Faith & Reason Relation : Mulla Sadra & HG Gadamer Thoughts

July 12, 2008 at 8:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


(Paper of presentation in a one-month research seminar “A Project on Faith and Reason in Our Day” on 18 March 2008, hosted by The Center for the Study of Culture and Values, The Catholic University of America, Washington DC, USA)

Husain Heriyanto

(The Director of Research Department of Islamic College for Advanced Studies (ICAS) Jakarta, Indonesia)

Introduction: Background and Rationale

1. Conflict and controversy between faith and reason appear more complicated and complex at the present-day. Some causes are the use of unclear concepts and terms, the incorrect identification of the problems, the ignorance of the real meaning of the idea of faith and reason, and the application of inadequate methods and approaches (good intention to overcome the problem is not sufficient; the more important component today is the adequate methods of solution and holistic approach).

2. We incline to be led unconsciously or consciously into a stalemate situation in which we are caught in polarization between two extremities, for example between rationalism (faith based on reason in the term modern thought) and fideism (‘faith-ism’; faith not based on reason), between scientific materialism and ineffable religious experience, between relativistic-skepticism and theological fundamentalism. It is portrayed in brief by Prof. George F. McLean in his paper A Project on Faith and Reason in Our Day that on the one hand, the West has become so secular that it fears the religious inspiration it needs, and on the other hand, religions standing against the secular rationalism should search for ways to live faithfully in modern times.

3. In his Encyclical Letter entitled “Fides Et Ratio” On the Relationship between Faith and Reason, the Pope John Paul II addressed his deep concern with this issue. He criticized modern philosophy yielding results in the development of different fields of knowledge but abandoning the investigation of being. With identifying the modern rationalism as human reason, he pointed out that reason, rather than voicing the human orientation toward truth, has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge and little by little has lost the capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring to rise the truth of being. According to the Pope, this has given rise to different forms of agnosticism and relativism which have led philosophical research to lose its way in the shifting sands of widespread skepticism. It is interesting how the Pope depicted modern philosophy that has tended to pursue issues – existential, hermeneutical or linguistic – but ignoring the radical questions of the truth about personal existence, about being and about God. Accordingly, the Pope appealed philosophy to take its primordial path, which is one of the noblest of human tasks, that is, taking the great responsibility of forming thought and culture in the search for truth.

4. In reference to Islamic teachings and tradition, we find that Islam pays great attention to intellectual knowledge, rational sciences. A lot of verses of the Holy Qur’an and the Prophetic hadis (tradition, sayings) encourage the people to think, to reflect, to contemplate and at the same time to blame those whom do not use the mental or intellectual capacity. The word ‘aql, which is translated as intellect, reason, wisdom, or intelligence occurs 49 times in the Qur’an. ‘Aql in the Qur’an is used as the means by which man is able to recognize the ultimate significance of things besides the appearance of things. ‘Aql was defined in a famous utterance attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as ‘a light in the heart that distinguishes between truth and falsehood’ (al’aql nurun fi al-qalb yufariqu bain al-haqq wa al-batil). Human intellect and reason has been introduced in Islamic tradition as an inner divine guide and as the internal messenger of Allah, while the Prophet has been introduced as an outer reason and intellect. So, in Islamic tradition, God has provided man with two means of guidance: the internal (‘al-‘aql) and the external (the Prophet). (Inna lil-al-Allahi hujjatain; Hujjaton zahirah wa hujjaton batinah, fa amm al-zahirah fa al-rusul wa al-anbiya’, wa am al-batinah fa al-‘uqul).
In relation to the relationship between faith (iman) and reason (‘aql), let us recite the following famous Prophet ‘s saying, “Al-dinu ‘aqlun; laysa al-dinu li man la ‘aqla lahu” (Religion is intellect; One does not have faith until he makes use of reason). We need also to take into account a tradition of the Prophet (pbuh) narrated by Ali bin Abi Thalib: Once Gabriel came to Adam. He brought with him: faith, morality (haya’) and ‘aql (reason) and asked him to choose one of the tree. When he chose ‘aql, the others were told by Gabriel to return to heaven. They said that they were ordered by Allah to accompany ‘aql wherever it remained.
This narrative indicates how comprehensive are the notions of intellect in Islam, and how deeply related it is to faith and the moral faculty.

5. Since it will be understandable then, a group of Muslim authorities and scholars responded promptly to the Pope Benedict XVI lecture in Regensburg, Germany (September 2006) in which the Pope addressed his concern with Islamic teaching on God’s transcendence in relation to human rationality. They explained that saying that “for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality” is a simplification which leads to a misunderstanding. God has many Names in Islam, including the Merciful, the Just, the Seeing, the Hearing, the Knowing, the Loving, and the Gentle. In addition, they mentioned that the Islamic tradition is rich in its explorations of the nature of human intelligence and its relation to God’s Nature and His Will, including questions of what is self-evident and what is not. However, the dichotomy between “reason” on one hand and “faith” on the other does not exist in precisely the same form in Islamic thought.

The crucial point that we observe is that Muslim scholars, one year later (September 2007), delivered a historical message in relationship between Islam and Christianity, namely, declaration of A Common Word between Us and You. This message and invitation, which is addressed the leaders of all the world’s churches, and indeed to all Christians everywhere, is based on the common ground between Islam and Christianity, i.e., the love of God and the love of the neighbor. It is declared that this common ground is the best basis for future dialogue and understanding.

The more essential with which we are concerned now is that the issue of relationship between faith and reason requires three necessary requirements, they are, the use of the criterion of rationality as the common language of all humanity, the inquiry of the meaning of being (epistemological implication of the love of God), and the application what we call a knowledge-based interfaith dialogue (epistemological implication of the love of neighbor)

We see that the item 1, 2, and 5 are contextual framework of our discussion meanwhile the item 3 and 4 are the normative teachings from which we expect to provide a contribution for solution with adequate framework. We are required to provide a broader and proper framework which is able to accommodate these demands and scopes. I shall explain below why I suggest taking the ideas of Mulla Sadra and Hans-Georg Gadamer for this problem.

B. The Importance of Mulla Sadra

1. Deep Investigation on the Meaning of Being

Mulla Sadra investigated deeply into almost the entire corpus of philosophical, theological and mystical Islamic thought. Like his teacher, Mir Damad, he was interested in Ibn Sina’s ontology (the major ontological distinctions between wujud and mahiyyah) and studied Ibn ‘Arab’s theosophy (philosophical-theological mysticism, irfan nadhari). Suhrawardi, Ibn Sina and Ibn ‘Arabi had a notable impact on Mulla Sadra’s thinking and played a significant role in facilitating his ontological turn from the doctrine of the primacy of essence to the primacy of being and in his development of a new ontological system. Henry Corbin said that Mulla Sadra did a revolution in metaphysics, and he called it ‘existential metaphysics” that differs from Aristotelian system. It is also unlike Platonic metaphysical view that nothing exists but ideas or essence. Mulla Sadra believed that nothing is real but existence.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr delineates how Islamic philosophy developed from the history of the quest of post-Avicennan Islamic philosophers for the understanding of being. Unlike Western philosophy that gradually the possibility of the experience of Being nearly disappeared, in the Islamic world philosophy drew closer to the ocean of Being until finally it became the complement of gnosis and its extension in the direction of systematic exposition and analysis. What Nasr says, I think, is in common with the Pope John Paul II concern as we have mentioned above. And here, it is Mulla Sadra who has given the most extensive and systematic exposition of the “philosophy of being” to be found anywhere in Islam, combining the vision of the Gnostics (Sufis) and the logical acumen of the Peripatetics. Nasr points out that Mulla Sadra’s metaphysics, based on the unity, gradation and principiality of being marks the opening of a new chapter in the development of Islamic philosophy and more particularly ontology.

The term ‘experience’ in question of Islamic philosophy, which culminated with Mulla Sadra, is of a spiritual and inward character, including ultimately the experience of Pure Being, the tasting of Reality that is the origin of the sapiental wisdom or hikmah In this regard, with his ‘philosophy of being’ Mulla Sadra helped bridge the concept of God as the Creator and Sustainer of universe to that of His Beneficences that concerns all beings and His Mercy that encompasses all things ( The Holy Qur’an speaks both concepts). Understood metaphysically, this means that God is the source and the only source of the being of all things and that like the rays of the sun, which shine upon all things, being flows from its Divine Origin to existentiate all things. This is what Mulla Sadra calls “sarayan al-wujud” (the flow of being). This idea reminds us to the doctrine of the love of God, as primary common ground of A Common Word between Us and You the above-mentioned. We may say that Mulla Sadra’s ‘philosophy of being’ can provide the ontological-epistemological framework of this historical declaration between Islam and Christianity.

Mulla Sadra’s metaphysics of love is based on the principle of the principiality of existence and gradation of existence. As we know, like some philosophers, he views the ‘good’ and ‘beauty’ the same as existence, since wherever there is existence, non-existence, imperfection, and evil (which all have the same meaning) are not witnessed, and perfection and the ‘good’ are all that flaunt before eyes. The good, perfection, and beauty are three of the existential things that man finds desirable. ‘Beauty’ is the same as absence of defect (the very perfection and good), and, all of them can be covered by a single word: ‘existence’. Existence creates love; wherever there is existence, there is love, too.

In the vanguard of the discussions related to love, Mulla Sadra says, “..In the creation of every existent of any type, God has determined an end and a perfection, and has placed a motivation and enthusiasm in its instinct and essence to push it to obtain that degree of perfection, which is the end of the line of its existence. Such motivation and enthusiasm are called love..”

2. Adequate System of Thought

Mulla Sadra’s philosophy is an independent school of thought, possessing a specific system of its own. He has established a philosophical system which comprises all philosophical problems; so that one can claim that this school, in the light of its basic principles, could efficiently solve even those peripheral problems which might arise in field of philosophy in future. The available documents strongly indicate that, apart from the ancient Illuminationist school, Peripatetic philosophy, and gnosis, no other independent school of philosophy, except for Transcendent Philosophy, has been developed either in the East or the West to possess such universality, all-inclusiveness, and answerability to problems

Mulla Sadra has profoundly benefited from Peripatetic, Ishraqi, theological, and sophist (pre-Socrates) schools of thought and can be said to owe a great part of this knowledge to the masters of these schools. Apart from the Qur’an, the Prophet (p.b.u.h), Imam Ali (As), and the Prophet’s descendants, he has a deep-rooted belief in Muhyaddin, Ibn-Sina, Aristotle, Plotinus, Suhrawardi, Tusi, Sadr al-Din, Qiyath al-Din Dashtaki, Dawani, and pre-Socratic philosophers, particularly Pythagoras and Empedocles. He also agrees with Ghazali’s ideas concerning ethics, and favors Fakhruddin al-Razi’s method of analyzing theological and philosophical problems; nevertheless, he does not consider them as philosophers and refutes their philosophical ideas in many respects. However, in cases where he agrees with their views, he never hesitates to praise them, and, in order to show his confirmation and acceptance of their ideas, he quotes from them verbatim, as if he himself has originally uttered those words.

One of the sources of Mulla Sadra’s philosophy is the pre-Socratic history of philosophy. The philosophers of that time mainly consisted of Ishraqi sages, who followed Oriental and Iranian ancient philosophies to a great extent.

Generally speaking, unlike the case with Peripatetic philosophy, Mulla Sadra’s sources of philosophy were not merely confined to the intellect, so that he would ignore other sources such as revelation and inspiration. In the same way, he did not limit himself only to inspiration and illumination, so that, like gnostics and sophists, he would regard the intellect as being incapable of the perception of realities. He even considered revelation as the most important, valid, and reliable source of knowledge, and, as we mentioned previously, he also attached too much importance to what can be learnt from the Qur’an and hadith.

In Mulla Sadra’s perfect system of thought, one can find all significant components and branches of philosophy, which, taken together, comprise a coherent philosophical system. Ontology and the issues related to metaphysics have the greatest share in this regard and, following them, the majority of discussions are related to theology, psychology, eschatology, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and logic, respectively.

These components, although intermixed, are connected to each other according logically, as is necessary for a perfect philosophical system enjoying a high level of coherence and versatility. In this system, ontological issues are employed as the bases for demonstrating other issues.

Mulla Sadra’s epistemological views are presented in a scattered manner under other issues. One can seek them under subjects such as mental existence, psychological qualities and accidents, the unity of the knower and the known, and the unity of the intellect and the intelligible, and synthesize them with each other. Likewise, his ideas about the philosophy of ethics and political philosophy have not been presented in a focused form. Although he has two independent books on formal logic, a great number of logical issues, whose collection could comprise a valuable book on logic and the philosophy of logic, can also be found among his philosophical discussions.

Mulla Sadra attaches great importance to the knowledge of the soul on the basis of the Islamic tradition of ‘know yourself to know God’, and deals with the subject of the soul in almost most of his books. Nevertheless, he devotes almost a quarter of al-Asfar al-arba‘ah to discussions of the soul, and the end of its ontological journey towards the Day of Resurrection, Paradise, and Hell. In addition to some issues that, for various reasons, have been analyzed during other discussions, problems related to eschatology and animate beings’ life after death comprise another important part of Mulla Sadra’s philosophy, and have appeared under topics such as psychology and eschatology.

Main ideas of Mulla Sadra’s ontological system:
1. The Primacy of Existence (asalat al-wujud) à being is a self-evident concept; univocal meaning (ishtirak ma’nawi) with different references, existents
2. The Unity of Existence (wahdat al-wujud) à “the ocean of being”
3. The Gradation of Existence (tasykik al-wujud) à individuation (al-tashakhus)
4. The Trans-substantial Motion (al-harakat al-jawhariyyah) à constant transition of substance and time is the measure of trans-subtantial motion

Main ideas of Mulla Sadra’s epistemological system:
1. Division of knowledge into:
1. Knowledge by presence (ilm hudhuri): direct, intuitive, immediate
2. Knowledge by correspondence (ilm hushuli): acquired, conceptions
2. KBP and KBC are divided into: primary, self-evident and theoretical
3. Theoretical knowledge of KBC pertains to: sensation, memory, imagination, estimation (wahm), and ratiocination (ta’aqqul)
4. Particular concepts are divided into: sensorial and imaginal
5. Universal concepts (intelligibles) are divided into three groups: ‘primary intelligibles’ (whatness concepts), ‘secondary philosophical intelligibles’, and ‘secondary logical intelligibles’.
6. Unity of knowledge, the knower, and the known (al-ittihad al-‘aql, al-‘aqil, wal ma’qul) -à to know is to be (al-‘ilm nahwu minal wujud)

We could see now that Mulla Sadra is one of the exceptional philosophers who has graded a lot of sources. He believes that the first basis for accessing truth is the intellect; however, he does not consider it as being capable of solving the subtle problems of metaphysics. Therefore, a philosopher or sage should not stop halfway through seeking the reality and deprive himself from intuition and using prophets’ revelation.

He states that man’s intellect confirms revelation, and revelation completes the intellect. One who has a religion and depends on revelation must accept the role of the intellect in discovering the truth; likewise, one who follows the intellect and wisdom, must confirm and accept revelation. Intuition and illumination can be demonstrated by means of argumentation and reasoning and, as a result, grant universality to personal experiences, exactly in the same way that the hidden principles of nature could be proved by resorting to mathematical laws.

However, one must admit that the power of wisdom is limited, but intuition and love have no boundaries and can aid man in attaining the truth. The vastness and breadth of Mulla Sadra’s domain of views, and the plurality of the origins of his thoughts granted more freedom to him to expand the realm of philosophy. As a result, there is no trace of different types of narrow-mindedness witnessed in other schools of philosophy in his philosophy.

In relation to our issue at the present about the relation faith and reason, we could assert that Mulla Sadra’s thought is one of the most promising candidates that is capable of providing an adequate and proper framework to help clarify all problems related the issue.

C. The Importance of Hans-Georg Gadamer

1. Proceeding the Heidegger’s project in search for the meaning of being
2. Transforming the investigation of meaning of being into cultural and human studies through language as a mode of understanding
2. Able to provide the particularity and plurality

.. please read Truth and Method (Hans-Georg Gadamer) and Hermeneutics, Tradition and Contemporary Changes (by George F. McLean)

D. The Core Problem of Faith and Reason is the Problem of Relationship

1. Clarification numerous key concepts and terms in the issue of faith-reason relation

We are required to start clarifying a number of key concepts and terms which are occupied in the discussion on the relationship between faith and reason. When we use the term of ‘faith’, what it means? There are a lot of the meanings of the term ‘faith’, which some of them are contrary to each other. Some scholars say that faith involves a stance toward some claim that is not demonstrable by reason. Thus faith is a kind of attitude of trust or assent involving an act of will or a commitment on the part of believer. Some are more offensive to natural reason. Tertullian, for instance, claimed credo quia absurdum est (“I believe because it is absurd”). But others scholars say that the act of faith consists essentially in knowledge. For Thomas Aquinas, referring to the Ibn Sina’s thought, faith is an intellectual act whose object is truth. Thus it has both a subjective and objective aspect.

Likewise, when we are talking about the term ‘reason’, what it means. In general sense reason is understood as the principles for a methodological inquiry, whether intellectual, moral, aesthetic, or religious. Thus it is not simply the rules of logical inference. But Nietzsche, for instance, gave a succinct definition of rationality, ie., it is a matrix of connections, which assigns cause to effect. Then he argued that rationality is an inescapable consequence of what he calls man’s ‘will to power’. Here, the term of reason has been reduced into limited scope. He thus excludes all other forms of intellectual inquiries and rational speculations. So, he came to draw conclusion on the limited scope of rationality based on his own idea on the meaning of reason.

The sense of reason also depends on to whom we refer. For Ibn Sina, reason is the distinctive human faculty that encompasses all types and different level of human reasoning, theoretically and practically. But for Descartes, reason is a subject substance (res cogitans) that is distinctively separate from an object body (res extensa) and it is employed in human subjectivism (anthropocentrism) for seeking the certainty and making a mechanistic picture of the world.

The Islamic philosophers’ conception and understanding of the intellect (al-‘aql) is greatly influenced by the descent of the Quran from the divine realm to the soul of the Prophet Muhammed. For them, the Quranic term al ‘aql is used to denote human intelligence and which is etymologically related to the meanings of “to tie” or “to bind”, signifies both that which binds man to God, as well as that which binds or limits the Absolute in the direction of creation. In relation to man, al ‘aql denotes the human intellect which is the highest and noblest faculty and the principal means by which he is bound to God or to “The Truth” or “The Real”. In relation to God, al- ‘aql denotes the Universal Intellect (al-‘aql al-kulli). Al-‘aql is the repository of God’s knowledge of all created beings.

According to Seyyed Hosen Nsr, for Islamic philosophers, al-‘aql denotes both reason (ratio-Latin) and intellect (intellectus or nous). The human intellect is capable of both ratiocination, or knowing in a mediate and inferential manner through concepts and mental representations (al-‘ilm al husuli), and intuition, or knowing in a direct and immediate way by participation or experience (al-‘ilm al-huduri). Nasr suggested to translate al-‘aql into English term as ‘intellect’ rather than reason in the term of modern thought.

2. The Core Thesis: Relationship is a Mode of Being

Let us focus on our topic. Just as the suggestion of the Pope John Paul II, we need to be open for the primordial human inquiry, namely investigation of the meaning of being. And Mulla Sadra as well as Gadamer can help us to experience, explore, uncover and explain the meaning of being. In reference to Mulla Sadra thought on the type of intelligibles, just as the concept of existence, we could categorize the term of faith and reason as ‘the secondary philosophical intelligibles” (philosophical concepts). In this regard, because relationship is a philosophical concept like the concept of being, then we could say that relationship is a mode of being. It means that the main characteristic of the issue of faith-reason relation is the way how they are related and what the nature of their relation is.

Accordingly, we should uncover the relationship between the two under the investigation of being. Their relation is not categorical but existential. As an example of investigation of the meaning of being between the two, let us suppose one proposition:
“ The paper is white”

“White-ness’ is a kind of predication, attribution. There are two concepts (quiddities): ‘paper’, and ‘white’; in which paper is a subject and ‘white’ is a predicate. But, in fact, in external reality, there is only one instance. Our mind conceives two quiddities and maybe more when it perceive that one instance ( a white paper ). At this stage, we come to understand that conceptualization generates diversity and multiplicity. If we continue, we could come to draw that the modality of that proposition is possibility. Because, ‘white’ is not necessary and nor impossible for the paper. Here, we uncover the kind of relationship between the paper and ‘white-ness’, i.e., the possibility, a philosophical concept. The next stage, we could see that there is a component of the proposition which is necessary for the existence of the proposition, i.e, copula ‘is’. The copula ‘is’ serves as the soul of proposition without which there will be no any proposition. Again, we uncover something hidden to appear before our awareness. And this ‘copulative existence’ can lead us to uncover ‘substantive existence’, which is independent, and categorized as existence-in-itself.

Let us take the second example, the relation (dichotomy) of mind and body

For Descartes, mind is a substance (res cogitans) that serves as subject with independent consciousness; body is a material substance (res extensa) that has body and three dimension without consciousness. Two propositions can be made then:
Mind is not body
Body is not mind

When we construe both negative propositions we conceive that they are separate and independent to each other, because two propositions negate each other. But, if we arrange the proposition to be:
Mind is a human faculty that …
Body is a human faculty that …

We see now that they have a common ground that disappears (hidden) before, i.e., human faculty or human. Now, we terminate in the term of ‘human’, there may appear school of thought of humanism, idealism, or materialism; it depends on which faculty is more concerned.

What will be if we arrange the proposition to be:
Mind is a mode of being (a kind of being that has own quiddities)
Body is a mode of being ( a kind of being that has own quiddites)

Referring to Mulla Sadra’s idea about gradation of existence, through that proposition we could come to understand that mind and body are different level of existence. They have existential relation, not categorical one. It is contrary to Aristotle’s theory of hylemorphism (hyle = matter, body and morphism= form, mind).

3. Relationsip between faith-reason is not categorical but existential

According to Jawad Amuli, in reference to Mulla Sadra’s thought, faith pertains to practical reason (al-‘aql al-‘amali); reason pertains to theoretical reason (al-‘aql al-nadhari). Faith is a relation between a person and the object of his knowledge, which comes into being through an act of decision-making and thus, pertains to the practical reason. Faith is the nexus of the soul with the object of its perception ; and practical reason is the agency, which establishes this relationship.

But we have to be careful that this relationship between soul and the object of its knowledge should not be confused with the judgmental relationship of propositions that are expressed by copulas. Because, an epistemic unit is a proposition that comprises a subject and predicate and a judgmental relationship, the judgmental relationship pertains to the theoretical reason and the human will is not applicable to it. Amuli explains that although in superior levels of existence – that is, in the levels where knowledge and power have external identity – practical and theoretical reasons are different and separate from one another in the inferior levels of existence.

He outlines that there is mutual existence necessitation (al-talazum al-wujudi) between faith and reason in Islamic traditions. On the one hand, numerous traditions narrated the Holy Prophet pbuh that measure the value of piety and religious devotion of individuals in proportion to their reasonability and knowledge. “Verily fear God only those of His servants induced with knowledge”; “One’s religiosity isin proportion to one’s reason”. But, on the other hand, in the traditions, a knowledge that is not coupled with faith and practice is the subject of scorn. “The noblest knowledge is hat which is manifested in the organs and body parts”; “The worst knowledge is the one that is not implemented”

Since then, despite the absence a mutual non-existential necessitation, there is mutual existential necessitation between faith and knowledge (reason). It follows that faith is veridical only when it pertains to a real entity and is coupled with definite cognition thereof and that faith without cognition invites nothing but mischief and vice. The mutual existential necessitation between faith and reason indicates that transcendent levels of faith cannot be attained if one does not posses superior levels of cognition.

The mutual existential necessitation between faith and reason indicates also that the relationship between faith and reason is existential, not merely categorical. It means that we are required to uncover the meaning of being as well as its relationship. One of the sources of mistake or failure to overcome the problem relationship between two things, two entities, two sides in modern thought-philosophy is because they overlook to uncover the being on which all entities underlie and for which they stand. Therefore, reflection on being will be necessary to resolve the problem of relationship between two things, two concepts.

How do we uncover and unfold being continuously? I shall describe it in brief because of limited time.

E. Explanation and Uncovering: Two Dialectical Moments

Due to the fact that Mulla Sadra emphasized and was concerned very much with the principiality og being and the reality of being as a pre-ontological condition for the existence of all things, the cognition activities in grasping reality become to under two moments in continuous process: moment of explanation and that of uncovering. Mulla Sadra refers directy the very reality itself, while Gadamer is more concerned with unveiling being in the limit of human experience under historicity (particular time and place) through the hermeneutic enterprise for self-understanding. We could say that for Mulla Sadra, we are open to the reality in self-understanding for disclosure of reality, while for Gadamer, we are open to text in self-horizon for disclosure the self-understanding.

As a result, besides to appeal the process of uncovering of being through experience, Mulla Sadra can embrace activity of explanation, assessment of reality as integral part of the process of unveiling being, the very reality itself. Meanwhile, Gadamer has no explanatory epistemological account as a moment of disclosure of the reality. He is concerned exclusively with the hermeneutic enterprise as the only way to disclose the reality, which has been represented by human language.

Let us see below how the explanation on reality can be considered as disclosure of reality through perception of our mind.

The soul, through its power of creativity, and through making a model of those signals, reconstructs the ‘quiddity’ of the perceived object for itself, and substitutes it for the quiddity of that external existent. And as we know, the quiddity of every object consists of the totality of its reality, of course, without the existential effects of its external characteristics.

Accordingly, man’s perception is not in the form of the indwelling and presence of the form of external objects in the mind; rather, it is a kind of ‘creation’ that is manifested in the form of ‘emanation’ from the soul. Besides, all the previous stages of perception consist of, in fact, a series of peripheral and marginal contributions or so-called prerequisites, rather than true reasons. Therefore, knowledge cannot be separated from the knower (the unity of the knower and knowledge).

The important point in such an interpretation of sense perception is solving the problem of the correspondence of the perceived external object with perception or knowledge (subject), which is technically called the correspondence between the directly known and the indirectly known. This point is at the center of philosophy, and is considered as the basis of all sciences.

The solution to the problem of the correspondence between the outside and knowledge, or between the truth of knowledge and perception lies in the unity of the quiddity of the directly known object and the perception of the indirectly known or the subject. Mulla Sadra believes that a perception which fails to unveil the truth does not result in knowledge acquisition. Quiddity is the very external and objective reality of objects which has taken off the dress of external existence, and put on the dress of mental existence. And since the criteria for ‘unveiling’ is the very quiddity of objects, i.e., its limits and definitions, whenever we have access to the quiddity of something through acquired knowledge, we have gained the knowledge of that thing. All the primary and secondary qualities, quantities, attributes, and states of objects could be found in their quiddity, and perceived by means of the senses (the lowest level of experience of being)

As to the issue of relationship between faith and reason, based on the use of the term al-‘aql (intellect) in Islamic tradition and Mulla Sadra thought the above-mentioned, we could say that two moments of the relationship as follows:

Moment of explanation: Reason (with Faith) in Intellect for experiencing Being
Moment of uncovering: Faith (with Reason) in Intellect for experiencing Being

Both moments work together in continuous alternate process. Both moments are modes of activities for unveiling being, disclosure of the reality.

Because the application of disclosure of being is a kind of mystical experience, then it will be much helpful if we take the idea of Mehdi Hairi Yazdi in his book The Principles of Epistemology in Islamic Philosophy; Knowledge by Presence (New York Press, 1992). He categorizes mystical experience along with its reflection into three (3) phases of mysticism:

1. Ineffable mysticism:
The experience of mysticism that is not conceptualized in terms of public understanding, and therefore has no normal public language at all. It has a peculiar private language, which is not understandable publicly, and is called in Sufi terminology, al-shathiyyatal-sufiyyah, meaning the nonsensical expressions of mystics We cannot categorize it as a conventional form of language.

2. Introspective and reconstructive mystical thinking as the pure object language of mysticism. This is what we have agreed to call the ‘language of’ mysticism

3. Philosophical or scientific meta-mysticism that talks “about” mysticism. The term ‘irfan falls into this category (knowledge by representation, KBC). All philosophical considerations of mystical experiences must be subsumed under the category of meta-mysticism. Yazdi mentions the work o Ibn ‘Arabi as the example of introspective knowledge by representation (‘irfan) from mystical knowledge by presence.

Accordingly, if we refer to the categorization of Mehdi Ha’iri Yazdi, we could bring up the dialectical moment of explanation and uncovering of faith-reason relation into triadic relation in the term of continuous process through the illuminative relationship.

First circle:
1 – Diving the ocean of being (pure ineffable experience without language)
2 – Language of mysticism: Uncovering moment
3 – Language about mysticism: Explanation moment

Second circle:
4 – Diving the ocean of being (pure ineffable experience without language)
5 – Language of mysticism: Uncovering moment
6 – Language about mysticism: Explanation moment


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