Safavid philosopher Mir Damad distinguishes between three kinds of 'worlds':

  • Sarmadi is the eternal world, the space for God.
  • Zamani is the temporal world, the space for created things like humans.
  • Dahri is the atemporal, which seems to kind of in between the other two.

The "philosophy of time" section of Mir Damad's entry here tries to explain these three worlds and how they are related. It says dahri, the atemporal world, is the space for the pure archetypes (al-mujarradat), and that:

Every inferior stage, such as zaman, is in actual state of non-being to its superior state, in this case dahr. The real existence of the superior stage is identical to the actual non-being of the inferior stage. Reversing the order, the accidental defectiveness of the inferior stage - zaman to dahr, or dahr to sarmad - is not present in the superior stage.

Perhaps the temporal and eternal worlds are easy to understand because of the obvious example, but I'm having difficulties understanding the atemporal world.

Is there an easier way to explain this? What exists there and how is it related to the other two worlds? And how is introducing this world, in addition to the other two, useful?

  • 1
    Damad follows Avicenna here (as in many other places), who follows Plotinus. The model for the atemporal world is Plato's realm of Ideas, which Plotinus and Avicenna later identified with the Divine Intellect. For all of them Ideas/archetypes (unchanging-to-changing) mediate between the transcendent Deity (unchanging-to-unchanging) and the temporal world (changing-to-changing). Their "real" existence, as pure prototypes for sensible things, excludes the individuality of the latter, but their multiplicity is itself excluded in the transcendent unity of Allah. – Conifold Dec 13 '16 at 4:46

Some aspects of divinity are implicit in the concept and form of God himself. Those aspects are properly eternal. They logically precede even the idea of time.

But for other theistic idealists, there are ground-rules of existence more specific than those. Late idealists notion of divinely mandated Laws of Physics, Aristotle's 'Form and Purpose' or Plato's Ideas are atemporal, unaffected by time, yet they are created as an emanation of God, not predetermined by his form, so they do not apply to limit God himself.

This expresses the 'Cartesian version' of omnipotence: God is unlimited not only by time and matter as it is actually, but by the forms and ideals themselves that shape what is and is not possible in reality, as those could have been made different than they are.

These principles give time its form and effect, though they are unchanged by it. So although not subject to time, they do not apply outside time to limit God himself. They are not temporal, but they are not eternal.

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