The Existential Discourse Completes Its Traditional Counterpart

Mehdi Abbaszadeh, the member of Epistemology Faculty of the Research Institute for Islamic Culture and Thought, saying that although a big part of the new science of discourse deals with the religious anthropology, the existential discourse is still needed, explained, “The theological view on the man is different from the religious approach to him, though there are some considerable items shared by them both”.


Mehdi Abbaszadeh, as the presenter of the discussion on the “Existential Discourse” was held by the Scientific Centre of the Philosophy of the Religion, together with the Discourse Research Centre, explained the existential discourse and said, “Elaboration on the existence, attributes and conducts of Heaven and other religious beliefs, given the existential and other extra attributes of the man, form the existential discourse.”


Saying that the science of discourse (generally), in terms of its associations with the human or setting the man its audience, falls into two categories of “Metaphysical Discourse” and “Existential Discourse”, he maintained, “The metaphysical discourse deals with the attributes and conducts of Heaven, it seeks to elaborate on, prove and defend the religious beliefs using the theoretical ration, and to this end, it is possible to base its concepts on the Quran and the tradition.”


He stated, “The metaphysical discourse addresses the man, but considers him irrespective of his daily routine activities and concerns. The audience of this discourse is the man in abstract terms; as a substantial part of the metaphysical philosophy considers the man nothing more than a speaking animal. Thereby, this type of discourse can be regarded as the “a priori discourse”, i.e., this science studies the man prior to dealing with his/her existential concerns.”


Saying that the spatial and temporal situation of the man is not important in this type of discourse, Abbaszadeh stated, “This type of this discourse is not focused on a man bounded within time or space; yet, overall, it deals with the man as the man, it seeks to explain and prove the belief issues through logical and mathematical methods and defend them against the theoretical attacks and intellectual doubts.”


The faculty member of the Research Institute for Islamic Culture and Thought continued, “In Islam and Christianity, “Discourse or the Modern Theology” has attempted to attend to the present belief needs of the man, however, it seems that the man addressed by this science is a general man and not an individual one present in a specific place or time. The new science of discourse appears to be still focused on the plans appertaining to the new belief requirements of the general man. However, concerning the daily needs, the new discourse acts similar to what jurisprudence (Fiqh) does towards the new occurring issues, therefore, in its turn, it is required and useful, but not sufficient.”


Saying that although a big part of the new science of discourse deals with the religious anthropology, the existential discourse is still needed, the research deputy of the Islamic Research Institute for Culture and Thought explained, “ Theological view on the man is different from the religious approach to him, though there are some considerable data-x-items shared by them both.”


Saying that the existential discourse deals with the concrete man and addresses the man who is experiencing different troubles, together with individual and collective issues, he named this science the “the Posteriori Discourse”. This title means that this science examines the man following the analysis of his existential concerns. The existential discourse is a highly significant type of the posteriori discourse. In West, there are different types of posteriori theologies, such as cultural, sexual, black theologies and etc.”


Dr. Abbaszadeh emphasized, “The audience of this discourse is a “human being”, and each human being is different from others in terms of his existence and existential attributes, and at each point, he creates a new essence making choices and doing actions. Each person has his own specific experiences and lives in a specific culture. According to Heidegger, the basic definition of the human being is “Being present in the world”.”


He added, “The existential discourse doesn’t negate its metaphysical counterpart; yet, it seeks to complete the concrete man proportionate to his status, fill the likely gaps and update its language the most. Rather than using the traditional language used by the metaphysical discourse, this type of discourse employs the language of the time. The existential discourse endeavours to attend to these specificities, it employs the language proper for this man and updates the discourse; it seems highly unlikely for such a man to understand the traditional discourse properly or at least communicate to it appropriately.”


Dr. Mehdi Abbaszadeh, saying that Western existentialist philosophers considered some specific existential characteristics for the man and derive some specific meaning from such attributes, maintained, “Issues such as existence, originality, transcendence, participation, confrontation, openness, possibility, facticity, fall, worry, humdrum routines, awareness of dying and etc., some of these characteristics are dealt with by the Quran and (the Islamic) Tradition differently; as some

Islamic philosophical works, such as symbolic stories of Ibn Sina and Sohrevardi (Sheikh Ishraqi), works of Mulla Sadra and etc. cover some of these topics and discussions. Using these existential characteristics, the existential discourse attempts to provide a new definition/description for the meaning of Heaven and religious beliefs.”


The author of the book “Existence Theology”, providing an example for the existential definition of some religious concepts, stated, “ Concerning the creation of the man of soil and the breeze of the soul, it is likely that by the soil, the facticity (the compulsory predestined dimensions) and by the breeze of the soul, the possibility and openness (optional and arbitrary aspects) are interpreted, or here, descending can be understood as the fall of the man to the mundane world and his distance from his original potentials of his life.”


Finally, dealing with some doubts and questions on the existential discourse, this researcher reviewed some defects mentioned for this science, including the inter-mentality, relativism, reduction and plurality.


Elaborating on the inter-mentality problem, he said, “It may be said that men don’t have a single and specific existential structure, therefore, a single specific existential and concrete characteristic can’t be considered for the man, and the inter-mentality problem of the existential discourse will be resolved if it is as mentioned.”


The faculty member of the Islamic Research Institute for Culture and Thought, dealing with this issue, said, “In accordance with some existentialist philosophers, despite considerable differences, men have some specific existential characteristics including existence, authenticity/originality, transcendence, participation, confrontation, openness, possibility, facticity and etc. In this case, the inter-mentality characteristic of the existential discourse, which is based on the mentioned existential characteristics, won’t be resolved.”


Abbaszadeh added, “(Overall), the science of discourse falls into two categories: Immutable and Mutable. Metaphysical discourse is the immutable part of the discourse, and the existential one is its mutable type. In this situation, both metaphysical and existential discourses will stand in their proper positions. Existential discourse doesn’t negate its metaphysical counterpart; yet, maintaining the latter, the former attempts to go further and reach a concrete view of the man.”


Spurning the relativism as a problem of this science, he said, “Issues such as experience and culture, principally, shouldn’t be regarded as the factors contributing to the formation of the (general) discourse. The bases of the discourse are ration, the Quran and Tradition, and the factor that influence it include experience and culture.”


Pointing to the essence of the culture, he said, “The general sense of the culture isn’t meant here, but, the present culture of residence in which the man lives is under the focus. The abstract aspect of the culture has no role in the existential discourse. What is effective in the existential discourse is solely the concrete culture. As this culture has played an effective part in the formation and development of discourse and theology in the first Islamic and Christian centuries, naturally, it has the potentials to play a highly influential part in the existential discourse.”


He stressed, “Besides, what is effective in the existential discourse is the public experiences and culture, and not the individual experiences and culture. In the existential discourse, what is important is the deciding factor or the core element shared by religious/mystical experiences and public culture of the present life of the man and the society.”


Saying that given the said points, what seems to be wrong with the existential discourse will be resolved, Abbaszadeh explicated, “In the Western world, Existentialist Theology was founded and developed in the 20th century; some contemporary Western theologians managed to complete the traditional Christian theology using the said types of theology, updating its language and making it more fathomable; however, the similar existentialist discourse has not yet been established in the world of Islam, and thus, elaboration and development of the existential discourse is a must that is supposed to be done through upgrading and making the Islamic discourse efficient.”


Saying that the elaboration and development of the existential discourse within the Islamic ideology need three fundamental steps, the author of the book the “Impact of Ibn Sina on Duns Scotus’s Philosophy” further noted, “The system or network of the existential concepts, mostly generated and used by the Western thinkers, can be completed; adaptation of the system or network of the existential concepts to the contents of the Quran and the Tradition has not reached a systematic and organised level; and these three steps are regarded as main parts of the system or network of the existential concepts in the Islamic discourse and its direction towards the discourse.”