عنوان مقاله [English]
Having rooted in Islamic doctrines and Greek philosophy -specially Plato and Aristotle-, Al-farabi gave central role to Happiness in his philosophy, locating it at the heart of his political thought. His unflagging effort to conceptualize the notion of happiness ended up bringing to the scene a new theoretical view on happiness, which has been circulated throughout the Islamic philosophy by his disciples. In this paper, I would tend to reconsider this key concept in Al-Farabi’s philosophy, by looking at it in relation to Imagination. The key question, therefore, would be “what is the role of imagination in the process of achieving happiness”; in other word, “How Imagination can participate a role in the attainment of happiness?”. To approach this question, first, I will look at how Al-Farabi deals with the notion of happiness in his works and how he puts this notion at the heart of his political view. Thereby, it will be discussed that happiness is being attained through existing in the society (virtuous city), which means, happiness can be attained collectively, not individually. Finally, by exploring Imagination in Al-Farabi’s happiness theory, I will discuss the significant role and statue of artists, who deal with the public’s imagination, in the virtuous city.
The views of Al-Farabi on the subject in question have been discussed to some extent in books such as Al-Farabi, Imagination, and Artistic Creativity and Al-Farabi and Conceptualization of Religious Art. In addition, in Al-Farabi, a Strange Philosopher, Nasrollah Hekmat tries to open new horizons in this field, criticizing dominant readings of Al-Farabi’s views. In third section of this book, titled “Philosophy of Imagination in Al-Farabi’s thought”, author introduces the notion of “imaginary rationality” that plays an important role in Al-Farabi’s prophecy theory and paves the human way towards happiness. Going beyond a merely explanatory view, The Political Thought of Al-Farabi by Reza Davari Ardakani, provides a comprehensive reading of Al-Farabi’s thought, drawing connections between the notion of happiness and his political views. Moreover, in Politics and Excellence: The Political Philosophy of Al-Farabi, Miriam Galston considers relations between Politics and Excellence in a broader philosophic context. And finally, it is totally worth to talk about Al-Farabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy, written by Muhsin Mahdi, that deals with key concepts of Al-Farabi’s philosophy through reading his works.
Methods and Material
Gathered the information from Al-Farabi’s own books, as well as the second literature and commentaries on his works, this paper is completely library research. Firstly, I made an outline to keep our research focused. After gathering information, in the second step, I would be able to narrow down the research area. By analyzing, deducing, and reconsidering data, in the last phase, the study would come to conclusion.
Results and Discussion
Although Al-Farabi enumerates theoretical virtues, deliberative virtues, moral virtues, and practical arts as conditions of possessing happiness, according to his works, theoretical contemplation is a necessary condition of reaching happiness. The theoretical contemplation, however, is the property of the elect, and the vulgar are deprived of this activity. Since he is aiming at happiness for all citizens of the society, Al-Farabi appeals to a faculty that is common between all human beings: Imagination. What is important in this context is that, in Al-Farabi’s view, Imagination- which contributes to his prophecy theory- has the capacity of imitating not only the sensible, but also the intelligible. (this latter function of Imagination -imitating of the intelligible- has not been considered in his antecedents, specially Plato and Aristotle, and seems it is his own innovation). The supreme ruler of virtuous city (philosopher-prophet) and the elect -specially the artist among them- can project the representations of the intelligible on the public’s minds which are able to imitate them. It gives the opportunity to the public that find their way to happiness. In other word, Imagination -its ability to imitate the intelligible- paves the way of happiness for all citizens of virtuous city.
In a way of conclusion, Happiness plays an important role in Al-Farabi’s political thinking, in a way that he articulates his political theory around this notion. As we mentioned above, while the theoretical contemplation is necessary for reaching happiness, this ability merely belongs to the elect. By taking advantage of their Imagination, which is capable of imitating abstract concepts, the public can reach the highest good, the happiness. Since the artists, among the elect, deals directly with the public’s imagination and can project theoretical virtues on their minds, Al-Farabi puts a high value on them in the second highest level of virtuous city (His view stands in stark contrast to Plato who believed artists -specially poets- must be banished from his ideal society).