Systematic Network of

Systematic Network of Mullā Sadrā’s Ontology and Its Reflection in Modern Physics

Mehdi Dehbashi


In the 20th century, the systematic network emphasized relations and mutual correlations among phenomena in various branches of science, particularly in physics. What this approach considers is the collective correlation among objects, rather than individual and independent phenomena. In the systematic network, every existent has its own organism; therefore, despite the combination observed in its parts, every system reveals itself as a united and dynamic whole.

Every system is a set of correlated parts and forms a whole. In the systematic approach, parts are connected to each other in a reactive, productive, metabolic, structural, and behavioral manner. Hence, there is no absolute and independent phenomenon among the phenomena of existence; only through establishing relations with other phenomena could a phenomenon of existence be ambiguously determined. This dependence and correlation among phenomena has been discussed briefly in Mullā Sadrā's philosophy under the title of “the relative existence” of the contingent world.

Mullā Sadrā's theory is, on the one hand, a developed form of mystical doctrines, particularly those of Ibn ‘Arabí, on the other hand, it is influenced by Persian and Oriental mysticism.[1] Compared with the characteristics of matter and phenomena in modern physics, Mullā Sadrā's theory maintains a higher degree of individuation and a wider and more dynamic correlation between matter and the identity of its phenomena. And through his ontologically systematic approach, he maintains a sort of life and consciousness and self-consciousness for matter at the level of existence. According to Mullā Sadrā, the systematic network of phenomena, particularly material phenomena, which is based on the principiality of existence, is the best explanation. 

According to Sadra's school, pure existence, having only a single referent and real unity, is an existence in itself, for itself, and by itself.  Mullā Sadrā attributes the existence of the Truth the Exalted to these three qualities in a way that as His levels and modes descend, it loses some (or all) of the above-mentioned attributes. For example, if an existent is both in itself and for itself, but not by itself, then it will be called a categorical existent whose referents are substances, which lack the quality of being “by themselves”. If an existent is “in itself”, but not “by itself” (i.e. if it is “in itself and for another”), it will be called attributive; as an example we can cite an accident such as whiteness, which lacks the quality of being “for itself”. Finally, if an existent has none of the three above-mentioned attributes, it will be expressed as copula, i.e., an existent which is neither “in itself” nor “for itself”, but is realized in another [existent]. That is why it is interpreted as pure relation and connection. It is neither related nor relating. Where relation is considered independently, is in the wi'ā or the receptacle of the mind. Otherwise, the external world is not the receptacle of the existence of relation, but the receptacle of the very relation. The external world is not separate from relation. In other words, it is the same as relation and connection and not a receptacle for the fixity of copula and the existence of relation. The copulative existence lacks quiddity because quiddity is a concept which is obtained in response to the need for the essence of an object. So, what can be gained in reply to this need is conceptually independent. The copulative existence is a weak kind of existence, and not only does it lack existence independently, but its existence is the same as its dependence on, and correlation with, another. Thus, no determined quiddity and concept could be maintained for the copulative existence, and it reveals itself in pure indeterminacy.[2]

According to Mullā Sadrā, in comparison with the Necessary Being, all possible beings, whether substance or accident, are the same as copula and connection. All of them are like the copulative existence and verbal meanings, lacking essential independence and determined identity. In comparison with the existence of the Truth, therefore, he regards all possible phenomena as copulative beings, verbal meanings and relations. In comparison with the Truth, the copulative existence is very weak, and the strength of the manifestation of the being of the Truth never allows the copulative existence to become manifest. That is why the non-copulative existence and the copulative existence are regarded distinct in the mind.[3] By accident he means a kind of accident dependent on the homogeneity of existence; otherwise, existence is not a general concept able to have different kinds. This opposition between the non-copulative existence and the copulative existence suggests a sort of otherness in the mind; in the external world, however, the existence of possible things, as compared with the Truth, is nothing but relation and connection to the Origin. Otherwise, a sort of otherness, separation and independence in the essences and identities of possible things would be required, which is inconsistent with the Unity of Super-Elect (tawhíd al-khāss al-khāss). On the other hand, these possible beings, which are, in relation with the Truth, the same as connection and relation, would be regarded in relation to each other some as substances and some as accidents.

The distinction and opposition between the non-copulative existence and the copulative existence in the mind is not incompatible with the unity in the reality of existence. They are different in meaning and concept, but not in existence.

According to Mullā Sadrā, the reality of existence, while maintaining its unity and simplicity, has various modes and theophanies, all of which are theophanies of that reality. All existents, whether low or high, immaterial or material, sensible or intelligible, are emitted from the light of the beauty of the Eternal Sun. Therefore, the existence of every existent is the same as “relation” and “connection” to the Origin (and not “connected” and “related” to the Origin), because the words “connected” and “related” suggest, at the same time, a sort of otherness with the stipulation of connection and relation. But, since existence in every existent is a manifestation of the Worshipped and a theophany of His reality, and as the manifestation of everything is a level of its levels and a mode of its modes without which no independence and essential subsistence is even imaginable. Possible existents are the same as connection and relation to the Origin.[4]

Perhaps it could be said that one of the characteristics of Sadrā's philosophy, which has been employed as the foundation of many other issues and has provided solutions for some problems in Islamic philosophy of which earlier philosophers were not so aware, is the ontological possibility (imkān-i faqrí) or possibility of indigence, which is in a sense the copulative existence. Because of the importance of the subject, Mullā Sadrā seeks to substantiate his claims and to give the ontological possibility its suitable place.[5] Therefore, possible beings in their hierarchy are regarded as relations of the existence of the Truth. As we said, all other [than God] have copulative and not relational existence. In another place, Mullā Sadrā offers his justification of the issue.[6] And Sabziwārí has something to say on the same subject.[7]

Peripatetic philosophers believed in the distinction between beings; therefore, they maintained an existence for possible things other than the existence of the Necessary Being, the Exalted. Consequently, they regarded the existence of possible things as the copulative existence. According to the principiality of existence and the mentally-posited nature of “quiddities”, however, what is related to the Necessary Being the Exalted are beings and their levels, including the bound and absolute being. The related is nothing but pure relation, poverty, and connection. [8] & [9]

The configuration of existence contains a single independent existence – the existence of the Necessary Being, the Exalted, and other beings are His relations.[10] This doctrine of Mullā Sadrā was the basis of the main issues of the Transcendent Philosophy and, given its mystic color, was capable of solving dozens of problems in ontology and epistemology.  Bearing in mind that all possible existents are the same as relation and connection to the pure real existence, and that they all lack independent identity, in Sadrian philosophy the phenomena of the world of existence could not be regarded as separate essences and independent realities. Connection to another (the pure relation) never means existence, since it is always for another and not for itself.

Possibility of indigence (imkān-i faqrí) changed the relation between the cause and the effect, between the originated and the eternal, the issues that have always been a matter of controversy for philosophy in the West and the East. It granted philosophical thoughts a new approach and paved the way for a new field for the development of Islamic philosophy (in the Transcendent Philosophy). It opened new chapters in philosophy forever so the Transcendent Philosophy would be able to prove its superiority over other philosophical schools and move along with modern theories, particularly Quantum Physics. Thus the doctrine of the copulative existent (or, as we say, the systematic network of ontological phenomena) has more to say than modern Quantum Physics as regards the theoretical foundations of ontology, particularly sub-atomic particles. In this article the author has extended the foundations of philosophy and has posed a new plan. And, in order to classify its issues, he will refer to certain points comparatively and prepare the condition for more studies in the realm of modern physics and philosophy.

The present discourse tries to expand Mullā Sadrā's approach to the principles of the principiality of existence in order to give a new picture to researchers and to introduce the scope of our timeless thought. Not only can Mullā Sadrā's systematic network of ontology helps to analyze the theoretical principles of modern physics (particularly Quantum Physics), but also, in a wider scope, his doctrine of the copulative existence and the existential possibility can be employed as factors for connecting all levels of existence. For example, dependence of the effect on the cause and the contingent on the eternal, the union of the intellect and the intelligible and the unity of opposites, the continuity of effusion (fayd), the theory of the expansion of the world, trans-substantial motion, resurrection and the worlds of existence and many other problems are all explainable under the systematic network of the copulative existence. Double-sided non-necessity (existential and at the same time non-existential non-necessity) is the best context of potentiality to receive continuous divine illuminations in the undetermined situation of the world of possibility. The continuity of existence along with the absolute determinacy through the real unity on the one hand, and the relative indeterminacy, which is a descended level of the absolute determinacy with the real unity on the other, are the firm bases and the general theory of the world of creation, and could cover scientific theories and provide a suitable context to develop a philosophical and scientific cosmology as much as possible.

In the realm of the copulative existence, the phenomena of existence reveal themselves as an integrated network and a whole unity. No possible thing is able to exist except in this way. Because of their need and dependence and their connection to another, all possible things find their determinacy in indeterminacy, their necessity in non-necessity, and the sign of their existence in mere union with Him Who is the Emanator, and their nature through appealing to their Origin. Surprisingly, Mullā Sadrā's comprehensive and philosophical point of view became unknowingly the field of scientific thoughts and was reflected in modern physics. Out of this systematic network, no possible phenomena, whether material or immaterial, could be observed. Mullā Sadrā mentions special characteristics for every level of existence as well. In addition to the close relation among phenomena, based on the doctrine of correlation and the difference of the situations of the worlds of existence, trans-substantial motion could be mentioned as an instance.

It is possible that the copulative existence, with regards to the levels and worlds of existence [in the other worlds], and in relation to its own subject, has various levels of strength and weakness. In the material world, the copulative existence, because of its greater distance from pure existence, has more ambiguity, indeterminacy and instability than other worlds.[11]

Through the negation of copula and the correlation of objects, their unity (in network) will be eliminated. Though copula is the origin of the correlation of phenomena, it never constitutes either side of a relation. But, since all existential levels of the world are placed in relation to higher or lower levels, they are identical with the copula. The copula, correlation and relation are in a lower relativity. Every set constitutes a special network of its own world. Otherwise, without this interpretation, the connotation of the copula and correlation will not be realized. Therefore, the correlation of the levels of existence, under the title of the copulative existent, suggests that the phenomena of existence are illuminative relations, which are the result of their dependence on an independent existent, i.e. the pure existence and the pure divine perfection. Otherwise, if it is a categorical relation, it would be the result of two independent beings, and this is inconsistent with our explanations. Therefore, the correlation of phenomena is literal and illuminative, not categorical.

The category of the illuminative correlation and its relation is so comprehensive that no object is deprived of it. The relation of possible realities and connected beings, in whatever level and world they are, and in comparison with the reality of pure existence, is the relation between non-existence and existence.[12] This is because ipseity, which is the reality of existence, is allotted to the Reality of the Divine Essence, and it could be excluded from other things. It is possible here to refer to the saying of Imām Ja'far Sādiq (a).[13]

In al-Asfār Mullā Sadrā says that the qualification of every existent is in the form of relation and negation. There is no existent lacking correlation and connection to another and this correlation is other than causality or being an effect. In the opposition of things, other things can be negated, and even the Necessary Being is not free of opposite correlation.[14]

On the one hand, given the explanation provided for the copulative existence with reference to Mullā Sadrā's various discussions in al-Asfār, his systematic network of ontological phenomena pervades all worlds. No world is exceptional. On the other hand, in modern physics, only the systematic network includes material, wavy-corpuscular phenomena. Therefore, only Mullā Sadrā's reflection in the doctrine of the correlation of phenomena of existence in the material world are discussed. And again we find that the realm of material phenomena in Mullā Sadrā's doctrine is wider than that of modern physics. For example, in the hierarchy of existence, indeterminacy in trans-substantial motion will finally lead to pure existence, and will consolidate its position in the vertical and horizontal correlations of the networks of phenomena. But indeterminacy has no firm support in modern physics, and it is not supported in the network of correlations either.

According to Mullā Sadrā, the subset of the copulative existence is as follows:

RE = R.S.M.

Copulative existence = intellects, souls, matter;

Indeterminacy, I--> EC, existential possibility;              

Existential possibility, EP--> RN, relative non-existence;

Relative non-existence, RN ---> I, indeterminacy.


Scheme of the Systematic Network Or the Copulative Existence and its Configurations:

Correlation < possibility of indigence--< indeterminacy--<-- copulative existence--> -- relative non-existence >-- existential possibility> relation

Intellectual configuration

Intellectual configuration

…. Configuration

…. Configuration

Natural configuration 


The two sides of this correlation are, in fact, existence and non-existence; the latter is, of course, non-existence and possibility.

Reflections of Mullā Sadrā's theory in the cosmology of modern physics

Among discrepancies between classical (Newtonian) physics and Quantum Physics are their approaches to the material phenomena, including atoms and sub-atomic particles such as electron, proton, etc., which, according to earlier theologians, are called the “substances of individual”. Classical (Newtonian) physics considers material phenomena and their events as independent (of each other) and as having distinct ipsieties. It maintains for each of them a particular determinacy. In modern physics, the independence of material phenomena has weakened, and every phenomenon correlates with the world and with the events surrounding it. Instead of an object, which was previously considered in a particular point and which continued invariably in “present moments”, the well-known philosopher Whitehead employs the terms “event”, “occasion” and uses the term “organism” for the relevant set. Therefore, every science results from a particular organism, and the difference between sciences is due to the simplicity or complexity of their organisms. Also, he regards the realm of possibility as the eternal object, realities as events, and every realization as a limitation.[15]

In the 17th century, based on the theory of the correlation of the phenomena of existence, Mullā Sadrā also placed philosophy and science in a horizontal sequence and considered their difference only in degree. Whitehead uses the term “event” in a very general sense as a network of relevant occasions in a particular frame, and on a large scale.[16]

Max Plank says, “In modern mechanics, it is impossible to attain the adequate and invariable laws we are looking for, unless we consider the physical system as a whole.” In the “field theory” of modern mechanics, every particular particle of the system, in every certain moment of time, is simultaneously in all parts of the space occupied by the system. This simultaneous being is true not only for the field of force, by which the mentioned particle is surrounded, but also for mass and matter.[17]    

In Quantum theory, the world is not a collection of physical objects; rather, it is a network of relations between phenomena. Therefore, the world looks like an intricate texture of events, a texture in which various relations are placed upon, or combined with each other, and thus bring the whole texture into existence. [18]&[19]

In this respect, Sadrā says that all possible realities are naturally potential and, because of their relations with their causes, actual. In terms of quiddity, they are pure non-existence, and in terms of the existence of their perfect cause, they are beings emanated from the presence of Him. Consequently, possible phenomena are referents for concepts consisted of potential meaning and actual meaning at the same time.[20] Their union is weak because of simplicity. Their union is a sort of unity, and unity means a combination which is unity in one aspect and disunity in other aspects. The union of possible things is a ray of the pure Divine union, which is emanated, in the descending hierarchy of unions, from the Divine station to the intellectual worlds, to souls, and then to the union of forms and the copulative corporeal union, which is potentially so plural that it is not compatible with union. It looks for its union in higher degrees. The more perfect the union, the nearer the existent will be to the real union of the Truth. Therefore, every possible existent is, in terms of quiddity, a general concept which includes many possibilities and beings. No possible phenomenon is realized in the external world unless it is placed under a universal essential or accidental nature (assembly or organism) in such a way that it does not refute having conceptual associations with individuals.[21]

The quanta of energy in the subatomic world produce atomic and molecular structures and embody the matter on a microscopic level, and so we think that the world consists of material substances and distinct substances. This thought has led to useful results which could be employed in technology and science, but the fact should not be neglected that what we call an atom is a word among the theoretical terms and consists of a tremendous number of particles which have no material identity. In these particles we find no material substance; what belongs to these particles is a dynamic, intertwined context which is continuously changing and developing. It seems that the foundation of matter and energy is a continuous movement and, as Mullā Sadrā says, continues its trans-substantial motion.[22]

This cosmic dance and trans-substantial motion of sub-atomic particles takes place throughout the universe in another way, and each degree of existence acts in a way suitable for itself. According to Mullā Sadrā, where matter is concerned, the trans-substantial motion assures its correlation with other degrees. And in the higher degrees of the renewal of forms and, in general, in the diffusion and flux of love, in dependence on the emanating origin, every phenomenon of the world of existence shows, in a way, life and being for another.

From the viewpoint of contemporary physicists, what we call objects are, in fact, imprints and textures in an inseparable cosmic process, and these imprints are of a dynamic and changing nature. In subatomic physics, mass no longer depends on a material substance; rather, it is a sort of energy. Energy also depends on activity and process and is regarded as a scale of activity. Subatomic particles are dynamic imprints, and instead of being material, they have a process-like nature. The contemporary physicist Openhiemer says, “For example, if we ask whether the position of an electron is the same as it was, we should answer no. If we ask whether electron is in motion, we should say no. If we ask whether electron is at rest, we should still say no.”[23] That is to say that matter is covered by universality, ambiguity, indeterminacy, etc. This makes us unable to determine a particular station for it, and thus we have to introduce only differences as the individuality and determinacy of matter. This is nothing but a result of the relation of phenomena, and the structure of matter requires it. Space-time systems are organizations of internal and mutual relations and correlations of beings and the realities of existence.[24]

“For-one's-selfness” becomes “for-others-and-for-the whole”. Everything that in any sense exists has two sides, namely its individual self and its signification in the universe.[25] These two poles cannot be torn apart. Each finds its fulfillment in the other via their dialectical relation.[26] According to Heisenberg, reality is the world of possibility and potentiality, so nothing is predictable with certainty.[27]

In the systematic network of the phenomena of existence, Mullā Sadrā reached many philosophical results concerning the structure of the copulative existent and the correlation of degrees, i.e. gradations of the manifestation of existence. As we said, he regarded the difference between philosophy and science as the difference in degree, and considered them in the same horizontal sequence; thus, we could interpret his philosophical results as scientific ones. And as we saw in the comparative analyses of his theories and those of modern physics, certain key examples are worth mentioning briefly in the following paragraphs.

1- The subject of trans-substantial motion and indeterminacy

Peripatetic and Illuminationist philosophers did not accept trans-substantial motion, mostly due to the fact that, according to them, the subject of trans-substantial motion would change as well, and this would cause the problem of non-subsistence of subject. For Peripatetic philosophers, a reason for disproving trans-substantial motion was that they believed in difference among beings. Illuminationists believed in quiddities, which were essentially different. Though, if motion is trans-substantial, it does not need subject. Where we seek a subject for motion, it is in accidents. Although great philosophers like Tabātābaí points to this issue, Mullā Sadrā discusses the subject of trans-substantial motion as well, and provides adequate answers for the questions propounded by Peripatetic philosophers. He says since objects are in a state of continuous motion and change and have no rest, actual quiddities cannot be assumed for them. The quiddities that we can imagine for them are potential and indefinite, as in Quantum Physics, in which the position of matter in a certain point and at a certain moment of time cannot be determined and predicted. Even that quiddity that the mind abstracts from the object is a consequence of the imagination of the rest, through assuming a rest for the object. But a moving object has no determined quiddity.

Those points that Mullā Sadrā referes to concerning the intensificative motion can be found in the philosophical consequences of Quantum Physics about the wavy-corpuscular characteristic of matter. What was considered as indeterminacy there, is indeterminacy here as well. There, matter revealed itself in some aspects as particle and in some other aspects as wave, and sometimes it was there and at other times it was not. Here also the phenomena of existence in Sadrian systematic network are considered as single and continuous things having various degrees, and appearing and disappearing. Existence, which appears as a single and continuous thing, is in one aspect immortal and in another aspect mortal. If we say it is existent, we are right because of its relation to the Origin. And if we say it is non-existent, we are again right, because of the existential possibility. Therefore, in trans-substantial motion, neither indefinite species nor essential transformation is impossible. Thus, Mullā Sadrā regards the object of motion neither purely actual nor purely potential, but as a thing which is at the same time both actual and potential.[28]

Today, as physicists say, being and becoming are not two opposite sides of existence, but two faces of reality and existence.[29] Thus, becoming is for the purpose of being (signification in the universe) and being is for the purpose of novel becoming (the emergent individual self). It is rather the growing together (concrescence) of objects to create a novel subject which enriches the many forms which it springs. The many become one and are increased by one.[30] In his famous book Process and Reality, Whitehead has a very significant phrase, quoted here completely:

There is a becoming of continuity, but no continuity of becoming.[31]

To keep the article short, let us leave detailed analysis of this phrase to another opportunity.[32]

The world of creation is in continuous motion, and its parts are in continuous interaction with each other. The world is, moment by moment, in change and becoming, and the continuity of the Divine emanation guaranties its subsistence through the succession of forms. In a way, in the physical world, based on the doctrine of the correlation of phenomena, we have no single and determined “connected” for “this” or “that” object. The same applies to Mullā Sadrā's ontology, based on the correlation of the relating existents, which are merely illuminative correlations. The “connected” of “this” or “that” in the physical world and in Sadrian philosophy is an integrated and undetermined set of relations and correlations.

2- Relation and correlation of the mind and object

The correlation of the mind (subject) and object has a long history in philosophy, and deals with both ontology and epistemology. Since Mullā Sadrā's philosophy is based on the principiality of existence, each of the two (the mind and object) is a degree of existence. And since they are homogeneous, their opposition is not essential. On the other hand, the more united a degree of existence, the more perfect it is, and the closer to its Origin, which has a perfect and real and true unity. In the scheme of the copulative existence, this relation and correlation between its various configurations was specified. Relying on this correlation between the degrees of existence, Mullā Sadrā managed to solve many philosophical problems such as the union of the intellect and the intelligible, the observer and the observable, the imaginer and the imaginable, and the sensor and the sensible. According to him, the opponents of the union of the intellect and the intelligible, such as Ibn Sínā and others, regarded the union of the intellect and the intelligible as a union between two different or acquired things, while the union of the two is not between two different things but between two acquired things. An intelligible which is united with the intellect is an essential intellect, which is a correlated thing. Given the doctrine of the union of the intelligent and the intelligible, Mullā Sadrā regards the role played by the mind in the imagination of the phenomena of existence very important, both in ontology and epistemology. Just as he (influenced by mystics) considers the perfect man a pole (qutb), in the mind and epistemology as well he represents the role played by the intelligent soul in all degrees of understanding as a superior agent. The role played by the perfect man in the phenomena of existence and in the realm of the world has been known by every wayfarer of knowledge and mysticism for years. Mystical insight is never obtained merely through external observation. Mystical knowledge is the result of the participation of the wayfarer in the object of knowledge. Mystics go even further and say that to know the world we have to mingle and become one with the world. The doctrine of the union of the intellect and the intelligible, which results from mystical insights, suggests a kind of union between the object of knowledge as an essential intelligible and the intelligent. The main object of knowledge is the essential known, not the external, objective, accidental known.

The essential relation in the world of existence which is another common aspect of modern physics and Mullā Sadrā's ontological approach to the copulative existence of phenomena, includes both the observer and his psyche. Matter, at the atomic level in modern physics, is discussed only in term of the relation between the process of preparing the object and the experiment on it. Therefore, the method of knowledge and its result concern, ultimately, the observer and his psychical conditions and characteristics. In atomic physics, the observer is necessary not only for the observation and measurement of the object, but to define its characteristics.[33] In atomic physics, we cannot speak of the characteristics of an object absolutely. From this point of view, defining the characteristics of objects depends on the observer. Heisenberg says, “The knowledge of the nature is not only the interpretation (explanation) of nature, but a part of our own interaction with nature.[34] What we observe is not nature itself, but a nature which we seek to examine”.[35] In Quantum physics, descriptions of objects are not based on independent objects but on the mental patterns of the observer's influence on the imagination of the qualities of phenomena. Quantum Physics introduced the consciousness of the researching observer into physical research. Pauli emphasized that in fact in every observation an interaction between the observation, the observable, and the consciousness of observer is considered.[36]

In modern physics, the researcher cannot play the role of a neutral observer; rather, he or she inevitably gets involved with the world that they seek to know, and in this way they exercise influence on the object under question. Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty or indeterminacy deals with this fact. This means that our choice is in determining either the quantity (momentum) or the position of the material particle. The inability in determining both qualities simultaneously suggests the uncertainty of our knowledge of the positions and velocities of atoms in every moment of time. Having established a system to measure either quantity, the observer (the researcher) prevents the establishment of a system [to measure] the second quantity. In addition, his or her measurement changes the situation of electron. After measurement, the world is no longer what it was before measurement. To describe an event, we should eliminate the old term “observer” and replace it by the new term “player”. Then, the world is in a wonderful way a playful world.[37] Then, “evidently, it is impossible to distinguish, accurately, the phenomena and what is perceived from them.”[38]

In Quantum theory, every observation is accompanied by the transmission of a whole quantum from the observed object to the observer. The transmission of a quantum between the two is not a negligible relation. That is, as soon as we observe an object or a thing exercising influence on our senses, it is no more the old object because our knowledge of the object is unattainable unless some quanta from the object enter our consciousness. Then, what we perceive of the object is no more the object as it was, and what is observed in the object at the second moment of time will not be known as it is. What is thought-provoking in this discussion is the fact that in the relation between the observer and the observable not the object of observation but the “relation” itself is considered. This fact has led to great debates and various approaches in the realm of atoms, though in the world these changes are negligible and could be neglected in calculations.

 Here we should note that the principle of causation is based on the assumption of the independence of the observer and the observable. On the other hand, if we take photons and individual and independent electrons or, as theologians say, “individual substances” into account, the principle of causation is realized in the realm of possibility and could be defended. In the principles of classical mechanics, causation is true, but in Quantum Physics the necessary relation between phenomena based on causation is meaningless. If the principle of causation governs the network of the sequence of events, we will never become aware of it, and will never understand it. In the systematic network of the phenomena of existence based on the principiality and unity of existence as well as gradation in its degrees.

Mullā Sadrā discusses the causal relation as such, and considers the causes, except the absolute sufficient cause, as predestined causes, which are in a vertical sequence under the influence exercised by the absolute sufficient cause. Since he regards the effect, in whatever degree it is, as a descending degree of the cause or among its characteristics, he considers the principle of causation in a perfect form and as a necessary relation between the chains of vertical, predestined, and virtual causes in the realm of creation for the phenomena of the world decreed by the Divine. Otherwise, the copulative existence, which is merely relation and connection, has no influence of its own to be able to predicate the cause as the influential agent on itself and of its own.

A detailed analysis of causation based on the copulative existence is another characteristic of the systematic network of Mullā Sadrā's ontology. Making a comparison between the theories of Quantum Physics and the doctrines of Mullā Sadrā, along with some other points which should be taken into account in this regard, will make the article lengthy, so we will leave this discussion to another article. In conclusion, we mention the philosophical results of this article, comparatively and briefly, so that the reader himself/herself can decide:

1. In the systematic network of phenomena, steadiness in nature cannot be proved. According to Mullā Sadrā, only the union, the principiality and the gradation of existence can be firm foundations for the assumption of steadiness in nature. Otherwise, in Quantum Physics, the correlation of phenomena is discrete both in the origin and in the end, and has no firm foundation for its principles.

2. Our scientific knowledge of the natural phenomena, in every realm, is probabilistic, disprovable, and unreliable.

3. The phenomena of nature could not be described in a spatial-temporal framework, as it should be.

4. The opposition of the observer and the observable, and the intellect and the intelligible, accepted by philosophers and old classical physics, is meaningless. These two should be considered as a single and integrated whole.

5. The principle of causation loses its independent strength in the phenomena of existence.

6. Like other disciplines, quantum physics also should take into account the principle of causation as a supra-temporal agent decreed for the world of existence. But in Quantum Physics the principle of causation must be considered as a priori among the issues of man's knowledge, and not as a cosmorama reflecting the world of reality.

7. In Mullā Sadrā's philosophy, not only is the principle of causation regarded as a prerequisite for every research, but also its objective and existential origin is God. It is through His Will that the influence of causation could be considered to be cause-making and cause-annihilating.

8. In the systematic network of phenomena, the copulative existence is mere relation and connection. Therefore, the world of possibility is pure potentiality and preparedness, and continuously takes its power, in its perfect-seeking travel or essential motion, whether trans-substantial motion or succession of forms, from the Origin of existence. The opposition of the Truth and creatures is the opposition of existence and non-existence; therefore, what is observed from non-existence is discreteness and what is seen in existence is giving and continuity of emanation. But as emanation is continuous and new in every moment of time, we cannot recognize this continuity of emanation.

9. The perfect knowledge of every phenomenon in existence requires the knowledge of all relations and correlations. The more the mastery of the observer on relations and correlations, the closer his knowledge to the reality. And finally, the more perfect the knowledge, the greater the union. Therefore, the highest degree of understanding is intuition, in which the observer finds the existence of the observable in his presence, without any objective indeterminacy and imagination.

10. According to Mullā Sadrā there is a kind of unity and correlation in the theoretical principles of sciences. Differences between sciences on the one hand and their difference with philosophy on the other hand are in the degrees of existence and the quality of the correlation of the elements of the subject.

11. In the 20th century, modern physics reaches a point whose theoretical principles Mullā Sadrā described comprehensively in his ontology in the 17th century, and then left this stage for other issues.

12. Through an analysis of Mullā Sadrā's theory in this regard, a suitable context for propounding the theoretical issues of the sciences, and in particular modern physics, could be provided. Sadrian philosophy could be represented to the thinkers as a dynamic and developing school, and a new sketch for its issues may be made.



1. It can't be denied that the idea of an integrated universal network has been used in the language of the eastern mysticism for nature for centuries. In the Aryan-Hindu tradition, Brahman is the unifying element of the universal system and the eternal background of all. The allegorical image of the universal “warp and woof” has a major role in Buddhism as well. Avatamsaka Sutra, a major book in Mahayana Buddhism, considers the world as a complete system of interactional links in which all things and phenomena are related in an extremely complex manner. In another branch of Buddhism, the Tantric sect, whose name comes from “weaving”, clearly indicates this universal relation and closeness of things in phenomena. See Capra, F., The Tao of Physics, Fonatana Paperbacks, London, 1983, p. 145.

2. Tabātabāi, Sayyid Mohammed Hossian., Nihāyat al-hikmah, notes by Mohammed Taqhi Misbah Yazdi, vol. 1, al-Zahra Publications, Tehran, 1984, p. 77.

3. Mullā Sadrā, al-Hikmat al-muta‘alíyah fil al-asfār al-aqliat al-arba'a, first volume, Dar al-Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut, 1981, p. 79.

4. al-Asfār, book one, chapter one, p. 47.

5. Ibid., p. 329.

6. Ibid., p. 330.

7. Ibid., pp. 47, 305.

8. Ibid., see Sabziwari's notes on al-Asfār, book one, chapter one, p. 330.

9. Ibid., p. 330.

10. Nihāyat al-hikmah, p. 79.

11. al-Asfār, vol. 8, book three, chapter one, p. 277.

12. Zunuzí, ‘Abdullāh., Lama'at al-illahíyyah, second edition, prefaced by Sayyid Jalal Āshtíyāní, Cutural Studies and Surveys, Tehran, 1982, pp. 217-220.

13. Ibid., p. 220.

14. al-Asfār, vol.2, book one, chapter two, p. 121.

15. Jones, W.T., A History of Western Philosophy, vol. 5, second edition, revised, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc, N.Y. 1975, p. 77.

16. Whithead, Alferd North., Process and Reality, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. N.Y. 1969, p. 90.

17. Plank, Max, Where is Science Going?, George Allen & Urwin, London, 1933, p. 24.

18. Heisenberg, W., Physics and Philosophy, Allen & Urwin, London, 1933, p. 43.

19. al-Asfār, book one, chapter, p. 186.

20. Ibid., p. 187.

21. Ibid., p. 187.

22. Capra, F., The New Vision and Reality Towards Synthesis of Eastern Wisdom and Western Science in Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science, Stinlav Grof (ed.), State University of New York Press, Albany, 1984, p. 138.

23. Openheimer, J.R., Science and the Common Understanding, Oxford University, London, 1954, pp. 42-43.

24. Kraus, Elizabeth M., The Metaphysics of Experience, A Companion to Whithead's Process and Reality, Fordham University Press, N.Y. 1974, p. 24. 

25. Whitehead, Modes of Thought, Capricorn, N.Y. 1985.

26. Process and Reality, p. 32.

27. Laurikainen, Kalervo V., The Message of Atoms, Springer, 1997, p. 26.

28. al-Asfār, vol. 4, pp. 87-88.

29. I. Lay Prigoginge and I. Stenger, Order Out of Chaos, Bantam Books, Toronto, p. 31.

30. Process and Reality, p. 32 .

31. Ibid., p. 56.

32. al-Asfār, vol. 3, p. 328.

33. See: Author's article “Survey and Criticism of Philosophical Results of Quantom,” Tabríz University, the periodical of Literature and Humanity Faculty, 1373, issues 148, 149, pp. 40-56.

34. W. Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, p. 75.

35. Ibid., p. 57.

36. Laurikainen, Kalervo V., The Message of the Atoms, Essays on Wol Foang Pauli and the Unspeakable Springer, Helsinki University Press, 1994, p. 20.

37. J. A. Wheeler in The Physicist's Concept of Nature, J. Mehra (editor), D. Reidel, Dordrecht, Holland, 1973, p. 44.

38. Jammer, M., The Conceptual Development of Quantom Mechanics, McGraw-Hill, p. 176.


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