Commentary

[in chronological order]

Escaping the Scholastic Paradigm: The Dispute between Strauss and His Contemporaries about How to Approach Islamic and Jewish Medieval Philosophy

- Parens, Joshua.  “Escaping the Scholastic Paradigm: The Dispute between Strauss and His Contemporaries about How to Approach Islamic and Jewish Medieval Philosophy,” in Encountering the Medieval in Modern Jewish Thought, 203–227, eds. Aaron Hughes and James Diamond. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2012.
Overview: Shows how disputes over the interpretation of Alfarabi are linked to the larger issue of the difference between Christian and Judeo-Islamic thought. Excerpt: “At first it might appear to be a mere accident that many of the same contemporary… More

Reflections on al-Fārābī’s Mabādi’ ārā’ ahl al-madīna al-fāḍīla

- Rudolph, Ulrich. “Reflections on al-Fārābī’s Mabādi’ ārā’ ahl al-madīna al-fāḍīla.” In In the Age of Alfarabi: Arabic Philosophy in the Fourth/Tenth Century. Ed. Peter Adamson. London: Warburg Institute, 2008, pp.1-14.
Overview: Tries to explain the unusual structure of Alfarabi’s Virtuous City by referring to other important religious texts of the period. Overview of volume: The papers in this volume were given at a conference held at the Warburg Institute in 2006 to… More

Milla in al-Fārābī and the Brethren of Purity

- Heck, Paul L. “Milla in al-Fārābī and the Brethren of Purity.” In In the Age of Alfarabi: Arabic Philosophy in the Fourth/Tenth Century. Ed. Peter Adamson. London: Warburg Institute, 2008.
Overview:  An effort to explain Alfarabi’s somewhat unusual attitude toward religion, and compare it with another important philosophical text from the same era. Volume Description: The papers in this volume were given at a conference held at the Warburg… More

Al-Fārābi’s Kitāb al-Ḥurūf and his Analysis of the Senses of Being

- Menn, Stephen. “Al-Fārābi’s Kitāb al-Ḥurūf and his Analysis of the Senses of Being.” Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, vol. 18, pp. 59-97.
Overview: An admirable effort by a leading professor of Greek philosophy to drum up interest in Alfarabi in his field. It attempts to explain some very difficult, and hitherto rarely examined, discussions of being in the Book of Letters. Abstract:… More

Philosophy and ‘Jihād.’ Al-Fārābī on Compulsion to Happiness

- Sweeney, Michael. “Philosophy and ‘Jihād.’ Al-Fārābī on Compulsion to Happiness.” Review of Metaphysics. Vol. 60, No. 3 (March 2007), pp. 543-572.
Overview: A spirited effort to understand Alfarabi’s views of jihād in a manner very different from both Butterworth and Kraemer. Excerpt: “Abu Nasr Muhammed Alfarabi (870-950 A.D), arguably the most important political philosopher of medieval Islam,… More

An Islamic Philosophy of Virtuous Religions by Joshua Parens

- Parens, Joshua.  An Islamic Philosophy of Virtuous Religions: Introducing Alfarabi. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.
Overview: This cogent effort to situate Alfarabi’s thought within the broader context of the political conditions of the Islamic world contains good discussions of war, tyranny, religion, and world government. Excerpt: “Now more than at any time in… More

Breaking with Athens: Alfarabi as Founder

- Colmo, Christopher. Breaking with Athens: Alfarabi as Founder. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2005.
Overview: Makes the unusual argument that Alfarabi, despite his stated admiration for Plato and Aristotle, was in fact a precursor to modern political thought. The single-handed determination with which the author drives home this point is often helpful.… More

Farabi et l’École d’Alexandrie

- Vallat, Philippe. Farabi et l’École d’Alexandrie. Paris: J. Vrin, 2004.
Overview: This book is noteworthy for the very thorough list of primary and secondary sources in its index, far superior in detail to that available on this site. The book itself is erudite but notoriously difficult to follow.

Y-a-t-il une pensée politique dans le Kitāb al-Ḥurūf d’al-Fārābī?

- Gannagé, Emma. “Y-a-t-il une pensée politique dans le Kitāb al-Ḥurūf d’al-Fārābī?” In Mélanges d’Université Saint-Joseph: Volume LVII 2004, pp. 229-257.
Overview: Discusses some of the more puzzling aspects of the second chapter of the Book of Letters, such as the relationship between philosophy and religions and the political hierarchy of human arts.

Major Works

Enumeration of the Sciences

- Alfarabi: The Political Writings. Trans. Charles Butterworth. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.
Excerpt: “1. Political science investigates the sorts of voluntary actions and ways of life; the dispositions, moral habits, inclination, and states of character from which those actions and ways of ife come about; the goals for the sake of which they… More

Political Regime

- Part one found in:   Classical Arabic Philosophy: An Anthology of Sources. Trans. Jon McGinnis and David C. Reisman. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co. Inc., 2007. Part two found in:   Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook. 2nd. Edition. Eds. Joshua Parens and Joseph C. MacFarland. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011.
Excerpt: “1. The principles by which the six types of bodies and accidents subsist are divided into six major levels, each one comprising a single kind. The First Cause is in the first level. The secondary causes are in the second. The active intellect… More

Selected Aphorisms

- Alfarabi: The Political Writings. Trans. Charles Butterworth. Contains Selected Aphorisms. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.
Introduction by Translator: “In the Selected Aphorisms, Al Farabi begins with, then develops, a comparison between the health of the soul and that of the body. That is, somewhat abruptly, he starts his exposition by defining the health of each and… More

The Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle

- Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Trans. Muhsin Mahdi. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1962.
Excerpt: “1. First he investigated the human things that make man enviable as to which of them constitutes the perfection of man as man, for every being has a perfection. Thus he investigated whether man’s perfection consists only in his having… More

Book of Religion

- Alfarabi: The Political Writings. Trans. Charles Butterworth. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.
Excerpt: “1. Religion is opinions and actions, determined and restricted with stipulations and prescribed for a community by their first ruler, who seeks to obtain through their practicing it a specific purpose with respect to them or by means of them.… More

The Book of Letters

- Medieval Islamic Philosophical Writings. Ed. Muhammad Ali Khalidi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Excerpt: “The capacities for dialectic, sophistry, and for the uncertain or dubious philosophy must precede the capacity for the certain philosophy, which is demonstrative philosophy, since one becomes aware of demonstrations after these others (i.e.… More

Aims of Aristotle’s Metaphysics

- Classical Arabic Philosophy: An Anthology of Sources. Trans. Jon McGinnis and David C. Reisman. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co. Inc., 2007.
Excerpt: “1. Our intention in this treatist is to point out the aim and primary divisions of the book by Aristotle known as the Metaphysics, since many people have the preconceived notion that the point and purpose of this book is to discuss the… More

Book of the Opinions of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City

- Recommended edition: Al Farabi. Alfarabi on the Perfect State. Trans. Walzer, Richard. New York, NY. Oxford University Press, 1985.
From Book Review: “Farabi is Islam’s first and, pace Ibn Sina, perhaps greatest Islamic Neoplatonist. He is certainly more original than his successor who leaned heavily upon him. Farabi in The Virtuous City produced a work “written by a… More

Book of Demonstration

- Classical Arabic Philosophy: An Anthology of Sources. Trans. Jon McGinnis and David C. Reisman. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co. Inc., 2007.
Excerpt: “1. Perfect assent is certainty. Perfect conceptualization is to conceptualize something by means of a concise account of what it is in a manner proper to it, because conceptualizing something by means of what signifies it is to define the… More

Commentary and Short Treatise on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione

- Alfarabi’s Commentary and Short Treatise on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione. Trans. F.W. Zimmerman. London: Oxford University Press, 1981.
Book Review: “This book represents a comprehensive study of Alfarabi’s expositions of Aristotle’s logical treatise, the De Interpretatione. It includes a substantial Introduction, a translation of Alfarabi’s lengthy commentary and his… More

Multimedia

Other Works

Article on Vacuum

- Fārābī’s Article on Vacuum. Ed. and Trans. Necati Lugal and Aydin Sayili. Ankara: Turk Tarih Kurumu Basimevi, 1951.

Directing the Attention to the Way to Happiness

- Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook. 2nd. Edition. Eds. Joshua Parens and Joseph C. MacFarland. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011. pp. 13-53.
Excerpt: “1. The human things through which nations and citizens of cities attain earthly happiness in this life and supreme happiness in the life beyond are of four kinds: theoretical virtues, deliberative virtues, moral virtues, and practical arts. 2.… More

Epistle on the Intellect

- Classical Arabic Philosophy: An Anthology of Sources. Trans. Jon McGinnis and David C. Reisman. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co. Inc., 2007. Pages 68-78.
Excerpt: “1. The term “intellect” is used in many ways. The first is the thing by virtue of which most people say that man is rational. The second is the “intellect” that the theologians constantly have on their tongues, saying X… More

Eisagōgē

- Classical Arabic Philosophy: An Anthology of Sources. Trans. Jon McGinnis and David C. Reisman. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co. Inc., 2007. pp 54-140.
Excerpt from Introduction: “Our aim in this book is to enumerate the things from which proposition are composed and into which they are divided, that is, each one of the parts of the premises used generally in all of the syllogistic disciplines. So we… More

Epistle on the Canons of Poetry

- Epistle on the Canons of Poetry (Risālah fi Qawanīn Ṣinā’at al-Shi‘r). Trans. A.J. Arberry. In Rivista degli Studi Orientali 17 (1938), pp. 267-78.
Could not find link to book on Google.

Utterances Used in Logic

- Al Farabi. Utterances Used in Logic. Trans. Angela Jaffray, “At the Threshold of Philosophy: A Study of al-Fārābī’s Introductory Works on Logic” (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2000), pp. 431-517.