(more fully, Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Tarkhan). Born A.D. 870 in Farab; died 950 in Damascus. Eastern philosopher and encyclopedic scholar; the leading exponent of Aristotelianism in the East.
Farabi studied philosophy and natural science at Halab (Aleppo) and Baghdad. His philosophy combined Aristotelianism and Neoplatonic emanationism. Farabi held that god (“that which essentially exists in itself”), who begets the world (“essentially existing because created by another”), does so in eternity through a succession of “emanations.” The first such emanation consists of cosmic “intellects,” each of which corresponds to a particular celestial sphere; the last link in this chain of intellects is that “active intellect” which governs the creative and destructive processes of the physical world. The ultimate purpose of human knowledge is to achieve union with this active intellect.
In his treatises on society and ethics, Farabi developed the idea of the “city of virtue”—an ideal city ruled by a philosopher who was also an imam, or leader of a religious community; the truths conveyed to the ruler by the active intellect would be transmitted to the people in the form of symbols and imagery. In contrast to this ideal sociopolitical system, Farabi described the imperfect “cities of ignorance,” or states that embodied negative moral qualities.
Farabi wrote commentaries on Aristotle and Plato, and he was honored as “the second master” (the first being Aristotle). Farabi’s The Great Book of Music is a major source of information on the music of the East and the ancient Greeks’ musical system. Farabi’s ideas, which influenced ibn Sina (Avicenna), ibn Bajja, ibn Tufayl, and ibn Rushd, also left their mark on the philosophy and science of medieval Western Europe.
WORKSIn Russian translation:
Filosofskie traktaty. Alma-Ata, 1970.
Matematicheskie traktaty. Alma-Ata, 1972.
Sotsial’no-eticheskie traktaty. Alma-Ata, 1973.
Logicheskie traktaty. Alma-Ata, 1975.
O razume i nauke. Alma-Ata, 1975.
REFERENCESGafurov, B. G., and A. Kh. Kasymzhanov. AI-Farabi v istorii kul’tury. Moscow, 1975.
Khairullaev, M. M. Farabi, epokha i uchenie. Tashkent, 1975. (Bibliography.)
Madkour, J. La Place d’al-Farabi dans l’école philosophique musulmane. Paris, 1934.
A. V. SAGADEEV