Authored by: Syed Nomanul Haq

Medieval Philosophy of Religion

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  October  2014

Print ISBN: 9781844652211
eBook ISBN: 9781315729626
Adobe ISBN: 9781317546481


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Known as the ‘Second Teacher’ in the Arabic tradition – second to none other than Aristotle who is recognized as the ‘First Teacher’ – Abū Naṣr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Fārābī (al-Farabi) (c.870–c.950) has received a resounding tribute from a leading contemporary scholar: this philosopher of the Islamic milieu “stands at the head of all subsequent philosophers who made Greek philosophy Western philosophy” (Gutas 1999b: 222). 1 1.

I have drawn heavily in this chapter on the following works in particular: Black (1999), Druart (1999), Gutas (1999a,b). I also owe a special debt to Reisman (2005).

This means that al-Farabi is a personage of global proportions and ought to be repositioned in the context of world civilization, so that he is no longer seen as irrelevant to what we now consider philosophy. Indeed, his works on (Greek) logic and its relationship to the grammar and usages of ordinary language, his political thought, his conceptual enrichment and expansion of Aristotle’s notion of God along Neoplatonic lines and above all his overarching theory of intellect, or noetics, with its epistemological and ontological implications, something we find centuries later in Descartes all constitute a milestone in the history of philosophy.

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