Article ID: CBB001552258

Al-Suhraward on Mirror Vision and Suspended Images (Muthul Mu allaqa) (2015)


The notion of a “World of Images” located somewhere between the immaterial and the material world was a mainstay of eschatological speculation in late medieval Islam. As has been recognised before, the concept was launched by al-Suhraward (d. 1191). However, its more properly philosophical underpinnings, in particular the notion of “suspended” images -- images which somehow have an objective, rather than just a mental or subjective, status -- merit further clarification, which this article attempts to provide. Since the concept of “suspended forms”, while applied to eschatological matters in the last treatise of the Philosophy of Illumination, makes its first appearance in a discussion of mirror vision, I examine in some detail Avicenna's understanding of mirror vision as presented in the Shif , to which al-Suhraward reacts. I then undertake a detailed reconstructive analysis of two paragraphs of the Philosophy of Illumination, paying particular attention to the question of the ontological status of “suspended” or “self-subsistent” images as well as to the idea that mirrors serve, not as loci in which images inhere, but as loci at which they become manifest (singular ma har).

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Authors & Contributors
Kischlat, Harald
Abattouy, Mohammed
Griffel, Frank
Djebbar, Ahmed
Panzeca, Ivana
Bellver, José
Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
Tarikh-e Elm (The Iranian Journal for the History of Science)
Micrologus: Natura, Scienze e Società Medievali
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Nazariyat: İslam Felsefe ve Bilim Tarihi Araştırmaları Dergisi (Journal for the History of Islamic Philosophy and Sciences)
Aschendorffsche Verlagbuchhandlung
Oxford University Press
Princeton University Press
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Cambridge University Press
Arab/Islamic world, civilization and culture
Science and religion
Natural philosophy
Suhrawardī, Yaḥyá ibn Ḥabash
Ibn al-Haytham, Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan
al-Ghazālī, Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad
Sa'id ibn Ahmad, al-Andalusi
Time Periods
12th century
13th century
11th century
10th century
14th century
Central Asia
Florence (Italy)
Baghdad (Iraq)
Ikhwān al-Ṣafā (Brethren of Purity)

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