 1rm~'iS.cf.Nasr. "Shaykha l - i s h q , " 21.
178
Corbin, L % ~ ~ i a m z ; tVOL,
p , 2.71-2,7 m 89; cf. Ibid., 15-16.
'" c h i n . ~ d q z h d / r ~ n nS.V.
r , tanu ut.
rulm of the city suspected Suhrawardi of affiation with these groups - any suspicion of secret
leenuigs towards the Shicah rairied the spectre of convasion to Ni- Ism'fim. or B-yah
d u ~ rhis
g period of social. politicai and religious unren '" The Assassins of the Jabal .b$yah.
who were supposed to be the vassaJs of al-Malik al--. the d e r of Aleppo ar the time of
Suhrawardi's d e a h . were n a entirely under his control. Moreover, the D~riarR&s Jl
(*
il ). perhaps sLNLar ro the httt-~0onr d Ay-zm. includes numerous Z o r o d a n elements
that muid easily b e adduced against ~ u h r w a r d i ' ~ '

Furchermore. Laddolt suggests that the claims atuibuted to Suhrawardi that h e was receiving
spiritual assistance (A&) could easily be associateci with Ismiicilipositions found. e-g.. in the works
of Hamd al-Din Kirmani (d. 1021). because *chisvery notion was one of the cornerstones of 1srna"i.h
theology and a technical t a m for the "divine guidance" of the Imams, by which the Dacwah referred
to icself, as for instance in N b i r Khnsraw's frequent references to the &1-imehY."
The notion of the ''maintaine of the book" (eLi ) to which Suhrawardi ailudes and which
be interprete as a vision of an order of Oriental-Uuminationis~(o_+Lil +A! )!= in the Shci
mmmunity , this notion aucomaticdy refers to the Imam as the maintainer of the razdation, Le., as
the interpreterof the Q u r h (as mentiuneci in msqy Shi'i hadiths)."
Despite Suhrawardl's overt rejection of the transmigration of soul, his w orks contain ambiguous
passages on bodies ( 6jl *) which echo Isma'ili tacts (e-g., ai-Sijistani) and which could support the
opposite conclusion (see section on me nature of the ~ o u l ) . Li
' ~ one of his works. Suhrawardi
hnseif alludes to a secret key. a son of secret wtiting of which he only provides a ~ a m ~ l eand
.'~
which. according to Corbin, strangely cesembles the s e c m alphabet used by the h ~ ~ L s - ' ~
However. some of fiis stances, e-g., for independent judgment (d++ ), are in opposition to

any Isma"li doctrine of exclusive direct spiritual i n a m d o n (#). as prococlalned by Hasan Sabbah.
Furthermore, bis identification of the Necessary Being with the Light of Lights is incompatible with

184
E.g., in Kul-s U d :K.u/-l@r, chap. 1, 3rd hadith, ed. Arabo-Pasian (Teh=, 1381),
3 14- 15; LU-oned in Corbin, &/ s h ~ hvol., 2.23 n. 22.
Lanolt, "Suhrawarch's ,"482b- 4 8 5 ~
186
M i : 194.12-195.2;a.Ibid., 6 225, SW.12-16.
167
d.his "Prolegomena" in qem
C d i n , & r d - r ~iauzzk.,vol. 2,21-22,22 11-20; II, 27 n. 58. He
nota tbat no works d Suhranardientirely wcitten in tbis laquage rnere mer found.
the negative (apophatic) cheology of the 1sna"ZLs. He rejects some beliefs he explicitly attributes to
the Assassins (&S2
-5:- ). .
e.g in his b<F~akd dso known as the
Sks~bm. O n Suhm "
Ran.
Ziai argues that there is no evidence in Suhrawardi's writings to support c l a h of aay strong
1sma"i inclinations. Thece is no reference to any association betweea him and the Beinites by his
biogmphers.

The mystical affiliation is. perhaps. the most commonreading of Suhrawardi's works, especially
in his "Wsionary recitals." where there are numerous allusions to asceticism and quotations of
mystical p o e q . Corbin notes that the notion of pole (4)
dong with that of mande (&+). *
found
in Suhrawatd s works belongs to the mysticai tradition. For Suhrawm-di. the world wuld not be
without these poles. whether they exist or are in hiding (occultation).
Anocher indication to this effea are the biographical w o r k which report Suhrawardi's Sufi
inclinations.Moreover,inhis owa wurks (not on1y the visionary treatises) ,there are f q u e n t expressions
of sympetby for the Sufis, as well as his "insider's" description of the Sufi praaices of "audition,"
e.g ., in he SixrndofrdrSarYpb and Oa tiw S ' e of~niMBood
and "cemanoration" ( pi).
(CL)
. In fiis dream vision, the true philosophers were Sages such as Ab Yazd B m - or Sahl TumarS

(the disciple of ' ~ as Junayd and ~ b i b l i . ' ~In


Dh al-Nn a l - ~ i ~ )as. weil ' Suhrawardi's "visionary
r e ~ t a l s , "Hdj h dso quice imponuit as one of &e spirituai leaders or pales.'* And W y .
Suhrawardi advocaed spu.inial exgrcises, although this was also the case for A v i c e ~ a espeaally
, in
the lm section of the ~emaib.'*
Another possible filiabon of Suhrawardi's thought (e.g., in the TI& d Omahz~;rE
r/d e
and the Red&m&iw ) is the Gnostic tradition, an idluence already at work within the Neoplatonic
tradition adopred by a number of 1sma"X works. It is. therefore, conceivable that some Gnostic
elemenr have found their way into his works. Suhrawardi's two-winged ashangel (found in the

& F ,This
~ ~ I J J P J I Z ~ ~ - S60.1. ~ , is the Kukm;d;rl-3j.wuL Aithough a fair amoun&of tis short
treatise is triindatesi by Corbin in A m h a , this pameaiar pusage 1s not and neither (!) U ~t traisleted by
Thockzton in bis MjjM . Assasim is a local Syrian eplther given t t ~the foiLowers of the NizarI braach of
the Isml'Ib seal cf. Lewis, " *ri& ," 267b.268b. This epithet was used in a polemicd tract issued by
the FZtimid Crliph a l - h i r againsc his NLM- oppotlents (cf. A-AA. Fyze, d - r y r r ~ [London-
Bombay, 1938,271)' cf. Idem, 268b.
189
Ziai, "TheSource and Nature cd Aathority ," 342 n. 105.
TiJ@!kZ,6 55, 70.1-74.8; cf. /'Pij@d,6 7 . 267.1-2; cf. ~ u f i . y N n, 9. 259.8- 10; ci. RrHat
id-Ah$$,4 16,465.17-18; cf. f?ucLip, 4 52,370.9-12 and Ibid., 8 60.377.1-2.
19' M ,3 87,75.15-76.4 (Baok,79-80).
192
t"pbru, 85,297.1-3 uid 10,302.14; d. -. 13,328.6-9.
193
Avicenna, I s h H , vol. 3 4 , IX.828.1-845.3 ( Dli; 483-502; M m ,86-91).
ofGbniY > Jtw)may be an d u s i o n to a 'gnostic dualim," w hich would amespond ro the
a~~
two-faceted nature of the second exnanation found in ai-Sipsranis universal s0u1.'~
Gnosricism may ceicaialy be rraced to parailel developments chat originated in AnCient
' ~ the Hennetic (e.g.. Egyptian) tradiuon that was introduced into the
PemiaBsreiigious t a d i t i ~ n s . or
Isliimic tradition.lpl For Corbin. Suhnraardi was aansposing the idea of a community of chosen
people amongst rhe people of Moses to that of the elite of antient ~ & a ' "
The whoIe idea of Light is also quite important within Gnostic circles, sharing much witb
Zoroasianism and responsible. accordhg to Ibn Ta).nuyah, for charges of awdq& against

~ u h m a r d i .The
' ~ Gnostic elements are mare evident in his conceptions of the human sou1 defineci
i n t e m of the "guiding light" (>s. J+). This guiding kght should never be subsrsnilaiiy affected
by the world of darbness or the tenebrous maaer of the sublunar world, or contaminateci by its
"obscure substance" (+,ci 9- ). IPr The fate of the human soui is to renim to the realm of pure

Lights, where it belongs in the fi- placeBD


There are, therefore, a vmiety of ideas and influences that can accountfor some of Suhrawardi's
positions. A few have been d u d e d to, but it is these various influences that shqed his own
philosophical interpretation of the Avicennan tradition. A case could probably be made for an
interpcecdw that views Suhrawardi's multiple bommings as an e d e d c attempt to unify western
and eastern traditions - Greek. Gnostic, and hetmetic, Islamic and ancient P&an traditions. But, it
might be mon? fruidul to conceive of his work as a "genuiae" attempt, notwithstanding possible
eceaic bmowings, at pursuiag the Aviceman project of an "oriental-illuminative" ( G A )
p h i l o s ~ ~ hThis
~ . ~would
' allow for the acknowfedgmem of Suhrawardi's ingenuity in i n c a p o d g
a great number of these differefit elements.

SUHRAWARD'S PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY


Coibin is, undoubtedly. the father of modern Subrawardiaa studies. His numerous editions,
tmmlarions, and, m m importantly,his studies on Suhrawardi have brought back to life a figure that

1%
Landdt, "Suhrawardi's," 48b, 483a; cf. Macush, "Greek aad On- Sources,"9-13.
ls Cabrn, @ m a & ,24 n.20;cf. Idem, Ei3 d a m usPzr'a, ,vol. 2, 28 ff.
1%
C&m, l3 I~~ hmku, vol. 2 , 2 4 6 ; cf. Alfifi. 'The Influence of Hermetic," 840-55.
197
C m , & a ; h k w z z k , vol. 2,29 n. 32.
IPB
Lama, k Wb.imcs d C l >S/run,23 1.
199
H m ,$6 l9-111,107.9-109.16 (a,
99-101);cf. Ibxd., 8 129,121.8-122.11 (Safi, 112-3).
an
As such, Suhawardi s h m s much with someone lke the Sufr Napn al-Diu Kubrii (d. 1221), cf.
Ltndolt, "Suhrawardi's,"481a; cf. Corbin, ~ b I a a o f ' ~ & k r ~ k n S ~ .
had been forgoaen b y hitory. In his numerous studies, however. Corbin focused m d y on the
mecaphysical aspects of Suhrawardi's w o r k and neglected the logic and the physics of hs langer
and more substantiai worics"2 His editions of the works thet serve as e pmpaedeutic to the CXe-rad-
U / U d U ; b t ~ t l ~FiSsabm
w the L a p i s and
only include the , ~ J ~ B Y J I; & P4mis temain unedited.
hdeed, many sections of the Itkp~m~ks
of Suhrawardi's works do. in fact. discuss a s p w
pettainkg to his philosophicd anthrapology . This characterizes Suhraw =di' s philosophical enterprise.
Nonerheless, the fact ternains that the books OMtFIe Sou/.usually found in sections on P4~m;rS.
have not been readiiy available. This might account, nomithstanding Corbin's own philosophicai
inchations towards Suhrawardi's metaphysics, far the lack of studies d e a h g specificaiiy with
Suhrawardi's logic and physics and. by extension,his phiiosophical anthropology. Moreover. Corbin
has discussed Sohrawards philosophcal mchropofog). only with regards to speufic issues such as
the imaginative faculty, because it is intirnateiy associateci witb Suhnrwdi ' s imaginai world one of .
the focus of Corbin's studies on post-Avicelinaa thought. Corbui's editions have undoubtedly
decermined the fate of Suhrawdian s c h o l d p for the most parr of this century.
N-, g numerous stays in T e h and another impohant
a collezigue of Cochin d u ~ his
modern scholar of SuhrawatdF, wrote a number of stndies on Sulsawardi ' s oriental-illuminative
philosophy and his overaii contribution to Islamic thought Nasr, however, devotes only a few pages
to Suhrawardi's philosophical anthtopology. In one of his earlier studies, Nasr presents the two
d prinuples tbat detennine the psychological system of Suhmardi: a prkciple of domhance
(2) and a principle of love (
"e
Z
.
Z ).2m He then aea out ro enurnerare the different souls and the
d i f f e m faculcies aaributed to each of these souls. After this short exposition of psychology, h e

Nasr, 'Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi," 125-53 [repinr of Nas, "aihab al-DIn Suhrawar&," 37561.
'O'

F a SPhtawiudi'schain of transmission of iIhimindve doctrine, cf. N a , 7m-ee i2frrxrir/n S-gts, 62; cf.
Amalda, "IskZkiyyn," 121.

202
See the bibliography for Suhrawardi's wks.
zm
Nasr, S'&
. hb al-Da," 392. The psycolog~cdelements he discusses in his other study on
Suhrxwadi do not add mythng s u b m a y new ,cf. Idem, rar#b..& *, 75-6.
describes Suhrawardi's eschatology. whicii extends his psyctiology and analyses the fate of the soul
a f m desth!-
In the begin-g of ~ I recent
S m d y on Suhrawardi, Amin Razavi. another Suhrawardian
scholar, relies foc the mon part on Nasr's studies for his discussions on Suhrawardi's psycholog)-- In
this work, he enurneraces a number of centrai themes pmsent in Suhrawardi's work. but, qairi. ody
a few pages are dedicared t~ his philosophical anrhropology Amin Razavi's work focuses on the
epistemologicai foundation of Suhrawardi's thought. Nasr' s and Amin Razavi' s accounts propose a
vety general outiine of Suhraw ardi' s philosophical anthropology that amounts to a List of the different
poirrs of the soul (vegetative, &ai. and so on), the different faculties tha belong tc the different
souls (apperitive, irascible, and so on), and a few words on the souf-body problen
Mme recently, there has been an attempt to correct ths uneven ernphasis on metaphysics in
Suhrawardiancircies. Ziai , also cancemed with Suhrawardi' s epistemology, has fovused his analysis .
for the moa part. on tbe logicd and. again. the epistemological aspects of Suhrawardi's w o r k s . Ln
dtion, he has written some articles focushg on the foundacions of what he caLls the "philosophy of
iiumuiation." especiaiiy the epistemologicai structure whicb underlies Suhraaardi's ~ ~ s t e r n . ~ ~
Althaugh Wdbridge's work focuses on Qu* al-Dia ShkSzi. he has cscussed SiihrawarQ's " saence
af lights." His exposition of Suhfirwardi's thought, however. has not addmssed specificdy the issue
of philosophicai a n t h r o p ~ l o g y . ~

WORKS ON ISSUES ON PHILOSOPHICAL ANTEROPOLOGY


Suhrawardi does not present his philosophical anthropology in any particular work. Moreover,
he did not wrte independent eplsdes on rhe subject as Avicenna and other scholars did. Nonetheless,
most of h s works do contain passages, at times lengthy, on a number of issues related tu Lbe human
soul. These passages are, for the most p a t , found in the sections on meraphysics and on physics. For

md
Nasr, " S hr h* ai-Dh,* 393-5; cf. Amin R l z ~ v i "Suhrawardi's,"
, 3 3 4 and Idem, Suhrrw;vby,
49-50. Tbe -1 is the piibhcaion of a slightly modified version of his Pb.D, Disstxtation mth the addition of
8 cranskion of the text and commentary of tbe Gkztofabrr& k C F 5 cf. Idem, S&CIiYTrJy, 48-9; d.the
r&cw on tbe -1 wak, cf. Waibndge, " R h e w ," 615-7. Amin Raz& refers to H ~ & ~ L225 w , and Avtrr,
53-63.
2m
Amin Razavi,"Suhrawads,"3 1-3.

207
Ziai, 'Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi," 434-64. In andter arhcle on the "ilhimin;tiomst" tradition,
psychologyrsmt w e n d k c ~ s s e d,cf. Idem."TheLUummminrtistTndition,"465-%.71iriannouncedafathcoming
aside errcitled, " La Sagesse illumuiative et la Logique selon A l - S u h r a le
~ Martyr," cf. Tk,Cadrbupud,
128.
instance. some of the shorter tteatises provide extremely concise discussions on the sou1 within
seaions chat discuss topics usually found in the chapters or books of P b p b Ir was traditionally
these books on physics (of philosophical works) that usuaily contained a book OR&e.Soul.
One such book or, in this padcular case, a section o n the P4mk has been edited: t h e
Ffmbe ufhb@br.This is more a Peripatetic compendium. although in some places it hhts at more
personai interpretations and concerns. The fourth book of the P4mk d' the uIainz1~1ks d s o
.
contains a book Oa &e Sdul as does the sivth book o n the P4~1ics of the plr%rs? It has been
impossible to obtain a complece copy of the manuscript of the latter work. and it is hoped that an
edition of the text as weil as the chapters 0a rhe L
SOd in Suhmardi's major works will soon b e
made avdable. The section in the UI&hr;ly~;OaS,however, is much mom Peripatdc than might be
acpected.210Suhrawardi's more original contribution is found in the edite 1Cf&@yznks of that
particular text.
It might be useful to offet a List of the works and the sections which discuss issues related to

the human soul. This List does not include references to Suhrawdi' s symbolic oc initiatic tales,
dthough the latter present philosopiilcaLLy relevant information regarding philosophical anthropology.
In g e n d , tbese laiter wocks do not present philosophical arguments. but illustrate or present
philosophical ideas with a symbolic rendering of th& own. Here is a Lis of the works chat contain
sections on the souk

1 - WORKS IN ARABIC

II - WORKS IN PERSIAN

XB
M i : Berlin, ms.,no.506; r n d o n e d In Zai, KRowfeee, 147.
210
Tirln@Z,microfilm of Leiden ms..no. Ot 365,Instatae of Islanuc Studia, McGill URivwsity.
211
The Persian tram. is probably not by S u b m a d i , cf.Pujavadi, "Shaykh-i Ishrfiq ."1-2.
NATURE OF THE SOUL

Philosophical discussions on the definiuon and the nature of the soul find their otigin in
ancient Greek traditions, where a notion of the soul probablp emerged out of an identification of the
phenornenon of Me with the breath of mr whose presence is fundamentai for its susenance. A
gradua1 transformaion took place fmm the view of the soul as tbe breath of fife to the view thtu it is
a saperior entity, distinct fmm the body. Fn the JudeChristian and Islamic traditions this idea was
preserved.
Ancient notions of the soul a s the breath of life chus took on a more theological coloring
withn the prophetic traditions. Within these traditions, the sou1 came to be seen as onginated by
God md as God's breath of Me.' Here, one cairiot undaescimate the role played by the Qur'anic
tradition in the shaping of an Islamic conception of che s o ~ lThe
. ~ iairoduaion of philosophical
consideratioas in Islam led to a pbiiosopbically based theoretic distinction between the sou1 and the
spirit (see section on the patuma ). Suhrawerdi' s own conception of the nature and the role of the
sou1 is embedded in this Islarnic tradition.

THE SOUL AS ENTEtECHY AND SUBSTANCE


Aristotle's conception of the sou1 s u ~ v e din tbe Islamic tradition. h bis On tbe Sou/,
Suhrawrrrdi conceived of the soul as an enteiechy, Le., as the first perfection of a material subject.
The sou1 was essentidy the form of a material body, in conformity with the hylomorphc theory of
the tirne? Ir was the priiciple of Me belonging to a l l tliings.
Fm Islarnic thinkers, bowevet, an Aristotelian hylomorphic definition of the soul did not
pmvide the lacter with sufficient independence. Aristotle's na&utalistic kterpretation associated the
sou1 too intimately - almost in an organic mennw - with the body and i~ bodily constinients,
making it difficult for Islamic -ers to uphold his d e f d o n of the sou1 as behg only the f k t

Vecdinkere, " L'me ou nepesh a N*," 59-69.


2
Madonaid, "The Develpomcnt of the Idea of Spirir in Mm,"
307-51 [reprint rn AL if' 22
(1932): 2542 and 153-681.
3
AristoCte, Oa&Sud, II, 1,412a-413a and II, 2-3.414a25-29.
entelechy of a n a d body having Me.
The Islarnic tradition often proWded the soul with a divine nature. For instance, "the sou1,"
wrote Abu Svfayminal-Sijistaai (al-M-qi) (ci. 1000). "is a diviue power. which is the [iaretmeaiary]
means becween che IlaNre which govems the disposed elenients and t h e reason which lights ir up,
penetrates it and eiivelops it; it is 'simple, of high rank. incompable and inalterable:" and because
it is simple and does noc accept opposites. it is immortai, and not susceptible co cormption and

destruction5
Such a conception of the sou1 did not. however, sir weU with Aristotle's interpretaion,
elthough al-Sijisani did adopc a g e n d Aristotelim notion of the soul. Far a l - S i j i n a . t h e soul is
neither body nor accident. and that it is that which provides the body wifh its consisteucy, its
organisation, and iis perfection.6 This conception of the soul provides sorne evidence of the gredy
Neoplatonic type of definition of the soul in vogue at the tirne of ,4vicenna
For Avicaina, souls h a b i t the whole cosmic universe, and are essencially of two types: the
sepatateci souls and the non-separated souls. The separated souk, simple and inmortal. are those
whch animate bodies of which they are the subsf~~ltial
forms. They are distinct from non-sepatated
souls, because they me not imptinted in mater,as in the case of the souls of plants and non-rational
&mals. Separated ouls. rherefore. depend on the body only for their origindon. but dot for the
realiigeion af their u l t h a e end and finaiiy. Sepamted simple and i m m o d souls are funher divided
into two types of souk: celestial souls, which are the souls of the spheres of Peripatetic cosmology,
and human s o u l ~ . ~
Sirililet distmctions nnderline Suhrawardi's own cosmology. where sepa~atedsimple souls
tre of two types: cdestial souls tbat are tbe souls of the spheres and human souls. Suhrawardi
acmally provides scriptural proofs, in a way Avicema had deemed unnecessay in his philosophical
works. to cxmobotate th& particulst Peripatetic philosophical claim. He appeals to the Qur=c te~t,

whch staces: " By those who advance the first" (Q., 79:4). He *es tbis to mean the intelligences. H e
takes "By those who are the ministets of an ocder" (Q., 795) to mean the souls, i.e., the celestial
s o u l ~Accordiog
.~ to the philosophers, Suhrawudi writes, the celestid spheres (8%l ) &O possess

ai-Tawmdi. d-/ma-', 111, 110 (Caro. 1942); quoted in the d r o (pp. 344) of Badarni's ed. of the
S Z KCf.
~& ~
Si--,, S z w/-I/*iv,
~ ~ 25.~
ai-Trwhid. r/-fmaT',III, 1 1 1; quoted in Badaws intro., 20.
6
ai-Taw&di, ;L/-Urr&iy1, 202-3:quoted in Badawi's im.,28.
vol, 2,III,19-27,4O7.l-427.3
Aviccana, /da%, (D?k,34 1-50);cf. Goichon, D1jaacu8tl.456.
frr;9HI4 1 1 , 269.1 1-2(m.
21);cf. Corbin. A l r b q c , 28 n.36.
rational souk (Ziiblj CI)Y+ ) that are living (+ 1).knowing ( ;
ilL ), and desiring (2ii.Alc ) th&

p~cipie.9
A v r c a a has provided a number of proofs forthe existence of an independent soul: arguments
relying on physico-phy!iiological considerations (souk as the principle of Me). on the notiofi of the
self. on the contimity of the psychalogical life. and on the hypotheticd example of the " suspended
person.* Most of these arguments serve m denionstrate the e-cistence of the human soul, ifs nature
aad incorporeality. Suhrawardi provides similar arguments based on such physio-physiological
considerations or relying on a notion of the self. The latter argument is, indeed, more frequently
envisioned by Suhraward in a number of his works than it was by Avicenna. Arguments based on
the continuity of psychological Me are. t h e f o r e , to be cornpareci with Avicenna's hypothetical
example of the "suspended pason" (see section on self-knowledge).
Avicenna offers a synthesis of the view s of his predecessots regatding the notion of the soul.
In so doing. he dwelops a complex theory whereby two complementary conceptions of the soul
-habit side by side!' ln the Cive. Avicenna, f h t . establishes the relauonal chartacter of the soul
fmm which proceeds all 0th- activities." As a pinciple f i ) which cornpletes a perfects the

- an e n t e l e ~ h ~ . ' ~
species,the soul is a perfection (JU)
At the amhropological level, the sou1 finds itself in relation with mater, Le., the body
beaxning its r e ~ e ~ t a c l e .h
' ~Avicenna' s definfion of the soul, the body does, indeed. play a mle; for
instance, when be writes that, "the name 'soul' does not apply to [the soul] because of its substance,
but, cather, because it is niling (;>A ) over the bodies aad is brought h t o relation wirh <hem

(w!i..Llji. )."ld Similar discussions are found in his C2mwze11.v on the pseudo- m d o g y o f
Ansiie in which the soul "in-forms," i e . , provides a form to the body and perfem it by
in his Gb~lt>,
exercishg over ir its deliberate action~.'~Furthermore. he writes Lhat "the sou1 which we
zre definhg is tbe f i e t pdection of a n a ~ r a body
l wluch becomes instrumental (di&(U'
d ) for accomplishltg the activities [associateci with] life (Z+ J LUI
)."16 A ~ c ~ Madds
. Chat "that

9
F~~J 4 1H ,
1 ,269.13 4 ( m.,
22-3).
10
Jambet, "L'&mehumaine," 21 7-8.
'' , M : N*, 1, 1.4.10-12 (er,
A v i c e ~ aS 5).
12
Avicema, M:Nds, 1, 1.6.9-10 (PT,6).
l3 Avicenna, SWZ: &fi, 1, 1.7.10 (EFK,
7).
14
Aviceuna, SIS',N - S ,1, 1, 10.17-9 ( P ' K 9). Avicenna adds tbat "the stiidy of the sou1 has
become part of the mprical sciens +
), becaum the study of he soul, as it is a soul,1s its study with
respect to the relation ( Z Z h ) it passerses with matta (&t ) and macion (X,S)." cf. Idem. S m : NW5,
1. t ,
11.1-3 (By, 9); cf. Idem, A & + - - d - H s ,I,53.11-13.
w h c h is aDnbuted to [the soul] is rhe execution of the acrs of livrng beings ( L l S & ~ i i) by means
of weU thoughr-out choices (.G- l& 1and dedudon through discenunent (&i l+4- 1 ).

as it perceives univasai r n n ~ e i s . ' ~ ' ~


Celestial souls. howa-er. do not fa11 under this definition. because they are devoid of organs.
They theniselves coaimand operations. e.g.. inteileauai conceptualization and motion. Thq.are the
forms and perfections of the celeaial ~ ~ h e r eIrswill
. ~ suffice here to mention that A v i c e ~ a ' notion
s
of perfedion assoated with the definition of the soul is similm to, perhaps derived frorn, the notion
of entelechy found in Aristotle's definition of the soul in the On fhe&u/ - someching Plodus. it
seems. had reje~ted.'~
Avicema, however, innovales and divides t h cagacity of actualization of the soul into two
=es of entelechy or perfection. There is a first perfection. "through which the species (CS)
becomes a species in actuaiity u
. l+like the form (JLI for the sword:" and a seamdary
). )

perfection, whch is *something that follows the species of the tbing, coming from its actions and its
passions (uJl&l ). like the a u of cuaing of the sword, and Wre the [act of] disahination [i.e.. of
judging or d e l i b d o n ] ( w), of tMaig (Ga,). of sensarion (ph!
). and of motion.'m The

e actualivltion (of the species), is a first perfection; and, as the pridciple of tbe
soul, as the p ~ c i p l of
e x d s e of the actions and the passions (coming from the species). it is a secondary perfection.
For Avicenna,the soul's Life - i.e,, the soul's Unaioctality - and its perfection would appear
to be. in fect. wonymous.21 Fuccbermore, there seems to be a notion of finality (final cause) implied
in the first perfection of the soal whose ultimate end is the perfeaing of the most elwated specles
(human beings). It is, however, precisely this notion of a perfeaing principle which precludes any
imrriixion of the soui wich materid constituenrs, since the soul is not tbe focm of the body, in its
classical Aristotelian sense.=
Suhrawardi adopts a similtu conception of the soul in terms of its perfectibility. He is

15
Avicenna, Dac& 66.6-7
, Wajda, "Notes," W, 1 , 393). Futthesmore, he mentions th* " [the soul]
becomes pedect ( "$xi) tbrough the body ( 3 4 4 ) and perfeas G&is) itseif by over it. in
(&LiberPtad] d o n (d"44)."
cf. Idem, SB=&, 67.7-8 Or;tjda, "Notes,"VJI, 4,395).
16
Aviccnna, S/nZT: N !1.1,12.6-8 ( P !10); cf Idem. JZlkj51, =, 1, 3 19.11-320.6 ( A ~ c25).
,
17
Avicenna, S e ,NA, 1.5.40.24 (*Y, 28).
!a
Aviccnna. Sjrtfi, N i 1, 1, 12.10-14(Psy, 10-11).
19
Plotinus, ,&mu&. IV,7 . 8 ( %; cf. Bhimcndial, PI&us 'Pelwl12-3.17.
M
Avicema, S M : N&s, 1.1, 11.8-11 (PT,10).
21
Avicenna, SWZ:Nids, I l l , 12.17-13.2 (F%K12); cf. Amid, Bmi, 119.
a
Ushida, EWe compmdw, 30-2.
Funhennore. '*the m o n perfect mixture ( El +
explicit: the sou1 in the body is a perfec<ton for irZ3
*- 4
91) is the one beloaging to human beings." be writes, 'and it adk fram the Provider [of fotms]
(+Id) [the gift of] a perfecuon.''" Irs perfection is. indeed. the human mional soul whose origk is
in the hteiiigible world?
Suhrawardi does no t merely adopt Avicenna's position. A distinctive trait of bis interpretation
of the perfectibility associated with the rational soul is the new terininology he uses. The rasionai
soui is now discussed in ternis of the intemity of hght that it possesses. as weii as ts capscity ta
accept the emanation or. more typicaiiy. the illumination that originates from the intelligible Lights CO
which human souk are subordinaed. In Suhrawardi's i n q r e t a t i o n , the rationai soul becomes the
n i h g light (su)
and. ldce Avicenna's d o n a l soul. it rules o v a the faalties that are auached to ir

and wbich aiiow it to le over the different activities of the human s a u ~ ~ ~


The human sou1 is what he cas the Isfahbad-light 1-( + ). which serves as the
Th'is Isfahbad-light is but one of t h e many t a m s uaed in what
prinuple for t h e vtuous f a ~ u l t i e s . ~
Ziai d i s 'a special technical laaguage" which employs the symbalism of Ligbt to 'describe oncolagical
.
pmblems. aad especiay depict cosmological str~cnnes."~'Licerally Isfahbad (Arabized f a m of the
Pahlavi e b u d , e.sp3Wdf9 i s the "army commandant" Its use by Suhmwadi - as the d o m g
light - is reminiscent of the Sroic notion of ~i~eyno&oa.'~Tt identifies the light possessed by evey
human soul ns the ruhg light (> +) that d e s over aii the faculcies of the soul, iike A v i c e m ' s
rational saul.
A notion of perfection also applies to SuhrawardI1sundastanding of the notion of light. The
intensity of ligbt is similarly defiaed in terms of its perfection or its deficiency, e.g., when he
dirnisses the intelligible Lighrs. Le.. the domhating lights (Z9Ci In f a a . in his light terminology .
1s;).
perfection is translateci into a quest or a need for light. In a sense, inrenUty and perfectibility
chaacterize luminosity. Suhrawatdi writes that "the difference in luminosity (;iz+ ) is only of

23
T-Zf, 8 59, 81-4-10; d. NilpSti2, N (a) 65.1-8 (p) 22, 96.19-97.7 (An&, 52; fsmi14r,
157-8).

26
For Avicenna, the soui is ike the captsari who is the perfection of che stnp, te rula who is the
perfection of the ciry, d.Avic~ana,i?2#5?. Nds, 1.1.6.13- ll) (PIy,6).
27
9 2 16.2615.4-5 ( Sw, 193).
Zai, "Shihab al-Dn Suhrawari," 444.
29
Coebin, Il,40n. 85,44-5.
30
Corbia, En ZS~MUrnr'ed, VOL 4,8811.118,115;cf.Waibridge, " Suhrawardi," 528.
-
intensity ~cki
) and of perfection. and the intensiry and the perfection of the luminosity of the

Light of lights is infinite."' The substance or the reality (* ) of light only differs in perfection
and d e f i a e n q &).'
Suhrawardi's deparnire from the Avice~nansystern is characterized b y the absence of a
distinction between the firs and secondary perfections." The Idahbad-light is not made into two
d i s h a types of hght. Light could not correspond to or be i d e d ~ e dwich two distinct types of

perfecting principles , Light c o d t u t i n g one reality. Nonetheless, for Suhmwardi. the hurnan rational
soul remains the p ~ c i p l eof both the ab;ualizction (of the species), i.e., giving life to the body. and
the priiiciple of activity and the passians (cotning from the species) which are necessary for its rule
over the body.
AvkennaVsdefinition of the sou1 in tenns of perfection does not, however, provide a d u e as
to ifs nature: 1s it a substance or not?

The question of tbe soul's substantiality bas been discussed b y eariier Heiienistic wnters.
Plotinus hes criticized the Peripatetic view that the soul is the entelechy of the body?T'he Neoplatonic
approach of Plotinus proclaimed its substantdhy in order to account for the soul's different aaivities,
i.e., actions, motion. facukies (such as sensgions. memory or thought).= and t o account for its
relation wit the more divine form of behg and of te aernai. Le.. the intelligence (the a ~ s )A. ~
similar thesis is upheld in the pseudo- n m I w ofAbz&e, where the saul is immaterial and noc. a
body.-
Anorber element in Aviceana's conception of the soui. perhapr as a resalt of these Neoplaoaic

elements, is its definition in terms of substantiality, e-g., one of fs works is entitled "Ten Proofs
Estabiishuig that the Rational Sou1 is a ~ u b s t a n c e .Although
"~ the soul seems to act Wte a f a m for
the body. it is only atfached to the latter. relation of the soul's substance wirb the body is doser

'' HrRmw, g 174.168.~-7( wq


159).
32
HiOnrrl,4 125,119.12-5 (Sq, 110).
s BibS, 216-7,204.8-206.3 (S*., 1934)-
34
Blumcnthal. p I c s a l m ' P ! l & y , 12;cf. Plorumr, &nczt&. W .7.8' (Mls*enn& 352-3).
35
Blumcntbal, P I & s ' P ! ~ 10-1,
, 1 1n. 10. 13; cf. Plaiim.. &CS&, IV,7 . 8 ""(Madenna,
349-51).
36
Blumeatbal, R & ~ ~r r i a r b C , ,13; cf. Plotinus, h
'pjy &,N ,7, 10 ( M a c k e ~ a353-5).
, On
the individual soul, cf. Pi-s, E8a&, TV,3,ZO(Mackenna, 276-8).
n
Pseudo-Z k d q g y dANI#I/e, 45.3-49.14.
3
Anawati, "La kadition manuscrite," no. W. 247. This work is mentioned in MuU wdn's
comrnentacy, cf. MrillZ !Saclri;, n%qS, 493 (Sag., 633); cf. Amid, fisur., 124-7; cf. Goodman, "A Note on
Avicenna's Th- of the SubJtuihaty ofthe Saul,"547-54.
to .eistotlees view chat there are distinct faalties rha do not esin as separate para of the S O U ~ . ~
Alihough f
a Avicenna, the substance (SA) of the soul is,in a sense. a form G J y ). it is not.
-
however. a fonn s h i c h is i n a place of inherence (c-rir
0

) AS such. it c m o t be the f a m of the


body in the ANtotelian ens se.^
Perbaps more important is Avicema's definition of the soul as a separate form. For Avicenna,
a form which depends on matter cannot be immorral. The soul mua. therefore. be separated from
matter, because it survives the death of the body and is immortai. Consequently, the soul's immortality
implies its irxtmateriality a The soul. as a separated entity, therefore, finds its place within die iealrn
of the pore intelligens.a ~ h (empuicist)
e narriralisrn detenable ia Aristorle's system is absent from
Avicenna's juxtaposition of t h e spStuai substance - chat constitntes the nature of the soul - and the
body. As such, there exists a greater spititualizetion of the oul's essence in Avicenna's philosophical

For Aviceiina, the notion of perfection embodies more accurarely what sbould constitute a
more gened notion capable of defining the mul? as &ied by a passage from his Gjro*cer cn

By perfection u i l ), [Aristodej designates a reality other than the one he


indicas wirh the form, although tese ~ F A Onotiom d o have a close relation. [Atistotle]
aills sometbing a form in relation to its subject ) and he c d s it a perfection
in reiation to any being which it perfects. Sometimes, perfection perfects the subjea
amata ) without behg part of it. Sometimes. [it pdects] the composite
( ) which q u i r e s a s p d c naaire [so that] it is known to be a part from
which the activities emanate.&
Conuary to the more nacriralistic approach of Anstotle, Avicema defiaes the essence of the
sou1 in a w ay that avoids taking uito account a number of aspects associated with the animated body.
He provides a defidion which the natural sciences do not explain. i.e., the soul is an independent
entity having its own existence.Avicenna aaually combines the Aristoteiian and Neoplatonic traditions.
Hence,he defines the soul both in terms of it being a substance and of its perfectibility. -4s a median

39
Aristotle, L& &eSIrl, I1,2,413b27-30against Plato, TUnueus,69d-e.
4)
Avicenna, M : Nids, 1,3, 27.15-17 20) and Ibid., 29.7-8 ( e21);
(el ~ c,f. Avicenna, Siiucir'
,M i V,3.215.4-6 (hfrirr,246).
41
Goichon, D-OP, 450.
a
Gaichon, Diahmbn, 454 n.3,4%-5,455 n. 1.
43
El Ahwaai, 'La thbrie de La connaissance," 25.
4d
For an mdysis of the arguments offered by Avicenna, cf.Ushida, &de w m p m ~ ~ ~r,
24-8.
4s
Avicenna, =@
' P = 1 / ~ ~ ; r ~ 91.8-12
~ i r 1(Ushida, Bu&, 23 n.2).
alternative. Avicenna's position incorpocates the +4ristotelianposition from which he. nonetheless,
atempts to depart
Subrawardi proposes. not surprisingly, a siniilai Neoplatonic conception of the nature cC the
soul in tetms of its substdaliry. H e is qually concerneci to posit an entiy radically distina from
any type of corporealicy chat could be associated with the body. There is a simiiar desire to depart
from the ,4ristotelian conception of the soul in t e m s of the hylomorphic conception of the soul (as
the form of the body).
For Suhrawardi, the -4ristotelian conception of the soul does not provide it with sufficient
independence. Hence, the rationai soul, principle of the different faalties (such as diose of growth
a of nutrition) which a e its first inanunertts. canaot b e something impinred in something
else.* Suhrawerdi wrires that, "if it were supposed chat the faculty 1e.g.. growrh or nuuition]" was in
a [particular] part [of the body], then that which would be in [that part] would ceme CO existhd
the evaltisung [ p ~ c i p l eLe.,
. the soul] wouid b e divided [or elimuiated] (& ) bp the dissolution

(&) incurred by the intake [of nuuients]." Since bodies are always subjea to uansforrnation and
are in a constant state of flux, "it is impossible that tha whch preserves the mixture + ) wouid
#

die (u ).'- The m x of the argument is thet if the soul wm-e associated Ui m y way whatsoevec
with the body or anythhg bodily, the constant transformarion in which the body is rnauitruned (i.e.,
in a constant state of flux) would cause the disappearance of that which is associatecl with it, or
anything related to it, i.e., in this case, the soul. Moreover, if the rational s u d were to cease to exist
once it disappeared as a result of this constant physiological transformation, it could no longer have
any dfect on the bodyam
For Suhmardi, tbe soul is not in itself a form, but can be viewed as such only in a sense
similar to the one proposed by Avicenna. It is a fonn only inasmuch as it is the pcinciple niling the
body, separate from rnaaer and, thus. everlasting." In one passage,he wt=itesthat what he means by
a form is "any simple reality that is species-like (+Y+ %ZL+ &),whethm it be substantial
(&G )
or acudeiiul (G>
)," adding that, "the elenentg (-& ) " o d y contain corporeality

8
I2fug5w-&, 8 60,191.34,
47
Faculries rucb as growth or n~criaon.
a
Because the essence of souls 1s " monadic" (&I +L
LI^ i.@ ), i.e,whose ruuy ctcnot be
9 6 0 , 191.8.
jeopardized, d.hfqP~itmrS;r,
49
hfqalppmr3,g 60,19 L -4-7.
50
Idfiq3wnmc2,60,191.7.
51
59,al.l-2.
Tn/~@ri;r,
-
(- ) and L;rs ). and nothing e l ~ e . 'The
[materid] qualitis (a ~ S O U ~ however.
. is a .'monadicW
unit)- (~;
lG3 ) which is in actuality. such thar the accidents (sr and the forms
) ( ;& ) which

belong to it are in the m b n m e , i-e.. the body, because the soul is not fie bearer of the---a For
. .
Suhrawardi the sou1 is , indeed "a substance. w hose essence is distina (O 1 il l & )" from
snything bodity or corpord5*
But to what exactly does this substance whose essence is distinct correspond? In Suhrawardi's
ontology of light, i t is. in fact. a luminous substance to which is opposed a tenebrous substance
(-li 941 ) - that of the bodily.= Furthamore. all the charsueristics traditionally asccibed ro
souk, e.g.. that it "is self-subsisting, not inhering in a Locus, living, knowing, and niling over
bodiei." are d i ptivileged dements of interpretation for Suhranrarbi for which he provides again
Qur'anic references 79:4 156
(0.. They are, however, rendered in terms of his light tenninology.
More generally, it can be stated that the incorporeal substance of the soul is assimilated to the
incorporeal substance of light.

NCORPOREALITY OF THE SOUL


Avicema offered a few arguments to demonstrate h e incorporeality and the immateriaiity
of human souls. These arguments were not, hawwer, accepted w h o l e b e m d l y by ail philosophers.
They were soon to be challengecl b y a[-Gha who objected to Avicema' s rational demonstrations
m prove that humau seuls wem self-subsistentspintual substancesn
One of Avicenna's arguments for the incorporeality of the soul is based on the nature of
thoughts. intelligible thoughts,being indivisible, can o d y be present in an indivisible substranim.
The soul, as the teceptacle of abnract entities. must possess a nature d a r to those abstracted
entities. Hence, it musc b e independent of any type of rnlrra o r corporeiliry?~onsequently.the

54
T d w ' a , 59, 81-4-5 and Ibid., 8 59, 81.5-10, Suhrawardi w d s that "al1 substances are divided
inoD c o r p o d and ina~rporeai;the incorparrl dominates the corpocd, and it is aiso its objea cf denre," cf.
II~iyz, IV (a) 77.9-78.1 (p) 32, 104.1 -3 (B., 65; fhnzUr, 192). Immatenai substances are divided tnto
supecioc daminaang substances and iderioc daminated substances that are caused by those that are suptior to
them; Y for bodies, theg are of two typa: ethtrical and elemental, the erherical bodies b ~ g tbemselves, ,
further subdivided, cf. H i l p z , N (a) 78-1-79.4 (p) 8 32, 1W.3- 10 (M., 65; k u ~ ~ U1rZ, ) ; cf. HrkmiU, 8
146,137.6-7 (S4c 132).
55
The luminous substance is of m a types - pure ) and a c c i d d (+#>k), cf. & b n ~@ ~ 109,
,
tO7.12- 16 ( Ss., 98). For the different taregories of Ligha, cf. Ibid., $ 156.1475- 1485 ( Sw. 143).
soul must be an incorporeal substance. as opposed LO bodies which are divisible entities.
S u h r a w d i provides a similar line of argumentation. by appealing to the process of cognizance

reaticy or. as one might say, of the "-Slingness" of any sort of entiy is achieved independently of any
of its aatlbates, i.e.. the accidents associated with the thing. T h e substratum of the concept itself
cannot be in a body or in anything which is divisible, because the occurrence of such entities in the
mind must take place without any rns~eriality.Suhnmsrdi writes that. the " substratum ( & ) [of
the concept or. in the Persian version, the "abstract form"] in you is also non-measurable: it is your
rational soul. because that which is not measurable cannot be inherentsg in a body [and withour any
~ h ~ c t e r i s t i c sTherefore,
]. your soul is neither a body. nor a corporeality."a Ln the Persian version
of the same text, he says more explicitly. "it is necessary h a t the substratum of that form b e devoid
of [any] measure (.I-) - and of particular cbaraaeristics (--).'*' He writes that:
They are neither interior to the worid nor exterior m it?' aad neither continuous (
) nor disconrinuous [from it] ( & ) AU of these [chraaeristics] w
lrmoaga the accidents of bodies.Q But &at which is not a body is free from [the
accideas]. Therefore, the rational soul is a substance which amnot be conceived to
be indicated by the senses, and whose Nue (JL) - or nature (&*hi , ) - is to rule
( +LL? S) over the body.'

Another argument for the immortality of the soul offered by A v i c m a is the absence of
factors that would contribute to the d e m c t i o n of the soul. All objects that actually &st and that are
subject to destruction possess two distinct factors: first, the ac&uality of continued acistence and,
second.the possibility of being destmyed. The soul,however, cannot contain distinct factors.because
it is a non-composite substaace. Consequently, it cannot possess the possibiliv of bemg desroyed.=
Al-GhazSh, however, criticized this idea for being at odds with religious tradition - maintaining that
G o d can do away witb anything"
The same argument is used, in the A~rbs,by Suhrawatdi to establish the eternity of the soul

53
The eanslation follows the reading of the foacnote of the edition, 4. H e , I1 (a) SO n.5; cf.
H2p5W.II (a) 50.6-8 @) $ 6 . 86.12- 17 [slightly different] (M., 43; /mi%. 1M).
60
Ha-, 11 (a) 50.6-8 (p) 8 6, 86.12-20 [Slightly different from the Arabic] ( Rrrb..,43 ; f d 2 ,
62)-

62
The Pasian version adds " ...baause intemal and external tre attributes of a body. &wise, they
are...,"cf. H Q ~ a@)
z , 9 7.87.6.
63
The Persian version adds " Anything which is not a body cannot be attributed [or belong] to bodies,
as it is devoid {i*) of the aaibotes [belonging] to bodies ," cf. Hi!-, I1 @) 8 7,87.7-8.
and its incorporeal nature. The argument rests on the presence or absence of a potenualicy for
desmuion d& Z g ) Hence. what is. b y essence. a simple entity - i.e.. not composed - c m o t in
auualicy possess mch a potedality (La & 2 ciJ9 j9 ) for being desrroyed. This potenrial
for d e m a i o n cannot b e applied ta the intellect or prime maaer ( d e). which are slmple entities
in acaiality. Souls are simifer simple entiries - inasmuch as they are abstraa entities ( z : ~ ) like

intelligences - mat canaot possess such a potential for de~trudon.~'


In the Orz&nL;cr/-iUum~h~~'t.'
Cfikdoaar,Subraward consrders the argument for the immondity of t h e soul based on the absence of
a capacity to be destroyed to be flawed, because the t a m "deficiencf (4) is understood in a

number of ways.
Suhtawardi menuons another objection b a t is sometime IeveUed qainst the eternity of the
soul. The e~eraityof the soul, it is objected, cannot b e upheld considefing the f a a that its existence is
only possible. It is, like di 0th- separateci entities (a&
JL ), an e d t y Ehac is &O potentially
wn-existent ( c dI &.& ) To sucb an objection. he replies that the non-existence

of di these human souls c m only rest on the disappearance of their cause. This is unpossible,
because th& cause is the active intelligence, itself dependent - like everythmg that exists - on the
S i n i a t e cause,the Necesgy ~eing."Therefore. the exiaence of the sou1depends on the ontological
stahis of its cause, itself ;nimortal. This is the aaive intelligence, or the Archangel Gabriel witb
which it is identified by Avicema.
In mother passage, Suhrawardi presents yet another and most farcehl argument for t h e
incorporeality of the soul. The argument posits a material nature - perhaps somedung akin to a
- bdonging to the soul, and shows ru conmm0 th& the soul could
subtle body ( U e the pmwm~)
not be matmal if it wem to ascend through the cosmological hieracchy. H e writes tbac

If this were not the case [that the human spirit (Cs), - ie., here the rational sou1 -
were incorporeal], then, how could it be conceived that the divine spirit, i.e., the
rational soul, be piacuig rhrough the heavens, and be gradudy ascending, since

64
Ha-, II (a) 5 1 . 1 4 {p) 8 7 , 8 7 5 9 (m..
43; 1szwi"J. 103). '

6$
Davidson, AJE&II , 106, 152-3. Al-Ghafi aaacks Aviccana's proofs on tbe nature o f the
laeachmenr T h e must exist a facta that pzracuiarizes the roui and which aould be a condrtion for the
coneinued existence of the mui. There would then be a possibiltty tha. once the amchment (body-soul) is
sePacd, the sou1 c m l d paish mtb the dsapparaace of a i s fsrtoc. In addition, nowithstaning an independence
ad die roui wdi regards to tbe body, a possibiLrty of the soul's desmction by God (or uiocher cause) must s u s t
and be considard, cf. al-Gtiazi, T&i?vl, 205.1-209.4 ( M m m c e , 205-209); cf. D avdson, Mbr ,
152-3.
piercing and passing through celesciai spheres 1s inconceivabie. because celestial
spheres persrst eterndy in [their] ckcular movement. [and it] is impossible to conceive
of [the Sphere] as moing in a straigbt iine. because movement in a straight line is
not in con for mi^- with its nature. if [the celestid spheres] came back togecher after
having b e n Lippeci. thadore.it would have to b e rnoving in a sunight l i n d g
The aux of this argument would seem to rest on a particular cosmological configuration of
. .
the univa-se. Celestial spheres consist of an impenetmble uripierceble and untearable (as a remit of
their circular motion) "ubtle maaer " In this particular cosmological scheme. it 1s impossible to pass
from the orbit of one sphere to motber. One is only sucked into the eternd airvatute of its circu1a.r
motionm It is for this reason that the soul cannot b e material, no mater h m subtle sucb a makciality
is defined. because the soul's ascent toward the Light of Lighcs would then be impossible. A similar
a p p d to cosmological doca-hes occrirs in some of Suhrawads aguments within his h o r y of
vision (se section on visual perception). The latter occurrence of the argument is. perhaps. a the
mgin of thrs particular demonstrsition of the incorporeaiity of the soul. We will have to return to

other arguments proposed by Suhrawardi to demonstrate the existence of the soul (see section on

self-knowledge).
Suhrawardi's main concern is to establish the conditions that p a r a n t e e the soul' s access on .
its own tams,to the Firs Being. itseif devoid by essence of aay type of matmiaty. Thedore, the
soul musr b e defined in terms of the immateriality of irs substance. The argument be provides
appears, therefote. to be more ontological in nature. He writes:
The existence of [the soul's intellective substance] is inconceivable in the wodd of
bodies, because, if it were in the world of bodies. it would be inconceivable that it
pemeives the unity of the First Being ~ ~ Y l " & . l l O h A ) [i.e., Gad] ... because the
Olm (hl3can o d y be perieeived by an entify which is itself rnonadic (
~ e t t e r - s i l l[this
, ulreilective substance] is irseif a moiidic enriry. RS HalISj hrr said.
while being crucified:

What is suffitient for the One (-Id) is that the One isolates him [i-e.,
rnakes him one]?'
And nothhg which exists in the wodd of bodies is a one f i e . . a monadic enrity]

6R
fwid,4 7,268.2-6 ( A d .20).
,
70
The ascent of the soui cammt consritute a caporeal ascent throogh the heavens. Cr is, according to
C d i n , "an ia-lWon of the inncr spirituai heavens," if m e user Avictnna's T'kzOk of t h B a [&Shf
iJ-T'iw] a the Bmk of Awac [ I b d T h ~ ~ ~ & ],
arfribPfed m him. F a Corbin, the ascent is tbraiigh the
heavens of te inner nlgiaal world. cf. Corbin, Am&., 28 1~28; ci. Ibid.. 366;cf. Ra-, 9 10, 248.1 1-12
(W.., 374). For the d e b e surrounding the authorship of the hfiir~-tiRrnrrb whicb caanat be p v e , cf.
Heath, HqzqvirndA W ~ I "Appendix , B: O n the Anribution of the ~ f i ' l i r i ~ ~206.
. , "
71
HUij, &bu/-fliJ-J/$36-7,0ftheAabi~tat(d aldl JI>! -).
(&Id). The existence of the soul is therefore not conceivable [as b e i q ] in the world
of bodies."
Furthamore. Suhrawardi. more concaned than Avicenna to illustrate philosophical thers
and doarines witb Qur'anic verses and hadiths. does just that regarding the soul's incorporeality.
Although these are not saz-mi sensu arguments,they are presented as proofs or corroboratians
(3'12) of th& particular i n c e r p r d o n , likewise a central tenec of Peripatetic philosopiiy. H e quotes
the Qur'anic verse which mentions those who wiii remain "in an abode of tmth, at the side of a
Mighty King," (9..5455). and which h e interprecs as follows:
jThe existence of the soul] is neither a body, nor corporeal. since these attributes
( u L )are inconceivable regardhg the realicy (-+)
d
[i.e.. the subsance] of bodies.
Radier.these &butes ( u L) belong ro the divine spint (& l CJ-,)Sl which is. on
8ccount of its substauce. [ r a d i d y ] sepamteci frmn the world of bodies. There is no
difference between [&e divine spitit as the rational soul] and the Angels, eucept that
[rbe nuional soul] has bodies tic its disposal CO govem-"
Subrawardi then quotes another haditb where the Prophec says, " 1 spend the night near my
L o d ; he nounshes me,and he quenches my thirn."7' To furcher corroborate these quasi-praofs taken
from the religious tradition,he then appeals to the mystical ttadition. H e inmduces the staternent of
a shaykh on the chrracteristics of a Sufi " who is tn the Company of God nithout a localityn~
which.
for him,indiaites that the existence of the soul is to be undasmod in terms of an incorporeal entity,
beaiuse bodies which occupy speufic locations are material. composed (&> ) and divisible

( ? . ) and. thus, that 'whicli canna be divisible - neitha in the mLid (*1 2 ) nor concretely
(4
I ) - c a ~ obe
t in this world. "" k must. therefore, b e irnrnatenal.
The spiritualization of human souk is inescapable and somehow unavoidable, as the purpose
of Suhrawardi'sphilosophical anthropology isto ducidate the natureof an entity capable of approaching
and being near God, no maaer how metaphorically such expressions are taken

PRE-EXISTENCE OF THE SOUL

71
These qnzlificitions would dnermine the dation chat is establrrhed bemara human s o u k and the
'Angd-Divmc-Spirit"mm which they ongmate,cf. M i n , N., 27 1~24.
74
fqa,Q 7,267.5-7 ( A d ,19).
75 Majiti, S f i ~ dB F ) U -1355 h.1.l 1936), vol. 2 . 8 5 ; mencioned m Corbia, A/r:b.
r ~ ~ - A ~ (Tehnn,
27 n25;ci. /"i&f,
4 7.267.8.
76
For Cbrn, tbs is Smilar to the 'nowhere-landn (+5 l+k L),cf. Corbin, h 9 . f 7 e26.
CH-THREE - 82

Now that the nature of the soul has been discussed. let us mm to its existence in the
intelhgible world before its coming Ito being. This has been a thorny issue in Islamic philosophy
essentiay because it is at odds with the doctrine of creation. one of Islam's ceatral theoloyicd
tenets. The Greek docLtirZes of the pre-existence of the sool were weU kaown to Islamic rhinkasm
Tbe rivai Platonic and Arismelian views on t h e sou1 are not unrelated to the later Islamic debates
over its pre-existence.
The Platonic belief in the soul's pre-emstence was a commody held position, seemingly
mplied in the demonstration of its incorporeality. itself an argument for irs imniortaLity-. The pre-
existence of souk having access to a world of I d a s was a central epistemological thesis of Plato's
doctrine d the remhiscence (mmmse) of human souls. For Plato. our bnowledge of uaiversals
does noc originate in particulars. but rather in the meraphysical world. This knowledge consists of a
recollection of the Ideas of things which have been forgotten at the time t h e sou1 re-entered the body.
.
Consequentiy our souls would have had some previous, non-bodily exis~ence.'~
Aristotle artempced ro steer away from Plato's greatiy dudisr position and to ground the
existence of the soul Ui the material world. Hence, the fate of the soul and the body are inextricably
sealed - they are inseparable. The coming into existence of souls is simult,meous to the coming h t o
existence of individual bodies.
More importan~,however, is the place occupied by the Neoplatonic pseudo- 7n~.w
of
Anjtotle (the Arabic collection of excerpts from P l o h u s ' h e t r d s ) . It stands at the crossmads
between tbese two cenuai figures of Greek philosophy ruid Islamic thought. Thiiikers Iike Avicema
and Suhrawardf found in this work a doctrine of pre-existence of souls that w as more e d y reconcilable
wich positions held b y Plato. Avicema and Suhrawd i have both, however. more or less ~ccessfld&
avoided the Pbmc-Neoplaronic position on rhis issue, s o manifestly at odds was it with religious
tradition.
To understand Subrawardi's position, it is impossible to overlook the iaterp-etations of two
modern Aviceaaan scholrirs who have intgpreted Avicema's position on the issue of pre-existence
of the sou1 in opposite ways. They illustrate quite well the difficulty of identifyiag Avicenna's crue
position and, b y extension, Suhrawardi's stance
On the one band. Corbin holds that both Avisenna' s poem (P A
) OPd e Sou1 and hiS

Rx~ia(O/& BVd reR on a doctrine of the pre-existence of souls. so long as one does not

78
As the Hindu traditions, cf. & ~ I M 84
, 230-3.21 8.7-220.6 ( 2046).
79
Plato, PBiw&, 726-73b; cf. Idem, Phum2-u~.
246b-d.; cf. Idem, Repubhc, 1 O, 61O e b l l a
incerpra or. as he w R t s . " degrade" the texts as mere "allegoriesna F a instance. in the poem On &e
Su&. the sou1 is likeaed to a d o v e t h r descends upon the body.'' The same h a g e recurs in the
R-hd of &t, Bkd which mentions the descent of the soul into the body. something that is
interpraed as stmngly implying the pre-e-uistence of the soul.
On the other hand. Amlie-Marie Goichon, contrary to Corbin, does not believe that these
t a postulate the pre-existence of the soul in the supra-terresuial wodd - an idea she believes
belongs to the Platoriic tradition. This is not to say th& Avicenna's sytem does not have any
affiities wirh the Platonic-Neoplatonic tradition. On the conttary. tbis tradition constitured a major
influence in t h e development of his thought. Goichon holds that individual humm souk could not
have preexisted their anachment to their respective bodies. The main bone of c o n t d o n is that
individuation occurs only as a resulr of an anachment wkh the body. the particularization that sets
souk apm from one another. Nonetheless, the problem of the nani3-e of thex existence +or ro th&
attachent to bodies remains unexplained.
Goichon offers ahypothesis:first, souls could b e somebow contained in the active intelligence;
second, however, and based on A v i c e ~ a ' sC i (and the S ~ F ~ Yno
IUindividual
~), and concrete
existence is possible for souls before their union witb the body; and, finaiiy. an individuai sou1 is
disthpished from anocher sou1 only by the quiddity or the relation ta the elenients ( m m ) , because
souls cannot pre-ex& bodies and be numerically nu mer ou^.^
These hypotheses are not without pmbfems; for instance, How is the soui's existence in the
active intelligence to be accounted for? In a number of works, Avicenna s p d e s , first, t h a ~the
huma-sou1 never existed independently fram mater - as,for example the intelligible forms do.
Second, he &O says that the haman sou1 possesses, in its natum. an attachment and an inclination
towards the body. Moreover, assuming the temporal o e i n of the soul ailows him to reject die
e pre-ercistence of souk, by d y h g essentidy on the notion of the individual soul
d o c t ~ of
Another argument for the rejection of the doctrine of the soul's pre-existence, found in

B)
It is found in the introduction of Avicema's AI- iri-Mhs-hq[v&, kb-kj; d. Ibn Khallik~n,
W&y&, vol. 2, 160-1 (h m k , vol. 1, 443); cf. De Vaiix, 'La d'Avicenne sur l'me,"
159-73, Arabic ed. 159-65. An Eaglish mnstation is found UI Brmne, A Ltmuy f i* of&& F m
F i m & S * & - VOL, 2,110-1.
81
Amcema, R r W d-rrrpr (ed.Mehren). For a French trans., ci. Ccxin, A ci7;FL.m,~203-9
(A~ ~ C r m r 186-1
m , 92).

83
Mass, "Lepome de l'me,"7.
Aviceana's C i ~ on the
q pseudo- m ~ l b gof.-in5rde,
y dies on the notion of perfection
Had the soul peexisted the existence of the body, it would have possessed a perfection that its
desire for the intelligible w orld would negate.because the notion of desire implies inuuisicimpenec: i3n.
But the sou1 lacks a need to scrive for the perfection. In his commentary. Avicenna deaes the
possibilitp of any pre-existence of the souk

[Plotinus - the pseudo-Aristatie] does not mean that the human soul e e d before
the body during a pe-iod in which it had not been taken over and dothed by a body,
only encering it Laer. because this matter has been proven absurd in [many] books,
wen if che soul does not die. its meming, rather, is chat the seul, since it cannot exist
disembodied like the disembodied intelligible matten mentioned in the hImpb&wks
.has by natuce ( +j a relation (i3. j witb the body from t h e very beginning and
has an indination (&) to 0.''
The divergent views amongst -4vicennan scholars mer the carect i n q r a a t i o n of the
question of the pre-exkence of human souls has, however, a b&g on the interpcet8tion of
Suhrawardi's own posltion Suhrawardi is often interpreted, and righdy so. as h a v e ftdopted an
ambiguous stance,espeuaiiy in the Light of Avicenna'sown position.
, sou1 cannot exist disembodied p k w to its Life on earth but i c
Meover, for A v i c e ~ athe .
can M c , in the afteriife. As for M i n , he interprets Suhrawardi's position as emphasizing the
necessity for the ptp-existence of souls before tbeir auchment to bodies. In fact, earlier comaentators
had interpreted S u h a r d i ' s thought in the same manner. For example, in his Fbm P'qnges,where
Suhrawardi's proofs against the pre-existence of the soul are discussed, Multii SadH attributes the
belief in the pre-existence of the soul to Aviceruia, e.g., in the R e - & d e Bud and the poem Oa
tbt.S" , which w o c h he considers as a possible source of Suhtawardi' s own ambiguous position
@%heps tbe source of Corbin's own inteLpc~tion).M
For Corbin, Suhrawardi' s works, like Avicema's mystical reckals, are " ciphered texts. "
These te= are heligible only i the pre-existence of the sou1 is posnilated These texts express
"an initietic teaching, in L e form of symbols and pcrables.'a Corbin then goes on to identiIy a
number of passages to corroborate Inr herpretation. In a passage of the T & ~ s D ~ b ~ t dmrrr
ud

e
6
Avicenna, Ml 375-9 ('Naces," 1, 1, 349; Wabndge, *in#, 135); cf. Goidon, Dijaaaerbd,
451-3. A n a d addresses the issue of the G u i c h o n - M i n interpretsltions, cf.Anawai, "Gnose et philosophie,"
291-305.
I16
M d 3 S;idra, KirO d-- dit/-'& (Tebran, 1282): 8 14; quoted in Corbin, A n;Crnae,96
11.135(A-, 84 1~91).

88
Corin, Ad-, 7 n.22. Simdar ritatemenu exist tbmughout Corbinesstudies on Suhrawardi's
7
wb.
d - D u I , Suhraward mentions the figure of Christ and states that, "only rises to Heaven what has
dexended from it ." a natement that Corbin traces back to the Gospel of St. John (3/13) and which is
go
adduced as a proof of the soul's pre-existence to ts coming into the body. In the introduaon of his
Red & ' s r , Suhrawardi vmbolize the soul with a falcon (& jk ) imprisoned in the material
wodd. h the S@5-of rbr Z4inc. Suhrawardi cornmens on a passage in B e Qur'ib: " 0 you
appeased soul, remm to your Lard. well-pleased and well-pleasing" (Q..
89267)which h e interprets
in the following manner: " Indeed, the renirn impiies the anteriority of the presence. It is never said
to someone who bas never seen Egypt: 'Recurn to Egypt'." Corbin considers th& passage as an
implicit recognition of the pre-existence of the souLw -4 similar suttement is found Ui Suhrawardi's
Oa rhe Stace of where it is written that "if someone dies. much of hrs Life rem&.
beciluse he o d y cornes to this wodd from the other world."' And. fiady. Ui Suhrawardi's Lqemge
of* h f s , the stay of the peacock.92rimilar to the smry of the gnosic in the TIde ofUcm;dm.d
Etde or the stay of the faiwn in the R L d u I ~ i k cis~ ,agaui interpreted by Corbin as an explicit
affirmation of the pre-existence of the soul. These symbolic or allegorical tales echo the Platodic fd
of the soul into the body, when it fotgets everyrbing it knew before, but, nonetbeless, aspires and
seeks to renurn CO its formet abode. This "recum" is interp~aedas req\iitidg the exisen of a @or
state, i.e.. a concept of pre-existence of the sou1 expressed " s y m b o l i ~ "and on au "esoteric
i e ~ e i . ~ ~
S M a r views arp upheld by Thackston. who discusses Suhmwards "esoteric" view of the
faIl of the sosl. a view tha Moris also seerns to espouse? Tbere might even be some Gnostk
efements in this 'descent of the soul" motif.Thackston actually conceives of a twofold Isfahbad-tight,
an interpretation that divides the - rational - soul into two parts: one part remains in the spuitual o r
angelic realm, whereas ariother parc descends iao the prison of the body. The Loftia part of the
Isfahbad-light ultimately corresponds to a celestid and primordial self, the angelic haif of the human
seul? This would, howeva, leave i-wered quesrions that p e r t a i ~to the nature of the l o w a hdf
of the human souk Does it correspond to a terrestrial self that is reducible KI a psychological self?

83
R/w;urt, II, S 26,128.16-1295 ( A d . ,102); d.t3rbi.11, A m h q ~ e96. .
90
A h @ . ,4 2,462.9-1 1 (Arrh.,349); CO-, M ~ 344. z ,
91 Tw~YijyItli. 13,262.17-18 ( h[y~rrC;(I,58); cf. Cocbin, A r r r i q ~ c410
, 13-22.
92
fvpbw,VIII, $8 12-14,305.4-308.11 (M., 428-30; h<ysaM,83-5); cf. Corbin, -que, 437
n.34. Cf. Avicenna's ~ W i r l iri-Cat>Ui's ~ -.;cf. Caio, A o x R u ~154-65, 137-50).
(Aw&I~R~I,
93
aql,8 2,226.9-227.7 (m., 201-2; 1 2 [ ~ a t l35);
, 6.Cochin, A d q u e , 214 n2.
94
Moris, "Revelation," 72-3.
95
T h d c s o n , T'momqv, 103.
Would nrch an interpretation make Suhrawardi's homan soul subject to some of the e.uigenaes it is
subjected to iti Isniciismand, chus. make the human soul part of a universal soul?
in this respect. Tbackston's interpretation, although he never rnakes this explici:. greatly
depends on Corbin wha, ui bis A tr&nne e ~ / em i G ~ s I O had
~ distmguished
~ ~ , the m o faces of
the souJ as it were, or the rwo selves: the celestid and terresuiai. the former corresponding by and
large to the contemplative faculty of the mtionai soul (theoretical reason) and the later corresponding
by and large to its p a i c a l f a c ~ l rIn ~ ~ Corbin's imerpretation r e m on the premise of the
~ .fact.
existence of an archecypai "1," Le.. a "primordial Self" or a tutelary angel of the soul, a celestid
countapart of the psychic self a f a c u l t i e ~ This
. ~ inrerpretarion offas. in fact. an even grearer
spiriturilization of the notion of the (rational) faculty.
These passages do highlight the difficnlty of accurately judging Suhrawardi's m e posltion
Pethaps. this difficulty arises from the nature of the differem genres employed by Suhrawerdi - and
Avicema SuhniwardI does, however, provide arguments ta sutain a belief in the negation of a
pre-existence of the soul before the existence of the body to which it attaches itseif. He asks:

Wbat w o d d have fced the soul to become separated from the world of the divine
and [emal] life (O-I ydlC] CL ), rmd the world of Light, and to become
atfached (&) t a the world of death and of dadrneoes (O LIUla ad l $ lr ) ?
W h o would dominate and capture such an eternal soul? (How could it sumender to
the attraction of the faculties of even a sackliag infant) s o as to be brought down
from the spiritual as w d as lumiaous wocld (J+l l3 wJ;il l )? Moreover, how
aould esch one of [the souls]be diffetedtxted (jL l ) in p r e - d r y (J siace
their species would constitute one thiag, and while [they have] no substratum. no
locativ. no action,no capabiliy of beiag nffecced (JLrl ) before [they become
actiched ta] the body, and no acguired qualities (2: ---.6 cl- ), as is the case
after (their anachment with] the body.-

He concludes th~sstatement by saying tbat the rationai soul starts to exist at the same rime
as the body." This second position is more in line wkh Islslamic aeationism. Moreover. Suhrawardi
pmvides a mimber of philosophical arguments COreject tbe beiief in the pre-existence of souls. La his
C~;~P&-~U&F.'P t?5Sdom,the work which is said to contain the quintessence of his " illuminative"
wisdom, the final stage of ihe deveiopment of bis thought for whidi his more "pkilosophical

%
Cabin, A n;ardm.,9 8 . 9 9 ( Amix!nna,86,87).
97
Cbm wrkes, "par ces uanspa5cions suaessivs d'une m m e flgure, nous sommes en effet
reconduits la vision mazdenne de la Frav;lra comme Personne ciene, Moi archtype, Soi prrmdial, ange
U~KC de I'me dont eiic est la contrepartie intie ," Ar#-, 103 (An-#, 91 ).
98
Il (a) 55.6-56.1 (p) $ 1l,90.8-l6 ( Arui, 46; Is&Z 1O?).
99
Hu-, Il (a) 56.4-6 (p) 5 i l , 90.18-19( A z ~ .46;
, J s m a i , 107).
treatises" served to pave the way. Suhmwardi offers four arguments to show that the sou1 dms H
e u S . p i r to its coming into existence h o the body.'m
Suhrawardi's first argument appeals t~ a notion of unkit). chat was used by --2vicema to
prove the nature of souls. He wntes that if the soul eristed pnor to the existence of the body. it
would b e neither one nor many. If souls existed before th& anachment to bodies, they would be
many individual souls. This is absurd, srnce a unit). of substance is postulated. as ail souls share in
the same species.'" Fuithamore. how could a unique sou1 become divided and. then. distribut&
amongn thedifferent bodies, since w h a is incorporeai cannot be divlded. Furthermore. eacb individual
soul is aware of its own self and condicians, but ignorant of the self and the conditions of others. The
humaa sou1 could not. cherefore. b e a single substance shared by a multimde of indivrdual souls. If
the substance of each individual soul s h e d a smgle unique and idenrical substance, chen each of
them. individually. would know whar die other souk would knaw." Suhrawardi writes thsr:

[The soul's] quiddities (+ L+ L ) are a unicity (+ I b d ) that are not cornposed of


somechng which perceives (A2- ) and a nature which would be devoid of the
capacity of perception (-1 ,a! ). We are, in d t y [the soul], while we possess no
information about it or of the panicular modes of its States ( LI ). e ~ qbyt
meam of an inference L J ~ J ~ ~ I ) . ' ~
Another argument Suhrawsrdi provides for the demonstration of the uaiuty of the soul rests
on the notion of unicity itself, a notion whkh does not accept divisibility at all. He pmposes a
mmber of premisa;: first, if the form were in a body: second, if a body accepts division; tliird, a d if
~ g y r b i n gwhi& is in somethiag divisible. also accepts division; and fourch, if the form of un*
) were in a body and dependent on it. then it would also b e divisible. He then conchdes that
("e3
Similady. he argues (with y a another of
the form would. therefore, not be one or a unity (c1h3).1<>4
his favorite a r p e n t s b y d u c & ad&s;urOurn ) that fl the One were "in"a body. etc.. it would
fi@ be One. Therdoce, it is am in a body.
The notion of the soul, expressed by Suhrawardi's typical iight terminology. also d u d e s to
its incorporeaiity - iike the incorporeai nature of iight. The soul becornes iaelf an incorporeal light

lm
f U z a ~$9
, 2 114.20 1.5-203 -3( S*,:,
190-2).
101
ml O 32.25.14-26.1
m, 1BOU&, 26-7).
I
h2%Iwt, $ 21 1,201.89 (%, 190).
la3
ICfqi?ipdmri;rQ,60,191.8-10.
'04 P.-, 9 30,24 14-18 ( Book,25).
105
M;firnIII, 4 210,201.2-3 (Ss,190); cf. Ibid., 6 164, 154.8-9 (3;1~.,
149).
as light - as essentid ligbt - preciudes any types of psrticipation with the bodily. Moreover, not ody
is the soul's nature conceived in terms of light. but so is its pdeccion. as we have seen.
Suhrawardi simultaneously appeals to a s i a U l a t notion of unity. This is noc surpnsing, as the
lamulous substaa is. in faa, an equivalenr of the intellective substance. F h t . if these luminous
substarices (therational souls) pre-existed the existence of the body. th& unity (&b9
) could not

be conceived of. This nnity could not be divisible. since they w ould neither b e defned through aay
type of extension or measure (i,& ) nor be in any way corporeal (&Aj> ).'" How. then. could
their individualiv - as individual light-souls - be conceived?

Second, th& mulriplicity would dso be inconceivable, because these h a r a i a l fights


would not be dis~guishablefrom one another, in terms of th& intensity or weakness. before tbey
are tissociated with th& bodies (litersilly.th& "utadels"). Furthamore, each degree of htensity (or
- * *
we.kaess) is something numaicaiiy uncountable 2-r( J L)and does not amount to a distinction
in terms af an unspecified accident (-A uiJLr d).lm
Suhrawardi c m then conclude that s h c e neitber th& multipliuty, nor th= nnity is possible
before they amch themselves to the bodies, and rule over them 6-+J 1 du- 1, theV existence
not possible ptior to their oming utto existence witb the body.'m Even where he couches his
in his iight temiinoiogy, Suhrawardi. in fact, fEiithfu11y p d e k the previous passages
agume~~tation
whch discuss the incorpcweality of the rational soul. Qsewhere, SuhrawardS will use simiiar arpments,
but in te- of the logos ( L I S ) . t
a dis-s the incorporeality of the rational sou1' O s

The most powerful argument, however. is one from authority: religious tradition.The soui is
neirber pre-etemal (J jl) nor etental (eJ ). "it is aeated nith tbe body" once the disposition

(JI -1) of the body is complete in order to receive the soui; and maeover, "it is written that God
created it with the body, not before aiid not alter ...'"O Suhraaardi' s philosophicai uguments are
aptly used to comborate the religious tradition. It shoald be mentioned chat the notion of a primordial
covenant so freguentiy adduced for a possible the pre-existence of souls, e.g., the covenant chat God
made with Adam, is absent from his works.
A second argument for the negation of a pieexistence of the sou1 before its orighdon in a
body rests on the aatucv of the soul. If the soul existed at an d e r t h e in the intelligible world, it

106
8 211,201.7-9
&55aI (W.,
190-1).
lm
&dmntI 8 211,201.9-202.1 (STg, 191).
lm #iIfaUl, 211,202.1-2 (%Q:, 191).
109
Kum13,III, 8 20,93.12-17 (A/dZ- 161).
110
n (a)56.1-3 (p) g t 1 , ~ . 1 6 - 1(
9m.,46
/smf"II,
; 107).
would have to enter this worid with its own petfea nature. He argues tbat if inunamial souls existed
before the e.uisteace of the bodies. then, nothing - either veil o r preoccupatioa - could interpose
itself between uiem and the world of pure iight. i-e.. the intehgible realm. Ii? other words, there
would be neither agreement nor difference. .4gain. the argument proceeds b y rcdbc~odd &surOum
- the souls would then b e p e k t and th& ruling over the body wouid amount to waste. There
would be no superiotity ( & d i 7 ) with regards CO the quiddity in order to assign specificay some of
hem to a pwticular body (&d
AS for
) Li ;1 ) - like ihe w c w i t y of movements
contingencies (0
- they take place in the world of bodies (-+J I fl LC ) whkh are apt to possess a certain light, on
a~countof th& motions. N o such contiagencis can. however. occur in the world of pure ~ i ~ h t s . " '
A third argament relies on the governig characteristics anributed to the ruling lights. If
rufing ligbts - rational souk - existed pnor to the existence of bodies. some would be &g (those

in bodies) and others would not (those remaining in the mecaphysical world). However, souls tbat do
not govetn bodies m l d na. in fact, exist as ruling lights. On the contmry. if ail mtional souls were
ruhg (over bodies), then there would be a time wben a l l of the souls would be umted with the
bodier. Thereupon, no more razional souls could corne ito existence, because such a conjonction
would have to occur iii pre-eternity (J l ji),and no mlmg lights would temain. AU sauls - in order to
be goveriiing - would have conjoined with the body or departeci from this world, something thta is
abnird.''Z
And finaiiy, Subrawardi provides a fouztb argument which rests on the existence of endless
creafions. If sods did not to exist, ie., otighated ( Z d L ) with th* bodies, these souls would
be infinite. The exisrence of infinite dimension ( o h ) would then have to be postulated in the
-
separated substauces (O U &)- which is. again. impossible."3
These four arguments p v i d e d by Subtawardi agaiast the pte-existence of the sou1 w a e
deemed inconclusive by Qutb ai-Din al-Shrz, uiipreoccupied b y the religioas data. He considered
hem weak and non-demomtmtive , primarily because the proof depends on the unproven asswnption
t h ~there
t is no transmigration of s ~ u l s . " ~
Moreover, mon of these arguments rest on the assumption
that souls can only be idividnated by th& attachmenr to some soct of materiality, as souls belong to
a single species. A assumption is found in Avima' s works.

111
e r k m r ~, 212,202.3-10 (SirLqq191).
''' n-. 8 213,202.12-15 (W. 191-2).
fU
3 214,203.1-3 (5-
@h&, 192).
Q. D.aL-ShiriZa, Skm5,447 (W.,
378 not foc line 25); cf. Watbndge, Saka=,138,138-4 1 .
S u h w a r d I ' s arguments based on aspeas of unity.of perfection. ofgovernance and creaedness
can al1 be traced back to arguments found in Avicenna's works. Both authors, however. seem to
have adopted views on the pre-ex~stenceof the sou1 that were interpreted in a number of ways . -ils
is more evidenr in Suhrawardi's works where seemingly opposing views are found. in his
phiiosophically argued texts and in bis ailegaical texts. T h e later texts are often associated with the
" esoteric" .
position of Suhraward s initiatory teachings his " oriental-illuaiiaative" wisdom. often
identified as his m e position. This interp.etarion has che merit of explainhg how some Platonic
ideas like the pre-existence of the soul could cohabit with more orthodox Idamic beiiefs. such as
creationism. It has the merit to aaribote a "hidclen" consistency to Suhrawardi's works that transcends
the different genres. But. more importantly , it renders useless any atternprs to establish a chronology
of his worics.
Anotber solution to the presence of two seemiagly contrridictory stances consistsiu considering
the various allusions to some sort of pre-existence of the soul as Suhrawardi's auempt to describe
the soul's abode, the divins world - i-e.. the aaive intelligence - the source and the cause from
wbich it originates. Suhrawardi's pamoxical ( w e n contradiaory) stance reflects his atteaipts to
incorporate a variety of elements.
The implicit affirmation of the pre-existence of the soul, on the one hand, echoes the
or " descent" of the soul, somecbrng that is found in Avicenna' s own
Gnostic mosif of the "fd"
d e g o n d tales. The allusions to its pre-existence constitute, perhaps, the logical outcome of the
adoption of a Petipatecic cosmology, something Islamic philosophy inherited from Neoplaronism.
Emanation becomes the central theme of Peripatetic cosmology, where the a a i v e intelligence
(closest to the sublunar world) pociuced human souls. Ln such a scheme. the auive intefiigence
contains aii the lower ouls and is responsible, to a great extent, for their existentiation. This position
does na,however, provide any answers to the difficulties raised by the possible existence of souh
within the substance of the active inteiiigence.
More problematic is the unambiguous stance Suhrawardl"explicitly upholds in his @aru/-
LPkkumi-~??Z&m (his opusmqmm).Suhrawardi, on the other band. explicitly denies the
pre-existene of the sou1 and offers a number of rrrguments to suppott it. This explicit denid has the
advcintage of providing a solution foc the integmtion of the religious imperative of createdness. More
striking in this work is the "ii,iuminative" chatacter - i-e.,the iight tetmuiology - of bis philosophical
agunieatation cenrrai to the negation of such a pre-existence. One would not actuaiiy expect this in
view of the alleged "esoteric" position he is said to have heid.
EXiSTENTCATlON OF THE SOUL
The active intelligence is the priaciple at the hetm of the existentration - the colning into
existence - of individual souls. This is centmi to hvicema's ontology in which a Neoplatonic
emanative scheme is developed. Such a concept of the active intelligence as the source of d the
lower souls raises a number of issues,especidiy regarding the unicity of this active ptinciple. These
are objections usualiy addressed to this particular type of emanationist ontology. This conception of
the active intelligence traasfoms what is upposedly a single and momdic entity inro an entity diat

is simultaneously one and many - i-e., in which our souls already evist (rBp0ymtri1).This objection
was raised by Fakhr al-Du1 al -Riin against Avicema (which Corbin i d e d ~ e as
s an enrirely theoretical
dilemma).115
Oher difficulties d e in discussions about the mystical union of bumm E O U wifh
~ the
One (see sections on intellection and prophetology).'16and about the mmval of the soul' s individudicg
in the dtdife ( s e section on e s c h e r o ~ o ~ ~ ) . ' ~ '
The origination of souls witb bodies guarantees their existentiation regardless of the m r e
of the former's existence in the active intelligence. Souls corne into existence only once they are
attached to living bodies. For Avicenna, evety human being and every animal possesses a soul of its
own, 118 This is not a candom or haphazard process. The individuation of souls depends on conditions
associated to the conditions of their existentiation. Although distinct aaalyticdiy and logicaily, these
two aspem are intimately associami. It is the exinentiation of the sou1 whicb not only provides i t
with an existence, but which,simultaneously. guarantees its individuatioa
For Avicenaa, is the soul a f o m of the body in the Aristotelian sense? We bave seen that
this is not the case, but ~s quenion was raised by Corbin and Gilson. Corbin, who implies chat
Avicenna's didactic treatises provide no d u e to the problem, refers to Aviceana's "visionacy recitals."
For Corbin,conceiving the souls as separate forms implies: (i) that the soul's u m y with the body
constitutes an "indispensable unity" for a human being, concewed only retrospectively; and (ii) that
a pure form is necessarily unique i.c species and whose individuality czn o d y be siaular to the
individuality of the celesrlai souls - ie.,comesponding to th& species."

1LS
Cocin, A-P, 1M ( A n c . ,90) who distinpshes between a confinaion ( J U l ) and a
union (3 b1) to wbich w e vPlll raurn ( s e secaan on M c t i a n ) .
116
Monzwedgc. "Ibn S S s Concept of the Self,"e s p ~ a ythe secbon entitied "Anaiysis of Ibn
Sinian Paradoxes ," 6-7.
117
The eighth section of the second chopter is entitled "Pdagogie angdque et individua&on,"cf.
Catim, A nicnzar,8& 105 ( Aw*, 80-93).
1L8
Avicenna, S m ,41.7-8 ("Notes,"C, 9,356-7).
There is a certain mescapable necessity for souls.whecher celestial or human, to corne into
being dong with the coming inta being of a substratum which awaits its principle. its perfeaion.
These physico-psychoiogicd conditions. however. constinite conditions of the exiscentiation of sci~ls.
,4t issue. however. is the interpretaion Corbin gives of Aviceana's mare symbolic tacts and the
conception of the soul's pre-existence.
Suhrawardi, on the ocher band, reassem the thesis thet the sou1 cannot pre-exist its comiag
to life with the body. The twofoid origination - body and sou1 - accounts for the individuation of
h u m a souls. In the Rt.m ofL&ht,he writes , " [body and soul] b0th come into existence togecher;
and a mutual [dyntunic] a t t a d e n t - love and desire - exisrs between them. cnlike the [corporeal
and static] attachmenr that exists between bodies aiid Li anorner passage from the same
work while he dixusses the Necessary Being, h e adds tha 'you know that rational souk cannot
exist pria CO bodies ~ ' again. in the
uid are. rbus, tempomily gmerated possible b e h ~ ~ s . " ~And
@irra/-UIuRLUbu~;DnCF'Ikdorn.the body is the h s t abode of the soul in the world of bodies.'"
The coming into existence of soul and body rogether guaranrees that Paipatehc philosophy
incorporates aspects of creaedness. Suhrawardi appears to express a r d concern fw preserving the

soul's createdness. His concern would tben provide more weight to bis stance on the negation of the
pceexisten of souls. As for rhe conditions of individuation of each soul, it tests with each individual
soul's experiences and the object of its individual contemplation, each soul differing in degree and
perfection

PHYSICAL CONSTITLENTS AND COSMOLOGICAI, CONJLMCTION


The Peripatetic system in w hich cosmofogical configurations d e m e the snictural
organisation that elements have to undergo before tbey can ceceive a sou1 sets some pre-conditions
for the existentiation of souis in parricuiat bodies. Firn, m-al eleaients undergo the influences of
the celestid spheres and of the -ions of the aaive intelligence, the tenth and last of the intelligenoes.
It is from the tenth active intelligence that the snblunar worfd of elements and human souls is
aiginated. Celestid fcrces possess the abiiity to intpart motion t~ the elements and to mix them.
They are thus responsible for the producrion of dl e x i ~ t e n t s ! The
~ wblunsr world (below the

119
O n individuation, cf. Gilson, 'Les sours grca-arabes," 5 0 ; cf. Carbin, AnR.me , 92,94
( A m-, 80,82-3).
im
Aarts, III, 32,26.9-10 ( Baok, 27).
la
m-,
IV,442,35.17-18 ( B d , 38).
122
fllzoarrt, # 09,217.1-3 ( S 4 , 2 0 3 ) .
Sphere of the Moon) is. thereupon. subject to a number of necessciry cosmologicd canstcaints.
Acwrding to Avicema. bodies are the product of the different mixtures of elemeins.'za
whch become the recipient of the souls (&Z~
; Li ) once matter has been readied to receive
them.'"The ex<stentiaion of the soul. however. requires specific conditions at borh levels - mblunar
(material world) and celestid (heavenly spheres). Sublunar elements musc. first, be amalgamated
into a harmomous mixture. Bodies that possess a more balanced or proportionate (J 1-1 ) mixture
become the conditions for the existence of souls. AU this organisation of the elements. and bodies
takes place with the h d p of the powers of the heaveniy b a d i e ~ Thereupon.
~'~ a soul attaches itseif to
this psnicular body, already detetnulled by its particultu mixture ( > I
; i + ) and its partcular

qualiry (LL;
L+). so ha it may become its first perfection. The soul becomes the principle thar
provides a form to Lhcr n ~ a r t aAs
. ' ~a secondary perfection. the soul then becomes the cause of the

actuatization of the different (particular) souls (e.g., vegetarive, animal or human) and of th&
respecuve f a n i l t i e ~ . 'Aviceniii
~ expresses the exktentiauon of souls b a t oan>rs oaly under these
paniculat circumstances in the following terms:
The soul comes into existence (AM ) whenever a body fit to be used by it comes
into existence. The created body becomes its dominion ( Z S b ) and its instrument
(41). In the quality ( Z Z ) of the substance of the sou1 m a e d with a particular
body, Le., that body that is made suitable to receive [the soul's] origination from the
tira prinaple. rbere is e naturd yeanig ) to occupy itself with [the body]. CO
use it. to concem itself with its [different] States, and to be a#sacted by it. phis
.
yeaming ] binds rhe sou1 specifically to [the body], and turus it away by nature,from
ail other bodies different from it [x,that the soul does not attach itself to matcet]
except chrough it. Therefore. it i s necessary that when it becomes individuafed
e its individuation occurs to it out of the qualities
), Le., the p ~ c i p l of
(ab+ ) which impose to it an individuality, these quaiities determine its particular
anachment and the relationship (+ L) to that body for the benefit of each one of
them. despite [the fact that] this condition and this relatiomhip may be obscure to us.
s irs perectlbility it possesses through [the body]. and
And it reaiizes the p ~ c i p l e of
iis subseqvent development is not rhrough it. but by [its own]

123
Avicenna, &p@ ,
Ph?.,
V , 308.6-7.
124
Avicenna, /saH, vol. 2, if, 3022-3052 (Dk,
297).
12s
Avicenna. SiirXF'. N d ! ,1,3,27.19 (PSI)t, 20).
126
A v i c e ~ aM@.
, Nds , I , 3 19.4-8 ( A ni=,25).
ln
Aviccnna, SWZ', N d ,
1.3.28-1-3 (BF,
20).
128
Avicenaa, SWiir', (Psp; 20); cf )&m. D ' x b , P~YJ:,
Nds, I,3,28.3-5 101.1-102.5( L I F . ~IC,,
W.
129
Avicenna, JE@, N&, 1.3 76 15-377.9 (A n& 5729-58.9).
CHAPTERTHREE - 94

The acave intelhgence has many functions. One of its functions is to provide the conditions
thar will b e conducive to the proper preparation of mater in the siiblunar world prior to the coming
into existence of the soul. The aaive intelligence plays another rale as the provider of - rauonal -
souk And finally.the active mteliigence acts as the active p ~ c i p l responsible
e for the amualization
of the potencial intellects possessed by all human souls (see section on mtelieaion). T h e principle
responsible for the origination of souk is simultaneously rpsponsible ta provide the physical and
cosnofogical conditions that go- the origination of human bodies. This twofold origination is
highlighted by the inchsion. in Avicenna's theury of the soul's origination, of an embryology in
whch the role of the active intelligence is highlighted as the source of me. "
Likewise, Suhraward is concerned with imilar physicd and cosmological issues. The same
exigencies commaaded by the cosmological structure he adopts account for the initiaion of the
process that leads, through illumiaation, to the existentiation of a sou1 in a body. Suhrawardi, like
Avicema, attributes to bodies a state of preparedness that renders them capable of receiving souls. In
the O ~ ~ ~ n I ; n / - ~ u & ~WHam,
okii he writes thar " [the body's] state of pceparation (al &l ) [to
ceceive souls] onginstes h m the retum (U'j) of the etenid movementsn of the spheres.13' Bodies

of human beings are constinited of the most perfect mixture and. thus cali to themselves a human
d o n a l souls, the most noble of souls.
Another, lengther, passage from the sanie work eloquently illustrates the sinulatities that
exin between Avicenna's and Suhrawards understanding of the acjstentiation of human souls:
The most perfect of mixtures (-'$ cl> ) is the one possessed b y human beings. And
it requests, from the Provider [of forms] (+ Id) a perfection (JU ). You have
ieamed that it is impossile for the domina& iights (i 9Li 1 s1 ) ro suffer any
change, as th& transformation wouid only occur by the am&ormarion of the agent
(J.di), i.e., the Light of Lights. And, this is impossible. Therefore, alteration (2 )
cari neither occur to [the Lights of lights] noc to [the doniinatirrp- iights]. Indeed.
things occur from some of [the domimuhg Lighfs] on account of ari ever new
prepanuion (JI UUY I). because of the renewal (&s)of etanal motions. It is possible
that an agent be complete (jl;). and diat [its] d o n s depend cm the preparation
(31-1) of the receptacle, for it is to the extent of its tempemnce char [the receptaclej
receives the qualiaes (.-.&a ) and the forms - which we have rnentione regardiag
the intellectuel relations (+IL& -
[th*
i &berneen] the dominaring lights and
)
chose [iights] relative to a position belonging to the fixed stars (-14; ) - which
correspond [to its degree of perfection]. From one amongst the dominating lrghts
(&9 li ) - namely, the (possessor of the) talisman of the rational species (-L

Hall, "A Decisive &ample ." 52-54.


130

131
H ~ r r t9,2 1O, 200.4-5 ( w,190).
&gLlill &;II +.L-- Archangel] Gabriel. who is t h e closesr fathe ("+i
). i e.. [the
%)i;ll ) amongst the magnificentleaders of tbe dominaring celestial rerrLm (of
Mataict) GJ l l s Lj s U ), the provider of souls, the spirit of
holiness l cdJ ). the provida of knowledge (+) and of [divine] assisurnce
(*h ). the bestower of iife and vitnie and unmaterial Light - an t m m ~ alighr l
occurs to the perfect human mixture. It is the r u h g tight in the human body
( l l l ). It is the r a h g light ( u ) which is the
Isfahbad-iight [Le., the rational soul] of hurnanitind (ayLiI +
l ) [and] which
indicates itself by [its capacity ro bel an ipseity (-CI ) [ie., its own individual
being or sem.lP
Suhrawardi completes this discussion with a lengthy passage on the pre-existence of the soul
(the four proofs discussed earlia). The above passage, however, aptly illusrates Suhrawardi's
m h g n e s s to incorporate the Avlcennan cosmologicd frantework. w h g e bodies have to achieve a
perfect state of preparation before they can receive souls. This state of p r q m t i o n of the receptacle

is dependenc on the motion of celesual s p h m as weU as the qualities elemental matter will re&e
- i.e., dependhg o n variaus cosmological conjectures. The subluna warld is thus d e d according to
the configuration chat the celestial spheres and the fixed stars will adopt
Likewise, the active intelligence plays a d e as the provider of humaa souls. Suhrawardi
expresses its latter function by identifying it a s the "possessor of the misman of the tational speciesn
(&LUl c+J I +L -LI) which provides Life - th& souls (the pMople of theh individualitfes)
- to bodies. This is the worb of the Provida of forms (J+l +Id ) tbat bestows a (rational) soul

~s" it is the mixture which eppeals to the


to bodies once its mixture hes achieved irs c ~ r n ~ l e t i o n . a

bas a Lard ruhg o v e its species. sucb that the emanating inteliigence ovetflowing upon the human
sou1 (4 +wl glb3 ) is the Lord of the human species, the strongest and noblest of aii the

' ~the lana case. ir is. in f a a , the active intelligence identified wirb the Archange1 Gabriel.
~ o r d s . In
More typical of Suhrawardi's work is, again, his appeal ta an ontofogy of luminescence.
Light is attributed t o a i i bodies. whether they be human or not'31 The body k.thereupon. defined as
0 * 0

"a luminous body" j*). Suhranrardi writes tbat:

132
IltllbEWt, g 210, 2002-201.4 (*., 189-90); cf. Td-jiL, 8 59, 80.17; cf. l?mf@,
i
V 8 33,
26.13-15 ( B ' ,28).
Amongst tbe minerais. evqxhing which possesses a luminous body and which
persists in this lumidescence resembles the celestid bodies and th& lights - iike
gold and h p c h t h . They are objects of love for the souls.they rejoice them, they are
precious b y the perfection of th& stability and because of the brightness which
shines and which is of the same nature as 10ve.'~
This tight is, however, in contraposition to the essential light of intelligences and human
intellects. ody an accidental iighr. This materid a n d accidentai lighr consunites but qualdies (a'+)
of a body." Fomiaily.bodies patticipate in lumnosity. Tbey receive a cenain quanliy of - accidental
- light, whase source is the pure iights tnhabiting the memphysical world. Bodies are. nonetheless,

defuied in t e r m s af their poverty of kght such t h a Suhrawardi can mite chat "al1 bodies are of a
tenebrous substance. "

the elements. lt is the lights farthest from the Light of Lights that are the causes of the elements that
' ~ matenal substmum of a i l bodies. In the cornespondhg Paipatetic
wmtinite the physical ~ o t l d .the
system. the funaion of originator of the sublunar world is atvibuted to the active intelligence. The
(rational) souls. the perfection of bodies. it produces becorne. in Subrawardi's interpretation, the
light which in its puxest form becames the perfection of bodies.
Moreover, the notion of perfedibiiity - opposed to deficiency - which defiaes the n a m e of
the soul is also appiied to the reality of the Lights themselve~.'~'
such fbat the u b a t e perfection of
a the Light of Ligho - i.e.. ~ 0 d . On
k h t is the perfection that is inirinsic t l ~ account of th&
ddtciency of light. bodies are thus deprived of th& uitimate perfection. Bodies, therefe. requk
and desire light, i.e.. th& perfecaon or. in the tmditional A v i c e ~ a nsystem. the rationai soul. The
laniinosi~of immateriai entities - celestid souls and inteuigences - actualizes the 1um.ousqualifies

137
h&nirr, $ 208, 199.3-5 ( W.,189). The dominaring l i g b ( 9L3 ) - Isfandarniudh - whose
theurgy is cbe earth (&>YI +) or the naturai elementt, cf. h5Amaz, 209, 199.7-200.1 (sjlLg., 189); cf.

139
H b & , 8 109, 107.17-108.18 (+, 98). Ca-bin has studied and h i g w h t e d the anclart Iranian
mots, puciculrirly Zo~llutriaa,of his conceptions ab Cghfs-souk and duknesr-badies, cf. Corbin, Les m e
-km dtmIapSdhs@zk deS ' z w d .
1 9
H b w f , 182, 177.6-378.4 (a#, 169). H e criaciws the Peripatetc conception of mater
w*), cf. &hm&, 4s 72-90,74.13-9.4; cf. Walbridge, Sact.,66-73.
141
IYj%32wt, 8 125, 119.13-14 (w, 110). nie soui - perfktion of the body - can anly find
perfection after iS s e p d o n from the body and its ascension to the rcalm of mctaphysicai lights, cf. H h a f ,
f 232,219.3-7 ( S # 205).
,
142
-it, 4 147, 136.5-8 ( *., 131). Tbis nohon of pecfedon is also associated .Rith chat of
piclsure (i-e.,tbe consaence of a perfection erusnag in acerillity), cf. hUmiv, 8 210,200.2 (S;~Q.,
189).
d bodies through the mediation of the iight-sou1 (the Ifahbad-light) .i-e.,the ratlonal part of the soul
.
(see section on i n t e l l e ~ i o n ) . 'Comeguenrly
~ Suhrawardi's iight terminolog). &ors quite mcely
the Peripatetic system.

SOUL-BODY RELATION
The previous discussions on the nature of the soul. its lunateriatitp. the issue of its pre-
&stence, and the conditions of its evistentiation have provided some indications of the relationship
the sou1 enjoys with the body. Avicenna's and Suhrawardi's position on the soul-body relaionship
s e , on the whole, fawly simifar.

Their dualin perspective reparding the soul-body reiationship rests on the b e l i d of two
distina worids: a macerial and a spiritual world: it s the latter world which conmm the imniateriai
souls. The main difficulty of any doalist approach is to provide a satisfactory account of the relationship
chat exists betweea the (spiritual) imrnatmal substance - the s o d - and the corporedi ty - the body -
in which it fin& a place. Any ciualistic perspective raises, however, the question of the rype of
relation that these two entities must enjoy. One solution is to conceive of an existence pnor to its
existentidon in a body and an existeuce once i r has been existeahed in that body. This is most
apdy Uusrated by the Platonic position.

A v i c e ~ a ' scheory of the soul posnilam an accidental dependence on a body, but this
dependence jeopdizes the d i s ~ c t i v e n e s sand the separateness of this substance whose existence is
independent of the body. This panicular solution provides an answer ro rhe actual differentiation thar
m u s exin berween individual souls.'" While A v i c e m concedes tha the soul is a s e p m e and
independent substance and thrit his position clearly introduces a dualism of soul and body. as
substances radiwlly opposed to one anothw. none of the two terms can, in fact. be ceducible to the
d e r . Avicenna's dualism is b e s Uustrated with his hypotherical example of the " nispended person."
a behg devoid of any corporeal amchment. an independent conscience, as it were (see section on
self-kn~wled~e).'~
Aviceflila's dualisrn is also shaped by the necessary relation body and soul enjoy. The
hunian soul,as a pure substance and principle of Me possesses, in fact.ties with the marerial bodies.
This intrinsic relation of sou1 and body is a condition of and a p r e q u i s i t e for the soul' s existentiation
Such a position, on the one hand, confotm to the theological requirements laid down by the

1 4
UIjta,atl4 147,136.4-5 (W., 4 13,270.4-6 (Rrch.22).
131); cf. idem, /'a9;ii,
144
Ttichman, irbcM?hdirnduicSbd,16-7.
145
Michot, "Cultes,magie a mteiection," 220-33.
creatiomst perspective of Islam and. on the other hand. reflects the Aristotelian elements that have
been recained in .4vicen.Perpatetic anthropology. such a s rhe soul as the perfection of a nanirai
body a d the soul' s actions through the body. la
Avicenna's soul d o a noc corne to existence before the body chat receives it. which
conuug to the Plaonic or P1orLiia.n views.'" He upholds a more Anstorrlien position regarding the
relation of soul and body.perhaps as much for philosophical reasons a s for its coincidenral cornpatibility
with theological positions.'" Viewed in this Light. Avicenna's d u a h m becomes less radical chan
Platonic dualism, inasmuch a s it q u i r e s the p e n c e of the body for its existentiation. Aspects of
Anstocle's more materialistic conception of the soul-body relaionship have been preserved and
interpreced in Eght of Islamic creationism.
Awcema's position is, however,reolucely more spirituaht tban Aristotle's position. as he
emphasizes the souf's substantiality and its incorporeality - the body serves oniy as its instrument.
The soul survives the body, dong with some of its reptpsenration (see section on eschatology). The
body and the hannonious mixture of its elements are but "aocidentai causes" for the existentiation of
the soul'" Moreover, the diffemnt faculries that are associated wairh the body divert the sou1 h m its
own activitie~.'~~
Suhrawatdi upholds a .uniilar dualism - the sou1 and body are radicaiiy different substances.
The soul, however, possesses an atachment (&) with te body (illuarrred by the relationship thar
unites the d e r and bis subjeas - used by A v i c e ~ a )This
. somewhat namal atacbment of body and
soul guarantees that the life the soul provides to the body lasts as long as the attachment is not
This anachment i g at &es
~evered.'~' defined as an (accidentai) desiring relation (-& iib ). "
It is not ody "accidental," but also "relational." The cessation of the relation does not entail the
cessation of the substance of the soul , because the cause, i .e., the active inwlligence. of the substance
of the sou1 is,in f a ~e.m a l ( + 14.''~
The body and the soul share affimties with one anocber. On the one hand, the body wirh its

146
Sa6bZ,a., 172; CF. Ainid, h u U 121.
,
147
On doalism,cf. Tachman. 22e rCWiund&eSod, 18-27.
Salibq MkMrrizLEIUriT/anSIitrT, 107.
149
Avicema, N@, Nds, 13,380.4-5 (Ank,59).
150
Avicenna, Nd*, Nds , 11,373.11-374.3 jA mk,56).
151
9 7,267.12-14
/+w-d , (m,
19-20).
152
ff<HW,t? (a) 80.34 (p) 34, 105.5-7 (m.,
61; /hnr4il,213).
153
WlIX,73,fi.l5-66.6(Bwk,69).
bodily mixture (& j* cl + ) needs to appeal to the Provider of forms in order to receive a soul
w a r d i n g to its preparation (dl &I ).'% lt needs to be provided with its perfeaion - a human soul.
Thesoul,ontheotherhand,alsoposessesacertainElffiaity(dl)withthebody(~ )that

Suhrawardi expresses in terms ot p o v e q ( 3 ).15'


The poverty that characterizes the Isfahbad-light - the (rational) soul - is to b e understood
with regards to the luminous entities that are above it. These spiritual and intelligrble entities are
uncorrupted by the tenebrous substances that lie at the level of the sublunar world. Bodies. however,
whlch are impacted witb a certain dynamic principle of light, are only the locus of apparition or the
place of manifestation (&) or the receptacle (+) for the activities of the light principle - the
rational soul. The body becomes only a "vase" for the effects of the soul and a "battle field" for its
' ~ m e naru-e of the soul is luminosin/, whereas the body is (almost) totally devoid of
f a c u l t i e ~ . The
it; worse, the journey of the s o d in the world of bodies is responsible for rhe contamination of the
soul.
In Suhrawacdi's theoiy of the soul, the Avicennaa dualist position is still ar work. Suhrawardi
idtroducs on- more his light omlogy and, thus,appears to d e p m fromasmctly dualistic perspective.
The ontological distinction he estabiishes between Light-souls and bodies is now voiced in terms of
au indigence of light or As such, the perspective h e introduces appears to b e more
"participationist,"i-e.,light being plosent in aIl things.
It has been chimed by Amin Razavi that the mind and body distinction is a "superficial
one," only based on Sdwawtrdi's demonstration of the existea= of an immaterial soul understood
as the self. Amin Razavi adopts the view that SSuhrawardi's theory is a " spiritual monism. The self "

and body am two eatities that partabe of t h e " same onto1ogical texture," i-e.,as " inteacity" of light.
This, in turn, permits him to apped to such notions as l o w (- ) and domination (> ) to
illustrate S u h w ardi ' s
Although Suhrawardi explicitly rejects the Platonic idea of tmmdgration or metempsychosis
(see seaion on eschaology), his concerns do remain the preservation of the soul's immateriality,

Is Q- D.al-Shimexplains that this is a potentiality that requlra to be actualized,a reason fm which


the s a d ataches itself to it, cf. Q.D . al-Shiriizi,S-, 478.8-10 ( Svq 393 a2).Accidental lights are in the
p ~ i (GI* l c~J,l) aad psychic p-i, (GLij), cf. Ibid.,478.12-13(%,,394 n.4).

158
Amin Razavi, S u k e - ,3941; d.che sligbtly different vetsron m Idem, 'Suhranardi's," 127,
129.
wen once the sou1 has corne into existence in the body. Similsrly ro Avicenna, Suhrawardi holds
that the rational soul (the Isfahbad-light) is immaterial (see the section on the intellection) and

inhabits t h e world of pure lights, from which it originates. In its purest form, the soiil does i ~ o t
contain any type of unmiwon with the corporeal darknerr (+ j> LU ) '51 It ci ody once it
establishes a relation with the body that it suffers contamination
Wbat i s not elucidaed by Suhrawardi' s texts. how ever. is the extent of the soul' s participation
in the body's corporeality during its sojourn attached m it. On the one hand, the soul's atrachment to
the body swers its association with the world of pure lights to which it WU seek to return; while, on
rhe other hand, the human body has been neered (a) to receive a soul as its perfedon But
the body remaias "the first sbode for the Isfahbad-light." in the "world of bodies" (tj l d l $ ~ c ) . " ' ~ '
The ontological indigence of bodies dudeci to by Suhrawardi, nonetheless, necessitates the
preseace of a longing relationship between soul and body, one in which the tenebrous faculties
) associated with the body Unpart the body with a d e s k for the world of pure ~i~ht.'"
Suhrawardi writes that
When the tenebrous faculties cling to [the Isfahbad-light] with a longing attachmerit
(y-Z-:* 8.-
--= I ). and tbey ittract it to th& world. from the world of pu= (k- :)
Ligbt in which absolutely no bodily darkness (+ j> L U )is mixed. [the [fahbd-
light's] desire ( 3 s )is severed from the wodd of puce light [and divared] towards
[the wodd oi] darkness ( ~ L L L I ; ) . ~
Suhrawardi asaibes two types of longing desire ( 5 s )for light on the part of the tenebrous
substance. The frrst is its desire for an accidental ligbt thai W U manifest it. The second is its desire
for an inmarerial light (i- Ir;) which governs it and gives it Life. I t is not difficult to recognize
hem in the second desire the rationd soul, which in 0th- passages Suhrawardi identifies explicitiy
ar such The tenebrous substance origllioes out of the dimension of povetty ( a l + ) of rhe

1
9 ) fmm which the substance of the world emanates - a process, in mauy
domimuhg lights (9

159
fi%, 8 229,2l6.L4-2l.l
(SL,,
203).
160
Accordmg to Q. D. abShina, it is camplete because the temperament 2)
i s the mast balanced
and the most apt {JI -1 ) at rectiving intellective effusians 4 ); m d it is thus the fim athchment
&l zY-) and the fvst stage GJ*) fm the Isfahbad-Light,Le., the canonal soul. cf. Q. D .al-SbInz, 9&.
478.18479.1 (*, 394 a.7).
IbL &bz&, 229,217.2-3( SiC,,
2034).
&fmiY, 8 229,216.13-14 {Sw.,203). Q. D. al-Shi-
162
writes that the sod is the principle of the
h v c r fiaeukies whidi an? themselves daived; hence, what is mfena desires from what i s superia, cf. Q. D.
d-SbrSz&Sijar&,2 16 n. for iine 13 (Siq. , n.6).
394
163
fXrkm&, ZZg,Zl6.l3-217.l
(*, 203).
nays. Nnila u> the ernanationis Aviceman scheme.'" F a S uhmwd i . the " obscure has a nostalgia
(Y
(j ) for the ~ i ~ h t .and
" ' ~rhis desire characterizes eveq-thing which comauio but a parcel of
light. including bcdies. Furthermore. the human soul sees its own desire ( S G ) severed from the
world of pure lights and diverted to the world of darkness once it is anached to the body. In spite of
its attachment to the body. the human sou1 is able to contemplate the metaphpsical entities to which
it is subodinae, precisely because of its ow n luminons nature.
The relation that Suhrawardi establishes between body and soul is , therefore, one ~f desire
The question chat begs to be answered is the following: Did such a notion of desire or long*
(G$ ) already define the body-sou1 relationship in the works of Avicema? Traces of the idea of
yeatning can be found in A v i c e ~ as' works such as the where the soul's yeamhg for
happiness and for the other-worldly pleamres is part of the discoure on the love and the ye&g
that natucal beings have for th& perfection A v i c e ~ writes
a the
If you study things and reflect on them, you wiil find that e v a y corporeal thmg has
a proper p d e a i o n . a voluntary or a naural love (w Li=r ) for this
perfection, as well as a voluntaty OT naftira.1 yearning ( 6 s ) for it, when it is
separoed from it. This is meny from the First Providence (&Ji lir) +
inssmuch as
[God ] is ~ r o v d e n c e . ' ~
Hence, every corporeal thing - bodies - has a perfection. More importantly, however, each
has a voluntary or naturd love for this perfeaion. Aviceuna's own ontology is impregnated with this
notion of love. In the following passage from the same work, he writes:
The First loves His essence and is loved by His essence ... and by rnaay other thitigs
...These are the saintly intellectual substances &.& +k 91- ). No yeaming
can be awlbuted to the Frst, the Tme.nor to those that foliow ... The rank of the
yeaning cornes after the above rwO r~nks.'~'
This love and yeaming belong to metaphysical entities. Human souls do possess a siniilar
desire and yearning which they wdl lose only in the other world , presumably once they - the perfect
souk - have completed th& return to the world they had sriveri to easin (see section on e s c h a t o l ~ ~ ~ ) . ' ~ ~
It should also be menioned tbat this notion of desire echoes the mystical impetus found in the
Neoplatonism of Plocinus and whcb has fed a whole mystical tradition of whicb APicenna was not

167
vol. 3 4 . Vm,18, 784.2-785.6 (Dzk,480; h f ~79).
Avicenna, Ixh.-iis*, ,
168
Aviceruiz, Rira'fid-&9.. , (ed. M h n ) . For a French tram., cf. Sobri . "IPLZ;UIa
fil- , Le
trait sur l'amour d'Avicenne,"109- 1 3 4 .
una~rire.'~~

We have seen how Suhrawardi, foiowing Avicenna, has adopted a nocion of the soul that
catl confonn to the theological cequirement of createdness. More importmdy. the soul is defined in
twms of immaterialicy , a condition of its survivd m the afterlife. another religious doctrine whicb
ourphilosophersare q < n g to establish in che most rationally arguable mannr. A series of phifosophical
arguments have also been pmvided by our two authors. The soul's individuation in terms of the
soul's machment to the body does. however. raise questions related to the preservation of the soul's
individuaiicy in the afterlife ( s e seaion on eschatology). Some of the philosophical positions adopwd
by the Peripatetics have fostered the elaboration of a notion of the soul in terms of its nibsmtialiiy,
sornething which entails its immatetiaiity. and a fortiori its immortality-

169
Trouillard, L # p r z % o y ~ o npbOmkme, 154-65: cf. Jabre, "L'extase de Plotin a Le fm2' de
G h ~ l L i , 101-124.
"
T E W A L SPIRIT
The pervasiveness of a number of Peripatetic ideas in Islamic philosophy is highkghted by
the place some of them occupy in the philosophical anthropology of Suhrawardi mch as the concept
of vital spint (==., - the pneuma). distinct from the divine - the Holy - spirit of the saipcures. This
concept of spirit goes as fat back as tbe Greek tradition, where it was calleci vital spuit. the p!mrntI
'
responsible for Lire irself It becomes spsms for the Latim who. udike t h e Greeks. introdufed
religious elements from the Judeo-Christiantradition
What is t h e type of rdationship the vital spirit has wirh the sou1 and with the body? A bnef
look at the Judaic as weU as the Islamic backgrounds will introduce our discussion about the nature
of the vital spirit. its divisions. and its fundons in the works of Avtcenna and Sahraward. O n the
whole, the following section compms AWcenna's and Suhrawardi's concept of the spirit to illustrate
how Suhmwardi's philosophical basis for the concept of spult is derived from the imrhropology of
Avicenna. We wiU purme the discussion 4 t h some rem& on the reliuionship between the notiods
of spirit, Iight, and rationai sou1 in o d e - to discuss the role of the psychic spirit in the process of
representation. We will amclude wkh a discussion on its cocr~ptibility.

THE RELIGIOUS TRADITION


The concept of spirit - Greek, peuma ; Latin, 3prirkus - is not umque to Idam. It occars in
the Judaic tradition wbem the term spirit - && - means the wind or breath received from without,
from God - Yahveh,' The spirit thus becomes the prlnaple responsible for Me.by andogy with the
breath tha is required for the sutenance of Me itself; without it, thae is suffocation, and ultimately
.
death. The spirit also shares in the crearive power of God i.e.,in proportion to its participation in the
divine from which it originates. This juxtaposition of the notion of the life-providing spirit and chat
of its creative power can w e n culminete in the undersumding of the riid-pwmw as a divine
.
amibute (raisiag the probtem of the hypostasis of the spirit). Generally speaking in the C h r i s t h
tradition, greatly indebted to the Hebtaic tradition, the spirit is usuaiiy likened to the Holy Spirit. In
the Hebreic and Christian traditions, the two temis - "spirit" (=jJ and "soulw (cr+ij ) - are s o
dosely relared thet somehes b e y are undifferentiated from one another.'

F a S m a , the "psychic breath" ir L e unifymg p c i p l e between the sou1 and the body. cf.
X m e ,esp. 30.
G~ucuS,L t . ~ s ' ~ ~ a a s t w ~28-32,
t
Verkindar,"L'meou m p h d a rruir ," 65,67.
CHAPTERTHREE - 104

In the Islenic tradition. the concept of spirit is n a one-fated '.Ai-Ghazili (d. 111 1) noted
tbat this term was not used unequivocally in the Qura&. in hs works, he discusses t h e existence of a
variety of spirits. induding the vital spirit. the spirit associated with the appeased sou1 or with God's
comrnand, the padcutar spirit to which the senses communicate, the passive unaginative spirit
. .
responsible for representauon the intellective spirit, and. finally the divine and propheuc spirit?
E a l y theologians disthguish the spirit from the soul from the spirit in the ~ur'Zm?Out of its
Qur'anic coatext, it hm developed into a cornplex. at cimes ambiguous concept with the introduction
of a variety of theological, philosophical, and mystic. considerations foand in the uadiuons (hadiths),
or made by cbe theologians, the philosophers, ur the mys tics.
Contrary to the phdosophical tradition, Sufism has ascribed a lower position to the soul and
eievared the posltion of the spirit. The soul is rssociated witb the "flesh"or the baser side of human
beings, the farthest from the divme. It is often identifiecl with a "veil,"e-g.. in Dh al-mn, an
obstacle for the 'ascent" to the spirihiil world, e g . . Abu Yazid Bisami. or the prison of the spirit-'
In the phiiosophical tradition, the opposite is true. The spifit is more readily associated with
the physiological, and as wiii becorne later apparent, with the Greek patwmn; whereas the soul
usudy refers to the rationai part of human beings in its m o s perfect f a m . Suhrawardi' s vocabulary
identifies him more readily with the philosophical, than the Sufi d i t i o n . It is noteworthy thai he
does not often use the term spint in his more mysticai or visionary matises. A closer examination of
his "initiarory"tales, however, might reveai another usage of these two rems. We wiU focus m d y
on his phiiosophical works, both the longer and the s h o e versions.

M r d o d d , "The DeveLupment uf Le I d e i of Spirit in Llun." 25-30: cf. Calverley. "Nai.."


880a-884a
A gmd and exte-ve bibliqlraphy on the m b j c ~is found m Ndton's "More Reocnt Wks,"
appcndured to Caivcrlqr, " Nafs ," SS3;r-884a
5
F a example, in al-Ghazan;'s ht=r</&mSj dwcussed in Macdondd. "The Development of
tbe ldea of Sput Ui Cslam.' 157, 154-61; or in ai-Gh-' s @m-' 'UIm d-Dt discussed in Jabre, *sur
IeIkmque ok G%s&, 109-1 3 , esp. 109, 109 n.7.
M a d o n i d , "The Developmait afthe Idea of Spirit in Islam,' 26.
SajjMi, F--r &&Y* rn 7ia'b~;ar-fi?fi- 763b-768b
. and 427r432a By way of succinct
Nnunary, Kuspinar mentions that, 'roughlp spcaiung, the *"an, beades the verse narrared above nhich
the unLnown aspect of the spirit, refers elsewhere m the soiils ( d u s ) bat wili be taken away
from human beingJ at deab [QI 39: $21, and also to tbe t h stages ofthe sod's developmat, i-e.,fi)the sou1
~~ to evd (&-a& a l - i z m m a br' Y-JLI ') [Q, 12 :531,(ii) the biaming soul ( d d s d-IawmZnit) [Q,75: 21,
and (iu) the sou1 at satisfaction ( d - a .a/-mwil inaa ) [ 9 ,8 9 271. In view of chese r r ~ oqpamtly
inconsistent usages, one still awaits a ten$lle aas*per to the question of whicb one of them, Ni5 or n;l/s,ni11
be removed from the body and kept away ti tbe Day of Resurrection," cf. Kuspinar , lm327 , 130.
NATURE OF VITAL SPIRITS
The nature of the vital spirit in Suhrawardi's works shares many of the preoccupations of the
Pecipatecic tradition, Let us, first, tum to the vital spirit and its nature. We wili then provide a sketch
of its division. And then, we wdi see how the vitai spirit functions.
An inswmenralist i&a of the vitd spirits wa introduced in the islamic tradition by way of
translations of the Greek medicai treatises a These ideas were to become the bans of al1 discussions
on the nature of the spirit. Tjzpically, Greek physiological concepts iike humocs and the subtle
substance of the spint were g e n e d i y adopted b y the Peripatetrc tradition and most Islamic thinkas.
They constituted the physioiogicai basis on whtch individual thidcers iike Avicenna and Suluawardi
elabocated their own philosophicd systems.
The rraditionai amcept of vital spirit rests on a partiniltu notion of temperament >) and

bumots ( ~ %) with
i w h c h aii Living things are charaaerked. In the human realm. each typically
possgses a particular mixture (of p ~ qualities,
~ p those that are associaced wirb the four
i-e.,
elements) wbich, in mm. determines the temperament of that perticultr individual. In this way. the
eiements are eirher baluiced (one) or unbalanced (eigbt)?
The mixture out of which t h e temperameab are f o r m d originates with the coniing togecher
of the four pchary elements." These elements are aapired at conception (thmugh the puenial
seed); a the embryonic Sage, it is the mixing of the humors whkh helps the fatmation of tbe solid
parts of the body (the instrumental o r organic parts. i-e.. the ~ o m ~ o s i t e s )It. 'i~s the bdancing of the
mixture of these four humors that constitutes health.
These elements were considered the essentials of physiology. In Greek pidosophical tradition,

8
The medical aorpus was the fust m be translatecl LCKCI Aralnc, cf. Ullrnan, Idilllluc rtfcw5uh~,
7,
204.
T h e are thus Inne types of possible humas c-sponding to the different possibilities of
arrangemat of the M e r e n t qualities, cf. Jaquart aud Micheau, " La midecine arabe,"59.
10
The folloining chat illustrates the main amespondenoex established by traditional Ambic medicine,
d.J q u a r t aad ~ c h c a u",La mCdecine arabe,"58-9; cf. Uiiman, /dd~~iAf&aire,56-60,

fo trimm dements eattb fire air waer


pdities mld / dry hot 1 dry hot I hnmid mld / hamid
-
cmresbanding gall-htadder hem btain
spleen
orpans
middie or secondaiy block bile - melancholy <- bile
<- bload <- pblegm
-
elements humars (Leas purie) @West)

11
Jacquart and Micheau, " L a mdecine arabe," 58-9.
..
although the sou1 itseY was. at cimes. thought to be blood ( e g attributed to ~ r i t i e s ) .the
' ~ vitai sptrit
- the instrument of the soul - was g e n d y said to be carried 4~ the blaod and, therefore. distinct
from it. It was the subrie body that linked the material and the spirimal nature of m a l 3
Suhrawardi discusses the concept of vital spirit in a simiiar Perpatetic fashion. He shows
liale hesiration about Luikiag the vital spirit to the humors exactiy as they were uiherited from
niedical tradition. in this, he follows Avicenna He speaks of the nature of the vital spirit possessed
by Mimals in r e m s of "a subtle vapomus body. geneiated from rhe mbdety of the humors (-u #

)."'' In another work, he specilXes


AS(;~I char di the faculties of animals subsist by the actions of
this subtle body. again. the vital spirit!' It is thmugh the spirit chat all the other faculties can
fmctionh6Coneersly. the spint is bound by the bodily processes such as to be linked (Cs to )

the fransformation (& ) and die process of dissolution &-) of the body.17
The relationship that was believed to exist between the vital spirit and the humors was often
d d i e d in term of comespondence. Traditionaily,there were correspondences to be fouad between
dements,different bodily organs ,different qualities, or humas. For Avicemm, the d a t i o n errablished
between the vital spint and the body is defiaed in t e r m s of the relation ha the vaporous nature
(Gd&)of the vital spirit has witb the subdery of the humors (b&VI iilbj ). This celerion is like
the relaion between the bodily organs and the detisity of the h u m o ~ .In
' ~f a a . the viral spint
possesses if9 own pMcular mixture (01 ) which vtuies acwrding cn the need of its " divesity"

(+ & &Al) in orda to become. through it. a c&


*
. ~ ~vital spirir
of the diffaent f a c ~ l t i e sThe
thus originares out of the mumires and the evaponiuon of rhe aibtle parc of the hurnor~.~

Vital spirits were g e n d y calied upon to expl& the various sates of the soul - e-g.. mger,
fear. etc. - which were consideced to be accidents of the s o ~ l . Variation
~' of these States resulted in

14
mySV, 11 (~(53.7-8@) @ 9.89-1-2 (&ri4,45; f - r r p . 3 , 105). in the Persiui va~ioa,he rd- to
the mbtlety of the body& &U$)
*
and the mixtures of tbe body la a l)c;
f. R d # ,IV,5 U.96.16-L7
(m., 163).
1s
MiS.,II, 30,133.5.
16
K-
, W, 4 22,%.16-17 (m., 163).
17
A h * , IV,Q 75, 168.14-5-
18
Avicenna, S M T ' : Nds, V,8,263.134 ( e x , 186).
19
Avicema, SP--: Na&,V,8,263-15-6 ( 4186~ ). ~
a3
L h b s orgaas also a i p a t e out of the inixture of their cause cornponents, cf. Mich* Drcrhhciir
,174.
21
Th~sis whrt Descartes called the "passians"af the sod.
.
the production of p h y s i d modifications. These were explained within the medical tradition. as an
alteraion of the viral spirit dtiven in the hearr, the organ tniditionally considered the seat of the
passions. Far physitians. emocions and passions (just Like motion or rest, sleep or wakefulness) were
anong the non-naturd tluiigs (or necesairy causesf whidi conPibuted to the health o r sickness of
the body.=
The idea of comespondence associated with the spirit also figures in Suhcawardi. He adopts
a similar n a i o n of comespondence (GL).
by which he is then able to define the relationship char
exists becween the vital spint and the carimal soui - the immataid part of the soul. ruluig over the
body2' Moreover. Suhrawradi audes to correspondences. especially the one berneen the vitzd spirit
and ~ i ~ h t . ~
Avicenna and Suhrawardi & f i e the vital spirit as a subcle body. But how is its nature to be
understood?For Avicenna. the concept of the vital spirit corresponds to a variety of rhings. At rimes,

it correspoads to an immaterial spirit (even to the soul). Most often, however, Avicenna conceives of
the vital spirit as being materiai (at t e s , it c m evea be opposed to the immaterial saul) which the
diffeent faculries, possessed b y human bodies. obey? The materAiry associated with the vital spirit
is reminiscent of the Stoic position on the soui alluded to eariier. Human beings, however, do
possess an i m d a l soul (at l e m . the rational part of thehuman soul) tbat is quite distinct from the
vital s p p i ~ ~ ~

A v i c e ~ a ' main
s agument for Lhe corporeai~tyof the vital spirit - a very subtle body - is
based on medical experiences which have shown that an obstmaion of the flow of diis vitai spirit -
as the vital p d c i p l e - in any part of the body (e.g.. a lirnb) Ieads to the de& of that member. The
absence of the vital spirit in any part of the body ptevents the aaivities of the different faculties
associateci with that p a ta function, e.g.. "the eifectiveness (i& ) of the faculcies of motion.
sensaion, and also the active imagination (w a
l
.
) The vital spirit, therefore. saves as a support
for the most basic of faalties. e-g., motion or perception, but also for the most complex ones, e-g..

22
Tbcse drffeunf states would be Galemc in aigin, cf. Ballester, "On the O r i p of the Sr
12911cN- in Galen," 105- 115. The dactnne af the huxnors was c l a b d by Gaien, cf. U h a n ,
/d&mchfc&&, 2 1.
L)
J q u a u t , -Les choses non-naturelles," 173.
representation.
* - - 9
In Avicema's physialogical analyses. the first orgm created ) is the heart, because ic
is the first place (i- ) appropriate for the g e n k o n of the vital spirit ( CsJl d_r;
) In suppor. 3f

chis. Avicema again alludes ta fine anatomical examination? For hvicema. the physician. the
physiologicaf explmation lies at the hem of his philosophicd arguments on the existence of vitai
spirits. The heart is at the center of the body's Life and animafion - aii the orher functions of the body
depend on this organ. T h e sou1 is tbus dependent on the functioniiig of the hem which, as an
intermediary. provides the Mpetus for t h e activities of the brain. The hem, behg the c e n e of the
animate life of the body, is at the ongin of t h e flowing of the agent (ending its course in the brcan)

respodble for d the body*s advicies - the vital spintsa


Avicerina provides intricate explanations regarding the rel ationship between the different
organs and faculties. T h e divemty of the aaivities attributed to the vital spirit places it at the heart of
human fe bself. Although it i s certainly crue chat Avicema' s discussion regarding the spirit is not
as derailed as it is in the works of Suhrawardi, noaerheless, to nate thar Avicenna nwer used the
cerm spht t o mean the vitai principle, as Goichan seems to impiy, c a ~ o be
t conpincingly
substantit~ed.~~
Very similar ideas are found in Suhrawardi. For hm,the subtle nature of the vital spirit is, in
fact, characterized by some sort of matefiality. Let us not forget rhat it is defined as a subtle "body."
Moreover, it is linked to the tramformation and t h e dissolution of the body. The splt also possesses
heat (Z, I r ) , a characteristics only bodies c a possess." In one work, he specifie that. " t h a e is in
&ils a subtle and bot body which a c u r s out of the mbtlaies of the hum or^."^' Suhrawardi's
interprercirion ascribes to b a h of these cheracteristics a cotrespondence ( G d) to light ar,more
precisely. ta the accidental light Lc ,
Ga, + ) which bodies and the humors receive. It is the
corporeal nature of the vital spirit that transfotms it uito what h e calls an obstacle (Zj'L ) The

opaque nature of this subtle body c m selve as a receptacle of light which can then preserve and
reflect iight oato t h e body." We will have to mtnm to th& panicula correspondence he enablishes

29
Avicenna , &, Nds, V, 8,263.21-364-4 (PIy; 187).
XI
Aviceina, SWZ: Nidi, V, 8,264.6-21 (e,
187-8). The whole discussion th* follows h l o p s
a physiological explanariof&cf. Amcema, NA,V ,8,266.19-2672 (PT,189).
31
Goichon, Lemque,no. 280, 144-5.
P -
5 218,206.1 1 4
JWZZJU, (Sw 194-5).
33
IV,96.16
Ruhjp~c, (m.,
163).
34
~%%Irsr,218,206.11-2075 (*, 194-5).
berneen the vitai spirit and light.

TYPES OF SPIRITS
Traditionally. physiaans have explained the existence of the different y p e s of spirits by
but to philosophical e~planatians.e.g., a theory of correspondences
resorting not only to phys~ological,
overseeing the adivities of the different organs of the body or faculties of the different souls.
According to the traditional physiologicai explanacion, the vital spirit is the dynaniic p ~ c i p l eof the
body. Ir is renewed witb nutritional maaers and, then. transforrned mto the blood. As this process
unfolds in the liver. a vapor cornes into existence and produces a m r a l spirit. This natural spirit
(the more primitive type)then travels to t h e h e m where it is purified and d e d with the air that is
inhaled. The outcome of this pmcess is che formation and production of a n animal vital spicit. Once
i t has been mixeci with the rnhaled air, the vital spirit then travels to the base of the btain, where it is

again transformed and becornes a human vital spirit,generally identified as a "psychic" spirit (Le.,
the one related to the hurnan soul) Befe Galen. the heint w as the locus of the mind. Similarly .
Sufi tradition attributes a privileged place ta the h e m - at cimes it is aaalogous to the soul oc the
intellect36
In the Curr , Avicenna proposes a slightly different version of the process by whch the vital
spint travels through the body and transfomis itseif into the different natural, animal,and psychic
pnwms. He alludes to the upward motion of the spirit from the hem, the f k t principle of life in the
body, to the braLn and its temrn to the lower part of the body responsible for the natural f a d t i e s ,
ir.. the l i v e ~ . ~ first
~~h prlliciple
e is the h e m from which ail o t h a activi.es originate. The liver and
the brain become s i d a to "secondary" p ~ c i p l e sat the h e m of the different faculties of the
naturai, animal, and human seul.=

Suhrawardi's own concept of the vital spirit is grounded in this traditional distinction between
these three diffe~enttypes of spirits - the naturai spirit, animal spirit, and human spirit. He is
g e n w in agreement with the physiological and philosophical explanaions of the Peripatetic
ttadition adduced for the existeace of a variety of spuits. His concept of vital spirit pmlonged an
already existing pbilosophical tradition.

35
Jacquatt and Micheau, " La mecme atabe ," 59; cf.Uiiman, /sI'clCI&&e. 62-3.
36
al-Ghazati, @nF,, 31;quoted in Jabre, ~ s u r l e l c m q m d e G1 12,
~ , 112 n.2.
n
Avicenna, S r i : Nds, il,3 , 72.9- 17 ( ~ S F50).
:
38
Avicema, 2%zfi: Nds, V,8,264.6-2665 (EFK,187-9).
m e w i s e . Suhrawardi adopts the Peripatetic scheme where the heart is the first principle.
Nonecheless, he slightiy deparcs fram Avicetuia's production of spmts. For Suhrawardi. the vicai
spirit that originates in the left cavity of the h e m is called the &al spirit, a position already
developed by Qust b. Liiq. From the hem, the patb taken by the vital spirit branches off into two
different direaians. One path is towards t h e liver. This produces the narural spint simiiar to Avicema' s
principle. which is at the origin of vegetative faculties like nutrition. etc."
For Suhrawardi. the natural spint is the most elementay of spirits. associated with the lower
(biological) ttaivities of t h e body. It is associsted with " the actions of the vegertuive faculties and

cniginates in the left cavity of the heart


When it emerges fram the h e m , the vital spint also takes another, upward path. When it
emerges from the hem and flows to the brain, it becomes the buman or "psychic" vitai spirit simdar
to Avicenna's principleP1

Like its natural counterparr, the animai vital spirit is similarly defined a3 "a subtle steamy
body, genended from the subtlety of the mixture, and issued fonh from the left venvicie of the
heartSwaThe animai spirit is the source of the various funaions of ttte uunal soul. In the T q l e r z o f
L&ht, Suhrawatdi provides an ovemew of the different facukies of the soul which the animai spuit
oversees, e.g., concupiscenceor itriscibiiity as weU as amotive faculty which communicaes movement

(4- ) ta limbs. The bearer UL)of ell the motive and peneptive faculties of the k a 1 sou1 is
. 4

the animal spirQThe animal spirit then vavels throughout the body and ob- Bs hpeais from
the prhciple which provides it wirh guidance. This p ~ c i p l is
e none 0th- than the "govaming iight
(@+ 0 lbl )a [chat aiginates] from the rational soul": and once the animal spirit has received
this Ligbt "itbegins to spread chroughouc the body. "
And finally, like the two previous spirits, the " psychic" spirit is assoaated with another put
of the soul, the human soul. This psychic spirit originates with the upward motion of the animai
spirit. In another w a k , he mentions hait the vital spirit which " rises to the brain" and w hich then

m
Lnm;-S;r, P B y , IV,3, 116.3-5; CC. Pri,W, g 36,31.7-10 (B'k, 32).
41
RIm@,II, 30,133.9.
41
km,
P'.,NI
3, 116.3-6.
" I/a)ih7,II(a)53.&9(p) 9. 8 9 . 2 ( M . , 4 5 ;J a a i . 105).
a3
II (a) 535-7@) 9,88.16-89.L( h a . )45; ImZJ, 105).
44
O n the notion af the p w er of h g h t ,see Corbin's note to Iris &tion hi7p o k 7icmp.t~
in 15 &
I u z m h , cf. Cocbin, Azbq,ge,76 e 16.
6
Ha-, n (a) 53.1O (p) 9 , 8 9 2 3 ( A m k 45; IbnflJ, 105).
"becornes temperare is a means CO cool the brain." that the sages (SU)
d l e d the "spirit" (C3,).B
In the Tdl" Dtd~-&&ro ' i m d d - D a . he identifies it as the psychic spirit or pntvrmrr :
[The animal vital spirit] originates in the left side [of the heart]. The part of it which
flons upward mm the bran becomes temperate (J- ) due ta the coldness (&>)
of the brain [neither h a nor mld] and it accepo likht from the rational soul. and tha
is w hst is c d e d che psychic spint ~ j & )And witb t h spirit. perception ( dlp!)
and movement (4,)become c ~ m ~ l e t e . ~

In f a a . both perception and motion. as was already mentioned in the previous discussion.
belong to the animal soul. This raises the question of the respective doniinions of the amnial and
human or psychic spirits. SuhrawardZ. however, does mention tbat it is from the brain that the animal
aaivitia originate.' This a h d e s to the principle that imparts direction and guidance to the body. It
is, in fact, the human spirit which provides the input - i.e., iight - or the impetus dia iniriates the
t x t k i t k of the animai spirit which, in airu, is ac the ocigin of the upward flow of the animal spirit

heading towards the brain. Noae of these two spirits can be conceived independently from the
existence of the other, whereby the psychic spirit serves as the principle for the activities of the
enimal pulr. Tbe psydiic spirit receives irs own principle fiom the cational - Light - p ~ c i p l eIt. is
as if the animal spirit and the more aaive psychic spirit mrresponded CO some more generic notion

, the 0th-
A v i c e ~ aon hand, does not d w d at any lengtb on the question of the spifits.
Although he does not provide any detailed discussions on the three different Peripaletic spirits
identified in the works of Suhrawardf. in some parsages, Avicenna d u d e s to the existence of siniilar
activities associated witb the differenr spirits and belonging to the diffemnt souls? Although the
spirit posses as a mixture (cl + ) which is paticular to 1,tnis mixture varies accordhg t o the
4

varions faculties in which it participates, so as to become t h e bearer of t h e various faculties. Avicenna


argues that the "Wual" spirit canna correspond ro the spirits associated witb motion, anger, or the
faculty of growth , because if these different spirits were one, their tictivities would &O have to be
one. This is obviously not the case." The vital spirit then is associateci with different functions. such

46
It becmes temperate, because the vitzl spmt is coMdered a w a m ( ; l a ) subde body, cf. R
iI
L'
ri
zr
tc
t
,IV,8 2Z96.16 (M., 163).
41
Al-, Il, 30,133.6-9; cf. P m ,N ,4 36.3 1.7-9 ( B w k ,32).
4B
-413, P43. TV,3,116.5-6; cf. Mm%, II, 5 30,133.7.
43
Jacquat and Micheab, "La mdecine d e , " 59; cf. Avicenna, 2MT: Nds, V,8,268.7-8 (Bp%
190).
50
Avicama, SWZ: Nds, V ,a, 263.15-20 (Pq,
1187).
as motion. a n g e . or the faculty of growth. etc.,51 as well as rhe different facuities associated with
representaion. such as a "cogitacive" ( i &) spirit.=
The different physiologicd ex plandons provided by Suhraw ard regarding the origination
of the vital spirit. its division and twofold direaion of flow throughout the body, associated with the
three different spirits. are ail found in Avicenna's works, despite the faa that they are not associated
with distinct spiritss Avicema's discussion is restrictod to the physiologicd account of the differenr
activities to which spi& are associated. whereas, in Suhrawardi, different spirits rrip rdentified and
associated with each of these activities. More important, however. is the fact that Avinna did

associate spirits with the different faculties of representations. Hence. w e n representation cannot be

explained without the notion of spirit.


Suhtawardi distinguishes between different spints to be associated with tbeactivities asaibed
to the dBerent sauls. But on the whole, in Surftwardi, the process by which the human spmt
becornes cornplae, travelling through the whole body and providing support for the drfferent faculties
of the sou1 associateci with the body, corresponds to siinitar - albeit slightly modified - Peripatecic
positions found in a somewha more sketchy fasbion in Aviceana

FUNCYION OF THE VITAL SPIRIT


One of the funcrions of the vital spitit i s to animate the body. It carries the different forces
w h c h are at the origin of the body's activities and thus maintains life in it. In the works of
Suhrawardi, this corresponds to the naturai spirit. Hence. wben the natural (vital) spirit is prevented
from enteriag a particulte body part or organ, Le., when the blood (the vehide of the spirit) ceases to
flow Lito it, then. that pahcular agan "dies. and M e disappears fmm it.'" The vital spirit stops to
flow and to exist in it.
Iri addition to be the Life-giving force to the body, the vital spirit (paeumt~)
serves as the f h
insirument of the soul and this bridges L e gap that e d t s between soul and body.= This particular
idea predates Avicenna's discussions, e.g., Ab Sulaym& al-Sijis- (d. after 1000) distinguished
between the sou1 and the spirit by wnting that "the spirit (ru&)... is the interniediary between the
."
body and the sou1 and addhg that, "b y it [i-e.,the spirit] the sou1 spreads its powers over the body;

S1
Avicenna, S M : N i 2 ,V,8,267.8; cf.Ibid.. V, 8,267.5-8( P m266 and 189).
51
Avicenna, Skr/ir", W s ,V,8,268-7( By, 190).
53
Avicenrip, S M * ,NWs, V, 8.263.15-2645 [ P ! 188).
54
Al-, II, 30,133.1 1-2.
5s
Avicenna, s j S . , f l , N i ,V , 8,264.1-2 (ml187); cf. Go~chon,Dr-ws, 321 n.?.
it can [then. Le.. the body] perceive and move. rejoice or ~ u l f e r . ~ "
Avicenaa, whose concept of the soul is defined in terms of the immateritility of its substance,

similarly amibes to the spirits a sirnilm role. The vital spirit can provide the particularized Link
rreated becween itself and the physical body. The spirit c m , then. constinite the unique point of
corneaion berneen the immarerid soul and the corporeality associateci wrth the body. It is in the
f d o w i n g t e m s that Avicenoa discusses the function of the pmums as an intemiediary: "the soul
is essentially one [by essence]; therefom. it must possess an imtial dependence (& ,J3i) on the
body. from which it govens it.;( ) and mates it develop (- ). [and] this takes place by the
intermediary of this vital spirit (C3J 1 I
d G& ).'" It 1s through the creation of such an organ
(as Avicenna c d s ic), r.e.,rhe Wtal spirit. that the different faculties of the soul can then be derived

-
(A ::i ) in the rest of the organs of the body?

Likewise, for Suhwardi. the vital spirit becomes an intermediary berneen the body and the
soiil? AU the externa1 and internai faculties of the body possess orguv ( a d j ) - ie.. vital spirits.
"by which they are distinguished" from one a n o ~ h e r . ~ funuion
~he of the vital spirit as an intermedierg
is mare spedically ascrib ed to the psychic spirit.
In Suhzmwardi'sLigbt arirology, cbe spirir is defined in terms of its opauty (;ii+L ) The
opauty Suhraward ascribes to this entity simultaneously provides it witb the ability to teceive light
from the rational soul. the latter being light b y essence, and to serve as a rnediatcn- &-,Id) for the
activkies of the rarional soul (jih
*
d*-)61 thr cake place in the human body.
The virai psychic spint is not itself au independent substance capable of acting on its o w n It

is only a mediatw once it has adorned itself with the iight of the rational soul (&CI yui; J+ ) and
is, thus, only the receptade for the Light p o n d e d by the rational sou12 T h e mtional soul is by
essence the Isfahbad-ight whicb euerses its goveming activiries over the body throughthe mediatioa
of the psychic vital spirit. And through this subtle body, the Isfahbad-light provides the body with
light J A l Lrb).63

56
al-Taw&&, ai-&&-' , III, 1 I 1 (Cairo: 1942); quoted in the inuo. of Badawi's ed ., cf. Abu
SulaymSa SijktW, s'w&&-&dm&, 26.
n
Avicenna, W.Nds, V ,8,263.20-2 1 ( p j y , 187).
58
Aviccnna, SkfZ', Nds, V . 8,263.20-2692 (ey,187).
59
Ka&-&, IV,$8 2 1-2,95.11-97.4(Amh,162-3).
60
PBF., IV,3, 116.1-2.
61
H i v a , Il Q) 6 9.89.5-6.
62
U ~ aJ (p), 6 9.89.3.
Subrawardi taiks about the spirit as the maunt (6
) fcr the rational soul. responsibie for

maintainhg the ongoing and goveming anMties { a & ' '


) of the sou1 over the body.w The same

metaphor was employed by Avicema CO describe the relacionship of t h e faculties of the body wich
the souk. i.e.. in t-s of a nding mimal. a maaphor used by ~ l a t o . 'The
~ spirit which was the
intercessu- of the rational soul over the body LU Avicema's works ternains an mtermediary in
S~htawardi's.Here is yet anorher insrance where Avicenna' s and Suhrawardi's positions are quite
similar. T h e foliowing diagram may help illustrate how they understand the vital spirit's function as
a mediator - a bodlly, yet subtle substance - lying on the boundaries of the physical and the
immaterial w orlds.

LIGHT A N D THE RATIONAL SOUL


The relationships becween the soul and the vitai spirit must be preserved if iife is to be
mainfainecl. This is achieved by the aaivities of the d o n a l sou1 - the governiiig Isfahbad-lig ht -a
point Suhrawardi greatly emphasizes and which has already been alluded to. The maintenance of the
activities of the d o n a l sou1 over t h e body is g u m t e e d by the non-disturbance or non-disruption,
as weU as the health, of tbe animal vital spirit. In the TdtqpIesofb@f,
Suhrawardi notes th&
If this &al spirit possessed no nich subtiety , it would not circulate in di the areas
where it penetrates. ff an obstacle were to prevent it from penetrating d o a certain
limb , that limb would die... So long as [the animai spirit is in a healthy condiaon],
the rational soul ex- its control and power over the body. But once the former is
koken up, the latter's control of the body c e a ~ e s . ~
It has akeady been mentioned that in the Onhmd-UurnrPd~eJ'ISdm , the vital spirit -

a
mIkmis, 8 219,207.7-8 (Sw..,
195). The sou1 maintains r "desiring" rel*tion with the spirit, cf.
A/-, IV,4 75, 168.14-5.
64 n ~ w
II (a,l s . 2 - 3 (a,
45; I ~ A G I105).
,
65
Avcenna, Php.,XI,374.8-10 ( A n k ,56).
66
H C I, II~(a)53.10-54.3 (p) 9,89.3-7 (A-&,45; fkwsJ, 105).
being of a corporeai nature - serves as an ohstacie whase funaion is CO become "receptacle for
irradiahg ight" and to "presave" this t i g h r - Moreover. Suhrawardi's interpretdon enablishes
aglM a conespondence (GIbetween both c h a r a n a l u c s of the vital spirit - its nibdety and irr
).

h e s - and light. i.e., more precisely. witb the '* accidental'* Light (+Jlc ) whih t h q receive6'

Suhrawardi taises the issue of the close si4iilaricy that exists between the vitai spirit and @ht. such
that the spirit - especiaily the pspchic pzvumu - is a substance thraugh which Light can pass. The
vitai spmt also shares a i t h light i u h e u and the quickness of its response t~ motionm As an obstacle
- a subtle body - of a c o r p o d nature. the vitai spirit is thus a substance that can reflect light and
become the support of the luminous faculty, and through which t4e Isfahbad-Cght can govern the
body and provide it witb ~igbt.'~In another passage. he mentions that "di the illuminations
(aiI A!)that the rationai soui irseif ceceives are refieaed & L ) on the c o r p o d temple - i e . ,
l
on the body - as weli as on the human or psychic vital spirit (jLL)."7'
It is aorewarthy that even in Suhrawardi's incriate system of light there is a concern for
integrathg pbysiological elements that physicians and Avlcenna took as the foundation of their
philosophicd opeculruions about the vital spirits. the pmmY&. These speculations are integrated in
Subrawardi's phiiosophicai anthropology alongside his ontology of iight and its tetminology. For
instance. h e notes that the animal viral spirit " pmceeds ( >-.?02 ) fmm the left venVjc1e of the heart
h u g h o u t the body afta. it has reeived the luminous ruler O ) from the mional soul
(U -)y2 1ii one of bis Persian teim. the spirit receives the sa& cloth of light$,( a&)
0

with which it is covered. in another work, lie wntes that "the relation between the soul and the
body i s [establizhed] by a [subtle] body biat is the vital spirit. h d the [psychic] viral spirit is a
furninous body {&l _uj ) ia the brain.n74It is interesring to note that in the latter passage Suhrawardi
integrates both scheme - Peripaetic and illuniinarive which he rejects in other w orks (especiaiiy the
localization of spirit or representaion in the brain). This is ais0 exemplified by the expianation he
provides for some of the soul's ailmencs. He adds chat:

67
8 Zl8,207.3-S (wq
195).
68
&#ma?, 8 2i8.206.114(Sw, 1945).
69 w,
lZbzrat, 4 218.206.15-2072 (195).
70
-&, 8 219,207.7-9(w,
1195).
71
H ! ,4 273,254.6-7 ( BL,, 229).
72
III (a)53.9-10(p) 8 9,89.2-3 45; /sm$d,1 0 .
(M.,
73
H ~ ~ z Z II
M@) , $9,89.2-3.
74
MW*,X , g 90, 1 2.3-4 (M., 1 08).
if there is a rednction of the intensity of the iight it possesses ($>+), it causes a
dismption of its life (JI * .
and mch iunesses as melancholp and 0th- [siclmess
j),
of the soul] O C C U ~ . ~
It is thus clear that Suhrawardi. while not rejecung ~e Peripatetic philosophical and
physiological basis of the soul's sickness (e.g..their theory of humors). discusses these issues with
his usual emphasis on iight. He makes the intensity of light responsible for the regniarion of the
health of the saul. His explanation in terms of a variation in intensity of light reforrnulates t h e
traditional theones of the changes of humors, keeping in line with his own ontology of iight.

HUMAN PSYCHIC SPIRIT AND FORMS


There is yet another function ascribed to the vital spin& to wbich Avicenna aiiudes. and
whkh rnight off- yetanother element of cornparison baweenthe thougbts of Avicenna~iridS u W a r d i .
This is the roie played by the psychic spirit in the process of representation. This funaion has not
been discossed at anp length by the commentators. The animal vital spint which has made its way to
the b r a h becames a psychic (human) spirit. O n it bas transfomed itseif into a human spirit, this
psychic ~~mu finds itseif involved in the activities of inteuection pecific t o human beings. The
human psychic spirit, which results of tbe ascension of the animaf spirit to the brain, then serves as
an indispensable maetial, albeit subtle and refined isfrastructore, for the functioning of the iafernal
senses. As the substratum for the forms abstracted frorn the senses. the psychic spirit bemmes the
substratum for tboughts. This is specificaliy mentioned by ~ v i c e n r i a ~
In Avicenna, many faculties are involved in the process of representation. Tbe first tu70
fmlties are the cmmzod seme and the passive imagination (or wbat A v i c e ~ acaiis pbmr;un& -
). whose "organ"is the - psydiic - spirit. This spirit pennetues the base of the nerve of
*
sensibiiity (-4
1 e
#

*&
#
), especially in the anterior parc of the braian These faalties work

toge*, with the h d p of the psychic pmwma, such that the latter preserves the abjects abstraaed
by the former.m
>r* t
The next faculry is the passive imagination (J l&) or the formauve faculty (PA- )." Its
-an is in the (psychic) spint sd
- throughout tbe antenor c
aw of the brain, especidy the
p o s e adem

%
Al-, X, 90, 102.4-5 ( A d . , 108).
76
APiccnna, SW?, Nds, Ili, 8.15 1.14-3 (Psy.,107).
77
/ M a ,vol. 2 , III, 9,355.4-5 CD'., 3 17, and 320 ~6,322).
Aviceana,
78
Avinna, S H : Nds, Ill, 8, 151.12-14 (*, 106); cf.[bid., I11,8,158.21-159.1 ( P m1 f 1).
Another faculty is estimation. whose organ is the whole brain, but more specifically the
middle caviryal The esthaive fanilcy Ci assined b y a faculn/ which composes and separsres the
forms. It is caiied eicher the cogitative faculty &
.( ). or the active imagination ) (se
s e d o n on division of the soul)." The power of the eaimative facuity is Noated i n the anterior part
of the rniddle cavity, where the spirit is scattered.
The last facolt). is merno.. whose power is located in the area of cbe postaior section of the
brah where the spirit - ks organ - is again scatteredm Avicema affers a physiological explmation
L n short, the ppschic spirit
to cnroborare the thesis that the spirits are the organs of these facultie~.~'
becornes an organ for the different interna1 faalties on which tbe proces of represaitation (aad
memory) depends.
One of Suhrawardi's aiticisms of Peripatetic philosophicd anthropology focuses on
Ancema's physiological explanetions of the process of diought. Suhrawardi rejects the meterializt
implicationsunderlying such phpsological explanation.He i adamant th& forms camot be impressed
on a physical organ, Le.. a place (&& ) in the braias He. therefore. cejece the localizaion of

forms in any physicai organ.


Brit beyond such an explicit rejectioa of a Per5patetic thesis, lies an impicit adoption of that
~~thesis. Suhrawardi's statanent that forms cannot be impressed in a physical organ does

not, hawever, preclude the possibility for the psychic spirit to become the locus for these forms,
espeadiy in light of the role of the vital psychic spirit as a rubrtrsum to the absaured forms in
Avicenna's works. This can offer new perspeaive on Suhrawardi's obscure "suspended" f o m s
(Zi%
) , . (see secrion on a sepaate wodd of imaginatioli).

One is mrpnsed et seeing how , in his Ch'enfd-U~min~r-~


K5dam. Suhrswardi considers
th@ elernenrary re.liries - uch as the vital psychic spirit - c m , in faa. become a place of inherence
or manifestation (*) for imaginai farns or similes (J L ). The vitai psychic spirit - as a subde
body - can become a place of manifestation for these forms. because there is a certain eqdibrium
(J1 l ) in it and a cettain distancing fmm opposition ;( L;; ) which resembles the nature of
celestid bodies (Z& cjl>), themselves etbaicd bodies. Fuxthennore.there is in the viral spirit a

n
In another text,Aviceriaa t;illw of a formative faculty (idr- p"). instead of a passive magindan
(Je),
aithough boa would s c e i ro carespond to a single fanilty, cf. Asicenna. M:Nds, V.8.268.3-4
(m,190). In fact,tbe ('id*- ) wor>lddesignate a sensible memary, as opposed to the ( B $ l i ) which wouid
deri* an intctlcctual rnemory, cf. Goichon, L e q u e . , no. 238.8 2 , 118; cf. Jbid.,no. 377,193.
80
Avicema, I s b a , vol. 2,III,9.356.1-2jD?k,322,and 322 n.l).
81
Avicenna, /&al,vol. 2 , III, 9,357.1-2 (Dk,
322).
cauiia economy ( a u 1 ) (i e., no
# #
excesses) chat makes it possible for the imagmvy exemplzus or
psydiic spirit-ae
IO manifen themselves in th~s
a m i l e s (JL)

It should be remembered ,Suhrawardi writes, that in the vital psychic spint "there is sornethuig
of ao opacity which accepts ight [and] preserves it:" moreove-, it '*preservesfigures (Jci) and
fom
, s, ( F a him. the nature of the vital spirit, as mentioned d e r . presenrs grea andogy
with the pmaple of human souk. i.e., iight (the rational principle). whether it be through its
subtlety. heat. or movement. aii analogous to accidental lighcm The role of the vital spint is. thus. to
be a receptacle for Light, inasnuch as the thing which serves as an obstacle accepts the irradiating

light (*A J+), and preaves - #.,


it." The sptrir. as an " intermediate ( U ) preservs iight rays .
and becomes a place of manifestation (& ) for the similes [athe images] of tha which gives
ligbt m d that witich receives Lght (>-il3 0 31
JIZ)."~ 0

From the a b o ~ esuttement, it appears char Suhraward is willing to recognize that the vital
psychic spirit plays a role in the reception of forms. More imporraatly. the psychic spirit plarj a d e
in the preservation of forms or similes. This is. in fact. quite consisent with bis cleims that the s p ~ t
is a receptacle for light. an Ultermediq between the soul and the body, the one through whose
activities the rational soul - the Isfatibad-ligbt - can exercise its dominion over the body.
Therefom, Suhrawardi's vital psychic spirit, as the receptacle for forms or similes, is not
very different mcnitally from A v i c e ~ a ' sconception of the psychic spirit as the orgai of
repcesentatioa The foiiowing diagram iiiustmtes some of the siaiilarities between SuhrawardF's and
Avicema's funaion of the vital spirit as the substnmrn of fotms.

5?
Avicma. / s h H , val. 2, III, 9 . 3 3 . 2 - 6 (Dk,
322).
Aviccnna, /&a,
a)
vol. 2,111,9,358.1-359.1( D k ,323).
64
Avicenna, Is&~&,VOL 2,[II, 9,360.1-362.1(Dk,
323).
es
H ! ,8 225.21 1.12-3 (W.,
199).
86
&&macl 9 218,206.10-12 (Slp,194).
8)
3 210,206.12-13 (S;lC~.
194-5).
w &,ItaiV, 218,200.13-207.1 ( W..,
195).
89
Hii-ms,8 2 18,207.3 ( -fi, 195).
90
m fl
l,8 218,206.4-5 ( Sjfi 1%).
subdety - darkaess and Lighr
repesenririoiii; - fmms
suspe.=dedfarms

EXISTENCE AFTER DEATH


A last aspect that pertains to the concept of the vital spit deserves some artention. This is
the fate of the spirit dter the soul's deprnnire from the body. A v i ~ awith
, his rejection of Thfibit
b. p u n i h ' s (d. 901) theory of subtle bodies:' and bis refusal to accept the subsisteiice of a vital spirit
separate from the body, rejeds the idea of the survival of an immarerial subtle body - the psyche or
psychic pa~matatgz
Likewise, Snhrawardi rejects the thesis of a survival of ths subtie body after death. One of
bis arguments is thef the seprwited psychic spirit - as an unstable subtle body - would suffer from
intense hear or cold if it were too close fo the celestid spheres or too far fmm &an.- The vitai spirit.
which is said to share with hght such charaaeristics as heat and rapidity of transmission of motion,
ciiffers from light by the coldness associated with it? somahing which Qut al-Din al-SLnriz
idterpras to mean its de*.= SuhrawaFdi adds that its aability c m ody be achieved through the
help of sometbhg (;A 4 sr+ D *&-
L---: . ) mming from without. because the nature of the vital spint
does not aow it to remah stable. It is quick to dissolve Lw ) due to its subrlety. but also

91
An asrolcxger-philosophabased in H m and responsible fa the propagation of Greek sciences
amongst the Acabs , cf. Fakhry, A ~ ~ u f I r / i l p p c P I w m o p ^3,
p ,15,17.
92
And this , "whether it be the semains of the -hic pnwma or of a type of pt.umu of
substitution,no rn- what their dimensions mighc be," e.g.,infi& panides, d.Mrcha, f7-e , 177;
cf. [bid., 175-7.
93
TM@&, 8 61.89.8-15: cf. tram. in Michoc, De&*, 178 n.123.
w
8 216,207.4-5 (SR
&h&, ,
195).
9
Q. D.ShitizZ, S k b , (cd. Corbin) 207 n.for line 5 (SA&
384 a.7).
due to the predominance of heat ( o) ; 1 in it." The problem of the immortality of the psychic spirit
will, however, te-emerge with the problem of the sumival of imagination or. at Least. of unaginative
representation (see chapter on imagination).
The most i m p o m ~ tcharacteristic of Suhraward s discussions of the topic 1s. in fact, the
light terminology he employs. Nevertheless, the classical Avicennan Peripatetic structure underlying
the t h e q o f the vital spirits remains,however,unmodified nie previous discussions have highiighted
Suhmwardi's concept of the vital spirits - the p . m . w .
DIVISION OF THE SOUL

VEGETATTVE, AMMAL. AND HUMAN SOULS


Philosophical discourses on the nature of the soul and its functions have led to systematization
of its different coniponents. The Islarnic Peripatetic tradition eventually adopted the stance proposed
in AWnna's synthesis of earlier philosophical traditions. Classical discussions about the human
sou1 were usually articulated with the use of suitably modified Greek philosuphid, natural, and
medical conceptions that served as mois for investigations into the soul's nature.
The various functions characrerizing Living ganisms ere believed to be ruled b y different
types of souls. Suhrawardi and A v i c e ~ aposit the existence of three types of sou1 characterizhg the
ail~of, these - vegetative,
diffgent reigns: the vegecative, the animal, and the human. For A P ~ c ~ M
animd, and human - souls are defined as perfections or entelecfiy of a nacurai body which possesses
different specialized organs.' Likewise. Suhrawardi adopts these distincaons w h c h are. however.
merely attemps rtt idenMymg the p.inciples responsible for different: identifiable acrivities. But, o n
the whole, human beings possess a single soul capable of aU of these aaivities. The disthaion is,
t h d o c e , more formal and logical than factual.
For Avicema and Suhrawardi (as f a Aristotle), the human sou1 encompasses the two lower
vegecative and animal souls. The vegetative part of the soul is tbe prinaple at the h e a t of the
functions of nutrition, of growth and of reproduction. The faculty of reproduction, however, only
corner about through the intermediacy of the f d t i e s of nuarion and gmwtb. These are aiireproduced
in Suhraward's w o r k ~ . ~
Avicenna posirs a tripartition of the vegetative soul which finds its way into Suhrawardi's
works. Its M o u s functioas rire ail elaborated i n Avicenna's works. The nutritive (+blC ) facult.

precedes the feculties of growth (+ ) and reproduction ( d , r i . ) It is the nutritive faculty that

provides and guarantees the life of any organism. Tbis facuity processes a the intake of nutrients

2
AVicenna. A@%?.M .
s 1.320.7-14 ( AOC... 25).
Liaaa@i, Phy,N ,1 , 113.8-18; cf. m , 4, 4 33, 27.10-1 ( B d , 28). O n the three natwal
kingdoms u i d on nuaitian (absorprioa, retenticm, CiigeSion, expuision), cf. fk+d, $ 10,269.1-9 ( M., 2 1);
TV,8 33,26.16-27.15 ( B ' , 29-30).
cf- P ! ,
CH-FOUR - 122

(Le-, through digestion) and makes them avdable to tbe body, so that it may replace what has been
lost. It is aiso responsible for the growth of the physical body x, that it may reach a stae of complete
dwelopment&, ( ). d e f d in terms of "perfection in g o n t h . "'Fuidy. the f8uulty of reproduction
is rpspomible for the propagation of the species uirough the recreation of a similar type of being by
sepamting pens of matta in order to a m b i n e cwo parts of that being h o one?
The second and most important part of the human soul is the animal soul, As Avicenna
writes, 'the second, is the animal soul (+IF) which is the perfection of a naairal body possessing
organs e n a b h g it $0perceive particultas (ol&+l tlJ+ ) and it is moved by volilion (d2-2
L1 ? 4)."5One of its faculties is the facuity of motion which is of two types. " motive immfar as it
Tbe orber faculty is the perceptive p a t of t h e animal
gives an impulse" or "insofar as it is activeeBb
soul which inchdes the five external senses and the five intenta1 facuities (or "senses").'
The same division of the aninrd soui finds its way into the wock of Suhrawardi. The souls
), itself divided iato the concupiscent
of di Living things possess an appetitive faculty (&i+
e #

(
4 1- ) and the h e c i b l e (3 :-;) They &O possess a locomotive faculty (&-
i ). For

.
S u h n w d i .the motive partis also reiated to the desiring aspect of the saul.' On the whole Suhrawardi
does not depart from these traditional divisions of the vegecative and animal souls a d o p d by
Aviceima.

FIVEFOLD DIVISION AND LOCALISATION OF FACULTIES


The interna1 senses of the rinimal sorils, at the heart of the philosophical mtbropology of our
two authors, are similarly divided into a number of facuities. a i l mling over specific activities and
paraLleling the five ezternal senses. In the ~ ~ hthe &?litR+m,
~ dthe O ~
I I ~ V
~ I ~ ~
~ / - ~, ~
H'rjdam, and ocber works, Suhrawardi introduces the fivefold division of the imer faculties of tbe
sou1 in accordance with rhe standard division of the intemal senses found in Avicema's w o r k ~The
.~
five k e r f w l t i e s are the maimm seme (d- &. ; Latin. srenscommums).the famlty of

3
1,,320.7-14 (A*, 25); cf. Idem, M',
Avicenna, NirpZ, Nafj- N&, 1, 5,43.1441.3 (m,
28).
Avicenna, A&+, Nds , 1, 3 19.1-3 ( Amk,2 5 )
5Avianna, Ws,I,5,39.18-40.13 (Pv.27-8).
Avicenna, N 3 W s l 2 , 3 2 t ~ - i (Anc.
O 26).
7
Avicenna, SWS: Nds, 1, 5 . 4 1-1645.16 (m,
29-31). Tbe ternt lueif is not Aristot&a: -hile
the fmlties are to be fmnd in Anstotle, its origrn codd be Stoic, cf. Rahman, A mia?zns 3.77-8 n. for p. 30.2.
8
The desiring motion of the s o l is amibuteci ta tbe perceiving part of the soul in Aristotle, cf.
Ushida, & u d c 5 ~ ~ 1 ~ l p i r75-8;
;n~~ cf.
~~ ,
Hiycla;/, I (a)535-7 (p) 5 8,88.16-19 (M,
45: 1-a4tl, 105).
For a presairsaion of the inner senses, cf. Woifson, "The Interna1 Senses."69- 133.
passive imagination (J ) that has a retentive capacity; the estimative ( p Jfaculy:
) the fanilty of
active hagintuion ( 2 r2k
a': ) that has a cornpositive capacity: and the faculty of memory (iL;iL
thai has a preservative or recollective (.AI; or s>& ) capaciry.'O This pmicular dassificsUon
originates in Avicerina's works. However, although the enurneration of the different faculties appears
to b e similar to the one found in Avicenna. in some places. Suhrawardi reverses the order of some
faculries, e.g.. chat of the imaginative a d the esrimauve faculties (see chapter on the faculty of
imagination)-" This. as will become more apparent later, indicares the greater imponaace chat
SubrawardI attributes to the faculty of active imagination and its distinaive advities within h i own
~
reinterprecation of Aviceruiaa philos ophical anrhropoL ogy.
In addition to the fivefold division of ciie facukies of the soul, the Avicennan tradition
ascribed to these diffeent faalties s p d i c physiological locaions in the brain." Suhrawardi k weii
aware of chis faa. For instance, in some of bis works , Suhrawardi describes ( 1) the C Y I ~ ~ Rs=e
~ O ~

ar a f d r y char is linked witb the front pan of the anferjor &y of the brain; ( 2 ) the passive
imagination as a faculty associaied with the back pazt of the mterior cavity of the brain; (3) tbe
estnativve facolty and (4) the active imaginative as the faculties lodged in the middle cavity of the
brain; and, finally. (5j memoty as the faculty associated with the posterior cavity of the b r m ~ . ~
Fuithenuore, Suhrawardi edds chat sbould the particdar location of any of the inwnal senses be
daaiaged, tbe f u n d o n of the particular intemal sense associaed with tbet part of the brain would
become iaeif deficient." H apparent adoption of the Aviceunan position in t h e e works -esen&
o d y one facet of his division of the b e r faculties.

REJEClON OF DIFFERENT FACULTIES IN A BODILY ORGAN


Suhrawardi adopts a second position. He now ctiticizes Avicenna's fivefold division of the
.
inner senses, characteristicof the Peripatecic mdition. In s o doing he artemptsto go beyond Avicenna's

10
IIityStzY, LI (a)52.1-532; cf. Lam-, 115.7-116.11; cf. P ! ,4 35,29.9-31 3 ( B d ,30-2).
1I
M m g e n d y , howevcr, JLL; is the passive (ce~cntive)imaghaUon, ie., oniy a represmtaRve
faculty,whde 3 1: A s the auive (cornpositive) imagination at tbe savi of estimation
12
a Ansotle it is the h m , ci. Rnhman, A n d T,79 n. for p. 3 1,
This is the G a l d c tradition; f
3; cf. Avinna, M p , N d ,3,328.13-329.17 ( A cyk,3 1); cf. Idem, S M : N&, 44.4-45.16 (@K, 30-1).
13
HiyaZW,11(a)S3+2-3;cf.Lam@&, 115.7-116.11; cf. Aar,g35,29.9-31 3 (Baok,30-2).
system, and to p u m e w h a h e perceived to be the "orientat-illumiaarive" tradition alluded to by
Avicenna. especially in his bgc offheEzsfinem and f l ?l ~b ~
~ ~ g z aSuhrewsrdi's
. ' ~ critique
of somePeripatetic positions is found in his four major doctrinal works,especially Ck'tx1tar/-LVu~~.-e
Jfisdhm.In the later work. he sets out to elaborate his own theory of "orienral-dlumination." '90
achieve hrs goal. he must fir= reject some of the principles of Avicem's Peripateticism. including,
the localization of the different faculties of the soul in particular parts of the body (its organs) and the
fivefold division of the soul.
Suhrawardi directs his cclticism first a the localization of the different faculties of the soul
in rhe brain. a bodily organ. In his presentation of the Peripatetic theses. Suhrawardi generally
foLlows Avicenna. The presentation of the Aviceman tbeses, however, provides him with the
philosophical principles from which his own reinterprecmon t.
Suhrawardi holds that the differem faculties of the soul camot inhere in my maetial body.
In fact, he stares explicitly in a number of passages that it is impossible for farms that are perceived
to b e impressed in either the eye or Qe brain." His refutation of this position may be divided into
four arguments:first, two faculties with two different f d o n s cannot inhere in the same pzut of the
braia; second, m o fundons can be operaed by one and the same faculty; third, the active imagination
cannot b e said to act, but unable to perceive; and finally,the nature of recollecbon cannot involve a
physical organ.

TWO DISTDICT FACULTIES AND FUNCTIONS


Suhrawerdi's first cthicism against the localization of the imer faculties ia a physical organ
is that the Peripatetics have identified two different faculties with two different f u n a o n s and located
them in tbe same part of the brain. Both the estimative and the active imaginative faculties are said to
exist side by side in the middle pmt of the brain? Furthermore, according t o Suhrawardi, others -
according to Qucb &Din d-ShS- (d. 1311). the ~aipareud' - have argued t h human
~ beings

possess an estimative famhy rha judges over particular representations (2;'A ), whereas they

15
Far a debate between two differeat interpretations - diegorical and rnpcrl - of this psrcidar
work, cf. Goichan, terrwide H7aylan Y r g e and Corbin, A r n i r l ~ t~ ~ eIt. n%ztvrirbrvlarir; cf. Anawati.
"Gnose et philosoplue," 291-305.
16
It is more commonly known as the philosophy of " illununation,"e.g., by Ziat, Wdbtidge, and
Amin Razavi
17
&&~JY, 9 220,208.6 (*Q., 196); cf. esp. Idem, @ 225,21 1.1 2-3I*., 199).
18
Av~C~M~, N ~ s1,s14s.3-7
, 3 1); cf. be,
1 15.15-8.
19
(ed. a r b i n ) , 209, a.for Line 7 ( S;CQ, 30611.4).
Q. D. al-Shiriizi, S~J&
posses a fani. of active imagination whose funmon i to analyse ) and t~ compose or
synthesize (6
j ).a He argues that the estimative is itseif the faculty of active imagination which

. .
passes judgmeno analyses and makes synthesises since both judge psrricnlars.i '
Suhrawardi argues by ritduc~oud a6sudum a g h any d i h a i o n baween these two
faculties, established by the Penpatetics. He tries to show that these faalties cannot b e distingushed
from one anothm. since t h e - are located in the same part of the brain. He rejeas the Peripatetics'
&stindon b y objeaing to the independent funaioning of each of the two faculties, observing chat if
the faculty of a d v e imagination is saund. then, there is also someching which passes judgments -
what the Pezipatetics c d rhe estimative faculty. Moreover, it is known that the faculties are necessarily
affeaed by the alteration that affects their s e m . Since both faculties are said CO inhere in the same
part of the brain, both should be affected by any type of alteration of th& common sea. These two
faalties sbould, acmrdmg to their clainu. be located in different places. which is noc the case." But
for Suhrawardi, differeat seats should be atm'buted to different faculties, because if the seats were to
be disturbed, the two faculties would be disturbed. Since both shace the same seat, it would be
absurd to think that only one of the two would be altered , if the sea itself were CO be subjected to
some alteration.
Another agument pmvided by Suhrawardi to rejecr such a localization of the i m e r faculties
in a physical q a n is b s e d on the idea thar two fundons may be operated by one and the same
faculty. Hence, it is not because there are more than one opemion or funaion that there should
aessaily be more chan one facuky? He suggeso thsr the s u n e faculry - but viewed according CO
its (-0) diffetent aspects - muld be responsible for two diffapar ~ ~ e r a t i o nTo
s .demonstrate
~~ this
proposition, he invokes the adivities of the facufty of the c . o os-P whicb, according to the
same people (i.e., the Peripatetics), is a faculty which has the ability to h o w the totality of the
obj e m of the five evternal senses (c=~I
L- ; the Latin se~sa&i#).
but w hich remaiiis one and
unadulterated by the recepuon of the different abstraaed forms th= originate in the senses." In the
same manner, Suhrawardi argues, it is possible to conceive of the operations or activities of the
estimative fsculty as not being opposed to those of the faculty of active imaginaion? in f i a . he

&b&g222.209.7-9
, (Sjyp;197): cf. l k m r # ~ ,F%p* IV,3 , 115.17-9.
tl
ne*,4 22 1,209.9-10 (Sw, 197).
O
&a&,
222,209.10-14 ( 197).
23
Q .D. al-Sh-, 467.1 (SaL&386 n. 6);cf.
Sm- &dmrr~, 9 222,209.13-14 ( S'fi 197).
24
Hhirt, 9 222,209.14-I 6 ( w,
1 97).
2s
-#, # 222,209.16-210.1(M., 197).
C m FOUR - 126

considem the distinct activities of these two different faculties as m a different functioas of one and
the same faculry.n He concludes this passage bg stating that the eschative judgments are not
opposed to the actions of the faculty of active imagination2a
Suhrawardi proposes yet anothtr arguaient against th& Aviceman thesis. There are some -
perhaps. again according to Qutb al-Din ai-Shimi. the ~ a i ~ a u x i c-? who Say that the faculcy of
active imagination a c o but cannor perceive (dJ&).
In the Avicenaan q s e r n . abstracted fonns are
the ob~ects(Avkma's intentions - jL ) of the facul7 of estimation. Moreover.w hen a f o m is

p-esent, a perception must occur and, a fadori. so must some kind of knowledge. F a - SuhrawardI, if
the faculty of active imagination were to act, without perceiving. it would be different from the
faculry of passive unagination. whicfi receives forms, but wbich is not responsible for anaiysng and
synthesizing .
For the Perpatetics. Suhrawardi notes, perception (41JJ !) only occurs through a form, i-e..
in the presence or the actuelkation of the form of the object known by the knowing s u b j e ~ If. ~there
were no f o m s present to the facuicy of active imagination for it to perceive. h e argues. then this
faculty could not perceive. What could it then malyse and composePLFunhamore. if the f o m
were in snocha f d c y - e-g.. the retentive or pasive imaginationz - then how could the faculty of
d v e imagination d y s e and compose the different forms? Consequently. since the facuky of
aaive imagination canaot function and pass judgments without forms, one cannot say that the
faculty of p s sive imagination, the tecipientof the forms ,maybe disturbed while the active imaginative
remains sound.= In 0th- words: the two faalties - the passive and active imrghations - mua
necessarily b e the same and not distinct facuities.

PROBLEM OF RECOLLECTION
Suhrawardi proposes still another argument against the localization of tbe inner faculties in a

a5 -
ICllkmnr, 222.210.4-6 (Sw, 198).
n In the TezpIlw ofL.@t, the cdnunw s a s e is the recipient of fams corning from the five
senses; it inmesses (a&+ ), ia the state of sleep, dreafns but POL h u g h the imaginative fgiilty (& 9
JJ
- I+ ). cf. H a p z z , II (a) 52.1-2 @) 4 8, 87.15-8 (Ar&, 44; fmaJd, 103); cf. P rV , $9 90- 1.
f
77.16-79.12 ( B d , 81-3).
28
?C/rkm&, 222,210.6 (Sw.,198).
ZP
Q. D. alShi-, a Luie 7 ( Sw. 386 note 8).
S+Jsli, 2 10 n. f
O' &ibiy, 223.210.7-8 (wl198).
B%rrar, 4 223.210.9(*., 198).
32
This wouid be t h e imaginaion, cf. Q. D. al-Slrz, Sriv//,468.13 (SC,,
386 n.9).
33
&-!, 223,2lO.lO-ll(*qI 198).
bodily orgao with an interesting discussion on the facultp of recollection. His position is clear: he
rejects the position of the Peripatecics who held chat the "forms apprehended b y the facnlty of
pLSSive imagination &l+( ;A) are prserved (ij3- ) in the faculty of passive imagination. Y

This Laer faculty was traditionally considered as the storehouse for the forms absvaded from the
senses by the h e r faculty of commw ~ r m e . ~
On the contrary , Suhrawardi holds t h a what is recrreved and rernembered is not somethhg
depositad in any corporeal faculty. His notion of recolledion is dependenr an his idea of the rational
soul as the m l - faculcy, and is defmed in r e m s of a govenng raling Light (>A J+ ).= Since.
nothing can escape the reach of t h e ruiing light (the rational soul), then, if what is retrieved were to
be preserved in any corporeal faculry, n o W g cauld pcevent the ruliag light to have access to it by
e x h g some effonn No&@ cm rernain en obstacle for the manifesta~onof Iighr. such that it is
thus absurd t o argue that it is the existence of an obstacle that accounts for forgetmg , i-e.. foc the
inability to have access CO something learned and p r e s w e d in one of rbe onporeal faculries.'
The governing light (jFJ-. J+ ) - the rational soul - aways bas a c s s m those forms,
the rational soul b e h g the principle at the heart of the pmss of recollection. The rationai soul is the
niling light which searches and has access ta wetythhg there is to remembet. because the m o n a l
sou1 is n a . in irpelf, somethutg corporeal 6%& ), and neither me the f o m s ic perceives.39
Suhrawardi strites, against the Peripatetic position, tbac

if these [imaghative] fotnis eKisted in [the passive imaginationl, they would be


present t o [the mling Light], and it would perceive (d*;A ) tbem. is not the
case.] The huma. beLig finds absolutely nothing in himseif thar ara imagine (i;;)
Zayd when [Zayd] is absent. It is only when the human bang feels that someibiag
presents an analogy with Zayd, or [when] he reflects on that which provides him
with a certain correspondence chat bis thought taveis towards [the idea of] Zayd.
[Then] a disposition (JI -1 ) occrirs to him to [be able] to recall ( 8 3 L l ) the

M
liWm..,6 22 1,209.1 ( 196). I t is the storehouse of the caarmm acaxding to the
Perip~tccics,cf. Q. O. a l - S t n n a , Skia-& (ed . Corbin), 209 n. foc Line 1 [*, 386 n. 3).
'' m-, P~YJ,N ,3, 115.13-5and 11521-116.1; cf. A v i c e ~ a ,DE,N 5 ,1,5,44.7-9 (PJY,
30).
36
Ci. with Avicenna's use of the concept of a " conaolling facuby," (gr. H ~ ~ w k a ofn the
)
individuai, cf.HA,'A Decisive Example," 74,78; cf. Waibridge, "Suhrawardi,"528.

39
-&, 8 220,208.8-10( 5 4 ,196). if the fargorten thing was inside of it or in anorher frrcrilty of
the body, th* t h g would have in itseif a p s e n c e and [tbe r u h g Light] would be cansacms of it (6W
form [of Zayd] from the world of mernoriai (fiill $L).And that which experiences
[ t h recollecuon] from die world of memonal is the ruling light J+ (su
) [i e..
the rational S O U I ] . ~
For Suhrawardi , thanks to the incorporealhy of the goveming Light (du- ), no

obstacle prevencs this hght from having access co something which is said to have b e n stoed ui one
of the faculries of tbe body. Remembaing (& ) is no longer linked with in ability to reaccess
deposited forms in any particular phyical orgari. since these famis do not. in faa, exist tn any of
them. Rather, recollectron is a disposition that makes possible the ability to retrieve ( ; a b 1 ) forms
th a aiginate Ui non-seisible realms. Hence. forms ae received from the world of " manorial" (&J Lr
S U 1) (Corbin's term).''
Subrawardi writes that remembering cm only corne from the "mernorial" world where "the .
spheces of the p o w a of the guiding celestid Isfahbsd-Lights [occur] (Ji+Yi L ;1
C . 2 .

Wl + 3 4 , $ l ), becsuse they do not forger a n y ~ h i n ~ . - ' ~one


~ h ewbo perceives has. tbereupon.
a disposition that makes it possible to receive the f o m , eg.,the form of a paticular (e-g.. of Zayd)
as a gift conuiig from the celesrid souls of chat world of "memorial" ( s i l l &JLL ). Moreover. the

mediator betwem that norld of "manorial"and the human faculties is the n i h g light (>A J+) -
the rational soul." For Suhrawardi, then. the act of remembering mnsisa essentiay in bringing back
(&G-l *
) OC reaccessing wha originates at the level of the world of rbe "mernorial.' the world of
the c e l d spheres (tlSiY I $ ~r)."
Suhrawardi's scheme is here definitely Platonic in sprit. Recolleaion is. to a l a g e degree,
the recoL1ectioii of oorne objesrive entities existng in the Ralm of pure abstractionB In some respect.
reminiscence is,thus, ekin to the process of m . m S (Gr.. "ta recall to memory") found in Plato
(and associateci with the Platonic world of Ideas).
Ln another respect, it differs somewhat from the Platonic position. because Plato's t h e a y of
rested on tbe b elief of the pre-exis tence of a soul w hich previously knew ideas, but which
has forgoaen than upon re-entering the body.* The affinities of Suhmwsrdi's position with Piato's

( X ~ J U 8, 221,209.2-6 (S.Q196-7).
4)
.
41
The world of " m e m d " is n a in itself a Qur'Znic expression, cf. Kassis, A 6 o ~ c ~ dtbe
c e
@aral.
4 220.208.10-12 (Sw, 196).
~MZUTI,
4)
~WZW, 221, 209.3-6 (w,
197). In Corbin's uanslaion, "The World of Memaiai is the
R u h g Light."
44
&UZTJ&,224.2 1 1.6-7 ( SirLgV199).
B
9s 94-8.92.3-96.16-
theory of recoliection are best exemplified by a comment of Q u ~ bal-DIn Shu-azi (d. 131 1) on a

It is necesstny to show first that the recollection (&- ) of forg~ten things does aot
consist in the fact that the nihg Light makes them come back (eL-1 ) fmrn the
facuity of memory (;iL-L)which would be the storehouse ( jIj;)of the judgments
of the estimative f-lty (w3 C ~ ). while i i~ substraie (j Y ) would be ilie
poaeior lobe of the brain. foiiowing the d o h e of the Pecpatda (&h ).
Rather. it c&srs in making ic come back (tb-1) from the power of the immacerial
lights of the spheres (+ l ,
,l+Yl chcl 1 that forget nothhg at ait.
fouowing the doctrine of the Uumhationists ( 4 1 +! ), acwd* to what their
leader or,rather. as Plam ( & S I ), the divine leader of al1 ( &$lWfll L).-; ),
has explained: the act of remembering (fi ) is something that cornes from the
celestid aorlds (+Li + I> ) and fmn the Sacreci Souls (-3 u+ ) wbich
know the rotatity of the t h h g s . a e n a l ( + C;). past aod to a>rne.m
Suhrawardi's commentators were not wrong to regard him as having adopted more a Plaonic
conception of reminiscence than an AristoteLian Aviceman position. In bis discussions on recoflection,
Suhrawardi accuad& argues againrr the Avicennrui theory. in order to h r o d u his more Platonic
thewy of reminiscence. Alchough Suhmwardi, in som of his w orks. mentions views simila to those
of the Pef'ipatetics (i-e.,recollection understood as the retriwal of the judgments of the estunative
faculty stored in the faculy of memory), nonetheiess, he rejects this poslcion in the metaphysics of

In this more persona1 work, recollection is defined in distindively P l a b c temts. RecoUedon


is now a process of rarieving data from the wald of the celerial spherer ( 3 9 i Y I ,dlL *). He adds
th& "it is cmceivable that t h a e is a faculty on whicb depends a certain aptitude (d&l) belongidg
to this mminirence (a)."'"
Would tliis imply an intrinsic aptnide linked to a psniculr funaion?
Perhaps not, as Suhrawardi seeks to depart from the Peripatetic theory. It d g h t . on the other hand,
explain why some individudo c m "remanber"more powerfuiiy chan others-*

REJECTION OF THE FIVEFOLD D IVJSION OF THE SOUL


Suhnrwardi,having sought to show the abnirdity of the locafization of the different facuities

6
A position also ~laociatednith Pythagonis, cf. Plaro, Repubbc, 10.610e-61l a; cf. Idem, P M U ,
70c-72e; d. Idem, i c f m .
4)
Q. D.al-Sir%,S&&
cd.Corbin),208 a. for Line 4 ( w,
3385 n. 1).
a3
m s y , 8 224,Zll.6? (a
199).
49
This was mggesteci by Pmf. H. Landolt; but h m would t h s aptitude have been udasrood by
Suhrawd?
CHAPTER FOUR - 130

of the souf in a bodily organ - especially t h e estimaive and the imaginative - given chat one and the
sarne faculty c m be responsible for different operations. argues that the Petipatetics' division of the
intemal senses into five is untenable and mus be rejeaed.'
On a more general note. Suhrawardi believes that d l the inner activities are reducible t o their
luminous pmciple - the rational soul- In his Oneacd-Wuwukm-r-~
EW'brn, Suhrawardi wrtes:
Just like a i i the senses go badc (-*_) to a single sense (LL ). i e.. the con~nofl
seme,ail these [intemal faalties] go back ta a single pow- ( $ ) in the niling
iight (Ar. .+ ) [i.e.. the d o n a l sou11 which [Le.. its power] is [the r u h g Light's]
luminous essence whicb emanates by itself ( W fil i; & J> 4 )-SI

Suhrawardi's staement rnakes it clear that d the interna1 senses are paxt of the soui. The
distinction that he estabiishes between the internal senses and the rational soul is one of inclusion.
Indeed, the rational soul d e s ovec dl iruier faculties. The distinction he estabLishes between the
single faculty of represenuaion and the rational sou1 is , however, not as clear. On the one hand. this
single facnlty of representation is, dong with the a i i e r f d t i e s of comnrm sewe and memory. a
part of the immaterial soul.
This is. in f a a . a misleadhg e q u d o n preasely because the soul's luminous and emaniriog
substance - ae the d o n a l level - is immaterial. There are, in faa.two kinds of reductions. The first
type of reduaion is that of the facuhies responsible for representarion. They are redud to a single
facuity of representarion. The latte faculry of r e p r e s e d o n preserves its m a d charader.
The second type of reduction is that of all pemeption to a single "power," i.e.. the soul
itself -=AS such, the single faculry of repesenrellon is but a 'shadowwof the d o n a l p ~ c i p l -
e i .es.
the soul. This is best exemplified with Suhrawardi'ssatement that ail these faculties are but shadows
of the riil* .
b h t of the soul. i.e the Isfahbad-Light (-i e I J+J l jL -A).=
Suhrawardi's single faculty incorporatesthe various aaivities that w ere identified by Avicenna
as the aaivities of specific h n e r faculries. Suhrawadi assercs that "the w t h is that these thme
[faculries] are one and the same th@, and one and the same faculty thau we interprei accordhg to
three different mepllngs."n According t o Qu* al-Din al-&hW-,these faculties s~ the faculties of
passive imagination, enimarion, and active imaginatbzS

!i2
This if peraps not withaut some relation with Ab al-Baralcat al-Baghdid' s mty of the soul's
actions,cf.Ab3 al-SYalrat, ilLMu %rairr~Yr/-Hrkm;1l,
3 17.24-3l92O; cf. ai-Kheldi, 'Psycholope," 604.
Thus, Suhmwardi reduces the three Avicennan faalties associatecl with the imaginative
p-ocess - the (retentive) passive. estimaion. and the (oompositive) active - to one faculty. T u this
single faculty of representauon, he ascribes the three d i h a functions that were traditionally attribu~cd
to chese faculties. Suhrawardi unifies the v&ous functions responsible for and involved in the
manipulation of sensible and a b m a images and f o m s and proposes a single and unique creative
imaginaion with various functio~sid
Suhrawardi proposes a concepon of the son1 in terms of ics inrrinnc unity. Snch a unit)-
mun: be auributed to the soul on accotmt of the niling power whch the rationai sou1 possesses over
al1 the activrties of representation. His tejeaion of the Aviceman division of the sou1 into a number
of b e r faculties (now the three huer faculties related to representation are one), howwer, does not
do away with the different ectivities traditiondiy atalbuted to the Avicennan h e r faculties. The
specialisdon of the soul's diffsent aaivities implicidy maintains the prwious division of the inner
faculties, even if only in terms of their activities. The human soul is n m contituted of the ~~oa
a aipartite faculty , and the faculty of m e m q
sed~;~,
It is, however. noteworrhy that the faculty of memory,the storehouse of the judgments of the
e s t h a i v e faculty ia Avicenna. and of the fa* of active imagination in Snhnrwardi (see seaion
on the faculty of imagination) is treated separately. Ies function, acwrding to the Peripacetics, 1s no
less important than tha of the faculty of passive imagination. the storehouse of the sensible forms
hstracted by the commod seme In the works of Avicenni. the faculty of memory certainly
occupied a c e n d mle. dong with the estimative facul*'
For Suhnrwtwli, since recoiiection no longer consists in retrieving deposited forms in t h e
faculties of passive and active imagination, the whole purpose for the existence of the faailty of
memorg is undermined. This becmmes patticularly true of knowledge acquired from non-sensible
reahs. With regards to what has just previously been mentioned about the problem of recolIection,
it may be argueci that, in his h e r "illuminative" works , namely the Oniw&-Hum&&-t~ CV&dom.
SubrawardT rejects the specific cbamcteristics - in its Peripatetic sense - of the faculty of memory
and that, in fact,he eliminates it as a facolty which presemes forms in a bodily ocgan.

55
Q. D. al-Sh- considas tbem to be the passive [representa&ve)imagination, the e s i v e and
rbe active (wmpositive)irnrginaaon,d. Q. D. al-SbriM, (cd. Cortrin),210 n. h e 12 (*., 386 n. IO),
CF. Goidion, M m r , 322 n2.
%
If Y diffemnt front the rcasonning capptnlay of Descartes, cf.Jambet's intro. in,S+~?SJI~,
27.
The last facufty chat remains t o be discussed is the coamoa s m e . It may be argued chat
Suhrawardi artempted to e l h i n a t e this faculty, especially in the (Peripatetic) sense of ihering in a
pouticulat physical organ. For S u h r a w d i . the function of the conmon seme is to manipulate the
distinct and varied forms chat it receives from the senses. in some passsges of his O I I ~ P ~ U / - U I U ~ O ~ F P
WEsdom.he is damant that forms - whether visuai (hlAl
-* ) or imqinarive (&JL& i- )-

ap not imprimed ( i :L: - . ) anywhere. e.g.. in the conuoa smre or any o t h a fanilty." These
sensible forms are bodily (i.e., citadels. just like the bodies are for souls) w h c h are linked or
suspendeci - in the soul - aithout possessing a place of inherenoe (-
4+J 6
& -4.s ).

T h d o r e , these forms have distinguishable manifestations without being in those places of


manifestation ( & J3 9 l+i & Y ) -They could not. therefore. be located in an

agan. as the Peripatetics hold. This rnay even be m e r with respect to such passages as mentioned
above where he stares tha ail the inner f a d t i e s are derived from the Luminous substance of the soul.

For Suhrawarh , the collzmon seme can become some kind of recipienr of these inunarerial
foniis. similar to a m i m that ~ f l e a imagesb'
s T o receive these immaterial forms. it cherefore
somehow needs to be completely dissociated from any type of materiaiity. The pmblems associated
with the sensible representaions of the forms themselves t h a are to be contaiaed in this faailty, e.g..
visual representaions, are, however, aot really dealt wit. Furtbermore, the -oasaw becornes
the receptacle of both the sensible forms and the iinsginative fms tha~the soul receives from the
metaphysical world , i.e., at the level of the w orld of "mernorial,"the world of the lestiai spheres.
Likewise, the abiliv of the c-oosmse to become such a recepmcie.

A TENEBROUS FACULTY AND THE RULING LIGHT


Suhrawardi's single faculty responsible for representation is, in fact, "other" than the niiing
light - the nuional soul, Its existence is concomitant ( u - 9 )to the existence of the fsfabbad-light
- 0 - 0

1-( #
b),
the raional soul that niles a d gowrirs the body."

Suhrawsrdi desa-ibes this faculty possessed by human beings as being "cenebrous" ( i ~ j a).
It is, therefore. characterized by its deficiency or lack of Light. Moreover, its "tenebrous" nature is
quite oddly explahed by the fact that it is irnpiired (L L; 9 a ) in a btmmW
-.-
(t>A)." In the works
4-

9)
Hzjtin#t3 225,2l I.l3-212.l (S~G,
, 199).
8 225,212.1-2 ( a199).
~ ~
60

61
Hrkm*, 3 226,213.1-2 (.S& 200); cf. Idem, 8 227,234.1-3 ( w215).
,
62
fMmiu, 224,211.34 (-6p, 199).
63
Hrk-mat, 8 224,2 11.4-5 ( a,,
199).
of Suhrawardi. the terrn -
6 expresses either matter or the intermediq- world. Ln the particular
conteKt of the above statement. bt&cruri%i coresponds to some sort of corporealil). or matter. 1.e.. the
physical body.
Tenebrous faculties aie opposed to the luminosity of imrnaterial substances. e.g., the human
rational soul. In fact ,for Suhrawardi, this "tenebrous" faculty denies the exrstence of the imrnaterid
lights
-;.( J s j i ) and recognizes (d-) only sensible r d t i e s ( 0 ~ ~ He
-goes so far

as to say rhat sometimes it even deaies meif. The affimties this faculty shares with matter a e thus
amsiderable and, due to its "tenebrous" nature, it is denied access to these loftier realms. This
faculty mnst, therefore, be quite distinct from the naional soul - although part of it. It somehow lies
becween a s m e of mataiaiity and one of immateriality.

Understood in sudi manne. employing the concept of b d or matter to describe this


faculty of the sou1 only compIicare mauers. It may echo the original Peripaetic stand from which
~ any case. this is not how he is iatecpreted by Qiqb al-Din
Suhrawardi uies to dissociate h i m ~ e l t 'In
al-Shrzl who comments on S u h r a w d i ' s exposition of the Petipatetic theses. Qu* al-Dn al-Shi--
acknowledges that the activities of the three different faculties of the soul have their seat in the b&
- thus, inadvertentiy rev- to the Aviceanan ~ c h e r n e . ~
The question thac ultimately needs ta be answemd is, Where does Suhraward actually locate
the for- at tbe heart of represenuscion and the basis of human knowlecige? The experience of forms

defined as separated from any corporeal nantre would somehow require an independent universe
capable of ladging them.
Qutb al-DZn al-Shiaz, SMcommeliting on the passage about the forms not being in the eye
or the btain, notes that the imagiative forms do not e u t in the brain, do not exist in empiricai
reelity ) and yet are not pure non-existence (G
LU ). This Cr because if they were pure
non-existence, an individual representation (zJ>-) of the fotms would not be possible, the forms
could not be distinguished (;j-
j-
;
-
A ) from one anocher, and t h q could not be the subject of ddferent

judgments (?LI).67
Imaginetive fams have a real existence ), but not in the brain, nor in the e x e n a l

reality. They cannot be in the w a l d of the intelligences (J&l +Cr ) - because they ranUti

6ii
&ifmu,
224,Zt t.5-6(*.I 199).
6S The contact suggesrs that this m e r h l unagination is the rebcllious a d erro-pmne imaginmon,
tpcsiEicay identified as behg die estimative facuhy (see seaon on the facuity of unagination).
66
Q. D. ai-Shina, S h d (ed.Corbin), 21 1 n. falines 5 and 13 (+, 386 n. 11 and 13).
61
Q. D. ai-Shki5, .!SPar@ (ed. Corbin), 21 1 n. for 1. 13-212.20 (Sr_q.,387 n.1).
corporeal and non-intelligible f o m s +C d ~L;L f c-
J
*- Itjg ). It is,therefore. necessary
that they should subsis sornewhere else. In his comrnenrary. Qu@ al-Din al-Shiriizl clearly identifies
this Uiteraiediary world as the place where di these forms have an existence (see section on
eschatholog).).
IcJCl I $ W I
This is what Suhrawardi c d s the "imagiaal"world (yJel3 ). It is an
intarnediary world that d s t s berneen the sensible world and the world of intelligences ( kLY-
-&JI= 1 *&~c ) . In the cootext af Suhrawardi' s discussions about the inner senses. this
intermediary world corresponds to an intermediary level of abstraction (- + ), iderior to the level
of pure abstraction characteristic of the world of inteiiigences but above t h e world of the senses. It is
in rbis intmnediary world thsr the totaLity of figures (J ~ i f)o m.s -,( ). extensions (*AL
),
bodies (?+i ). aud di rhac is assotiated with them (sucb as moriom (o(sP)
and reposes (a&)

positions (tt;,9i ) and configurations ( u l+ ), etc ) WU uike place. In this imaginai wodd of
r e p r e s ~ t a t i o n , a l l t h i n g s ~ b s i s t b y t h e m s e l v e s ( ~ l ~ & + C i )withouthavinganylinktosuch
thiags as a place or a subsvare (w&).W

Yet how is such a faculty of representation to be defined? The nature of the relationship chat
exists between the different functions of tbis f d y and the rational soul - Le., the Isfahbad-light -
cornplicares mattes. The Isfahbad-iight is not spatial and does aot possess any dimensions. These
becorne, however. characteristics of the f o m s manipulated by ais sole f a m l y of representrtion.
Furthermore, the existence of these forrns in another world seems to preclude their acces b y human
beings.
The Isfahbad-iight, howevet-, d s o rutes over the body and is obeyed by the "tenebrous"
of whch the body is coastituted." The different functiom of this single facuky of
elemenis ( o a )
representation, therefwe, somehow participate in maeriality through tbeir "tenebrous" nature. As
such. they msy evai oppose the "ruling light.""

A few problems have so fat=been raised: the number of the faculties, the localization in a
particular ocgan of the inner faculties, and the "cenebrous" nature of these inner senses. AU these
probleais originate with Suhrawatdi's attempt to redefine the nature and the relaionships of the five
Avicennan interna1 faculties. Suhrao~ardi's stance regarding the nature of the faailties of the soul are
Avicennan interna1 faculties. Suhrawrirdi's stance regarding the nature of the faculties of the soul are
explicable in the light of his own conception of knowledge.
The classical Peripatetk theory of knowledge, based on the hylomorphism of dassical Greek

physics (Aristotle), consisted essentially in an absuricting pracess - by w ay of the forms, SuhrawardT,


however. departs from this traditional hylornorphc conception of the world. g e n d y adopted by
Le Paipatetia (see section on the ruling light - the ~sfahbad-light)?
For Suhrawardi, since the f u n d a m e d principle of ail things is Light, forms no longer need
to b e imprinted in a bodily organ." On the contmry, they are now attached m bodies. somehow
suspended, on account of dieir existence in the imaginai world. They have places of inherence or
manifestations. but they are not in these places of manifestation. having absolutely no s u b ~ t n r e - ~ *
me knowledge of iinmatmial forms cari, therefore, oniy be achiwed through a d d contact wirh
non-sensible realm. This is the "presential" type of knowledge so charactaistic of Suhrawardi's
"illuminative"phiiosophy. Knowledge that had previously been conceived in rems of b 0th abstraction

and perception, in h e Peripateric sysreni , is now conceived in Suhrawardi's system in t e r n i s of direct

perception (see seaion of inteiiection and prophetology). Abstraction of focms is n a mjected ourright,
but it definitively no longer guarantees the acquisition of true knowledge.
The e m p h d on the activiries of direct perception becomes essential f a Suhiawardi and
allows him to offer an account of indivichial and personal knowledge of rnetaphysical p ~ c i p l e s ,
tmtfis, and malities. Furthetmore, this redefinition of the relation of the different facultres of the soul

with the body helps h h to refamulate his theory of mystical perception, a more immedate type of
knowledge char does not operate with forms. He defhes this particular conception of knowledge ri a
"knowledge by presence" &
-, +). ''
Suhrawardi's stance on t h e nature of the faculties responsible for represenration may also be
aplained hL e Light of Avicema's w o r k ~The
. ~ Faculties of the sou1 are ofken d i d n g u i h e d from
one aaather only insofar as these distinctions can help him identify the differen~f u n d o n s - accordhg
to their respeaive obje- - of the soul. Moreover, some have argued that Avicenna's conception of

h&~~ar. $6 72-90,74.13-90.4.
73
LUzzwt, 4 220 ,208.6 196).
74
U i b t , 4 225,211.13-212.3(as,
199).
1
'5
TId~@ii;r,$ 61, 90.8-9 and [dera. 5 55,74.3-6; does not seem to be menhoned in the hUmS;
h o w m , it is meitiane ecplicitdy by Q. D. al-ShrS, S&@ (cd. Cabin), 150 n.fa line 9 G;i I$JI +
and 215 n. for iine 4 (j i $1 6 ) (S<q;.3 2 k . 3 and 38%. 1 1. respective&). Cf.Ha'iri
+,c
Yazdi, ~ h ~ c ~ d ~ ~ o f ~ .
76
Verbeke, "Sciencede leimeet perceprion semble,"34-48.
knowledge is not as Aristotelian as it appears at first glance, On the conttary. in some important parts
.
of bis works. e.g in the logicd works. the thnisr of his philosophicai discussions is more Neoplatonic,
ta the extent that an "iiiumharive" conception of kaowledge is detectable (see section on intellection).

For instance, H d disaisses Avicemaesdoarine of the soul b y focusing on some specific


issues Like the ensoulment of the human embryo and the question of the ernpircai b&s of knowledge
- both closely linked with Avicenna's theory of individual m o r a l i r y He shows how Avicema,
w N e htending to preserve an AtrstoteLiau epistemology, acnially proposes his own version of what
may b e labelied ai "illuminative" theoryVmIt is "iiiuminative" inarmuch as the aimon of m e
knowledge originates from non-sensible realms or 'from withour." the Aristotelian ( auus &uf~tia),
Le., mediated through the manation from the seprirrite active intelligence (the last intelligence). The
active intelligence is responsible for the introduction of a rational soul in the human embryo in the
form of a potentiai intellect (which infarms the human namre with a potential ta think) and responsible
for the rteiilment of an aquired intellect by human beiags (which maices the ntional soul t h i ~ i k ) . ~
In short, Avicenna's theory of knowledge already exhibited feaures that indicate a shifr
awayfrom Atistotelian ernphicisrn and towarrls a new petsonal conception of knowledge. A v i c e ~ as'
non-Aristotelian account of the acquisition of knowledge presents an " illuminative" knowledge
mediated by cornplex mentai entities (jobjects ofthe estimative faculq. rarher than howledge
Lu).

. ~ readuig of A v i c e ~ a ' sepinemology asmbes a


remlting from the absaaaian of tbe s e n ~ i b l e sThis
reaiity to iritelledon resulting from illulnination which proceeds downward from the separate active
Suhrawardi's
inteiligence (the Iast intelligence) onto the level of the human aquiced i n r e ~ l e a . ~ '
efforts must b e understood as a genuine mempt to elaborate an "illuminative" system that was,
however, present in Avicenna's epistemology.
Suhrawardi bas aiticized A v i c e ~ as'conception of the faculries of the sou1 with the i n d o n
to underline the soul's fundamental unity. The faculties of the soul, inamiuch as they are located in a
bodily organ, or am distinguished from one another, are seen as jeopardizhg this fundamental unity,
whch is necessazy for the perception of abstraa entities originating from the metaphpical realm.
Fucthermore, Suhmwacdi's rejection of the locahzation of the soul's faalties in a bodily organ is

7)
H i l l , " A Declsiw Example," 47-84.
78
Hail, "A Decisive Example," 7 7 . 8 1 , a . Bu&not Of the Safi or Plotinian type, cf. Idem, 8 1.
79
Hd,"A Deasive Example," 72.
(D
Avicenna *produd a non-=an actount of the acquiation of kaowlalpe," d. Hall. 'A
Decisve Example," 82-3.
01
Verbekc, 'Le a D e Anirnaw d'Avicenne," 1-73.
required by his own t h e v of knowledge (to which we wdi recurn). It might even be suggested chat
Suhrawardi actualiy perceived the Neoplatonic fabric of Avicenna's though t and pursued his andpis
dong those Lines, beyond his master's positions.
PERCEPTION

VISUAL (SENSIBLE) PERCWTiON


Ln the works of Suhrawardi, the most important sense is sight and im corollary. vision.
Whether sensible, intellecuve or mystical. vision is at the h e m of his philosophy. Suhrawardi's
discussions regardmg visuai (sensible) perception ( ) are interesting for severai reasons. First, it
allows us rn evaluate (by comparisoa) his degree of faithfulness to the Peripateticpositions. especiaiiy
those of Avicema. Second, it aiiows us to assess Subrawardi's effort ta go beyond the classical
theones of vision in order ro daborate his own mysicaiiy compatible theory, espeaaily in view of
the fsct that bis dieory of vision has ramifications in the metaphysicd sphere.
The foowing discussion W U hghlight the positions which Suhrawardi adopts or rejeas
regardhg the Peripatetic themes of visual perception in his effurt to intmduce some " illuminative"
principks. These priaciples constitute the foundations of his new pbilosophy of orientai-illuminative
wisdom. More impoctantly, howwer, is the fact tbar many of Suhrawardi's discussions regarding
vision, e-g., in the Fl&= ofL&hf aad in the fimt part of the CQISbm ,
&~W-~ulZLtaltrtrw

reproduce A v i c e ~ a ' sobjections (from his S ~ C - W and I Book of2kimccr)to the traditional
I ~ Lthe
theses. Most of the theories of vision reftlted by Avicema are, t h e d o r e , refuted by Suhtmvardi.

THE " EXTRAMISSIVE" THEORY OF THE LiGHT RAYS


The f i the- of visual psception Subtawardi rejects is tbe "extramissive" theory, which
holds rhat lumiaous rays served as a n intermedinry between the observer and the observed object.
The luminoos rays emerge from the eye and tben pmceed to join or unite with the sensible objects,
tbe objea of visual sense. Although Suhrawardi does not mention anyone who held chis position,in
AWcenna's Bwkaf.S&aw, we l e m that &is theory was attributed to the Anciexus who precreded
~nstotle.'A I - F m , in his book on the Hkmuq atnrea tb*. quu'om u f P f ~d
oA n j + i M e .
aetributes it to ~lato.'

Avicenna, DGzzi-a,&y, 87.3-5 ( L i w e , II, 58); c. lanaau, "Le D&&-mim& d'Ibn Snk un
teme mit?" 163-177. He discosseci vision in a number of other worb such as d-M@ (a sommary of the
;u/-Sbfi' ), Mu;4rU"Sd-Nds (an =lier w ak), and tbe ir/-QdxZnfi&- n86.
This was the " actramisswe" theory adopted by mathemacicians and geometers . essentiaiiy
Eudid (450-374 B.C.) m d Ptolemy (fl. m 150 AD.].who befieved that the eye eraiue a ray or a
force, in the shape of a cone. directecl toward the object. and that this ray seized the image of 3 e
abjeu and communicared ir to the visuai sense.j
Avlcema had dreadg pravided arguments to refute rhe "extramissive" rheses and trgued. on
the one hand, against the matfiematicians and the geometers that "these remarks [about the
"excrantissive" theory] are absurd; what eye could contain so many light rays [which cad] extend to
half the world, from the sky to the eath?"4
.
Avicenna argued on the other hand,against the physicians. probably Gden ( 1 30-200-4.D -).
that "if air were co become endowed with vision by unitlg with this ray [CO* out of the eye],
then, w hen people gather in crowds, th ey would give air a much greater ability of vision; therefoce,
someone wkh a weak vision,would see much be-r in the wmpany of bis friends than if he were
alone." Avicema adds, "but, if air doesn't possess a seeing capabiity, and only translnits to the ray
[from the eye] the image of the seen objea. then. what would be the role of the ray coming out [of
the eye]?"'
Physicisns like Galen had adopted an "extramissive" theoy of the ljght rays. They conceived
of i"visuh spirit" aiginaruig in the bnrin *hi& traveied througb the optic nerve and emerged from
the eye for a short distance, to transfocm the surroundlg air. in the pmcess. the surroundhg air
became iaelf an extension of the opic n a v e and an instrument of the humm S O U L ~The sumunding
air now became a paceiving medium, perceiving the objea with which it is in contact. I t then
retransmits its perception to the eye through the i n t e r m e d e of the u.ansformed air, and retraces its
seps back to the soul. Hence, for Gden. the medium - air - becomes omehow tbe instniment of

98- 115, the


Hiu;mafi naes]. The translation is based on D ~ d a ' edition
s of tbe fi- &-Am '&mm R*.'y;ty
ir/-&?&hpz An2i@t n(-Va-mj An*:-, pp. 1-33 of the 1890 edition (aud ir is cdrnpared w ith Fawzi
Najair's yet unpubiished editian, Le., in 1989),esp. 13- 16; cf. Plato, TUaeas,45bd and 67c-6&. On Plam and
Euclid agiMIt Galen and Aristotie, cf. Rosenthal, "Onthe Knowkdge of Plam's Philosophy," 4 12416.
3
Euciid belzeved tbat the visual cone consisted of a discrue ray, s e p a d by space, whie Ptdemy
c o n s i k d it to be a s a t of conrimium. cf. Linberg, "The Science of Optics," 338-68 [rep-d in Idem,
Svd!ks& &ie Iu;rtzyyofhfe&~.dOpks, 340,363 n5].
DxZmi3. Phfi 87.6-7 ( Li~rr,
II, 58).
5
BWb, Phy?88.3-7( fiwe,I l , 58).
cf.~ o a d n, e -
B rr&;Dn- 7z-eM Z - ~ W of tjllcmc F M nearyAC&-
& NrmayaB,Ik5aq. In the medicd aadition,the concept which is pevaient is the idea of a Luminous soul,cf.
the tm of Hunayn b . IshZq in the translation of M. Meyerbof. m e Boat af rr)e Tm Tidb;#r ua ae c i
(Cairo, 1938), 984.; quated in Rashed, "Le" Discoors de la Lumi&eWd'Ibn al-Hayebun," 197-224; reprrnted
in Idem, q p P i g u e c f r n ~ c i ~ ~ zV,
~2 n , n2.
r 14
both the eye and the soul, in such a w ay that the observer becames a c t i ~ e . ~
Suhrswardi. sening out ta refute the "exttaniissive" theor)-.d o s not mention the physicians.
However.this does not prevent him from usiog some of Avicenna's aguinen6 in bis own refutation
of the enrission of a Light ni). conceived as a body. His cefuration of the "extramissive" theocy is
twofold. F h t , he sets our to demonmate tha the light beam or ray (&& ) cannot be an acudenr

and second, that it cannot be a body. First, Suhrawardi asks how could a l u d o u s beam travel and
be moved fmm one place to aaaher if it were an accident (&>).' Moreover. an accident cauld no:
be emiaed from the eye. nor cauld it meet the objecr3 Suhrawardi's refutaion repmduces a series of
arguments dready put forw ard by Avicama.
Neither Suhrawardi nor Avicenna, howwer, elaborate further on the reasons why it could
not be so. It was probably considemi self-evidem. A corporeal accidenr cannot move uidependently
of the body. SuhrawardI aiight have had in mind a passage in the works of Avicenna where the latter
mentions that the beam of Light could o d y b e conceived as an accident figumively. Le., in terms of a
oenain uaiity (w) emitted Iran the eye u i d not a real accident." adding that the lumrnous b eua
should b e s<mnger in the case of someone whose vinon is stronger." This kitaspect pertaining to
the light ray as an accident is not. on the whole, adequaly discussed by Suhtawardi.
Suhwardi gives mare attention to the second aspect that pgtriins to the corporeality of the
luminous baim. If one supposes that the luminous beam is a body (-), then its movement bas to
be either naeurat or not. First, in the former case, the movement of the LurPUzoas beam would only
u k e place in one directionU If it were not .&li but volunray, then one would have to be able to
r e a it in a d e r to direct it in te direction of another o b j e ~ t . 'Ir~ would. tbeefore, b e impossible to
look at two tbings snultaneously. Sewnd, the penetration of the luminous beam - as a body -
through a colored liquid would be better than through a transparent glassy substance, while its
p e n d o n through porcelain would be beaer than thtough glass. since the former has g r e a .

Lindberg. "The S a m of O p c s , " 340-1; cf. Idem. 72emrrof L%rizn, chap. 1, 3 . 8 : cf. also the
work of Siegel (a pbysiaan) on Gaien's theory of vision, cf. Siegel, CiiJcp an .!Cmse P ! u P .
HI%nil', 6 101, 99.16; cf. M , N ,4 34, 28.16 (B'k, 30); cf. Avicennri, BEukb. Ph/, 89.1
II,59).
(&-ml

11
Avicenna, N d ! ,2,326.7-8 ( A&., 29).
12
Lam&@, Ph?,IV, 2,114.18; cf. -J#, $ 1O 1, 99.18; dAvicenna, N i a , N&, 2,325.8-12
( Ank,28).
13
ka@, P&T, W . 2, 114-18-9; cf. HUznat, 9 101, 99.15-6; cf. Aviccnna, NilpP, Nd, 2,
325-6-12 ( A m k ,28).
pornsity.14 Third,the vision of objets would vary accoring to their proximity or their remoteness;
remote and closer celestial bodies could not be observed at the same b e ; 1 5 moreova. seeing them
would Vary accordhg to the existence or absence of winds respoasible for the deviation of th-s body
from the course of this lurninous beam." Fourth, the canopy of heeven. where the different celestid
spberes are situateci, would have to be somehow tom asunder in order to Let this Luminous beam
through.17 A n d finay. this luminous body would have to disperse itself aii over the world and up to
the celestial s p h w s . ''
Suhrtrwardi's arguments refuting the corpoceality of the luminous beam are quite similar to
Avicearia's thac are found in his D & Y ~ W C ~The
. ' ~argument based on the porosity of objects
mencioncd by Suhrawardi is, how ever. absent from Avcenna's Sdr.zmon and his Book of
; whereas Suhrawardl omits another p m of the argument againt the physicians' thesis on physical

grounds.a

THE " INTROMISSIVE"THEORY OF THE FORMS OF OBJECTS


The "intromissive"theory of vision is the second theory tha was usoaily held by Aromists
like Epicunis (ca 342-271 B.C.) m d Lucretius (ca. 99-55B.C), for whom the image (edoloa)was
conceiveci as a coherent assembly, or a convoy, of atoms capable of comrnunicachg to the observer
dl the qualities of the object from wbicb thq. originated. Hence, the reception of these images was
respomible for the Wual impression of &e object itself in the eye of the viewer." A i - F a a b i
avibuted the "inaomissiventeory to Ariaode ("an affection of the eye")?
This is also the Aviceunan position, e.g., in ce D&-~-eycl~cewhere Avicenna states that
"[vision] musc, therefore, be due to something coming mwards us fmm the semed abjeu; since this

14
fr53zmU1 8 lOl,99.l6-100.2; cf. 8 34,29.4-6(Book,
Pm-, 3C));but absent h m the h W .

17
h+, Ph/,IV,2 , 11421-115.2;cf. m, 8 101,100-3-5;cf. M , IV,8 34,29.2-3(Bmk
, 30). For Avicenaa's first argument, cf. Ancenna, N i , H s ,2,324.7-11 (An* 28).
18
&a@&, Phpi, N, 2 , 11421-115.1;cf. H . u ,9 LOI, 100.34;d P m - .TV, 8 34.29.1-2 (Book
,W.
19
For Aviceana's second argument,cf. Avlnna, Ah.@, MS,2,324.12-5{A ni=,28).
Amnnga otber things, it w d d be abnird to chinic of w h s : emerges, as sameching which uaica
with the air and with the heaveas, because tbey wouid chen possess sensation having became, ihemselves, the
argan ad sigbt, cf. Amceana. +, M s ,2,324.16-3252 ( A n k ,28).
21
LUidberg, 'The Science of Optics,"340.
z? al-F*-, L ~ o m , 73; e cf. Aristotle, D e AmiPa, 11, 7,418a2Sff. and Idem, D e -su e+
s c . ~ , t C iU,
, 436b 18ff in the hmani;llvr&A.
is not the body of the object. it musr b e its f ~ r m . ~ "
In his R<m at'h&h~,
Suhraward, too, aaribute this "intmrnissive" theory to .4ktotle. In
f a a , he appears to accept the theov of the reception of the image and its imprint in the v i ~ o u s
s u b ~ t a n c e .in
~ his MemW-U!u&ir-~ WSdom , however. Suhrawmdi s e e m to reject the
"intromissive" theory he discussed in such w orks as the R v &h&hl.
In che On&rd-Idu&mFe WLj.dom,Suhrawardi discusses the counterquments levelied
against the 'inuomissive'' theory. Le.. "the imprinting ( & e l ) of the form of the object in the
vitmous substance (+ &+, )."" AgaiaP this ANtotelim position.some have argued that the
,
size ( 1 AL) of the form of chat whkh is perceived cannot find a place in the organ of vrsion. Some

have replied to this objection that the vitreous substan, Likeother bodies, can be divided indefinitely,
e-g.,the form of the perceived objea, permiWng the occurrence of the latter in the former. However,
chia is unsound, because no mener how they are divided, the proportion itseff of the size of the o b j e a
and afthat in wbich it is impressed does not change - the big (i-e,. the form of the mountain) haWng
to b e impressed in the s m d (i-e.. the eye).=

Other thinkers have staced that t&e sou1 itself infers from tbe objects of p ~ e p t i o nforms that
are smaller chan the a
& size of wbat is perceived. SubrawardI n o t e that this is again unsound,
because tbe vision (L;j J) of something large occurs as direct contemplation ( 0 - L L ) of the forms
of objects and not through inference (JJ~3url).
0th- still d o w tbat the two different sizes ( ,I- ) inhere in one maaec, Le.. the vitreous
substance. These are the sma size of the f m found in the vitreous substance and another bigger
form. the replica of a reduced size of the paceived object - its image (J L).
The counteratgurnent that Suhrawardi proposes appeds to the Uogical conclusions to which
the understanding of size rnay lead in a material sense. Absent from A v i c e ~ a it
, may well be his
own argument The different parts that constitute the extension (JIL I ) of the fwni m o t be mixed
in one place, otherwise the vision of proportions (- 91 b u L L ) would not be possible, i.e., we
would not b e able to distinguish big from smail. Hence, if a the parts of the form found n the
vitreaus substance q u a 1 the size of ail the parfs of the extended form (ZJI Jr.l a J- ) (e-g.,

23
Avicmma, A&@, NdJ,2,326.16-327.2( A WC,29);cf.Rabman, A n;clauws, 76 n. f a p. 27, Line
23.
24
4 34.29.6-8 ( Bmk, 30).
25 -
,- 102.100.6-7.
belonging to a rnountain). one could not conceive of its real size. Moreover, rf the size of the
extendeci form (ofthe mountain) were to be grearer in size than the size of the vitreous substance, the
iacreased pans of the former wouid so exceed the Limin of the lacter. chat it could not be seen as it
reaify is and it muld not be in a substratum ) Suhmwardi aates that it would be impossible
chat the true extension of the object be found in the eye. If the eye could possess it, in addition to the
pens - the stoms - of the objca. then the o<gm of vision could not amtain a i l these parts? He

concludes chat he who analyses this issue with objectiviy wiii have to recogmze the diffiailty of
of a form ( e l L-l ) in the eye3
holding the 'iriuomissiven theory. Le., the *'impniiring"
The important point of Suhrawardi's agunient against the notion of "impinting"(&+l )

that the "intromissive" theory impiies is that vision cannot be material at dl. The refutation in the
@mfdz/-~Xu&z2-~ C?'Isdom may indeed amount to a refutation of Avicema's Aristotelianism. In

this work, Suhrasvardi reduces AWcenna's theory to a kind of materialism - essentially what he is
codrontuig. Ir is nocewocthy tbat Suhrawardi's deplction of the Aristocelian theocy of vision as
matenalist had akeady beenpresented by al-Fh-bi as aPlaronistcountenagurnent- i.e,that Aristotle's
notion of affection" implied an impression, a change and an alteration, either of the organ of sight
"

or in the air. the ~ a n s p a ~body.g


nt

.
Suhrawardi's argument is based on the rejection of another theory one which conceives the
luminous beam as co10r.'~ What is et srake is the nature of light. This developmeni is found ag& in
the Onafd-APL+*shhw J?'IMom,w here Suhraward departs from Avicenna' s positions .InAWcenna' s
vision of objects does not amount solely to light faliing on a colored object Vision is. in
Sd~zznbn,
fact, the ~iesultof the r e f l d o n of light on the object, accounting for the transmission of color. The
latter gives irs color to uiorher body - air.=
IL is difficult to identify the individuais to whom Suhrawardi refers when h e mentions the
group of people wha conceived of iight in ternis of colw. In the H h m q y bt.nftwn &e O p a m of
P?#o & A n a d e , ai-Farabi for one mentions an argument of the partisans of Aristotle who held
tbat it is air (the diaphanous body) in a a that carries the color of the abject seen to the eye. Colors
musc be ttansmitted to the eye in order that t h 7 may be perceived. Otherwise everything far would
be perceived only after the nearer objects have been perived, bot, in fact, both are petceived

fi-I, 3 103,1012-101.11
29
*&UT, 9 103,101.11-12
30
ai-FiHbi, L &mnami?,74-75.
31
Hz*&, 4 100.98.1 -99.11.
32
Avicenna, NiqZC, N d x . 2,323.17-324.1 (A mir., 27).
simultaneous~~.~
It is the notion of color defined in terais of light that Suhrawardi auempts to &te. Qutb

al-Din al-Shrazi. however. is here of Iiule help H e only mentions tha th& latter opinion belonged CO
the Peripatetio or the h c i e n t s Y It has been suggested that the people to whom Suhrawardi cefers
might be some of the Sages of Ancienc P&a that S u h r a w d i mentions in the W e n u d - U u ~ z ~ a ~ ~ ~

?OIj.dom,e.g.,Jimsf ( & L o b ), Frahiishtm (a3&>


), Bzurjmihr *,( j9 ).
35
This,
.
however is difficult to corroborate with Suhrawardi' s ow n statements. in any case. Suhrawardi adds
at the end of the seaion on vision chat were the theses of this group of people tme. ie.. regarding
light beams identical with color. this w ould not affect m any w ~ the
y discussions regarding vision
which h e inwduces in the metaphysicr of his O n ; ~ k d - V ! u ~ r J
-C
' t7s>
dom "
NATURE OF HIS REFUTATIONS
The refutations t t g ~ sparticuf
t rr theoties of vision are of various natures. e g . , geometrical.

physiological , or physical. Suhrawardi' s refutation of the exuamissive" and the " intromissive"
"

theses is not mathematical, but rather of physical nature. His g e n d line of argumentation is, again,
borrowed from Avioenaa, e-g., in t h e m o works already mentioned, although a few of the latter' s
agurnents are abseat. Suhrawardi appeas to d o p t an Avicennan position which defines vinon as
the reception of the form of the object. Ia the Sa/rw&a. Avicema scates that:

Sigbt is not the result of someching whch emanates from us and goes toward the
sensible object
-,( ). ILmust, therefore. depend on somefhing else which
cornes toward us from the sensible objea. Since this cannot be the body (- ) of
the objea, it muor, then. be its form (&). 37

Hence, the extemai fotm of the colored object which the light hits is transmiaed to the pupil
of the eye when a truly zrmsparent body - eg.,a body which bas absoluteiy no color such as air or
water - a c u r s between the eye and the objed of vision.3 The visual Uirpression cornitg from the
objea is identifid witb the form (Z J- ) of the object. Although Avicenna does not provide many

details about r h i s theor-of vision,he suibutes it to ~tistotle? In fact, he is only trying to refute the

34
Q. D. ai-ShnSn, Sa@, 264.3-4 (the LOO of &ifmat corresponds m Q. D. al-Shi&-'s Spsfr,
263.15-266.19).
3s
For example, by Prof. Landolt; cf. H . t , 4, 11 - 1 [ S X ~
89).
,
35
8 lOO.99.li.
&&~Jv,
37
Aoiccnna, &p3, N*, 2.326.15-3272( A n k ,29);cf. Avicemaa, S z X ' (section IV,book 6).
m
Avicenna, N q i P , N d ,
2,322.1-3(Amir., 27);cf. Ibtd., 2,323.14-7 ( A m k , 28).
39
h his EpM' on rri.eSou/,A v i c e ~ aheld a similar position; the passage is transated in Engiish in
"exulmissive" rheories of Wion. e.g.. the theses of Euclid and of ~a1e.n."
Furthamore. although Avicenna's refutations tue basicdy of a physical name. this does not
prevent him fmm aaopting the mathemacical explanations of vision anributed to Arinotle to exy lain
how a form with reduced dimensions could be repcoduced in the eye. The geometric proof offered by
Avicenna is based on angies branching out fcorn the center of a sphere towards an objea. The futthei
the object is,the more the angles chat delunit the contours of the object dimnish. j u s lke an image
refleaed on the surface of the sphere from whch the angles originated, e.g.. the pupil, This is how
an image in the eye can b e s m d while the reai object is quite larger. Likewise, the clos= the object
is. the wider the angles which defme the iimits of the object WU be. Consequenciy. the image of the
object on ihe pupif becomes greater. Avicenna. in fs Bwk ofSa2ae.explains thac
The eye is Like rbe mirroc. and the visible object (>+a) is like the object which is
refleued in the miimr, thmugh the mediatioii ) of air or anacher vinsparent
(du) body. because iigbt (Lk;,) falis on the visible abject. it pmjec?s the image
(QJ-) on the eye. T h e humid body which resembles ice and a seed of flax receives
rhis image and deposits it in [the field] of *on [in the eye] whete pgfect vision -
petceives di objects - oarurs, ie., that it receives in itself tbe image of the object, in
sudi a way thsr if the o b j e t were to be destroyed or to disappear. [tbe eye] would
amtinue to ee the image. Therefore. the image of the objects occrirs in the eye, and
rhis image m v e s to [the place] of vision. and then, the soul perceives it. If the
mmor had a soul, then it would see an image when it w o d d occur it.
And the reason wby [the eye] sees a d i s t a object smaiier is that ths humid
body whch serves as t h e miiror is ccalar, and a &de is quidistant rom the
enter. Therefore,the more an object is rernote, the more it becanes small, while its
image is reproduced in the eye. This is what can be seen in a circular mirror. There
is here a g e o m d c reasonu'
Suhrawardi owes much to discussions similar r;o th& passage fmm A v i c e ~ a ' sBook of
Sa?am.For example, at the end of the s e d o n on Pision in his H&e~ ofL&&f (a compendium of
Aviceman philosophicai theses), he ends his presentation of the theses of the Peripatetics by
repducing, quite faithfuuy , the georneuic proof found at the end of Avicenna' s S j l / r - i m O ~ and

SuhraTRardi appears to refute the possibiity of the impression of the form of the objea in the

Lindberg's rrade,cf. Lindbcrg, "The brnissian-Examissiou Canira~ersy,"TV, 142. Lindbag's amde is


m a y concanecl widr Avicanna's refutations of the Euchdian and Galrnic theones of vision, cf. Avicarna,
hfqd&Gal-NiJs[ E p a c / e a ~ a i c w , and Gaman crans. in Landauer. "Die Ps).iEhologie des Ibn Sin,"
cd.
336-9.
41
Liadbeg, "The Intromisnon-ExtmnkssionControvarsy," 152-
41
Avicenna, Bp:,90-9-92.5(L'Fw, Li, 60).
Q
Lm& , P&y, IV, 2, 1 l5.2ff; 6.Avicauia, N e ,N
IJs , 2 , 326.1-5 (A,:ZP 29); cf. Idem,
Pbx 92.6-95.1 1 (Li-, II, 60-1).
Wh5,
viwous substance of the e ~ e . ~
The debates surrounding these d i f f e r e ~theones of vision w ere centered around the nature of
the faculty of sight and the nature of the various demonsnarions for vision - the "extramissive" and
the "inuomissive" theories. The cwo theones were,in fact, competing traditions, a choice berneen

the matbematical e x p l d o n of Ptolemy md the physicd explanetion of .4ristotle.@

Al-Farabi had already tried to find a third way or a reconciliation berween the Plaonic and
Arinotelirn positions.6 This he did by erguing tha the detractors of both positions misrepresented
the positions of th& opponents, Le., the Platonic notion of "emission"and the Aristoteiian notion of
"affection" for polemical reasons. leadhg t o misunderstanding and misuiterpretationB Avicenna. on
the othe: hand, proposed a geometrc dernonstraion foc t4e " intromissive" theory.
Suhtawardi wiii, similacly, misrepresent the Petipetic positions to reject wha he perceives
is the* underlying mtrerialism. It is true that Galen complicated matters with his physiological
theory,but the problerns raised by these competing and incompatible theories were resolved only in
the middle of the 11'" century by Ibn al-Haythm (cl. ca. 1039), a mathematician and amonorner who
lived less chan a century before Suhrawardi and at about the same tirne as AWcenna, who proposed a
synthesis of the different mathematicai. physical, and physiological factors by using the ideas of the
.
visual cone (Euciid and Ptofemy), the "intromissionn theory and elements borrowed from Galen*
Pechaps, Avicenna was, io fact, well aware of Ibn Haytham's theory. This would accaunt for the
M ~not mention h i . in his major
inclunon of a geometric proof that Avicenaa proposed. A P ~ c ~does
wocks (e.g., Ccar and D e f i v i e )

THEORY OF VISION ADOPTED BY SUHRAWARIX


It is thus apparent tbat Suhrawardi bormws much from the A v i c e ~ a ntradition. It seenis

43
103, 100.16-101 2.
44
Endid's ttieory was mathematical, while Ptolemy's and al-Kindi's theones were mathemancal
with some considefirions af phpsicd demarts.
4s
& - F m , L 2 w m o ~73-79,
, esp. 76, and notes 48 and 49.
4
In cxplainrag how the vision of rep#en&Cioiw of tha wbich i s paceived from the metrphysid
world such as rea ~irions,e.g.,dreams, he s t a t s , "from such impressions (rw, ) withui the faculty of sighc
axises impressions of chan in the s h n h g air wbch cannu#s the Sght which procccds h m the eye with the rag
of virion Once thae unpressions have appeard in the air, [te image] of the au is in turn again rmpressed an
the ficolty of sight which resides in the eye, and that [impression] W d e c t e d back to the mannon ~~ and
to &e fa* of represait;inon ( Z Z ). And since all these [-SI are canhmioris, the abjects of thar
Land which the auive intellea (Jk J) bas supplied become visible KIthat peisoa."cf. a l - F h Z i . & - M a
,222 ( M r w S h e , 223.
4)
Lindberg, "The Introtnisaon-htmaissionConttciversy," 154.
that, in the first place. he advances arguments used b y Avicenna without proposing any novel
aguments. Hegenetally appears to adopt the geomertic demonsrration used by Avicenna. paraphrasmg
it er length. In bis more Peripatetic Rem o f . b @ i . he arplatns that:
Seeing objects (LB* ) is produced thraugh the intermediay of a form
( ) whicb k hpressed ( & ) in die crystalfiae substance (-&'J
of the eye, according to the opinion of Aristotle. the Sage. And its condition
[of VCIion] is the presence of luminosity (jtk3 ,). the faceto-fa (+ (L ) and
the mediacian of a transparent body (& k h c LY).~
Ostensibly. i n this passage. Suhrawardi appeals explicirly to the Ahrotelian thesis with
whose position h e seems to agree. One should n a , hcwever. conclude that he adopts an Aristotelian
theoty. He is more likely oaly reitenang Avicenaa's rendering of the Aristotelian position. Suhraward
acniaily demonstretes his famiiiarity with this parzicular philosophicd school in tbis, and s i d a r
works greatiy iafluenced by Paipatetic themes and theses. The last sentence of the above pass%e
actrially alludes to his own interpcetation of the Peripatetic theory of vision. The Penpatecic thesis

appears ta be complemented and reintgpceted by Suhrawardi's own understandhg of vision.

Suhrawardi srates Lhat the cause of the luminaus beam is "the htminous source (s- ) [which

occuts] through the intermediaxy of a transparent body (& b ) sach as air.'* This statement is
reminiscent of the previous passage from the Rem of--f. Fht, a p ~ m p l of
e luminosity should
exist. Second, two objects should face one anocha. And finaiiy, a transparent body should b e present
to explain the transmission of the iight of the object to the one who perceives Vision, in this second

sense, does n a seem to require the reception of the form of the object, something that WEG typically
Peripatetic.
More importantly, Suhniwadi proposes a shift of ernphasis and tries ta indicate that vision
resufts fram something totally different. This leads him to propose the more pasonal interpretation
C?%dorn,where he wntes chat :
of vision found in the metaphysics of his O!t.a~d-~umrirt~~r-~

You have almady levned t h a vision (,&! ) does not consist in the fact that the
form of the object is impressed in the qTe, nor in the f a a tha sometik'np would be
emitted from the eye. Theefore, [vision] can o d y occor when the luminous object
a; , (
...--) meets fa-to-face (&6 )
C a 8
a heaithy eye. and wthing else.=
SuhrawardT not only distances himseif from the Peripatetic rhesis of Avicenna, he actuaiy

"W ,IV,4 34.29.68 1: Baok, 30).


49
fllitaiv, 8 99,97.11-2.
50
8 , $145,134.12-3
. (Sw.,129). On perception, cf. hfkn5Sf',8 209,484.6487.5.
rejects it. He is categoncal: vision is not the result of some sort of impression e+i * d
) of t h e focm
51
(a J y ) of the object in the eye, nor is i t the result of the emission of something coming out of the
E
eye. Suhrawardi. t h e f o r e , rejects the " extramissive" theory (the emission of Light beam) as VU eii as
the "intromissive" the- (the impression of the f01i21 of the object in the eye). Suhrawardi argues
tbat aii Ehese themies are incapable of providing an account of the nue nature of vision. His rejection

of the Aristotelian position is, by extension. a rejection of ,4vicema's own tbeoty of vision. Le., the
"imptinung" of a form. [n Suhrawardi's Neoplatonic theory of illumination. there is no room for
i m p ~ t i n gand its required forms.
Qutb al-DZn al-Shsau- comments that vision envisioned b y Sahrawardi corresponds w the
perception of the soul. " since by this [the face-to-face] a presentid illumination ei- GIA! )
- 0 P
on rhe hghted objea -,( ) occurs in the soul. such Qat it sees it. Mnli Sad*. on the other
hand, daims that Suhrawardi actually adopted ai-Fataai's (intermediate) positions (e-g., from the
HaramY). 5d

CONDITlONS OF VISION
In the shon passage mentioned above, al1 the elements of the Suhrawardian theory of vision
are present. These are the three conditions which h e considers essentiai for the phenomenon of vision
to occur. Inraescingiy enoogh, it is in the physics of the fiQ%dorn
lheaaY/-lVUCtlljfai~ chat the
classical theones of vision are rejecced, and only in the mecaphysics of the same wotk that his own
theory is devdoped. Nowhere is this c o n c m present in the works of Avicenna, for whom vision,
like the soul, remarned a subject for physics. Suhrawardi, on the other hand, tries to develop a theoy
in some way, spiritualize vision and associate it with the soui and the metaphysical
of vision chat WU,
eatities it c m c ~ n t e m ~ l a t e . ~
The firsc condition set b y Suhrawardi for the occurrence of vision is the necessity of a
face-to-face encounter (+ L ). Hence, vision occurs only when m o o b j e t s are brought uito each

51
Ln some places, be uses cbe t a m (& or indirhnct form, cf. Hhimirt. 8 160, 150.8 (Sf
)i -
145).
The rame term is present in Avicenaa's wotk, cf. Avicauia, N 2 2. , 323.16 ( A mk 28); cf. lbid., 2 ,
327.2 ( AIW., 29);cf. Ibld., 2,3222( A &, 27).
Q
U b i Y ,9 145,134.11-2(Sw,129); cf. Ibid., S 160, 150.8-9 (SjrC~.145); cf.Ibid., 5 225,211.12
(*, 199)-
53
Q. D. al-Shinn, .!i2aUa (ed. Cotbin), 134 n f line 13 ( w,3 M n. 22).
54
M W s d n ,ul-&bn& d-hfum' 3 -fi &-Aa id- %fi@ d-~&a hb , vol. 8, 1 77.18-2 1 and
182.1-183.5[lstpartofthe4thvoyage].Cbapers6-1Oderlwith diffetentissuesrelatedwith oinon(l78.7-200.18).
5
Thae miru the pmblem of the peciod in whicb he wmte h s differem worb and Che faa dia& many
ofthe works were wntten at the same time (see section on the pmblem of the nature of h writings).
d e r ' s presence." The direct encounta between the one who perceives and the pnueived object is.
Sherefore. a "presential" encounterbg that requires ri number of conditiolis: the presence of an organ
capable of visicn, Le., the eye ui the case of sensible vison, the presence of an rlluminated object
illuminated by some s o n of source of Light and a face-to-face encouter. The face-to-face enconnter
is a condition for vision thai is not found in the works of A V ~ ? MIt ~is. however. central to
Suhrawards own theory. inasmuch as this notion of unmediateci encounter can then be applied tu
the metaphysical realm. Consequenrly. Suhrawardi's redefimtion of vision can now serve to explain
the possibility of yet anothcr type of vision, i .e.. the vision of non-sensible mecaphysicai realities.
The second condition of Suhrawardi' s theory of vision is the absence of any sort of obstacle

.
v d ("Ly ) between the periving subject and the perceiveci objecrn This condition is found in
the wo&s of A v i c e ~ aThe notion of obstacie or of veil, however. becomes an essentid aspect of
Suhrawardi's notion of vision and central to the epistemological aspe- of his philosophical
eiirhropology as a whole.'
Since perfea vision only occors a~the metaphysical level, the vision of intelligible tealities
wdi become possible only when al1 obstades that exist between the sou1 and these inrelligible
realities are eiiminated. At such a t h e , ail materiatity is transcendeci and only pure light subsists. Ln
the sensory realm, obstacles consist mody of the umal nanuai phenornena - the remoteness of the
objea, the presence of a physicaf obstacle between the one who sees and what is seen. In the
metaphysical teaim. obstades consist of the degree of materialiey (understood in fetms of darkness)
beloqing to human beings whicb prevent theoccurrence of e m l y cl- mystical visionsg
Another condition is perhaps more important dian the two preceding ones. This condition
pertains ta the presence of Light and hmioonty whicb become the conditions without which vision
ainnot occ\n. When iight is present, then vision can take place in the sensible realm. But, in the

metaphysical realm, the most perfect vision c m occur, because the o d y thing that now subsists is the
constituting and consfitutive light of ail things. This emphasis on light and luminosity rnodels
Suhrawardi's theory of vision

56
&&m&, 8 145, 134.12-3 {W.,
129). F a example, he sta~esthat the size of an object u e v a l u d
bved on direct witnessing or m-cd contemplation ( a h & ), and not as cbe r e m of m inference, cf.
111,3,ix, 4 1032.
n
&hbnu~,9 160, 150.9 (Ss, 145). Vision is linteci to a "presential"Lrowledge of the a b l e - chere
canna exkt a veii, because the Light of iighcs - a p w e light - cannot be vtrled to iuelf by anythtng. cf. Q. D.
rlSh25zi. S
m 5 (ed. Corbin), 150 n. for h e 9 ( S;QP; 326 n.3).
CH- FIVE - 150

Suhiawardi's reinterpretririon of earlier theories of vision is interesting , inasmuch as it is no


longe- Nfficient for the object to be iliuminared in order to be perceived. in order COgrasp what is a
stake in Suhrawardi's conception of vision, it is important to understand that light 1s die fundamental
redis. of a i l things. T h e dasnction tha Suhlftwardi establishes is twofold. Light is conceived as
active and passive. This disuncrion applies to both she rneraphysical and the material levels. One
.
could speak of active and passive lumiaosity. But Light is d s o fonceiveci as physicai. i.e "accidental"
Lights. In bocb cases. however. Light is the essentiai principle."
For Suhrawardi, the subject and the objea of vision must be himinous. The physical world is
.
the locus of accidental light. Hence. when the act of vinon occurs it is ultimaeiy the seeing light of
the soui which bef& the illuminated essence of the observed object, itself conceived as a cmpted
principle of light (immersed in m h a l i t y ) . F h t , the object either reflects light or trarisniits it when
it is illuminated. Thi i, however, insufficient, because this kghticlg - or thi illnminaUon - is for
Suhrawardi essentiaiiy of mother type: it is omological.
Suhrawardi's o w l o g y of light makes light the essence of everything. Everythuig becornes a
luminous behg. albeit of vacyUig degrees of lumiaority. Consequedy, the exiaen and the presence
of a sour of physicai light are insuffcient conditions for a complere explanirion of vision. In fact.
this light - whose natrire is 0Iltd0gi~a.l- is an d e g r a i part of the act of seeing, just as it is an
essenrial pan of the act of being seen.
The abject of vision itself is tbe subjea of them two kiads of light (physical and ontdogicd).
Suhrawardi mentions that "a condition for the object of this vision is to &ve lighr [inthe case of
physical vision], a to be itseif a Light [inthe case of maaphysid vision]."' He develops hece a
dyiiamic conception of the object. The object is now an integral part of the process of vision, since it
is botb a physical and an ontological Light to be seen. Mulla S a d 6 wdl laer criticize Suhrawardi for
the ovaemphssis on the active prinaple he attributes to the object." This is where Suhrawardi
depatts in an mginal manner from tbe Paipatetic theory of vision.
Subrawardi's thesis - that objects receive light and are constituted of light - has some
affinj. witb positions found in the works of Ibn al-Haytham. h his D~j.m(nseua @if. Ibn
d-Haytbam mentions that fie has demonstraed rhat "opaque bodies, as weU as transparent bodies
have a receptive p o w a to light." and, moremer. that the fixity of Light in physical bodies is due to

a
9 145,134.
mr~ , 15-135.1 129).
61
nrkmrrr, 9 145, 135.4-5 (Siq.
129).
,
62
See the note of Jambct in *SC, 129 n.b.
the opacity of bodies." He euplalis thac a i l physicsl bodies - opaque or transparent - have the power
to trammit Light and. consequently, to ceceive light from lumiaous bodies. such that "the appearance
of light on the surface of opaque bodies is an evident proof that there is in them a force of reception
of iight Suhmwardi was perhaps ware of Ibn al-Haytham's treatises. Suhrawardi's works do echo
the idea chat objects are capable of receiving physical light.
Subrawardi. bowever, goes beyond the simple nation of physical receptrvity of light. He
invesrs this notion of receptivity (of iight) with an ontological determination. Objects are naw
themseives consumted of a degree of ligbt. This is obviously absent from Ibn al-Haytham's physical
theory of light. Subrawardi, in fact , consaies his theory of wsion in such a way as to account for
perception which goes beyond the mere phenornena of visual and sensible perception takmg place in
the physical realm.

RULNG LIGHT - ISFAHBAD-LIGHT


The Isfahbad-light is a the hem of Subrawards theory of vision" Ir is te buman rational
sou1 as the light principle that can, in fact, perceive the inrriasic - light - nature of a i l t h q s .
Suhmwdi sctites that:
Although vision &as as a condition the face-ta-face (+ L)[of the seen object] with
the facuity of sight, nevettheless. in the a u of vision, tbe [mai] agent of vision
(- 4) is the Isfahbad-hght (
. . * O

e l &) [Le.,the d o n a l soul]."


fl

The Isfahbad-light present in each huma. b&g is the rationai m h g soulP> The inreiiative
parc of ail human souis is simultaneously the divine and luaiinous aspea whose &gin is the Ljght of
lights, or God. Suhrawrndi's philosophical anthropology, ntered on such a concept of iight, is,
thaefore ,greatly dependent on a mesaphysr CS of iight. This is exemplified by bis novel understanding
of vision.
Suhrawardi's metaphysics of light also introduces the concept of darirness (-LU ) as the
necessary counterpait of the concept of iight. For instaace, in the physics of his Ch'~?daa/-Mu&mi-yl
C655d&m, bodies result f m wbat remaias once iight hm departed. Pure darkness , thetefore, exists
only in matter." Wbat is imponenr, however, is the definition of the nitional as a nidiant self-emlrnsuiig

63
Rashed, "Le 'Discours de la Lumire" d'Ibn al-Haytham,"210,217.
fA
R a s h d , "Le"Discours de ia Lumire" d'Ibn al-Haytham,"208-9,210.
h5ihmrf. 8 156, 147.54 ( Sep..142).
66 &&n* 0 226,213.4-5 (W. 200).
67
Cf.Appendix E,in Walhdge, .!kirne, 195; cf. Corbm, 1 5 n / & m ~ P aII., 123.
8
Crn, & /dm ~ , i wval.
, 2,108-9.
Gght (G1i.JL;+ ).69 In enother passage. h e writes rhat. "all these faalties which are in the body
me a sbadow of wbat is in the Isfahbad-ligh~And the temple [ie.,the body] is its ralisman (;ILb)
[or, if one likes. ia t h e ~ r g y ] . "Human
~ bodies are also defined in terms of ch& lack of luminosity.
They are but shadows which. neverrheless, become the conditions for t h e possible activity of the
Idahbad-light. As wirh A v i c e ~ a the
. bodily i o a condition of the e r i s t e n t h o n of the soul and its
adivities pamiaing it to rule over t h e body (see chapter on nature of the soul).
The introductton of a tbeocy of light to account foc physical phenornena. e.g., bodies as
shadows of Light or deprived of light m d vision, also iilustrates Suhrawardi's desire to go beyond the
dassicd hylomorphic conception of the world." Hylomorphisrn distinguishes between m a e r ( @le)
and form ( er3os/argp&) - two indispensable and indissoua!Ae elements of any objea in kktoteiian
physics, and which was adopted by Avcenna
According to Q u e ai-Din al-Shriiz, the being of Qht presezir in the individual participaces
in rhe mle of the ligbts, ahereby o r h a more ~ b h lights
e me r e ~ e a l e d Suhrawdi
.~~ ntues air the
lnminous pridciple which erists in al1 homan beings - this Isfahbd-Light - "illuminates the vision
which is [then] in na need of f ~ r m . The
" ~ structure of the soul's perception ir thus r a d i d y
d i f f m . Ir appears ro p d e l Suhmwdi's rqection of the definition of the sou1 as the fonn of the
body. SuhrarPerdi States tbat:

The Isfahbad-light encompasses (& ) [the body and its faculries] and judga
(ph)that it possesses these particular faculties (+ jt ). Therefore. it judges
b i itself &ce ... it is the sense of a i i of the senses ( " p l ~ c->~ ';P ). A n d chat
whch is dispersed in the W t y of the body, its essence, arnounts to one thhg in the
Isfahbad-light (-la SA J I &L).~
Once more, Suhrawardi d u d e s to the primacy of the d o n d soul - the Isfahbad-Light - as
the m e perceiver (see section of the faculties of the soul). Suhrawardi, thus, affirons that the rational
sou1 is that nhich ultimately perceiveS." As such, t h a e is,therefore. no need for the reception of the

69
hWrmf, 4 216,209.8 (SC,,,
193).
'10
&itmniy, 6 227, 2 14.3-4 (+, 200). Fmm the Gr. & w u p h , ie., the divine operation or magic
wtiich iqpeais ta the d e s a a l dimndies lad to the supariltPnl s p h h whosc powers arc used by man. Fcom the
Gr. d t t a ,i.e.,the object to which art rrvrbuted m a g i d virtues of pfoteceron, a pcnver.
71
Lght, as a 'mamial iight [wbich] is a disposhan (31 [extcinsic aspect] in a body," d.M w 3 ,
6 90,182.9 (W., 108).
72
Q. D.al-ShiriM, 52jp.&,474.I4-8( *, 389 n. 1 1).
73
&&mu, 9 227,2152 (Sirfi, 201).
&&uur, 9 227.214.8-215.1 (W..
74
201).
73
(w
I t results fmm his rheory of knonledge, cf. f l I j f j i n i y , 8 227, 2142 , 200). As opposed to the
ANooteltan trsditmn for which ail knowlcdge rs ttic cesult of the z&straction of forms, knowlcdge wffl aor
form of the objeas. The theory of the impression of the form via the eye is reinterpreted by
Suhrawardi. as when he scates that:
You already knaw that the impression of forms in the eye is impossible. Likew ise, it
is impossible chat forms be irnpressed in a particular place in the brain. The [nith
regardhg the r d e u e d f o r m in the rnLmrs and the imagina1 foras (+ Jp ) is
that ches are not impressed. but that they are " citadels" [i-e..bodies. even nibtle] in
suspension (& ) which have no substratum. [-4ithoughI tbey have places of
manifesaion. they are nor in tose places.76
Suhrawardi's novef conception of vision allows him ro account forthe visual perception of
metaphysical lights. che latter corresponding to Peripatetic intelligences. T h e prkciples Suhrawardi
seeks to apply in order to explain Pimal perception bave their justification in his quest for a
conception of vision wbicb c m acconnt for the vision of non-sensible entities.
At t h ~ smetaphysical level. vision operates wiih similar ptinciples. There is a need for the
existence of light. the activity of vision (PL
& or h! This
). end the activity of ill~mination.~

type of mystical vision requires a notion of " u n v m , " i.e.,the tocal absen of obstade (mftts).

And since sight consists in its perception (JI Ja!) by means of its luminous sense
+ +
..
( L
J=
J
.
) aad the absence of veil [or obstade] ( +
illuminetecl thing ( **-. --. ), therefore, luminescence (k
v d are more perfect in the immetetid realities ( a l
s
G d
.+
) between it and the
) and the absence of
), g~ [these immaterial
realities] are manifest by th& essence. Thac is why they are at the s m e cime seeing
(Z-4) and visible (OJw
e
- - J

) to the lightsm
In Suhrawardi'sworks, thece appear to be cwo different, seemingly incompatible theones of
vision. There is h s apparent adoption of the Petipatetic theory of vision, e.g., at the end of the
physicai prirt of the ~ t n I I / - U i m k m bMsdam.
b~~ bot mody in his 0th- m m Pecipatetic works.
Furthemore, bis efforts at reiterating the arguments and refutations of Avicenna, may signal hir a h
to iserc his own endeavor into the Peripatecic tradition. This turns out not to be acceptable for him.

These effom are concluded widi bis own rebuttai of this position in the rnecaphysics cf the &mrd

But passages Like the one quoted above illustrate quite w d the purpose of Suhtawardi's

need the mediarion of a form. Tbe best example of dris partcular procas K sclfknowledgertisais=d by bach
Avicmma (bis suspendecl man) and Suhrsnvadi and whrcti is never mediaed rhtough the form of the uidimdud,
but, rather, it is procivecl dirccdy, 6.Cabin, IajmUp , 291-2. H o w e w s ~ SuhraHzPdTs philosopby, it
becornes the yardstick of aU knowledge.
76
y-, 8 225,211.13-212.3(Sirfi, 199).
R
Zizi, howIe&e, 151.
78
mi
y , 8 228,216- 1-3 (Sw,201).
t h q of vision. It serves to explain more than vision at the level of the physicai and sensible wodd.
In the second part of his &tOtU/-UIum2m~~~
SFSdant , the prinuples at the heart of his theory of
vision are meant to apply to both regims - the rneraphysical as weU as the physicai. It appears chat
Suhrawardi is tt-ying to apply ro the physical r e a h the same theory of wsion he elabontes to accoum
for the visiaa of metaphysical truthxR It is only under these conditions that these metaphysical mths
can become perceptible for mystics .theosophes and the iike.
Suhrawardi's concept of vision begihs with the Avicennan position whose philosophical
premises are then rejected. He elaborates conditions for his theofy of vision that wiii appiy to
s p e d i c mecaphysical realities. A problem atises , however, w ben these paticular conditions of
vision are reappiied at the level of sensible visual perception, e-g., his concept of a Eght p ~ c i p l e
thai belongs to objects. There does not seem to be. on Suhrawardi's part, a systematic m p t to
provide a rigorous the- of vision that oould offer a physicai. geomecrical. mruhematical, or
physiological e x p l a t i o n of sensible vision (in the Peripaetic sense).
Suhrawatdi's main concem is witb the metaphysid and the conditions under which vision
becomes possible at tbat level. Wbat is at sudce is of aaother m.Suhrawardi needs to explain
vision in a w ay tbat renders it compatible with the principles of his Ligh ontology and its corollary -
illumination. He cm, therefore, rejea the two main txmditionai theones of vision. It is o d y after
rejecting them that h e can establish the folilrdatiom for bis own theory of Wsual perception. Vision
can now occur without the mediation of a form. We have seen, however, that he does argue
philosophically, from the traditional theoties m his own more persona1 theory of vision thai appeais
to notions like the "presdal" face-to-face of the illuminated object and the seeing subject, but,
more imporfantly, to the centrality of the notion of iight.
The apparent mm-about that Suhwardi makes regarding vision does not provide us with
any reason for bis Peripatetic positions in the sections on phys~csof a munber of his works. Codd it
be that h e never really adopted the positions he expounded in these works? One shoald not forger
that he hss iarroduced one or two elemenfs that were absent in tbe works of Avicenna (e-g., light is
different frorn color) in the body of his argumentacian in the physical part of his OnkfrJ-~utzbvd~~
Wfjdom,and which he considemi to be bportant for the development of his metriphysical theses.
In the &ed-UIud21jlm*~e CPI
j
dm , he himseif idorms the reader of the 'revelational"
aspea of what he bas come to regard rn the truth of thiugs and of the efforts that he has exetted to try
to describe and pcesent the fruits of these personal expenences He writes chat h e had staned by
being a staunch defender of the dodrines of the Peripatetics regardhg the negation of the mystical
vision beyond the material world. His adherence to this philosophical tradition %-as so profound that
he confesses that he wodd have contimed to foUow this rradiuon had he not seen for bimseif a
deusive proof given to him by God.
Furtherniore, Suhrawardi invites those who m o t be convinced r a t i o d y of what he now
exposes in his &ed-Uu&dw CFsdm ta engage in tbe practice af spirrtuai exercises . or to
enter in&othe services of those who have had chis visionary experience and who have gone back to

.
the tradition of the Andents i.e..of the Ancien<Sages of ~ e i ~ i-aJ&nsf.
~ ' Frashiishtar. Bzurjmihr.
Zomlster (or Z.nrhu~ra),and Key Khuew." The vadirion of the Anciems also includes otber
individuais such as Empedocles (m 490-430 B.C.) and Anstotle as w d as Hermes. or Plato,
" Imam" of the sages."

e2
Ki- was a Sassanid iang; by extension, a name ofmm used to designate, in generai, Sassanid
lnng~,d. 166,157.1-3 (Sw 151).
SIX

THE FACULTY OF IMAGINATION

In che preceding chapter, we saw ho-- Suhrawardi has insisted on reducing Avicenna's
interna1faculties of representdon to a single faculty capable of representation , namely the imaginative
faculty. T h e distance that separates hirn frorn the position of A v i c e ~ a
is,however, proportionate to
tfie new elemenrs he sougbt to inrroduce. The purpose of this chapter is to identify t h e ,4vicennan
tbemes taken up by Suhrawardi regardkg the role of imaginarion and to indicsite the simiiarities, but,
more hportantly, the discrepancies between his and Avicerina's account. For a fuller appreciation of
Suhrawardi's concept of active imagination (W),
.a comparaive approach is particutarly important.
espeaally in view of the fact that Suhrawardi positions himself vis--vis the Avicennan corpus he
seeks to reinterp.et. identifring how Suhrawardi departs from the Avicennan notion of imagination

helps identifying some of the masons chat inciteci Suhrawardi to emphasize the pre-eminence and
importance of the imaginative faaky.
The whole discussion surrounding the facuity of imagination is more complex than could be
expected at first glance. However, later developments - wherher introdnced by Suhrawardi or b y
Mulla Sadr3 - find their origin in some of Avicenaa's positions. Ln addition, a number of issues are
assoaated with the concept of imagination such as the role of imagination in prophecy and in the
sfrerfife, a consequence of philosophicd discussions about the Islamic concept of retribution in the
afteriife.
We have already discussed how the Peripatetic tradition of Avicenna elaborated a complex
scheme of the intemal faculties.' T t was in the wtitings of al--bi before him. however. &ai a
faculty of imagination began to evolve itifo a distinct and novel faculty with new activities and
funcrions Amongst its most novel feanires is its capacity to account for revelation, inspidon,
divination m d the h.'Most philosophm adopted rhis Islamic rearticulation of the faculty of
imagination, e.g., Ibn Miskawayh (d. 1030), a contempocary of A v i c e ~ a who
, also provides a

philosophicd uulysis of the faculty of imagination and its role in prophethood.3

For the Pexipacetic 'schod-psychology." cf. Wolfson,-The IntemaJ Senses.''69-133.


2
Waizer, "Ai-FPrabls Theoty of Proph- and Divination,"206-19.
Avicenna, on che other hand, proposed a new ciassification, having analysed t h e different
functions hvolved in perception - sensible and intellective- It will suffice here to mention that, in
Aristotle's O !&Soul, imagination IS different from perceiving or discursive u g thcugh it is
not found without sensation. and jugement is not found without it? As a capacity to intepret
percepts and thereby perceive an object m an object of some sort, the faculty of imagination is
possessed by d i animals. A s a " delibecarive" p . d , only animals witb intellect - Le., human
bangs - possess ita5On the whole. . e i a a l e v s concept of imagination (pb-ts~U. whch receives
what " appears") denotes a comprehemive faculty. mlhg over a i l intemai aaivities of representation6
Hence, Arismtle's imagination (phmzah)actually encompasses the faculties that wdl be diwded by
Avkenna h o the five distinct faculties so characteristic of .4vicenna' s Penpateticisn.

NATURE OF THE FACULTY OF IMAGINATION


A nurnber of snidies have focused on the notion of imagination (in a broad sense) and
estimafion (pdin I d h c philosophy. paniculady the rhought of A v i c e ~ aand. to a lesser exrait.
that of Suhnrwardi. But most studies usualiy concentrate on Avicenna who, with Averroes, bah the
greaten impact on the West in the Middle e es.' Li addition. nobody needs m be reminded of
Corbin's contribution to the snidy of the "imaginai" as "a mode of the s p ~ c a i i yreligious
imaginitioa"' In the brodest miigious and philorophicd sense. the faculty of imaginaion
encompasses, as Durand bas shown. more than mme fancy and goes well beyond the f d a r
framework of modem psychologicd ui the works of medieval thinkers. imaginaion was
parr of a general phiiosoptacd antbropology which linked t h human faculty to the cosmological

and theologicai dimensions of religious experience. This is the dimension that i deveioped by both
Avicenna and Suhrawardi.
The following discussion will not propose a generai theadcal f m e w a k for the concept of

Marcotte, "Ibn MPbiaayhmn1-13; cf. Idem, "imapation et rhraatian," 45-55; cf. Idem. "The
Rale ofImagination,"37-72.
Aristotle, Oa k3t.SxtfI III,3,427b14-18; cf. Ibid., 427a19-2 L.
5
Aristotle, On aie S d , III, 1 1, 434aS-6; cf. Ibid., III, 3 , 427b20-29.For the three d e s of
, Bymin, "ANew Look at Aristocle's Theocy of Perception,"101-2.
p S ~ a u n rcf.
6
Arhtorle, & ~II, 3,428a142851.
~ .
7
Junba, La I-ue & On&-r ; cf. Rahman. " Dreams", cf. BJack, " Ehhation ( R r a ) in
Avicaina,"219-58; d.D n i a t , "LnaghaRon,"327-42.
8
Durrnd, "The Imaginai ," 10%; cf.Corbin, Eir Mmn Uwt?n,s.v. mundcrsliaAi&~ and %
' ?hm
d - d (b~n&C;me&ns
).
imaginaion specific CO Tslamic philosophy. mes have tried ro propose mch framework~.'~
r Our
g o d is more modes. We wiil mtempt to expound Suhrawards concept of imagination as it was
shaped, to a certain extent, by the Peripatetic theses. namdy .4Wcema's coiicept of imaginarion. As
with otheraspecrs of SuhrawardI'sphiiosophical anthropology, it is necessary ta analyse the Avicennaa
context which Suhrawardi first adopted , but later rejeaed or, more precisely modified. The quation

of imagination is far more cornplex than its d e within the division of the i n t d faculties- We will
mme back to the problem of imagination in our discussion about prophetology and eschaology.
In the following pages, we wiii arguethat Suhrawardi's rejection of AWcenna' s differentiation
arnongst the interna1 faculties is a modified version of Avicema's theoy. Moreover. Suhrawadi's
discussions about the concept of imagination, once agaia. reflect the twofold srucnim of bis
presentation: first,discussions typical of the Aviceman tradition and, second,passages in which his
more personal appcoach preveils. Suhrawardi aempts to solve sorne of the prableins taisecl by the
Avicaman tradition by pmposing a solution - bis single faculty-

THE AVICENNAN STRUCmTRE


The first position that is found in m o a of Suhraward's w ks is rhe Avicennan theory of

intenial faculties. Foc instance, in m&tr of h $ b f (an abridged version of Peripatetic theses),
Suhraward enurnerates the five externa1 senses and five interna1 faalties, e x p l d g th& various
functiom. The latter senses indude the vlnous faculties responsible for representaioa" For each of
these internai senses or faculties, a specific of the brain is identifieci as the* place of inherence,
in a mariner identical witb what is found in APicenna's works on the soul. e g . , in the Dd+ccmrcncr
or the CCU~~.'~
In a number of works, including the H d e s afhC@t,
Suhrawrirdi is, however, not very
faithful to the Avicennan divisions of the imer senses. In fact, he present an abridged version of the
Peripatetic theses, and deviates sligbtly from the canonical Avicennan position. In the Tbpksof
.
Wbt a concise philosophical compendium wbich htegrates "illumii.intivel'elements , there is a
discussion (typically Peripatetic) sunilar to what is found in the fli&es ofhL&hf.
The classification
of the internai s-s presented in the T e p . 'of*BI foflows the general Aviceman scheme and

'O
F a a philosophical disarimon on the nature of what should ~nsatucea general concept of
imaginarion sp- to Islarnic thought, cf. Motewedge, "Epistemobgy,"123-59.
11
-13, p a ~rv.3,
, 115.7-116.11.
12
Avrcauia, N e , N i ,3,328.13-330.5(AFIC,30-1);Cf. Idem, S
brj
cir
',Nh, 1, 5,44.345.16
(PT. 30-1).
even adopts Avicem' s phpsiological e x p l d o n of the differenr bodily locations attributed to these
facolties." This was pointed out by Dawwani (d. 150 1). e comrnenuuir on the w a k . who did not
fmd the same classification in the metaphysics of Suhraw lPdivs W t n u d - U u - ~ ~ t?~sdorn.
ld

Suffice it to say that in the Temples of bki41 the passive imagination remains the
storehouse of the mmmm sease in which forms are preset-ved after their disapperinince from the
sen~es-'~~ h e imagination. nhose f u n d o n is to combine and to sepaiare. s identified with the
aaive
cogitative faculty (+ ). the 1- being cbaacterized by an ability to g d e r meaning ( L by1 ).la
Suhrawatdi goes on to describe the estimative faculty,which "challenges the [judgments passed by]
reason. i . e . Liteiiecr. ( & L A 2 JLJl ej(;. )."[' and whose aaivities. it should not be forgotwn.
are those it possesses when it turns toward the active imagination18

Suhrawardi's clasdication is not quite identical to the canonid Avicennan ordtx. The
estimative faculty is not associated any more wit the cogitative faculty, while the functions of the
active imagination (which is not e~plicitlyidentified), i .e.. combinaion and separation, are h b u t e d
to the cogitative faculty. Suhrawardi gives to the active imaginaion - i.e., in its cogitative mode -
the positive f u n d o n of A v k e ~ a ' sestimattve facuky, and g i v g to the estimative f a d y the negative
fundons of Avicem' s aaive imaginarion19Paradoxicaily, in this passage which purpoirs to pmem
the Peripatetic thesis, a major faculty of Aviceana*s Lana senses, the active h a g i n d o n , Le., it
appears as cogitative in the Arabic t a , is t o U y omitted in the Petsim. This faculty is,nonetheless,
at the heart of his reherprecation.

Suhrawardi's account of the place and fundons of the active imagination found in the
T ~ p l rof
s 15r&& differs slightly fmm chat of Avicema, not in the elements it inrroduces or o m h ,
but in the rearticulaion of the different fundons of the imer faculy. Suhrawardi reinterprecs

13
He writes that "should the location of a parkcular sense be damaged, 1t.s function wauld become
deficient, while the frincfions of alt othet senses would r e m intact. From this one may condude thar ail the
faadfies diffa from one aaaber and thac each possesses its own proper location,"cf. Hiyi%W,11 (a) 53.3-4 (p)
8 8,88.12-14 ( H .44; . /~JI ~J,
104).
Id
Ha-7, II (a) 51.8-53.4 (pl 8 8, 87.13-88.15 (M.,
44; Iimsr, 1034). The same aiso holds
troc fmany d b w m s , cf. K M ,95.13-96.13; cf. Daww2n, SawaEWrtl-NtP,65.
1s
Hu*, Ji (a) 52.34 (p) !i8,87.~8-20 (M., U ;/smi2, 104).
16
HapiW, iI (a) 52.4-5 (M., 44; f h w ~ ~ i109).
J , Absent from the PaJiur text.
I7 H
,U
* n (a) 525-6 (p) g -8,8720-88.1 (N., 44; w2, 104).
18
It is cesponsible for overpowaiag the d o n a i ekmcnts of the soul, e.g., a dead body in a room at
mght, d.H.piW, n (a) 52.- (p) 8 8,813.24 (M. #; ~ ~ iJ M) J. ,
19
The tmphasis on the creative aspect of the estimative fawlty is an ekment of Amnna'spsychology,
cf. Black, "f;-aimaton( Wdm)in Avicenna," 227-8.
C m SIX - 160

AvicennaBsclassification and gives greater pre-eminence to the active imaginaion by proGdhg it


with fundons previously attnbuted t o the estimative faculty.

UNITY OF FUNCIONS OF THE ANIMAL SOUL


In ordertograsp the aims of Suhrawardi's interpretation of the Avicennan view on imagination,
it is necessary to turn to his aitique of A v i c e ~ as'classification of thehuer senses and his understanding

of their nature. Suhrawmdi's critique is scaaered thtnughout his works. It is even press in such
work as the T e m p f s o f ~ b where
r, he discusses the issue of the substratum required for representation
and distances hiinself from the traditional position.

Suhrawardi's departure from Avicenna's classificaion of the inner senses is first and foremost
chaacterized by a rejection of the l m ' s fivefold division. There are indications that aiiude to or
oorrobocate his rejection of the fivefold division in a number of his works, but the main arguments
are f o u d Li the rnetapbysics of the C h . ~ ~ d - U l u~~? vj Ieb r?
n

In t h work, SuhrawatdI discards Avicenna's partition of the innet faculties, which h e


reduces to one main representative or imaginerive f a c u ~ Although
y~~ Suhrawardi's concem is. first.
about the uniy of the faculty of representarion. grcm similarities do exist between his unique faculty
of representation and the different functians it encompasses.
Suhrawardi later frther reduces this unity to that of the rationai (see section on the rejedon
of the fivefold division of the soul). How, then, does Suhrawardi define t h s single facuity of
represenrationthar encornpasses Aviceana's - chtee - faculties responsbte for representation? In his

And that which proves tha this [imaginative facultyj is not the ruhg light + ,(
&) [i.e.,the raionai soul]. is that if we tried to establil something (*- ). we
fmd in o u seif (-1 ) someching which moves away from it ( r;r & -: ) And
a e leam from ounelvei rhat t h a ~nhich svuggles ro esrebiish a &iifmation
( : ) is not that which wishes ) to move and [we leani] that that which
establishes [the existence] of some things is other than that wbich denies them.
Hence,since we fuid in out bodies something which would be Likewise opposed to
it, then, it is something 0th- than thnt [which constitutes] our individu*
( 1 ) It is, therefore, a faciilty which w o derived (+ c~3 ) in the citadel
(- ) lie., the body] out of tbe isfahbad-iight [Le., the rational soul]. And it is
because [this facutty] is tenebrous (L+ L L L ) [Le., in some sense, corporeal] and

20
hrerezcingly enough, the f m put - i.e.,physics (not translaed) - does not discuss thcse faculties.
21
niU is QD.Shcis intaprctahon; anorber commentatm, suggests 'estimation," "imagination,"
and " mm mwe ,"-cf. -ah Y azQ, ;I/-rtIh&a,rl-J&-d (Qum: Muaassasacai-Nashr al-lslaml,140711986).
369;menlioned in Zarean, " !Semory and imaguud Perception,"22 nS5.
CHAITHt S I X - 161

impressed i n the body ( tj*) that ir denies the immataial Lights ( z ; ~J+ji )
[i-e., the iateltigibles] and that it does not recognize anything but the objeas of the
senses (a A n d , perhaps. it denies [evea] its [own] self. ,And it helps -<th
the pre-es. Bot. if it r~achedthe conclusion, it revats [to a position of] denial.
Thus. ir denies that which was t~quiredfrom what it had lprewously] conceded.
And. although the a d of reminiscence (3s) [ociginates] from the celestid spheres.
nevettheiess, it is possible [to conceive] that it is a faculty on which a certain
disposition for r d s c e n c e depeads!'
Suhrawardi introduces a single facalty of representation that incorporates all of the AWcerrnan
functions responsible for representation - Le., the representative or passive imaginafion, the faculty
of estimation. and the active or cornpositive imagination
Suhrawardi does, however, distinguish bmeen t h i s single faculty of represenration and the
ruhg Light (;? u ,+ )." i.e.. the d o n a l soul. In this w ork. Suhrawardi hplies chat the estmative

faculty actually contradias the inteliea. It functions in spch a way as to oppose reason. As mentioned
in bis T&!pIersof @hl, the imaginative faculty c m occasionally help wirh the prenses (i-e.,sense
.
perception) for syllogidc reirroniag but the estimative c m deny irs Logical conclusion (i.e.,r e a ~ o n ) . ~ ~
Cogitation - the use of te intelledive - as an ening faculty, on the other hand , can alsa
prevent the soul's m e communion with the divine. Suhrawardi beiieves thet the intellecr (+ ) cm
prevent the active imagination from comaiunicating information to the mmmm seae because the
intellect busies the active imagination with thought in a similm way as the extetnal senses can
distract the active imagination with data ociginating Lorn estemal oensationsZsThese activities are
those associated with the cogitative faculty. hey prevent the i m p ~ or
t the form to b e reflected
down until it reaches the w12~m
S-P, although it remlts from something acquired by the soul -
the noional luminous substance. The inteiiectiw - perhaps mare approptiately the cogitative - musc
be by-passed. For this purpose, Suhrawardi a p p d s to the recepcive - or mimetic - function of the
active imaginationa
That the inner senses a e reduced to their functions excludes any identification of this
paaiculat frulry wit individuslity (+&i )y with which self-kriowledge is associaed ( s e seaion

Ldib#, 4 224.210.13-211.8(*, 1989).


a
It is L e Isiahbzdc-ligt or the conmihg abaroaed Isfahbadic-light (- 2.u >+
-1 diu- 141.$ )
d. .
ShabmzrC Se,SM. 15 and 504.18.
C m SIX - 162

on self-knowledge). One cauld make a case for the sniilarity b m e e n Suhrawdi' s sole and unique
faculty and Avicenna's concept of estimative faculty understaod as an opponem of reason when it
nim to the active m a g i n d o n (2I:L; ), or as an d y of reason when it becomes the cogirative
faculty (a* ). He, therefore, adopts a position in which his single facuky of representation is not
only a faculy whoe substratum is the d o n a l soul, but is simultaneously a faculty whidi is distinct
from it.

MATERIALITY OR IMMATERIALITY
The issue of the materiality of the faculty of imagination or representation does not seem to
present a problem for Avicenna In many instances. h e associares this faailty with its material
substratum and I or chat of its objects. For him, any immateriaiity that might be ssoaated with the
faculty of imagination would m d y epply to the d o n a l part of the soul - Le., the c o g i d v e - and
its objeas - intelligibles.
Understanding the facuiy of imaginaion as a matmil facultybecomes somewhat problemdc
for tbe teligious eschamlogid fate of the aui. How is retribution of souls in the hereafter to be
understood? In order m guarantee the allotment of punidment or rewards to the sorils after their
separarion from Leir body upon de&, the immateriality of the f d t y responsible for representation
- imagination - or part of it would somehow have to be postulatecl (see the section on eschatology).
In Suhrawardi, as already discussed, this nngie imaginarive faculty is at the heam of the
rqresentative activities of the s o d . Reacting ta a p e r d v e d Avicennan materialism. Suhrawardi
divorces this faculty from the rest of the mataial s~ of human behgs and thus distinguishes it
from the body and itr fmctions. As a remit, the issue of the possible independence of the imaginative
fsculty h m the body arises and, with this, of its possible degree of immateriality.
Suhrawardi's commentators mch as Qu@ al-Dn al-S- (to a lesser degree), but espeually

Mulla Sad- beiieved &rit Suhrawardi had itroduced the immateriality of the imaginative faculty
and its relative independence fmm the body. The factilty of imegimtion 1s viewed ap an immatetial
substance whore beiag is acnidiy and essentidly sepamted fmm the sensible body28 MUUS SadrS,
nonetheless, aiticized SohmarQ for not having fully nndemtood the codsequedces of his own
theory.zP

How different is Suhtrrwardi's vis--vis Avicenna's position regardhg the materiality or

27
Some ma.bave i;'itjLil and cf. ~~, 211 aforlrne 3.
a
Euean, 'Smsory and Imaginai Perception,"68.
immaterialiry of the faculty of imagination? According to Suhrawardi, t h discussion is a fairly
. the interna1 senses of che Periparetic trridition
srraightforward Issue in the wocks of - 4 v i c e ~ a Al1
must be material. because they depend on the various parts of the b r u for Lheir adVities. The
maDer is,however, more complex chan Suhrawardi depicts it.
-4vicenna's position is difficult to assess. because he divides the faculty respoiisible for
iepresentaion iato a number of faculries. These include the Faculty of passive (or cepesentaive)
imagination, whici~acts as the &pient of forms ot-iginating ac the lwel of the CO-on srmie: and

the passive unagination. which is a storehouse for the images thai remain at the disposal of the next
faculty, Le., the active (or cornpositive) imagination, which fundons as a center of aaalysis and
synthesis of the various forms.
Mstrer becornes more complex once one mrns to the nature and funaions of the esrunative
f a d t y which possesses. in Avicenna's work, the capability af acceaing both realms - t h a of the
active imagination arid that of the intellect. The absohite materality or hmateriality of the imaginririve
faculty cannot adequarely be determineci, on accoum of its asociation with representations chat
incorporate some degree of materialiry (as pacticula represen~itioiis).~
Given chu he shares much with the Peripatetic tradition, Suhrawardi in many passages
explicitiy upholds the miraidity of the imaginative fanilries. whaher the passive imagination. tbe
ednmive, or the active imaginarion. This position occun in his more Peripatetic w orks, e-g.,in his
H ~ d eofL&&.
s where he discusses the matgiaiiry of the passive imagination "
Suhrawardi's position must, how wer, be n u a n d with his other more pasonal position that
agues for some sort of immateriaiity for the facaliy of imagination (in a broad sense), while being
unable to rid it of the maeriality that is associared wirh its various fundons of representation. This
daim appears to be in contradiction with the former. As was point& out, Suhmwardi proposes a
mimber of arguments to rejea Avicema's perricularization of the inner faculties in specific parts of
the body.
In his C h ' r n t n / - ~ ~ m h v ~
C?55dom,
~'ti Suhmwardi uses the metaphor of the &or t~ explain

the process of repr~entation.Representation occors when seif-subsisting forms are reflected in


mimors or polished surfaces. Hence, a concepuon more compatible with his acceptance of the

PLatonic fwnis replaces the tmditiod concepEion af forms inhering in the b t a i n Aithough usefui to
explah the existence of self-subsisting forms outside the mind and th& ceceprion b y the human

MuiiS Saclrift, Taai@,477 ( S u L 60-9).


29
,
3a
Avicenna, SXrciic: Mi,ni,2 , 169.10-5 ( P !119).
,
seul, tiiis metaphor has the inconvenience of tpinmdut5.q a ce& degree of mataialit). into
Suhrawardi's single faculty of represenration" Suhmwardi wtites:

You have leamed tbat the i m p ~ t i n gE+iA I ) of f o m in the eye is unpossible.


and, Eimilarly, thar it cannot be in a [paticular] place rn the brain. The trath about
the fornis [refleaed in] mimors ( L I S I >-) and imagina1 fotms (GU;J- )is
that they are not Mprinted (2 m L- :a), rather. they are suspended citadeis [i-e.. forms ]
(a ) chat have no place of inherence (& ). Perheps. they have places
of manifestation (+L ), while they are not in them. Therefore. the mirmr where
forms a e reflected is their [i.e..the mspended fams] place of manifestation. They
are suspended. neither in a place nor in a substratum. And the actwe imagination
(&L ) where the imaginative forms (JWi ) are reflected and attacheci
(&) is their place of menifestatioa~
Mcxeover, the long pas sage previously quoted from the ~ i t d - u ~ ~ PH%
mdor-n ~w ould
~
actridiy reaffirm the inainsic matet.iality of this f d t y . Aithough derivecl from the ruLing light - the
rational soul - and necessitareci by tbis light, this faculty aevertbeless exists in the body - tbe citadel.

Its nature is, in fact, different fmm the light nature of the ruling iight - fhis faculty is tenebrous and
"impressed in the body."" The distinction reso in the fact tba t h e imaginative faculry aui affect
one's judgement and Lead it to ermr. It can be an overpowaiiig fce within the human sool?
Consequently, it is complecely distinct form the rational soul, although it is still, more or fess, a
funaion af the sou1, albeit infgior to what is properly considered the rational wkhin the human soul,
but derivecl fmm it.
The materiality characteristic of this faculty does not prevenc Suhrawlrrdi from
aanscendentalising the objects of its perception (based on the passage above). His redefinition of the
hner senses in terms of th& intrinsic unity, at cimes alluding to the rational soul, and his insstence
on th& non-locasation in a miisgial faculey necessanly imply the possession of a catain degree of
iainiaaaity by this famlty. This later position also favors a defhtion of this faculty by analogy
with the natore of irs abject, the latter bRiig i m m h a l . espeadiy the intentions LU). Therefore.

the faculty t h a has the power ta grasp them musc inelf somehow share in some of the characteristics

It is possible to fiad some similitudesbecween Suhrawadi's position a d Plotinus ' articulation

s
H i & ,$ 224,210.13-2 1 1 . 1 (Sss-198). Fot -ample. fright which pushes man ka fiee ninie
t h e is no danger, ur the one pmvided by Qu. al-DIn Sh9a of somcane who scaps alone iit mght with the
body af a dead man, uld fears, cf.Q. D. S m ,Sb,*, 468.19469.3 ( a p ,306 n. 12).
of the immacaiality of representaion.= For P lotinus. the imaginative faculty ( ~ ~ C U K ~ I S I ~ Idoes
) not
depend on the body for its o p d o n , alcbough it is linked with the funaions of ense-perception
whkh depend an it. Objects occur to this faculty through the perception that generates extc-.isionless
entities in the soul - " inteiiigible reptesentations." "forms ,"or " images." -4s Ernilsson srates,
Their lack of extension is in mm linked with the uniy of perception. For ~t ISclear
from P l o ~ u sargument
' against the Stoics in IV.7. 6-7 ... that the non-extension of
the percipieit goes together with the non-extension of that which the percipient
receives (cf. IV. 7. 8) ... the objects of phmtmW are these unextended entities ...
the most important f u n d o n of phtzmwU is to be the "locus" of these unextended
entities that are involved in memoiy and reasorLng?
Suhrawardi is u s u d y considered ta have inrroduced an independefi imaginai reaim. The
previous discussion has. however, highlighted the anthmpological notion of imagination as the
faculty responsible for representation. -4t the anthtopological level here discussed, the imaginative
faculty is, therefore, distinct from the notion of an independent imaginai world (see chapter on
eschatology).
In bis reinterpretation of the various inner senses, Suhrawardi redefhes the faculty of
imagination by sbiftiag emphass away fnmi iu total paticularization in the body, and tt8nsforxns it
into a p d y imnratetial faculty. Suhrawardi assumes that the mental representariom a the disposal
of the rationai sou1carmot be material in any way ,because the rational soul - the ruling Isfahbd-light
- itseif lies beyond any such materid ty and, therefore. so would the representations or Mages it
.
manipulates. Therefore, by extension, he impiies some sort of i m m t ~ ~ L for
t y the facplty of
repraentation.
From the ongoing discussion, it becornes dear that Suhrawardi adopa a seerninglyp d o x i c a l
notion of representation. On the one hand, he stresses some sorc of incorporeaiky characteristic of his
single faculty of repmsentation capable of interaaing with the raional part of the soul. On the other
haad,the same faculry is distinct from the rational part of the human soul. and incorporates most of
the traditional functions attribut& to the intemal seases responsible for representation by the Avicennan

s
EniiLlsaa, mairaus OB .Sbzsa+J?etqmClo, 109-9. As for Avinna, h e writes "en fait, il n'y a pas
d'empchemeat ce que l'inteiiect ait L'qmception d h n particulier dont I'individurian ne tiendrait pas ses
mesures ni sa posiaon lacaie ni [d'lrraries accidents] de ce genre miie part la preuve n'a t faxe que c'en l
chose iarpwsibie,"cf. Aoicenna, Jf'3ilrrib~5~ 2G8.6-7 ( P u s , "Conception," 194-5).
The N&J@&JTcare naes fmm Avicenna's teaching - simil= UIthe 01'- {diffccwt lro?a bis
C ~ l d ~ c w n qon
.~Aristotle's On &e Si,ilI) - chat were probably wruen by BlfimanyPr, cf. Janssens L a . "

n@a d'Ibn Sin%,"118; cf. Michot, "Tables de carespancknces," 23 1-50. It appevs to consriam the
Arabie text on whicti depends a part of the DrUaj;l)l-mh&,cf. Janssens, "Le DrSneshMWr(r/ d' Ibn S-&,"
164-5; cf. M~chat," La rponse d"Amceme Balunanyr et al-Kirmani," 143-221.
C m SIX - 166

uadition.
The presence of two seeniingly opposiag positions is perfiaps bea undastood in terms of
Suhrawardi's adoption of a Peripatetic fnunework from which be tries tc~depart. His use of the
metaphor of the mirror helps to account for the reception of orms that preexist and befong to the
Platonic nature (i.e., his adoption of a theory of Ideas) of his reinterpretarion of A v i c e ~ as'philosophical
anthropology. As for the immateriality of the imaginative faculty,it has Plothian anteedents.
Wbile A v i c e n n a g e n d y attributed Mniateriality only to the rational part of the soul and to
intelligibles, Suhrawardi appears to have ascribed some sort of inirnateridity to al1 the representafive
functions of the soul, inmmuch as l~presentationis reducible to the perception of t h e d o n a l SOU^.
This is not to say that Avicenne's position regardhg the materidity of rhe inner senses is the
d d i t i v e in&erpreLBtionwhich Suhrciwardi- or a l - G h d , for that matter - would like t o make. This
is perhaps an overshplified account of Avicma's position. especidy in view of the eschatologicd
role he &butes to the fanilty of imagination (see s e a i o n on eschatology).

SUHRAWARDI'S MODIFIED AND SIMPLIFIED VERSIONS


Having reviewed a few passages where Suhrawardi discosses the faculty of imagination,one
needs to ask what c m be made of these differenc stans? By postulating the existence of a single
feculty of represemation,Soiiraward rejeas o d y the existence of distinctive internai fanilties. There
is no outright rejedon of the different fundons proposed by Avicerina to account for representatioa
In f a d , all the fundoas found inAvicenna8s works auudiy find th& way into the O I I ~ I ~ ~ ~ / - ~ U
CGsdom as components of this new single faculty of the aaimal sou1

The retenrive function of the passive imaginarion, the estimative funuion and the compositive
funaion of the active imagination become three facets of one and the same faculty. Admittedly, the
emphasis is on the active imagination, especiaily wkh respect to issues pertainrng m the c e d a t i o n of
ltiddea murers which occur tlPough che mediation of a m o q imaglidve f
a c
u w
Mmeover, the process b y whkh sensibles are perceived b y the soul does not depart from the

traditionai process of abstracting tbe forms from the sensibles. This quintessentially Perpatetic mode
of knowledge acconntsfor knowledge derived fmm thesensible world. Althaugh Suhrawardi advocates
a reconsideration of the nation of knowledge b y appealing t o bis notions of paronal a prpsenlal
knowiedge, he must a c m t for the existen of an extenal reality and the means to perceive it. If
we look at a tree or bear the runnhg water of a brook, these are objective r d t i e s in the world to be
perceived.
In h e with the Avicennan tradition. the tripartite division of the faculries responsible for
representation is mauuriibed. ul terms of their respective funaions. Moreowr, the active imagination
is still, per se. unable to attaui the universal, because it is essentidy bodily. But more impoctantly.
the main function of the active imagination is to account for the reception of fomis, images. ar icons
from above. the pafect example being prophetic knowledge - which is also the case foc Avicema
It is possible to iiiustrate the s d a r i t i e s and differences thai eKin becween Suhrawardi's
classilication of the LYier senses (in the fl~s&s o f L / x m d the MtnnJ-VIu&i.e ~?5jdomy'~
and the Avicennan division of the interna1 senses in the following mariner:

Suhrawardi
three funaions of
&I%m.w a sole faculty

The position of the passive (retentive) imagination (J +) remains idenrical, i .e.,tbe f a d t y


next to the commod seme. Variations iil Suhrawardi's inferptetation occur at the higher level of
representation- with the functions aaributed to the different faculties of dmation, adive imagination,
and cogitation. The most notable difference is the shift that Suhrawardf makes: the estkative faculcg
is replaced by the active imagination The later takes on the former's place and functions. Suhrawardi
now &butes more hnpoltance to the active imagination. He c m , therefore, be seen as adophg
quite freely Aviceirna's classification, pahaps less out of inconsisency than out of a c o n m with
atcributing a greater role the faculty responsible for the representation of metaphysicd entities.

CONTENTS OF IMAGINATION AND OF THE RATIONAL SOUL

n
Similar dispaities are fomd in his other waks.
Suhrawardi notes that the single faculty of tepcesenration h e inuoduces and which encompasses
the representarive faculties of Avicenna is derived from the rulhg Isfahbad-light, i.e., the rational
soul. Avicenna. however, sepatared the representarive faculties from the rational realm and tiiek
relation to the rational soul - i-e., their localisation m a bodily organ. Suhrawardi' s rejection of their
association with panicular organs or loci and of any type of rnataiality of the pmeived forms
suggests a kiad of participation in the itnmateriality tradstionaiiy ascribed to the rational part of the
soul as menrioned eslier.

One of the consequences of this position is thar the single faculy should &are some of the
chm=teristics of thatfrorn whicb it is ociginared. However, how could this faculty share charaaetistics
with what is e s s d a i i y rational, while being associated with the capacity to "phanmsize?" This
function of the soul is responsible for erring and rejecting rational conclusions. Second. as akady
.
mentioned ,tbis fawlty is associaced with some sort of materiaty expressed in tenns of a " tenebrosiry"
( ), haviag a necessary existence in the body daived fmm the exineuce or presence of the
rational prilciple, i.e.. the ~sfahbad-light-While. the faculty of haginetion is responsible for
judgments that c m g o against the conclusions reached b y reason, the Light and dakness symbolisrn
reiiimduces maoeriality to this g e n a i c faculty of lepresentatioa41
There me problems with the Aviman theory of imagination or estimation. These have to
do m d y with the fact that the funcrions of estimation aocount for the explmation of knowledge of
univemals in a pPnicular way chrough the perception of incentions (2
Lr. ). The dual aanre of this

f a d r y is iiiustnaed by the presence of its functions, in both the animai and rational soula The
grimarive faculty is ,on the one hand, shged by al1 animal souk also present in mimals. It corresponds
ro the a c ~ v eimagination which possesses the ability to sense such simple absu.aa intentions as
danger and which, in more modern terms, may be cailed a sort of conditioned behaviour. On the
otbw hand, the same estimative faculty characterizes human b-s and corresponds to the cogitative
faculty 6+ ) at the h e m of the perception of nmilar menrai entiries as intentions. Le.. the
perception of su& thiags as horseness, friendiiness, etc., but of a resolutely more complex nature. In
this respect, it is associated witb partiailar (the particular instances), although it goes weli beyond i t
In A v i m ' s worirs, the esrimative faculty enjoys a cornplex relation with the body. First,

I%%aAt, 9 224,211.3-211.7(*, 199).


41
This facuity impressed ia a baczakh nould, tberefore, aauaiiy be in a body ui winch it is
imprerscd,cf.Shah-, S J511.3.
~ ,
Q
Pictes, "NouveiiesEtudes," 135-6. Tlus facuhy would aiso be affiliated to the Greek prtmnemi a-
pr~dcace,cf. Ibid., 136-7.
C m SIX - 169

the estimative is a function of the .mimal sou1 requiring an organ. Second. this faculty enjoys a
oertain relation with partidars - that is. in its manipuldan of p d c u l a r representation (eg., not
devoid of such accidents as size. extension. and so on). but also in its perception of intentions of
pdculars (e.g.. huntanity as a concept in which individuah share). F i n d y , the estimation hindgs,
b y its edvities. cile h i g h a functions of the soul. ie., the rationd souiJ3

For Avicema. imagination is an essential stage id the process leadhg to acquisition of


knowledge at the rational level. How ever, and this is where the Avicennan sy- deparrs from the
Aristoteiian scheme of evolutive process responsible for knowledge, imaguiation must be discstded
once it has served its purpose, i-e., to initiete the process that leads to the rationai. At the level of the
rational soul. the active principle is then able. after its education in the use of the cogitacive faculty of
represenation, to receive, ftom non-sensible realms, the input originating at the level of the active
intelhgence. In what follows we would like to argue thar some difficulties with whidi Avicema was
oonfro~ltedi~mainedunalved for Suhmardi.
s Suhrawardi's notion of hmgination is the nature
One of the issues raised by A v k e ~ a ' and
of representation that is made possible by this faculty in both animal and rational souls. Does the
content of represeritation occur in the material sphere or not? Avicebna's process of intellection
grounded in cbe Ansoteian tradition cwaeives of the soiil's acquisition of knowledge as a process
dependent on the senses. experience, and abstraction of forms from particulars. Ail these steps
represent piehinaries that enable the soul to grasp universais - intelligibles or divine cevelarion -
which originate at the level of the metaphysical realm of intelligenoes.
In fact, the faculty of imagination - Avicenna's eitimative f a d v and SuhrrrwardZ s faculty
of active imagination - consttures a function of the human soul. It acts as a cecipient of maners rhat
iginate tat the level of the d o n a l soul. Hence, imaginarion as a f8culty mmipulatuig forms aad
intentions. gpecially in its A V k e ~ a fcogitatve
l mode, serves as an indispensable instrument for the
bunran rationai soul.
Another difficulty resides in the fact that the human rational soul should not requwe aay
bodily fundons such as the faculty of haghation, or, for that ma=, the body itself foc its
functioning. For Avicema, intelligibles - objects of intellection - are not absrsacted from particular
formi or images. Intelligibles m e receved from the active intelligence. Th& representation by the

5
In Suhcawad, the example of the dead body in the room at mght, cf. H a r W , I l (a) 52.6-8 @)
8.87.20-88.4 (M., 44; h l ~ l f1fCM).
i,
49
Druart, "imagination,"332.
CH- SIX - 170

human soul reqilires the presence of an imaginative faculty capable of giving a sensitive-like form to
intelhgibls. Consequently. a paradoxicai situation occurs in which the faculty of imagination and its
&jeas ate itnuircmeousiy needed and not needed for the occurrence of knowfedge. in fact, it bas
generally beea held that the former process l a d s to the latter one,ie., the potential material inteliea
must b e actxialized such that the ptuzicuiars the sou1 can perceive will help it CO achieve its actualit)~.
In Suhrawardi, che question r e d y boils down to t h e apparent contradiction between the
following cwo pouiu: fim.the fact that the unified faculty of imaginarion is bodily - even though it
is "derived" fmrn the human rationai soulB - and. second.the fonns paceived by this single f d t y
of imagination are n a "iinpriated" ii1 it. but ody reflected in it. as io a *or.*
The faailty of imagination,as a part of the human soul. becornes the mkmr reflecting these
uitimate realities. This faculty is exemplified by the knowledge of pmphets (see section on
pmphemlogy). Theorecically, there is no iimitation to the degree of absttactaess chat the objeds of
this imaginative faculty cm grasp." Suhrawardi rejects the thesis of an acquisition of knowledge
through the i m p ~ c i n gof a f o m in a (bodily) faculty of imagination. Even his conception of
knowledge in terms of a presential knowledge - i.e.. knowledge by presence - requires the presence
of a representationai faculty. Such a faculty is required as the recipient (the mimot) of tbis knowledge
(renections)?
The imaginative facuity is more centraf CO Suhrawardi' s concepion of knowledge than to
Avicenna's whose conception of kaowledge provides some mom for the empitical- B o a . however,
do agree on the ezrtnnsicality of knowledge ociginating at the level of the intelligible world and,
mare specificdiy, at the level of the active intelligence For Suhrawardi, knowledge of the type of
"visionary"expeciences thrr descends upon the faculty of menory (& . ) enends to the faculry of
representation or the passive imagination. which , in turn, overpowas the commw seme on which
it projects an image or form (h-)and is of ultimae beauty and perfection in its bodily manife~tatton
(*)?

47
T k s is wbat jusufles statements that what bas b e n projected ra the aramavl ~ B S Y is not an
"akgory;"it is sornettung bat needs to be interpreted as something hiding tbe "Other,"of whrch it wouid be
the form; rrther, ic u a mlmfestaaonof the auth it anmunces,cf. Cabin. " L'* t . r ,"289-90.
4)
Sbahrazr, rn his cornmen-, adds t h a the active imagination u a paceivrng facuiy. judging
both ova what is inrelleuuai as well as wbzt is sensible, cf. S
h
-
, ad, 511.19-20.
49
Td-, 8 74, 103.13-15; cf. Davidson, M i i , 168f.
s w e is the receptacie of images and similes char onginate at the Level of t h e wodd of intelligences.
Everytlnng which the sou1 perceives ocigliates at the level of the rational soul (AL.J_+j ) and from
the single power its luminous and emanating essence p o s ~ e s s e sThese
.~ perceived forms are now
given an onrologicaiiy different stanis than the perceived forms abtracted from te sensibles. The
former forms are real and partake of the other world. in a sense. bath types of forms are real - in
their own w ay.
The refledionof theseimages and similes in the communseme can express various types
of mysticai and piophetic visions. These focms representing perceived mecaphysid r d t i e s are,
however, first, reflected in the soul that becomes miiror-like (see section on mysticd vision).
Moreover, aif these faalties lire in the body oniy a shadow of what exists in the rationai soul
- the Isfahbad-light. ?he rational soul can act through the body (the body being its temple or its
theurgy. ;LLh ) mch chat che active mugination is an icon (-)
#
that beloiigs to L e faculty of

judgemem of the rational seul.'' For Suhnwardi. some of the forxns am responsible for appaitions or
phantoms (& ) which. accwding to D.ww=, are shadows of the immatdd lighr. and dl the
-butes included in those apparitions are equay the shedows of the spiritual attributes of that
iighrp
The lurnping together of di the fiinctions of representallon into one generic faculry ailows
Suhrawardi t o ident* a particular facuity of represenration as the receptacie of what otiginates from
the non-sensible alm. m. The single faculty of haginetion becornes the place of its anmediated
manifestation. In his endeav, however, Suhrawardi does not propose another term to identify this
new faculty, aithough , as we have seen, h e d s o reduces all the faculties to the rationai soul (i.e., the
lumuious essence emanating by i t ~ e l f )Ir. ~
becomes
~ the auive imaghation
H e uses, however, the traditional names artributed to t h e different faalties respansible of
representation to identify the vrrious acvities of this f a d t y . Here, Subrawardi is u d l e to discard
the philosophical ftamework from which he sought to depart. The distinctive feature of this process
is that the initial impetus needed ta initiate it is no Longer gmunded in the physicai w orid. Nonetbeless,
the vvious fundons of the faculties identified by Avicenna are stili required to receive and, more
impcntantly, to process what onginates in the world of intelligences. La fact, ir is the Avicennan
CHAPTER SIS - 172

philosophical framework which provida him with this complex scheme whose functions he rntegrates
within bis own reinterpretation of A v i c e ~ a ' sphilosophicai anhropolog)*.
Fuithemore, there is some ambivalence in hs apparent indiscriminfite use of such ~ m as s

the active or the faculty of the mmmn ~eme.~'


the retentive or passive imzgiiuiti~n,~
in passages where he discusses the functions that are mvolved in the aaivities of representation (see
earlier diagram). The above mentioned faalties are g e n d y aLl identified as wcepcles. For

example, w hen accessing intellemal matcers or intelligibles, the rationai soul utilizes the internai
faculties responsible for representation to grasp and access them. whether one is asleep or awake.
Here is how Suhrawardi desmbes this process:

The imaginative faculg ) imitates [inteiieaud m a m ] (


G b s ) rhrougb
the use of a form [or an image] ( G y ) which is in some way appropriate to it. And
this form is rdected in the sensitive w d d [Le.. by che uitermediary of the md~moa
s a s e a n d the passive i m w o n ] , in the same m 8 ~ e as
r [af m ] is reflected from
[the sensitive world through the intermediary of the coRtlZlOn SPNP ] in the treasure-
trove # of the active imagination (&).-
Thereupon, te soul contemplates (AA& ) marvellous forms, herirs things or sees spinmal

entities. The terrninology of this passage is not mystical, but the conrent may weii be. Suhrawardi is
simply trying to give an Aviceman exphnation of visionary-spiritual experiences. The process is the
same, except h a $ the direction is reversed, since the data originates fram non-sensible realrns. In
fact. Suhrawardi resotts m a process of representation that is not so diffaent from t h a of Avicenna
and wbich requires the occurrence of some mamial-like fonn or image. Just as ordinary vision
occurs through the projection of sensible physical forms to the imagination, so inteliectuai and
non-sensible mamm tue projected to the faculty of imagination w hich can chen be represented.
Suhmardi exptains how abstruct inteilectud m a t m (ylt ) c m be visualized by

resorting t~ a notion of "imimtion" WL)The idea of an "imitaion" is not an Aviceman invention.


It is already found in al-Farabi's work. Ainongst the activities of the imaginative faculty, al-FMbi
introduces an imitathg (a K15, ) or mimetic funaion. The Arabic term is,in fact , an equivalent to
as it had been used in the Arabic ttaaslation of Aristotle's P-cs. This new funaion
d o w s the imaginative faculty to represent objects with images of o t h e objeas. either bodily

54
H 5 f , 9 2!j,l2.3 (S*,,
1Q9).
a
4 227,210.1-2 (Sm201).
56
Hilpcitr/, II (a) 52.1-2 (p) $ 8, 87-15-18(An-& 44; h-2, 104); cf. MW,$ 87, 178.19-179.4
(Aila&.' 105).
n
, (a) 85.9-12 (p)
N+nEtT/VI1 6 37,107.16-18 (M,
64; /&mi7,229-30).
temperanenrs. emotions and desires. and even immaterid realities.'
One might curn to Avicema's Onr&eS/r~~eof&eSou/
for insight- in this work. he stares

that the f o m epprehended by intuiGoa (w ) are &en smbilised (,-3':A+? ) in the facu lty of mernory
( Z s l j ) . while the facuity of imagination tums to f-2 and imitates we ) or rqroduces Li
The underlyig StrUCNre highlighted
d e r forms what it has re~eived.'~ by Suhrawsrdi for nich 6

reception is most certainly compatible with the above Avicennan Peripatetic view.

(*+
For Suhrawardi. the faculty of the active imagination (J-) cornes into play in this process.
whereupon it has the abiliy to overpower ( 3 9 L"cl...-.,) the mmmm x a s e in order to marenahze
- in sensible wsual or auditive represenrations - wha it has received from the rational soul. Reception.
therefore, certainiy q p e m to occur through the higher faculties of the human soul. Whea rt reaches
the mmmm seme,a number of tbings can become manifested: what is remote (J; IJ 9lL ):
rnythm forms (& l LS+ .
Jy). e.g coafused dr-s (?&Y forms which are Mages
I &~ii.i),

imitating (CUL ) divine matters. Ln the latter case, it c m amount to a dream that is true or to a
revelation (or divine inspiraion) chat is unadulterami (e

In the T 8 ~ 1 pofh@v.
.s the imaginative faculty re-presents or imitates (&i&)
the intefiecm al
mater ihrough a form or an image (SJ- ) which is appropriate to it. And this form is reflected in
the sensitive world. It is only then th-

The sou1 contemplates (aa ) marveiious forms with which it has a private
anversation ( ), i
or ~ p o k e &
nwords are hesrd [without mere b* aay body
present]. or hiddenm-as r i ) m"festthemse1ves~' and e?pparitions (+y
appear as if rhey ascended and descended?

The second problem with which Suhtawardi is confkonred is the nanite of the soul-body
relation (see section on the nature of the soul). A v i c e ~ aadopted a notion of the soul and the self in
terms of substantiality. Such a notion of substanriaiity Liinits Avicenna's need for a faculty of
imagination as a prepwatory instrument in the acquisition of knowledge. Avicema's "mspended
person" example again precludes the need for any faculty of esthmion (or imagination). The

58
a i - F m i , Ibfi&~&, 21 1-19 (PderfSbur,21 1-9); cf. Black. 'Al-Fh-bi," 185.
59
Aviccnna, M M ,1 19.9-10 ("Prophine,"520).
A / m S 5 , IV, 8 87, 179.6-16 (m.,
1C5).
61
Ab Ra- in his Ar. cd. reads, aloag wicb the four rnss. h e uses w ~ I I. , w U e Corbin reads
w++H, cf. H i t y z z , \III (a) 85.11.85 n 8 (N, 64).
e
In the Peman transibon. it is a hidden icmn (- cf. HurStd,VI1 (p) 8 37. 107.20.
ad-),
63
HU-, VI1 (a) 85.9-12 (p) 8 37, 107.16-20 (m,
H;/ I d * ' , 229-30).
k e d i a c y of the soul's knowledge of its essence does not require the mediation of any other object
or faculty. Imagindon is of no avail ar. the ontological l e ~ e l . ~
At the andrropological level .the estimative faculty intervenes in Avicenna' s epistemological
process This faculty belongs to both tbe animal and rational souk. It is the most complex of the
souf's inner facolcies. [t is. on the one hmd, shared by a i l animals and corresponds ta the active
imagination and, on the other hand, present in human b e q s and corresponds t o the cogitative
faculty when the intellect interacts wirh ite When this interaction occurs. after its education in the
use of the cogitative faculty, estimation is able to receive non-sensible inputs whose origid is at the
level of the active intelligence. Paradoxically, the soul does need the body to instantiate its existence
m d for its individuation, but not to -ch seIf-inteiiection or grasp intelligibles.6b
In the wocks of Suhcaward, on the one hand, the a p p d to a notion of substantiality d s a
imits the need for a faculty of imagination as a preparatory instrument in the episternological
process leading to the knowledge of the self. Like Avicenna's example of the 'suspended person,"
S u h ~ d ~ a r d iconception
's of self-knowledge precludes any of the intemal faculties (see section on the
nacure of the soul). These discussions are distinct from any type of imaginative percepCon, let alone
intellectual perception subsumed under any sort of discursive accourir. For Suhrawardi ,the faculty of
repreentation does not constitute the self (the i-;~i) or the soul's self-consciousness. The knowing
subject is presumably the sou1 understood in its totality. somahuig other than the faculy of
representation (char inchdes the various Avicennari funaions responsible for representation) because .
the self, or more precisely self-kaowledge of one's seif. occurs without the need of a body.

This is not new and. in many places, Suhrawrdi makes use of the typically Avicennan
hypothetical sample of the " suspended person," dong with that of t h e drunken person. t o estabhsh
the existence of the sou1 as a sepenire The qpeal to a notion of self-wnsciousnss is
intended to demonsttate the complete separation of the soul fmm the body. However, the argument
he proposes presupposes, at least in the case of self-knowledge. the possibility of a non-conceptoal
knowledge precludiqg ihe meditdon of the body or of iny faculy associated with it (see sedon on

64
Druart, " Imsiginahon," 334-5.
CS
Drpart, " Im~inaion,"
331 4 .
66
D m ,"bagint+ion,"
334.
61
-&13, Php., W .4 , 116.12-20; cf. P&G. 96 27-30,23.3-25.1 ( B e , 24-6); cf. Avicenna,
IM?2,vol. 2, 319.5-321.8 (Dk, 3034) and Idem, S'.: V,7,255.1 -1 1 (PT, 255-6). In addition, in many
htimtes, Avicenna identrfles the sou1 with a self-consciousness of the self, cf. Fines, 'Conception," 189-91.
The inteiiecave faculty, i-e., the tahona1 soul,is nclrha a facuhp not a fotrn subsirting ui the body (e-g., in the
3 M Z ' ), cf. Pines, 'Concepaon," 194-6.
C m SIX - 175

self-knowledge), The imagination would. thetefore. become an obsolete facuhy.


The strong Neoplatonic flavor of Suhrawardi's wbrk. wherher in the h h a b l l s , or the
Tt.mp/es 01@&, provides the philosophicd Eramework which makes greater d o w a n c e for tbe
tcanscendental origin of knowledge - in line with an emaaatiomst scheme. Ultunately, it acconnts for
the reception of knowledge by mystical means - Le.. the gnostic parb (jCi ) An illunruion of

the adoption of such an emanationist scheme where knowledge is received fkom non-sensible realms

is found in the following passage fmm the TmpIes ofL.&b~.


w h g e Suhrawardi discosses rational

Once tbe soul has become strengthened with [the aid of] spiritual +es G U
+('LI ), and once che donudance of the phyncal (Z;. ) f d t i e s has grown
weakm accordiagly, and that the diminution of the nourishment and the prolongation
of i n s o d a bas overwme [tbe body]. [the soul] becomes free and even accasionaiiy
+
baste- to join the sacxed world ( yd l Lc ) Then it conjoins (~- ) with irs
saoed father (&kl I &+l +k )' aad acquires rhmugh u knowledge [i.e.. a
type of gnostic knowledge] {d L), and it conjoins witb the cefestial soub cognizant
(;i Gl +Sii ul+) of their movement and of the necessities of th& movemeats.
Thereby, regardless of whecher it is lrsleep or awake. it acquires C;il? ) from [the
lestid souls] knowledge of unseen [rectlities] in the same way that a mirror teceives
the image of the object f- itp9
S u h a r d i highlights theneed to srive to acquire such a knowledge as weIl a the importance
af its reception from the metaphysical rertlm. Ln addition, dispensirig with al1 bodily impediments
becomes one of tbe conditions foc the acquisition of knowledge that origiaates at the level of die
celescial souls. In this quest, the interna1 faculties are useless. A t this stage, this also includes the
imaginative faculs.. Snhraward thas oscillates b etween tw O modes of acquisition of knowledge
relateci to the respective ieaLms the sou1 seeks to know -the sensible and nonsensible worlds. These
two modes are also present in the works of Avicenna. indeed, it would be hteresting to shidy in a
more detailled fashion d of A P i c e ~ a 'texts,
s especially the RCM& (last chapters),to investgate
the presence of sinilar concems.
The difficulties Suhrawardi faces originate precisely in bis adoption of an ambiguous stand.
F k t ,he adopts a complete and total rejection of the world of the senses and the philosophical. while
not rejecting the nafural reqoirernents imposed by the more mditional accounts of perception -

68
It is cbe Holy Spait, the active intelligence, rhe tord of the buman species, cf. H H ~W (a),
,
82.9-83.2(p) 36,106-14-17(m., 62-3; h l p f f i ,2154).
69
Hi,ySW, VI1 (a) 85.3-8 (p) 37, 107.10-16 ( A d . ,634; I'sda~i-I,29-30). For various fams of
t~etatio ~~
(Q, 16:lOZ-3; 26: 1%-9: 42: 51-2, and so MX cf. ~ @ & , 8 74, 103.13-15.
CHAPTER SIX - 176

sensible and inteliebual. On the whole. however. the m e reality is not grasped b y the senses nor fies
wifhid the sensible realm. His pontion weighs on a seemingly greater dualism. a consequence of bis
more spirimalist interpretation.
The junction between the two - sensible and non-sensible - realms occurs witb the r e q t i o n
of an input from the active intelligence. This is m e of Avicenna's and Suhrawardi's philosophicd
anthropology. In this respect, however, Suhrawardi rippears to opt for a greater transcendentaiism,
espeady in his more illuminacive psematioa Knowledge is received from non-sensible realnis (as
it was with Avicenna with the input of the active intelligence) and can bypass the inner faculties
identified as necessary preliniinsnes in the works of Avicenna (Le.. originaring with the senses and
leading to the estimative fadry). Nonetheless, Snhrawardi's adoption of the light and darkness
motifs does not prevent hirn from reproducing - in metaphoncal s y i e - elements found in Avicenna's
Pdpatetiusm. Neiiher tbe problem of the meam by which knowledge of chis world 1s aopoired, nor
the p d d question of the relation betweai the sou1 aad Le body. have been ~ o l v e d . ' ~

X)
Cbin, Ar&., 30 a46; cf. Idem, " L'Ulr'1~of-@,"188.
CHAFIER SEVEN - 177

- SEVEN -
EPISTEMOLOGY

SELF-KNOWLEDGE
The question of self-knowledge in the thought of Suhrawardi is at the hemt of his conception

-
of presential knowledge bJ+- + ). bis contribution to Islanic philosophy. It bas been srgued
chat this inaovatwe doctnne of knowledge is possible, in part, because of his elaboration of a cheoty

of seif-know ledge consisting esentialiy of any individual's inimediate end m e d i a t e d knowledge


of what or who that individual is.
The discussions about the soul found in the P h d o , the P ! s and the Thtueus Aply
some s o n of self-kno~1ed~e.l
However. Plato did not actually propose an explicit theoy of self-
knowledge
Self-knowledge was neirher rakm up by Aristatle as a particuiar issue. Ir was not un& the
advent of Neoplritonism that genuine enquiries into the issue of self-knowledge began in eamest.
Some discussions of Plohus' ideas +th respect to the idea of self-knowledge fotmd their way into
wotks such as the pseudo- T b d w & & M e whicii then greatiy influenced lslamic thought.
Plotinus with his ascent motif inmduces a conception of the self thar can be equated with a kind of
of every soul. gusmantees a l e m the
persmal knowledge? The seif's upward drive. ch~t'~~cteristic
posiibility that each soul wiil achieve an intelieaual icnowledge of itself. Heaoe, the Ploruiim sysrern
&finesinreilectual and etbical dimensions of the soul's quea, in ia attempt to reMn to the one3
Suhtawetdi shows that d k a a n d unmedizited howledge consunires a possible and a legitimate
method of knowing, using the analogy of self-knowledge. Not surpriingly. his discussions on this
subject rne elaborare, because of the importance self-knowledge pkiys in the elaboration of his own
epistemology. His d~cussionsof rhis point ~e much more extensive than tbose found in A v i c e ~ a
For Suhrawardi, discussions on self -knowledge arise in two closely related conteas: the meiaphysical
and the psychologid.

In the metaphysical context (which wiii net b e deait with here et length). self-knowledge is

' Wesm, "Self-Kridwing," 89-92.


2
Crpstzl, "Plohmis,"2W-86.
3
Westra, "Self-KnotRing," 93- 1OZ; cf.Rapp e, " Self-knowledge and SubjectiPity." 253 -70.
CHAPTER SEVEN - 178

an essential mode of knowledge or cognition ascribed to intelligible substances and celestial souls. In
the psychological context, Suhrawardi lays the conditions chat help delineate and define the nature of
an m&ial perceptim of the self in terms of a self-coasciousness. The experience of self-consciousness
is a pcimay experience and the only real experience leading to true knowledge. A good introduction
to the whole discussion on self-knowledge in the psychological context is found in the hakmbns
where Suhrawardi writes that the problem of knowledge had been the most preoccupying problem
which h e encountered. What h e had read in books, he informs the reader. failed to sabsfy him. But.
one night, after spending long hours thinking and practising spiritual exercises (L& ), he fell in a
state of somnolence ( ~ 4):
I &&

I was overcome with a pleasure, a glittering flash of tight, and a radiant glow [Lit
Light] which was [caking the shape oT] a representation (& ) of a human form
(&L I &A ) Then, I saw it. It was the succour [k., the aid] of the souls, the
Imam of [perennial] wisdom, the fvst teacher [Atirrotle] possessing a distinguishing
quality (Z& ) which pleased me end a splendor which astonished m e ... I then
complained to him about the difficulties of this problem. He said to me "Go back to
then. [this difficulty] wwill be solved for you."'
e .

your self (U e)l.


This passage introducs some of the most important dismssions of the & . t ~ & h sWhat
.
follows is a long dialogue becween SIlhiawardl and the fum master - m t l e - who answers his
queries about the nature of knowledge. It is in the course of his dream-vision of h s t o t l e that he is
instructed about the nature of knowledge - w e knowledge is achieved through the subject's perception
li),her or his souL5
of her or his own essence or self (a
Such discussions are not entirely novel Plocinus' idea of the self as knowledge found its way
into some passages of Avicerma's works where similar preoccupations and issues are discussed. In
fact, Avienna appeari to be the first Islamic philosopher to bave atrempted an analysis of self-
knowledge in the context of philosophid aathropology. e.g.. in his CLw , DI~CUSS(~ S
and :
Raatwk~.For instance, in the R m ., Avicenna begins a discussion on the nature of the human
soul and self-knowledge with a stsement that it is identical with the one pronounced by Suhrawardi's
Aristotle: "Go back to your seff. "

F a Ziai, "ais the Perippu+ic master of philosophy. i a., the real Ariaode, and not any one else,"
d.Zai, fiowl-, 145 n.5. The uutb h a more in line with Fdchry's assessment, i.c. it would r e p s e n t the
If. Fakhry. f i j t q , 299 n. 10. I t is not. hem, the place to discuss tbe nature
Aristotle of the p r m & - ~ d 9 z y c
of and the docPinrs &opted by this frgure Subrawardi identifies as Aristotle. For Landolt, it is a persoaalisation
of the Active Intellect,d. Land&, " Suhrawdi's,"478b.
6
Pines, "Concephon," 204,244- 16.
vol. 2 , m, 1 . 3 195 (Dxk,303).
7
Avicenna, &
/ -,
In what foiiows. we will show. first, bow Suiuawardi aticulates his notion of self-knowledge
and, second. how the discussions in Avima's works about self-knowledge are the prelude and
pertiaps the aigin of Suhrawardi's enquiries on-this particular issue. Suhmwards analyses on
self-knowledge are more complex than &ose found in Avicema. Suhrawardi discusses the knowledge
of the soul itseif, a knowledge totally differenc from that of other things. Self-knowledge shares a
particular relarionship witb its object. i.e.,the experience of the self, not as it cogitates. but as it
exists. To explain self-perception and self-consciousness, Suhrawardi makes use of pbilosophical
agurnents and this, nomithstanding the fact that these experiences occur ar a level often thought to
lie beyond any mionai or intelieaive experience.
It is in rhe context of discussions about the establishment of the existence of an immaterid
sou1 tha Suhnwardi is m discua self-knowledgee A p d e l may be d m n becween Suhrawardi' s
mncept of self-knowledge in view of ia immediacy? and the more mysticsl position of the Neoplatonic
tradiuon and its concept of seif-knowledge or self-cognition lotinu nus).'^ The laier aspect rem& to
be explored.

SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS
The first issue of importance regarding self-knowledge pertauis to the unceashg nature of
this patticulr type of immediate awareness of me self." Self9wlreness rem upon the immediacy of
the personai knowledge of one's self. But as Jamalpur has argued, whiie Descartes moves from
thought to existence (the wg~fo sam ), Avicenna tries to show tha it is impossible foc the self

(Le, the soul) to be unaware of its existence, Therefore, self-knowledge in Avicenna does not
amount to a tautology of the type " 1 am myself," since this is not a logicd proposition (like A is A).
It corresponds to an "existential" proposition, i.e., a direct seif-awareness of the self. This " existentid
proposition" consthmes "the a priori condition of human uiWgence," Le.. a kind of "pre-consuous

6
Bdmw, 8 1 14- 1 17, 1 10.15-1 16.15 (*, 102-8). One exception 1s the uneditcd physics of the
7d-a ( B a l i n m. 5062, menclaned b y Ziai) which cantains a book ab &Sou/ (rv) and whose fourt
chaptu is dsdicarcd to self-knowledge,knowledge one's essea, a d selfon#iousness; funhamore,siniilar
discussions occur in the physics of the Pa* (Leiden ms. Or. 365,mentianed b y Ziai), cf. &ai. KaowIec&e,
147,147 n.4, 148 n. 4 and n5.
' F a Zia, Suhrawardi's knmledge by presence is "the subject's imrncdiate -ence of the
"presaice"of tbe object [which] determines the vzlidity of knowldge icself. Thur expenen of such thulgs as
God, the self, separPte entities, etc.,is the same as knowledge of them," cf. Zia. RaowIe4pr. 143. [n this
respect, this type of knowledge mn be said ta currespand to the mystical aspect of Suhrawardi's thought in
whicb he tries to provide cational expianations for tbe occurrence of su& personal and intuitive experienca.

II
Kobayashi, 'Ibn S-31%
aad Suhrawardi,"62-77.
stage. "" T h e e conclusions. h oweva, are required b y Jamalpur1s essentidist intapresation.
presupposing che existence of a substance prior to its existence - i.e.. the distinction between the
existence of a conception of the seif as a primitive ego dong with a created ego.
Such immediacy is W e d to the priniacy of the fundamental awareness that one has of one's
self. Self-knowledge, in thisperspectwe,correspondsto a prmary apperception of one's own existence,
a sort of @ary awareness of one's individual self. Suhrawardi wAes tbac

In generai. you can be unaware (Ji&


) of evey body L- ) and accident
(pr exsts. while you camor be unaware of your self (J+
)tba~ )).since you
know your self
(a+) without ha- to p n d a ( & &) ovet ail of these [thhgs]."
The f m characteristic of self-knowledge is tha it need not proceed from the acquisition of
any cype of knowledge of what C O I E X ~ N ~homan
~S beings, i-e., bodies and accidents. The laaer is by
no means a amditian for self-awareness; rather, self-awareness is essentially pre-conceptual and
pior to any intellemal considerationof one's own nature. It is unpossible u,reduceone's self-awareness
to the perception of the physicd body, such that neither the kaowledge nor the awareness of bodily
parts or, for that m m , of the whole human body would amount ro self-knowledge.
This is e d l i s h e d by appeaiing to our general la& of knowledge of our intemal organs,
some of which can ody be known by means of a cornparison with other Cving beuigs or b y
dissection If awrpeness of one's self was somehow dependent on the knowledge of ail our bodily
parts, then ignorance or unawareness of the existence of the hem. the brain. and other interna1
would
OL~LLL~S amount to an ignorance or unriwarenes of one's self. Suhrawardi writes that. indeed
"you know pour own self [i-e., your essence] (a+ .-.1 3). aithough you are unaw are of dl the organs.
You wmist, therefore, [of somehhg which is] beyond all [these bodily] ~rguis."'~
Self-knowledge
is, thus, not associaed with the knowledge of the bodily. Rather, it is prior to any type of intellearial
consideratioas about what oonstitutes the nature of human beings or their constituents.
Avicenna already made the same point by argcling that the sou1 (or the self) is not identical
with , e.g.. the skia which die eye sees, for if somebody else were to W e a r that skin. the individual
would s t U remain the same. The sou1 is neither the bodily parts nor the organs that c o d a i t e the
body, since idemaf organs sucb as the hean or brain are only known dter dissecrion ).

Avicenna adds tha 'what you perceive is afso not a t d t y (h), as a totality ... is something

'' Jarnaipur. C d m d A I r ~1,70-1.


D
m,m. 8 2 ~ 2 3 . 5 - 7( B&, 24).
14
A h * , II, 6 27, 129.9-12; cf. P m ,II1 27,23.34 ( B d 24).
,
He then goes on to show ihir rhe sou1 is sornething 0th- thut a living bebg's corporeality
el~e."'~
(hand) r than the mixnire ( I >) chat constitutes its body."
d e.

AWcmna States that no one can be onaware of who she or he i. Someone who sleeps or a

drunken person, akhough nor in a normal srare of awamnes. is nonetheless self-aware. even if the
self-representation is noc constantiy present in memory. Avicenna also uses the hypothetical example
of the "suspendecl person" to prove tha the sou1 i s immatenal and that it has an experiential or
intuitive kiiowledge of its self (+! ) as an immateral entiry." Moreover. if it were possible for
someone m b e mspended and not receive any w e of information from the outside wocld tbrough

perception or mediated by any bodily p a m or orgaas (.LI ), this person would s i l l b e aware. he

assem. "of the certitude of irs b e h g (L&i G&).""


Suhrawardi pursues the maDer in a s M a r fashion and says that if one investigates furcher:
You do not find the which is reaiiy you (c;; c;i L ) other than something
which perceives itself (&luUJa ) and it is that which is your individual being
(.- i). And e v e g which can perceive itself ( olj) and its individual being
(ri; L;!) has this in common with you.lg
Knowledge of one's self occurs, furthermore, because of the existence of an unceashg
phenornenon a,as Sahniwtrdi notes, "the knowledge of yovseff (3jLla ) is unintec~pted

a d
( 4 i 1 )~ permanent (el J ) . " ~First, it is the individual exhten that is the subject of this
unintemipted knowledge, inasmuch as no one c m stop to apprehend her or his existence. And,
second, this knowledge is permanenr, in the sense that its permanence d m either ta the knowledge
that persists throughout one's lifaime, or at every moment of one's S e ; or t o the knowledge rhat
persists as an absmcted-like knowledge, indepeudently of any material ( e d y ) subsainun, in the
aftetlife, in the sense of bRng eternal (e
la). This is an important aspect of SlihrawaKn'sesch~ology.

inasmuch as the objects of the imaginative fanilty will b e able to survive the disappearadce of the
body and be responsible for the fate of the s d , in the afterhfe. On the whole, the f k t characterisic
of seif-howledge is its definition in t a m s of a notion of self-awareness.

15
A v i c e ~ a Id-,
, val. 2,IIf, 3,322.8-323 2 (&k, 308).
16
Aviccnna, IaJS72, val. 2,111,5,325.1-330.1 ( Dxk,309-10).
17
Marmura. "Avicenaa' s "Flying Man" in Context," 386-7;cf. Goichoa. DGEPbaO, 13-5.
18
Avicenna, fshH, vol. 2 , 111,4, 323.6-324.7 ( D k ,311); cf. Xbid., 7.320.7 ( D k ,304).
19
Urkmur,4 ll6,ll2.ll-l3 (SIW; 104).
20
Hil@iW, II (a)49.8-9 (p) 8 SI&. 1 (m.)
43; /sd"Lf, 1O 1).
CHAPTER SmTEN - 182

SELF-W ENTITY
Suhcawardi's concept of self-knowledge introduces a notion of self-identity. The first argument
that Suhrawardi provides to establish self-identity is taken from obset.vat~onsof bodily changes. Ln
g e n d , because of the deficiencies to which their bodies are subjected. all Living things undergo
natural transformations. The explanation of such a deficiency is the existence of the natural heat
*
I ) that bodies possess and which is responsible for their nacud depletion. Such a state

requires, m turn. a replenishment by way of an intake of nutrients. The body. therefore. replaces
continuously. completely. and naturally. what it loses.i'
The same physiological phenomenon apphes to all other badily parts, such char the whole
body constantly changes thoughout Life: everything which constitutes the bodysuffm transformation.
e . g , the skin. muscles, and all orher organs. AU these bodily prns become dissolved (&U P
) and.

then, rebalanced (J&) - since they .re subject to alteration (A&)


by a proces of rep~enishment.~
and t d o r r n a t i o n (J# ).= Avicenna avails himself of a sirmlat- vgument based on a constant
bodily tran~fonnation.~~
In spite of all these physiological changes that affect the narutal body, the human being's
appemeption of itself is not subject to similar cbaages. Suhrawardi writes that "if you were that body
or a part of it, then your individual being [i-e..your ipseity] ( ; i l ; ~ i ) would be changing all the
time. For SuhrPwardi. a for Avicema. that wluch remains undtered is a person's individuality. It
is that which constitutes tbe essence of each and every individual. Suhrawardi adds tbat:

If your own individual body were to be understood as one of the parts of the body,
it would likewise [like these parts] be constantly changing. Your own individual
being [ie.. your ipseity] of last y e a (+ & -) would no longer be [identical to]
your individual being of this yes; indeed, your own individual being )
would amount to something different every day; and chis is not the case.=
The above argument rests on the assumption that if individuality were somehow identical

2' HzpZW, II (a149.6-8 (p) 8 5.85.11-5 (An&, 42; fsm~?, 101). This is a namral process by which
the body regmcraOes itself. It was argued that if tbe body did n a eLtminllte same of the food it mgerred, r t
would grow indefiniteiy, sornectnag its nmral development refutes.
22
A./w@, If, 27,129.7-8.
a
H i l r a , II (p) 0 5,85.15-16 (&,
43; I d a , 101).
24
Alrioenna, I t f ' , ,128.24-1 29.14 (Marmura, "Ghazali," 20 1-2).
2s
Uuil1I(a)49.7-8(-.,42; I'kmii, 101); cf. A&*, 11, $27, 129.8.
26
fipZtdl I1 (p) 3 S,85.16-18 ( An& 43; fhnaF, 10 1). He wntes in the Arabic version, 'however,
as Long as cbe perceiving subaaace (cl*>; p ) in you persists, then you rc [truly] youneil (&I 6 1 ) and
not [perceived)through you body." d.[bid., I1 (a) 49.8-9 (/~mil*J,10 1).
CHAPTER SEVEN - 183

witb the body or PM of the body. then. how coold the occuirence of change take place w i d the
body without the individuaiity assoaated with it also changing? Experience proves otherwise.
Therefore, there m u s be a defiMte permanence of one's own pemxptron of one's existence. if
self-knowledge depended on the bodily, the pason's individuality would also be subject to change.
But, in fact. there is a permanen of one's idezitity throughout Me. The unddymg assumption of
such an argument is the intuitive knowledge uiherent in the experience of one's self-identity itseif.
The second argument for self-identity- which Suhraward provides is based on the loss of
some bodily parcs or the loss of their perception. in such cases. the individual's knowledge of one's
self does not c a s e with the loss of some bodiiy Limbs. This type of bodily deficiency - whether
natural or accidental - in no way affects a person's self-idenrity as a whole. Snhrawardi provides the
asamples of human beings who Live without a hand, a foot. or some d e r bodiiy part and who do not
loose the knowledge of who they are a part of the howledge of r h e r n s e l ~ e sI.n~fact. Snhrawardi is
explicit: those who suffer a loss of sensarion in any part of their bodies da not lose sight of wbo they
ae.He writes, "know rhat if you focga any pattidar part of your body. [or ifJ you see some parts
without any life or perception [e.g.. a paralysed h b ] , it does not malce a human being d e f i ~ e n t . ~
The self is, therefore, not reducible to the perception of ia bodily parts, although these can.
et t h e s . be forgotten." In mm, Suhr~vardiadvances these arguments to estabiish the notion of
self-identity. Once the notion of self-ide* is accepteci, he can then pmceed to establisb the
existence of an individuai being or of an ipseity, i.e., the individual d o n a l soul.This argument can.
in faa. be m a d back to Avicenne's hypotheticai " suspended person" example."

UNMEDIATED NATURE OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE


The third aspect of self-knowledge which Suhrawardl discusses at length is its unmediated
nature. I t occupies the bu& of the arguments on which he buds his own conception of presential
knowledge. Self-knowledge , prllnaciiy hecause it is intimately associatecl with self -consaoasness ,
conSitutes a dima type of knowiedge which precludcs the potiting of any type of imermediary.

Self-knowledge is an inunedia& and u m e d i a e d knowledge t h a does away with the distinction


between the object and the subjea of knowledge as botfi are emb odied in one and the same individual

27
AIR*, II, 5 2 7 , 129.7-9.
a w-.
ni @) D 27.23.3-4 ( B O O ! , 24).
t9
Ha-, II (a) 49.24 (p) 8 4,85.4-6 (-, 42; l i m a ? ,10 1).
P
Pines, "Ctmce@on," 185-7; cf. Marmrin, " G b h and the Aviceman," 195-2W;cf. Ibid.,
"Avicenna' s " Fiying Mm" rn Context,"3 83-95.
being - the self. the souL
In his A v i c e ~ aventures
Re~l~rb, answers to such pu&es as "do you p e d v e [youtseifl
through an iaterxuediary?He answers to this question negatively.writing &at you perceive yourseif
"

aithout having a need for anaha faculry or for an iniedi~rnediery."'~


It is not surprising, ttierefore, m discover t h a Suhrawardi echoes Avicenna's position with

stafements hke "to perceive yoiirself, you do not need anything ocher thm your own self [or essence]
~ h self
(cl;~j).'*~ e is.here. the individuel existence that manifes iaelf. in a sense. ktuifively to the
one who experiences his own existence and n a through the knowledge of what the self conscitutes.
One might say that the beuig of the self, Le., that which constitutes the individuality. auuiot be
occulced. as it consticutes che essence of the self. Nothng stands between the self and the knowledge
it bas of irself,
To establish the veracity of a notion of unmediated knowledge, Suhrawatdi goes on to
provide, a least, four doseiy relafed arguments ta show that it is impossible to obcain knowledge of
the self through such ttiings as image,form, notion of self ( d i ) , or attribute of the self.
In bis first version of the argument for the onmediated nature of self-knowledge,Suhrawardi
smes tba self-knowledge cannot be the remit of a representation and tba it does not occur thmugh
an unage, W e , a represeatation of the self, He writes:

A thhg [i-e.,a being] thatis seif-subsisting ( & I L +Z) [and] which perceives itseif
( I d4 ) [i-e.. irs essence] does not know itseif (r;li) through an image
(J- ) o f itself which would be in itsekf, because if its knowledge [of itselfl were
by means of an image, which image of the individual being would be ocher than
[the individual being] itself (+ 4 + Y;II JIL ) ... it would follow necessarily
that the perception of the reality of the individual being (i,; 'ill dI Ja !) is by kself
the perception of an impersonal object + L)....whkh is absurd.=
The unstated pmnise of this argument is, once more, t h a the self has an unmediated
knowledge of what it is. Images or s i d e s which have to be postulated as m e d i d g agents in such a
case become the objeas of seif-knowledge. Perception of the individual seif would, then, essentMy
amount ta the perqtion of tbat other entity,posited as an object of the seif.

Subrawardi appears to distuiguish between r h i s particular type of knowledge of one's self


and the sensitive perception of the extetnal wocld. in the latter case, the percepaon of extetnal

31
Avicem, f ~vol. 2,,111, 2, 321.2-8 ( D k , 308); c5.Arnalda, "Un +ent avicennien,"
34149; cf. Dm- "The Sou1 a d Body Problern,"2749.
wbich are usuaUy constituted of i m q e s 1J L) of the objects
objeas occurs through rep~sentations
found in the world. In the case of perception through the senses, for instance, the objea of perception
- Le.. the perceptibles - and the red o b j e a in the world both become objective entiti= (9)
fct the
one who perceives and both are essetitially reducible to one and the srrme thing."
Knowledge mediated by such representations cannot, howwer, appiy to self-knowledge. The
occurrence of self-knowledge that woald requie representations or images of the s d f would not be
possible. because these representarions or images woald become obstacles for the perception of the
true self. Perception of the self would and could only be achiwed through irs represenrdon and not
tbrough what it really is. Consequentiy, Suhrawardi concluda chat knowledge of the self rhrough
any kind of rqwesentation of images or similes &J
L)is, therefore, unsustainable.
The difficulry raised by rhis k t version of the argument for rhe unmediared nani- of
self-knowledge is, in f a a , the problem of the "objecrificarion" of that which consthtes the subjea
of self-lurowledge. The subject of self-knowledge would simultaneously be construed as some h a
of objective reality througb w h c h the self. out of which is constituted the individual being, would
have to know itself. In chis case. knuwledge of the s d would have to be eguated witb the knowledge
of the image. the simile, or any 0th- kind of mpresentatian that stands for the self and, thus. lie
outside the self. Such a represencation wodd. therefwe, always pcwent the self from having direct
access to its real essence.
The argument is sud, thac if self-knowledge occumed through an image or a representation
then, one of two situations would follow: d e r the mbject woald not know that it is its own
(JL),
image, beceuse the knowledge this p m o n would have of the image presupposes the existence of
another image, resulting in an Minite regress: or the subjea would be aware of the fact that it is a
self-image, in which case, the ubj- would already have self-knowledge wi~houth a a g any need
for such a ~eif-f-ima~e.)~
Suhmwtudi shows how such a conception of self-knowledge leads to two
absurd caaclusions and, therefore, demonscrates the impossibility of a concept of self-knowledge
whch requires the intervention of a representation, as an intermediary temu in this W c u 1 a . r epistemic
P===s-
The second version of Suhrawardi's argument for the unaiediatecl natxlre of self-knowledge
u tbrt self-Lnowledge does not occur through a form of tbe self. Widi thrs second version of the
argument, Suhniwardi implicitly diodes to the absurdity of any conpion of the sou1 in terms of a
CHAPTER SEVEN - t86
form. thus rejeaing the immanence Lrnplied in the adoption of any type of hylomorphic theoy of the
soui-body compound. More importantly. however, Suhrawardi tries to do away wifi a Peripatecic
amcepaon of knnwledge based on a theoty of abstraction of fonns. For him. his classical mode of
knowledge cannot sufficiently =plain seif-knowledge. It is not difficuk for him to reject this theory
of absuaaion. because he discusses a type of knowledge (as opposed to the perception of tbe
externa1 realicy) which offers no possibility of being grasped through any sort of intellectual
representarion,at least, in its more primitive and pc5marymode of self-perception (e-g.,self-awareness).
Con- CO any cype of sense perception, self-perception is not the r e d t of an absuaction of the
form wbich constitutes the objective and extemal reaiity of the self which could then frnd its way
into the seme. The
~3mdlm self. a the individuai being, is itself. and knows itself without having
to cesort to any kind of abstraction of forms of its own reaiity.
The argument SubrawarQ provides is very similsr to the pcevious one. It is, therefore, not
sutptising that the occurrence of such forms witin the process of self-knowledge should amount,
again, to an " objectification" of the self and its reality. Suhrawardi offers twO reasons; the first is as

nierefore, we say that oor souk, when they perceive th& essence ( QI; ), their
perception af [their essence] is, for several reasons, n a b y means of a form. One of
these [reasons] is that the forni which would be in the soui would not be by itseif
identical witb [the s d ] Gr h+ 4 ). And tha which p d v e s its own
essence peneives the very essence ( w ) 3 6 by which its individual behg (-LI )
e x h and not an [other] entky 1) wbich would crrrespond ro it. And every f a m
in the one who perceives wouid be added to [the perceiver's] essence such as to be
in relation to [the one who perceives] , an objea [i.e., an "itw(9) ocher tban tbe
mbject itsefJ:[the lm]would not be an " In (LI) [i.e., an individual entity] for
[the ane who peneives]. Therefore. perception is not through a f o m n
The second reason is the foiiowing:

If self-perception ( + I d + l d l J ~)![i-e., the soul's perception of its essence]


were by means of a form.[but, this is impossible, because] every fonn aqinred by
the sou1 is a universai, which [by definition] nothing naps from being applied to a
multitude (a& ); even if taken as a totality of universals. a of which together
would b e specific to a single individual (-
.
. ) [i.e., Our persans], it still would
not leave its uaiversalness [Le., it still would be applicable to a multipliuty d e r
than to one only]. But wery hwnan being perceives its essence ( d i ) in a way
whlch ptwents it from being -lied to others (Z,Y ). T h d o r e , the thinklap of

36
It is &O tbe fact of bemg the same, i .e.,samenest (S :x _c r).
n
M i : 4 208,484.6-10.
one's panicular essence (Z;+JI Gl i l d& ) cannot possibly reke place by meuis
of a f o m m
la short. self-perception is neither through a universal form - in whicb case the perceived
objeu would not be the parricular subject it really is - nor through the a d i n a y perception of
particulan - Le., the semes. Therefore. self-perception must be through the soul itself. H e also adds
chat:

Furthermore. the soul perceives ics body and perceives its [faculcies of] estimative
and of passive imagination (t+l L.;3 ). So, if it were to perceive these things
through a form that [would bel in its essence (+lj ), while this forai would be a
universal. then. the sou1 would be a mover (ZZ- ) of a universai body. and would
.
be a user of a universal faculty.Hence [the soul] w ould possess nercherthe pmeptton
of its own body nor have perception of the faculties of its own body and this would
not be c a r e c r How could thk be when the estimative [facuity] ( p Jdenies ) ici
[own]self and also denies the interna1 faculties, aithough, indeed, [the esrimaive]
does n a deny ics effects ( b , ~ 7 ) So. if the estimarive [faculv] does not perceive
these [huer] f a d t i e s [of the soal], and bodily faculries d o not perceive anything of
these [bodily faculties] themselves, then the sou1 wouid not perceive ~tllythuig,but
univemals. Therefore, R would foUow that a human being would not perceive his
body, his estimative [faculty], and his [faculty] of passive h a g h a t t o n by which
particulacs are d i s m s h e d (+ +"c~pl~- ); and this is mt the cae And there
is no human being who does nor petceive his present (r;.L ) particillac body and
faculties, and make use of a p d c u l a r facuity. Therefore, a human being does not
perceive hirnself by means of a form, does not [perceive] his faculcies in a certain
g e n d way by means of a form, and does not [perceive] his body in a certain
g e n d wiy t k o u g h a
The third version of Suhrawardi's argument for the unmediated nature of self-knowledge is
found in anocber passage wbere he e r p k how the self canriot perceive itself through the particular
notion which defines its own nature. i.e.. the notion of self or the notion of essence (al;) i t ~ e l f . ~
Once more, Suhtawardi uses a d a r argument - it is impossible to knaw the self thmugh omerhing
aher than the self. Hen, it is impossible to know the self, if one tries to conceive of the seif as
ha* knowledge of irself through an entity t h a would carespond to ics self or irs essence (al;).
For Suhrawrrdi,such anotion of self or the essence of the self would, once again, b e c m e intermediate
terms oc entities, posited between the self and the knowledge of what constitutes it. Any notion of
the self would, rherefore, act iike a representation or a form and becorne an objeaive reality of the

40
There are sbme quiddiaa which ctnnot possess an e d n c e in rctualicy aad in concrete exoeraai
erstaces, such as mmy georneolcai m e s , cf. A v i c e ~ a JshihS,
, v o i 2,Ii1,5,334.3-WJ.1(DI&3U).
seif. which would, then, predude an access to the true self. It would amount to the knowledge of
something ocher dian its true reaiity. Suhrawardi writes:

You perceive your self. Your perception of youiself is eithw terough your [owr !
self (Al +) or through somefhing o t h a than &e self which would [in the laaer
case] then b e - besides your self - another facultp or [another] self (alj) which
would perceive your essence [di15) This argument leads to an infinite regress, and
this is impossible.''
Suhrawardi offers yet rulochet- example of what h e has in mind, this rime using the concept of

And if substantidky (G >- ) wem [taken as] [il the entelechy of [the self' s]
quiddity (le h JU ) or [] were an expression of the negation [of inherence
in] a oubjea or a subsuasum (Y&J~3i c,,Jl + ). chen, [~bSrPLltialif~]
would
[ia any case] not exist as an independent entity which would be identrcai with your
essence (d + d S l i ) . U substantiality is meanc to posess au unirnown meanhg
[or concept]. and M c e you constantly perceive your self ( & i i AS ,al ) not by
means of an added entity, therefore, the substantiality that is concealed from you is
not the totality of your self (&il;) and not a part of your self.4z
Suhrawardi makes it clear that men an understanding of one's ipseity oc of one's the self in
tams of one's substantlality - i . c , the soul's substance - falls prey to similar objedons of
"objectification" of the essence of tbe self. Such a logical distinction in terms of substantiaiity
aaanot, in fact. render the m e nanire - as it exists - of the self.
The fourth vasion of Suhraward's argument amaunts ta what has been implicitly held in ail
three previous versions. The different arguments he prgents seem to be teducible to a general
pinciple that emphasizes the impossibility of self-knowledge h u g h any sort af entity added to the
.
self. If anything w tire added COtbe self,e.g.,a representation a forai, or anorher self for self-knowledge
to be achiwed, this p d c u l a r additional entky would, then, have to be considered an &bute

(L),
and it would have to belong to the seif.
In this particufar case, in which the self would be an amibute, if the self were to judge that
any type of atrribute had beea added to irself, tbis wouid pcesuppose thrit the seIf had known its own
essence beforehand in order to know chat the ettribute was superadded to its essence - without
ha* the self ta r e m to a notion of the self or any addeci attribute just to know itse. In shott, for
A to know that B beloqgs to it, A has to know A in the f h t place. The agument, although seemingly
more complex, is essentially similar to the one used in the previous three versions. Suhrawatdi
Ir is inconc&vablerhat a thing ( S& ) [ie..an eYistLig and knowing being] knows
its self by means of an enrity added (elj ) to its self. because [the added entity]
would be an attribute (L ) beiongkig m [the existing and knowing being] . -4nd if
[the knowing being] judges th& any amibute sdded to its essence. whether it be
knowfedge (+) or something eise [i.e.. anaher attributel. belongs co its essence
(61;). thea.it would have already known its essence before al1 the atmbutes and
without them. Therefore. it did nor know its self by meais of [my] added amibute."
More generally. a these d i f f e n t versions of the argument for the unmediated nature of
seif-knowledge highlight the importance of the issue foc Suhrawardi in numerous passages, he
rejects a notion of self-knowledge chat would require or depend on the medietion of sny type of
mental representation of the seif, w hecher it b e a tepresentation. aa image. a simile, a form. any type
of attribue, or even a concept. The impossibility of self-knowledge through any sort of represenration
is essdaiiy argued on the assumption chat such a knowledge is inherent, unquestionable. petpenial
and, somehow, akin to a pre-conceptual perception or awareness. Suhrawardi .writes:
And since perception [of the self] c m o t be rhrough a form (Z,- ) or sorneching
added (elj),you do not need for the perception of your seif (&l jJ dSI p! )
anytbing other than your self (& l j ) which is maoifest to itseif (w L;&
.i ) or
not absent from its self (w p i+c ;iuLIJ &J l )).Consequently , it is necessary
that the perception of its self [i-e., its essence ( a lj)] is due to [or caused by] itself
ai it is,and [in fact] you do not become absent at a i l from your self or part of your

Suhrawardi makes an analogy as a tool for understanding what he conceives to be the mode
of perception of self-knowledge that occurs without resorthg to any son of representation. The
example h e provides is the experience of pain, an anaogy often used to iustrae the evanescem
chanicteristic of this p d c u i a r type of personal knowledge. Suhwardi writes:
And amongst chat which estabiishes that we possess perceptions (0 KI JaI ) which
tre in no need of another form 0th- chan the presence (J+- ) of the essence
(01;) of what is perceiveci (d& ) is: that a human behg suffers pain because of
the separation of a bodiiy part which is attached [to h a or his body] and feels it
(+ ). not because the sepamtioa of [a bodily part] attached [to the body]
causes for [b] person another form in that bodily part or in ftuiy] other [part].
Rather. tbe object of perception ( d , ~ ) [i.e.. paia] is identical to that s e p d o n
($$ ) which Y seiised ); by itseif. pain does not mise through a fam
which would occuc fmm [the sep~1~8tionI. Therefare, it has been shown that what is
sufficient for the perception (dIJJ) of what c m be perceivecl is the occurrence of
the essence of [these objects of perception. e.g.. pain] to the soul a to an entiry6
which has a particulin. and presential attachrnem to rhe soul (Cpli>J+=-
+ ).*
The analogy of pain aptly illustrares the marner in which seif-knowledge must b e understood.
These diffemx aspects of the name of self-knowledge di Lead CO discussions about the individudit7
which characterizes each and every soul. Once the conditions of self-knowledge have been established,
Suhrawardi can, then. seek to demonstrate the existence of an individual soul.

INDIVIDUATION AND PERSONAL INDIVIDUALITY


Self-knowledge. with its vat5ous facets posits the existence of an individuality - of an
indiwdual self - as the subject of all personal experiens. Such individualiry is constitutive of each
end every individuai b elig ,human or celestial (e.g.,celestid souls or sngels)s).'7~he
previous discussions
about the namm of seif-knowledge ail revolve around a notion of individuality. More generally, h
the Peripatecic system, individuarion occurs to human and celestid souls as a consequence of th&
existentiation. This kind of individuation requires the presence of some f o m of bodily maer Co
which the souls WUauach &emselves: celestial souls will attach tbemelves to celestid and ethereal
bodies,i.e.,the celestial spheres; while human smls will a m c h tbemselves to elemenral bodies, i.e-,
the human phyrical body (see section on the nature of the soul)8 In f e a . SuhrawsFdi's a h in
establishing ce ab ove type of inimediate self-knowledgeis rarher. to by-passmch bodily attachmenrs.
The same mty be said about Avicenne's "suspended person" hypothesical example (see earlier
discussion). The t a m s uoed by Avicauia to discuss individuality are rbe Arabic Z&i or s!-
Suhrwsardi uses the Ambic alongside the Petsian j J1 jg . .+ , etc. This notion of individuality
- one's ipseity - corresponds, for cbe most part,to the h t i n dtdlfzs (see section on the nature of the

so~l).~
There are,at l e m , two types of preoccuparionsunderlying the first few pages of the metapbysics
d the ~ ~ ~ - C P I s d~c l y ~. Subraward~'
~ ~ preoccupation
~ s first t f is mto establish
~ a nocion of
being, Le., Light, whidi can p r o ~ d ethe metaphysicd b a i s for his notion of souls (human and

6
Perhaps, Suhranadi is here thinlang of the spint - tbe peumit.
4
M e ' , 9 208,485-7-13.
47
al-GhlinnouchiI1'La
pn>bl.matique& l'haecciti," 175-88.
e
Corbin, A nkzme, 9 1 ( A nbmms,80- 1).
43
HaiySW, II (a) 49.7-8 (p) 5,85.164 (M.,
43; /s&, 101). For diseussions on chir tam, cf.
Goichon, M v r ~3 ,W n.3; cf. D'Ahrany, "An--Amtas," 59-91;cf. Frank, "The Ongui of the Anbic
Philasophical Tarn ; L j l , " 181-201.
celescial) a s substan. His second preoccupation is to demonstrate the existence of a self-nibsisting
substance, i.e.. of a self-subsisting soul (see section on the nature of the soul).
These two preoccupsrioas are simila- to those of Avicema, especidly in the Rtmcuks
where a notion of being and of individual exinence - Le., an individual essence in the sense of a
r d s e d essence - of thst bang are pumed.9 F a Avicema. individuauon occun only at the rime rhe
sou1 -ches itself to t h e body. And the influence of the sou1 over the body is possible because it is
lidced to rbe individuai mixture of each body ahich. in turn. has an influence on tbe rou151 Yet. in
his ~ ~ i & ' o m . emphasizes the fact chat the word " 1" (Li), whch refers to one's self.
Avicenna
indicares somecbg beyond mere individual body or any of its parts. In fact. it r e f e s tn the human
soul?
Suhrawardi's investigations into the nature of the self conscinite an addendurn to the classical
Aviceman hypothetical example of the "suspended pmon."53 Avicenne had sa out ro illustrate
( d e r than to demonstrate) the existence of the soul. His illustration resteci on the fundamental
intuition thet there is an intimate perception of the seif. i-e., che human (rational) soul. For A ~ ~ c ~ M R
sorneone who perives her or bis own quiddity oc hec or his own e s s d a i reality (+ ) perceives

a quiddity as somahing not separated from that individual? A s mch. anybody who is atentive c m
realize that, altough she c m , in certain situations, be inattentive to her body, in no case is she
unaware of who she is aad that she erists? The hyporheticd example of the "suspended pason"
iliustrates the fact that we are always mare "of the oersimde of [our own] individual being (a&
~&?i)."~~Thisis a crucial element of Avicenna's text which, it seems. Suhcawardi has in mind.
In the warks of Submwar&, sailar discussions are proposed to establish the immaterial
nature of the self, as already d u d e d to in cameaion with discussions about self-consciousness,
self-awareness and seif-identity. Having sejeaed arguments tha make seif-knowledge a type of
apprehension through representation, form, or any added element Iike an ( a c c i d e d ) amibute or

50
Goichon, D ' ~ ~ r 306
r s ,a.
51
Avcenna, /k&hPl vol. 2, III,5,325.2-331.1 ( D ' , 3 10); cf. Goichon, D ' & ; a n ,455-6.
Y
Avictnni, Am- (66. Dunpa3, 127.1-131.7;cf. D9A1veniy,'Anuiyya-Annitas,"X, 59-61.
53
Far Avicenna' s "suspended pason" hypothdcal erample (in the GLrr. and the RemCrAs ), cf.
Muniue%,"Avicenoa's " R p g Mau" in Contcxt ," 383-95;cf. Avicenna, l m ,vol. 2 , III, 1. 320-4-7 ( D'k
302); (in the A&hmgrrb, French and Latin tfa~~~l~ons), cf. D'Alvany,"Anrnyya- Aiutas." X I 86-90: cf. (in
tbe ;rl-SH:Laiin translation). cf. G i h n , " Sources grco-arabes, " 4O-4 1.
sd
Avicenna, /&H l 2,111. 7,339.1-340.1 ( Dhk,312); d.uitb Avicenna's statements faund in
vol.
the book a fat?Sou/ of the C e , cf.Pines, "Conception,"1 W . .
5
Avicenna, J e , vol. 2, III, 1,320.2-3(D!k,302).
95
Avicenna, Id-, vol. 2, 111, 1,320.7 ( B k , cf.[bid.,4,322.6-324.7( D k ,
3W); 31 1).
concept. Subrawardi &en t8ckies the issue of the nature of the individual self.
The notion of individudit)., once mare. rests on an original and primary intuition of the self.
an everiastiag and perperual experience of self-awareness: "you are [never] absent from your self

(oh)and fmm the perception [i-e..the knoaledge] (dl of yourself.'" In his TevapIsof h&b.f.
Suhrawardi writes. that:
You are never unaware of yourseif f& l i ) , m d there is no part of your body of
whch you are occasionaliy forgetfui. But if you youneif were tbat aggregation [of
di of your bodily parts]. then you would not be constantly aware of yourself , whiie
forgetting them [i-e.. the parts]. Tberefore, you s e [something] beyond this body
and its parts.'

A notion of individualiey emerges from suc11 statements and from a number of d e r s i d a r


~ a g e sSuhrawardi
. tackles the subject of self-knawledge from a vaiety of perspectives. Likewise,
he explores the relationship tbat the notion of petsonal (or celestid) being enfmtak with the notion
of perception- self-perception beuig t.ridically different from other types of perception.
How is one's awareness of one's self, howwer, to be understood? The conditions that are
required for perception ( 2 ~ ~ ~). ;i.e., the cepacity ta perceive realiy.c a ~ oapply
t to self-perception.

because the perception of one's individuality (WL~


) c a n o t be achieved through the intamediuy
of anytbhg 0th- than itself. The self cannot know itself through something else, whether it be a
represenration, a form, or even the apaaty to perceive - ie., as a perceiving faculty. This particular
W e n t shares some chatactetistics with those by which Suhrawardi demonsaxted the nature of
self-perception. Consequently, the aipaaty to perceive is intrinsic to the seif and c a ~ obe
t distinct
from it as apat of it. Subrawardi writes:
[The capacity to perceive (+#;A ) ] is not a part of yow individual being
( . 'i;LY
; ) such that other parts [of yourselt] would rem& unknown at chat fime
[Le.. when it perives; othewise, your individual being] would be beyond the
capacity to perceive Z(+&; ) and the capauty of behg aware (&+Lz ) and.
therefore. would be untnown [CO you] end would not be a parc of yoiii self. whose
wsareness of itseff is not something which is added to [ i t ~ e l f l . ~
e the unity of the self - essentiay
Once again. SuhrawarQ irppeals ro his g e n d p ~ c i p l of
of the (light) sou1 - to argue egainst the additional existence of such a faculty. To be aware (&A LLS
)

of one's self does not admit any kind of medititiag faculty. This is the case for the knowledge of the
essence uf what constitutes the individual b e h g and of what coastitutes the realiy of a thiag

57
4,116, 112.1-3 (*A
Hiupn~ 103).
58
UuySM,KI (a)4 9 2 4 @) 4,85.4-10 ( A d . ,42; Ida, 10 1).
59
f l b # t ,3 116, 1 1 2 . 1 4 - 1 6 ( ~104).
.I
P: \ 2 -%)-
For Suhrawardi, the ability to perceive other things besides one's self is dependent on one's
essence,and not on an accidental faculty of perception. The same type of argumentation is utiii7Pd LL)
show that the aptitude to perceive is acciderual. Since the capaaty to perceive is only accidentai, if
perception were to be constitutive of the seif, the self would not b e able to perceive itself. because it
would have to exist somehow prior to the acr of perception. Suhrawardi notes rbat:
Your apaticy to b e able to perceive (-;A ) other things [than yourselfl is
dependent on your essence ri-e.. p u r seif]. And the aptitude of being able to
penxve (;i,.Jd l JI-1 ) is accidetltd to your essence. And if pou suppose that
your essence [Le.. your selI] (& li) is an individuai b&g (;i-;i ) whkh perceives
its self, and that its seif is pior COthe a d of perception (diJ 3 ! ) , then, [this anterior
exinence of tbe sel(] would be unknown [ta it]; and diis is impossible.m
Suhrawardi proposes an equivdence berneen the faa tbat one is an individual being and the
f a a that one has knowledge of this faa. The perception of one's selfbecomes akin to a self-awareness
of one's self. Self-kaowledge cm now b e defuied in ternis of the degree of awareness one has of
one's self. This is expressed in the definition Suhrawardi provides for this stafe in ternis of the
&gree of manifestation of die self CO the seif. The formula he uses is 'that which is maaifest by itself

with ir such rhat the f i n of being manifest wodd be an accident inhaiiig in t (4


>l=.). but it is

idenu'cai with that which is manifest end nothing else!'


Since what becomes manifest is the soul's nature, Suhrawardi can apply to this state of
manifestation (Le.. awaeness) his light terminology and hold that this notion of self-manifestation (a
amllary of self-awaeness)is the manifestdon of the light belonging to itself (ltYLJ +
, & ), a

Ligbt which is pure light (&&) and which corresponds to rhe immaterid substance of the s a u ~ "
Suhraward implicitly introduces elements that pe&n to the essence of individual b-s,
i-e., whkh are constitutive of the soul's natum. As such, the essence of each individuatiey capable of
p e d v i n g itseif, in fact, fies beyond the pbysical body, since the bodily and the material do not
W v e diemseives. For example, the interna1 organs - the heart, the liver, the brain, or any body
+ U t
Qfuieds~d~kpndluminoismuffidfoims~~~3iJI~ o-tllj tjl&lt+? )-do
not perceive ( ~ ! ~ s
) rhemselves.
. mat which is cepable of peiepcion in someone is neitber a

60
e*,
116.113.2-5 ( Sw.,1M).
61
H ~ I C$~116,
' , 112.16-1132 (*, 1W).
62
&;kmrrt, 8 116,113.2 (5% 1M).
(physicai) o q a n nor corporeai maaer Ljj> *i);&envise. the individual ( s e n which ir constantly

mare of its seif (& 1 & J- ) would not be absent from the parcs of which it is, at times,
forgetfulO)~heindividuaiky behind the percepion of every individual (self) is. in f a u , the saul.i e..
the rational and immatenai part of human souls. But, Suhrawardi. as was shown earlier, needs the
body for the logical d e m ~ l l ~ t f ~ t t iofo nindividuation. Thus the dicho~omy(or self -contradiction)
remains. as in A v i c e ~ a

EPISTEMIC PROCESS
A s a prelude to our dixussion about intellection, let us just mention a few additionai things
regarding seif-knowledge and the d i n i t i e s it shaes wirh a certain conception of intellection. Can a
paralle1 be ewablished between self-knowledge and Suhrawardi's presentiai knawledge? In order to
bring together tbese two notions, it must be m d o n e d that iiinmintirion and Light have already beea
assoaated with the process of Liteileaion in the w o r b of ~vicaina?'This notion of illumination
and light is, naturally, et the heart of Suhrawardi' s ontdogy, and b y extension of his epistemology.
Furthemore, the "iiiuminative"rraition seems to have subscribed to the idea of self-knowledge or
self-amsaousness as a diainu episternic process (Muils ~adri)."
Subrawardi's conception of self-knowledge, it might be arg-ued, is distinct from a conception
of knowledge by presence (eJ+-). Self-knowledge is not the pRnciple it the h e u r of a knowledge
b y presence, since the latter wonld be the knowledge chat the soui possesses of entities that, in some
sense, would be extrinsic to it. On the one hand, self-lmowledge curresponds CO a more prima1 or
pcognitive perception of the self. Hence, could such a p r i m q awareness af the self be the
a r c h q p e of Suhraward' s "illuniinlltive"presential knowledge?The issue raised by such interrogation
is, in fact, the n a m e of self-knowledge, i.e., Suhrawardi's theory of consuousness: Is knowledge of
the self an aaivity of intelleaion@

On the other hand, Suhrawardi's extensive discussions about self-knowledge - whether in


terms of self-consuousness or self-identity - provide different arguments for the demonsuation of a
type of knowiedge th# is ciearty w ~ e d i a t e d- whether through an image, a form, a notion or an
atttibute of the self. Suhrawardi's nation of self-knwledge provides the menus b y which to conceive

63
N-t, 8 116,112.4-7 ( Ss, 103).
64
Avicenna, AhHu/-NsS (ed. ai-Ahwam'), 111.1-113-11; cf. Idem, d-&fi6d',9820-3, 99.9-12
uid 103.18-9.
65
Moris, " Reveation, 1nrelleari;il intuition and Reason." 69-70.
64
121-82
For his thcary of consciousncss,cf.Hrw Y az&, AMCl~fssufEpjrdma/~#v,
of knowledge as nnmediated thtough aay type of abstraction. e.g.. bis auaiogy with pain, It is.
therefore, not the product of self-knowledge that constitntes a mode of knowing akin to Snhrawardl's
psential knowledge. Rather, it is the pmcess by which self-cuowledge is achieved - an unmediated,
i.e.. non-amceptual and non-propositional (e.g.. 1 know x,x being m y self) - that constitates a mode
of knowlig a h to presentd knowledge. as opposed CO a knowledge by mmespondence (drP..
).
The substitution of a type of non-predicative relationsiup as the guarantor of knowledge rests on the
relation estabiished between the knowing subject and the "present" objea.
It is by arguments such as those offered for self-knowledge and, more precisely, the p d c u l a r
epistemic process which they illustnue that Suhraw ard s epimaiic presential knowledg e can be
understood. This epistemic process at the hean of bis notion of self-knowledge becomes t h e mode1
forthe presential knowledge so characteristic ofthe"iUuminative" tradition. i.e.. w i r h ~ u t i n t a m e d i a r ~ ?
This pmcess is, in fact. a criticism of Peripateric epinemology. Moreover, it corresponds to an
epistemic process that is in Line with a more mysticai mode of knowing, akeady inwoduced in
Plctinus' worlrs. It is nor self-knowledge. but. more preecisely, the epistemic procea undalyiag
self-knowledge that becomes the guarantor, dong with mystical contemplation ( L a L=; ). of the

preseace-,( ) of the object of perception in the pemeiving sub Not o d y is it a process tbac
guratuitees the knowledge of the self, the unmediated chatacter of this process becomes charactgistic
of the soul's knowledge of supetna1 entities and, ultimately, of the possible glunpse of the Light of
lights, ie., ~ o d . "

68
Zizi, fiuw-e, 13645. The mysticai dong with the ptnlosopbical aspect, tagether wi- his
aicism of Pcripatecbm c a s i m t e s tte M o u s facets of tris philosophical system,cf. Waibtidge, S ~ C I I ~ .
33-9.
69
To this presentiai "ilhimin;tive" knawledge, Le. self-consciousness,Ziai associates the * specd
mode ad perception rcfected to as " sight" oc " visionn ( mu-), " cf. Zai, l r s l o w l e ~149-50;
, cf. h f s - '
, 8 208,485.7-18 a d g 210,488.3-12.
INTELLECTION
Most commentators of Suhrawardi' s philosophy have ceirteced their an%,-ses and
inteqretations on the faculty of imagination - the faculty of representation at the center of his
philosophical anthropology. Less attention, however, has been paid to the roIe of mtellect. except
perhaps to higldight the faa tbat Suhrawardi's conception of knowledge goes beyond the rational
level. On the whole, both Suhrawardi's and Awcexma's conception of knowledge are undeniably
more Neoplatonic - in th& intuitive aspect - than Ans totelian. For instance. in Suhrawardi' s works,
nume-ous passages that discuss the acquisition of " m e " knowledge do so by appealing to a notion of
a persona1 experience ta which is ofen akociated an intuitive type af perceptian. In spite of the
appeal to an intuitive-lke mode of knowing, especially with regards to self-knuwledge, Suhrawardi
does no&.in faa. cornpleeely evacuate notions iike the rational sou1 or the inteiiect (JL) from bis
philosophicd system. Such notions play a role here no different from that in Avicennan noetics.
The philosophical tradition contaias cauntless interp&ons on the nature and the role of
the rational sou1 and the intellect. Knowledge depends on the intellect. This is true of l m Helleaistic
tmditions as weU a+ the Arabic, Jewish, and Medieval Schoiastic traditions! Less grounded in an
empincal conception of knowledge, Plato's naion of intellection, for instance. imptied a notion of
contemplation and opened t&e way for a rheay of Ideas and its obliged countapart, a theory of
recolleaion; hence. the existence of a pure intellectual realni is p o s t u l ~ dat the meraphysical level.
In Islamic tradition, the whole debate over the modes of donal processes n e m s fkom the combination
of the Platonic and Aristotelian traditions. especiay Aristotelian noetics as it was undastood by
subsequent Heeiistic commentators?
The ernphasis plsced on an intuitive, non-disfunve type of knowledge became more dominant,
however,in Plotinus' wks and in the pseudepigraphical woriEs of Neoplatonic origin amibuted to
Aristotle. These lateraocretions were heavily Uifluenced b y Plotuiiaa and, l a t a , by gened Neoplatonic
ideas about the contact of the intellect with the One, the downward procession (i.e., emanatiomst
cosnology , divine providence, and celestid influences). and the upward progression (ie., pmyer,

' For a discrision ofthe Aristoceliaa sources of Avicenna's noetics (in h s latin worh), see Gilson,
"Les sources grcci-arabes," 5-129. For a sketcb of the Gr& and Arabic theaies of the aaive intellect,see
Walzer, "Arinode's Active Inreiiect," 423-36; cf. Marcotte, "Ibn Mukawayh's conpt of tbe InteUe~t( %ql
)," 10-63; cf. Blumcnthai, An3fademdNerPpla~jm.
' Hamelin, ht taeme&/ ia~~Y/rrt;
cf. Malan, hfonqqxhsn,A f ~ a n P ~
, I&%WISQU~)~~~.
purification.and th-).' in these Let= traditions. the mional faculty becornes more independent of
t h e body and af the lower hnman soul and its faculties - imagination and memory.
The notion o f intellect is not only centrai to the Peripatetic philosophical tradition, it also
occupies a central place within Islamic tradition. e.g., its conception of meation. Like ai-GhazalT
before him; Suhrawardi quotes an often mentioned hadith which sraces that the mteUea wrri the first
thing chat God waced ).5 Wirb appeals to such a weU known tradition. Suhrawardi rnight
attempt to deny any possbility of codlict between the demands of philosophy and of religion or
dogma. wherem dogrna becornes an essential wmplement to the limiteci human intellect.Wre a l - ' h c 5
and al-Kindi had done before hia6Suhrawardi's intention is, however. more cornplex: he atcemprs a

d o n a i formulaion of the fniits of his own personal experiences, Le., the type of knowledge
aquired through inner experiences and which is radically ditina from any other type of knowiedge
aquired empirically. Such experierices are, perhaps. more akin to mystiaal expaiences. Mme
important, however, is S u h w m i i ' s own "presential" conception of kaowiedge whch implies a
negation of any role attributed to the intellective faculties. Thetefore, the questions that have to be
tinswered e the following: How does Suht.awwdi's conception of kuawledge resolve this apparent

p'adox, a d how is his " presential" conception of knowledge different from, a at odds with
Avicenna's own theory of knowledge?

PRACTICAL AM)THEORETICAL INTELLECTS


Witb hk definition of the nature of the human soul, A v i c e ~ alaid the foundauons for bis
conception of intellection - the hum- soul "is the one which is d o n a l ( S b )." The rational part
of the human soul is tbe locus of the conscious principle of human Me on w hich self-consciousness
and the souJ's individuaiity al1 rests. But the rational part of aie human soul is ais0 the intellective
ptinciple at the heart of my possibifity of inteUectioa
Maeover, Avinna divides reason imo the practical facuity and the theoretical faculty
(found in Plato , Aristotle and th& commentatocs). The formerfaculty is wponsible for the ptactical

Gutas, Arilrcrzmr. 254-61, esp. 260. Th-, fmm the Greek &&as = G d and qgm = wakrag.
a magical science of the Neoplatanists.
ai-Ghm-, Kih3 d-291 in h &m-' *L.Im &-Dia,83. Fm a translation, d.ai-Ghazii . 7%
B d afRmwI.Sp., 222. The hadith is reparted by ai-TabanrrF from Ab Umamah and A E h ' a y m fram
'A'ishah, cf. Ibid., 83 n.3; cf. Cr-, "Tbe ZLde of d-'Rgl in Early ~slamicWisdom."
5
fh$u'd,Q 4,264 12-14 (m.,
16).
6
Rowsan, A ICIks+mPMosu- 20; cf. Jolivet, L i&'e&k=d,
94-6.
Me of the hunan soul. while the latte is responsible for its theoretical and speculaive Me.' For
Corbin,these two inteilective faculties typify the m o terrestrial angels that are mentioned in Avicenna's
n- bn Yq*. whose union forms the total self Such a (gnonic) Literpretation, however. bas
the inconvenience of reviving the spectres of the pre-existence of the soul m the celestid and
metaphysical realrn (see section on pre-existence of the soul).
More g e n d y . for Avicenna, the pradical faculty moves the body and irnparts it with an
impetus in order rhat it may achieve pturicular aaiow. In fact. the practical faculty cm impart
motion to the lower faalties of the soul such as the faculties of active imagination and of estimation
and to the body with which it has a relation. I t is, therefore. active, although it is ultimately guided
by the theoreticai faculty to whjch it is subjected. And with the help of the practical faculty,
espeady when the soul resotts to imagination and estimarion, the raional soul is able CO impm
moral habits to the sou19
The iofier side of the rational sou1is the theorecical faculry. It is responsible for the production
of howlege and science. For Avicema. this faculty is the locus of intellective perception (dlJ ~ !

+ ). And on a c a u n t of the fact tbat intellective perceptions are by definition immatetial and

require an immatend subtance, the rational sou1 of human beings cannot. therefore, b e found nor
am its adivities be exerased in a bodily orgui.' The Loftier theoretical faculty of the d o n a l soul
maintlpins a relatimip witb the inteiligible realm. as opposed to the p d c d faculty." The fama
facuity corresponds co the rational soal's atzility to grasp the forrns of intelhgibles, either through
instnicrion or tbrough some sort of i n t e l i d intuition. [t rernains, however. to be established

whethec tliis inteiiecaml intuition must be restricted to an intellecnid intuition or be understood


12
as e mystical perception - in che ense of a petsonai expetienchg ( ~ ~ or.
i )more
, represenfative of
Avicenna's thought. the philosophicd equivdent of experientiai knowledge (;* ). In the later
case, one would still have to ask w hat would then be the speafic distinguishing criteria if there be
.
any rhat muidprovide grounds for cornparison baween the two experiences (inrellecnialand mystical).

AVinoq Sm',N 5 V
,,6,240.16 (m,171); cf. Arimtle, ab &e*uf, III, la, 433a13-20,
26-30.

10
Amcema, W,N A ,I,2,26.
L 7-27-12 ( P !19-20).

12
Avicenna, f i h S , vol. 3-4, IX,816.6-9 ( D ' , 489-90; Nyn:,84); cf. Marmura, 'Plotting the
C-c," 340a-342b; cf. Gadet, 'La c o ~ s a n c esuprme," 387-94. Moris ops fapersonal experaicing
(9931, cf. Mors, "Revelleian," SU.
Suhrawardi adopts a number of consecrateci distinctions sudi as the one made between the
p c t i c a l and theoretical faculties. He diningoishes clearly between the theoretical (speculative)
intellect and the practical ialellect. For example. in his Re~roffikfii where he wntes tat.
" r e g d i n g the practical intellect. its perfeaion is m be the superior qualihes [chat rule] over (&A

2-
1 ) the body. not the qualities affected (&-I e*+ ) by the body. and [the pradurl

with a disposition ( &)


intdect] provides [tbe MUI] far justice: justice behg temperance (A).
bravery. and wirdorn. "13 The pntctical fsculy - here. the practid intelecc - rules over the body as
its perfection.
M oreover, the praaicai faculty is responsible for the development of moral habits, somerhing
Likewise, Suhtaward's own ethical principles depend on the p r a d d
already discussed by A v i c e ~ a
intellect for establishing the foundation of proper actions rhat lead to justice and to a virtuous life.14
s forw ard in Suhrawardi' s R.ys of&&
One of the ethical p ~ c i p l e put is the Aristotelian idea of a
just balance or of the mean between two undesirable extremes - e-g., lust and torpor, impetuosity
and cowardice, shrewdnes and foolishness. His understanding of this practical "wisdom" is that it is
"na [the same as] that [ocher] wisdom which is the reception [fit.. the imprinthg] of the realities and
of the intelligibles (09- J <jL<- G+ C ; l Ul ) of which the more there is. the b e u a it wi be." "
The reception of intelligibles refers to the activities of the theoretical intellect.
Foliowing Pmpatetic tradition, Avicenna identifies a nuniber of intelleas defined with
respect to their respective states of potentialjT or actuality: a staw of purp potentiality occupies one
end of the spectrum of inteilectual activiries, while a pure state of actuality occupies the other end of
the spectrum, with the existence of an intamediary intellective disposition. These different states
form a hierarchy: F i ,EUI absolute aptitude or disposition ( W l J 1
-a Z$ ) repmented (by
anaiogy) a s the aptitude of prima1 mater (t;
J e a g i ) for receiving f a m s , e g . , the potentialtty of
the child to be able to write which corresponds to the maetial intellect; second, th- is a possible
aptitude or disposition (LO> ), e.g., the adult who possesses the abrlity to write, which abiiity
corresponds to the inteiiect in potentiality. And fiaaiiy. there is the perfection of tbe aptitude lJL&
Zsi;i 1) or tbe perfection of the disposition (JI &-..JI JU), which need not be acguired, but rather,

which is associated with an habituai potentiality, e.g., the scribe who possesses the abiiity to wnte
aad who actualizes it when he chooses, which ability corresponds to the state of tbe acquired

13
Plvfu, LX, 8 77,68.9-10 ( Bazk, 71); not truulued in Arriinrrpqe. The distinction 1s found in
Cfiapta (IX).
14
.
Sntdies on SuhrawarQ's ethicd conc~ptionshave yet to be written.
15
IX,3
PIM-, T I ,68.9 - 69.3(Bcok,71-2); cf. Landolt, "Stuawadi's,"
479b.
intelle~t-~
Tbe patentid iiltellect fi- created in human b&gs is aaivated wirh the cornhg togetha
.
of sou1 aud body. As for the intellects p r se -4vicenna identifies four different types according to
th& suites of potentkhty or aauality: a matmai intellect ( j d e ). an habituai intellect (ZSiik).
an hteiiect in ictuality !&iJ & ). snd finaiiy. an acquired inteliect (3- )." Goichon's malpis ii
here relevant. She identifies three intellects. The fourth intellect. the aaquwed imeiiea. appears ta
correspond to an intelligible or a concept received from the active intelligence and grasped by the
intellect. As such, the q u i r e d intellect represents an intemiediary stage becween the human intellects
and the active intelligence?
Are the different mtellects identified by Avicema and the Peripatkc tradition found in
Subniwardi's works? In the g e n d sense, the answs must be yes. Although Suhrawardi does not
dweil on tiris A v i c e ~ a ndivision of intellects, it does consitute the underiymg svuaure of his
epistemology. Moreover, nowhere does he sfate chat it should be rejected. replaced,or transfonned.
In the P b p k of the hUradilr;ourS. Suhrawardi discusses the soul' s abdis. to grasp intentions in
potentiality and in achialiry, ascribing a hietarchy to the f d t i e s of the raional soul - in terms of
potentiality. The soul, thetefore. possesses potentialities for thought chat are simitar to the triparrite
division already defined by Avicennr Suhrawdi writes:
The soul is receptive to ideas potentiaiiy snd acmaiiy. Potentiay [in this sense] has
diferemt [Le., thtee] levels. One of these is [il the first disposition (JI&I ) possessed
by the newbom ( G b L ) infant and caiied the mataial inrellect (>il# JL ). [ii]
h o t h e r disposition occur afrg the aaquisition of the first intelligibles in d e r ta
1
s
perceive the secondacy [iateliigibiesj (j ), either thmugh cogitation ($Li ) or
intuition it is d i e d the habitua1 intellect (=CI). Thaeupon, a poteutiaiity
(+ ) and a pperfection (JLS ) occar t o tbe soul. Potentiality bdongs to [the soul.
once] it has finished to aquire the ineliigibles whenever it wiils it b y an [aapired]
habit (3ci,) and without requiring to seek [them]. This is the closest disposition [ta
~ e c t i o n and
] it is called an intellect in aauality t & ). And the perfection
is [when] intefigibles occur in actualiry through contemplation ( L L
'u CY). It is c d e d the aquired a(- ) imeilect. The genus of annality and its
human s p e c i e ~( j L ; ? i LL+ ) become perfect by it. And a this rrege. the soul
b e c ~ m e tsimilau (&) to the [first] p ~ c i p l (a+).
s beooming an [inteilectualj
w a l d (CL ~r)!~

l6
Avicaina, SM?, Nds, 1,s. 48.610 (&SC, 33); cf. EL Ahwani, "Lathme de la amnaissance,"
36-7.
17
Gochon, Lemque, no. 435,225-33 (gg 2 . 6 , 9 , I l ) ; cf. Avicenna, S M " ,
Nds, 1.5, 48.18-50.12
(e, 334); cf. Idem, /ta-, 43.3-44.1 ( A v d ,1134); cf. Idem, d-ICfrrb& 99.1-8.
II3
Goichon, Bjizkcaun, 9 8 , 3 14-9; cf. Ancema, / W H , vol. 3 , III, 363.1 -367.4 (Bi324-6).
:,
19
TpdroZliira,Phy, ((mr), 132~14-20;cf. Davison, R l f i h r - , 166 (basad on tbe U.C.LA. ms.
In the latter passage, Subrawardi dudes to the process by which the potentiai intellect is
vansfonned into an active intellect as pair of the deveiopment of the raional part of the hurnan soul,
whose ultiniate end is to becorne a perfect intellect. Le., an aquired iareiiect in acniality. T b
horizon of the p a s s q e may be eschaological. alludmg to a stage beyond the merely inteifectual
perfection in Ihrs world, But the context of the passage seems to situate the discussion within
traditional Pwipatetic theses.

THE PROCESS OF INTELLECTION


The acquisition of knowledge rnay b e explained in two ways. On the one hand, knowledge
can be acquired empincally: this the m b u l u ~ &theory wheceby knowledge is entireiy acqnired

throughout one's Life. The mind or the inteliect is like a tablet on which nothhg has yet been wriuen,
eg.. Anstoile or the IkhwLi a l - ~ a f a ' .On
~ rhe other band. knowledge can &O be conceived as
aiginating from the non-sensible and having its source in the rneraphysicai c e a h . This may be
called the a prini t h e ~ r y . ~the
'~nl a t t a case.knowledge pre-existsthe acpetieiice of sensory perception.
As such. it or part of i t exists in the son1 or is accessible only by the (ratioad) soul, independently of
aay bodily or maraial consideration (Pl- aad a numba of ~eoplatonists).* APicenna a p p e m to
have adopted an unusual c o m b ~ o of
n these two modes of thought. Ln his Book ofS~ency3.
he
writes th&
A t its first stage, the soui is a rabukrrm~ ( b ~ t and) no inteUigible form is present
in it, but [tbe r a t i d part of the soul] is capable of receiving [iatelligibles]. This is
the degree whifh is c d e d the materid intelieu ( 2 9 - JL ) or rbe p o ~ n t i a l
inteiect (LA
In Avima, therefore, the idea of a m6uh mr0.eg.. in such passages. T h e soul, like an
blaak tablet, awaits to receive the imprints of inteiligibles.
Nokthstanding the seul's innate capacicy to know some a priori priaciples by its own

(h'human Collection, A d ~ i cMS 845) of the TillR1.S-p4mzCF, 153). Foc Avicenna's argument from the
phenornerton of inrelleauai memory, cf, Davidson, M!i&, 89. For the mirra andogy in A v i c e ~ o cf.
,
Davidson. MSZJ-. 94.
Zn
And later, Locke.
A
AB ofoen m e r i n d a priori pmciple is th% the whole IS bigger than its parts. A case cauld ,
howcvw, be made, bmed on Puget's =dies and his genetic episemology, cbzt nmilar a pion priaciples can
igimte mm the altuml devdopment of the child's capaaty for p s p m g concepts wth te dewlopment ~f
bis or ber capacity of abstraction; while JZkohtionists a Cboarkian the- would consida them'to be
somehm innare.
t2
El Ahwani, " La thorie de la connaissance,"27-9.
23
Avicenna, W h , P&F., 108.6-8( S Q ~ C69). Y,
nature,'' for Avicenna. knowledge cemains somehuig acquired. Hence. the source of knowledge or
its aaive pchcple is m e r d to the soul, and knowledge can be aquired only once irs potentid

principle bas been a c t i ~ a t e d . ~ ~


There are. thetefore, two types of appreheasion (from the sensible and non-sensible w orlds).
Perfiaps, it is not totally correct CO conclude. Like Gardet. that an abstraction does not really exist as
the result of an absrradon of intelligible forms from the material world. In Gardet's interpretation.
the active intelligence provides the soul wirh forms that ptp-exist in ir; t is in the &or of itseif t h a ~
the rational soul sees the luminous inteliigibles: in f a a , the origin of knowledge is not found in the
sensible world at ail; tbe sensible world is but that which incites the soul to tum toward the Lighc thet
arigiaates with the provider of forms - the active intelligence."~he soul perpetually needs illumineuon
from the active intelligence.
Although Avicema's epistemology is highiy ideaiist, there is, nonetheless, a strong
aommitmeat to the wocldly c o ~ t imposed
s on human beings and their souls. I t should not be
forgo- th- the philosopher is simultaneously the physiuan. Avicenna does, in fact, hold that
knowledge based on the actration of simple concepts from particulrrr images o c a n by means of a
process of tbstraaion, i.e., what might be conceived as a version of the m6uIdl I#EU theory. The soul
acquires, by expetience, prernises that it wiU use in its reasoning, assisted by the functions of ali the

perceptive faalties - external and internai. Indeed, the human soul is devoid of any Ltnowledge; and,
coneary to Plato's a priori conception of knowledge, A v i c e ~ adoes not appear to subscribe to a
Platonic rheoy of recollection, because such a beiief could imply the pre-existence of the soul before
its existentiation in its body or the existence of an explicit world of Ideas.

It is m e , however, chat Avicema's v&on of the a prion theory of knowledge r a t s on the


postulate of an "extrimi-' of knowledge. In the Goses on Aristotle's Oa &J
S d ,Avicenna

-
writes that the soul musc receive intalligibles from the supreme active and inteiiective principle. such
that "when we want to know somerhing and [when] the soul is prepared to receive knowledge

(i;i ) of this from the active intefigeme by letting whatever acts as an obstacle for its quest

24
Avicauia w n u s in h i s pem CIP &?pi, "Some [ideas] uie prior to [or peemisses for] the inrellect
(&dl ml.& ), mcb as the part is smaller than the whole. Our intellect passesses &un by its nature
( Z w k ) and rcgarding t h 5 mzftcr, no dout is possible (- l+ i l d )," cf.A v i c m z .
1165w/-hf&&h5~, 14.34; d. Ei Ahwani. "Lathone de la connaissance,"38-40.
25
Aviunua, h I i , 22723-228.11; cf. El Ah-, -Lathorie de la connaissance," 29.
26
Avicenna, Ah@, M s ,394.9-10 ( Ank,68);cf. Gardet, L ; r ~ a ~ i a k s ~ ~ ? e m & v136,3942.
r,
cesse. its preparirion becomes appropriate ( ~ A J I ~ L I I )."nLn this pasicular formulation.
intellection is reduced to the receptive character of the sou1 - its intuitive ability - a charactetistic of
whkh Suhrawardi WLUmalte great use. Avicenna emphasizes the receptive abdicy of the soul which.
like a mirrot, can receive the flux of Uiteiligible forms that are emanated onto ~tfrom the active
intelligence.
Some interesthg observations are found in Avicenna's TN~IoS~
oa , 4 a ~ O z sc r n d P ' s k ,
w h e be writes chat there is, in some cases. no need for any of the internai faculties of the human
soul - the inteiiect alone suffices - to aquire knowledge. bscause the human soul accesses the
inteUigible realm directly: " ...the rniddle terni [of any syllogism] anives a i l at once to the one who is
helped with a penetrating intuition, without requiring eny inquuy by the cogitacive [faculty], without
q u i r i d g another faculcy except in the intellect. Avicenaa's conception of knowledge would.
therefore. appear to rely almost exclusiveiy on the human souls' capacity to contact the a d v e
intelligence with the help of the intuitive capacity of buman souls and not simply through cogitation
Avicema describes the process of intuitive apprehension, at times, by resorting to the use of
the analogy of light, an andogy that is often used. e.g.. in nis symbolic presentation of the Qur'anic
iight v w e (Q.. 24:35)8 This p'ocess is frequedy associatecl with the aaqui9tion or. rather. the
reception of koowfedge b y means of an ernanation or aa illumination of iight. Such a conception of
knowledge in tenns of intuitive apprebension is compatible witb Avicenna's conception of tbe soul
in terms of i~ subStaLLfiality. As El Ahwani has pointed out, it is the soul's immateriality that
gurPantees the possibility of accessing metaphysical truths that exist only as pure intelligibles. T h e
soul can thus iccept these truths without h&g u> aqi1U.e than." Moreover. A v k e m a ' s conception
of intuition is associated with t h e divine:

Intuition is a divine flux and an inteliectud jundion that occurs absolutely without
[requiring] any qltisition. Certain individuals a#ain [in it] such a stage chat they

27
Avicenna, TaZia *flirmBhi~, 83.14-6.
28
A ~ ~ C C M RiMa
, 6d-AI'an;p d-M'a7 [ mA q m - f i - l - S w p W ul-R~%1, 1st ed., ed.
Badmi (Hudcrabad: Ma-a'a DZ'irat al-Maciirifal-'Ci-ya, 1353/1934),227-8 and23 1-2; partial e~rulation
of the &S& fiir/-Af%V ir(-M-Ci an Jean Michot, "Culries, mlpe et inteiieaion," [disassrans 457 and
4671 in Idem, "Culte," Appendice II, 8 4, 231. Furthcr, he adds that "Si cela tst vrai, qu'on ne se tourne pas
vus u q d elle est cunttaintc du fait d'obstactes et d'opposit~onr.Si ce n'est pas vrai, que la chme reste en
suspens,qu'eue ne dpende pis de ce par quoi I ' h e est affhge du fait de L' assoaaton de L'imagination. Au
coniraire, q u ' d e repose sedement sur une d~oasftatjoa pranproire (prouvant) qu'il a t faux que l'me ait
un rgu quotcd in Michot," Culoes." Appendice 11, 4 12,233;cf. Ibid., 220 n.3.
29
Avicarna. Id-, vol. 2,III, 10,363.1-367.4 ( B k , 324-5); cf. Idem, /&617i, 49.1-52.12( M ,
116-8)-
30
El Ahwani, "La thorie de la c o n n a i s s ~,"
~ 27-29
e
can do without cogiration regarding much of what they have learned and tha the .
power of the divine soul belongs to them Then. when the soul has becorne noble,
bas aoquired [chis] distmguished power and separates from the body. [the soul] when
[itsj preoccuptions vanish 0btain.s what it obtains here. [more]rapldly thaa the
intuition obraias it. The intelieuive world presents itself CO [the soul] by following
L e o r d a of the t a m s of the judgments and of the intelligibles - essential ordination.
not temporel - this ocaming aif at once. The need to cogmze is only due to the
soul's impurity or its lack of exercise. to its incapacity to obtain the divine flux. or to
its preoccupaton If this did not exist, the soul would burn of desire to emigrate
[k] from everything to the term of realitytY3'
Avicenna ais0 uses the notion of intuition to explain the spirimal quest of Sufis. e.g., in the
l a s chree sections of the Recnrukr (where the idea of the soul as a &or is presented). In this work,
he offeis an i n a g i b l e accogar of the different stages through whicb the mystical seeker passes:
from the w a l d of the senses to the world of the intelligence, cuLninating in t h e saul's enjoyment of
the pleasures of a pure intelieuive life through the reqtion of the irradiation This irradiaion of
Ligbt ultimateiy cornes from the mpreme subsisng Light. the first BBng,God- Aviceane's acwunt
of the mysticd patb is more contemplarive in naaire, alrbough it greatly depends on the intellective
character of the anderlying emanative process. Knowledge thus becomes propodonate to differences
in die intensiq of the iliuminarion the soul receives fmm the aaive Uwlligence. whereps the different
stages of mystical kaowledge correspond m the progress achieved in this capacity of rriving such
illumination But even the moral purificationnecessayfor the a#ainment of this intuitive apprehension
of knoaledge is achieved rhrough what seems ta be intellectuel
The importance of intelleaion in Suhrawardi's rhought is best Uusvared by che identification
he himself makes between the world of "pure light" and the "world of the intelle~t/inteliigen'~

(JJI L +r a l J+, 1). which identifkation he irrnbutes to Plam and his disciples.D Suhrawd i 's
light ontology and his arriculaion of inreilection in cemm of an apprehension of iight is mor
charactdstic of the process of intellecrion that the Neoplatonism of Plotinus devdops. T h e substitubon
of Eght for the intelligible principles or the rational maintains Suhrawardi's concept of intellection in
the A v i c e ~ a nlineage and his use of light in the Plotiman lineege. Suhrawardl is, indeed. quite
explicit in a nuinber of passages about the nanite of the human rational souls' relationship to the
metaphysicd wodd of lights, even in more Peripatetic wocks as his B&&s wbere be writes:

Spirituai lights Jl+l ) occur [O [te souls]. uns this [ability to access

31
Avcenna, AkiZdfid-Mawn &-M'%:Y
quoced in Michat, "Cultes,"Appendl II, @ 8.231-2.

33
-
* ~arcis.L'exprience m y x i q ~ e .57-9.
~'
flhimrll, 4 t71,162-6 ( A d . , 155).
these lights] becomes a habit (XL). a n d a repose (w
)% [Le.. a suce Li which

the Lighn pasin]. Thereupon. supra-sensiblereplYies (L-ui; Jri) become manifest


ta them. And the sou1 conjoins with them b y means of a spiritual conjunction
(\ i kaJ-$ ~j1 &).la

The Plotinian parallel is undeniable. For Plotinus, the human iateilea receives an
"iliumhafion" from the intelligence (auus). whde the process b y which the human inteliecc grasps
its object (of intellection) or accesses n n d m b i e truths is by a pmcess of "assimilation" which

We then the intelligibles themielves: we no longer have impressions or images


of them but aauaLly are the intelligibles, and instead of just receiving them in us we
cake a place among them (VI.5.7.1-6. cf.10.40-2).We thus participare in an activity
chat is dways in p g r e s s (V.8.3.9f.), but is only ours when we are aware of it
(lV.3.30.7-15).We possess BUUS when we use it (cf. V.3.326-9.1.2.4.25-7) ...
There is thus no need f o r &monsraion and persuasion. for dous need nat seek its
&jeas: truth resides in the real exisrents (ovra)that are both its object and itseK3'

In Blumenthal's analysis, the inteilect( a+ in the soul is able to grasp both those metaphysical
realities and extemal objets. Reason works from premises, and moves graduaily towards its
conclusions. The self, however, becomes the real meeting place of the sensible and intelligible
world, where the soul ultiniately no longer uses a dialectic method (Platomc method of division to
sepanre the Ideas), but se& coniempiation (en idea of ~ n i r y )Similatities
.~ are, tberefore, here greia
with Suhrawardi's concept of a non-abstrtictive process of intellection - his preseniial-type of
knowtedge. The difference, howwer, lies witt? Suhrawardi's rejection of the idea of a union of
subject and object in the pmcess of thought - at the time that it is exercised (see f e e r on).
S u h r a w d s conception of the existence of some a priori knowledge, as exemplified by bis
ciaim that knowledge does not rest on an abairactive process,departs from Plato's theory of recollection
(wmmeas).Although bis theory of remlieaion shares some affinities with Plato's, it has feaures
that distinguish it from the latter. The most important diffetence is Suhrawardi's rejection of what
Plato's theory implies: the pre-existence of human souls. Nowhere does Suhrawatdi state thai the
souls recover knowledge that th& existentiation in material bodies made them forget. On the
conmy, the souls aaain - not recover - a knowledge that exists in its own metaphysical plane, Le.,

36
Bhirncnthal, P l d u s 'Bp&d!!I
107-8; cf. Plomus, Enn-, V,3, 3.6-10; cf. Idem, Enna&,
1, 1,9.12-13.
37
Plotinus , h m & , V I3.4.14- 16.; cf. Blumendial, PlaMus ' h p % l ! , 1 1 1.
i n what he cadis the horimatal atder of Platonic Ideas.
Plotinus' theory of memory is intereshg for the sunilarity it shares with Suhraw ardi' s own
depanire from Avicema's traditional conception of memory. For Avicenna. memory is an interna1
and bodily faculty - siuaed in the bran. in Plotinus' complex theory of memoc).. there are. perhaps
two types of memorg associateci with the two existing types of imagination. essential for the soul's
fate in the afterlife. Although Plotinus does not explain how the sou1 recains and recalls information.
he does elaborate on what occurs with inteLligible objects and direct intuition. For him.m e m a y is
the persistence of intelligibles apprehended by the faculty of imagination. Plotinus who beliwed in
reinaunation did not. however, adopt an* like a Platomc theory of recoUection. Rather, h e
aibstituted bis own domine of the undescended intelligen~e.~
Moreover, there cri- an interestkg paralle1 between Plotinus' conception of fohns - the
amtent of intelligence (auus)is forms3' - and Suhrawardi's idea of Plamnic Idais. For Plotinus. the
*lem of individuation is. therefore. the probfem of the ptimacy of either form or matter. But
m e t e is devaid of fom: in f a a . it is m e privationQ F a m s are merely reflected onto marier from
above." Blumenrhal explains the intellective procers LiPiocinus in tbe following matmer:
Wben the contemplationwhich takes placeatvarious egees of iiuensity.pmpoitionate
to the levels of b q . becomes s o wesk that the production of nehiral abjects is its
only renilt (cf. III.8.4.28-31) , the entities in the intelligible worid reflect themselves
on to the reptacle below. Many such reflections may tuise from a single existent
&ove. Thus the many sensible fires, which may be thought of as refleaions
( E M ~ ~ ~ofs L aii )
archaypal fire. h w e one source which pmduces them d i (cf.
VIS.^).^^
Plocinus' own Platonic idea of forms may have influenced SuhrawaQ's concept of Platonic
Ideas - as archetypai forms. S u h a r d i ' s criticism of Pecpateticism focuses on th& adoption of a
single s e e s of cen imniaerial inteihgences. Contnuy to Avicenna. SuhrawaQ adopts a modified
the- s m . ai-Dn
of Ideas charaaeiistic of ~ l a t o ~ ~ i Qu* ~ ~ al-Shltaz s o d z e s Suhrawardi's notion
of Pletonic Ideas by s w i n g tbat

Like Plato ... who heid rhat eacb bodily species in the sensible world bas a fonn

39
BI~meathat, Plbenus' ma/', 1 14. H e did not, howeva, hold consistent views on the
auIten of Ideas of rndividuais.
a
Plotinus, Ei.Meuak, II, 4,14,24.
4' Blumental, HaMux'P,rvr:hl~112-3,129,132: ci. Plotinus, liZwt.AYzt, El,6,14,24ff.
a
Blumcnthai , P I . u x ' p s V r h ~ . 1. 1
~4.,
a)
Wdbridge, Same, 61-73; -, 99 96-9,94.15-98.12
(JL) in the inteliigible world - a simple, luminous, self-subsistent non-spatial .
form (Z,-). These. in mth. are cbe realities. since they are like spirits ( ->i) for
the b o d y forms of species. The latter are like i&ls of them - Le.. shadows and
droplets from them. because of the subtlecy of the former and coarseness of the

Suhrawardi's ontology of Light multiplies the metaphysid entiues or intermediaries existing


between the One and the subluna world. This is best exemplified by his two orders of lights: the
longitudinal - the classical order of inteiligences - and the latinidinal - ihe Platonic Ideas - ordem
Lights (or of a ~ ~ e l s )This
. ' ~ new latinidinpl der of lights is daived from his light ontology. Light
can disperse itself without losing any of its essencial qualiues. From a single principle - Light -
originares a multitude of lighrs which al1 interad witb one another sr the metaphysical level." &ch
Light in the latinidinal order is the "lord of an idol" - the Plaromc Idea or form of a particula species.
e-g. of humanity. These Plaronic fonns are luminous simple essences whose shadows are the idol -
i.e., the s p e ~ e s . ~
In faa. Suhrawardi does not rejea tbe notion of Platonic Ideas as the Petipatetics have done
cm the grounds that such a doctrine would imply the partidarization of the reality of these forms in
the multiple individual nibsuua in wlrich these Id- would i ~ h e r eSuhmward
.~ s counter-argument
is tbat the form of a substance (a substcuitial forni) oniy occurs in the m h d and is an accident
(nomiadist position). In faa, these existentiated forms are dependent on the extemai - self -subsisting
- quiddities for their own existence.-The correspondhg seif-subsi.tiag form of the accidental forms
amounts precisely to a Platonic notion of Ideas.
Suhrawardi's concept of intellection focuses on the pmcess of illumination a s an expression
of tbe Aviceman emanative scheme. It is said. he writes, rbat "the sou1 which we possess has an
infinice f d t y ." To this, Suhtawardi replies by desaibing the relationship that exists between out
souls and their principle - i,e., the active inteUigen - in terms of illuminations:

If the faalties of celestid souls - saoager than ours - were to cease, then what
[would occar m] the state of our faculties whieh are d s o d o n a l ? But it is sttid
r h e t o r i d y that our souls are capable of i n f i t e intellection. If you know that [our

Q. D .al-Shrik, Shw&(ed. Corbin), 92 n fut line 7.14; quoted m Waibtidge. .!Z~;t.ll#. 62.
.O4

6
Ituao, "Ishtapiy&,"EX 7 (1987), 2991-300a
46
B, 99 150-2,138.6-1435 (S<i, 133-9)
'n
Ha&,$9 167-9, 158.2-161.1 (*, 151-3).
43
& b $94.92.4-10.
~,
49
n i h ~5 W,
~ ,92.10-93.6.
souis] possss h s [capabiity of inteiiectionj fmm the active intelligence (Jii JL)."
chen. [you know thtu] they- are recipients and recepive of idLute traces ( , ~ i )
[cornhg fmm the active intelligence] and of the influence [that occurs] by means of
the conceivable intermediacy of the body and its faculties [Le., the senses] ...
Furrhennore. if our souls were to possess infinite facukies , the prima1 maaer of the
faalties (4 6 4I i &L ) wouid not prevent h e m [CO access] their world.
th& influencewould not be limiteci to a single body, and they would not be irnpcioned
in [their] relation with bodies ... IL
is ,therefore, necessary that lights and illuminaions
( ) noc cease rr> emanate (d ) from the intellective prinaple (i.Y
vli;c ) ont0 the celestial sou1 heiping it ( W 7- ) by means of an infinite power,
hght, Iongiag ( 3 s ). and iafinite love (+L), an ernanation of [the intellective
prinuple] onro [the souls]? '
A history of Iight as a metttphor for inteileaion within the different philosophical vrtditiom
bas yet to be wriaen; whereas a mdy of its use bp Islamic phiiosophers would cercainly yield
wdl be sufficientfor our purpose to mention that the analogy found its way into
interesting results. IL
.
al-Farsibi' s wks as a way to express the activities of the active intelligene arid more g e n d y of

Light, writes that


In tbe same w ay, this inteiea in sctoality conveys to the matmal inteiiea somerhing
which i t imprints on it, which is in d a t i o n to the material intellect, the same as Light
in relauon to sightSs

Ai-Farabi adds:

The action of ~ separare intellect upon the m a t d intellect is similar to the auion
of the sun upon the sight of the eye. It is, cherelore, d e d the d v e intelligence,
rankiag tenth amongn the separate entities ...When, then, chat thing wbich corresponds
to light in the case of sight mises in the ratianal faculty from the active iiitelligence,
intelligibles arise rit the same time in the rational faculty from the sensibles which
me p r e m e d in the faculty of representationy

For Avicenna. intellection is simiiariy assouated with a d a r proess of illumination (or

ligbt). In the D&F--. he writes that "the th-etical f8cuIty in [human souls] d s o cornes into
acniality fiom potentiaiiry, through the d ? u d . & of a substance (9- J "
C>k) whose nature is
to produce iigbt." In fau, something potential can only be actuaiized through someching that is

already in a a u dty. This is the role of the active intelligence. A v i c e ~ a- like d-Fatab5 - continues

Td+, 8 57.76.7-8.
Ti-, 9 47,40.1261.7.
57
d-F-di,M a & , 13,200. f 3-15 ( PafeLk-de,201).
s
ai-Farabi, hfrl&&h, 13,202.1-13 (PdtrrSrzrrr,203); cf. Davidson, M I ' I ~ T48-63.
~I*,
with an andogy between the sun as the active provider of iight and the eye as the patential recipient
to illusvate the relationship thet exists bemeen the aaive intelligence and h u m s o u k The latter,
consisting essenriaily of rational souls, are first pocentiai intellects thct receive an emanation fro-n
the active inteiiigen. L.ght rays (EU)
BR responsible foc pision. whereas. rnetapharically. e r n a d o n

from the active hteligence is st the h m of m t e l l e c t i o ~


Suhrawardi employs the same metaphor of Ltght co asctibe suggestive tities to some of his
own works, e.g ., the Rem offi&ch~
ot the T m p k ofL&i41s. Thk is not surptising as light is ar tbe

h e m of his philosophical interpretation of Avicennan rneraphysics and philosophicd anrhropology.


especidy with regards to keiiection.
A rnaked diffetence does. however, eWst b m e e n al-Farabi s and Avicenna's noetics. The
former cames closer to recognising the existence of a human active intellea. The Laer, hawever,
divorces it from the m o n a l soul. estabiishing the existence of an active intelligene distinct from the
human soul. ALthough A v i c e ~ ase&
1
a meiuis rn separate the active prhdple, belonging to a
metaphysicd realm and to spiritualize his philosophical anthropology, the nature of the rela~onship
that is established between tbese two radically distinct realnrs t~mainsproblematic (see section on
the conjundon with the divine realm).
The idea of an illumination - not jwt e m a d o n - is scatered thmughout AWcenna's own
works. LLlusninarion expresses his own conception of the noetic process. As nich, Avicenna may be
one of the sources chat could explain Suhrawardi's eaiphasis on the illuninative aspect of knowledge-
One rnight obj e a char such an interpretation regarding Suhrriwardi's inteiiectuai herirage (widiin the
limited framewurk of our mdy) ignores such works as al-GhazaLT' s N
* d-hfs or the Light
morif presented in the pseudo- niAalqgy d&ot/e. The structural resemblance that may exin
between al-GhazSl's w ork with the Avicennan philosuphical system , however, still r e m a h to be
el~cidated.~
, theorecical part of the human soul reguires an emanation or an Uall-riiiation
For A v i c e ~ athe
from the active intelligence in order to become acaialized. The roui's abiliy to aaaia this level,
however, is reduced and Linrited m the soul's receptive power and the &vine mercy to which it is

subordhated. In a sense,iineiiection c m , 1fact, do away with rhe activities of the senses, because
only the active intelligence can lead the rarional soul - Le., the m a e r i d inteIlect - out of a stage of
potentirlity into a stage of aauality.

54
Avinna, Wja,N&, 395.9-15 ( Awk,68-9).
55
Landoh,"Ghatati and "ReiigionswUseaschaft," Some Notes."
The "iiiuminative" model that has gained populatity over the years as the main interpretation
of Suhtawardi's original contribution to Islmic philosophy bas. in a way. obscured the fact chat the
episternic process at the k a r t of his system closely follows the Avicennan model. A case in point is
the theory of illuaiination or of emaaatioa alluded to earlierregarding the role of the active inteuigence.

Not d y do we find a notion of iilumination in the works of AWcenoa, but Suhrawardi actually uses
in some places the notion of emanarion that, at times, is readiiy interchangeable with the notion of
illumination, e.g., in the habw&ms where he uses this notion of emanation or "over-flowhg"
prinuple to qualify the activities of the active intelligence (J mi $dl u;li).=

THE FACULTY OF IMAGINATION


Imagination wbich is but one of the stages within the process of htelleaion for AVi.ice~a
becorns the pivotal faculty of SuhrawardI's epistemology, as well as of bis eschatology and
pmphecology (see next two chapters). For A v i c e ~ athere
, is a bierrirchy of perceptions that onginates
with the eMernal and then the internai senses - the faculties of passive imagination, estimation,
rmive imagination and memocy - end ahich nilinliares with r e a ~ a n G
. ~e n d y . however. L e
intellect can amaiiy do without any of the interna1 faculties, essentiaily because it does nor h o w
through a physicai o r g d
Within this Petipatetic system, A v c e ~ a ' sconcepts and intentions - i-e.,particularized
universaki - are, however, actuaily perceivecl by the estimative faculty drat, in the hierarchy of
faculties. possesses a greater abstractive power than the faculty of active imagination- It is the
esumarive faculty which " receives the dentions L ) which in thernselves are non-materiai.

although they accidenrally happen to be in marte,"" Le.. they ohare witb muter amibutes like shape.
coior, location, etc.
The faculty of imagination which manipulatesm&al forms is thus grounded in theparricular
and necessarily gives way to the primacy of intellection. As such, the faculty of imagination cannot
dkealy access universal truths which are accessed only by the intellect, whether one tarks of
Avicenna's intellect or Suhrawardi's Isfahbad-light - his rational or, be#er, his inteiledive Light

56
Tdr@!13;r,8 57,76.15.
57
VII, 344.1-W9.8( A mk,38-30); cf. Rahman, A mcmna S, 95-7.
Avicenna, fipS, N d ,
sa
Avinna, d-Nil@, M,X, 3H.14-371.11 ( Awk ,504).
59
Gradation of ab-ion fin& its ocigin, perhaps, in Alexander, rather than Annade, cf. Rahman,
A Fair.rurrr S. 96-7 n a c for page 39,4. Fm au evaluation of the Anstoteliui tmlition, cf. GPtas, A m;cwUrrl,
254-6 1.
60
Avicenna, Myii'i, H s ,VII, 347.6-7 ( A d . ,39); cf. &id., 347.14-7 and 348.2-5 ( Amk, 40).
p.inple. The maia reason for the facult). of imagmarion's inability to access umwrsals lies in its
own rime.

For Avicenna the faculty of imagmation is unable ta perceive pure intelligibles. i.e.. the
objects of the intellect, because itis itself a b o d i t y f d t y which c m o d y provide sensible representations

- a pwticul&zation - of the objects peceived by the intelle66' The faculty of active imagination
au3, therefore. only represent - or "reflect" m Suhrawards language - the univers& that the
inteiiea has previously perceived. The role of the faculcy of imagination is essentidy to re-present
universal mths thac were first received by the substance of t h e soul, Le., the rational human souL
In Avicenna's GIosses,the role of passive imagination is to initiate the intellective process.
inasmuch as the pmctucts of the imaginarive faculty become necessry, firt, to incite the soul to m m
to the active intelligence where the correspondiag and real h i l i g i b l e s exist and: second,to initiate
the reception of these inrelligibles in the possible inreiiect - e.g ., busying the imaginative faculty
with the figure of the pmticular shepe a e want to trace in order not to th& of anythidg else? A
certain convol ovet- thEs urrernal faculty is, thecefore. reqnired in order to amin a higher degree of
knowledge, because although this faculty can be an insrurnent for the soul, it can dso prevent the
d o n a l soul from nnning towars those inteUigibles. Once the passive imagination and the senses
are properiy used, bey aaually permit the intellect to function properly. Avicenaa writes that
"reflection (GJJ) Bmounts to the sou1 occupying its fflculties with something of the type of that
whrch ic seeks; [and this], in order ta prepa~e[itselfl to receive the form wbich is sought rom the
v i d e r of forms (J+ I +Il al.) This provida of forms is the ~?&ZY~OMI- cf the Lafin
translations.
Siniilar ideas are found in A v i c e ~ as' Ac&oa r m d P ~ ~ i i in
o which the imaginative facuiy
ody serves as the initiating stage foc further intellectrial developments. For instance, the mind is
busied with images chat help focos mention on the invisible or the intelligible. e-g.. in geomeuy.
Avicenna emphasizes tbat

Our intellect does not need the [faculy of] imagkiation in dl the junctions with the

62
Aviunna, Ta%qi3-,83.14- 16; cf. Michot, "Cuites ," 224,224 n-12.
63
Avicenna, 84.7-10. H e also writes, 'when demonstrctions ( e l ) are learned,geomefricd
figures (La1J-1 ) need to be represenLed ( J - ) on a rablet in order chat the passive imagination be
busied wich thcm [these es]. in orda not to disnirb (su& $ ) the mtellea from [ b e q &le to]
a~compiishthe dcmonsrat~an.The passive intagrnation nbcb is busied wirb a rhuig of the kind we are seekuig
its demonmation d o s n a become an obstacle, nor does it prevent it," d.Avicenna, fiXipi?, 84.4-6.
separated [ptidcple]. On the contcary. [it only requires it] u.&e b ~ ~when~ ic 4 ,
grasps the primery universal representations Sometimes, ehe sou1 &O has recourse
to the imfighation in some of its activities to distract the [faculy] of imagination [to
prevent it] from opposing [the mcellea], so that by associeting itself to it. its [own]
disposition be more film; [this], jus like we do when we aramine sensitive shapes
while we thin. of [problems of] geometry.M

Avicenna adds that:

Furthemore. you m u s know that the composition of universal definitions is not


sometfiirig tar ain be accomplished by corporeal faculaes and instruments, aithough
these faculties are useful and thar they imitate these things with p8Ciicda.r images,
Like the geometer does wicb his tafAet and hi+ ~ o r n ~ a s s . ~
The role of imagination in the process of mtelleaion is, thsefore, necessary, aithough not
plaiordial. Avicenna illusuates this process witb the pfactia~of divination or magic by soothsayen
and magicians. The images their minds mate becorne parricular internai reprsatations which,
drhough in a sense the product of the imaginarive faculty, actuay prevent th& imaginative faculty
from distracting tbek hteliea and opposing the faculty of mniition in its attempt: to b ecome more

Suhrawardi d u d e s to a siniilar functioa of the imaginative f d t y when, for instance,


rimongst the praftices of the mytic, be discusses the praaice of rememocafing the name of God
( ). a technique employed b y the mystics chat helps t h e human sou1 ro focus its suention on its
first cause. Moreover, Suhwardi s c r i b e s a similar role to the faculty of imagination ~children
II and
women. Their faculy of imagination can be busied in a way conducive to the produaion of visions
sinnlar COthose t h a occur in sleep, when the senses are relativeiy subdued.
The importanceataibuted tome facuity of imagination in the process of thought in Suhrawardi' s
works c m be cornpared to the mle played by this faculty in the worlcr of Plorinus and described by
Blumenthal in tbe foiiowing mannef:

The fipas deploys the rhought and shows it to the imaginative faculty as though in
a mimor. The imagination is then able to apprehend it: the persistene of this image
is memory. It is thibis presen&on of thought to the imsgiiiative faculry that makes
use of intellection ( v g m ) that is aiways in pmgress W. 3.305-15). Plotinus often
repeats that it is only nessary for us to m m our attention to the dous chat is ours

64
Avicenna, RlrbUaEd-A/"rJ m &litfi'#
a7 8 ; quoted in Micbot, 'Cultes." Appendice II. 8 2 ,
,
213.
Aviceuia, 1PIAU!tirl/-AI'H inr ad-&5 'a,23 23 -2; quoted in M i c h a , " Culks ," Appendice. II. 8 13,
65

u L , Phyq 136.7-139.4 (fi-, Il, 85-6).


233;d.A ~ ~ ~ I uD~Uujn,
66
Michot, "Cultes,"225.
for hellection to take place (cf. e.g. 1.2 -4-25-7j?
in its Plounian interp.etauon, intellection becomes the reception of the intelligence (aous)in
an unmediated process that is Logically prior to i a re-presentation in any faculty responsible for
representation. The process that is proposed and upheld is the possibility of a direct intuition af the
intelligible (metaphysicai) world.
For Suhrawardi, intellection is logidly prior, in a fashioa that d i f f a liale from Plotinus'
unmediated process. but rhis t h e in terais of the reception of light (the rational / the logos).
Consequently,tbe priaary activlties of Suhrawardi's faculty of imagination are related to the different
funcrions associated with representtlfion in a way not so different rom Amcenaan Peripatetics (see
s e d a n on imagination). The purpose of Suhrawardi's philosophical arguments is to propose an
analytical preseraation of the mariner in wbich the sou1 - esseariaily the Isfahbad-Light ( d o n a l ) soul
- receives ineilective masers (+ i, ) chat belong to the wodd of pure uitdhgences laid in which -
the active intelligence has an important role to play.

THE ACTIVE INTELLIGENCE


The epistemic process at the heart of Avicema's philosophical anthropology consists of the
reception of that whch emmates from the intelligible realm onto the human rational soui. h its
initial stage, there is no need for the actipities of any of the faculties of the sou1 ro receive what
emanates o m it from the iatelLigible rtalm. In the G/DSF~S.
Avicema writes Chat:

If the vision of the one who sleeps is. in the first place, an emanation (a
) of the
d v e intelligence onm the soul and. then. in the second place. an emanation from
[the rational soul] orno the faculty of passive imagination (q 1 ; ) ... the soul is
prepared CO receive what emanates from [the active intelligence]. And [the soul]
&es not need any of the faculties of the body to receiw Ebis ernanarion, since what
it receives cornes from the intellect withoat havlng a need for the mediation of any
intermedi&
The actual cause of universal f o m s that occur in the human sou1 is,in faa, an emanation
tbat originares at the levei of the aaive intelligence and which overflows oilto the human material
intellecx6 AWcenna , however, ascribes tree distinct functians to the active intelligence. First , it is
the ocganizing principle of m m . Seaond. it is the cause of the originatioa of the rational soul. And

68
Avicenaa, n % p ~8728-88.4
, ( 178 a 128). in what follows. A6cenna condudes that
in its posthumaus Me, the soul &es nocquire any of the caporeal facuities which would, however, coniradlct
ozha passages (see sedon on eschatology).
69
Avicenna, SM?, NJJJ, V,5,235.2-5 (ISp,167).
finally, as the provider of forms, it is the cause of the intelligibls that possess an existence in
~ t u a l i c yin itself and provida them to the rational souls."
The first function of the active intelligence is to prepare bodies to receive the human souls
with which it will provide them. As the source or cause of the human rational soul. the active
intelligence m u s , therefore. t h e o r e t i d y possess (ln potentiality) al1 these souls. But, as a m o n a l
Pt;ncipte. Le,, a mecriphysical intelligence. it is itself simple, indivisible, and. therefore, one. As we
have mentioned, Fakhr al-Din a l - R U (d. 1209), however, wiil object against the Avicennan position
that saiultaneously holds that the active intelligence is one and many (see section on the nahire of
the ~ o u l ) . ~ '

The second function of the active intelligence is to be the prkciple ar the heart of the
actaalizarion of the human intelligence. Although every human being possesses a maerid inteilect -
m pure potentiality - capable of becoming an intellect in actuaiity, nonetheless, its development into
an aoquired inteilea is oniy possible with the help of an externa1 factor. In fact, in bis P i f of
&opbeyy , Avicenna n m s that " [an ncquired intellect] does not exist actuaiiy in the material
inteilect and. thus, does not exist in it essentialiy;"ratber. he continues, its existence in the mat&
n which it exim essentialiy and that causes that wbich is in potentiality
inteilect "is due to something i
to [ d t ] in ecaiaiity." This is the "univmalintellect" (+ Jir),the " Miversal soul." and the 'sou1
of the ~ l d .Statements
'~ iike tbese that appeai ro notions of a universal intelligence or sou1 may
readiiy be associared with Ismafli terms, Neoplatomc conceptions, or with Plotinus' und escended or
universai sou1 (the third hypostasis). Ln fact, Avicenna reminds the reader that he actnaily intends the
active intelligence or the "uaiversd nerive intelligence" Gis~h $A ). t h e p ~ c i p l responsible
e
for the perfection of rbe poteaiaicy of tbe human i n t e l l e ~ tHe
. ~ writes that:

Iftheintellective faculty cornes to h o w p d c u l a r s rhat are in the passive imagination,


and [the intellective faculty] rhs is in us is illuminateci (e 3 $1 ) by the light of
the active intelligence (J UJ I J+ .
) as w e have mentioned its sepmion
from and relations with matter would be impossible,and they would be impriated in
the rationai s o d (IibC)*) a~ fbey acaiaiiy

The notion of an illumination of light to which this passage d u d e s corresponds to Avicenna's

70
Davidson, "A l f Z i Z - and A v i c e ~ aon the Active Inreiled,* 109-78; cf. Idem, ABanr6.i.
71
F. D. d-Rk-, ;I/-Mhb@;ta,VOL 1,$4?.1544?.2O.
72
Avicenna, /&&a,
43.1 1-44.3 ( P M 1 14).
73
Avicema, fcbbw, 44.5 ( P d ,
1 14).
x
Avicenna, S M : Ab!!,
V,5 , 235.2-5 ( P !167).
emaiiatiomsn - emanation (a)
is the usual term employed.7s It is precisely this notion of illumination
tba~recurs in numemus works of Sufis - Ibn S a b k . al-Ghazall' s M c . O ~ & ~ + L S . Na@ al-Din
KubrE, etc. Likewise, in Suhwardi's ontology of Light, the active intelligence defineci in terms of
light b e c m e s a dominating light ( P 9 l Z ) tbat iliuminates human soulrX
F i d y , the third function of the active intelligence is to provide our souls with knowledge.
i.e.. to emanate universal forms onto them. A s such. the active intelligence is usually identifed with
I+Id)and alteady present in Avicenna's
the provider of forms. a terni Suhmwardi often uses (Jd
works. 77
Avicema's epistemology attributes a predonzinant role to the active intelligerice. As such,
Las epistemology becornes rnom spki~alizedthaa that of rotle le.^^ The human sou requires the
activaies of an active p-inciple to initiate the process by whicb it will acquire knowledge. Thetefore.

knowledge is not somethiug innaie. In f a u . the soul receives its knowledge from a pure and separated
inteiligence, an intefigeme chat is extrinsic and distinct from te soul- It is an efficient p ~ c i p l e
responsible for the soul's actual knowledge. The active intelligence is the source of intelligibles and
the only g u m t o r of the coatinuation of the intellective process of human souls. Human intellects
aui cognize only with the intervention of the iaive intelligence.r>
Avicema's idealist or spirihialisttendencies, are.however,caunte&aianced with the exigemies
of the sensible world. The human soul must mm to the active intelligence to receive the intelligible
(universal) for- tbat wili correspond to the sensitive forms it visualizes. The senses, however, do

set the process in motion. Sensation, the first instrument of the soul ia its relation witb the world
constinites the pfUnary advity tbat evenmallyand ulhately leads to future possibilities of conjunction
of the human soul with the active inteligeme once the uirelteu has been developed. In a sense,
sensitive perceptions become truiy intelligible only chrough the action of the aaive intelligence.m
The active intelligence is,t h e f o r e . a necessary but not sufficient condition for accessing intelligibles
in their universality. All empirical experiaices initiate the process - especially in view of the role
aaributed by Avicenna to the imaginative faculty.

75
Gaichon. D ' O P ,3 10-3.
76
Massignon, "Ibnkb'n et la aitique psycologique,"123-30.
77
A6cenna , T w Q 1 3 , 84.7-10; cf. Idem, SWZ*, IX, 5 , 413.7-12 (121- L47); cf. CorbUI,
Amtqgel 26 n 16.
78
Avicenna's idealist conception of knowledge centers on the active intelligence, cf. Ushida. Bu&,
117-8.
79
El Ahwan, " La thorie de la connaissan," 3 1 , 3 3 3 .
8)
Saba, ~ c n u l a ~ @ y S Pd'A
c ~GT#.MC.,
c 194-5.
Knowledge should not then be simply equated witb the reception of inteliigibles by passive
souls. Perhaps as a remnant of Aristotelian empiricism. Avicenna concaves of a p o r , even primitive

a p p r e h d o n of reality that enables the soul to turn to the active inteliigene which,in mm. tenders
these sensitive perceptions - preseat to the imaginative facuity - perfedy intelligible. h the Iatrer
phase of this process. the active intelligence iliuminares the images found in the humm souls or
provides them with an inteiligible forrn (science being something that i n a inaate to the human
saul) The only exceptions Avi-a envisions to this pmcess of intellection are individuals such as
prophets and their tikes (see seaion on prophetic knowiedge).
The strubure in which the aaive inteltigence finds rtself in SuhrawarQ's cosmology is
essentiay the Neoplatonic cosmology i a h e t e d fiom the Aviceanan tradition. Each celestid body is
associated with a heavenly soul and an intelligence. Suhraw *di explains th# the relationship that
exists berneen the heavenly souk and the intefigeaces is "like the relation of