SPEAKING THE UNSPEAKABLE :
MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE IN MULLA SADRA AND HEIDEGGER
Haidar Bagir (Mizan, Bandung, Indonesia, 2010)
This book, entitled Mengungkap yang tak Terungkap: Pengalaman Mistis menurut Mulla Sadra dan Heidegger. (Speaking the Unspeakable : Mystical Experience in Mulla Sadra and Heidegger), focuses on certain aspects of the problem of mystical experience, seen especially from the point of view of Mullâ Sadrâ’s theory of presential knowledge or knowledge by presence (al-’ilm al-hudhûrî), while at the same time comparing it with Heidegger’s notion about thinking (Denken).
According to Mulla Sadra (1571 M –1650), the single most important philosopher from Persia, presential knowledge is a species of knowledge the acquisition of which does not need representation of the form of the object in the mind of the subject. In other words, it is not representational knowledge. Instead, this species of knowledge is arrived at immediately and without representation. It is existential in nature – not accidental as in the case of representational knowledge. According to Mulla Sadra, mystical experience is an instance of this presential knowledge.
It turns out that this theory does have important similarities – despite certain differences – with Heidegger’s notion about thinking. Heidegger (1889 -1976) also rejects representational thinking and promotes a thinking which is immediate, not discursive – contrary to that of metaphysics (philosophy) – and existential in nature. There are indications of the presence of mystical elements in this particular idea of Heidegger. The main difference with Mullâ Sadrâ’s presential knowledge – apart from the lack of theism and the absence of a kind of method and mystical discipline in Heidegger – this German philosopher totally rejects representational thinking and the use of discursive-propositional language, while Sadrâ – although he regards presential knowledge as stronger than representational knowledge and sets presential knowledge as the foundation as well as the peak of any knowledge acquisition – still opens room for representational thinking and the possibility of expressing this knowledge through discursive-propositional language. Another important difference between the two philosophers, which can be directly traced to the differences of attitude toward discursive-propositional language, is that Heidegger’s language in this discourse is almost poetic while, notwithstanding the subject matter of the discourse which is no less than mysticism itself, Sadra’s tends to be more technically philosophical, even peripatetic in nature. Unlike Heidegger’s notion of thinking, Sadra’s is indeed a theory of knowledge. Like any other philosophical theory, his discussion is systematic, analytical, and logical almost all the way through,
This dissertation is expected to:
- to contribute to the efforts to study the essence of mystical experience, including its possibility to be a philosophically accepted method of knowledge acquisition;
- ·to explore and expound further the philosophy of Mullâ Sadrâ which is not yet widely known in Indonesia – especially this philosopher’s theory on presential knowledge;
- to study “later Heidegger” or the so called “the turning” (Kehre) in Heidegger’s philosophy which had also not been much explored in the philosophical discourse, especially in Indonesia where this book is written;
- to explore the possibility of the mystical nature of Heidegger’s philosophy in this regard; and
to compare the ideas of the two philosophers in relation with the issue taken up by this book.
Additional benefits that can be derived from this study include:
- enrichment to the discourse on dialogue among civilizations, especially between the Islamic East and the West by supplying it with one more comparative study materials;
- ·the introduction of a kind of mysticism which is not against rational thinking; and,
- ·especially in relation to Heidegger’s idea about poetic thinking as the only medium which can accommodate thinking (Denken), to offer of a (more) philosophically-based literary analysis.