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Intellect, Substance & Cosmology Book

Intellect, Substance & Cosmology Book

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Published by Tahir Ali

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Published by: Tahir Ali on Jul 19, 2010
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 Intellect, Substance, and Motion in al-
Fārābī‖s
 Cosmology
A thesis submitted to McGill University in partial fulfilmentof the requirements of the degree of Doctor of PhilosophybyDamien JanosInstitute of Islamic StudiesMcGill UniversityMontrealFebruary 2009© Damien Janos 2009
 
Abstract
This dissertation offers a new and comprehensive analysis of Abū Naṣ
r al-
Fārābī‖s (d.
950) cosmology by focusing on various important issues that have been largelyneglected by the modern scholarship. It provides an examination of the physical,metaphysical, and astronomical aspects of al-
Fārābī‖s cosmology by adopting a
multidisciplinary approach that takes into account the history of philosophy andthe history of astronomy. Accordingly, my dissertation explores how al-
Fārābī 
attempted to reconcile features of Ptolemaic astronomy with Aristotelian andNeoplatonic theories, an endeavor which resulted in the formulation of innovativecosmological ideas. Chapters I and II provide background information on al-
Fārābī‖s
activity as a commentator and his relation to the Greek commentatorial traditionand assess the relevant primary sources. In addition, they examine al-
Fārābī‖s
approach to cosmology and his scientific method in terms of both the Ptolemaicastronomical tradition and the Aristotelian corpus. Chapter III addresses problemsrelated to the structure of al-
Fārābī‖s cosmology, especially the origin of hi
s ennadiccosmological model and his spherology. Particular attention is devoted to the
question of how Aristotle‖s unmoved movers and Ptolemy‖s
astronomical theoriesare reconciled. Chapters IV, V, and VI analyze the place of celestial matter, intellect,and motion respectively in al-
Fārābī‖s cosmology and
attempt to redefine the
second teacher‖s relation to the various trends of Greek
philosophy. The studystresses al-
Fārābī‖s connection with
the Neoplatonic and Peripatetic currents,particularly with thinkers such as Alexander of Aphrodisias, Themistius, andProclus. As a corollary, it challenges the Mahdian political interpretation of al-
Fārābī‖s philosophy and of the latter‖s alleged debt to Middle Platonism. Throughout
the dissertation, emphasis is placed not only on the Greek philosophicalantecedents, but also on the factors proper to the Arabic-Islamic context that canbest explain the development of al-
Fārābī‖s cosmological ideas. The debate over the
creation of the world, the influence of al-
Kindī and Abū Bakr al
-
Rāzī, the
development of the astronomical
hay’a
tradition in Islam, the impact of thetranslation movement from Greek to Arabic, and al-
Fārābī‖s influence on Ibn Sīnā,
are some of the internal Arabic-Islamic elements that are highlighted in theanalysis. Ultimately, this study aims to provide a clearer understanding of al-
Fārābī‖s role in the formation of medieval Arabic cosmology.
 
Résumé
Cette thèse
présente une analyse novatrice et exhaustive de la cosmologie d‖Abū
Na
r al-
Fārābī (mort 950) en exposant divers concepts issus de ses ouvrages. Lesdeux premiers chapitres récapitulent la contribution d‖al
-
Fārābī à la tradition des
commentaires grecs et arabes, évaluent les sources premières, et examinent laméthode cosmologique du deuxième maître, autant vis-à-vis de la traditionastronomique ptoléméenne que vis-à-vis du corpus aristotélicien. La place de
l‖astronomie, de l‖astrologie, de la physique et de la métaphysique dans la
méthodecosmologique, et
l‖
importance de la démonstration et
de l‖
analogie, sont examinées
 
afin de reconstituer la méthodologie employée par al-
Fārābī. La structure de sacosmologie, et en particulier la question de l‖origine de son modèle énnadique,
ainsique la relation entre les moteurs immobiles aristotéliciens et les théories cinétiquesptoléméennes sont soulevées dans le chapitre III. Les chapitres IV, V, et VI, étudient,
quant à eux, la matière céleste, l‖intellect, et le mouvement des astres, tout en
délinéa
nt l‖influence que les auteurs g
recs eurent sur al-
Fārābī. L‖analyse montre les
liens étroits qui unissent al-
Fārābī aux mouvances péripatéticienne etnéoplatonicienne de l‖antiquité, et particulièrement à Alexandre d‖Aphrodise,
Themistius, et Proclus. C
onséquemment, l‖auteur critique la thèse Mahdienne selonlaquelle la philosophie d‖al
-
Fārābī 
serait principalement redevable à la philosophiepolitique du moyen-p
latonisme. L‖accent
est placé non seulement sur lescorrespondances entre le deuxième maître et ses prédécesseurs grecs, mais aussi surles facteurs internes au contexte arabo-islamique qui sont susceptibles de fournir
une lecture plus juste du développement de sa pensée. Le débat concernant l‖originedu monde, l‖influence d‖al
-
Kindī et d‖Abū Bakr
al-
Rāzī, la formation d‖une tradition
astronomique propre au monde islamique (
‛ 
ilm al-
hay’a
), l‖impact du mouvement detraduction du grec à l‖arabe, sont pris en compte. Cette thèse a pour but principald‖élucider et d‖expliquer le rôle joué par al
-
Fārābī 
dans le développement de lacosmologie arabe médiévale.

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