Corbin on the radical difference between Mulla Sadra and existentialism

“Elsewhere, in editing and translating one of his books (the Kitab al-Masha’ir, I have sketched the radical difference separating Mullâ Sadrâ’s metaphysic of existence from what has in our day taken the name “existentialism.” For Mulla Sadrâ the degree of existentiality is seen in terms of Presence, which does not mean in terms of being present to this world, the supreme finality of which would be to im­merse being in “being for death.” For him a being is present to itself just in so far as it is separated from, and triumphs over the conditions of this world, which is subject to extension, to volume, to duration and to distance. The more it is separated from this world, the more it is separated from what conditions absence, occultation, darkness, unconsciousness, the more it is also freed from “being for death.” The more intense the degree of Presence, the more intense also the act of existing, and so also from that point does this existence exist for “beyond death.” Being, as Presence, is not a presence ever more and more involved in this world because it has shut itself off from access to the hierarchy of worlds; it is a presence to all worlds beyond death. The whole of Mulla Sadrâ’s philosophy of the resurrection makes this fundamental intuition explicit.”

Henry Corbin, “The Force of Traditional Philosophy in Iran Today”, Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 2, No.1.

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