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LUCIP Lecture Series with Sajjad Rizvi, Two Schools of Islamic Metaphysics in 18th Century North India

Wednesday 26 May 2021

All interested are cordially invited to the next Spring lecture of the Centre of Intercultural Philosophy on Kaltura, on Wednesday 26 May 2021, 3.30 PM Dutch time.


In this paper, I sketch the reception of ideas from Iran (very much the centre of Islamic philosophical reasoning of the time) in the ‘two schools of metaphysics’ in 18th century India. I argue that they represented for the period two dominant (modified, critical and successful) readings of Avicennian metaphysics. By examining some of the key texts of the period such as the Commentary on the Guidance in Philosophy (Shar al-hidāya) of Mullā Sadrā (d. 1636) and The Beneficial Enlightenment (al-ʿUjāla al-nāfiʿa) of ʿAbd al-ʿAlī Baḥr al-ʿulūm (d. 1810), I consider three key questions: is existence a real predicate and instantiated in extra-mental reality? What is the nature of the God-world relationship? How do we reconcile an intuition of the unity of existence with the phenomenal experience of multiplicity? I conclude that the actual metaphysical doctrines of Mullā Ṣadrā (that diverged from Avicenna) were quickly occluded and forgotten, whereas the tradition of Mīr Dāmād that is textually more sparsely attested and departing from its Iranian influences, remained the dominant reading of Avicenna well into the colonial period.

Dr. Sajjad Rizvi is Associate Professor of Islamic Intellectual History and Islamic Studies at Exeter University. He received his Ph.D. from Pembroke College, Cambridge in 2000. He researches the works of Mullā Sadrā, Islamic philosophy in relation to epistemology, Shi'i theology, Neoplatonism and Safavid thought, as well as Qur’anic hermeneutics and modern Islamic intersections with philosophy and science. He is the author of Mullā Satrā and Metaphysics: Modalities of Being published by Routledge in 2013 as well as numerous journal essays and book chapters.

Dr. Sajjad Rizvi
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