A Consideration of an Analytic-Critical Reading of Shaykh al-Ishrāq’s Imaginal World according to Mullā Ṣadrā

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD student, Comparative Philosophy, University of Qom, Qom, Iran

2 Assistant professor, Department of Theology and Islamic Doctrines, University of Lorestan, Lorestan, Iran


Shaykh al-Ishrāq’s reasons for the belief in the World of Image (‘ālam al-mithāl) include arguments such as the “impossibility of the incorporation of the big in the small” (inṭiba‘ al-kabīr fi-l-ṣaghīr) and “images of dream.” Since the World of Image serves as an intermediate between the material world and the world of intellects, he takes many ontological and epistemological realities to the World of Image. These realities include the formal Heaven and the Hell, formal devils and jinn, pleasant songs and smells experienced by spiritual travelers, forms of angels, origins of supernatural acts and miracles, images of dream, as well as the revelation and inspiration. Ṣadr al-Muta’allihīn endorses the existence of the World of Suspended Images (al-muthul al-mu‘allaqa), but he elaborates the concept and its functions by further explaining and elaborating the thesis, on the one hand, and on the other, by considering objections to Shaykh al-Ishrāq: failure to distinguish “attached imagination” (al-khayāl al-muttaṣil) and “detached imagination” (al-khayāl al-munfaṣil), mirror images not counting as imaginal substances, and dependence of forms of sensory perceptions on attached imagination. This paper deploys an analytic-critical approach to consider Shaykh al-Ishrāq’s arguments and Ṣadr al-Muta’allihīn’s objections, and then it brings their agreements and disagreements to light.


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