By Joshua Parens
Explores the method of peaceable non secular coexistence provided by way of Alfarabi, the best Islamic political thinker.
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Extra resources for An Islamic Philosophy of Virtuous Religions: Introducing Alfarabi
Section 62 demonstrates both Alfarabi’s deep familiarity with the Republic and his deep awareness of the challenges to the possibility of philosophic rule and the virtuous world regime. 10 Indeed, this comes as such a surprise that the reader is given pause and made to wonder what is the signiﬁcant difference between the true philosopher and the defective, counterfeit, vain, and false philosophers. At ﬁrst glance, the true philosopher sounds most like the defective philosopher who lacks the power to realize philosophy in politics, that is, until one realizes that the defective philosopher lacks the power or “faculty” (qûwah) within himself (sec.
Yet as always, he does so for reasons that advance his argument and the education of his interlocutors. The philosopher does not limit himself to “his own” when it comes to learning. 22 In a sense, human beings have the potential of being even gentler than puppies. Ironically and unfortunately, the reverse is just as true. The main problem in producing guardians is not whether they can be educated to be cruel enough to their enemies but whether they can be gentle enough to their friends. 23 In brief, the effort to combine warrior hardness with philosophic gentleness reveals the extremes to which human nature is prone.
My analysis of the ﬁrst and second waves has shown we must not take for granted that philosophers are always serious when they seem to promise empire or perfect virtue. On the contrary, sometimes the best way to deﬂate hopes for empire or the perfect city is not to discourage the aspiration directly but to show just how costly its achievement would be. The Third Wave In chapter 3 we will consider Alfarabi’s (and Plato’s) treatment of the third wave and its possibility at greater length. Here we must focus on its connection to the previous waves in the Republic.