نوع مقاله : علمی-پژوهشی
استادیار گروه مطالعات ابنسینا مؤسسة پژوهشی حکمت و فلسفة ایران
عنوان مقاله [English]
A scrutiny of Fārābī’s works reveals that one of his major concerns and a key philosophical problem in his view was God as the origin of other existing entities as well as His attributes and His relation with the world of being. As a founder of Islamic philosophy, in his efforts to establish the intellectual system of Islamic philosophy, Fārābī not only takes the study of God as a metaphysical problem, but also considers it as a key central problem in metaphysics. Indeed, in most of his works, he defines metaphysics in terms of God (the First Existent: al-mawjūd al-awwal) as the study of the First Existent and the study of other existents in that they are caused by the First Existent. Accordingly, in Fārābī’s view, the First Existent is an entity on which other existents depend in their existence, and in fact, other existents deserve to be studied in metaphysics just in virtue of their relation to it. For this reason, it is the most significant and central issue in the study of Fārābī to research into the First Existent and its attributes as well as its relation with other existents. A scrutiny of Fārābī’s view of the First Existent will give us an understanding of the main metaphysical problem in his philosophy, which is crucial to an understanding of other problems of metaphysics as well as the entire system of his intellectual doctrines. Additionally, a major offshoot of this is a more accurate understanding of the relation between Fārābī’s theology (study of God) and Avicenna’s theology, which results in an enhanced study of Avicenna’s philosophy. Accordingly, the main problem tackled in this article is an analysis of Fārābī’s view of God and His attributes.
In this way, the article is chiefly concerned with a study of God as the First Existent and His attributes from Fārābī’s perspective. However, since Fārābī’s theological studies largely appear in his Ārāʾ ahl al-madīnat al-fāḍila (Opinions of the citizens of the virtuous city) and al-Siyāsat al-madaniyya (Urban politics), this article focuses on these two works, although it also reviews the rest of Fārābī’s works when they involve a reference to the problem at hand. It is necessary to note that this article overviews and analyzes Fārābī’s views in terms of his own intellectual context and only draws on the jargons prevalent in the works that are attributed to him beyond any reasonable doubt.
Discussion and Results
In many parts of his works, Fārābī discusses theological issues, but a large part of his theological studies appears in two of his works: Ārāʾ ahl al-madīnat al-fāḍila (Opinions of the citizens of the virtuous city) and al-Siyāsat al-madaniyya (Urban politics). The jargons Fārābī uses to refer to God include the “First” (awwal), the “First Existent,” and the “First Cause” (al-sabab al-awwal). Unlike Avicenna, he does not believe that God is the essentially necessary existent. Fārābī ascribes several names and attributes to the First Existent, in particular its being immemorial and the most perfect. These attributes encompass other divine attributes. Indeed, other attributes ultimately refer to these two. Fārābī explains that although multiple names and attributes apply to the First Existent, this does not add up to the multiplicity of the First Existent, because it includes all those attributes in its essential unity. In Fārābī’s view, when common names are predicated of the First Existent and other existents, they are not predicated by way of univocity (or a common meaning: al-ishtirāk al-maʿnawī). Moreover, because of a resemblance and relation between the First Existent and other existents, the predication is not by way of equivocity (or a vebal commonality: al-ishtirāk al-lafẓī) either. It is indeed a different variety of predication by which common names are predicated of the First Existent and other existents not as univocal, but by virtue of a sort of relation and resemblance and in terms of priority and posterity. This resemblance or relation between the attributes of the First Existent and those of other existents provides us with some kind of knowledge about the First Existent, by which we apply positive attributes to it.
Fārābī explains the relation between the First Existent and other existents in terms of the theory of emanation (fayḍ). While he was influenced by neo-Platonic philosophers, particularly Plotinus, and despite his ample influence on Avicenna, there are significant ways in which Fārābī can be distinguished from them to the extent that the theories of emanation put forward by each had better be treated as three separate views. Fārābī’s theory is distinguished from Plotinus’s mainly by his introduction of heavenly spheres into the flow of emanation, the multiplicity and number of intellects, and the possibility of human knowledge of the First Existent and the First Existent’s knowledge of other existents. Furthermore, his theory is discriminated from Avicenna’s by his rejection of accommodating essential necessity and essential possibility in his theory of emanation. Since Fārābī did not even consider the principle of essential necessity and possibility, he does not account for emanation in terms of essential and non-essential necessity or possibility. Although Avicenna was influenced by Fārābī’s theory of emanation, his view is far away from Fārābī’s because he explains emanation in terms of necessity and possibility. It should be noted, however, that Avicenna’s theory is so dominant that, at first sight, it seems impossible to be able to explain emanation without the key elements of necessity and possibility. The main contribution of the present research is the study of Fārābī’s authentic views of God based on the works that are attributed to him beyond any reasonable doubt, and without any mixture with dubious works attributed to him. Accordingly, it turns out that, despite his great influence on Avicenna, Fārābī’s view diverges from Avicenna’s on many key issues such that it seems that they present two distinct intellectual frameworks.
Fārābī believes that God is the origin of all existents, hence His appellation as the First, the First Existent, and the First Cause. In Fārābī’s view, the First Existent is not only an entity on which other existents depend in their existence, but also an entity in relation to which they deserve to be studied in metaphysics. A scrutiny of the First Existent and its attributes as well as its relation to other existents is a major research question in the study of Fārābī’s philosophy. Since there are doubts about the attribution of some works to Fārābī, and those works provide a distinct intellectual framework relative to his definitive works, this article aims to derive and overview Fārābī’s authentic views. According to definitive works by Fārābī, God is not a necessary existent, and the theory of emanation he puts forward as an explanation of the relation between the First Existent and other existents is not based on essential necessity and possibility. For this reason, his view of God is fundamentally different from that of his successor Avicenna.