A1 Journal article (refereed)
The Possibility of the Nobler (imkān al-ashraf) in Ṣadrā’s Philosophy and Its Historical Origins (2022)

Erdt, A. (2022). The Possibility of the Nobler (imkān al-ashraf) in Ṣadrā’s Philosophy and Its Historical Origins. Oriens, 50(1-2), 173-205. https://doi.org/10.1163/18778372-12340011

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Erdt, Agnieszka

Journal or series: Oriens

ISSN: 0078-6527

eISSN: 1877-8372

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 06/05/2022

Volume: 50

Issue number: 1-2

Pages range: 173-205

Publisher: Brill

Publication country: Netherlands

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/18778372-12340011

Publication open access: Other way freely accessible online

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel


The principle known as the possibility of the nobler (qāʿidat imkān al-ashraf) is arguably one of the most often employed principles in later Islamic philosophy. In its standard formulation it states that if something baser exists, a nobler thing must have existed prior to it. A similar argument from the degrees of perfections has had a long career in the history of Western philosophy as well, with its beginnings reaching Stoicism. In Christian theology and philosophy it serves most importantly as a proof for the existence of God in the so-called henological argument of Aquinas. In Islamic philosophy it directly derives from the ex uno non fit nisi unum principle. Since the formulation of its standard version by al-Suhrawardī, the validity of the principle has been conditioned on that it is only applicable to the intelligible beings, hence its main objective is to offer a proof for the existence of the intellects. The article analyzes the application of the principle in Ṣadrā’s philosophy and enquires about its historical roots.

Keywords: Islam; theology; philosophical theology; Aristotelianism; ontology (philosophy); existence; God

Free keywords: Ṣadrā; al-Suhrawardī; possibility of the nobler; imkān al-ashraf; Theologia Aristotelis

Fields of science:

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2023-01-03 at 10:02