Apprehension and Existence, Appearance and Reality: The Reception of Nafs al-amr Debates after the 13th Century

Murat Kaş

Abstract


https://doi.org/10.12730/13091719.2021.121.216

The structure of human cognition and the means of apprehension is suitable only for partly and gradually conceiving reality. This limitation has led to a certain distance between appearance and reality. This means that there will always be a gap between the judgments of the mind about the external world and its contents, which are entities, cases, facts, and states. This partiality and partiteness of human understanding has produced the truth-maker problem with regard to mind judgments. Muslim scholars who admit the correlation between the structure of reality and the categories of the mind but reject the notion of the construction and the determination of reality by the mind refer to the realm that is independent of the mind’s personal judgments as nafs al-amr. This realm is concerned with the all degrees of reality, namely—from the existent to the non-existent, from the necessity to the contingency and impossibility, from the absolute to the relative, from the material to the non-physical, from the external to the mental, and from the real entities to the abstracted ones—which step into the shot of human cognition or not. Carrying the concept of nafs al-amr from the logical plane to the metaphysical realm that intersects epistemology and ontology has led to debates that pave the way for various treatments. In particular, Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī’s (d. 672/1274) nafs al-amr epistle that posited it to the cosmic sphere resulted in criticisms of this conception of nafs al-amr, and these criticisms are the same ones directed to the Avicennian theory of emanation and its epistemological implications. Scholars who use this concept free from any metaphysical presumption and implication argue against his leap from the logical to the cosmic sphere. During the following period, this tension occasioned debates that led to the approaches that refer to the various degrees of reality, i.e., to the cosmic spheres, the spiritual realms, and the divine realms. This work aims to create a map of treatments, arguments, and problems with regard to the concept of nafs al-amr.

Keywords


Nafs al-amr, truth, apprehension, mind, reality

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