Mulla Sadra on Virtue and Action

Document Type: Research Paper


University of Qom, Iran


This paper sheds light on the views of Mulla Sadra about virtue and action. The main question is how he explains the relationship, if any, between virtue and action. Mulla Sadra defines moral virtue as a settled inner disposition by which one acts morally, without need for any reflection or deliberation. This study seeks to explain how, according to Mulla Sadra, a virtue motivates the agent and leads him to do the right action easily. Is virtue the reason for or cause of action? Is there a semantic link between action and virtue? Can we regard an action as right if it is not motivated by a virtue? Another question is about the role of action in the development of moral character. Is virtue acquired through the practice of corresponding actions? If we divide virtues into moral and intellectual, we should ask about the relationship between an epistemic action and intellectual virtues as well. In addition, since Mulla Sadra is a Muslim religious thinker, explaining the role of faith and religious rituals in forming moral character and also the relationship between faith and moral action is important. This paper will show that Mulla Sadra accepts the semantic, metaphysical, and psychological relationships between virtue and action.



Alvarez, M. 2016. “Reasons for Action: Justification, Motivation, Explanation.”

Aristotle. 1990. Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by Mohammad Hasan Lotfi. Tehran: Tarh-e No.

Davidson, D. 1980. Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Hursthouse, R. 1999. On Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kashani, Muhsin Fayd. 1960. Al-Mahajja al-bayda’ fi tahdhib al-Ihya’. Tehran: al-Saduq.

Khazaei, Z. 2005. “Moral Saints.” Philosophical Theological Research 6 (4): 144-66.

———. 2013. “Epistemic Virtue from the Viewpoints of Mulla Sadra and Zagzebski.” Religious Inquiries 2 (4): 21-39.

Mele, A. 2009. “Weakness of Will and Akrasia.” Philosophical Studies. 150 ( 3 ): 391-404.

Miskawayh, H. n.d. Tahdhib al-Akhlaq wa tathir al-a‘raq. Isfahan: Mahdavi.

Mulla Sadra. 1981.  Al-Hikmat al-muta'aliyah fi l-asfar al-'aqliyyah al-arba'ah. Edited by Muhammad Rida al-Muzaffar. Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabi.

———. 1360 Sh. Mafatih al-ghayb.  Edited by M. Khwajavi. Tehran: Moassese Motaleat va Tahghighate Farhangi.

———. 1366 Sh. Sharh usul al-Kafi. Edited by M. Khwajavi. Qom: Intisharat-i Bidar.

———. 1367 Sh.Tafsir al-Qur’an al-karim. Edited by M. Khwajavi. Qom: Intisharat-i Bidar.

———. 1376 Sh. Risala-yi sih asl. Edited by S. H. Nasr.Tehran: Tehran University Press.

———. 1382 Sh. Al-Shawahid al-rububiyyah fi manahij al-sulukiyyah. Edited by Sayyid Jalal al-Din Ashtiyani. Mashhad: Markaz-e Nashr-e Daneshgahi.

Naraqi, M. 1373 AH. Jami‘ al- sa‘adat. Edited by Sayyed Muhammad Kalantar. Beirut: al-A‘lami.

Slote, M. 2001. Morals from Motives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tusi, N. 1373 Sh. Akhlaq Nasiri. Edited by M. Minavi and A. Heidari. Tehran: Kharazmi.

Zagzebski, L. 1996. Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. New York: Cambridge University Press.

———. 2010. “Exemplarist Virtue Theory.” Metaphilosophy 41(1/2): 41- 57.

———. 2012. “Virtue Theory and Exemplars.” Philosophical News 4: 156–61.