The influence of Aristotle on Alfarabi

Essay by william m. toddA+, September 1996

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Alfarabi was raised as a young boy in Baghdad. His early life was spent studying the art of linguistics, philosophy, and logic. His teachers were Syrian Christians experts in Greek philosophy. He studied Aristotle and Plato in detail, and it became evident in his later writings that they were a strong influence on him. He became quite a prolific writer, and he wrote more than 100 works, many of which have unfortunately been lost including his a lot of his commentaries on Aristotle. He was one of the earliest Islamic thinkers to transmit to the world of his time the doctrines of Plato and Aristotle. He is considered by many to be the founder of an authentic philosophy. His writings created a lot of support, debate, and controversy. He contributed materials on the proof of the existence of the First Principle, and on the theory of emanation, as well as the theory of knowledge, in addition to his commentaries on Greek philosophers.

The Greek influence is clearly present in his works, especially with his Opinions of the Inhabitants of a Virtuous City, where he laid down a philosophical, religious, and social system for the humanity at large; a system that sought to break barriers and facilitate relations among people and nations. This work sounded very similar to the work presented by Plato in Plato's Republic. They both took into consideration the matter of city/state, who was to govern, who was to be governed, how this governing was to take place, how it was to be enforced, and so on. It also appears clear that he was influenced greatly by Aristotle. This influence is present in his 'Doctrine of the Intellect'. The Doctrine of the...