[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
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
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
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
Overview: A good introduction to Alfarabi, followed by an explanation of his attempts to reconcile Plato and Aristotle in one particularly important area.
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
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
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
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.
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.
Overview: A recent and important contribution to the debate over Plato’s reception into the Islamic world. By indicating that a crucial passage of the Republic was indeed translated into Arabic, it adds fuel (but of course no proof) to the speculation that… More
Overview: A leading scholar and polemicist argues that Alfarabi does not have an political philosophy at all. He interprets the term normally translated as ‘political’ to mean ‘city-dweller.’
Overview: A lively and learned discussion of Alfarabi’s treatment of the non-virtuous governments, including democracy.
Overview: A spirited attempt to show that Alfarabi’s account of democracy resembles modern liberal democracy. Khalidi probably overstates his case, but this intelligent articles remains well-worth reading. Excerpt: “This essay will explore some of… More
Overview: Argues that even if Alfarabi did not have access to the same Platonic text that we possess, he can still help us understand Plato’s Laws. Volume Description: The articles of this volume are a selection of the papers presented at the Sixth… More
Description: A competent study of one of the central themes in Alfarabi: the relationship between language and logic. Excerpt (from introduction): “Medieval Islamic scholars widely referred to Aristotle as the ‘First Teacher,’ evidence of… More
Overview: This helpful reference work contains examples of the usage of important Arabic terms in Alfarabi. This edition consists of two volumes; volume one quotes the Arabic text of al-Farabi’s philosophical definitions and those of parallel authors,… More
Overview: The final work of perhaps the most important scholar of Alfarabi in the past generation was unfortunately left incomplete. The essays it contains, many of which have also been published elsewhere, are nonetheless extremely illuminating. Excerpt:… More
Overview: Argues that Alfarabi had access to Plato’s Laws only through a lost commentary by Galen, a fact that explains many of the peculiarities of his summary.
Overview: The first attempt at a comprehensive interpretation of Alfarabi’s puzzling Summary of Plato’s Laws. The claim that Alfarabi had access to the original text, which had also been suggested by Mahdi a generation earlier, has provoked a vicious… More
Overview: This extremely informative book offers a summary of Alfarabi’s teachings on language, religion, and philosophy, as well as extensive historical and religious background to them.
Overview: A helpful account of Alfarabi’s various discussions of war and jihād, none of which seems to resemble the other. It presents Alfarabi as highly suspicious of the notion of ‘just war. Description : This timely and scholarly book includes… More
Overview: This analysis of Walzer’s important edition of Alfarabi’s Virtuous City contains a critique of both Walzer’s ‘source-hunting’ approach and his attribution of Shi’ism to Alfarabi. It is so thorough and convincing that it sometimes becomes… More
Overview: An attempt to make sense of Alfarabi’s various treatments of virtue, happiness, and political science. It also contains some interesting suggestions about the manner of his writing. Description: Widely recognized as one of the most original… More
Overview: An important discussion of the reworking of Aristotle’s Organon in the medieval Islamic world. It is not exclusively devoted to Alfarabi but contains many discussions of him. Description: As the title of this book imitates, it investigates the… More
Excerpt: “Alfarabi was the first philosopher who sought to confront, to relate, and as far as possible to harmonize classical political philosophy with Islam – a religion that was revealed through a prophet-legislator (Muhammed) in the form of a… More
Overview: The first of a number of articles to treat the question of war and jihād in Alfarabi. The author’s interpretation is learned but also rather literal.
Overview: This important work of intellectual history provides outstanding historical background to Alfarabi. Excerpt: “In Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam, I portrayed the cultural revival that took place in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Baghdad… More
Overview: The earliest article devoted exclusively to democracy in medieval Islamic political philosophy takes a rather pessimistic view of the subject. This article should be compared with the work by Khalidi that was cited above. Excerpt: “It is… More
Overview: A famous scholar provides a characteristically erudite account of the uncertain presence of Aristotle’s Politics in medieval Islam, shedding light on a couple of important passages of Alfarabi in the process.
Overview: An excellent summary of a live debate over the importance of Greek language and logic in the Islamic world that is said to have shaped Alfarabi’s own views on the subject.
Overview: A powerful and philologically competent defense of the view that Alfarabi’s work on Plato’s Laws represents far more than a more summary of Plato or Galen. Excerpt: “The “Summary of Plato’s Laws” by Alfarabi is the only… More
Excerpt: “It is generally admitted that one cannot understand the teaching of Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed before one has understood the teaching of “the philosophers”; for the former presents itself as a Jewish correction of the latter. To… More
Overview: The original, pioneering edition of the Philosophy of Plato, translated into, and even introduced in, Latin. The introduction contains some useful historical information, as well as example of the same source-hunting approach that Walzer would… More
Overview: An early but still useful attempt by Strauss to appreciate the role of political science in Alfarabi and Maimonides’ work.