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A Closed Book: Opacity of the Human Self in Mullā Ṣadrā

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Mullā Ṣadrā Shīrāzī (d. 1636) subscribes to the Avicennian view according to which the human subject is always and fully aware of herself. At the same time, his eschatology hinges on the Qur’ānic motif of the soul as a closed book that is first opened on the Final Day, that is, on the idea that each soul’s share in the afterlife should be understood as the full revelation of the soul’s true nature to itself. The two ideas thus have seemingly contradictory entailments: the soul is fully aware of and transparent to itself, but at the same time it has aspects that can remain opaque to it, at least in this life. The task of this paper is to investigate whether Ṣadrā can coherently hold on to the two ideas, and what kind of revisions this requires him to make to the received concepts of self and self-awareness.

Affiliations: 1: University of Jyväskylä, Academy of


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