Psychic Substance: A Meeting Point between Metaphysics & Spirituality

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent

Psychic Substance: A Meeting Point between Metaphysics & Spirituality


The discussion of the human soul, its existence, nature, eternity and perfec- tion occupies a focal position in Islamic philosophy. All Muslim philoso- phers concerned themselves with the subject of the soul. The most detailed and most important works on this subject are those of Kindi, Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, Mulla Sadra (Sadr al-Din Shirazi) and ‘Allamah Ta- bataba’i. Referring to different types of substance discussed in Islamic Phi- losophy, this paper focuses on psychic substance, or soul, and reviews the nature and faculties of the soul highlighting the main characteristics of psychic substances and what features distinguish them from other sub- stances along with a discussion about happiness of the soul.

1. Substance and its different types

Muslim philosophers recognise two aspects of every contingent being: quiddity (nature or whatness) and existence (being). All quiddities are uni- versal and it is only existence which individuates. In this regard, M. T. Misbah writes:

Another issue is the problem raised in Islamic philosophy of whether a universal may be individuated by means of specific accidents. Every accident in reality also has a whatness to which the mind attributes universality, and therefore it partici- pates with whatnesses of that which has accidents in the need to be individuated. And this question can be repeated with regard to them, as to how they are to be in- dividuated. How is the addition of a universal essence to cause the individuation of a universal essence of that which has accidents?

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