The doctrine of the metaphysics of Light was a powerful current of thought that flowed through Western philosophy from ancient times down through the Renaissance. It taught that reality was essentially and fundamentally Light, not in a metaphorical but in a proper sense. Moreover, this Light was understood to both emanate being and illuminate cognition.
The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the possibility that the doctrine of the metaphysics of Light also appeared in the systems of two other philosophers: Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi, a Persian philosopher of the 12th century, and Abhinavagupta, a great Kashmir Shaivite philosopher of the 10th century. Suhrawardi worked within the Islamic philosophical tradition and so had direct historical connections with the Neoplatonic sources of the metaphysics of Light in the West. He also claimed Persian, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Indian sources for his Light doctrine. Abhinavagupta had no attested historical connections with either Suhrawardi or Neoplatonism. Yet there are remarkable and striking similarities in the systems of Suhrawardi and Abhinavagupta in both ontology and epistemology that identify them with the doctrine of the metaphysics of Light. The situation with regard to cosmology is more complex. Suhrawardi enunciates a system of emanation similar to that of his Neoplatonic forbearers. Abhinavagupta enunciates a system of emanation, but its categories are radically different from Neoplatonism. Combined with Suhrawardi's invocation of ancient sources, this suggests that both Suhrawardi and Abhinavagupta taught a true metaphysics of Light, but that the context of the doctrine itself should be extended beyond Neoplatonism to include traditions from Iran and India.
|Commitee:||Azadpur, Mohammad, Ryan, James, Shirazi, Bahman|
|School:||California Institute of Integral Studies|
|Department:||Philosophy and Religion with a concentration on Asian and Comparative Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 75/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Abhinavagupta, Comparative philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Kashmir shaivism, Suhrawardi|
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