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Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy

In this work, Muhsin Mahdi—widely regarded as the preeminent scholar of Islamic political thought—distills more than four decades of research to offer an authoritative analysis of the work of Alfarabi, the founder of Islamic political philosophy. Mahdi, who also brought to light writings of Alfarabi that had long been presumed lost or were not even known, presents this great thinker as his contemporaries would have seen him: as a philosopher who sought to lay the foundations for a new understanding of revealed religion and its relation to the tradition of political philosophy.

Beginning with a survey of Islamic philosophy and a discussion of its historical background, Mahdi considers the interrelated spheres of philosophy, political thought, theology, and jurisprudence of the time. He then turns to Alfarabi’s concept of "the virtuous city," and concludes with an in-depth analysis of the trilogy, Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle.

This philosophical engagement with the writings of and about Alfarabi will be essential reading for anyone interested in medieval political philosophy.

288 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2001

Medieval Studies

Middle Eastern Studies

Philosophy: History and Classic Works

Table of Contents

Foreword by Charles E. Butterworth
Orientation: Philosophy, Jurisprudence and Theology
1. The Political Orientation of Islamic Philosophy
2. Philosophy and Political Thought
3. The Foundation of Islamic Philosophy
The Virtuous City
4. Science, Philosophy, and Religion
5. Political Philosophy and Religion
6. The Virtuous City
7. Prophecy and Revelation
On the Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle
8. The Attainment of Happiness
9. On Aristotle’s Starting Point
10. On Philosophy and Religion
11. Religion and the Cyclical View of History

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