An Islamic Philosophy of Virtuous Religions: Introducing by Joshua Parens

By Joshua Parens

Explores the method of peaceable non secular coexistence provided by means of Alfarabi, the best Islamic political thinker.

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Extra resources for An Islamic Philosophy of Virtuous Religions: Introducing Alfarabi

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2 Within such a context, it would be not only surprising but also foolhardy to declaim loudly from the rooftops that a virtuous world regime is impossible. Without an explicit statement that it is impossible, however, it will not be possible to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Alfarabi considers it so. 3 Nevertheless, I will be able to prove—within the limits of the kind of inquiry we are presently engaged in—that Alfarabi means to suggest, at least to some of his most ambitious readers, that this regime is impossible.

We will touch ever so briefly on this argument because it will do little more than confirm what has now become obvious—Socrates seeks to make the city into a family (463c–e, 465b), thereby implying the necessity of destroying the traditional family. Why the destruction of the family should be good for the city should now be obvious. The private good is at odds with the common good. This is obvious when one considers the harmful effects of large and powerful families, such as the various warring Mafia families, on a political regime.

Almost from the moment of the virtuous city’s inception, the combination of the courage of warrior and statesman and the wisdom of the philosopher is problematic. 19 I review the context within which this problem first appears so that we might grasp the depth of this fissure. To grasp justice in the soul of the individual in Rep. 2, Socrates proposes that he and his interlocutors, Glaucon and Adeimantus, construct a just (or virtuous) city in speech. Adeimantus, the brother with less eros, joins with Socrates to envision a peaceable, pastoral “city” of necessity—a city that is not yet quite a city because it merely lives in accordance with small appetites rather than living well, as Aristotle puts it.

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