Many Islamic philosophers and scholars of Islamic Philosophy consider Mulla Sadra's (1572- 1641) philosophy to be a synthesis of principles and doctrines drawn from revelation (wahy), gnosis or illuminative knowledge ('irfan/ma'rifah) and discursive philosophy (al-hikmah al- bathiyyah). This book investigates whether there is such a synthesis in Mulla Sadra's philosophy, how this synthesis is effected and finally whether it is successful. The examination and demonstration of Mulla Sadra's synthesising method is mainly based on his book al-Hikmah al-'arshiyyah or Wisdom from the Divine Throne. The book bases the evaluation of his success on the internal coherence of his ideas, their conformity to Islamic religious teachings and their impact on the Islamic thinkers after him. The question of reconciling and synthesising the three sources of knowledge to create a coherent and articulate philosophical perspective is of great import and significance not only in Islamic philosophy but also in the field of philosophical enquiry generally.
His method of dealing with these three sources of knowledge discloses new insights, brings new understanding and suggests a new manner of approaching them. Although, both Islamic and western Philosophy share a common heritage in ancient Greek philosophy, they have taken diverse courses of development since the European Middle Ages. This divergence is due in part to their radically different treatments of the fundamental sources of knowledge available to man. In the west, especially since the Renaissance, reason and sense experience began to play an almost exclusive role in man's quest after true and certain knowledge. In the Islamic world, reason became more and more aligned with intellectual intuition and both were made subordinate to revelation. The examination of Mulla Sadra's synthesis discloses the epistemological orientation of a major Islamic philosopher who was a contemporary of Descartes. Thus, it offers a basis for the understanding of the diverse epistemological perspectives of the Islamic and Western philosophers since Ibn Rushd or Averroes in the twelfth century.