Principles of the Philosophy of State

Authored by: Philippe Vallat

The Routledge Companion to Islamic Philosophy

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  August  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415881609
eBook ISBN: 9781315708928
Adobe ISBN: 9781317484332


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To talk about political philosophy in Islam, or Islamicate Civilization, might amount to talking about Ab? Na?r al-F?r?b?, a Persian philosopher whose life is largely unknown, yet who singles himself out in the history of Arabic-Islamic philosophy as having envisioned politics as a central part of philosophy as well as a subject worthy of attention in itself. In order to summarize his political doctrine, one must focus on what al-F?r?b? considered the unique goal of politics and the main means of achieving it. The literary aspects of al-F?r?b?’s concrete political project and just what it meant for a writer in fourth-century Islamic society (tenth-century C.E.) to provide his contemporaries with a thoroughly philosophical form of politics have not been given enough weight. While still a disputed question among modern scholars, it is arguable that al-F?r?b?’s three main political writings—the Perfect City-State, the Political Aphorisms, and the Political Regime or Governance, all written or completed after he left Baghdad in 942 and settled in Damascus in the last decade of his life—form a set, the practical intention of which was not only theoretical, but also performative. These three writings, especially the first, were supposed to fulfill the first condition for the perfect city to become a reality, this condition being the recruitment of its philosophers.

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