Here is the English abstract of Dr. Mohammad Reza Qaemeinik's (Faculty Member, Razavi University Of Islamic Sciences, Iran) speech at the second series of scientific lectures of the international conference on Theology of Pilgrimage titled "Theology of Pilgrimage and Social Sciences" which was held online on July 16, 2023.
The Status of Disjunctive and Conjunctive Imagination in Pilgrimage Communications from Shia Perspective
A review of Western philosophical theories of communication, such as those of Gadamer, Bakhtin, and Habermas, shows that social communications are shaped by cultural hermeneutics and the faculty of imagination. However, by imagination, they meant an unreal realm and–as Corbin called it- a kind of “fantasy” in which the human soul, under the influence of phenomenological forms, creates imaginary images. Therefore, communications based on these theories imply a kind of cultural relativism that denies any truth beyond the world of human communications. In contrast, imagination, according to Muslim philosophers and thinkers such as Ibn Arabi, Suhrawardi, and Mulla Sadra, is seen as a realm of real affairs and connected to the intermediate world (the world of Barzakh). This article will discuss the distinction between the Western and Islamic meanings of the faculty of imagination, with a focus on Muslim philosophers, especially Mulla Sadra. I believe that the faculty of imagination for Western thinkers is equivalent to the "disjunctive imagination" in the view of Mulla Sadra, which, of course, is distinct from the "conjunctive imagination" which has no place in Western theories. Relying on Corbin's analysis of the faculty of imagination and its equivalents such as the Eighth Climate, Jābulqā and Jābulsā worlds, and the intermediate world, I will discuss the relationship between this realm and the position of the infallible Imams in Shia thought. Since the concept of pilgrimage in Shia thought is related to the visitation of infallible Imams, it seems that in pilgrimage, the human soul distances itself from the attachments of the material world and becomes ready for visiting the Imams and receiving the conjunctive imagination forms. According to Mulla Sadra's explanation of the union of the disjunctive and conjunctive Imagination, pilgrims establish such a union with the infallible Imams during the pilgrimage, and it becomes a form of authentic and meaningful human communication. Contrary to Western theories of communication, this way of activating the faculty of imagination will not fall into the trap of cultural relativism. In this perspective, pilgrims, based on their common understanding of the truth of the Imam, communicate with each other beyond linguistic, ethnic, tribal, racial, and other materialistic limitations of the world.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi