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. He then turns to Alfarabi's concept of "the virtuous city," and concludes with an in-depth analysis of the trilogy, Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. This philosophical engagement with the writings of and about Alfarabi will be essential reading for anyone interested in medieval political philosophy. (shrink)
This book, first published in 1957, is the study of 14th-century Arab historian Ibn Khaldun, who founded a special science to consider history and culture, based on the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle and their Muslim followers. In no other field has the revolt of modern Western thought against traditional philosophy been so far-reaching in its consequences as in the field of history. Ibn Khaldun realized that history is more immediately related to action than political philosophy because it studies the (...) actual state of man and society. He found that the ancients had not made history the object of an independent science, and thought it was important to fill this gap. A factual acquaintance with the conclusions of Ibn Khaldun's reflections on history is not the same as the full comprehension of their theoretical significance. When these fundamental questions are answered, it becomes possible to pose the specific question of the relation of Ibn Khaldun's philosophy of history, or his new science of culture, to other practical sciences and, particularly, to the art of history. After an exposition of the major trends of Islamic historiography, part of this book attempts to answer this question through the analysis of the method and intention of the sections of the 'History' where Ibn Khaldun himself examines the works of major Muslim historians, shows the necessity of the new science of culture, and distinguishes it from other practical sciences. (shrink)
Having constituted a new epoch in human history and a new religiouspolitical order, the revealed religions challenged the tradition of Greek philosophy to adjust to, investigate, and make intelligible a religiouspolitical order based on prophecy, revelation, and the divine law. The challenge led certain Arab and Muslim philosophers to reassess the relative distance between the thought of the Greek masters, and the doctrines propagated by the revealed religions, and to make use of such works as Plato's Republic and Laws, rather (...) than Aristotle's Politics, when offering a philosophic account of the new religious–political phenomenon and of such new disciplines as the science of the divine law and the science of revealed theology. Les religions révélées, en inaugurant une ère nouvelle dans l'histoire humaine et un nouvel ordre “religio-politique”, ont constitué un défi pour la tradition de la philosophie grecque. Celle-ci devait s'adapter a un ordre religio-politique fondé sur la prophétie, la révélation et la loi divine, en faire un objet d'investigation et le rendre intelligible. Ce défi conduisit certains philosophes arabes et musulmans à réévaluer la distance qui sépare la pensée des maîtres grecs des doctrines propagées par les religions révelées. Il les conduisit aussi à faire usage d'oeuvres telles que la République et les Lois de Platon, plutôt que la Politique d'Aristote dans leur effort de rendre compte philosophiquement du phénomène religio-politique nouveau et des nouvelles disciplines telles que la science de la loi divine et la science de la théologie révélée. (shrink)
THE ARTICLE COMMENTS ON THOSE SECTIONS OF ALFARABI'S "BOOK OF LETTERS" WHERE HE PRESENTS A META-PHILOSOPHICAL ACCOUNT OF THE 'HISTORY' OF PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION, THE STAGES THROUGH WHICH THEY PASS, AND THE RELATION AND CONFLICT BETWEEN THE TWO-BOTH AS THEY DEVELOP WITHIN A SINGLE NATION AND WHEN THEY ARE TRANSFERRED ACROSS NATIONAL BOUNDARIES. IT SHOWS ALFARABI'S ACUTE SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS REGARDING THE TEMPORAL AND RELIGIOUS CONTEXT WITHIN WHICH PHILOSOPHY WAS BEING PRACTICED IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD.