“Eternal recurrence” is an old theorem in the history of philosophy stating that any event in the world will recur in future in a selfsimilar form an infinite number of times as it has recurred an infinite number of times previously. Suhrawardi discusses this theorem in his Hikmat alishraq and alMashari‘ wa almutarihat and adduces some arguments in order to demonstrate it.
In his T‘aliqat written on Qutb alDin Shirazi’s commentary on Hikmat alishraq, Mulla Sadra evaluates Suhrawardi’s argument and deems them unfounded. However, the falsity of the argument does not indicate the falsity of the claim, particularly, because we have Poincaré’s “proposition of recurrence” before us demonstrating that, in any system, the initial states of all component parts of a whole will recur after the passage of a sufficiently long time. This idea necessitates the demonstration of the theorem of “eternal recurrence”. Nevertheless, one must ask how long this sufficiently “long time” is. Based on the calculations of Chandrasekhar, for a spherical volume of air with a radius of one centimeter at a standard point of temperature and pressure, with one percent of fluctuation in density around the mean, this time is equal to 3 trillion years! Therefore, the time of the recurrence of the whole universe is so long that the life of its components will come to an end long before that time. This will make the recurrence of the universe impossible. Therefore, this paper concludes that the theorem of “eternal recurrence”, which Suhrawardi also believes in, is essentially possible but practically impossible.
