Meow Mix

Encouraged by a genius-level reader, we have spent some time trying to learn more about the Muslim Falsafah, Mulla Sadra. Confession: Sadra was a mere aside we popped while trying to close out the ontological argument yesterday. In fact, we’d sort of confused him with a guy named “Sabra” (note the backwards “d,” otherwise known as a “b”), but no matter. The more we looked, the less we found, until we were spun into a vortex of wisdom so pure we’re not sure which way we’re pointing anymore.

"Excuse me, sir, are you Mulla Sadra?"

Net net: This Mulla Sadra cat knows how to meow.

Michael Crichton once said he did his best writing when his wife was calling him into dinner. (Though a bro of righteous talent, the late Dr. Crichton had female issues; so four out of five of his wives say.) Same with us here at TGPDN: we stumble on the Truth as we are about to exit the plain. Or do we?

Sadra is scandalously underknown. I dug into my analog Library of Truth and found a brief, glowing mention in Karen Armstrong’s best-selling A History of God. She says Sadra was a student of Iran’s Suhrawardi school of Islamist Falsafah, which had a deep respect for the subjective components of thought.

“Many Muslims today [says Armstrong] regard him as the most profound of all the Islamic thinkers.” (p261)

Wow. Not even “one of” but “the most.” Push in Christians for Muslims in that sentence and who would we put? Augustine? Kierkegaard? Nobody fits.

Writing in 1994, Armstrong points out that Sadra “is only just becoming known in the west.” Not so fast. Yesterday, the only work by Sadra on offer at B&N is something called “The Elixir of the Gnostics,” which I happen to know is not his most famous work (that would be “The Throne of God” or “Asfar”). There are a couple books about Sadra, the best-selling of which does not have a single customer review.

And things are not much better online. There’s an enigmatic item in a Wikipedia entry on the “Ontological Argument,” and an abstract essay by John Cooper on MuslimPhilosophy.com.

We were at first encouraged to locate a site for what appeared to be a non-profit academic foundation dedicated to the great man himself. However, after poking around, we discovered the incredible, amazing fact we are revealing here for the very first time that this website, sponsored by government-authorized Iranian academics, is unbelievably [CENSORED BY IRANIAN GOVERNMENT PRAISE ALLAH]

Still, from these and a few other sources, I think I’ve been able to piece together a beautiful boombox of insight, one that reconciles Anselm and Augustine with Kant and even Aristotle by way of Islam. What else would you expect from “the most profound”?

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2 responses to “Meow Mix

  1. I have attained genius-level! I love it! Send that along to the Nobel Committee for me, will ya. Every year, I don’t get as much as a phone call from those folks.

    By the way, your boy Crichton sure hit that one on the head. I have two kids under 4 and I seem to do my best work with the cacophonous ringing of screaming, crying and episodes of Dinosaur Train in my ears.

  2. How Early Muslim Scholars Assimilated Aristotle and Made Iran the Intellectual Center of the Islamic World: A Study of Falsafah

    Author: Farshad Sadri
    Foreword: Carl R. Hasler

    Publisher: Edwin Mellen Pr (June 30, 2010)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0773437169
    ISBN-13: 978-0773437166

    Product Description

    This work demonstrates how falsafah (which linguistically refers to a group of commentaries by Muslim scholars) associated with their readings of “The Corpus Aristotelicum” in Iran has been always closely linked with religion. It demonstrates that the blending of the new natural theology with Iranian culture created an intellectual climate that made Iran the center of falsafah in the Medieval world. The author begins this book by exploring the analytical arguments and methodologies presented as the subject of the first-philosophy (metaphysics) in the works of Aristotle (in particular “The Nicomachean Ethics” and “Rhetoric”). Then, he tells the tale of the Muslims’ progression as they came to own and expand upon Aristotle’s arguments and methodologies as a measure of their own sense of spirituality. Last, Sadri surveys the implications of that sense of spirituality as it is amalgamated within the Iranian culture and today’s Islamic Republic of Iran. The author’s aim is to present a different perspective of falsafah (as it is received by Muslims and assimilated within Iranian culture), while maintaining a sense that captures the texture of everyday life-experiences in today’s Islamic Republic of Iran. This work is thus about (contemporary) Iranian falsafah and how it remains faithful to its tradition (as falsafah has actually been integrated and practiced by Iranian scholars for the last eleven centuries). It is a tradition that has taken on the task of understanding and projecting a sense of order upon the multiplicity of forms, ideas, examples, and images that have passed through Iran from East and West; it is a story that has gathered, sheltered, and introduced a style and order of Islamic (Shi’at) falsafah.

    Reviews

    “While Sadri’s monograph is written in an engaging, quasi-autobiographical style, still it is rich in philosophical exposition and insight coupled with a clearly developed explication of Islamic religious/philosophical thought in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In turn this is used to explain Iranian culture as it can be understood in contemporary analysis.” – Prof. Carl R. Hasler, Collin College

    “The interdisciplinary approach allows [the author] to introduce a chronicle of his people that encompasses the dynamic growth of the intellectual and religious thought in the Middle East. A thoughtful study for scholars of comparative religion, Sadri juxtaposes Medieval Islam with Medieval Christianity, showing the philosophical foundations that distinguish these two contemporary religions.” – Prof. Linda Deaver, Kaplan University

    “Taking as his point of departure the fate of Aristotle’s corpus in medieval Christianity and in medieval Islam, Sadri offers a masterful account of how the current status of Western and Iranian identity can be read through the palimpsest of a philosophical/religious recovery of Aristotle’s practical philosophy.” – Prof. Charles Bambach, University of Texas, Dallas

    Table of Contents

    Foreword
    Acknowledgments
    Introduction
    1. Commentaries on Aristotle
    2. Commentaries on Aristotle and Islam
    3. Commentaries on Islam
    4. Commentaries on Islam and Iran
    5. Commentaries on Iran
    Endnotes
    Bibliography
    Index

    Subject Areas: Cultural Studies, Islamic Studies, Philosophy

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