The problem of presential knowledge in the illumination philosophy of Suhrawardi

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17 pages
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Prajna Vihara: The Journal of Philosophy and Religion 21, 1 (January-June 2020), 43-59
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In Islamic philosophy the relationship between God and the Human subject has been an interesting and difficult problem. While mystics claim a direct connection with God, philosophers and other theologians find that the use of reason creates a distance between God and the Human subject. This is reflected in the way Islamic philosophy attempts to ground itself through the concept of selfevidence. Avicenna, who was a follower of Aristotle, believed that existence is self-evident, and the reason for the existence of all beings is God. But this approach maintains a gap between God and the human being. Suhrawardi was interested in Avicenna’s problem and the importance of the concept of self-evidence. But he considers form, essence or quiddity as self-evident. He uses a philosophy of Illumination to demonstrate the unity of quiddity with God. This allows him to posit a direct connection between human thinking and the Divine. The human subject or the “I” does not perceive existence directly, but perceives light directly. Light is self-evident and God is the Light of Lights. Based on this insight, he introduced a new kind of knowledge which he called Presential knowledge (huduri) or knowledge as presence. This researcher will explain Suhrawardi’s approach to Presential knowledge, but will attempt to demonstrate that neither Avicenna’s grounding of self-evidence in existence nor Suhrawardi grounding it in essence or light is completely successful. It will contend that the “I” is prior to both existence and essence, and our knowledge of God as perfection emerges within the “I” through a dialectic of perfection and imperfection.
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