Fārābī, al-


Fārābī, al-
in full Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ṭarkhān ibn Uzalagh al-Fārābī Latin Alpharabius or Avennasar

born с 878, Turkistan
died с 950, Damascus?

A logician and one of the great philosophers of medieval Islam.

He was probably the son of one of the caliph's Turkish bodyguards, and he grew up in Baghdad. From 942 he resided at the court of Prince Sayf al-Dawlah. Greatly influenced by Baghdad's Greek heritage in philosophy, especially the writings of Aristotle, he was known as the Second Teacher or the Second Aristotle. He used Artistotle's ideas in his proof of the existence of God and was influenced also by Neoplatonic ideas and Sufi mysticism. Like Plato, he believed it was the philosopher's task to provide guidance to the state. He wrote more than 100 works, notably The Ideas of the Citizens of the Virtuous City.

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▪ Muslim philosopher
in full  Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ṭarkhān ibn Uzalagh al-Fārābī , also called  Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī , Latin name  Alpharabius (also spelled Alfarabius) , or  Avennasar 
born c. 878, Turkistan
died c. 950, Damascus?

      Muslim philosopher, one of the preeminent thinkers of medieval Islām. He was regarded in the Arab world as the greatest philosophical authority after Aristotle.

      Very little is known of al-Fārābī's life. He was of Turkic origin and is thought to have been brought to Baghdad as a child by his father, who was probably in the Turkish bodyguard of the Caliph (the titular leader of the Islāmic community). Al-Fārābī was not a member of the court society, and neither did he work in the administration of the central government. In 942 he took up residence at the court of the prince Sayf ad-Dawlah (Sayf al-Dawlah), where he remained, mostly in Ḥalab (modern Aleppo), until the time of his death.

      Al-Fārābī's philosophical thinking was nourished in the heritage of the Arabic Aristotelian teachings of 10th-century Baghdad. His great service to Islām was to take the Greek heritage, as it had become known to the Arabs, and show how it could be used to answer questions with which Muslims were struggling. To al-Fārābī, philosophy had come to an end in other parts of the world, but had a chance for new life in Islām. Islām as a religion, however, was of itself not sufficient for the needs of a philosopher. He saw human reason as being superior to revelation. Religion provided truth in a symbolic form to nonphilosophers, who were not able to apprehend it in its more pure forms. The major part of al-Fārābī's writings were directed to the problem of the correct ordering of the state. Just as God rules the universe, so should the philosopher, as the most perfect kind of man, rule the state; he thus relates the political upheavals of his time to the divorce of the philosopher from government.

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Universalium. 2010.

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