Mulla Sadra was an Iranian Muslim philosopher who led the Iranian cultural renaissance in the 17th century. Iranians annually celebrate his birth anniversary as Mulla Sadra Day on May 22.
Mulla Sadra is considered the greatest Iranian philosopher and perhaps the single most influential philosopher in the Muslim world in the last 400 years, Wikipedia reported.
He brought a new philosophical insight in dealing with the nature of reality and created a major transition from essentialism to existentialism in Islamic philosophy, although his existentialism should not be too readily compared to Western existentialism.
Mulla Sadra�s philosophy was based on existence as the sole constituent of reality and rejected any role for essences in the external world.
From this fundamental starting point, he was able to find original solutions to many of the logical, metaphysical and theological difficulties he had inherited from his predecessors.
Mulla Sadra wrote over 45 works. However, his major work is Asfar (The Four Journeys) that runs into nine volumes in a recent printed edition and encapsulates his philosophical ideas.
Born in Shiraz in Fars province to a notable family of court officials in 1572, Mulla Sadra moved first to Qazvin in 1591 and then to Isfahan in 1597 to pursue a traditional and institutional education in philosophy, theology, traditions and hermeneutics.
Each city was a successive capital of the Safavid Dynasty and centers of Shiite theological studies at that time. His teachers included Mir Damad and Bahaeddin Ameli.
Mulla Sadra completed his education at Isfahan, a leading cultural and intellectual center of the day. He then began to explore unorthodox doctrines and as a result was both condemned and excommunicated by some Shiite theologians.
He then retired for a lengthy period of time to a village named Kahak near Qom, where he engaged in contemplative exercises. While in Kahak, he wrote a number of minor works.
In 1612, Mulla Sadra was asked to abandon his retirement by the powerful governor of Fars, Allahverdi Khan, and invited to teach and run a new school devoted to intellectual sciences in Shiraz.
During this period, he began writing treatises that synthesized wide-ranging strands of Islamic schools of thought.
Shiraz died in Basra after returning from the haj (the pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia) and was buried in the city of Najaf, Iraq, in 1640.
Although Mulla Sadra�s influence was not felt for generations after his death, it rose considerably during the 19th century. In recent times, his works have been studied in Iran, the US and Europe.
Mulla Sadra argued that all contingent beings require a cause, which puts the scale of existence and non-existence to tip in favor of the former; nothing can come into existence without a cause.
Since the world depends on this First Act, not only must God exist, but God must also be responsible for this First Act of creation.
Mulla Sadra also believed that a causal regress was impossible because the causal chain could only work in the matter that had a beginning, middle and an end. This included a pure cause at the beginning, a pure effect at the end and a nexus of cause and effect.
The Causal Nexus of Mulla Sadra was a form of existential ontology within a cosmological framework that Islam supported.
For Mulla Sadra, the causal end is as pure as its corresponding beginning, which instructively places God at both the beginning and the end of the creative act.
God�s capacity to measure the intensity of existential reality by measuring causal dynamics and their relationship to their origin, as opposed to knowing their effects, provided the Islamic ally-acceptable framework for God�s judgment of reality without being tainted by its particulars.
This was an ingenious solution to a question that had haunted Islamic philosophy for almost 1,000 years: How is God able to judge sin without knowing sin?
Concept of Truth
For Mulla Sadra, a true statement is true to the concrete facts in existence. He held a metaphysical and not a formal idea of truth, claiming that the world consists of mind-independent objects that are always true and truth is not what is rationally acceptable within a certain theory of description.
In Mulla Sadra�s view, one cannot have access to the reality of being: only linguistic analysis is possible.
This theory of truth has two levels: the claim that a proposition is true if it corresponds to things in reality and that a proposition can be true if it conforms to the actual thing itself.