[3.7.1] Suhrawardi on Presence and Knowledge of Particulars

The Persian Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi (1154–1191 AD) was the founder of the ‘Illuminationist’ (ishraqi) philosophical tradition. In the works Talwīḥāt and al-Mashāriʿ wa-l-muṭāraḥāt:

  • he criticized the Avicennan peripatetic epistemology (see [3.3.3] and [3.3.6]) because that rules out the God’s knowledge of particulars, even God’s knowledge of itself (see [3.3.2])
  • and proposed a theory of knowledge which includes the knowledge of the self and other particular objects, based on the phenomena of apperception and presence
  • self awareness, knowledge of the self is a necessary basis of all knowledge.

In his opinion, this kind of knowledge is superior to the one based on intellection.

Suhrawardi’s theory of knowledge is presented in the following OntoUML diagram:

Suhrawardi on knowledge and presence
ClassDescriptionRelations
SubjectSubject is entity capable of knowledge, like a human or God.relates to ObjectOfKnowledge
ObjectOfKnowledgeObject of knowledge
UniversalUniversalis subkind of ObjectOfKnowledge
ParticularParticularis subkind of ObjectOfKnowledge
KnowledgeSuhrawardī’s “concept of knowledge […] is capable of making sense of a subject’s simultaneous knowledge both of itself and other objects, and allows for both particular and universal objects to be apprehended the same subject.” (Kauka)mediates between Subject and ObjectOfKnowledge
FacultyFaculty is an inherent mental power.is subkind of Particular
IntellectionSuhrawardi “also mentions an argument against Avicenna’s idea, familiar from the Talwīḥāt, that if the immaterial human soul’s proper mode of cognition is intellection of universals, it cannot be aware of itself as a particular entity.” (Kauka)
Intellection is a conceptual, discursive and syllogistic knowledge using syllogistic (see [3.3.5]).
is subkind of Knowledge; mediates between Subject and Particular
ApperceptionApperception “is a type of knowledge that is self-evident, innate and unmediated through any type of abstraction or representation of forms, whether it be through an image, a form, a notion or an attribute of the self (Marcotte 2006) [is]a type of knowledge that is self-evident, innate and unmediated through any type of abstraction or representation of forms, whether it be through an image, a form, a notion or an attribute of the self (Marcotte 2006).
The perception of pain becomes paradigmatic of the type of apperception or awareness he envisions when discussion self- awareness as unmediated perception, i.e., a non-discursive, non-conceptual and non-propositional type of knowledge that, nonetheless, constitutes a mode of knowing distinct from discursive knowledge.” (Marcotte)
is subkind of Knowledge; mediates between Subject and Particular
SelfAwareness“Suhrawardī took self-awareness [shu‘ur bi-l-dhat] to be the epistemological basis on which the body and its faculties, and their actions and respective objects in turn, appear to the self-aware subject.”(Kauka)is subkind of Apperception; mediates between the Self and the Self as ObjectOfKnowledge
Apperception
OfFaculties
Apperception of faculties [‘ilm huduri] is based on the presence of faculties: “The subject’s presence to itself is the foundation for the presence of its faculties, and it is only by means of the faculties that objects of the subject’s operations by means of them are present to it.”(Kauka)is subkind of Apperception; mediates between the Self and the Faculty
Presence“It is not sufficient for perception that a physical process takes place in the organ of perception. The process has to be attended by the soul, or it has to be present [hudur] to the soul. In other words, what goes on in the organ of perception has to enter the field of presence constituted by the soul – that is, its experience – in the manner proper to the particular faculty in whose organ the process takes place. In itself, the soul is nothing but this field of presence, this first-personal experience, which is entered by various contents that are thereby made present.”(Kauka)characterizes Apperception

Sources

  • Marcotte, Roxanne, “Suhrawardi”The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  • Marcotte, Roxanne, “Suhrawardī’s apperception of the self in light of Avicenna”, Transcendent Philosophy 1, 1-22 London Academy of Iranian Studies
  • Kaukua, Jari, “Suhrawardī’s knowledge as presence in context”. Studia Orientalia 114, Helsinki 2013

First published: 26/03/2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.