Olga Louchakova-Schwartz, ASPS Sept 8-11, Istanbul
My research indicates that Illuminationist philosophy of Suhrawardī must be analyzed in close comparison with phenomenology of Husserl, and even more so, with material phenomenology of Michel Henry. In Suhrawardī’s (Sohrevardî’s) Ḥikmat al-Ishrâq we find an Arabic phrase nūr mujarrad, translated by Walbridge and Ziai as “incorporeal light”, and by Corbin as “immaterial light”, a principle that “cannot be pointed to, nor be located in a body, nor have spatial dimensions” (112). The adjective mujarrad, which is past participle of the verb jarrada (“to strip away, remove the outside covering, peel off the shell”), does not mean “incorporeal”. Why does Suhrawardī chose this interesting term, and what does he mean by it? My paper will present a detailed exposition of philosophical evidence in Part 2 of Ḥikmat, showing that Suhrawardī operates in the phenomenological attitude and applies tajrīd (action noun from jarrada, “to strip away”, etc.), which in this case is a reduction to pure subjectivity resembling Husserl’s analytic approach in his theory of intentionality. Further parallels need to made with the reading of phenomenological reduction in Michel Henry, due to the hyletic dimension present in Suhrawardī’s analysis of subjectivity. Synchronic phenomenological analysis shows how the founder of Illuminationism generates his intuitive metaphysics out of the gestalt of pure subjectivity, which is signified by the term nūr mujarrad. Following Suhrawardī’s phenomenological approach to the analysis of philosophical evidence, we must use a literal translation of nūr mujarrad as “light made bare” or “denuded light”, vs. previously used translations “by sense” which reflect the rationalistic /idealistic philosophical biases of the translators and distort the phiolosophical meaning of the Suhrawardī’s argument. This new translation also leads to a different reading of other central terms of this Illuminationism, such as dhāt, “self-essence”, and barzakh, “barrier”. The phenomenological approach corrects a crucial interpretive error in translations of Suhrawardī’s corpus, and suggests a reading of Illuminationist philosophy in its own terms, as phenomenological ontology. The phenomenological liberation of light from its coverings is further articulated by Suhrawardī’ in his later Persian work Bustān al-Qulūb (Bostān al-Qolub). It is relevant that in Ḥikmat al-Ishrāq, Suhrawardî derives his Illuminationism from the sage-philosophers of ancient Iran, and it is their “precious philosophy of Light” which he claims to be reviving. For the bestowal of divine light he specifically uses the terms khwarreh and farreh [from Avestan khvarenah ‘glory’]. This is of a piece with his adaptation of a series of pre-Islamic Zoroastrian Iranian conceptual terms and personages.