Ontological Arguments of Mental Existence in Islamic Philosophy: A Critical Examination



From Avicenna's era up to now, various arguments have been presented for the mental existence (al-wujud al-zihni), the most important of which are ten. These arguments don't have the same purpose: some of them are used only to reject the theory of relation (al-idafah), and some engage to refute the theory of phantoms (al-ashbah). Considering critically the ten arguments, this article tries to show: (a) proving the mental existence for the mediate knowledge (al-‘ilm al-huSuli) is possible only through an extending premise; (b) two arguments, i.e. the argument through assertion about non-existents (al-hukm ‘ala al-ma‘dumat) and the one through factual propositions (al-qadaya al-haqiqiyyah), are sound only if they are based on the argument through ideating non-existents (taSawwur al-ma‘dumat); (c) the proofs of mental existence are mostly examples for the argument through ideating non-existents; (d) among the ten arguments, only two, i.e. the argument through ideating non-existents and the one through misperception, are able to prove the mental existence, and the others are not sound.