Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 1990
  • Online publication date: July 2014

22 - Al-Fārābī

Summary

Unlike the changes which Muslim names frequently underwent in the Latin West, the last name of Abā Naṣr Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Tarkhān b. Awzalugh (or Uzlugh) al-Fārābī was barely altered, and it is as “Alfarabi” that it has been common to refer to him. Al-Fārābī's name, however, may be the only constant on which to seize at the moment, as contemporary scholarship challenges previous assessments of his work. Al-Fārābī appears increasingly as a disarmingly subtle thinker, an individualist with a civic conscience, a man who attempted to reconcile Plato and Aristotle, philosophy and theology, Athens and Mecca.1 The syntheses attempted, however, are neither facile nor dogmatic, and proceed from a predominantly philosophical standpoint. The exact nature of al-Fārābī's philosophical credo, moreover, is still being questioned.

The question is complicated by the lack of a sure chronology for al-Fārābī's many compositions, and an equal ignorance of the particular circumstances which prompted each work in a given genre: the motivation, purpose and intended audience. With few sure criteria of a biographical or stylistic sort to assist them, scholars are forced to choose between differing statements and emphases in related texts, and even within the same text, to determine al-Fārābī's genuine convictions. Moreover, the work of Leo Strauss, Muhsin Mahdi and others has drawn attention to the likelihood that al-Fārābī deliberately shielded essential elements of his convictions from the eyes of the uncritical reader.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Religion, Learning and Science in the 'Abbasid Period
  • Online ISBN: 9781139424912
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHO9781139424912
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *
×