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A Comparative Study of the Reality of Knowledge in Mulla Sadra and Whitehead

By : Mehdi Dehbashi


This paper presents a small part of a comprehensive and comparative study (by the writer) of the
principles of the theories of knowledge introduced by Mulla Sadra and Whitehead. At the outset, the
reader might consider such a comparison as being unlikely and unnecessary. Or some might say that a
comparative study of any two theories is, in a sense, a kind of correspondence with each other, which is
not feasible in this case. They might also say that there is no use in trying to compare two theories that
are based on relatively different foundations. However, the writer does not have any of the above
presuppositions; rather, he intends to show how these two dynamic philosophies, i.e. those of
Whitehead and Mulla Sadra, have solved the intricacies of the problem of knowledge, particularly, the
knowledge of the changing world of matter and removed all the obstacles in this regard as the center of
all philosophical discussions. Both Mulla Sadra and Whitehead believe that the world of possible
including the material and immaterial worlds are in process and related to each other and their
differences concerning certain issues such as Mulla Sadras ideas of the trans-substantial motion, the
flux of the material world, and inhering existence and Whiteheads ideas of the process of events and
their essential relativity and correlation do not bring about any hindrance. These two philosophers, one
from the East and the other from the West, both believe in the non-individuation of the phenomena of
the world of matter and the mortality and essential change and fluidity of the world of possibility
concerning the issue of knowledge, particularly, the knowledge of the world of matter. The present
research was conducted to see which method they have adopted to gain the knowledge of a known that
we have always been seeking for, is dynamic, and does not rest even for a single moment. Another
purpose beyond this research was to discover whether there are any traces of stability in knowledge,
and how it can establish a rational and meaningful relation with its material object which is essentially
restless and unindividuated; a relation than can satisfy our scientific and perceptive needs, provide
some convincing answers to our questions concerning the permanent and restless world, and remove
some of the ambiguities embedded in our knowledge of the phenomena of the world to some extent.
This knowledge is obtained in the light of concepts and meanings, as well as in the light of scientific
principles and propositions. In other words, the purpose here is to see how it is possible to establish a
meaningful relation between the relative stability of the subject, on the one hand, and the inner-
essential change of the material object, on the other hand. In sum, we intend to see which method these
two philosophers have followed to obtain knowledge, and to what extent they have been successful in
achieving their goal. In other words, we wish to know what novel strategies we can develop on the

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basis of their criteria and worldview, and which new plans we can devise concerning the main focus of
this paper without ignoring our predecessors achievements and efforts.

A. Mechanism of the Unity of Multiples in Whitehead

In each cognition, at least, two aspects can be taken into consideration: stability and change. The
stability of knowledge of the mind, and the aspect of change (in the perception of the material world)
by the dynamic and ever changing world, which is apparently the object of knowledge. Here, the
question is which factor or factors can create a true unity between the stable and changing aspects and,
as a result, found the process of the development of knowledge on the basis of such unity.
Both philosophers believe that the transient material world alone is not enough, and that we must
attribute stability to factors beyond matter and time in the realm of knowledge. Otherwise, it would be
impossible to perceive stability (although in relative terms) from the change inherent in the essence of
matter. Thus these two dynamist philosophers in general sense, despite their difference in their,
metaphysical foundations, have employed some methods to analyze this complicated issue on the basis
of their shared views of the changing nature of the world of possibility, particularly, the world of
matter. A comparison of the different angles to these two philosophers thoughts and their
philosophical methods of dealing with this issue, as well as a comparison of their innovations regarding
new philosophical structures could be of great help in solving the problem of knowledge and revealing
the different aspects of the discussion to interested readers.
This paper is limited only to a study and analysis of the material world from the perspective of these
two prominent philosophers. The other comparative issues should be discussed aptly elsewhere.
If man pays attention to the stability and continuity of his presence as an observing individual, he will
face a number of varieties and changes in these durations. Whitehead, finally, relates the theory of
actual occasions to an organic unity. Such occasions continually appear, i.e., they come into being
and disappear without requiring a duration more than a moment in continuity. They loom and disappear
in the light of a momentary and short-living epiphany.[1]
Whitehead refers to concepts that are prerequisites for the appearance of phenomena in consciousness
as eternal objects. Any concept involves an organic unit which is considered the important and basic
aspect of cognition and, naturally, epistemology.
In all the theories related to cognition, including those of Mulla Sadra and Whitehead, the role of the
faculty of perception and reasoning in gaining the knowledge of the unity of multiples and multiplicity
of the unified has been taken into consideration in different words. Like Mulla Sadra, Whitehead refers
his theory of perception to the perceiver i.e. the creative mind and views the perceiving object
differently from the perceived entity. He distinguishes five issues from each other in relation to the
variety and multiplicity of existents in nature: 1) events (occasions), 2) perceivers, 3) sensible objects,
4) perceived facts, and 5) scientific facts.[2] Perceiving facts, in a sense, refer to the recognizable
continuity and stability of an occasion, in the same way that a sensible object is a special kind of the
continuity and stability of an occasion. The facts about the perceiver include the unity of consciousness

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whose knowledge will lead to the classification of the set of occasions, in the same way that natural life
is concomitant with consciousness and intelligence. The status and conditions of physical objects enjoy
unity and continuity, while facts and physical objects are associated with non-individuation and
ambiguity.[3] In contrast to Atomists and advocates of classic physics, Whitehead believes that objects
lack constituent parts. Knowledge consist of our awareness of identity and likeness.[4] Our different
types of knowledge represent the ultimate realities of nature for sciences, and all scientific theories are
nothing but a series of attempts to formulate our knowledge of the events and occasions in which this
knowledge is attained.[5] According to Whitehead, Theoretical philosophy is an attempt at creating a
system of general ideas in the light of which every element of our experience can be interpreted.
Concerning the aforementioned quotation, it is worth a mention that knowledge is neither an analysis
nor a classification. Accordingly, interpreting is not the same as explaining. Scientific description
consists of discovering the reason for the unity and solidarity among separate and independent
elements. The philosophy of knowledge is an attempt to reveal the main reason for the existence of the
nature of objects and formulating the content of human mind so that, in this way, he can grant meaning
to scattered component parts. The unifying act of thought synthesizes these particular aspects through
introspection, intuition and assistance of imaginative generalization and, then, turns them into universal
metaphysical principles.[6] We are capable of discovering the continuous, permanent, and stable
necessities that have been ignored in the method of difference through imaginative generalization.
We are not directly aware of the moving world. The most basic problem of knowledge is to present a
method that can explain the relation between this changing world and our feelings of its actual
experience.[7] The task of knowledge is the discovery of the relations that exist in the course of
perceptions, feelings, and emotions and form our experience of life.[8]
Perception consists of thought-objects and the objects of knowledge that are abstracted from sensible
things possess hypothetical aspects and the reality of knowledge cannot be perceived without the
mediation of the senses. In Whiteheads view, what we perceive directly consists of duration and
extension rather than parts, moments, and atoms. He regards the parts of nature as occasions or entities
to avoid any act of analyzing and dividing nature in any way. Sense data do not exist in the form of
discrete particles, and that is why they are called as occasions in Whiteheads philosophy. We do not
view separate and single objects with independent and separate attributes; rather, we view them as
parts of a system. We perceive a whole consisting of different parts which are interrelated and depend
on each other in any empirical act.[9] No real phenomenon shares exactly the same experiences with another, and
each has its own features. Our thought must begin its work with these scattered issues or sense data and then they must be
synthesized and create an extension and duration. Whitehead has, in a way, acknowledged the union of the knower and the
known and denied the presumed distinction between thoughts and realities. He says that in natural sciences realities are the

same as thoughts, and vice versa.[10]

The mental realities of science such as molecules, electrons, and atoms are not in such froms that we
can have a direct sensory image of them in our consciousness.[11] He maintains that material phenomena are

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momentary and lack duration. Therefore, such changing and destructible parts cannot be considered as fundamental realities of
the world. Moreover, he views the space-time relation the same as the relations among occasions and claims that in the
process of perception, occasions must not be considered as a number of timeless and spatial temporal parts; rather, they must
be viewed in form of condensed and accumulated masses. Extension is an ultimate and fundamental attribute of nature that
provides the basis for the time-space relation and a great number of other scientific concepts and portrays them in our mind.
Whitehead considers flow, time, space, and duration as synonymous terms. He manages to free himself from the bounds of
ancient philosophy of nature in the light of employing the term occasions instead of terms such as particles and objects in
his words. Through mathematical expressions, he also tries to use relations as the basis for perception and knowledge instead
of particles and objects. In Greek cosmology, nature consisted of parts and components; however, Whitehead and, before him,
Mulla Sadra viewed the time-space extension a good substitute for discrete parts as the basis of nature.
In his view, natural phenomena depend on each other, and their reality must be sought in the system
governing them. A logical harmony dominates the world like a legal necessity. He poses the
principiality of mathematics, because on the basis of which certain interrelations among different issues
and affairs are discovered. Such interrelations cannot be known unless through the intellect. This is
because mathematical concepts cannot be perceived through the senses. Thus God must be beyond
time and space to realize the clarity of the realities of the world and its unity in view of values and pave
the way for us to obtain the ideals beyond the realized reality.
In Whiteheads point of view, we experience our relation with the outside world through a divine
source that is already present in our ongoing experiences. The perception of the historical significance
of the perception of the world as an eternal and indestructible process lies in the divine unity of ideals.
Therefore, there is a fundamental relation between divinity and historical process.

B. Mechanism of the unity of multiple beings in Mulla Sadra

In Mulla Sadras view, philosophers have spoken very differently and scatteredly concerning
knowledge, the intellect and the intelligible. For example, Ibn-Sina considers intellection sometimes as a
negative issue, sometimes as certain forms imprinted on the substance of the intellect, sometimes as
pure relation, sometimes as the undifferentiated simple intellect, sometimes as a quality of the relative
essence, and sometimes as soulish qualities. Shaykh al-Ishraq views knowledge as manifestation. If an
object has the knowledge of its own self, it is light for itself. An objects knowledge of other than
itself consists of the relation between the two luminous objects along with their Ishraqi (illuminative)
However, none of the above theories is enough for Mulla Sadra to justify the reality of knowledge. In
fact, he questions every single of them relying on certain reasons. Unlike his preceding philosophers, he
does not view knowledge as an acquired form or as the very concept or the disengaged form of an
object in the mind. He defines knowledge as the mode of the abstract existence of matter in the abstract
(the mind). This is because the idea of the core of existence is realized only through presential
knowledge rather than through mental image. Accordingly, knowledge is neither negative in nature, that
is, abstracted from matter nor a correlative one. It is an existential matter, but not of any kind of

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existence; it is an actual rather than potential existence. However, not all and every kind of actual
existence is intended here. Rather, he is referring to a pure existence that is not combined with
non-existence. Knowledge obtains more intensity and strength in terms of its purity and freedom from
non-existential issues and multiplicity. Material substance and its accidents are not the objects of
knowledge directly, because the necessary condition for the perceivers perception of something is to
have a complete knowledge of the perceived. The body and material phenomena lack an existence that
is free from non-existence due to their essential motion. This is because if we consider any part of it, its
changing existence necessitates the non-existence of its other parts. In fact, the existence of any part
requires the non-existence of all other parts. Thus one cannot actually conceive of all of its related parts
at the same time.
Existence is the same as and concomitant with unity, and anything lacking in unity will be lacking in
existence. Predication and identity are among the concomitants of unity in the sense that no judgment
can be passed without unity and identity concerning any object. In the body, which is a single
conjunctive thing, no part, even in the sense of estimation, is predicated on the body. Neither is the
body predicated on any of the parts. The realization of the ipseity of the body lies in the conjunction of
its parts, and the more their conjunction, continuity, and extension, the more perfect the body. Union is
valid only in existences among whose parts there are no positional differences, while it is not so in case
of existences whose parts are conjunctive. The extension of the parts of material bodies is, by itself, the
reason for their destruction, thus how could they have an independent existence? The reality of matter
and body is a dissociative one, since its existence functions as the potential for their non-existence, and
its non-existence is the potential for its existence. For example, the existence of a yardstick is the same
as the non-existence of another one or its opposite. Therefore, the matter embodies the potential and
preparedness of its destruction. This level of existence is the weakest one possible. At this level, the
existence of something necessitates its non-existence, and, at all times, the appearance of a part, which
depends on non-existence, demands the existence of another part and welcomes it through its own
non-existence. The realized matter of existence is tainted with non-existence, and if an existence is so,
it is not realized in the outside in its perfect form at a given moment. And the more imperfectly it is
realized, the less it deserves to be known by another existent and be available to it. In Mulla Sadras
view, such an existent is like multiplicity in the weakness of unity, since the unity of its multiplicity is
the same as its multiplicity.
Access and perception are among the concomitants of knowledge. No one can obtain the knowledge of
the body and its accidents unless through a form beyond its material and positional one. The reason is
that considering the description given above concerning bodily and material phenomena, a perfect form
of the external body is unattainable, and this is because its extensional parts never enjoy actual external
existence altogether and at the same time. Neither are they individuated in the outside. According to
Quantum physics, an aura of ambiguity rooted in non-individuation dominates all parts of the material
world. Thus, at every moment, it is only possible to conceive only a small part of it indirectly and on the
basis of probabilities and statistical hunches.
Mulla Sadra believes that the object of perception is the existence of things. However, by existence, he
does not mean one which is in a specific situation, state, and position in the outside. Rather, he means

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an existence that is free from any taint of non-existence, position, direction, and the like. This is
because no unity can be found in the object in such transitory and relative states of oneness. Moreover,
the conception of unity in the perceived object is, in a sense, a necessary condition for perception.
Therefore, a being that is the object of perception is not among the beings to e hinted by the senses.
Besides, a form that is perceived by the senses is not among sensible qualities, which can be hinted by
the senses. The reason is that sensible qualities are so accidentally and secondarily rather than
essentially and primarily. A sensible existence is the same as the existence of the sensor. Mulla Sadra
considers this mode of existence as its sensibility, as he views the existence of the intelligible as its
intelligibility in essence. One of the conditions for sense perception is the actualization of a positional
relation among the sensible organs of perception; however, this relation is not established among the
form, its similar, and what is perceived from it in a stable manner. On the other hand, this is not a
necessary condition for perceptions other than sensory ones, such as imaginal, estimative, and rational
A very important point in Mulla Sadras view of perception is that perceptive forms are in no way
material qualities. Any kind of rational perception is a kind of unity between the intellect and the forms
that are separate from matter and their accidents.

1. Gradation of the levels of Perception and Knowledge

Unlike Islamic philosophers, Mulla Sadra equates perception and knowledge with being that enjoy a
kind of gradation.[13] Moreover, he believes that all levels and grades of existence, including sensory, imaginal, and
rational perceptions, are non-material. [14]
Verily mans soul has three rational, imaginal, and sensory modes and is in unity with the intellect,
imagination, and the sense. Thus the soul becomes the same as the senses in the perception of sensibles,
and the senses affect the sensibles as an instrument of perception through participating in their
situation. As a result, when sensing something, two things are realized and affect the sensory instrument
and the souls perception. Such a need to participation in the situation is merely due to a sensory
effect that is called affection rather than due to soulish perception, which consists of actualization of
It is worth to mention that at the stage of sensation, Mulla Sadra believes that not only the effect of any
external sense through an individuated external object is one of the necessary conditions, but also the
truth of sense perception is related to the soul, itself. Therefore, if the soul plays the main role at the
weakest level of perception, i.e., sensation, the matter, the object, and the effects of the senses, all,
function as the preparing causes for sense perception, not as a perceiver. At higher levels of perception,
such as imagination and intellection, the soul plays a more important role, since at higher levels of
perception, the soul becomes needless of external factors and preparing causes and becomes involved
in the process of perception directly. Although the soul is in union with the intellect, the senses, and
images at all levels, its unity with the intellect at the level of intellection is stronger than its union with
images at the level of imagination or its unity with the sense at the level of sensation.[15]

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Whenever the soul reflects upon something, it becomes the same as its rational form.[16] The intellect
consists of all intelligible objects.[17] This does not mean that they have attained unity in the mind relying on the modes of
external existents. Rather, it means that all quiddities that exist through numerical multiplicity in the outside exist in the
intellect through intellectual multiplicity and have a single existence. This intellectual existence, although simple and unified,
embodies all those meanings in essence. The task of human soul is to perceive all realities, unite with them, and turn into an
intellectual world in which the form, the rational existent, and the meaning of any corporeal existent are realized. However,
the union of the soul with all the rational forms that it has perceived, and its union with the Active Intellect, in which all
objects actually exist, do not lead to its multiplicity. Each type of knowledge is a simple personal ipseity that cannot be
classified under any essential universal category. The reality of knowledge is of the type of immaterial existence and lacks a
universal, generic, or specific nature. Neither is it qualified by other differentia, types, or limits. On the basis of the unity of
knowledge with the known, the division of knowledge is the same as the division of the known. Accordingly, some types of
knowledge are necessary existents by essence, such as Gods knowledge of His Essence, which is the same as His Essence,
without assuming any quiddity. However, some other types of knowledge are possible existents by essence, including the
knowledge of all possible beings.
Knowledge in nature is accidental and acquired. In Mulla Sadras view, accidental knowledge is the
product of the presence of the forms of the attributes of knowledge and and their representation rather
than their indwelling in the mind.
Perceptive faculties create their forms and objects through simple making. The imaginative faculty
creates the imaginal form and the rational faculty creates the universal form and meaning. The mind is
active rather than passive at different levels of perception.
Undoubtedly, the soul is the efficient cause of the forms existing in the human souls faculties and
tools of perception. However, the soul functions primarily as a receptive origin at the level of the
material intellect in relation to the rational forms that have been perceived by it. However, when the
soul is connected to the active intellect, it develops an active role in relation to those rational forms and
protects and stores them.[18]
Accordingly, Mulla Sadra believes that any perception requires a kind of catharsis or disengagement
(tajrid), and that any of the levels of perception enjoys a level of disengagement in terms of its
importance. He views perception the same as knowledge[19] in its general sense and considers knowledge as
belong to the category of existence. Therefore, he specifically believes that knowledge does not mean the very concept of the
disengaged form of anything so that, upon having the concept of that thing, to claim the acquisition of its knowledge. Rather,
knowledge means the mode of the existence of something that is disengaged from matter before a disengaged being.
The rational faculty exercises its influences at all levels of perception, and its sign in any perception is
its active role in the oneness of multiples beings and multiplicity of the ones. All levels of perception
are, in a way, the cause of the oneness of multiple beings, and no perception is realized without the act
of oneness. This is the most important point in relation to perception, knowledge and cognition, and
none of the eastern and western philosophers have ignored its significance in cognition. Kant, who
considers the domain of knowledge as being limited to phenomena, views each perception as a kind of
unity of multiple beings. The souls conceptualizations at different levels of perception and passing

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judgments and statements are the product of the act of oneness. What Mulla Sadra refers to concerning
the issue of cognition, in addition to the souls act of oneness and unity, is the multiplicity of the one.
This can grant corporeality to rational issues through the imaginative faculty, limit them to moulds of
imaginal forms, differentiate the essential from the accidental and genus from the differentia, so that an
individual who is assumed one in the sensible world is qualified by various attributes and manners in the
realm of the intellect. Sense perceptions are tainted with ignorance, and having access to them is
associated with privation. This is because the senses perceive nothing but the phenomena and have
access only to external forms of quiddities rather them to their realities.

2. Division of knowledge in terms of the worlds and the correlation between

epistemology and ontology

According to Mulla Sadra, the reality of knowledge is reversible to formal existence. He divides
existence into perfect, sufficient, and imperfect ones. The perfect existence is the world of pure
intellects, which are also called separate forms. Such forms are free from the extensions of bodies and
matter. The sufficient existence is the world of animal souls and is referred to as the world of imaginal
beings and disengaged apparition. The imperfect existence is the world of subsistent forms belonging to
substances that are also called sensory forms. The reality of the sensible world is renewing and
immersed in non-existence, possibility, and darkness in every moment. Therefore, it does not deserve to
be known and be called existence in the real sense of the word. In this regard, we can refer to time and
motion, which have no existence unless in the realm of single moment. Moments are also
potential, and the things that are individuated only in a given moment consist of bodies and material
phenomena, which are in a state of destruction at every moment, and whose origination and appearance
is limited to a given moment, and whose annihilation is in other moments. The application of existence
to such bodies and phenomena is metaphorical, and the mode of metaphor necessitates the negation of
their existence.
Each of the levels of knowledge, due to its ontological status, possesses its specific cognitive forms.
Accordingly, possible perceptions can be divided into four types:
1) Perfect existence and knowledge, including the intellects and actual intelligibles. Such perceptions,
due to their intensity of existence ad essential glow are free from corporeal effects, apparitions and
numbers. They exist in a single and collective existence while being multiple. There is no difference
among such realities, since all of them are immersed in the ocean of divinity.
2) The world of heavenly souls in Peripatetics words and the world of disengaged apparitions and
quantitative images in Illuminationists words. This group of perceptions is to some extent sufficient
by essence and relies on their rational bases. Moreover, through their connection to the forms of the
perfect divine existence, they compensate for their imperfection and mix with them.
3) The specific world of the sense and the lowest dominion, whose objects are the actual sensible forms
that are perceived by intelligence and the senses. As long as they exist in this realm, their existence is
imperfect, unless they free themselves from the world of apparitions and manage to promote
themselves to the higher world in the light of the perfection of the human soul.

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4) The world of corporeal substance, whose known forms are changing and destructible. The existence
of such forms is always in fluctuation between potentiality and actuality, on the one hand, and stability
and annihilation, on the other. Their stability is the same as their annihilation, and their unity and
collection is the same as their separation.


1. In Mulla Sadras view, perception and knowledge have the same meaning, and perception is
divided into rational, imaginal and sensory ones. Whitehead, too, equates perception and knowledge
with each other.
2. Mulla Sadra considers knowledge as belonging to the category of existence, and since existence is
graded, knowledge will also enjoy the same feature.
3. Material phenomena are in process and changing state, thus a true known cannot be the same as
them. Accordingly, concerning the issue of knowledge, both philosophers consider unity a necessary
condition for any kind of perception and emphasize the minds creativity in the production of multiple
and multiplicity of the ones in different ways and on the basis of their own philosophical principles.
4. The parts of the material world are not dispersed, distinct, and independent from each other. They
are considered as connected, interwoven, and dependent collections through the interference and
activities of the mind. Whitehead believes in the unity of these parts on the basis of mathematical
interpretations, probability theories and relativity. In Mulla Sadras view, the world of possibility, in
general, and the world of matter, in particular, cannot be conceived unless in the light of inhering
existence. Therefore, considering the hierarchy of existence, he regards the inhering existence of the
world of possibility as being finally connected to the existence of the Truth through ontological
horizontal and vertical grades and tools. Whitehead, too, relates the dependence of phenomena to the
world of metaphysics in his process philosophy. He also views the stable aspect of laws as being beyond
time. [20] Mulla Sadra believes that this aspect of the existence of phenomena is related to the Truths Emanation, while
the stability of the known is related to soulish, imaginal, and rational forms. By considering the knowledge of existence as
being gradational, Mulla Sadra takes both the relativity of knowledge in relation to the subject and the levels of the unity of the
knower and the known in terms of the degree of the perfection of the soul and the subject. He ignores the oneness of the
perceived and its relative unity with the perceiver at no level of perception. He emphasizes this issue firmly from both
ontological and epistemological standpoints. In addition to introducing his philosophy an organismic one in relation to this
issue, Whitehead, in a way, emphasizes the organic unity of the phenomena of the world of being and interprets it as a
prerequisite for the appearance of phenomena in the mind and awareness of pre-eternal realities. Each concept involves a
kind of organic unity, which is the most important and fundamental aspect of knowledge and principle of epistemology. In his
eyes, a scientific description consists of the unity and togetherness among independent and separate elements.
5. Whitehead considers introspection, which is, in a sense, a kind of intuition, a mental creative
6. According to Whitehead, what we directly perceive consists of continuity and extension rather than
parts, moments, and atomic particles. Neither in Mulla Sadras philosophy based on inhering

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existence, the hierarchy of existence, and the trans-substantial motion nor in Whiteheads philosophy
based on the process of the world and relativity, are there any individual objects enjoying separate and
independent attributes. Rather, in the light of unity, we view the parts as being connected, dependent on
each other, in form of inhering existence (in Mulla Sadras view), and as a part of a system (in
Whiteheads view).
7. No real phenomenon shares similar experiences with other phenomena (Whitehead). The Truths
Emanation is never repetitive, and at every moment, a specific mode or emanation is manifested in the
world (Mulla Sadra). Thus, due to the perpetual creativity of the phenomena of being, mental
perfection, and the levels of the soul, an aura of relativity surrounds the issue of the individuals
knowledge; however, this relativity originates in our ignorance and imperfection of knowledge and is in
no way related to the realities of the world of being.
8. Mulla Sadra considers the union of the perceiver, perception and the perceived as the most basic
principle of knowledge at all levels. Whitehead, too, denies the distinction supposed to exist among
thoughts and realities and considers them the same in natural sciences.
9. The stability of phenomena is revealed through the essential change of phenomena and their
continuous trans-substantial motion. In other words, a kind of stability is resulted from the continuity of
the succession of phenomena (Mulla Sadra). Whitehead, too, regards the uniformity of nature due to
the perpetual flow and change of the phenomena related to the time-space extension.
10. On the basis of their ontology, Mulla Sadra and Whitehead do not consider the object of knowledge
the same as a real and concrete issue. Both of them refer to the souls creativity in terms of the object.
Besides, they attend to objective phenomena in the realm of their correlation and relativity.
11. According to Mulla Sadra, any essence enjoys three ontological aspects at different levels of
intensity. Between the two intelligible and material aspects of the world, there is a third world that the
soul, itself, creates. This is because the soul functions, in fact, as an image of the creator in terms of its
essence, attributes, and acts. This third world is the very dominion of the soul or mental
existence[21] and imaginal manifestation. Whitehead does not ignore the role of imagination in the formation of concepts
and forms, either. In Mulla Sadras view, the dominion of the soul or imaginal manifestation is the cause of
transmission between the sensible and the intelligible, and vice versa.
12. Mulla Sadra believes that all external corporeal faculties are the shadows and effects of internal
faculties which return to the essential center of the soul, i.e., the soul, itself. The soul has an image of
itself in an imaginal form that is compatible with its mould and conforms to objects in the same way
that it perceives them. we can recognize a trend in Mulla Sadras philosophy that, in a way, leads to a
kind of metaphysical view of intuition and, in a way, to a metaphysical view of active imagination and
imaginal thing. The metaphysics of presence leads in its extension to the metaphysics of intuition which
comprises the knowledge of the Imam (leader) and mans self-knowledge in the horizons of this
knowledge. According to Whitehead, the role of intuition in knowledge is to combine its specific
aspects through imaginal generalization and transform them into universal metaphysical principles.
Through imaginal generalization, we can discover permanent and continuous necessities.[22]
13. The levels of the perfection of the soul under the influence of the trans-substantial motion, from the

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time of its separation from matter until the stages of its disengagement and reaching the threshold of
dominion and its transformation into the divine existence, are gradually obtained. The soul goes higher
in the process of intellection step by step until it finally reaches the station of union with the Active
Intellect and the Holy Spirit. The soul reaches purgatorial and intellectual disengagement through its
trans-substantial motion, since the perception of the collection of the realities of the intelligible world
and becoming one with them is among the ontological conditions of the soul, as its is the case with its
turning into its intellectual world; a world that contains the form of any intelligible existent and the
mental concept of any material one.
14. Mulla Sadra believes that the level of existence is correlated with the level of presence; that is, the
more intensified the existence, the greater the chance of presence before other worlds and absence
before death and non-existence.
Items 11 to 14 represent the features of Sadrian epistemology, which have been detailed in the
writers other research papers and articles. However, it is worth to mention that in Whiteheads
view, we experience our relation with the external world through a divine source that is present now.
The historical importance of perception of the world as an eternal and indestructible process lies in the
divine unity of all ideals. Therefore, there is a fundamental relation between divinity and historical


. Bham, Archie, J., 1995, Epistemology Theory of Knowledge, World books, p. 83.
. Whitehead, Alfred North, 1925, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge, Cambridge University
Press, p. 609.
. Whitehead, Alfred North, The Aims of Education, N.Y. Mentor Books, n.d., p. 157 a.
. Ibid., p. 143 a.
. Whitehead, Alfred North, 1925, op cit., pp. 56-57.
. Whitehead, Alfred North, 1960, Process and Reality, New York, Harfer Torch Books, pp. 5-7.
. Whitehead, Alfred North, op cit., Mentor Books, n.d., p. 158 b.
. Ibid., p. 157 b.
. Ibid., p. 244 c.
. Whitehead, Alfred North, op cit., Mentor Books, n.d., p. 245-246.

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. Ibid., p. 184 b.
. Ibid., p. 200 b.
. Mulla Sadra, 1383 AS, al-Asfar, part 3, 1st journey, Glosses by Haj Mulla Hadi Sabziwari, Beirut, p. 287.
. Ibid., p. 378.
. Ibid., p. 383.
. Ibid., p. 379.
. Ibid., p. 316-317, 367.
. Ibid., p. 337.
. al-Asfar, vol. 8, p. 259.
. Ibid., part 3, 1st journey, p. 293.
. Ibid., p. 500-507.
. Ibid., p. 259.
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