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Sadr and the Theory of Sovereignty

The difficulties in Na’ini’s theory led the great Ayatullah Sadr to reconstruct the theory and revive Na’ini’s claim with a new argument. To develop his theory of sovereignty Sadr first mentions some premises:

First premise- Equal relation of act to existence and non-existence is a clear fact that no intuition or argument can disprove it. Every one of us clearly feels that after the completion of all prerequisites he still may or may not act. This is something that we understand clearly by our conscience and no argument can bring it into question.

Second premise- Necessity of prerequisites of an act leads to denial of free will and philosophers’ answers are not able to solve the problem. Their answers are just some linguistic rationalizations (such as saying that ikhtiyar means the agent’s consent or that the voluntary agent is the one that acts whenever he is willing and does not act whenever he is willing to do so) that cannot solve the conflict between reality of necessity and reality of ikhtiyar.

Third premise - The principle of causality is not demonstrated. So it cannot be said that it cannot have any exception, because it is rationally proved. This principle is indeed an intuitive and evident principle. To find the scope and extent of it we have to investigate its origins in our conscience.1

Based on the above premises, he argues that rationally any contingent being to come into existence needs an external factor. This factor can be either a cause that necessitate its existence or a voluntary agent that makes the act by his sovereignty. Having such an agent besides the act does rationally justify its existence. It is certain that the essential contingency does not suffice the existence of something. However, there might be something other than necessity that can preponderate the existence of a contingent being such as sovereignty.


1. Sadr, Mabahith al-dalil al-Lafzi , Vol. 2, p. 36 and handwritings of his lectures by Ayatullah Sayyid Kazim Ha’iri, P. 418.

Adapted from: "Casuality and Freedom" by: "Ayatullah Mohsen Araki"