Radiations of Light, Alterations of Heat: The Ishraqi Concept of Motion
Through its light (nur)-based ontology, magnitude (miqdar)-based theory of matter, and mystical intuition (dhawq)-based methodology, Illuminationist (Ishraqi) philosophy had emerged as a self-contained philosophical system by the twelfth century. This article examines the Ishraqi formulation of the problem of motion a coherent solution to which is expected from any complete philosophical system as laid out in Yahya al-Suhrawardis (1154-1191) Illuminationist masterpiece, Hikmat al-Ishraq. The way the Ishraqi system interprets motion, as purifying the physical body of all qualitative, substantive features and reducing it to a collection of nonessential attributes, is analyzed in comparison with the Peripatetic theory of motion. This article discusses the Ishraqi account of the problem of motion with respect to its definition of motion, its account of its source, and the particular solutions it offers and the degree to which it offers a coherent model. According to the Ishraqi system, the circular motion of abstract lights is associated directly with the emanation (ishraq) of the Light of Lights, and the motion of physical bodies in the process of becoming and decay is explained as the synchronic reflection of immaterial lights (anwar mujarrada) on the realm of magnitudes (maqadir/bodies). The problem of the connection between light and magnitude is solved through the concept of heat (harara). This article argues that the Ishraqi theory of motion contains novel elements that touch on many problems, ranging from human psychology to the theory of knowledge, and thus that it cannot be considered as merely the continuation of the Avicennian tradition.
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