mbd_map 19: A Dedication homepage homepage forum lectures 1: A Word of Encouragement 2: Dar al-Hikma 3: Proclus' Elements 4: Reversion in the Corporeal 5: Mathematical Recursion 6: Episodic Memory 7: Mortality 7 Supplement: Classical Mortality Arguments 8: Personal Identity 9: Existential Passage 10: Precedent at Dar al-Hikma 10 Supplement: Images of Dar al-Hikma 11: Passage Types 12: A Metaphysical Grammar 13: Merger Probability 14: Ex Nihilo Probability 15: Noetic Reduction 16: Summary of Mathematical Results 17: Application to Other Species 18: Potential Benefits 19: A Dedication appendices works cited

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A Word of Encouragement


Dar al-Hikma


Proclus' Elements


Reversion in the Corporeal


Mathematical Recursion


Episodic Memory




Classical Mortality Arguments


Personal Identity
1   2   3   4  


Existential Passage
1   2   3  


Precedent at Dar al-Hikma


Images of Dar al-Hikma


Passage Types


A Metaphysical Grammar


Merger Probability


Ex Nihilo Probability


Noetic Reduction


Summary of Mathematical Results


Application to Other Species
1   2   3   4  


Potential Benefits


A Dedication


Works Cited

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Chapter 10
Precedent at Dar al-Hikma

Back in Chapter 2 we began the vignette of al-Kirmani and al-Akhram, only to set it aside for consideration at a later time.  Now I'd like to recall these two gentlemen and continue their interrupted history.  Both men contribute to Dar al-Hikma's precedent — its harbinger of Metaphysics by Default.

Looking first at al-Kirmani's contribution:
       Al-Kirmani was an orthodox Ismaili theologian.  His letter of warning to al-Akhram was typical of his attempts to herd radicals back into the fold of convenient orthodoxy.  As he scolded al-Akhram he bore down also upon the popular works of Abu Ya'qub al-Sijistani, a tenth-century Neoplatonic Ismaili philosopher.  Al-Kirmani's concern with al-Sijistani centered on the man's notion that the soul is "forgetful," in the Neoplatonic sense.[1]  Paul Walker illumines al-Sijistani's position:

The physical world is attractive and the lower preoccupations of the soul hold its attention.  Baser soul becomes enmeshed, enthralled, infatuated with the ephemeral effects in momentary pleasures and experiences.  The timeless stability of intellect seems less exciting by comparison.  As a result soul has a tendency to sink lower and lower, to plunge into material being and the physical world to its ultimate depths.  It then becomes forgetful of its spiritual origin.
       [Walker comments:]  Forgetting in soul implies that there was something to forget, something like a previous existence....[2]
Al-Kirmani was sensitive to a possible heresy in al-Sijistani's position.  Walker adds detail to that position, and recounts al-Kirmani's investigation:

Although al-Sijistani explicitly challenges and rejects transmigration in the extant material written by him, it is hard to confirm his exact view of this particular form of metempsychosis since the very concept of soul "forgetting" and "remembering" presupposes that is [sic] has an existence outside of the individual body to which it is temporarily attached.  Without question al-Sijistani recognizes in some manner the concept of soul "forgetting" her own world.  Does the soul therefore "remember" a previous existence?  Does it "forget" its bodily life once it separates from the sensations of physical being?  These are additional questions which might indicate the relationship between the soul in body and the soul once freed of body.
       The thirty-seventh iqlid of al-Maqalid asks the latter question in its title:  "That Soul when it Separates from the Body Does Any of its Knowledge Cease or Not?"  Al-Sijistani's answer is that temporal events and knowledge of them certainly do come to an end because soul once outside of body is not confined either by physical fact or temporal sequence.  The discrete facts of a corporeal life no longer possess significance; they cease to exist.  The implication is clear:  soul no longer remembers its individual, particular existence since it now participates in true, timeless knowledge which is mind itself.
       Al-Kirmani noted this problem in his Riyad and recorded his own unease with the ideas of al-Sijistani about soul's "forgetting."  The implications he sees in this doctrine lead eventually to the objectionable doctrine of transmigration, but al-Kirmani goes on to exonerate al-Sijistani....[3]
What is most noteworthy in all this is the fact that al-Kirmani associated transmigration with al-Sijistani's philosophy of the soul's "forgetfulness."  He drew a connection between forgetfulness and transmigration; even though al-Sijistani did not, himself, teach transmigration.
       This connection has its parallel in Metaphysics by Default.  Back in Chapter 9 we saw how "mortal amnesia" leads to the concept of existential passage.  It is a prerequisite of the inference.  Should memory loss at the end of life be less than complete, existential passage would be effectively blocked.  But a complete mortal amnesia sets up conditions for passage.
       So al-Kirmani was right to isolate al-Sijistani's doctrine for careful scrutiny.  Then as now, forgetfulness opens the door to transmigration.
       But we should not infer that al-Kirmani was himself interested in exploring this fine point of transmigration philosophy.  Just the opposite:  his pronouncements on the subject were intended to be negative, prohibitory.  He could bind forgetfulness to transmigration with a thread of "guilt by association," and that sufficed for the purpose of his orthodox mission.

Al-Akhram is another story.  He and his supporters were keen to graft transmigration onto Muslim theology.  Neoplatonic philosophy aided their cause.[4]  Al-Kirmani was aware of this.  He may have refused to answer al-Akhram's question on the soul's nature for fear that a detailed response might give his opponent some advantage in the debate.  To be sure, al-Kirmani would have had little to gain by acquainting al-Akhram with other philosophies supportive of transmigration, such as al-Sijistani's forgetfulness theory.  That sort of intellectual matchmaking was not in al-Kirmani's charter.
       Al-Akhram died a year after his debate with al-Kirmani.[5]  Other leaders took al-Akhram's place in the radical movement, and they went on to canonize the movement's ideas as a formal religious philosophy.  That canon has been preserved.  It is now a sacred text of the Muehhideen[6]    Druze community.  The canon is comprised of one hundred and eleven epistles, a few of which discuss transmigration.[7]  Most of the canonical transmigration ideas are Neoplatonic — but the text harbors surprises.  I reprint extended quotations from Epistle 70 below, with a few notes at the end.  The quotations begin with a statement we've seen before, back in Chapter 2:

It is claimed that the soul was dropped into this world from without, without being apprised of any guilt attached to it....  I say that if this was done as an opportunity for the soul to be refined and purified then this world (earth) in God's justice should have been superior to the place of its regress and defilement.
       If it was dropped as retribution for some committed wrong, then this environment fits its guilt and further repentence [sic] and devotion become useless and superfluous for it has already been charged and condemned and is paying in hurt and penance and nothing can change its plight.  This environment is set aside, therefore, as an abode of the unclean and cannot be a temple for worship nor a medium for rehabilitation.
       If the preceding hypothesis holds and the soul was dropped on earth because of slip, error and sin then the soul will be here for good.  No one on earth can live free from error and sin and if error and sin brought the soul to earth the soul's multiplicity of errors and sins in this earthly life will be added reason to continue its residence hereon.  The soul will not, therefore, leave this world.
       If they admit that the soul thrived in this world and was cleansed and became educated after it was ignorant, then this world where it flourished must be superior to that in which she stumbled, was tainted and fell.
       I say what Reason spells out namely: that no honest and perceptive person can but admit that the soul has advanced from ignorance to knowledge in this world despite its errors and trespasses and has no reason whatsoever to abandon it and must perforce elect to stay in it and will return to it every time....[8]

The savants of old agreed that the soul reaches its highest stage of development in the midst of nature's environment.  Justice and reason would indicate that the soul, joined to the body in this world's atmosphere, is ideal for the soul and more creditable and nobler than if it were done after it leaves the body, for, joined to the body and ruling it, it dominates the world also and reigns by virtue of its own power and authority over this order of nature.  Whoever disagrees, let him come forward and show us what the soul has done independently and on its own after it has discarded its body [sic] garb.[9]

The soul does not act away from and apart of the human body.  If it did so, it could not talk and communicate and such act would come to naught.  Shaizary's opinion that the soul withdraws unto itself at dream-time and returns to tell what it had seen gives us no new insight.  It only reflects vaguely what we see in nature and in our natural lives through the senses and adds no new experience or knowledge.  The congenitally blind cannot conceive of natural images in his dreams for he never had sight to be cognizant of the form of those images.[10]
Given the time and place of authorship, those were fighting words.
       The Druze developed these bold metaphysical ideas with respect for Greek and Hellenistic precedents.  We can see something of their Greek inspiration by comparing their opinion on dreams with that of a revered Greek authority.  Their opinion, stated above, is reminiscent of Aristotle's own:

[A]s in a liquid, if one vehemently disturbs it, sometimes no reflected image appears, while at other times one appears, indeed, but utterly distorted, so as to seem quite unlike its original; while, when once the motion has ceased, the reflected images are clear and plain; in the same manner during sleep the phantasms, or residuary movements, which are based upon the sensory impressions, become sometimes quite obliterated by the above described motion when too violent; while at other times the sights are indeed seen, but confused and weird....[11]
It would be overreaching to claim Aristotelian authority for the Druze passage concerning dreams, but the similarity reminds us of the influence which Aristotle exerted at Dar al-Hikma.  We've seen in Chapter 2 that the chief Ismaili theologian, al-Kirmani, did himself prefer an Aristotelian version of soul to the Neoplatonic.  And I'd like to introduce one more palace Aristotelian,[12] a contemporary of al-Kirmani[13] and al-Akhram.  This Aristotelian was the scientist Abu Ali Mohammed ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haitham,    pre-eminent physicist and mathematician of the Fatimid empire.[14]
       Ibn al-Haitham's Optics textbook provides an informed theory of perception, quite advanced for its time in attention to experimental detail.  Here is T. J. De Boer's paraphrased translation of the theory.  Note the importance which ibn al-Haitham places upon the timing of perception, especially as it concerns the temporal operation of the nervous system.

In the "Optics" the psychological remarks on Seeing and on Sense-Perception in general — are of special interest for us.  Here he exerts himself to separate the individual Moments of the Perception, and to give prominence to the condition of Time as characterizing the whole process.
       Perception then is a compound process, arising out of (1) sensation, (2) comparison of several sensations or of the present sensation with the memory-image which has been gradually formed in the soul as a result of earlier sensations, and (3) recognition, in such fashion that we recognize the present percept as equivalent to the memory-image.  Comparison and recognition are not activities of the Senses, which merely receive impressions passively, but they devolve upon the Understanding as the faculty of judgment.  Ordinarily the whole process goes forward unconsciously or semi-consciously, and it is only through reflection that it is brought within our consciousness, and that the apparently simplex is separated into its component parts.
       The process of Perception is gone through very quickly.  The more practice a man has in this respect, and the oftener a perception is repeated, the more firmly is the memory-image stamped upon the soul, and the more rapidly is recognition or perception effected.  The cause of this is that the new sensation is supplemented by the image which is already present in the soul.  One might thus be disposed to think that Perception was an instantaneous act, at least after long practice.  That, however, would be erroneous, for not only is every sensation attended by a corresponding change localized in the sense-organ, which demands a certain time, but also, between the stimulation of the organ and the consciousness of the perception an interval of time must elapse, corresponding to the transmission of the stimulus for some distance along the nerves.  That it needs time, for example, to perceive a colour, is proved by the rotating circle of colours, which shows us merely a mixed colour, because on account of the rapid movement we have no time to perceive the individual colours.[15]

While developing Metaphysics by Default, I have sometimes wondered whether the Fatimid philosophers at Dar al-Hikma might have guessed at existential passage before, back during the eleventh-century reign of al-Hakim.  It remains a possibility.  To see just how close they came we may consider, as a unit, four ideas which were popular at the palace and subject to vitriolic debate by 1017.  These four ideas were:

  1. Ibn al-Haitham's theory of perception, in which all perceived sensation was understood to depend upon temporal nervous activity.
  2. Al-Sijistani's theory of the soul's "forgetfulness."
  3. The Druze' Aristotelian opinion that "the soul does not act away from and apart of the human body."
  4. The Neoplatonic tradition of transmigration philosophy.
We can imagine a hypothetical scenario, as a historical fancy:
       What if al-Hakim's reign had prospered through the eleventh century,[16] and palace scholarship continued undisturbed for a few generations?  Had this happened, proponents of these four ideas might have synthesized from them a medieval version of existential passage.
       The historical circumstances place restrictions on what such a philosophy could be.  To begin with, the axioms of a "medieval existential passage" would need to adhere to the four incipient ideas.  Also, since we're conjecturing an eleventh-century synthesis, any European Renaissance science is out-of-bounds.  Finally, we must deny our fancied medieval philosophers access to any definition of personal identity, as John Locke opened that field in 1694.
       Within these reasonable limits, the following synthesis may have been possible:

{an imagined synthesis — not a quotation}
       At death, temporal nervous activity ceases.  This quiescence liberates the soul; calming its excitations and releasing it from worldly preoccupations by means of a "forgetfulness of perception."  Divinely afflicted, the soul is entranced within the timeless stability of intellect and is unable to perceive sensation or the flow of time.  This condition persists until Universal Soul transmigrates the individual soul to another human body.  Thereafter the new body's nervous system transmits perception of time and sensation to the soul again, lowering it from forgetfulness and into new life.
Such a development of Ismaili thought, had it occurred, would have drawn the radicals' transmigration mechanism closer to the existential passage of Metaphysics by Default.  It would have made a good "transitional" philosophy:  a link in the conceptual chain which leads from the four incipient ideas to Metaphysics by Default proper.
       But I should repeat for the sake of absolute clarity:  this did not happen.  No such transitional text has ever been found, nor have we reason to expect any such text will be found.  I've only presented the imagined synthesis as an exercise of the historical imagination.  It's one path Ismaili philosophers could have followed, in theory, but did not follow in actual fact.
       The ashen Hills of Books blocked their way.

That being said, I'll quote one more Middle Eastern author before moving on.
       In the sixteenth century the Druze sheikh Abdul Ghaffar wrote a book of philosophy entitled Points and Circles (Al-Nuqat wal-Dawayer).[17]     It is respected even today by Druze authorities.[18]
       In this book Sheikh Abdul Ghaffar presents a blunt argument against "past life recall," or mere "talk," as Druze elders denoted it.  He emphasizes the body's supposed psychological functions, and he posits a transmigration event which occurs instantaneously over any distance.  It's a philosophy which confounds expectation — by threading together all four of the metaphysical ideas which were incipient at Dar al-Hikma.
        Here is the relevant passage from Abdul Ghaffar's Points and Circles:

The talking Spirit cannot remember save through the physical memory.  It cannot think save through the brain in the body.  It cannot differentiate except through the distinguishing power resident in the body.  It cannot memorize except through the memorizing organ in the body.  Distances don't matter to it when it leaves (at death) one body for another, with no lapse in time in the process....
       The Spirit while resident in the body, participates in all its activities.  When it departs, it loses all factual material it had acquired in it.
       The spiritual advances the higher Spirit has gained, however, are retained....
       And it remains true and worth repeating that 'In this earthly life, souls do not know their past.'[19]
Here, in this one passage, Abdul Ghaffar appears to have synthesized, or at least syncretized, transmigration concepts which bear a striking resemblance to mortal amnesia and existential passage.  For Abdul Ghaffar, forgetfulness is complete at the end of life, and transmigration occurs instantaneously, irrespective of distance.  The only notable discrepancy in Abdul Ghaffar's formulation is his appended assertion concerning "spiritual advances":  a discrepancy not entirely without remedy.[20]  Elsewhere Abdul Ghaffar's parsimonious deductions elicit our wonder, being as they are so suggestive of Metaphysics by Default — and so retrograde to the expansive religious traditions of his age.
       Regrettably, Abdul Ghaffar quickly abandons his intriguing hint at the modern thesis, veering back into Neoplatonism in accordance with the established Druze canon.[21]  To put his aversion in perspective:  under Ismaili Neoplatonic schemes, Universal Soul orchestrates passage to the afterlife according to rules of justice and emanationism.[22]  These rules are unrelated to any physical account of the soul's operation.  They hearken back to Plotinus' hypostases,[23] which have no physical properties to speak of.
       The Druze are an independent branch of the Ismaili zeitgeist.  This sect has maintained its Neoplatonic transmigration tradition into the present day.  To Neoplatonists like the Druze, the passage executive — Universal Soul — remains an incorporeal psychological entity (Sheikh Abdul Ghaffar's suggestive text notwithstanding).  It seems never to have occurred to the Druze, or to anyone, that Universal Soul might best be understood not as an incorporeal, but as a corporeal and therefore ubiquitous psychology; i.e., subjectivity.  For this reason existential passage, being premised on corporeal psychological entities exclusively, is incompatible with Neoplatonic transmigration tradition — just because Neoplatonism, as conventionally formulated, is ever premised on incorporeal soul.   So, historically, it stands to reason that this incompatibility would have prevented Muslim Neoplatonists from embracing even the "medieval" existential passage I floated in the historical fancy.  That speculation, like Abdul Ghaffar's real venture, draws more attention to corporeal limits than Neoplatonists would like.
       It would be heartening to learn of philosophers from the past who've ventured closer to Metaphysics by Default.  It seems however that none have done so.  My own review[24] of the history of philosophy has turned up no better precedent than the abortive effort at Dar al-Hikma.  I'm glad at least to have been able to present that unique and surprising history.  I hope it has been of some interest to the reader.
       For further reading I include a few references on related subjects:

  • Islamic Hellenism and Fatimid scholarship[25]
  • the caliphate of al-Hakim[26]
  • Fatimid Cairo[27]
  • the origin of the Druze[28]
Also I've assembled some images of Dar al-Hikma and Old Cairo on a supplementary page, here.

Significant Addendum — August 2004

No better precedent has yet fluttered down from the history stacks, but a contemporary philosopher has recently surprised me with a paper entitled, Death, Nothingness, and Subjectivity. In this paper philosopher and naturalist Thomas W. Clark argues for a novel metaphysical concept: "generic subjective continuity".  As it happens, this concept proves to be functionally identical to existential passage.  More surprisingly, we find upon close examination that Mr. Clark's argument for generic subjective continuity parallels my initial argument for existential passage (Chapter 9) at all the critical points.  Readers who've grasped my argument will find little difficulty in translating between Chapter 9 and Mr. Clark's admirable paper.
       For me, this has been a development more heartening than the discovery of historical precedent.  Precedent is agreement among the dead.  This is agreement among the living.
       Mr. Clark has generously offered a summary comparison of existential passage and generic subjective continuity.  I reproduce his statement below:

In a wonderfully written monograph (a book, really), "Metaphysics By Default," Wayne Stewart presents an independently developed thesis directly parallel to my argument in "Death, Nothingness, and Subjectivity" (DNS).  Without having encountered my paper, Mr. Stewart uses very much the same thought experiment to support the intuition of generic subjective continuity, what he calls "existential passage" (see in particular Chapter 9).  The passage across birth and death, as he describes it, is "a shift of perceived existential 'moment,' a natural relocation of the awareness of existence."  This seems very close to the idea in DNS that what we should anticipate at death is the continuing "sense of always having been present."
        I'm happy to report that Stewart's thesis, like mine, is entirely physicalistic, in that the basis for consciousness and subjectivity is taken to be the brain (more generally, a suitably enhanced central nervous system), so that nothing is literally carried over between subjects.  Yet subjectivity continues across objective gaps between physically instantiated subjects, and this is a psychologically important fact for us.
        Needless to say, it was very gratifying to learn of Mr. Stewart's work, which I highly recommend to your attention.

— Thomas W. Clark, August 23, 2004

This completes our recovery of the historical precedent for Metaphysics by Default — precedent now augmented by Mr. Clark's coincident paper.
        (And that's not all.  Recently correspondents have brought to my attention some existential-passage reasoning in the papers of three other writers: William Spaulding, David Darling and Mark Sharlow.  See endnote [29] for details.)
        In our mind's eye this philosophical amity can fit in place as the second of five stepping stones strewn across the river Lethe.  In subsequent chapters we will uncover properties of the metaphysics which distinguish it from historical transmigration philosophies.  We can imagine these distinguishing properties as the three stepping stones yet separating us from the living world that waits beyond the river.

next    Chapter 11:  Passage Types

see also    Chapter 10 Supplement:  Images of Dar al-Hikma

Chapter 10 Endnotes

[1] Al-Sijistani's philosophy of forgetfulness appears to elaborate on Plato's own vision, a vision which was integral to Plato's transmigration philosophy.  Quoting from Plato, "Phaedrus," The Works of Plato, trans. B. Jowett (New York: The Dial Press, n.d.) 406, 408.  Available online:
"[W]hen [the soul]... fails to behold the vision of truth, and through some ill-hap sinks beneath the double load of forgetfulness and vice, and her feathers fall from her and she drops to earth, then the law ordains that this soul shall in the first generation pass, not into that of any other animal, but only of man....
       ...[A]ll men do not easily recall the things of the other world; they may have seen them for a short time only, or they may have been unfortunate when they fell to earth, and may have lost the memory of the holy things which they saw there through some evil and corrupting association.  Few there are who retain the remembrance of them sufficiently...."
[2] Paul E. Walker, Abu Ya'qub al-Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary (London: I.B. Tauris, 1996) 43.
[3] Paul E. Walker, Early Philosophical Shiism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) 99.
[4] For historical notes on the transmigration beliefs of some early eleventh-century Ismaili extremists, see Abu-Izzeddin 116-17. See also Bryer 52.2 (1975): 245, 247; and 53.1 (1976): 10.  For translations of several eleventh-century Druze epistles concerning reincarnation, see al-Najjar 87-107.
[5] Al-Akhram was put to death after accidentally sparking a riot.  The riot arose when al-Akhram tried to divinize the caliph in public.  This event is only distantly related to the philosophical issues discussed in the essay.  See Bryer 52:1 (1975): 63-83.
[6] The noun is "Muehhidun," which translates as "Unitarians," or "believers in absolute monotheism."
[7] Primarily Epistles 15, 57, and 66-71. A few passages from this text are translated to English in al-Najjar 106-07.
[8] from Epistle 70 of the Druze canon, by Baha' al-Din; al-Najjar 97.
[9] from Epistle 70 of the Druze canon, by Baha' al-Din; al-Najjar 99.
[10] from Epistle 70 of the Druze canon, by Baha' al-Din; al-Najjar 105-06.
[11] Aristotle, "On Dreams," Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon (New York: Random House, 1941) 622-23, Chapter 3, 461a 14-22.
[12] T. J. De Boer, The History of Philosophy in Islam, trans. Edward R. Jones (New Delhi: Cosmo Publications, 1983) 150. Quoting:
"In [ibn al-Haitham's] view philosophy should be the basis of all the sciences.  He found it in the writings of Aristotle, inasmuch as that sage had best understood how to knit sense-perception into a coherent whole with rational knowledge.  With eagerness therefore he studied and illustrated Aristotle's works, for the use and profit of mankind, as well as to exercise his own intellect and provide a treasure and consolation for his old age.  Of these labours, however, nothing seems to have been preserved for us."
[13] No particular correspondence between al-Kirmani and ibn al-Haitham has survived or is known to have existed.  But as these men were the most famous academics at the palace, they most likely encountered each other frequently at Dar al-Hikma, and at meetings with Caliph al-Hakim.
[14] Ali 318-20.
[15] De Boer 151-52.
[16] Caliph al-Hakim disappeared in A.D. 1021 ( 412 A.H.) at the age of 36, under mysterious circumstances.  See Assaad 182-92 for possible explanations of the disappearance.
[17] Sheikh Zeiniddin Abdul Ghaffar, Al-Nuqat wal-Dawayer (Points and Circles), (Lebanon: Al-Maktabah, 1999). Reprint of original, 1557.  Reprint available [in Arabic] through al-Maktabah (alMaktabah.com), P.O. Box 1998, Beirut 11, Lebanon.
[18] Verified by this author on-site among the Druze communities of Lebanon; February, 1999.
[19] Al-Najjar 106-07.  Arabic quotation from Abdul Ghaffar 117-20.
[20] Metaphysics by Default does not posit a personal mechanism for retention of such advances, or any other qualities, between lives.  (For a consideration of the broader difficulties of karma doctrines, see Chapter 11, note 1.)  The concept of "spiritual advancement" is not, however, exclusively personal.  It has an impersonal aspect as well.  To illustrate:  When an author pens some insight on the human condition, that act commits the author's personal spiritual advancement to an impersonal medium.  And when a reader grasps the author's meaning, the impersonal record then enters into the reader's personal thoughts.  Thus the spiritual advancement is transmitted:  impersonally, but nonetheless effectively.  (Of course, any noble text can prove this assertion.  One volume which I feel deserves special mention is Adler and Van Doren's Great Treasury of Western Thought.  It's an inspired compendium.  The selections truly constitute a treasury of spiritual advances transmitted to us from our predecessors.  I recommend the work highly.)
[21] Points and Circles has 38 chapters.  Chapters 3, 4, 5, 10, 28, 34 and 37 are arguably Neoplatonic.  Other chapters address morality, the relation of body to soul, the duality of good and evil, and divine justice.
[22] See Paul E. Walker, "The Universal Soul and the Particular Soul in Ismaili Neoplatonism," Neoplatonism and Islamic Thought, ed. Parviz Morewedge (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992) 149-66.
[23] The hypostases are defined in the Enneads of Plotinus. See Plotinus, "Enneads," The Essential Plotinus, trans. Elmer O'Brien, 2nd edition (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1986) 90-105, (V, 1 [10]).  Available online.
[24] Detailed analyses of a wide range of potential precedents can be found in Lawrence E. Sullivan, ed., Death, Afterlife, and the Soul (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1989); E. S. P. Haynes, The Belief in Personal Immortality, 2nd edition, revised (London: Grand Richards, 1925); Ernest G. Braham, The Problem of the Self and Immortality: An Estimate and Criticism of the Subject from Descartes to Kant; Ernest G. Braham, Personality and Immortality in Post-Kantian Thought; Steven J. Kaplan, ed., Concepts of Transmigration: Perspectives on Reincarnation (Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995); Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston, eds., Reincarnation in World Thought (New York: Causeway Books, published by arrangement with the Julian Press, ca. 1967).
[25] Franz Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage in Islam (London: Routledge, 1994); Parviz Morewedge, ed. Neoplatonism and Islamic Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992); F. E. Peters, Aristotle and the Arabs: The Aristotelian Tradition in Islam (New York: New York University Press, 1968); De Boer, The History of Philosophy in Islam; Heinz Halm, The Fatimids and their Traditions of Learning.
[26] Assaad, The Reign of Al-Hakim Bi Amr Allah.  It is unfortunate that many medieval histories embellish stories of the Fatimid era with secondhand references and politically-motivated slanders.  Dr. Assaad's meticulous reconstruction of al-Hakim's era is an exemplary treatment of difficult source materials.
[27] Yaacov Lev, The State and Society in Fatimid Egypt (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1991); Paula Sanders, Ritual, Politics, and the City in Fatimid Cairo (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994).
[28] Marshall G. S. Hodgson, "Al-Darazi and Hamza in the Origin of the Druze Religion," Journal of the American Oriental Society 82 (1962): 5-20; Abu-Izzeddin, The Druzes; Bryer, 52.2 (1975): 47-83, 52.2 (1975): 239-62, and 53.1 (1976): 5-27.  See also: Encyclopaedia Britannica article on the Druze.
[29] Each author has given independent reasoning for existential passage, or similar concept.  William C. Spaulding gives his reasoning in his 1982 paper, The Creation of I's.  Thomas W. Clark gives his reasoning in his 1994 paper, Death, Nothingness, and Subjectivity.  David Darling gives his reasoning in his 1996 book, Zen Physics (Chapter 8: 'You Again').  Mark F. Sharlow gives his reasoning in his 2009 paper, Why Science Cannot Disprove the Afterlife.  I came across Clark's paper in 2004; my thanks to the correspondents who've subsequently brought the papers of Spaulding, Darling and Sharlow to my attention.
Copyright © 1999

Wayne Stewart
Last update 4/19/11