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The Logic of Emanationism and Ṣūfism in the Philosophy of Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna), Part II Author(s): Parviz Morewedge Source: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 92, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1972), pp. 1-18 Published by: American Oriental Society Stable URL: Accessed: 15/10/2009 11:34 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's T
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  The Logic of Emanationism and Ṣūfism in the Philosophy of Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna), Part IIAuthor(s): Parviz MorewedgeSource: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 92, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1972), pp. 1-18Published by: American Oriental SocietyStable URL: Accessed: 15/10/2009 11:34 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact  American Oriental Society  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to  Journal of the American Oriental Society.  THE LOGIC OF EMANATIONISM AND SUFISM IN THE PHILOSOPEIY OF IBN SINA (AVICENNA), PART II* PARVIZ MOREWEDGE NEW YORK UNIVERSITY/FARLEIGHI DICKINSON UNIVERSITY III. THE ULTIMATE BEING AND PERSONS As the most crucial issue of our inquiry we have singled out the relationship between the ultimate being and persons. The ultimate being designates the God of religions, the One of the mystics, and the Necessary Existent of Ibn Sina. We have mentioned the two basic aspects of this relation. The one is directed from the ultimate being towards persons, while the other is directed from persons towards the ultimate being. Let us now consider the first aspect of this relation. A. THE RELATIONSHIP IRECTED ROM THE ULTIMATE BEING TOWARDS ERSONS We have cited three basic types of ways in which the ultimate being is thought to be related to the world: creation, co-eternity, and emanation. Ibn Sina, who accepts the emanation theory, rejects the first two. It shall be our first task to examine the significant fea- tures of the theories he rejects. 1. Creation The widely acclaimed creation theory is advocated by every monotheistic religion. Its lasting popularity which extends beyond religion into mythology has been attested historically. Without fear of contradiction, we can safely assert that monotheistic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam hold the following dogmata: (i) That the ultimate being is God, and (ii) that the relationship from the ultimate being to the world is represented as a creation of the world ex nihilo. Man's existence is ascribed to an act of creation. The Qur'dn offers many specific illustrations of this theory. Though we do not intend to enter into the arena of theological disputes by attempting an exegesis of Qur'anic passages, we shall cite some quotations from this work to support our contention that the religious doctrine upholds creation. It is written in the Qur'dn: To Him is due The Primal srcin * For Part I, see JAOS 91.4 (1972) pp 467-476. Of the heavens and the earth: When He decreeth a matter, He saith to it: Be, And it is. (S.II.117) And again it is written: Verily your Lord is God, Who created the heavens And the earth in six days... (S.X.3) One cannot fail to observe the striking correspondence between the Qur'anic and the Biblical accounts of the creation of the world. The relationship between God and man (persons) is also characterized in numerous passages in the Qur'dn Of these we shall quote only one: He has created man: He has taught him speech (And Intelligence). (S.LV.3-4) The doctrine of creation has also been held by many philosophers. Even though they have at times expressed some reservations about it, which may have given rise to their peculiar versions of the creation theory, they accepted it as revelation. For instance, notwithstanding the fact that Ghazali (the mystic-sceptic), an adherent to the creation theory, refutes the Belief [of philoso- phers] in the Eternity of the World, in his Tahafut al-Falasifah,5 he affirms that he does not wish to present a doctrine of his own: However, in this book we have undertaken only an attack on their doctrines [of the philosophers] and a refutation of their arguments. It is not our business to support a particular point of view.52 In another section of the same text, however, he does present the creation theory without any criticism: They [any set of events observed to be connected 61 Tahafut al-Falasifah (Incoherence of the Philoso- phers), tr. Sabih Ahmad Kamali (Lahore, 1963). Abbr. as Tahafut. 62 Ibid., p. 53. 1  Journal of the American Oriental Society, 92.1 (1972) together] are connected as the result of the De- cree of God..., which preceded their existence. If one follows the other, it is because He has created them in that fashion, not because the connection in itself is necessary and indissoluable. He has the power to create... the survival of life when the head has been cut off, or any other thing from among the connected things [independently of what is supposed to be its cause] .63 From the tenor of his discussion we infer that he, like many other philosophers, accepts the creation theory on the basis of divine revelation. That sophisticated theories of creation have been offered by many philoso- phers, from the Muslim Kindi to the Jew Maimonides and the Christian Aquinas, is well known. We shall not enumerate these theories but shall merely list some logical features of a system of the creation theory and compare this system with Ibn Sina's doctrine of emana- tion. We regard the following features as the essential marks of the creation theory: (i) The ultimate being is the God of monotheistic religions. (ii) God has created the world ex nihilo; nothing is co-eternal with Him. (iii) God is logically independent of the world; hence, it is possible for the world not to exist while God exists. (iv) In one sense or another God is conscious by being aware of the thoughts of persons. For instance, He can be aware of our motives and intentions and can sit in judgment of them if He wishes to do so. (v) God can intervene in man's life (having knowledge of man's thoughts) in the sense, for example, that He can affect man's future by means of some divine plan or miracle. (vi) There is nothing in God's nature that is also an essential constituent of man's nature. For instance, while man may suffer pain and while his soul may be tormented eternally, God feels no pain. Keeping in mind these major features of the creation theory, let us compare and contrast Ibn Sina's doctrine with this theory. Since S. H. Nasr's exposition of Ibn Sina's doctrine54 is representative of those who claim to find a marked affinity between the creation theory and ibn Sina's doctrine, we shall outline what seem to be the major steps of Nasr's position before we examine specific features of it. He interprets all uses of ihddth, ibdd', 63 Ibid., p. 185. 54 Seyyed Hossein Nasr, An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrine (Cambridge, Mass., 1964). See pp. 212-13 for a detailed representation of this doctrine of which we present only a brief summary. As his chief sources Nasr cites Gardet, La p6nsee, p. 65; and A. M. Goichon's La distinction de l'essence et de l'existence d'a- prks Ibn Sina (Avicenne) (Paris, 1937), pp. 249-55. khalq, and takwun o mean creation (different senses of production ) in Ibn Sinm's philosophy. Creation itself he takes to refer to God's intellection (ta'aqqul) of His own essence, which, in conjunction with the knowledge ('ilm) of His own essence brings about the existence of all things. The act of intellection is eternal (la yatandhd) and the manifestation of the Universe is God's eternal knowledge of Himself. Since creation is the giving of Being by God as well as the radiation of intelligence, each being is, therefore, related to God by its being as well as by its intelligence. Ibn Sina has even identified God with the source (al-manba') of overflowing light (faydan al-nur) in some of his less well-known works. For this reason creation can be construed to mean the realization of the intelligible essences and existence the theophany (tajallz) of these essences, so that being and light are ultimately the same. To give existence to creatures is to illuminate them with the Divine Light which is the same as His Being. 55 t is also Nasr's opinion that Muslim philoso- phers like Ibn Sina who held the emanation theory actually attempted to adhere to the religious doctrine of creation as it is presented in the Qur'an. Accordingly, these thinkers offered their views as a rejection of the Aristotelian co-eternity theory and supported the Islamic doctrine of creation. Creation, according to Nasr, is like emanation. In his opinion, Ibn Sina does not step out of the Islamic perspective in his vision of the cosmos or in the doctrine of divine intellection, although he diverges somewhat from orthodox Islamic doctrines in viewing the power of God as existing in a predetermined logical structure and in the lesser sense of awe with which the creature, in his system, ap- proaches God. In the Islamic doctrine God is absolute determination as well as absolute freedom, for He is the source of all qualities. Hence His will cannot be limited to finite systems. It is Nasr's belief that philosophers like Ibn Sina, particularly in following the Neo-Plato- nists, started out from profound metaphysical intuitions which resulted to a lesser or greater extent from apply- ing the first Shahdda of Islam.56 Let us criticize Nasr's position briefly in our attempt to clarify the meaning of emanation and creation. The key word in Nasr's description of God's creation of the world is production. In disagreement with Nasr, we wish to point out that there is a difference between producing something out of nothing and producing something by emanation out of one's thought. In the 65 Ibid., p. 213. 56 Ibid., p. 214. 2  MOREWEDGE: Emanationism and iufism in the Philosophy of Ibn SZna. II latter case, there is a resemblance between the agent and the product; this resemblance is not to be found in the first case. Whereas the Islamic God produces the world ex nihilo, in Ibn Sina's philosophy we find the explicit assertion that the Necessary Existent does not produce the world in such a manner, but that It ema- nates (padZd dmadan) the first intelligence. Conse- quently, the view that Ibn Sina upholds the creation theory is open to serious objection. Ibn Sina affirms that the will of the Necessary Exist- ent cannot in any sense be changed by consciousness, choice, or deliberation (DAI chap. 33). This will is equated with His knowledge of the good universal world order, or of the general laws that best regulate the order of the universe (DAI chap. 33). In this sense it follows, therefore, that the Necessary Existent is governed by the physical-moral laws of the universe. Moreover, since the Necessary Existent cannot act in an arbitrary manner (by intervening, for example, in this order) and remain at the same time necessarily good (perfect), it follows also that the structure of the laws governing the universe is independent of the will of the Necessary Existent. In this sense Ibn Sina's view of the Necessary Existent resembles Leibniz's view that the righteousness of God's acts is not due to the fact that God performs them, while it differs from Descartes' view that any act of God is analytically right. For this reason we can raise those objections to Ibn Sina's doctrine which Arnauld raises to Leibniz's doctrine in which the latter attempts to retain overtones of religion in a deterministic metaphysics. Though the analogy of the sun and its rays (an analogy often cited by mystics) gives insight into a part of the emanation process, it does not portray accurately the relationship between the Necessary Existent and the world as Ibn Sina himself confirms, because the sun is a substance having a subject matter while the Necessary Existent is not a substance (DAI chap. 28). The very fact that Ibn Sina does not regard the Necessary Existent as a substance forces us to recognize his theory as a non-creation type of theory, for a creation theory assumes the existence of a sub- stance which is separated from other substances and exists independently. We question Nasr's view that the problematical controversy between the Islamic and the Ibn Sinian view arises not out of a different interpretation of intel- lection, but over the issue of a determinism. The argu- ment, in our opinion, results not from a quarrel over whether or not there is intellection; it results from different views on whether or not this intellection is determined. Within Ibn Sina's metaphysical system the intellection itself is determined by the quality of the absolute perfection attributed to the Necessary Exist- ent. The determinism, therefore, by means of which the Necessary Existent is chiefly explained includes intellec- tion. It is our opinion that as a result of such determi- nism the Necessary Existent cannot be said to have created the world. And herein we differ rather strongly with Nasr's interpretation of Ibn Sina's doctrine, for Ibn Sina's Necessary Existent does not satisfy our criteria for the creation theory, particularly with regard to criterion (iii), God's logical independence of the world, and criterion (vi), God's constitution which differs totally from that of man. At odds, moreover, with the religious dogma of creation is Ibn Sina's doctrine that the Necessary Existent is not directly related to persons and the world, but that It acts only through intermediaries. When it is compared to the criteria we have listed for the crea- tion theory, Ibn Sina's position conflicts explicitly with criterion (iv), [God is conscious of Himself and His creation] and criterion (v), [God has the ability to intervene in the order of the world], criteria which are assumed by our interpretation of a creation theory. The dissimilarity between the Necessary Existent and the Islamic God is accentuated by other non- Islamic theories held by Ibn Sina, such as the non- resurrection of the body and the lack of punishment and reward after death. On the basis of the foregoing, we take the following position: If one relationship between the ultimate being towards persons can be expressed as a creation theory in the manner we have described it and as the quotations cited from the Qur'dn confirm it, then Ibn Sina's doctrine conflicts with the theory of creation. 2. Co-eternity Another alternative to the creation theory is the doctrine of co-eternity which states that the ultimate being and the world are co-eternal. In a prefatory way we wish to point out that the chief difference between this theory and the emanation theory lies not in any temporal feature of emanation, for emanation, which can be atemporal, need not take place at a specified time. Although there are many differences between the co-eternity theory on the one hand and the creation theory and the emanation theory on the other hand, we shall mention only some of the more significant ways in which the former differs from the other two theories. (i) According to the co-eternity theory, matter exists and has always existed independently of the 3
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