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- Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy by Muhsin Mahdi
- Alfarabi and the Foundation of Political Theology in Islam
- Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy
It is precisely in this connection that religion, milla , as al-Farabi views it, has its place. According to him, religion is the ensemble of beliefs and rules of conduct governing a society. It is so-to-speak its ideological and legal constitution designed by its first ruler to direct its citizens towards human perfection and thus to contribute simultaneously to the attainment of individual happiness and the well-being of the city. To our knowledge, al-Farabi was the first philosopher in the Islamic world who not only displayed a serious interest in philosophy of society and religion, but also developed a highly differentiated account thereof.
Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy by Muhsin Mahdi
He was also a scientist , cosmologist , mathematician and music theorist. In Islamic philosophical tradition he was often called "the Second Teacher", following Aristotle who was known as "the First Teacher". Through his works, he became well-known in the West as well as the East. The existing variations in the basic accounts of al-Farabi's origins and pedigree indicate that they were not recorded during his lifetime or soon thereafter by anyone with concrete information, but were based on hearsay or guesses as is the case with other contemporaries of al-Farabi.
Little is known about his life. Early sources include an autobiographical passage where al-Farabi traces the history of logic and philosophy up to his time, and brief mentions by Al-Masudi , Ibn al-Nadim and Ibn Hawqal. Said Al-Andalusi wrote a biography of al-Farabi. Arabic biographers of the 12th—13th centuries thus had few facts to hand, and used invented stories about his life.
From incidental accounts it is known that he spent significant time most of his life in Baghdad with Christian scholars including the cleric Yuhanna ibn Haylan, Yahya ibn Adi, and Abu Ishaq Ibrahim al-Baghdadi.
He later spent time in Damascus and in Egypt before returning to Damascus where he died in His birthplace could have been any one of the many places in Central Asia - Khurasan that is known by that name.
Scholars largely agree that Farabi's ethnic background is not knowable. Based on this account, some modern scholars say he is of Turkic origin. Bosworth notes that "great figures [such] as al-Farabi, al-Biruni , and ibn Sina have been attached by over enthusiastic Turkish scholars to their race".
Al-Farabi spent almost his entire life in Baghdad. He finished the book in Damascus the following year , i. Henry Corbin writes that the evidence supports the opinion common in Iran that al-Farabi was a Shia Muslim. Corbin argues that there are many similarities between what he calls Farabi's "prophetic philosophy" and the teachings of Shiite Imams.
Farabi made contributions to the fields of logic , mathematics , music , philosophy , psychology , and education. Though he was mainly an Aristotelian logician, he included a number of non-Aristotelian elements in his works. He discussed the topics of future contingents , the number and relation of the categories, the relation between logic and grammar , and non-Aristotelian forms of inference. Al-Farabi also considered the theories of conditional syllogisms and analogical inference , which were part of the Stoic tradition of logic rather than the Aristotelian.
In it, he presents philosophical principles about music, its cosmic qualities, and its influences. He also wrote a treatise on the Meanings of the Intellect , which dealt with music therapy and discussed the therapeutic effects of music on the soul. As a philosopher, Al-Farabi was a founder of his own school of early Islamic philosophy known as "Farabism" or "Alfarabism", though it was later overshadowed by Avicennism.
Al-Farabi's school of philosophy "breaks with the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle [ His Neoplatonic theology is also more than just metaphysics as rhetoric. In his attempt to think through the nature of a First Cause , Alfarabi discovers the limits of human knowledge ". Al-Farabi had great influence on science and philosophy for several centuries,  and was widely considered second only to Aristotle in knowledge alluded to by his title of "the Second Teacher" in his time.
His work, aimed at synthesis of philosophy and Sufism , paved the way for the work of Ibn Sina Avicenna. Al-Farabi incorporated the Platonic view, drawing a parallel from within the Islamic context, in that he regarded the ideal state to be ruled by the prophet - imam , instead of the philosopher-king envisaged by Plato.
Al-Farabi argued that the ideal state was the city-state of Medina when it was governed by the prophet Muhammad as its head of state , as he was in direct communion with Allah whose law was revealed to him.
In the absence of the prophet-imam, Al-Farabi considered democracy as the closest to the ideal state, regarding the republican order of the Sunni Rashidun Caliphate as an example within early Muslim history. However, he also maintained that it was from democracy that imperfect states emerged, noting how the republican order of the early Islamic Caliphate of the Rashidun caliphs was later replaced by a form of government resembling a monarchy under the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties.
Al-Farabi wrote a short treatise "On Vacuum", where he thought about the nature of the existence of void. Al-Farabi wrote Social Psychology and Principles of the Opinions of the Citizens of the Virtuous City , which were the first treatises to deal with social psychology. He stated that "an isolated individual could not achieve all the perfections by himself, without the aid of other individuals," and that it is the "innate disposition of every man to join another human being or other men in the labor he ought to perform.
In his treatise On the Cause of Dreams , which appeared as chapter 24 of his Principles of the Opinions of the Citizens of the Ideal City , he distinguished between dream interpretation and the nature and causes of dreams. The main influence on al-Farabi's philosophy was the neo-Aristotelian tradition of Alexandria.
A prolific writer, he is credited with over one hundred works. His ideas are marked by their coherency, despite drawing together of many different philosophical disciplines and traditions.
Some other significant influences on his work were the planetary model of Ptolemy and elements of Neo-Platonism ,  particularly metaphysics and practical or political philosophy which bears more resemblance to Plato's Republic than Aristotle's Politics. Zimmermann published in Farabi had a great influence on Maimonides , the most important Jewish thinker of the middle ages.
Maimonides wrote in Arabic a Treatise on logic , the celebrated Maqala fi sina at al-mantiq. In a wonderfully concise way, the work treats of the essentials of Aristotelian logic in the light of comments made by the Persian philosophers: Avicenna and, above all, al-Farabi. According to Adamson, his work was singularly directed towards the goal of simultaneously reviving and reinventing the Alexandrian philosophical tradition, to which his Christian teacher, Yuhanna bin Haylan belonged.
His success should be measured by the honorific title of "the second master" of philosophy Aristotle being the first , by which he was known. In contrast to al-Kindi , who considered the subject of metaphysics to be God, al-Farabi believed that it was concerned primarily with being qua being that is, being in and of itself , and this is related to God only to the extent that God is a principle of absolute being.
Al-Kindi's view was, however, a common misconception regarding Greek philosophy amongst Muslim intellectuals at the time, and it was for this reason that Avicenna remarked that he did not understand Aristotle's Metaphysics properly until he had read a prolegomenon written by al-Farabi. Al-Farabi's cosmology is essentially based upon three pillars: Aristotelian metaphysics of causation, highly developed Plotinian emanational cosmology and the Ptolemaic astronomy.
At the centre of these concentric circles is the sub-lunar realm which contains the material world. Furthermore these are said to have emanated from God, who is both their formal and efficient cause. The process of emanation begins metaphysically, not temporally with the First Cause, whose principal activity is self-contemplation. And it is this intellectual activity that underlies its role in the creation of the universe.
The First Cause, by thinking of itself, "overflows" and the incorporeal entity of the second intellect "emanates" from it. Like its predecessor, the second intellect also thinks about itself, and thereby brings its celestial sphere in this case, the sphere of fixed stars into being, but in addition to this it must also contemplate upon the First Cause, and this causes the "emanation" of the next intellect.
The cascade of emanation continues until it reaches the tenth intellect, beneath which is the material world. And as each intellect must contemplate both itself and an increasing number of predecessors, each succeeding level of existence becomes more and more complex.
This process is based upon necessity as opposed to will. In other words, God does not have a choice whether or not to create the universe, but by virtue of His own existence, He causes it to be. This view also suggests that the universe is eternal, and both of these points were criticized by al-Ghazzali in his attack on the philosophers  . In his discussion of the First Cause or God , al-Farabi relies heavily on negative theology. He says that it cannot be known by intellectual means, such as dialectical division or definition, because the terms used in these processes to define a thing constitute its substance.
Therefore if one was to define the First Cause, each of the terms used would actually constitute a part of its substance and therefore behave as a cause for its existence, which is impossible as the First Cause is uncaused; it exists without being caused.
Equally, he says it cannot be known according to genus and differentia, as its substance and existence are different from all others, and therefore it has no category to which it belongs.
If this were the case, then it would not be the First Cause, because something would be prior in existence to it, which is also impossible. This would suggest that the more philosophically simple a thing is, the more perfect it is.
And based on this observation, Adamson says it is possible to see the entire hierarchy of al-Farabi's cosmology according to classification into genus and species. Each succeeding level in this structure has as its principal qualities multiplicity and deficiency, and it is this ever-increasing complexity that typifies the material world.
Human beings are unique in al-Farabi's vision of the universe because they stand between two worlds: the "higher", immaterial world of the celestial intellects and universal intelligibles, and the "lower", material world of generation and decay; they inhabit a physical body, and so belong to the "lower" world, but they also have a rational capacity, which connects them to the "higher" realm.
Each level of existence in al-Farabi's cosmology is characterized by its movement towards perfection, which is to become like the First Cause, i. Human perfection or "happiness" , then, is equated with constant intellection and contemplation. Al-Farabi divides intellect into four categories: potential, actual, acquired and the Agent. The first three are the different states of the human intellect and the fourth is the Tenth Intellect the moon in his emanational cosmology.
The potential intellect represents the capacity to think, which is shared by all human beings, and the actual intellect is an intellect engaged in the act of thinking.
By thinking, al-Farabi means abstracting universal intelligibles from the sensory forms of objects which have been apprehended and retained in the individual's imagination.
This motion from potentiality to actuality requires the Agent Intellect to act upon the retained sensory forms; just as the Sun illuminates the physical world to allow us to see, the Agent Intellect illuminates the world of intelligibles to allow us to think.
The human intellect, by its act of intellection, passes from potentiality to actuality, and as it gradually comprehends these intelligibles, it is identified with them as according to Aristotle, by knowing something, the intellect becomes like it.
While this process seems mechanical, leaving little room for human choice or volition, Reisman says that al-Farabi is committed to human voluntarism. And it is by choosing what is ethical and contemplating about what constitutes the nature of ethics, that the actual intellect can become "like" the active intellect, thereby attaining perfection. It is only by this process that a human soul may survive death, and live on in the afterlife.
According to al-Farabi, the afterlife is not the personal experience commonly conceived of by religious traditions such as Islam and Christianity. Any individual or distinguishing features of the soul are annihilated after the death of the body; only the rational faculty survives and then, only if it has attained perfection , which becomes one with all other rational souls within the agent intellect and enters a realm of pure intelligence.
In his treatment of the human soul, al-Farabi draws on a basic Aristotelian outline, which is informed by the commentaries of later Greek thinkers. He says it is composed of four faculties: The appetitive the desire for, or aversion to an object of sense , the sensitive the perception by the senses of corporeal substances , the imaginative the faculty which retains images of sensible objects after they have been perceived, and then separates and combines them for a number of ends , and the rational , which is the faculty of intellection.
It is also the only part of the soul to survive the death of the body. Noticeably absent from these scheme are internal senses, such as common sense, which would be discussed by later philosophers such as Avicenna and Averroes. Special attention must be given to al-Farabi's treatment of the soul's imaginative faculty, which is essential to his interpretation of prophethood and prophetic knowledge.
In addition to its ability to retain and manipulate sensible images of objects, he gives the imagination the function of imitation. By this he means the capacity to represent an object with an image other than its own. In other words, to imitate "x" is to imagine "x" by associating it with sensible qualities that do not describe its own appearance. This extends the representative ability of the imagination beyond sensible forms and to include temperaments, emotions, desires and even immaterial intelligibles or abstract universals, as happens when, for example, one associates "evil" with "darkness".
These intelligibles are then associated with symbols and images, which allow him to communicate abstract truths in a way that can be understood by ordinary people. Therefore what makes prophetic knowledge unique is not its content, which is also accessible to philosophers through demonstration and intellection, but rather the form that it is given by the prophet's imagination.
The practical application of philosophy was a major concern expressed by al-Farabi in many of his works, and while the majority of his philosophical output has been influenced by Aristotelian thought, his practical philosophy was unmistakably based on that of Plato. The ideal society, he wrote, is one directed towards the realization of "true happiness" which can be taken to mean philosophical enlightenment and as such, the ideal philosopher must hone all the necessary arts of rhetoric and poetics to communicate abstract truths to the ordinary people, as well as having achieved enlightenment himself.
The philosopher's duty, he wrote, was to establish a "virtuous" society by healing the souls of the people, establishing justice and guiding them towards "true happiness". Of course, al-Farabi realized that such a society was rare and required a very specific set of historical circumstances to be realized, which means very few societies could ever attain this goal.
Alfarabi and the Foundation of Political Theology in Islam
In our times we consider political thought within the framework of the history of ideological movements and their appraisal of the society of their times. We learn of their social and economic theories as well as their proposals and implementation of government and social reform. In the mediaeval world, on the other hand, the terminus a quo of political thought was metaphysical, whereas the point of arrival was ethical. In line with Neoplatonic thought, the world of Late Antiquity and Mediaeval society, both East and West, thought of the heavenly and earthly realms as a hierarchical structure. God, being the First Cause and the cause of all causes, stood at the summit of this system. Between him and the terrestrial realm there lay a hierarchy of celestial beings fixed stars and planets emanating from him in descending order from the more perfect to the less perfect.
Islam, the State, and Political Authority pp Cite as. All this has two basic meanings: 1 the way political structures are mirrored in the theological conceptions; 2 and vice versa , the way theological conceptions must be shaped in order to provide proper representations of divinity and sovereignty. The element that mediates between these trends is the religious community which is, at one time, the privileged subject and object of political theology. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
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Acces PDF Alfarabi And The Foundation Of. Islamic Political Philosophy new foreword by Charles E. Butterworth and Thomas. L. Pangle. The three parts of the.
Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy
Political philosophy in general differs from political thought, on the one hand, and political theology, on the other, insofar as it seeks to replace opinion about political affairs by knowledge. Political philosophy in the medieval Arabic-Islamic tradition of the Middle East differs from that in the medieval Arabic-Jewish or Arabic-Christian traditions in that it is beholden neither to political nor to theological currents, its occasional rhetorical bows to one or the other notwithstanding. Political theology or, for medieval Islam, jurisprudence focuses on how the beliefs and actions set forth in the religious tradition elucidate the conditions justifying warfare or the qualities an individual must have to be considered a suitable ruler. Charles E.
In this work, Muhsin Mahdi—widely regarded as the preeminent scholar of Islamic political thought—distills more than four decades of research to offer an authoritative analysis of the work of Alfarabi, the founder of Islamic political philosophy. Mahdi, who also brought to light writings of Alfarabi that had long been presumed lost or were not even known, presents this great thinker as his contemporaries would have seen him: as a philosopher who sought to lay the foundations for a new understanding of revealed religion and its relation to the tradition of political philosophy. Beginning with a survey of Islamic philosophy and a discussion of its historical background, Mahdi considers the interrelated spheres of philosophy, political thought, theology, and jurisprudence of the time.
В нашей стране происходит много хорошего, но немало и плохого. Кто-то должен иметь возможность оценивать и отделять одно от другого. В этом и заключается наша работа.
Мидж… у меня нет никакой жизни. Она постучала пальцем по кипе документов: - Вот твоя жизнь, Чед Бринкерхофф. - Но, посмотрев на него, смягчилась. - Могу я чем-нибудь тебе помочь, прежде чем уйду.
Что помогло бы мне? - сказал Беккер. Росио покачала головой: - Это. Но вам ее не найти. Севилья - город большой и очень обманчивый.