Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Al-Farabi, Abu Nasr (c. 870–950 CE)
Abu Nasr Al-Farabi (c. 870–950 CE) hailed from central Asia but trained and worked in Baghdad. He was the most influential member of a group of thinkers sometimes called the “Baghdad Peripatetics,” who were mostly Christians. Al-Farabi was unusual in this group not only because he was a Muslim, but also for his emphasis on political philosophy. Yet his views on political authority are grounded in his metaphysics and epistemology. In his view, the human intellect can become perfectly actual when illuminated by a separate Active Intellect. The ideal ruler is a person with such an actualized intellect. Although al-Farabi's theory of intellect is broadly Aristotelian, he is also following Plato, who in the The Republic famously makes philosophers the rulers of the ideal city. Like Plato, al-Farabi is unclear about how perfect philosophical knowledge is to be deployed in the form of concrete political decisions. The difficulty Apart ...