City and Soul in Plato and Alfarabi: An Explanation for the Differences Between Plato’s and Alfarabi’s Theory of City in Terms of Their Distinct Psychology

Axiomathes 30 (1):91-105 (2020)
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Abstract

In his political treatise, Mabadi ara ahl al-madina al-fadhila, Abu Nasr Alfarabi, the medieval Muslim philosopher, proposes a theory of virtuous city which, according to prominent scholars, is modeled on Plato’s utopia of the Republic. No doubt that Alfarabi was well-versed in the philosophy of Plato and the basic framework of his theory of city is platonic. However, his theory of city is not an exact reproduction of the Republic’s theory and, despite glaring similarities, the two theories do differ in many aspects. In both, Alfarabi’s Mabadi ara ahl al-madina al-fadhila and Plato’s Republic, the theory of virtuous city is accompanied by a theory of the soul. Since the theory of soul plays a foundational role in both theories of the virtuous city, the present article intends to provide an explanation for the differences between the two theories of the city in terms of the differences between the two theories of the soul.

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Ishraq Ali
Zhejiang University

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