- The Existence of God: Mulla Sadra's Seddiqin Argument versus Criticisms of Kant and Hume
The Existence of God: Mulla Sadra's Seddiqin Argument versus Criticisms of Kant and Hume by Hamidreza Ayatollahy consists of three parts. First, there is a brief introduction on Mulla Sadra's life, works, views, and his historical place in Islamic philosophy. Even though this part is preparatory for the rest, we get some pretty detailed information about Sadra here. For instance, Ayatollahy gives short descriptions of Sadra's oeuvre, which includes thirty-nine books. The second part is the main part of the book and focuses on the Seddiqin argument of Sadra for the existence of God. Ayatollahy presents this argument with the interpretation of two contemporary Persian thinkers, namely Mesbah Yazdi and M. Motahhary, and compares it with the other forms of Seddiqin arguments given by Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and, after Sadra, by Sabzavari and Tabatabai'i. In addition, Ayatollahy compares it with the famous ontological and cosmological arguments as outlined by Kant and Hume. In the third part, Ayatollahy responds to the criticisms given by Kant and Hume to these arguments and tries to show that their criticisms are not applicable to the Seddiqin form of the argument for God.
With this book, Ayatollahy makes a useful contribution to the presentation of Islamic thought in general and that of Mulla Sadra in particular. There has been an increasing interest in Sadra's philosophy in the West, and this is important in terms of understanding the continuity of Islamic philosophy after Ibn Rushd (Averroes). Many scholars thought that Islamic philosophy disappeared after Ibn Rushd, but this is not the whole truth. As Ayatollahy points out, after Ibn Rushd, Islamic philosophy came to an end for the West, but not for the East (p. 171). After him, the contact between the two worlds was cut and Islamic philosophy was developed only in the East. Sadra worked in the sixteenth century and he is considered to be one of the most brilliant stars in this tradition. His philosophy is known as "hikmat" and combines rational intellectual thinking with gnostic intuition and experience. The peculiarity of Mulla Sadra lies in the fact that he digested the whole of philosophical knowledge up to his time and used it in constructing a new, original system of thought. He made use of the Peripatetic tradition, the Neoplatonist tradition, the illuminationist tradition, and so on, but did not repeat what they said; instead, he constructed his own system by means of them. In this respect, he resembles Plotinus, who was the last great figure of a tradition that goes back to the ancient Greeks. Plotinus combined elements from many different philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, and philosophical schools like the Stoics, in an original manner. [End Page 283]
The Seddiqin argument reflects Mulla Sadra's point of view in philosophy and cannot be understood without some key notions. The theses that are necessary for grasping this argument are the fundamental reality of existence, the analogical gradation of existence, the causal principle, and the notion of necessity. For Mulla Sadra, existence is fundamentally real; quiddities or essences are merely mentally posited. The limitations of existence or the relation between existents and nonexistents are grasped by the mind as essences; they are just abstractions and do not have a reality outside the mind. What is external is just existence, the external reality; but we have also the notion of existence in our minds. The notion of existence is the most self-evident idea we can have. Ayatollahy interprets the fundamentality of existence as the first postulate of Mulla Sadra's philosophy and suggests we accept it without proof since it is self-evident.
The second step is to explain the similarity and difference among beings. The factor that both unifies and distinguishes among existents is "existence," according to Sadra. Every external being has existence as the unifying factor. Essences are not the distinguishing factors as is...