Sunday, December 17, 2006

The idea of "world"

[Mulla] Sadra responds to the argument that paradise and hell cannot be located in this world with an admirable analysis of the very notion of "world." The idea of "world" is the idea of an absolute totality, such that there is nothing external to it. Consequently, a "world" has no place. Understood correctly, the "world" is perfect and complete in itself and, consequently, has neither a "where" nor a "place." On this point, he says, Aristotle is right. From this it follows that it is absurb to ask where hell is or where paradise is. They form a world in and of themselves and are not "parts" of this world; they constitute "the land of the otherworld." This land is the land of the soul; and it is in the world of the soul that the torments of hell and the joys of paradise take place--physical torments and sensible joys that occur through the intermediary of the senses of the soul, that is, through the sensibility internal to the soul. These sensations are infinitely more intense than what we feel with our physical bodies, and that is the truth of the Qur'anic promises and the divine warnings. At stake in moral life is something that ordinary people understand very well and that philosophy must take into account: the soul's eternal suffering or permanent enjoyment [*jouissance*], in the singular mode of its "resurrection."
--Christian Jambet's *The Act of Being*