Leo Strauss (essay date 1945)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Strauss, Leo. “Farabi's Plato.” In Louis Ginzberg: Jubilee Volume: On the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, pp. 357-93. New York: The American Academy for Jewish Research, 1945.

[In the following essay, Strauss examines al-Fārābī's exposition of Plato's philosophy and al-Fārābī's own views on the relationship between philosophy and happiness.]

Eben derselbe Gedanke kann, an einem andern Orte, einen ganz andern Wert haben.

Lessing, Leibniz, von den ewigen Strafen.

It is generally admitted that one cannot understand the teaching of Maimonides' Guide for the...

(The entire section is 14471 words.)

Fauzi M. Najjar (essay date 1958)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Najjar, Fauzi M. “Al-Farabi on Political Science.” Muslim World 48, no. 2 (1958): 94-103.

[In the following essay, Najjar explains that, in al-Fārābī's view, political science is another term for practical wisdom and cannot be separated from philosophy and metaphysics.]

Al-Fārābī discusses the subject matter as well as the function of political science in Chapter 5 of his Iḥṣā’ al-‘Ulūm, or “Classification of the Sciences”.1 In the same chapter he treats the Islamic religious sciences of fiqh (Jurisprudence) and kalām (Theology). That fiqh and kalām should be treated in a chapter devoted to...

(The entire section is 5220 words.)

Majid Fakhry (essay date October-December 1965)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Fakhry, Majid. “Al-Farabi and the Reconciliation of Plato and Aristotle.” Journal of the History of Ideas 26, no. 4 (October-December 1965): 469-78.

[In the following essay, Fakhry details al-Fārābī's argument that alleged discrepancies between statements made by Plato and Aristotle are merely the result of an inadequate understanding of their teachings.]

The chequered history of Neo-Platonism, following the imperial edict ordering the School of Athens to be closed in 529, is one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of the diffusion of Greek culture in the Middle Ages. As a result of its progressive defeat at Alexandria, Greek philosophy...

(The entire section is 4701 words.)

Muhsin Mahdi (essay date fall 1972)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Mahdi, Muhsin. “Alfarabi on Philosophy and Religion.” Philosophical Forum 4, no. 1 (fall 1972): 5-25.

[In the following essay, Mahdi explains al-Fārābī's position that religion and philosophy are not necessarily opposed to each other and that they can be mutually beneficial.]


The Attainment of Happiness does not begin with an explanation of what happiness is or a description of the way to it. Instead, it enumerates four human things (theoretical virtues, deliberative virtues, moral virtues, and practical arts) whose presence in political communities (nations or cities) indicates that happiness is present in these...

(The entire section is 10217 words.)

Thérèse-Anne Druart (essay date 1987)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Druart, Thérèse-Anne. “Al-Farabi and Emanationism.” In Studies in Medieval Philosophy, edited by John F. Wippel, pp. 23-43. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1987.

[In the following essay, Druart examines al-Fārābī's presentation of emanationism and defends the author's writings against charges of inconsistency by explaining that al-Fārābī's loyalty to Aristotle sometimes led him to shy away from stressing any limitations in Aristotle's views.]

In 1981 Barry Sherman Kogan showed that emanationism had been a very controversial doctrine in Arabic philosophy.1 In The Incoherence of the Philosophers al-Ghazali...

(The entire section is 9635 words.)

Kwame Gyekye (essay date January 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Gyekye, Kwame. “Al-Fārābi on the Logic of the Arguments of the Muslim Philosophical Theologians.” In Journal of the History of Philosophy 27, no. 1 (January 1989): 135-43.

[In the following essay, Gyekye focuses on a treatise written by al-Fārābī concerning the logical structures used by Muslim philosophical theologians.]


My intention in this paper is to discuss those portions of al-Fārābī's treatise—mistitled by Nicholas Rescher as Al-Fārābī's Short Commentary on Aristotle's Prior Analytics1—which bear on certain methods of logic generally preferred, appropriated and developed by the...

(The entire section is 5088 words.)

Fuad Said Haddad (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Haddad, Fuad Said. “Conclusion.” In Alfarabi's Theory of Communication, pp. 155-69. Beirut, Lebanon: American University of Beirut, 1989.

[In the following essay, Haddad summarizes and analyzes al-Fārābī's theory of language communication as well as its impact on education.]


We have examined in the previous chapters Alfarabi's theory of language communication and its educational implications by analyzing and interpreting his works on language and logic. In this chapter we will first summarize the theory. Then we will bring forth its prominent characteristics and draw out its significant implications for the purpose of...

(The entire section is 5339 words.)

Ian Richard Netton (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Netton, Ian Richard. “Al-Fārābī: The Search for Order.” In Allah Transcendent: Studies in the Structure and Semiotics of Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Cosmology, pp. 99-148. London: Routledge, 1989.

[In the following essay, Netton examines al-Fārābī's description of God as the One in whom essence and existence merge absolutely, his understanding of the concept of emanation, and the structure of his theology.]


The reputation of Abū Naṣr Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Tarkhān b. Awzalagh1 al-Fārābī (AD 870-950) has come down to us untarnished and undiminished from...

(The entire section is 19643 words.)

Miriam Galston (essay date 1990)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Galston, Miriam. “Alfarabi's Method of Writing.” In Politics and Excellence: The Political Philosophy of Alfarabi, pp. 22-54. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990.

[In the following essay, Galston analyzes al-Fārābī's writing style—a multilevel method which both conceals and reveals—and his purpose in adopting this method.]

Those who wish to succeed in arriving at answers will find it useful to go over the perplexing points well. For answers successfully arrived at are solutions to the perplexing points that have previously been raised. A person cannot untie a knot if he is not aware of it.


(The entire section is 16264 words.)

Christopher Colmo (essay date December 1992)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Colmo, Christopher. “Theory and Practice: Alfarabi's Plato Revisited.” American Political Science Review 86, no. 4 (December 1992): 966-76.

[In the following essay, Colmo critiques Leo Strauss's studies of al-Fārābī, particularly concerning the relationship between science and philosophy.]

According to Leo Strauss, knowledge of the best way of life is crucial to political philosophy. In “Farabi's Plato,” Strauss asks, assuming that the theoretical life can be known to be the best way of life, what is the status of this knowledge? Is the knowledge of the best way of life itself theoretical knowledge or practical knowledge? Without a...

(The entire section is 10919 words.)

Majid Fakhry (essay date 1994)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Fakhry, Majid. “Al-Fārābi's Contribution to the Development of Aristotelian Logic.” In Philosophy, Dogma and the Impact of Greek Thought in Islam, chapter III, pp. 1-15. Hampshire, U.K.: Variorum, 1994.

[In the following essay, Fakhry discusses the importance of al-Fārābī's continuation of the Aristotelian tradition.]


During the period separating Boethius (d. 525) and Abélard (d. 1142), William and Martha Kneale, for instance, give no significant logician's name in their Development of Logic. Historians of medieval and premedieval philosophy have tended to take it for granted that, indeed, philosophical learning,...

(The entire section is 4367 words.)

Joshua Parens (essay date 1995)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Parens, Joshua. “Alfarabi's Platonism.” In Metaphysics as Rhetoric: Alfarabi's Summary of Plato's “Laws,” pp. 17-27. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

[In the following essay, Parens considers to what degree al-Fārābī should be considered a Neoplatonist.]

This chapter treats the secondary literature on Alfarabi's corpus as a whole rather than just on the Summary, because there is only one substantive treatment of the Summary, namely, a brief article by Leo Strauss.1 The purpose of this chapter, however, is to correct certain common and persistent misunderstandings of Alfarabi. In spite of the readily apparent...

(The entire section is 7112 words.)

Christopher Colmo (essay date fall 1998)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Colmo, Christopher. “Alfarabi on the Prudence of Founders.” The Review of Politics 60, no. 4 (fall 1998): 719-41.

[In the following essay, Colmo examines al-Fārābī's advice to rulers in the Book of Religion, comparing and contrasting it with the advice given by Nicolo Machiavelli in The Prince.]


The founder of a religious community can use religion to bind the community together, uniting it towards a single goal.1 To affirm this truth while placing prudent limitations on the universal claims of religion is Alfarabi's intention in the Book of Religion.2 Machiavelli's teaching on...

(The entire section is 9034 words.)

Muhsin S. Mahdi (essay date 2001)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Mahdi, Muhsin S. “The Foundation of Islamic Philosophy.” In Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy, pp. 47-62. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2001.

[In the following essay, Mahdi explains the uniqueness of al-Fārābī's political works and their thematic concern with the salvation of civilization.]

Alfarabi established the main tradition of Islamic philosophy as we know it today. The respect with which he has been regarded by his successors has not always been matched with a clear understanding of his role as a founder or with a comprehensive appreciation of his achievement as a philosopher. Great philosophers like Avicenna,...

(The entire section is 8972 words.)