​​​​​​​          Some Answered Questions 3:

                       A Philosophical Perspective


                                        by Ian Kluge 

Published in Lights of Irfan, Volume 10, 2009

 


40. Knowledge of Essences

One of `Abdu'l-Bahá’s most significant statements on epistemology concerns our knowledge of the essences of things. He says:

 Know that there are two kinds of knowledge: the knowledge of the essence of a thing and the knowledge of its qualities. The essence of a thing is known through its qualities;  otherwise, it is unknown and hidden.[273]

 

Aside from the fact that this statement confirms the existence of essences – thereby clearly making Bahá'í philosophy a type of essentialism – `Abdu'l-Bahá informs us that essences can be known. However, he clearly specifies that essences can only be known by means of their qualities or attributes and cannot be known immediately through direct insight. Indeed, “our knowledge of things, even of created and limited things, is knowledge of their qualities and not of their essence”[274] he announces, and repeats this theme when he says:

For example, the inner essence of the sun is unknown, but is understood by its qualities, which are heat and light. The inner essence of man is unknown and not evident, but by its qualities it is characterized and known. Thus everything is known by its qualities and not by its essence. Although the mind encompasses all things, and the outward beings are comprehended by it, nevertheless these beings with regard to their essence are unknown; they are only known with regard to their qualities.[275]

 

In passing, let us note again how this passage confirms the possibility of genuine knowledge about things, although it limits the means by which we may attain this knowledge. We can only know through the outer qualities or attributes, which can tell us some things about an object, but cannot tell us about its essence, its en-soi or ‘in-itself,’ from ‘within.’ In other words, we can only know things from the externalized signs of their interaction with us, which establishes specific limits on human knowledge. In the case of humans, we would say that our subjectivity is unknowable by others; all we can know are externalized attributes such as EEG graphs and verbal reports. Here is a limitation of human knowledge, including science: to paraphrase Schopenhauer, our scientific knowledge is phenomenal (of external attributes) and not noumenal (of essences).  

 

It is important to avoid assuming that any and all knowledge of essences is forbidden by `Abdu'l-Bahá. If this is what he meant, we would be trapped in a terrible conundrum because if qualities are not associated with an essence and cannot give us knowledge about the essence, what are they giving us knowledge about? Unattached qualities can’t give us knowledge about anything – which opens the door to radical scepticism and the impossibility of knowledge which in turn denies the teachings about progress in science, society and spirituality. How can we say we know about the sun if its qualities are not somehow connected with it? Thus, it would seem clear that `Abdu'l-Bahá is not setting the stage for such virulent scepticism. Rather, what he says is that our knowledge about the essence must come from its attributes i.e. by means of the attributes and not from direct insight or intuition. Furthermore, this knowledge is limited and cannot tell us everything about an object for the good ontological reason that every object always has a vast store of unactualised potentials. (See the section on the composition of beings.)

 


 Consequently, we conclude that SAQ does not absolutely disallow knowledge of essences but disallows any direct access to essences and requires use to gain our knowledge via the attributes and to recognise that such knowledge has inherent limits.  

 

41. Objective and Subjective Knowledge

 According to `Abdu'l-Bahá in SAQ, knowledge can be divided into two major categories, both of which differ essentially in kind and not merely in degree: subjective knowledge and objective knowledge i.e. “an intuitive knowledge and a knowledge derived from perception.”[276] In objective knowledge, which is “derived from perception” and belongs “universally”[277] (a essential species attribute) to all human beings:

by the power of the mind the conception of an object is formed, or from beholding an object the form is produced in the mirror of the heart. The circle of this knowledge is very limited because it depends upon effort and attainment.[278]

 

The reference to the impression of the form of a perceived object “in the mirror of the heart” agrees with the Athenian tradition (especially Aristotle and Plotinus) that perception concerns the form of things impressing themselves on the mind or heart. However, this knowledge is limited “because it depends on effort and attainment;” after all, our efforts suffer not only the perceptive limitations of our species but also our personal limitations. Such knowledge is external because it does not originate within the object of perception.

 

By way of contrast, the Manifestation knows subjectively or intuitively; this is “the knowledge of being, is intuitive; it is like the cognizance and consciousness that man has of himself.”[279] We, too, have subjective intuitive knowledge because “the spirit surrounds the body”[280] and is aware of the body’s conditions as well as of all the body parts. However, in human beings this capacity is limited to our own bodies; we cannot actually feel another’s pain, despite our best efforts at empathy. The spirit knows the body from within because it is in the higher ontological station of surrounding the body. The Manifestations attain knowledge of the world in the same way because He is on a higher ontological plane and spiritually surrounds all lower beings. 

 
Since the Sanctified Realities, the supreme Manifestations of God, surround the essence  and qualities of the creatures, transcend and contain existing realities and understand all   things, therefore, Their knowledge is divine knowledge, and not acquired--that is to say,             it is a holy bounty; it is a divine revelation.[281]

 

Such immediate and intuitive knowledge of created beings is necessary because:

unless He is aware of the realities of beings, will not comprehend the essential  connection which proceeds from the realities of things, and He will certainly not  be able to establish a religion conformable to the facts and suited to the conditions.[282]

 

Only immediate and intuitive knowledge of the Manifestation can understand things from within, can understand the essences or “realities of beings,” which means that unlike scientists or any other human beings, the Manifestation has access to the subjectivity of other beings. For this reason He is able to understand “the essential connections” which emanate from the essences or “realities of things.”

 

 Religion, then, is the necessary connection which emanates from the reality of things;  and as the supreme Manifestations of God are aware of the mysteries of  beings, therefore, They understand this essential connection, and by this  knowledge establish the  Law of God.[283]

 

This means that the religion established by the Manifestation is based on His immediate and intuitive knowledge of the essences or realities of beings and their “necessary connections.”  Because humankind does not and cannot possess subjective or intuitive knowledge of those realities and the connections between them, we must accept what the Manifestation establishes as “the Law of God.”

 

 From this situation it logically follows that humankind could not reasonably challenge the “Laws of God”: we lack the knowledge and insight to do so, nor will we ever be able to acquire such knowledge. Since we cannot possibly ever possess the necessary knowledge to base a challenge on the foundations of knowledge, it makes no sense to do so. The necessary and sufficient basis for any such challenge is missing. Indeed, it would make more sense for a five year old to challenge the judgment of an experienced physician (even a blind pig finds the occasional acorn)  than for humankind to challenge the “Laws of God” established by the Manifestation. Thus, any prohibition of challenging what the Manifestation establishes is not evidence of domination, suppression or latent totalitarianism but simply a rational outcome of the differing ontological and subsequent epistemological situations of the Manifestation and humankind.

 

42. Knowledge of God


 One of the foundational principles of Bahá'í epistemology is that the essence and attributes of God are unknowable to humankind.

 
 For the essence and the attributes of the Lord of Unity are in the heights of sanctity, and for the minds and understandings there is no way to approach that position. ‘The way is closed, and seeking is forbidden.’[284]

 

Previously in this paper, we have already seen the ontological reason why this is so:

“everything which is lower is powerless to comprehend the reality of that which is higher.”[285]


Although humankind is obviously on a lower ontological level than God and, therefore, barred from directly acquiring knowledge of Him, this does not mean that such knowledge is impossible to attain: 

But for this Essence of the essences, this Truth of truths, this Mystery of  mysteries, there  are reflections, auroras, appearances and resplendencies in the world of existence. The dawning-place of these splendors, the place of these reflections, and the appearance of          these manifestations are the Holy Dawning-places, the Universal Realities and the Divine   Beings, Who are the true mirrors of the sanctified Essence of God. All the perfections,  the bounties, the splendors which come from God are visible and evident in the Reality of the Holy Manifestations[286]

 

For this reason, “all that the human reality knows, discovers and understands of the names, the attributes and the perfections of God refer to these Holy Manifestations.”[287] Thus, “if man attains to the knowledge of the Manifestations of God, he will attain to the knowledge of God.[288]

 

 In light of these statements, it becomes clear that SAQ steers a middle course between an apophatic theology according to which all descriptions and conceptualizations of God and subsequent discussions are false and should be avoided because God’s essence is unknowable, and, on the other hand, an extreme natural theology which tries to deduce knowledge of God’s essence and attributes by humankind’s natural powers without divine revelation through the Manifestation. SAQ’s position seems to be that correct reasoning about God and His attributes is possible – but it must be based on and checked against what the Manifestation reveals. Furthermore, we must remember that what the Manifestation reveals is a limited and adapted not only to our human capacities but also to what is comprehensible and practical in our particular cultural-spiritual milieu. We may know about God but only indirectly, in a mediated manner, and in a manner consistent with our human, personal and cultural capacity.  

 

 Of course, such limitations do not mean that the knowledge of God we obtain is incorrect. How could it be if it comes from the Manifestation? Moreover, as shown before, ‘incomplete’ does not mean ‘incorrect.’ Therefore, it is apparent that we do indeed have knowledge of God, but it is knowledge that comes to us via a particular route – the Manifestation – and not by means of direct personal insight or by mystical experience of God or His attributes.

 

The fact that we do, in fact, receive correct knowledge about God from the Manifestation has an important consequence: it means that on the basis of what has been revealed about God’s attributes by the Manifestations, we can legitimately reason about the implications and meaning of these attributes for us. In other words, the denial of any direct knowledge of God’s essence or attributes does not foreclose reasonable dialogue on this subject though it does undercut dogmatic claims in any dialogue based on what the Manifestation reveals. It does not, of course, prohibit categorical rejection of claims that contradict what the Manifestation says not to mention any dismissal of God’s existence.

 

A final note in regard to the limitation of our knowledge by our specifically human capacity and our personal and cultural condition: this accords with one of the key principles of the Athenian tradition in philosophy, namely, that all knowledge is known according to the nature/essence and condition of the knower. Animals, for example, can only know through the senses whereas humans know through the senses as well as their rational capacities. This principle is implicitly present in the statement that “the differences of conditions in the world of beings is an obstacle to comprehension.”[289] Our place on the ontological scale of being determines what we can and cannot know. Agreement on this principle is another major connection between SAQ and the Athenian tradition.

 

43. God’s Knowledge

 In SAQ’s epistemology, God is “omniscient”[290] because, as we have seen, He surrounds all creation and, for that reason, has immediate access to all that can be known. The ontologically higher comprehends the lower, and the highest comprehends all. There can be no obstacles to God’s comprehension since anything that could be an obstacle would be something with the power to limit God and this is impossible: “God is powerful, omnipotent.”[291]  At this point, the differences between God’s knowledge and that of other beings can still be rationally explained in terms of the ontological schema established in SAQ. 

 

 However, SAQ also points to one fundamental difference between God’s knowledge and the knowledge of His creatures. For human beings to have knowledge requires that there be an object of knowledge, a tree, a person, an idea, a feeling – something which is present to a subject. According to SAQ, this is not the case with God Who, unlike other beings, does not need an object of knowledge:

 

The Prophets say, The Knowledge of God has no need of the existence of beings, but the knowledge of the creature needs the existence of things known; if the Knowledge of God had need of any other thing, then it would be the knowledge of the creature, and not that of God . . . The phenomenal knowledge [the knowledge of created beings]  has need  of things known; the Preexistent Knowledge is independent of their existence.[292]

 

To need objects of knowledge would be a sign of imperfection in God since that would put God in the position of needing something other than Himself. This would be an imperfection and would, in effect, make God’s knowledge contingent or dependent on something else – which is an impossibility because “sanctification from imperfections [] is one of His necessary properties.”[293] From divine perfection it follows logically that God’s knowledge cannot be dependent on anything else. However, if we attempt to understand this from a purely natural point of view we may appreciate why things must be this way but not how such knowledge can exist: “these divine and perfect attributes are not so understood by the intelligence that we can decide if the Divine Knowledge has need of things known or not.”[294] We are simply incapable of knowing how knowledge can exist independently of an object of knowledge present to a subject and, consequently, must accept what the Manifestation and His authorized and divinely guided interpreters tell us. Although the details of the belief itself cannot be explained to us, the foundation of the belief, namely, that God is necessarily independent of all things, is rational.

 

44. Mind

According to SAQ, mind is an essential attribute of the human spirit, i.e. a quality without which the human spirit could not be itself. In short, it is an aspect of the essence of the human spirit.

 

 the mind is the power of the human spirit. Spirit is the lamp; mind is the light which shines from the lamp. Spirit is the tree, and the mind is the fruit. Mind is the perfection of the spirit and is its essential quality, as the sun's rays are the essential necessity of the sun.[295]

 

`Abdu'l-Bahá also describes the mind as a “power,” or capacity to interact with the world in a certain way, i.e. to acquire knowledge and form judgments. In the metaphor of the mind as the fruit of the tree of the human spirit, as “the perfection of the spirit,” he indicates that mind is the ultimate purpose of spirit, its entelechy, that for which spirit exists. The same idea is conveyed by the metaphor of the mind as light from the lamp of the spirit; a lamp has no other reason to exist than the production of light. Moreover, light enables us to distinguish between things, and thereby establishes the basis of all knowledge. 

 

As we have had occasion to observe, the human mind because of its high ontological position, “encompasses all things”[296] at least outwardly or phenomenally. However, it cannot know their essences directly but only learn about them by way of their qualities. SAQ makes it clear that the mind can acquire truth and make something of these findings, though, of course, the mind also can deceive itself.

 

 The mind and the thought of man sometimes discover truths, and from this thought and discovery signs and results are produced. This thought has a foundation. But many things come to the mind of man which are like the waves of the sea of imaginations; they have no fruit, and no result comes from them.[297]

 

We can distinguish between mere imaginings and realities by the lack of results. SAQ therefore seems to adopt a pragmatic test to determine which discoveries are genuine knowledge and which are fantasies.

 

45. Mind is Not Brain

 Another attribute of the mind is that it is not subject to time and space: “Place and time surround the body, not the mind and spirit.”[298] Simply put, locality in space and time to do not apply to the mind; it is, to use a word from physics, ‘non-local.’ This allows “the spirit and mind of man [to] travel to all countries and regions--even through the limitless space of the heaven.”[299] Such freedom from material conditions is significant because it means that according to SAQ, mind cannot be identified with or reduced to brain since the latter is a purely material entity and mind is not. Unlike material beings, “mind itself is an intellectual thing which has no outward existence.”[300] The distinction between mind and brain is reinforced by the following statement:

Thus consider what thousands of vicissitudes can happen to the body of man, but  the spirit is not affected by them; it may even be that some members of the body are entirely crippled, but the essence of the mind remains and is everlasting.[301]

 

Like spirit, mind is independent of the body, though not, as we shall see, unconnected. The body cannot hinder the spirit in itself but it can hinder the expression of that spirit in the material world. The fact that the brain and spirit/mind are distinct and separable (at death) but not unconnected entities in this life suggests that the brain is only the material organ through which mind manifests temporarily in the material world.

 
Emphasising the difference between the mind and material objects, `Abdu'l-Bahá points   out that the mind is not involved in physical motion of any kind:

Moreover, entrance and exit, descent and ascent, are characteristics of bodies and  not of spirits--that is to say, sensible realities enter and come forth, but intellectual subtleties and mental realities, such as intelligence, love, knowledge, imagination  and thought, do not enter, nor come forth, nor descend, but rather they have direct  connection.[302]

 

In reading this, we must recall that the mind is a power of the human spirit and shares its essential attributes and, therefore, does not conform to the laws of material behavior. For this reason it would be fallacious to attempt to study the mind by scientific methods which have been specifically developed to study material entities and their behaviors for to do so would be confuse and conflate two different kinds of beings. Brain research cannot tell us about the mind per se; what it can do is tell us about how the mind acts through the material medium of the brain i.e. about the material signs of the mind’s action. If we wish to study the mind itself, other methods of study not based on material objects must be developed.

 

If mind and body/brain are not identical, and are essentially independent, then it is necessary to question how they are connected. SAQ does not provide a technically detailed answer to this question but instead supplies a metaphorical model from which we can develop one or more solutions. Let us begin by examining the relationship between the body and the human spirit of which the body is a particular material instantiation. According to SAQ, “the connection of the spirit with the body is like that of the sun with the mirror.”[303] Elsewhere it says:

This perfected body can be compared to a mirror, and the human spirit to the sun.  Nevertheless, if the mirror breaks, the bounty of the sun continues; and if the mirror  is destroyed or ceases to exist, no harm will happen to the bounty of the   sun which is   everlasting.[304]

 

We should keep in mind that if the body functions like a mirror, then obviously the brain – also a part of the body – does too. The image of the sun in the mirror is used elsewhere in SAQ to explain the connection between spirit and body: “the spirit is connected with the body, as this light is with this mirror.”[305] `Abdu'l-Bahá also says, “The sun is not within the mirror, but it has a connection with the mirror.”[306] The import of `Abdu'l-Bahá’s statement is that the mind – which is an essential attribute of the human spirit – acts through the brain the same way the image of the sun acts in the mirror.

 

46. Brain and Mind – A Formal Connection

 

 Examining the nature of this connection, we find that the sun is in the mirror not substantially but formally. The actual sun is not in actually (ontologically) present in the mirror. Instead, the form of the sun is present in the mirror and it is there because the emanations of the sun, the light, condition the mirror in a specific way to reflect the sun’s image. In other words, the sun is formally but not substantially present and through this formal presence conditions or determines what the mirror reflects. (How, i.e. to what degree of brightness or accuracy the mirror reflects depends on the qualities of the mirror but that is a another issue.)  In the same way, the “the mind is connected with the acquisition of knowledge, like images reflected in a mirror.”[307] The mind is conditioned by the formal presence of the images that it receives inasmuch as every perception and idea or conception has its own specific form to distinguish it from others. This form is what conditions the mind so that it acquires information and knowledge:

the knowledge of things which men universally have is gained by reflection or by evidence--that is to say, either by the power of the mind the conception of an object is  formed, or from beholding an object the form is produced in the mirror of the heart.[308]

 

Whether it be the form of a perceived object or the particular form of an idea or conception, the mind seems to work by means of conditioning by formal causality. Formal causality – which we have already encountered in `Abdu'l-Bahá’s explication of four-fold causality acts as a cause because it shapes or conditions something, which has an effect on how the conditioned object inter-acts with other things. A piece of bronze in the form of a statue and the same bronze re-cast as a suit of armour will inter-act differently with their surroundings. Substantially they are the same but formally they are not and this formal difference is decisive. This is an example of formal causality in action.

 

The conclusion seems clear: mind and brain/body are distinct and separate entities but are connected nevertheless: “the mind has no place, but it is connected with the brain.”[309] Thus, SAQ suggests a mind-brain dualism, the two being different kinds of entities. As `Abdu'l-Bahá says, “spirit is different from the body.”[310]  Indeed, he elaborates further, adding, “the spirit of man is not in the body because it is freed and sanctified from entrance and exit.”[311] Mind, we must recall is a power or attribute of the spirit.  However, because mind/spirit and body are connected, SAQ’s  teachings about the mind and body/brain cannot be taken as encouragement to adopt occasionalism, the belief that mind and brain are so different that they cannot interact and therefore require God to coordinate their activities. Leibniz’ variation of this – the doctrine of pre-established harmony – states that God had arranged the universe so that all apparent cases of cause-and-effect arose in a divinely pre-established sequences without any interaction.[312] This, too, violates the formal causality that is implicit in the image of the sun and the mirror.

 

This is, in our view, as far as we can go in understanding how the mind works if we limit ourselves to SAQ. Of course, SAQ does not go into the technical details of formal causality, but in the image of the sun and the mirror, it provides us with a direction in which to seek more detailed answer and to exclude certain viewpoints such as the identity of brain and mind. As `Abdu'l-Bahá says, “This explanation, though short, is complete; therefore, reflect upon it, and if God wills, you may become acquainted with the details.”[313]

 

According to SAQ, the human mind is not the only mind in existence. There is also the “First Mind”:

 the first thing which emanated from God is that universal reality, which the ancient philosophers termed the ‘First Mind,’ and which the people of Bahá call  the ‘First Will.’   This emanation, in that which concerns its action in the world of God, is not limited by time or place; it is without beginning or end--beginning and end in relation to God are one.[314]

 

Like the human mind, it is not limited by time and space, though as the first emanation, it is on a  higher ontological plane than humankind or nature and can, therefore, surround or comprehend more of reality. Elsewhere `Abdu'l-Bahá says:

 

But the universal divine mind, which is beyond nature, is the bounty of the  Preexistent Power. This universal mind is divine; it embraces existing realities, and it  receives the light of the mysteries of God. It is a conscious power, not a power of   investigation and of research.[315]

 

Because this mind, which is a “bounty” or emanation of God, is not subject to the laws of time and space, it is “beyond nature” and surrounds all other things. For that reason, too, it is a “conscious power,” i.e. a power that knows subjectively, immediately and intuitively and is not dependent on investigation, research and discursive reasoning. Furthermore,

 

This divine intellectual power [the “universal divine mind”] is the special  attribute of the Holy Manifestations and the Dawning-places of prophethood; a ray of this light falls upon the mirrors of the hearts of the righteous, and a portion and a share of  this power comes to them through the Holy Manifestations.[316]

 

This divine mind, which is an essential attribute of the Manifestations, helps establish a rational foundation for the belief that the Manifestation possesses universal knowledge of all creation and must, therefore be obeyed even though we, who lack such knowledge, do not always understand.

 

47. Infallibility

 Perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of SAQ’s epistemology is the concept of infallibility. According to `Abdu'l-Bahá, there are two kinds of infallibility, “essential infallibility and acquired infallibility”[317] which he compares to “essential knowledge and acquired knowledge.”[318] As we recall from our examination of ontology and onto-theology, the Manifestation is on a higher ontological plane than creation and, therefore, comprehends or surrounds, which is to say, He can know its conditions  subjectively within Himself. His “knowledge of being, is intuitive; it is like the cognizance and consciousness that man has of himself.”[319] The Manifestation knows creation the way He knows Himself and, therefore, is able to reveal perfect laws that meet all of the hidden and overt needs of creation. Our insight, of course, is only partial which is why it is inappropriate for us to critique His commandments. This explanation shows why the “Most Great Infallibility”[320] of the Manifestation is a necessary consequence of His ontological position.

 

   The second kind of infallibility is “acquired infallibility”[321] which is bestowed by God upon some special souls: “Although these souls have not essential infallibility, still they are under the protection of God--that is to say, God preserves them from error.[322] These souls cannot be essentially infallible because, unlike the Manifestations, they do not surround or comprehend creation. However, the “protection of God . . . preserves them from error” because if it did not, “their error would cause believing souls to fall into error, and thus the foundation of the Religion of God would be overturned, which would not be fitting nor worthy of God.”[323] This protection from error extends to the Universal House of Justice as an institution (not to its individual members) and in this case is called “conferred infallibility.”[324]

 

  The doctrine of infallibility has generated considerable discussion about what it actually means. The ontological foundations of the concept of the Manifestation show that the “essential infallibility” of the Manifestation potentially covers all areas of knowledge; He surrounds all creation not just parts of it. There is no indication of a limitation to ‘faith and morals’ or to anything else: “whatever emanates from Them is identical with the truth, and conformable to reality.”[325] The Manifestation, after all, is not simply another human being like the rest of us, occupying a higher plane of being.

 

 The case of “acquired” and “conferred” infallibility is somewhat different because human beings lack the Manifestation’s superior ontological station. Consequently, it may be possible to limit the range of infallibility to matters of faith and morals, i.e. to that which affects our conduct as Bahá'ís and to what the Writings declare to be true. This practical limitation is evident in the concern that if holy souls were not safe-guarded from error, they would mislead others.[326] Here we have a more practical concern about why “acquired” or “conferred” infallibility is necessary. However, in SAQ we find no evidence that “infallibility” is limited to a condition of ‘sinlessness’ as has been suggested. It very clearly refers to knowledge of various kinds and not to personal states of being.

 

IV Philosophical Anthropology

 
Philosophical anthropology, which originates with Kant’s Anthropology from a Pragmatic Viewpoint, is a branch of philosophy that explores the individual and collective nature of humankind. It may also be called ‘theory of man.’ It examines such subjects as individual and collective human nature, humankind’s position and role in the universe and the purpose of human existence. Philosophical anthropology has enormous relevance to human existence. For example, all religions, all systems of ethics are explicitly or implicitly based on a theory of man. The same is true for all legal systems as well as all systems of psychology and education. Each of these endeavours makes assumptions about what people ‘are like,’ their needs and desires, reasonable obligations as well as innate capacities. A theory of man is also embedded in all cultures.

 

48. Human Nature

 We shall begin this survey of the philosophical anthropology in SAQ with an examination of its theory of human nature. The very possession of such a theory is controversial in today’s intellectual climate since such influential philosophies as Sartrean existentialism and postmodernism completely reject the idea of there being a given, universal human nature. Sartre first sounded this note in 1943 in Being and Nothingness which is based on the premise the “existence precedes essence,” that we are not ‘oppressed’ by a pre-given, ready-made human nature applicable to all persons but that we must make ourselves through our own choices and actions. Without exception, all major postmodernist philosophers follow Sartre on this point, a position described most succinctly by Lyotard as a rejection of “metanarratives.”[327] A “metanarrative” is a universal explanatory paradigm which purports to provide true explanations of phenomena of a certain kind.

 

Sartrean existentialism and postmodernism notwithstanding, SAQ promulgates the concept of a human nature explicitly and implicitly in various ways and contexts. For example, in his discussion of human evolution, `Abdu'l-Bahá says, “For the proof of the originality of the human species, and of the permanency of the nature of man, is clear and evident.”[328] The nature of humankind exists, is stable and “permanent” and, above all, “is clear and evident.” By describing its existence and permanency as “clear and evident,” `Abdu'l-Bahá, in effect, suggesting that those who disagree are not seeing the evidence or not evaluating the evidence properly. In short, he is dismissing their views as fundamentally ignorant. Vis-à-vis ethics, he says that those who follow the Manifestation are “delivered from the animal characteristics and qualities which are the characteristics of human nature.”[329] On a similar note, he points out that “brutal qualities exist in the nature of man.”[330] These remarks simply affirm the existence of human nature as part of a discussing human morality or lack of it. The same occurs in his discussion of human evolution in which he refers to the human embryo developing “until it reaches the degree of reason and perfection.”[331] The concept of human nature is also implicit in the ontological hierarchy in which humankind is at the summit because it possesses all the powers of the lower vegetable and animal levels. Human nature also lifts humankind above the rest of nature: neither sun nor sea “can never comprehend the conditions, the state, the qualities, the movements and the nature of man.”[332]

 

However, `Abdu'l-Bahá does not just refer to human nature in passing; rather he provides a detailed picture of some of its foundational attributes. These are common to all human beings at all times and in all cultures – which is, of course, what we would expect from a religious world-view that teaches the essential oneness of humankind. Without such a universal human nature, there would be no basis for the unification of humankind because there would be no basis on which to develop global teachings.

 

 In SAQ, the most obvious attribute of human nature is that we are essentially spiritual beings. This fact is reflected in our ontological structure: “ the rational soul is the substance, and the body depends upon it. If the accident -- that is to say, the body -- be destroyed, the substance, the spirit, remains.” [333] Briefly, in the Athenian tradition which this statement exemplifies, the substance (not to be confused with matter) is independent in its existence and possess certain qualities called ‘accidents.’ These accidents are not necessary to the existence of the substance and can be altered without affecting the identity or existence of the substance. For example, a cat is a substance, but its color is an accident; if the color is changed, the same cat continues to exist. Stating that the rational soul is the substance, means that soul is what we essentially are and that our bodily existence is a temporary ‘accident.’ From this it follows that the soul and the body are not the same kinds of ‘things’ – which, in effect, is a form of soul/body dualism – and that the soul is immortal because it is capable of existing without the accidental body. All of these assertions are universally true of all human beings at all times, in all places and under all circumstances. In other words, here we find the basis of anthropological essentialism in SAQ, which does not agree with Sartre’s claim that “existence precedes essence.”

 

Not only are we essentially spiritual beings, but share the same essential attributes:

 This spiritual nature, which came into existence through the bounty of the Divine Reality, is the union of all perfections and appears through the breath of the Holy Spirit.   It is the divine perfections; it is light, spirituality, guidance, exaltation, high aspiration, justice, love, grace, kindness to all, philanthropy, the essence of life.[334]

 

Spirit is the source of our “perfections” with which to overcome the imperfections of our physical nature which is subject to “anger, jealousy, dispute, covetousness, avarice, ignorance, prejudice, hatred, pride and tyranny.”[335] According to `Abdu'l-Bahá, our task and destiny is to perfect our human existence by strengthening and developing the spiritual aspects of our nature. This means that human beings share a universal duty and destiny – a struggle to control our unruly animal nature and make it work for the good of the soul and our spiritual development. Both as individuals and collectives we succeed in varying degrees in this process and sometimes slip into complete failure.  

 

 As shown throughout SAQ, all of `Abdu'l-Bahá’s teachings about philosophical anthropology is premised on our essential identity as spiritual beings and the primacy of the soul over the material body. This brings in its train a host of profound consequences

for the conduct of individual lives and the management of society. For example, it enlarges our perspective on what is meant by ‘doing good’ or ‘reducing harm’ because we must not only consider the good of the body but also the good of the soul. It will deeply affect education policy in such areas as curriculum because questions of spiritual education cannot be circumvented or ignored outright. Recognising the primacy of the spirit in our constitution will also have effects on our personal and collective scale of values which in turn affects decisions at every level and at every turn. Most obviously this would affect the operations of a consumer-driven economy or, at least, the kind of products in demand, especially if large numbers of people were to believe “[t]he rewards of this life are the virtues and perfections which adorn the reality of man”[336] and not the acquisition of ‘things’ or material wealth. These rewards are attainable both in the earthly life and in the next.  

 

49. The Soul and Immortality

As already noted, the fact that the soul is a substance and the body an accident is the basis for an ontological proof for the immortality of the soul, which according to SAQ is “the fundamental basis of the divine religions.”[337] `Abdu'l-Bahá refers not only to traditional religious traditions to establish the immortality of the spirit – the Gospels and the Qur'án – but also to logical proofs which we shall briefly examine. One of these proofs is that, as just demonstrated, that the spirit or substance is independent of the body or accident. The spirit, he says, can see and hear without sense organs and even travel as it does during sleep without any material means[338]; furthermore, the spirit is unaffected by the illnesses and debilities of the body. [339] Because “the spirit is different from the body”[340] it continues to exist even when the body disintegrates.

 

 At this point it is apropos to note that not just the soul but also the personality is independent of the body as well.

 The personality of the rational soul is from its beginning; it is not due to the instrumentality of the body, but the state and the personality of the rational soul may be strengthened in this world; it will make progress and will attain to the degrees of  perfection, or it will remain in the lowest abyss of ignorance, veiled and deprived from beholding the signs of God.[341]

 

`Abdu'l-Bahá’s wording here shows his awareness of a long-standing subject of debate in the Athenian tradition, namely, the origin of the individual personality. Since there exists an essence shared by all humans, what is it that individualises us? One answer is that individualization occurs through the particular body we possess, i.e. matter is what individualises. Another is that form, not matter, individualises, i.e. each thing possesses a “haecceitas” or ‘this-ness’ that makes it the specific thing it is.[342] As the foregoing quotation from SAQ shows, `Abdu'l-Bahá  plainly takes the latter view that the “personality of the rational soul” exists from the start and does not depend on the body to be. Experience in the world may strengthen the personality but it can only actualise what is already potential in it. This original personality is part of the innate character that we all possess. The innate character willed discussed in greater detail below.                                        

 

 Another proof of immortality is based on the premise that no sign can come from a nonexisting thing--that is to say, it is impossible that
from absolute nonexistence signs should appear--for the signs are the consequence of an existence, and the consequence depends upon the existence of the principle.[343]

 

In other words, non-existent entities cannot produce results i.e. cannot actualise potentials either in themselves or in something else for the obvious reason that as non-existent they have no potentials and they certainly cannot act as efficient causes actualising potentials elsewhere because they do not exist! However, after the death of the body, the human spirit “persists and continues to act and to have power.”[344] The evidence offered is the “Kingdom of Christ”[345] which continues to exist and influence the world long after the death of Christ’s body. For this to occur, the ‘Christ-spirit’ must continue to exist in some form.

 

 Along with the “logical proofs” `Abdu'l-Bahá also offers what might be called a direct proof of immediate insight, such as we have already discussed in the epistemology section of this paper. If we open our “inner sight,” we shall need no discursive proofs of immortality because we shall be able to apprehend this fact immediately for ourselves.

 

 But if the human spirit will rejoice and be attracted to the Kingdom of God, if the inner sight becomes opened, and the spiritual hearing strengthened, and the spiritual feelings predominant, he will see the immortality of the spirit as clearly as he sees the sun . . . [346]

 

If we attain the right spiritual condition, we see truths such as the immortality of the soul by immediate insight rather than by discursive argument.

 

50. The Rational Soul

 Another far-reaching attribute of human nature is the possession of a rational soul:

The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational soul,   and  these two names--the human spirit and the rational soul--designate one thing. This spirit,   which in the terminology of the philosophers is the rational soul, embraces all  beings . . .[347]

 

`Abdu'l-Bahá makes it clear that the rational soul differentiates humanity from animals, and is, therefore, an essential, i.e. defining characteristic of all human beings. Individuals and cultures may not always make use of this rational power to the same extent but it is universal, i.e. always there whenever and wherever humans exist.  

 
The first condition of perception in the world of nature is the perception of the rational soul. In this perception and in this power all men are sharers, whether they be neglectful  or vigilant, believers or deniers.[348]

 

This statement has far-reaching consequences because it means that at least in principle, we possess a universal standard, an ‘Archimedean standpoint’ by which to evaluate individual and collective action and beliefs. He himself does not hesitate to apply it. For example, he dismisses the traditional Christian account of original sin as “unreasonable and evidently wrong”[349] for various reasons. Similarly, in rejecting the traditional Christian interpretation of the Trinity he states:

 If it were otherwise [than his explanation], the foundations of the Religion of God  would rest upon an illogical proposition which the mind could never conceive, and how can the mind be forced to believe a thing which it cannot conceive?  A thing cannot be grasped by the intelligence except when it is clothed in an  intelligible form; otherwise, it is but an effort of the imagination.[350]

 

Even religion must have rational foundations because, given our nature as a “rational soul,” we cannot even “conceive” of teachings which rest on “an illogical proposition.” If we cannot “conceive” of an idea, how can we as rational beings, believe? In other words, a belief must have a sufficient reason that explains why it (or any other phenomenon) is what it is. Otherwise the belief becomes problematical. Because of our “rational souls” neither individuals nor cultures can accept insufficient explanations which is why they all persons and cultures develop various explanations for phenomena. The form and details of these explanations may differ, but all are attempts to satisfy the principle of sufficient reason. 

 

51. Humankind’s Dual Nature

Unlike the lower level of being, humanity has a dual nature, i.e. it is a composite of two natures:

Know that there are two natures in man: the physical nature and the spiritual nature. The  physical nature is inherited from Adam, and the spiritual nature is inherited from the  Reality of the Word of God, which is the spirituality of Christ. The physical nature is  born of Adam, but the spiritual nature is born from the bounty of the Holy Spirit. The first is the source of all imperfection; the second is the source of all perfection.[351]

 

The first noteworthy issue here is that this statement is about humankind in general, i.e. it is a universal statement about human nature. The two-part structure constitutes a fundamental feature of what it means to be human at all times and places, and in all cultures or stages of collective development. There is no suggestion in SAQ (or anywhere else in the Writings) that any exceptions exist or that our two-part constitutional nature will change during the course of human evolution on earth. Second, this duality is hierarchical, with the spiritual part taking precedence over the physical or animal nature which is associated with “imperfection.” The Manifestations appear so that “men might be freed from the imperfections of the physical nature and might become possessed of the virtues of the spiritual nature.”[352] Of course, this is not to say that our physical aspect is of no value but only that for it to function for our complete well-being it must be properly subordinated by our spiritual higher nature. Here we see yet another confirmation of the hierarchical ontology at work in SAQ.

 

52. Inherent Struggle Between Higher and Lower Natures

Third, it follows from `Abdu'l-Bahá’s statement that humans are divided between a higher and lower nature and that we are inherently conflicted beings always engaged in a struggle within ourselves. Hence, we are often forced to choose between following these two natures, between “imperfection” and “perfection,” and since this make dualism constitutes our nature, there is no way this struggle can be overcome completely; it constitutes who and what we are. However, the struggle between these two principles must not be seen as an imperfection in itself; rather it is a  necessary pre-condition for our ethical existence, i.e. for us to attain increasing perfection by means of free choice among real alternatives. To help us make that choice is precisely the reason for the existence of Manifestations if we choose to accept it. In other words, this division between our two natures is the condition for humankind’s ability to rise to greater heights of spiritual development. Without it, any moral ascent is impossible.

 

Finally, this dual constitution reflects humankind’s two-fold ontological position in creation.          

 

 Man is in the highest degree of materiality, and at the beginning of spirituality-- that is   to say, he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. He is at the last degree of darkness, and at the beginning of light; that is why it has been said that the condition of man is the end of the night and the beginning of day, meaning that he is the sum of all the degrees of imperfection, and that he possesses the degrees of perfection.    He has the animal side as well as the angelic side and the aim of an educator is to so train    human souls that their angelic aspect may overcome their animal side.[353]

 

Ontologically speaking, humanity occupies a dual station as the apex of “materiality” but also as the “beginning of spirituality” and this dual station reflects itself in our two natures. We are the transition point from “materiality” to spirituality and have attributes of both. This helps explain our ethical ambiguity; because we are the “last degree of darkness” we are capable of tremendous evil and because we are “beginning of light” we are also capable of great good. No individual, no collective and no culture have ever been able to escape this fundamental ambiguity which is, therefore, also a universal attribute of humankind.  

 

53. The Purpose of Earthly Existence

The existence of this perpetual moral struggle within humankind inevitably raises the question of what is the purpose in requiring the human soul to go through the difficult phase of bodily being. Here is one part of `Abdu'l-Bahá’s answer:

The wisdom of the appearance of the spirit in the body is this: the human spirit is  a Divine Trust, and it must traverse all conditions, for its passage and movement through  the conditions of existence will be the means of its acquiring perfections . . .[354]

 

In other words, the purpose of physical existence is to help the soul acquire “perfections,” i.e. to develop its inherent capacities, accumulate experience and knowledge and, through free choice, attain spiritual virtues. Without this passage through physical being, there could be no real qualitative growth, learning and maturation; we would remain unactualised potentials and, therefore, not fully ourselves. However, there is another, ontological and cosmic reason for our bodily existence:

 Besides this, it is necessary that the signs of the perfection of the spirit should be apparent in this world, so that the world of creation may bring forth endless results, and  this body may receive life and manifest the divine bounties . . . If the rays and heat of the sun did not shine upon the earth, the earth would be  uninhabited, without meaning;  and its development would be retarded. In the   same way, if the perfections of the spirit did not appear in this world, this world would be unenlightened and absolutely brutal.  By the appearance of the spirit in the physical form, this world is enlightened.[355]

 

In other words, humanity is the means by which the “perfections of the spirit” appear in the material world and, thereby, render it “enlightened.”  Without this spiritual enlightenment the world would be “absolutely brutal” (“nasty, brutish and short” to borrow Hobbes’ phrase.) i.e. bereft of the virtues of knowledge and understanding, as well as completely subject to the lowest animal impulses such as greed, violence, lust, sloth or laziness and self-centeredness. Humankind, therefore, is the agency through which a new, transcendent spiritual dimension begins to play a role in the material world by adding a new feature to the one-dimensional material existence. At this point it is tempting to think of Teilhard de Chardin’s theory of the noosphere as the specifically human contribution to the evolution of the material world. `Abdu'l-Bahá’s statements certainly are in harmony with this line of thought. He says that without humanity, the material universe would have no purpose for its existence (recall our earlier discussion of teleology): “This world is also in the condition of a fruit tree, and man is like the fruit; without fruit the tree would be useless.”[356] Like the fruit of a tree, humankind is the noblest product of the material world, and, for that reason, its raison d’etre. In other words, the existence of humankind has a cosmological and evolutionary function. From this perspective, humankind is not simply an accidental development on the planet but rather a necessary occurrence.  

 

Humankind is able to be the spiritual enlightener of the material world only because it exists both in materiality and spirituality. We possess the necessary and sufficient material conditions to attract the influence of the spirit in the same way that a clear mirror is able to receive and reflect the sun.

 
 these members, these elements, this composition, which are found in the organism of man, are an attraction and magnet for the spirit; it is certain that the spirit will appear in it. So a mirror which is clear will certainly attract the rays of the sun . . .   when these existing elements are gathered   together according to the natural order, and with perfect strength, they  become a magnet for the spirit, and the spirit will become manifest in them with all its perfections.[357]

 

In other words, the physical constitution of human beings is sufficiently complex and  sensitive enough to “become a magnet for the spirit” and allow the spirit to become manifest in the material world. According to `Abdu'l-Bahá this course of events is  necessary because:

the connection which exists between the reality of things, whether they be spiritual or material, requires that when the mirror is clear and faces the sun, the light of  the sun must become apparent in it. In the same way, when the elements will appear and be manifest in them. This is the decree of the Powerful, the Wise.[358]

 

In this passage, `Abdu'l-Bahá draws our attention to a fundamental cosmic law established by God in His design of the universe. It is as much a law as the law of gravity or the Boyle gas laws. This law forms a “connection” which joins all aspects of reality into a single whole and is, thereby, a universal connective principle that joins different ontological levels of reality, in this case, the material and the spiritual.

 

We also observe a correspondence between the Manifestation enlightening us spiritually, and we, in turn, bringing signs of the spirit into the material realm. This is confirmed when `Abdu'l-Bahá says:

 As the spirit of man is the cause of the life of the body, so the world is in the  condition of the body, and man is in the condition of the spirit. If there were no  man, the perfections of the spirit would not appear, and the light of the mind  would not be resplendent in this world. This world would be like a body without a soul.[359]

 

By means of its analogy of the “spirit of man” and the human body, this passage suggests that humankind provides a soul for the world of matter and, thereby, provides it with “life.” One assumes that this means spiritual life inasmuch as it is humankind which brings the “perfections of the spirit” and the “light of the mind” into the world of matter. 

 

 All of the various attributes mentioned in the previous discussion are universally applicable to human beings and are not dependent on culture, ethnicity or any other external factors. Different cultures may reflect the light of the spirit differently, some more adequately than others and some, such as Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia hardly at all. (Unless we are willing to accept these examples, we cannot assent to the unqualified proposition that all cultures reflect the spiritual light equally.)

 

54. Innate, Inherited and Acquired Character

 Within our specifically human nature, there are three further divisions: “the innate character, the inherited character and the acquired character which is gained by education.”[360] Of the innate character, `Abdu'l-Bahá says:

With regard to the innate character, although the divine creation is purely good, yet the varieties of natural qualities in man come from the difference of degree; all  are excellent, but they are more or less so, according to the degree. So all mankind possess intelligence and capacities, but the intelligence, the capacity and the worthiness of men differ.[361]

 

The innate character, which `Abdu'l-Bahá also calls the “original nature”[362] is that foundational essence that identifies us as human and is made up of such “natural qualities” as “intelligence” and other capacities. These are good in themselves but not all people have them in the same degree. It is worthwhile pointing out this innate character is universal, possessed by “all mankind” i.e. identifies the human species and, as `Abdu'l-Bahá says, distinguishes it from the animal.  In other words, this is a general species quality that does not yet identify us as individuals.

 The “inherited character” is the individual constitution we inherit from our parents: “The variety of inherited qualities comes from strength and weakness of constitution--that is to say, when the two parents are weak, the children will be weak.”[363]

 

(Of course, `Abdu'l-Bahá is speaking in ‘bell-curve’ generalities here, since exceptions always exist; however, as Toynbee points out, exceptions prove the rule.) This “inherited character” helps to differentiate us as individuals since we all have one; with the innate human character it forms “the capital of life”[364] which he also calls the “natural capacity”[365] and which “God has given equally to all mankind.”[366] This “natural capacity” is inherently good. Again we observe the universal nature of the structure of human nature as presented by `Abdu'l-Bahá.

 

 The “acquired character,” associated with “acquired capacity,”[367] is the third aspect of our specifically human character. It is the result of education, and the choices we learn to make as a result of our education. This is where we shape our characters through the exercise of free will, above all guided by the education provided by the Manifestations. Here is where we acquire praiseworthy or blameworthy attributes: “One does not criticize vicious people because of their innate capacities and nature, but rather for their acquired capacities and nature.”[368]

 

55. Free Will

The issue of “acquired character” brings us to one of the most important topics in philosophical anthropology, namely free will. This, too, is one of the constitutive aspects of our human nature. According to `Abdu'l-Bahá:

 Some things are subject to the free will of man, such as justice, equity, tyranny and injustice, in other words, good and evil actions . . . in the choice of good and bad actions he is free, and he commits them according to his own will.[369]

 

In other words, human beings are free in regards to our ethical choices be they words, actions or attitudes; regardless of what our circumstances are, we are always free to choose our response. Ethically speaking, we all possess radical or complete freedom by virtue of the inescapable fact that we are human. As Sartre put it in Being and Nothingness, we are “condemned to be free”[370] whether we want to be or not. We can only ‘escape’ our freedom by living in “bad faith,” i.e. by self-deceptively and/or hypocritically lying to ourselves that ‘we have no choice.’ Ontologically, this freedom is based on the fact that the spirit in itself is not subject to any of the vicissitudes of material existence and thereby cannot use these hardships.

 

 This theme of radical ethical freedom brings with it the consequence of radical responsibility for ourselves, for our decision, words and actions. ‘Radical responsibility’ means that we embrace our complete ethical freedom and, therefore, abstain from seeking any excuses or justifications for our bad actions in the circumstances of the external world nor do we blame God for making us the kind of person we are, i.e. for our innate and inherited character. That is the point of  `Abdu'l-Bahá’s Bible-based discussion about the mineral not having any right to complain to God that it was not giving vegetable perfections. Each state of being is perfect in its own degree and “must strive after the perfections of [its] own degree.”[371] That is all it can be responsible for because perfecting one’s own degree of being is all that one has the power to do. However, within that purview human beings are completely responsible. Obviously, this aspect of Bahá'í philosophical anthropology has enormous implications for law and the justice system, education and social policies.

 
While `Abdu'l-Bahá asserts our radical ethical freedom, he also frankly and realistically recognises that there are certain things to which man is forced and compelled, such as sleep, death,  sickness, decline of power, injuries and misfortunes; these are not subject to the will of man, and he is not responsible for them, for he is compelled to endure them.[372]

 

There are certain things we must do simply by virtue of being alive, and there are other things we must do to deal with various misfortunes and difficulties, over which we have no control. Free will is not absolute, nor can we always shape reality as we would like it to be by force of will. SAQ gives no comfort to the belief that we can literally ‘make our own reality’ as we choose. However, we incur no culpability for these uncontrollable events themselves, but rather, we can incur praise or blame by our response to them; we are, as `Abdu'l-Bahá says, always free to take “good and bad action[].”[373]

 

Finally, it should be noted that nothing in SAQ suggests that free will is limited to one group, ethnicity, class or culture; rather it is possessed universally by all human beings at all times because it is a constitutional part of human nature. Nor is there any insinuation that socio-economic conditions excuse or justify destructive choices although reflection on these conditions may help us understand how people came to take destructive or self-destructive turns. Moreover, SAQ does not seem to answer the question of whether or not poor material conditions diminish ethical responsibility and the ability to make free moral choices. These considerations, which clearly affect law and justice, education and social policies will require further study of the Writings.  

 

56. Ethics

Although the ethical teachings of SAQ incorporate some elements of other approaches to ethics, the foundations of the ethical teachings promulgated in SAQ have deep affinities with what is known as ‘virtue ethics.’ In general terms, virtue ethics emphasise the acquisition of certain virtues and the subsequent development of good character as the best foundation for making ethical choices. This close relationship to virtue ethics, is yet another sign of SAQ (and the Writings) belonging to the Athenian tradition in philosophy especially with Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The virtue ethics tradition, was, of course developed among the Jews, Christians and Muslims who inherited Greek philosophical thought.

 

 Before examining SAQ’s relationship to virtue ethics more closely, it is helpful to examine its position in regards to other approaches to ethics. One of the most famous and influential is Kant’s deontological ethics according to which acts are right or wrong independently of their consequences.[374] In other words, consequences are not the only criteria by which to judge an action; Deontological ethics emphasise knowing what our duty is and carrying it out. Our personal motivation for doing the act is essentially irrelevant as long as the right act is properly carried out. For SAQ, deontological ethics are not so much wrong as incomplete. We certainly have obligations to God, for example  – “to know [Him] and to worship [Him]” – but `Abdu'l-Bahá makes it clear that mere outward action, merely going through the motions, even if correct, is not sufficient for humans to attain their highest possible moral development. Speaking of those who do much good in the world but have no knowledge of the divine teachings, he says:

Know that such actions, such efforts and such words are praiseworthy and approved, and are the glory of humanity. But these actions alone are not sufficient; they are a body of the greatest loveliness, but without spirit.[375]

 

In other words, the motivations driving even right actions are as important as the actions themselves. It is, after all, possible to do outwardly good actions with bad intent or from bad motives; we may tell a truth about someone – with the intention of causing them harm. The character of the doer and his spiritual condition are also relevant in judging an action. Another problem with deontological ethics is that we have is the question of how we know which acts are wrong or right. Hence, deontological ethics are not wrong but rather incomplete; what they tell is necessary but not sufficient for complete human ethical development.  

 

 SAQ also shows points of contact with consequentialism, another major class of moral theories, which maintains that the consequences of an action are the only basis for moral judgment. Moral acts are those which have good consequences. Sometimes consequentialism is described as ‘utilitarian’ ethics because it judges actions strictly by outcomes. The obvious problem with this approach is that it cannot define what we mean by a ‘good consequence,’ which can vary widely not only among individuals but also among societies and thus offers little real guidance as to what constitutes ‘good consequences.’ What should be considered a good consequence? What should not be – and how do arbitrate among conflicting ‘good’ consequences such as the public’s right to fly safely and the privacy rights of the individual? Unlike consequentialism, SAQ cannot agree that the value of an action depends solely on its good or desirable outcomes. For example, a rigorous programme of euthanizing the terminally ill and incurable mentally handicapped may have numerous positive results but such results alone would be a weak recommendation for action on this score. There are obviously other factors to consider such as the effect of an act on the character of those who perform it.  This shows that from SAQ’s point of view, consequentialism is not wrong – good actions involve good consequences in some way – but rather, it is incomplete.

 

SAQ can agree with consequentialism insofar as divinely given virtues and teachings lead to positive outcomes for humankind. Bad consequences are, after all, important reasons to replace beliefs that encourage disunity and conflict with beliefs that draw human beings together. The Manifestations appear to give teachings that will lead to good consequences for humanity.  In SAQ, there is one apparent example of consequentialism to consider. `Abdu'l-Bahá describes lying as the “foundation of all evil,”[376] but he says that a doctor may ly to a patient to help the patient’s recovery,[377] adding cryptically, “This is not blameworthy.”[378] Does he mean the action is good – or merely that in this special situation, it should not be condemned, i.e. is permissible? From a consequentialist viewpoint, he seems to be approving the action or at least finding it acceptable and justifiable because of its positive consequences for the patient. But is he giving us permission to ly for other reasons we judge to be good? That, of course, would open the door to all kinds of self-justifying rationalisations and erode the value of the virtue of truthfulness. `Abdu'l-Bahá words “Notwithstanding all this [the evil of lying]”[379] shows that he means this case to be seen as an exception and not as a general guide to action.

 

(Despite first impressions, this is not an example of moral relativism in SAQ. The action of lying is justified by reference to a moral absolute, i.e. saving a life, which in itself is beyond any relativist questioning at all.)

 

57. Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics are based on the belief that good action requires the development of  good character and that in turn requires the acquisition of certain personal virtues. Only then can we be prepared to make good ethical decisions and to live well. Virtue ethics places great emphasis on motivation, holding that truly good deeds can only come when we have good motives. The basis of Bahá'í ethics as laid out in SAQ is that our ethical task is to overcome the impulses of our lower, animal nature and to acquire virtues by struggling to actualise our higher, spiritual nature.

 
He [man] has the animal side as well as the angelic side, and the aim of an educator is to so train human souls that their angelic aspect may overcome their animal side. Then if the divine power in man, which is his essential perfection, overcomes the  satanic power, which is absolute imperfection, he becomes the   most excellent among the creatures; but if the satanic power overcomes the divine power, he becomes the lowest of the creatures.[380]

 

The “satanic power” is the uncontrolled demands of our physical or animal nature and these can lead us into evil. The purpose of overcoming our animal aspects is that we might acquire the eternal virtues that have been taught by the Manifestations. These foundations of the Religion of God, which are spiritual and which are the virtues  of humanity, cannot be abrogated; they are irremovable and eternal, and are renewed in the cycle of every Prophet.[381]

 

The reason why these virtues are eternal is because, as we shall see in the section on philosophical anthropology, our human nature is so formed by God as to need the fulfillment of certain needs to achieve optimum growth. In other words, the virtues reflect the needs of our divinely created, objectively real and universal human nature and develop our characters in a positive way. For us to achieve optimum development, we need:   

 
faith, knowledge, certitude, justice, piety, righteousness, trustworthiness, love of God, benevolence, purity, detachment, humility, meekness, patience and constancy. It shows mercy to the poor, defends the oppressed, gives to the wretched and uplifts the fallen . . . These divine qualities, these eternal commandments, will never be abolished;  nay, they will last and remain  established for ever and ever. These virtues of humanity will be renewed in each of the different cycles; for at the end of every cycle the spiritual  Law of God--that is to say, the human virtues--disappears, and only the form subsists. [382]

 

If the soul acquires these virtues, “it is the most noble of the existing beings; and if it acquires vices, it becomes the most degraded existence.”[383] Virtue ethics do not just focus on the action alone nor on its consequences, but rather place great emphasis on the motive for which an action is done. To act virtuously is not only to act properly from but to act properly for good motives or “purity of heart.”

 
But the heavenly water and spirit, which are knowledge and life, make the human  heart good and pure; the heart which receives a portion of the bounty of the Spirit  becomes sanctified, good and pure--that is to say, the reality of man becomes purified and sanctified from the impurities of the world of nature. These natural impurities are   evil qualities: anger, lust, worldliness, pride, lying, hypocrisy, fraud, self-love, etc.[384]

 

Purity of heart is necessary to do genuinely good deeds. As we have seen, this purity of heart or good will is necessary so that acts have more than mere good appearance: 

“The third virtue of humanity is the goodwill which is the basis of good  actions . . . for the goodwill is absolute light; it is purified and sanctified from the impurities of selfishness, of enmity, of deception. Now it may be that a man performs an action   which in appearance is righteous, but which is dictated by covetousness. [385]

 

However, to acquire purity of heart we must have “knowledge of God”[386] which is “the cause of spiritual progress and attraction, and through it the perception of truth, the exaltation of humanity, divine civilization, rightness of morals and illumination are obtained.”[387] This is the foundation of the virtues we are to acquire. “If man has not this knowledge, he will be separated from God, and when this separation exists, good actions have not complete effect.”[388]

 

We also need the love of God the light of which shines in the lamp of the hearts of those who know God; its brilliant rays illuminate the horizon and give to man the life of the Kingdom. In truth, the fruit  of human existence is the love of God, for this love is the spirit of life, and the eternal bounty. If the love of God did not exist, the contingent world would be in darkness . . .the hearts of men would be dead, and deprived of the sensations of existence . . . spiritual   union would be lost . . . the light of unity would not illuminate humanity . . .[389]

 

Once we have attained knowledge and love of God, then we are ready to acquire the other virtues that distinguish us from animals. Because the virtues taught by the Manifestations, they are in themselves the rewards we attain in this world: “The rewards of this life are the virtues and perfections which adorn the reality of man.”[390] In other words, we need not wait for the next life to reap the rewards of virtue, but may have these rewards immediately in this life:

 When they are delivered through the light of faith from the darkness of these vices,and become illuminated with the radiance of the sun of reality, and ennobled with all the virtues, they esteem this the greatest reward, and they know it to be the true paradise.[391]

 

It should be noted that the virtue ethics promulgated in SAQ are completely incompatible with any version of relativism or ethical subjectivism. In SAQ, we are not being invited to a debate on whether or know faith, knowledge, purity and detachment are virtues worth attaining – the fact that they are is established implicitly by our universal human nature and explicitly by the Manifestation Who is not seeking our in-put on these issues. On the contrary, the Manifestation proclaims these and other virtues He lists, as the virtues necessary for each and every member of humankind whether we know it or not. These values are objective, and a contrary opinion on the importance of purity, for example is simply a sign of error. Nor does SAQ accept ethical subjectivism, i.e. the belief that we make our own individual ethical codes in our statements and actions and that a person is moral if his actions match his words. This, of course, allows some very evil actions to qualify as ‘moral’ if for no other reason than that they are consistent with a statement of plans. Consistency and sincerity are not sufficient to make an action moral. The ethics of SAQ are, on the contrary, objective, not subjective ethics – an individual’s personal views about these virtues are basically irrelevant as to their necessity.

 

58. Progress

The concept of progress is foundational to SAQ’s philosophical anthropology, ontology and onto-theology. In fact, without the concept of progress, the very rationale for the appearance of successive Manifestations, and with it, the rationale for the Bahá'í revelation would vanish: “at the time of the appearance of each Manifestation of God extraordinary progress has occurred in the world of minds, thoughts and spirits.”[392] The whole purpose of consecutive Manifestations is to ensure that humankind makes progress in “material, human and spiritual”[393] education and to help us achieve this goal, “we need an educator who will be at the same time a material, human and spiritual educator.”[394] At this point the onto-theological dimensions of SAQ’s teachings on progress  become clear in respect to the need for an “educator [who] must be unquestionably and indubitably perfect in all respects and distinguished above all men.”[395]  Without these supra-human perfections He would be subject to all the same weaknesses as other humans and would lack the ability to carry out His mission.

 

According to SAQ, material education is concerned with the progress and development of the body, through gaining its sustenance, its material comfort and ease. This education is common to animals and  man.[396]

 

Human education signifies civilization and progress-- that is to say, government, administration, charitable works, trades, arts and handicrafts, sciences, great inventions and  discoveries and elaborate institutions, which are the activities essential to man as             distinguished from the animal.[397]

 

Human education includes progress in intelligence and thought in such a way that they may attain complete development, so that knowledge and science may increase, and the reality of things, the mysteries of beings and the properties of existence may be discovered; that, day by day, instructions, inventions and institutions may be improved; and from things perceptible to  the senses conclusions as to intellectual things may be deduced.[398]

 
Spiritual education “is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education; for in this state man becomes the focus of divine blessings.”[399] Spiritual education also exists “so that intelligence and comprehension may penetrate the metaphysical world, and may receive benefit from the sanctifying breeze of the Holy Spirit”[400] and so that human beings may become mirrors reflecting the “attributes and names of God.”[401]

 
These passages make clear that `Abdu'l-Bahá sees humankind making progress in its material, intellectual, social and governmental aspects, as well as in spiritual existence. With the arrival of the Manifestation, “universal progress appears in the world of humanity.”[402]

Specifically, he praises the progress made with the appearance of Bahá'u'lláh:

 In this great century which is the cycle of Bahá'u'lláh, what progress science and  knowledge have made, how many secrets of existence have been discovered, how many great inventions have been brought to light and are day by day multiplying in  number. Before long, material science and learning, as well as the knowledge  beholders will be amazed.[403]

 

In this passage we not only see the role of Bahá'u'lláh in human progress, but we also have specific indications that ‘progress’ means more and better knowledge vis-à-vis the secrets that have been “discovered,” more and better “great inventions,” and new and amazing developments in “material science and learning.” In other words, progress means improvement i.e. the replacement of something that is inadequate by something that is more adequate, be it a procedure, a theory, belief or understanding, a device and so on. A similar idea is evident in `Abdu'l-Bahá’s remark that if we educate populations:

day by day knowledge and sciences would increase, the understanding would be broadened, the sensibilities developed, customs would become good, and morals normal; in one word, in all these classes of perfections there would be progress,  and there would be fewer crimes.[404]

 

It is evident here that ‘progress’ does not merely mean ‘change’ or ‘difference’ but rather ‘improvement,’  ‘greater efficiency’, ‘greater adequacy’ of understanding and knowledge, and enhanced “sensibilities.” This, of course, implies the currently controversial proposition that if there is genuine progress then the level of material, human and spiritual civilization attained by previous civilizations and cultures were not as advanced as that which will be achieved by civilization and culture in the era inaugurated by Bahá'u'lláh. In other words, ‘progress’ as used in SAQ involves the idea of advancement and improvement beyond a previous stage of development that is incomplete or less perfect than its successor.

 

 An inescapable consequence of belief in progress is that some civilizations and cultures are more advanced than others, i.e. that not all are equal in their development of humankind’s material, human and intellectual, and spiritual capacities. `Abdu'l-Bahá certainly accepts this result,  as is evident in his references to “barbarian[]” cultures: “These Arab tribes were in the lowest depths of savagery and barbarism, and in comparison with them the savages of Africa and wild Indians of America were as advanced as a Plato.”[405] During the twentieth century the Nazis, Fascists and Communists showed how even materially and intellectually advanced individuals and societies could retrogress into barbarism when spiritual education is ignored or suppressed. Civilizations and cultures can remain in or retrogress into lower states.

The doctrine of progress also shapes SAQ’s vision of the after-life: “man can also make progress in perfections after leaving this world.”[406] This means that we may increase our specifically human perfections in the next life but that we cannot advance beyond our essential human nature to become God or a Manifestation.[407] `Abdu'l-Bahá illustrates this in the following statement:

Look at this mineral. However far it may evolve, it only evolves in its own condition; you cannot bring the crystal to a state where it can attain to sight. This  is impossible. So the moon which is in the heavens, however far it might evolve,  could   never become a luminous sun, but in its own condition it has apogee and perigee . . . It is true that coal could become a diamond, but both are in the mineral condition, and their  component elements are the same.[408]

 

Thus, progress is limited or bounded by the essential nature of things, but is not bounded within the limits established by the essential nature of a being. Here we observe a convergence between SAQ’s ontological teachings regarding essence and its teachings regarding spiritual progress after death.

 

59. Human Evolution

`Abdu'l-Bahá’s teachings on human progress include the concept of human evolution over the last few million years. However, there is an important caveat attached to his assent. `Abdu'l-Bahá unequivocably rejects the notion that the human species has evolved from an animal although he does not reject that throughout our long history the human species has changed accidental i.e. physical attributes and appeared in a variety of forms. Of the suggestion that humankind was initially an animal and that through progressive modifications it became human, he says, “How puerile and unfounded is this idea and this thought!”[409] We may have changed our actualised outward attributes vut we have not changed our substance or essence.

 For man, from the beginning of the embryonic period till he reaches the degree of maturity, goes through different forms and appearances. His aspect, his form, his appearance and color change; he passes from one form to another, and from one appearance to another. Nevertheless, from the beginning of the embryonic period  he is of the species of man--that is to say, an embryo of a man and not of an animal;  but this is not at first apparent, but later it becomes visible and evident.[410]

 

In other words, `Abdu'l-Bahá accepts the notion of humankind having progressed through a long line of accidental changes in different forms just like a human embryo in the womb. However, he disagrees with the interpretation of these accidental changes as showing that there has been essential or substantial alteration in the development of the human race. In `Abdu'l-Bahá’s view, “his [man’s] species and essence undergo no change”[411] which is simply a particular application of his general dictum that “the essence of things does not change.”[412] Things may appear to change their essences over time as they actualize their previously hidden potentials, but deeper philosophical reflection shows that the essence and its potentials remain stable. After all, a thing cannot change into something for which it has no potential: a gumboot will not become a live alligator. No matter what we do to and with the gumboot, and no matter how different it looks and acts, none of its transformations will involve anything for which it doesn’t have potential in the first place. All its transformations are potentially present, i.e. essentially present from the first. Similarly, `Abdu'l-Bahá says:

 
the embryo possesses from the first all perfections, such as the spirit, the mind,  the sight, the smell, the taste--in one word, all the powers--but they are not visible and become so only by degrees.[413]

 

This is also what transpired in human history on the earth: there were beings which outwardly resembled animals but they carried within them the potentials of attaining spirit and mind, although it took a long time to actualise these potentials. “In the beginning of his formation the mind and spirit also existed, but they were hidden; later they were manifested.”[414] Because mind and spirit were not manifested and left no outward signs of their existence does not mean that these potentials did not exist; indeed, the fact that they are now actualized proves they must have existed as unactualised potentials. After all, as explained above, a thing cannot actualise potentials it does not have. Thus, two seemingly identical species may in fact be radically different if one possesses the potentials for spirit and mind, and the other does not, even though skeletal remains alone may not allow us to distinguish them. Any attempt to draw conclusions solely on the basis of outward form alone would obviously be going beyond the available evidence. Consequently, there are good ontologically based reasons for `Abdu'l-Bahá to say, “he [man] is the embryo of the superior species, and not of the animal; his species and essence undergo no change”[415] and “Man was always a distinct species, a man, not an animal.”[416] Only our actualised attributes and appearance have changed.

 

 As we have seen, `Abdu'l-Bahá frames his interpretation of evolution on the philosophical analysis of reality in terms of essence, attribute, accident, potential and actuality. Such analysis, integral to the Athenian tradition, even applies to the history of the earth itself.

the terrestrial globe from the beginning was created with all its elements,  substances, minerals, atoms and organisms; but these only appeared by degrees: first the mineral,  then the plant, afterward the animal, and finally man. But from the first these kinds and species existed, but were undeveloped in the terrestrial globe, and then appeared only gradually.[417]

 

In other words, “from the beginning” the earth possessed in potential “all its elements, substances, minerals, atoms and organisms.” They were all potentially present and gradually became actualised. However, each of these kinds of things and species existed “from the first” and, therefore, did not require that one kind or essence be transformed into another. Indeed, that is impossible. Anything that exists on earth can exist only because the potential for its development was there in the first place. If there were no potential, how could it develop? How could a gumboot become a live alligator?

 

`Abdu'l-Bahá’s argument is an inevitable consequence of the explanatory framework of the Athenian tradition in philosophy according to which “the essence of things does not change.”[418] Each species – a word he uses to refer to different specific kinds of plants or animals as well as humans – has its own unique essence and the inherent hidden potentials which will be actualized or externalised under different conditions. Hence differences may arise as several instantiations of an essence actualise different attributes under different circumstances; outwardly, some of these differences may be dramatic. Nonetheless, they are variant actualisations of the same essence. If, for example, species A gives rise to species B, then the potential for creating species B was already in species A. Therefore, from the point of view of essences and potentials, they are still one kind or essence or species, although they actualise or manifest vastly different potentials. There has been no change in the essence per se but there have been changes insofar as different potentials have been actualized and externalised.

 

60. SAQ and Science

There is no question that `Abdu'l-Bahá’s views on human evolution are in conflict with current scientific thought in regards to the origins and history of humankind. However, this does not necessarily undermine Bahá'u'lláh’s teaching that science and religion should be in harmony unless one adopts the view that religion must uncritically agree with science on all its pronouncements at all times. Logically this is untenable for the simple reason that science itself changes its views – sometime profoundly – and no text, revealed or not, can adopt all the successive scientific beliefs on a given subject without falling into self-contradiction and, thereby, ceasing to be useful as a guide. [419]

 

Nor does SAQ lend itself to the suggestion that religion and science are non-overlapping magisterial (NOMA) in which each has its own specific area of competency which cannot conflict because they deal with different topics.[420] `Abdu'l-Bahá’s critique of scientists’ interpretation of the data of evolution – he does not challenge the data itself – shows that in his view, science and religion are not separate compartments hermetically sealed off from each other. Nor is there a firewall between science and his ontological statements which are, after all, statements about the nature of all reality, including that which is studied by science. This applies particularly to his proofs for the existence of God which most certainly have implications for cosmology if for no other reason than that such proofs suggest that all purely material explanations are inherently incomplete. Thus, it seems clear that SAQ exemplifies the dialogical approach to the harmony of religion and science. In the dialogical approach, both sides are aware of their own and the other’s inherent strengths and limitations and engage in careful dialogue in the quest for truth; they feel free to engage in mutual critique and recognise their commonalities vis-à-vis  methods (the use of reason, models, paradigms, independent investigation), and presuppositions about the nature of reality. They also concern themselves with the “limit-questions”[421] that science raises about the origins of the universe, its intelligibility and order, the origin and nature of natural law and appearance versus reality. These “limit questions” are of mutual interest to science and religion. From the dialogical perspective the harmony of religion and science does not mean uncritical agreement of one with the other, but of a mutual quest for a more adequate understanding of the truth about reality. They work as partners in a process – which is what both science and religion are – rather  than make score-sheets of agreements and disagreements.  

 

Conclusion

 This survey of SAQ has covered major subjects in ontology, onto-theology, epistemology and philosophical anthropology. From this survey, we have drawn three general conclusions.

 

 First, SAQ’s ideas on these four foundational subject areas are founded on and shaped by a consistent set of philosophical ideas. In other words, SAQ is more than a random collection of thoughts on various topics; instead it exemplifies a consistent underlying philosophy vis-à-vis ontology, onto-theology, epistemology and philosophical anthropology. In these areas, SAQ lays down basic principles from which a considerable portions of SAQ (and the other Writings) may be deduced or to which they can be rationally related. Close analysis shows the seemingly unconnected parts are joined at an often implicit level by a coherent underlying philosophy.

 

 Second, this underlying philosophy has significant connections with the philosophy of the Athenian tradition, in terms of language and terminology, concepts and use of concepts, and the development of arguments. Of the available philosophical traditions, SAQ is most consistent with the Athenian tradition, both in its early and contemporary forms. Like SAQ, this tradition analyses reality in terms of essences, substances, accidents, potentials, actualities and four-fold causality; accepts the existence of God, and emphasises humankind’s special place in creation, as well as virtue ethics.

 

To say that the philosophy embedded in SAQ is most consistent with the Athenian tradition is not to say that SAQ (or the Writings) are limited by past versions of this tradition. As shown most decisively in the work of Whitehead and his followers, but also in the work of Marcel, de Chardin, MacIntyre and Wild, as well as the developments in neo-Thomism, the Athenian tradition is not only flexible but capable of enormous, sometimes even radical, growth in new directions. Being part of this tradition does not imprison philosophy in the past but rather provides a philosophically sound vessel with which to embark on voyages of exploration.

 

Third, SAQ shows that the philosophy based on the Bahá'í Writings in general and SAQ in particular, can be a coherent and systematic basis for a dialogical (including critical) relationship with other philosophical approaches, with science, as well as with various intellectual disciplines. In other words, the philosophy embedded throughout SAQ and the other Writings represents a solid foundation from which Bahá'ís may engage other systems of thought both appreciatively and critically. It is, therefore, a valuable tool for inter-faith dialogue, for teaching and for apologetics. 

 
Footnotes
 

 
[1] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[2]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.  7.

[3] Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, CVI, p. 213.

[4] Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, CVI, p. 213.

[5] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 280.

[6] For a detailed study of this view, see Ian Kluge, “The Aristotelian Substratum of the Bahá'í Writings,” Lights of Irfan, Vol. IV, 2003. Alastair McIntyre is a well-known example of a contemporary neo-Aristotelian. It must be emphasised that it is not necessary to be a Catholic to be a neo-Thomist, as illustrated by Mortimer Adler. We should also recall that many Muslim philosophers such as Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd and Suhrawardi worked in the tradition begun by Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus.  

[7] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, 3.

[8] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.

[9] Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great.

[10] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[11] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[12] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[13] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[14] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[15] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278. Note, too, how `Abdu'l-Bahá provides another guideline within which a Bahá'í philosophy must work when he says it is “futile to deny” that the existence of creation is an illusion compared to God’s absolute, non-contingent existence.

[16] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions,  p. 280; emphasis added.

[17] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[18] See Ian Kluge, “Postmodernism and the Bahá'í Writings,” Lights of Irfan, Vol.

[19] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 196.

[20] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[21] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 3.

[22] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[23] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 212 – 213.

[24] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 281.

[25] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208.

[26] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208.

[27]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208.

[28] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 235.

[29] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 189 – 190.

[30] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[31] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 247; emphasis added.

[32] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 178.

[33] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 178 – 179; emphasis added. 

[34] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 130.

[35] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 130.

[36] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 130.

[37] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 130 – 131.

[38] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 131.

[39] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 131.

[40]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 131.

[41] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 249; emphasis added.

[42] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 212.

[43] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 123.

[44] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.  245 – 246; emphasis added.

[45] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p, 225.

[46] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p, 225.

[47] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p, 243.

[48] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 221.

[49] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 178.

[50]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 129; emphasis added.

[51] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 78.

[52] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 79.

[53] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 178.

[54] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 233.

[55] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 179.

[56] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 146.

[57] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 221.

[58] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 157 – 158.

[59] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 158.; see also SAQ 252.

[60] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 157.

[61] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208.

[62] “Pantheism and Panentheism” by Charles Hartshorne in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Mircea Eliade, Vol. 11, p. 165 – 171. Both Whitehead and his follower Hartshorne are panentheists.

[63] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[64] “Pantheism and Panentheism” by Charles Hartshorne in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Mircea Eliade, Vol. 11, p. 166.

[65] See "No thing have I perceived, except that I perceived God within it, God before it, or God after it." in

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, XC, p. 178, for further evidence on this issue.

[66] New Scientist

[67] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 179; emphasis added. See also 100, 143, 163, 202, 208,  

[68] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 178; emphasis added.

[69] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 280.

[70] Aristotle,  Physics, II, 7, 198 a, b.

[71] Aristotle, Metaphysics, V, 1, 1013 a, b.

[72] John Wild, Introduction to Realistic Philosophy, p. 300.

[73] John Wild, Introduction to Realistic Philosophy, p. 300.

[74]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 280.

[75] Aristotle, Physics, II, 8.

[76] Aristotle, Physics, II, 7, 198a.

[77] John Wild, Introduction to Realistic Philosophy, p. 302.

[78] Abaham Edel, Aristotle and His Philosophy, p. 62. See also W.D. Ross, Aristotle, p. 77 which supports Norris, Edel and Wild.

[79] Henry B. Veatch, Aristotle: A Contemporary Appreciation, p. p. 48.

[80] W. Norris Clarke, S.J., The One and the Many, p. 200.

[81] W. Norris Clarke, S.J., The One and the Many, p. 201.

[82] W. Norris Clarke, S.J., The One and the Many, p. 201.

[83] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 181; emphasis added.

[84] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 3; emphasis added.

[85] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 181.

[86] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 181.

[87]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 3.

[88] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 6; emphasis added.

[89] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 6.

[90] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 89.

[91]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 89.

[92] Ted Honderich, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, 384.

[93] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 280.

[94] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 283.

[95] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 283.

[96] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 241.

[97] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 39.

[98] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 48.

[99] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 76.

[100] Ted Honderich, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, p. 887.

[101] Ted Honderich, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, p. 887.

[102] Simon Blackburn, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, p. 264.

[103] Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, 518 – 519.

[104]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208 – 209; emphasis added.

[105]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208 – 209.

[106]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 129.

[107] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 184.

[108] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 235; emphasis added.

[109] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 283.

[110] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 295.

[111]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 203.

[112] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 199; emphasis added.

[113] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 196.

[114] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 195 – 196.

[115] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 222.

[116] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 113.

[117] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 5.

[118] W. Norris Clarke, S.J. The Philosophical Approach to God, p. 59.

[119] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 196.

[120] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 197.

[121] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 196.

[122] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 196.

[123] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 281.

[124] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 281.

[125] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 180.

[126] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 225.

[127] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 180.

[128] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 281.

[129] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 199.

[130] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 217 – 218.

[131] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 151.

[132] [20.15] “Surely the hour is coming-- I am about to make it manifest-- so that every soul may be rewarded as it strives:”

[133] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 199.

[134] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 199.

[135] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 199.

[136] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 199.

[137] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 220.

[138] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 239.

[139] In Aristotle substance and essence are convertible terms. See Edel, Aristotle and His Philosophy, p. 122.  See also Ross, Aristotle, p. 162.

[140] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 148.

[141] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 146, 147, 148,

[142] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 146.

[143] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 148.

[144] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 148.

[145] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 146  - 147; emphasis added. 

[146] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 148; see also 147. 

[147] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 148; emphasis added. 

[148]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 5.

[149] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 181.

[150] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 5.

[151] The argument from perfection is the fourth of Aquinas’ five proofs for God in the Summa Theologica.

[152] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 6.

[153] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 130.

[154]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 6.

[155] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 6.

[156] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 6.

[157] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 6.

[158] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 6.

[159] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 177.

[160] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 199.

[161]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 177.

[162] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 263 – 264; emphasis added. 

[163]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 233.

[164] Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, p. 108.

[165] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 2.

[166] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 14.

[167] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 14.

[168] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 237.

[169] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 233.

[170] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 108.

[171] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 108.

[172] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 108.

[173] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 239 – 240.

[174] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 113.

[175] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 113.

[176]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 148.

[177]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 148 – 149.

[178] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 207; emphasis added.

[179] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 156.

[180] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 203.

[181]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 202.

[182] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 114.

[183] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 113.

[184] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 180; emphasis added. See also SAQ p. 282.

[185] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 173.

[186]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 207.

[187] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 4.

[188] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 147.

[189] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 202 – 203.

[190] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 205.

[191] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 205.

[192] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 207.

[193] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 205.

[194] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 205.

[195] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 235.

[196] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 235.

[197] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 230.

[198] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 295.

[199] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 203.

[200] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 147.

[201] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 168.

[202] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 222.

[203] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 114.

[204] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 152.

[205]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 145.

[206] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 154; emphasis added.

[207] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 153.

[208] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 9 – 10.

[209] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 154.

[210] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 152.

[211]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.116.

[212] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 230.

[213] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 230.

[214] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 230.

[215] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 154.

[216] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 153.

[217] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 151.

[218] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 154.

[219] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 152.

[220] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 218 – 219; emphasis added. 

[221] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 154.

[222] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 157 – 158.

[223] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 158.

[224] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 154.

[225] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 218.

[226] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 147.

[227] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 147.

[228] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 221.

[229]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 221.

[230] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 222.

[231] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 221; emphasis added.

[232] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[233] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 278.

[234] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 217 – 218.

[235] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 253.

[236] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 3.

[237] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208.

[238] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 221; emphasis added.

[239] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 144.

[240] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 144.

[241] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 251; see also 3, 9,

[242] Simon Blackburn, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, p. 264.

[243] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 129.

[244] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208; emphasis added.

[245] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 220.

[246] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 220.

[247] See Ian Kluge, “Postmodernism and the Baha’i Writings,” Lights of Irfan, Vol. Nine, 2008. 

[248] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 298.

[249] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 298.

[250] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 299; emphasis added.

[251] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 64.

[252] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 145; emphasis added.

[253] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 6; emphasis added.

[254] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 108.

[255] Descartes, Regulae, Rule III. http://www.mtsu.edu/~rbombard/RB/Spinoza/cnd.html See also Philosophical Meditations.

[256] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 298.

[257] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 298.

[258] Meriam-Webster Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liable

[259] See Ian Kluge, “Relativism and the Baha’i Writings.”

[260] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 9; emphasis added.

[261] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 64.

[262] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 64.

[263] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 163.

[264] Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 108.

[265] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208.

[266] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 7.

[267] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 73.

[268] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.8; italics added.

[269] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208.

[270] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 217.

[271] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 7.

[272] See Ian Kluge, “Postmodernism and the Baha’i Writings” (Lights of Irfan Vol. 9, 2008) and  “Relativism and the Baha’i Writings.”

[273] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 220.

[274] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 220.

[275] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 220; emphasis added.

[276] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 157.

[277] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 157.

[278] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 157.

[279] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 157.

[280]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 157.

[281] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 158.

[282] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 158.

[283] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 158.

[284] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 146.

[285] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 147.

[286]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 147

[287] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 147.

[288] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 222.

[289] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 221.

[290] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 147.

[291] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 250.

[292] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 293 – 294; emphasis added. 

[293]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 293.

[294] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 294.

[295] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 209; emphasis added.

[296] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 220.

[297] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 253. 

[298] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 241.

[299] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 241.

[300] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 263.

[301] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 156; emphasis added.

[302] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 108.

[303] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 229; see also 287.

[304] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 144.

[305]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 239.

[306]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 242.

[307] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 108.

[308] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 157.

[309]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 242.

[310]   `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 228.

[311]   `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 229.

[312] Malebranche and Leibniz are the major western philosophers associated with this doctrine; among early Muslim proponents were al-Ashari and al-Ghazali.

[313] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 209.

[314] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 203.

[315] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 218.

[316] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 218.

[317] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 171.

[318] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 171.

[319] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 157.

[320] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 172.

[321] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 172.

[322] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 172.

[323] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 172.

[324] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 173.

[325] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 173; emphasis added.

[326] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 172.

[327] Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, p. xxiv.

[328] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 184.

[329] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 224; emphasis added.

[330] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 119; emphasis added.

[331] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 193.

[332] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 189.

[333] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 239.

[334] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 118.

[335] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 119.

[336] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 223.

[337] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 223.

[338] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 229.

[339] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 229.

[340] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 229.

[341] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 240; emphasis added.

[342] In the Western tradition, the second view is most closely identified with Duns Scotus, and the first with Thomas Aquinas.

[343] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 225.

[344] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 225.

[345] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 225.

[346] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 225.

[347] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208; emphasis added.

[348] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 217; emphasis added. 

[349] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 120.

[350] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 115; emphasis added.

[351] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 118.

[352] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 118.

[353]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 235.

[354]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 200.

[355] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 200.

[356] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 201.

[357] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 201.

[358] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 201; emphasis added.

[359] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 201.

[360] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 212.

[361] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 212.

[362] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 212.

[363] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 213.

[364] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 215.

[365] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 214.

[366] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 214.

[367] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 214.

[368] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 214 – 215.

[369] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 248.

[370] Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, p. 156.

[371] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 249.

[372] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 248.

[373] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 248.

[374] Ted Honderich, editor, The Oxford  Companion to Philosophy, p. 187.

[375] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 300; emphasis added.

[376] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 215.

[377] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 215 – 216.

[378] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 216.

[379]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 215 – 216.

[380] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 235 – 236; emphasis added. 

[381] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 48; emphasis added. 

[382] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 47.

[383] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 144.

[384] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 92.

[385] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 302.

[386]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 300.

[387] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 300; emphasis added.

[388] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 238. emphasis added.

[389] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 300 – 301; emphasis added.

[390] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 223.

[391] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 224.

[392] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 163.

[393] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8.

[394] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8.

[395] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8; emphasis added.

[396] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8.

[397] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8.

[398] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 9; emphasis added.

[399] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8.

[400] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 9.

[401] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 9.

[402]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 74 – 75.

[403] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 64.

[404] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 272.

[405] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 19. It would be curious to know how Edward Said would respond to this and similar statements.

[406] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 237.

[407] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 230.

[408] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 233 – 234.

[409] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 184.

[410]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 193; see also 194. 

[411]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 184.

[412] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 100.

[413]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 199.

[414]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 198.

[415] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 184.

[416] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 184.

[417] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 199; emphasis added.

[418] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 100.

[419] For example, in the 1970’s scientific consensus was that the earth was cooling not warming. Another example would be the reversal of the view that neutrinos have no mass.

[420] Stephen Jay Gould, “Nonoverlapping Magisteria,” Natural History, March 1997.

[421] Ian G Barbour, When Science Meets Religion, p.24.

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