Knjižnica Filozofskog fakulteta
Sveučilišta u Zagrebu
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Institutional Repository

The conception of happiness in philosophy of al-Farabi : classical sources and influences on middle ages


Downloads per month over past year

Sušić, Kerim. (2017). The conception of happiness in philosophy of al-Farabi : classical sources and influences on middle ages. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Philosophy.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij filozofije) [mentor Veljak, Lino and Silajdžić, Adnan].

PDF (Croatian)
Download (1MB) | Preview


Understanding and analyzing the concept of absolute happiness are not exclusively related to Arab - Islamic philosophy, nor have philosophical attitudes to this concept come from the reflection of Arab - Islamic thinkers. Other intellectual and religious traditions have also considered this problem, and Aristotle gave most significant contribution to its understanding. Evidently the existence of the difference between Islam and Judaism on the one hand and Greek philosophy on the other hand did not present an obstacle to Aristotle's reflection of happiness becoming an indispensable factor in shaping the attitudes of al-Fârâbî and Maimonides. Moreover, thanks to their philosophical works, they become an essential part of the Arab - Islamic philosophical tradition. This paper seeks to point out that al-Fârâbî's and Maimonides' conception of happiness enabled the articulation of Islamic and Jewish self-understanding beyond the legal resonance of normative law. The analysis of the discourse on happiness in the most important philosophical works of the three philosophers should show how Greek, Islamic, and Jewish philosophical thought are interrelated and how they affect each other. In addition, the aim of this paper is to explore how Maimonides and al-Fârâbî found in the teachings of ancient philosophers, especially in Aristotle's metaphysics, a confirmation of their own religious traditions, as well as an instrument for achieving absolute happiness that will enable man to establish a connection with the heavenly world. In addition, the paper argues that al-Fârâbî and Maimonides could not in any way allow the autonomy of philosophy or that philosophy be placed above the Revelation. Therefore, their ultimate attitude towards absolute happiness refers to the inextricable relationship between Revelation and Philosophy, which ultimately meant that life in accordance with God's Revelation implies the obligation of the individual to search for the truth about the world created by God and what has its ultimate outcome in the knowledge that leads him closer to God, i.e. to the ultimate goal of man's existence. Furthermore, the paper seeks to establish that al-Fârâbî’s and Maimonides’ concepts of absolute happiness are central to their teachings. Accordingly, it is attempted to prove that their philosophical effort is almost exclusively directed towards one goal, and that is explanation and the determination of absolute happiness, i.e. their philosophy is conceived as a kind of map of the way of reaching happiness. For this purpose, the paper analyzes and compares the main philosophical discussions of two philosophers, as well as contemporary interpretations of their concepts of happiness, in particular works by Miriam Galston, Dimitri Gutas, Muhsin Mahdi, Leo Strauss, Menachem Kelner, Hans Daiber, Lawrence Berman, Marvin Fox, M.J. Sweeney, Joshua Parens, Samah Elhajibrahim, Carlos Fraenkel, Majid Fakhry, Tamar Rudavsky, and others, who in their discussions in different ways approach this subject, but agree that the concept of absolute happiness is one of the central places of all alFârâbî’s and Maimonides’ philosophy, and that their reflections on this subject are largely based on Aristotle's philosphy, but also on the basic principles of Islam and Judaism that have enabled them to overcome the teaching of Greek philosophers in a certain way. The very essence of the subject of research as well as the efforts to answer the previously set requirements directly determine the methods to be used in this dissertation. Namely, the methodological procedures underlying the research will be analytical, comparative, interpretative and descriptive, and in particular, in some parts of the work, a contrastive method will be used. The work is divided into four thematic and interrelated chapters followed by the closing part. Most of the work is devoted to the critical review and analysis of the above mentioned issues. In addition to the text contained in the introductory part that clearly outlines the guidelines and the structure of work, the research will be articulated through four thematic and interrelated chapters followed by the final part and the literature. The first part of the research is related to the spiritual and cultural context of time that al-Fârâbi witnessed, that is to say, to the political and cultural changes in the Islamic world that took place in the period from 7th to 10th century, i.e. in the time when al- Fârâbî lived and worked. These changes enabled Islamic philosophers, especially al-Fârâbî, to come into contact with the writings of Greek philosophers, but also strongly influence the formation of philosophical thought in Islam, and thus on the main ideas and problems of al-Fârâbî's thought: the concept of absolute happiness, the spiritual and political leadership of the caliphate, the relationship between philosophy and religion, the teaching of the soul and the active intellect etc. It should be emphasized that in this context the Islamic world is not considered solely as a political phenomenon but primarily as a spiritual and cultural space in which Muslims, on the one hand, face the philosophical tradition of the Greeks and on the other hand become part of the Judeo-Christian world. Although determined in these circumstances, Islam as a new monotheistic religion manages to develop its own belief,religious experience, ritual, special cognitive dimension, and unique identity in the cultural and religious sense. Also, in the first part, the main sources of al-Fârâbî's philosophy are considered, as well as the fundamental determinants and problems of the philosophical tradition in Islam. The second chapter examines the influence of Greek philosophy on the formation of al-Fârâbî's views on the First, while on the other hand it is trying to articulate a permanently intricate but inexplicable relationship between Islamic tradition and al-Fârâbî's metaphysics. In the second section, special attention will be given to the relationship between the First and the many, al-Fârâbî's understanding of emanation, the hierarchy of the spiritual world, the concept of intellect, and the creation. I will also try to point out the difficulties and disadvantages faced by al-Fârâbî when implementing different ideas and intentions of his philosophy in the context of reflection on the First.. In the third part of the research through several thematic sections, Greek sources of alFârâbî's philosophy of happiness are first analyzed. The philosophical thought of Plato and Aristotle is especially considered, but only to the extent that they have influenced the formation of al-Fârâbî's concept of happiness. The focus is primarily on Plato's idea of the ruler and his concept of the ideal state. The intention is to emphasize the fact that there are certain parallelisms between Plato's and al-Fârâbî's philosophy, that al-Fârâbî's ideas of the human community, the ideal city, and the first ruler abound with these parallels, and when alFârâbî equates the philosopher, ruler, king, legislator and imam in fact, he wants to establish a synthesis between Plato's philosopher-king with the ruler of the Ideal Islamic State. In this part of the dissertation, it is also analyzed and critically questioned the influence of Aristotle's philosophy on al-Fârâbî's idea of happiness. Namely, Aristotle's thought is an inevitable place in al-Fârâbî's reflection on happiness, and this part of the research is aimed at comparing alFârâbî's conception of absolute happiness as the greatest purpose of human life with Aristotle's attitudes of happiness, especially from Nicomachean Ethics. The main purpose of these comparative insights is to point to two essential things: first, to what extent al-Fârâbî relies, in its determination of absolute happiness, primarily on Aristotle's thought; second, which are the fundamental differences or deviations of al-Fârâbî from his Greek predecessors, Plato and Aristotle. The aim of this issue is to emphasize the uniqueness and originality of al-Fârâbî's understanding of absolute happiness, and in that context, I try to explain the source and the factor that in a special way contributed to the development of his ideas on happiness. In order to fully understand al-Fârâbî's determination of absolute happiness, and hence his departure from the Greek predecessors, I also explain in this section some of the basic assumptions of Islam and Islamic-theological teachings of which al-Fârâbî was very aware and which at the same time represent the basis of his entire thought and one of the main starting point in determining and understanding the concept of absolute happiness. In the last part of the paper, the importance of al-Fârâbî's concept of happiness is considered in the understanding of medieval philosophy, which is most strikingly reflected in his direct influence on the principal representative of medieval Jewish philosophy. Apart from explaining the basic postulates of Maimonides’ idea of happiness, through the interpretation of this concept, I also try to point out the importance of al-Fârâbî's role and position in the history of philosophical thinking. I also analyze the similarities and differences between the two philosophers in treating the concept of happiness, as well as the undisputed influence of al-Fârâbî on Maimonides' reflection on the perfection of man. On the other hand, I try, through my own interpretation and critical analysis of Maimonides’ discourse on happiness, to determine and outline those principles and basics that enabled Maimonides to create a selfcontained theory of happiness, as well as a real premise for overcoming Aristotle's thought.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Al-Fârâbî, Maimonides, Aristotle, absolute happiness, metaphsyics, islamic philosophy, emanation, Plato, theology. Medieval philosophy
Subjects: Philosophy
Departments: Department of Philosophy
Supervisor: Veljak, Lino and Silajdžić, Adnan
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij filozofije
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2018 13:15
Last Modified: 23 May 2019 12:18

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item