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Farabi's Virtuous City and the Plotinian World Soul - A New Reading of Farabi's Mabadi' Ara' Ahl Al-Madina Al-Fadila

Farabi's Virtuous City and the Plotinian World Soul - A New Reading of Farabi's Mabadi' Ara' Ahl Al-Madina Al-Fadila

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Published by: WisdomRider on Sep 17, 2011
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Fa>ra> bi>’s Virtuous City and the Plotinian World Soul: A New Reading of Fa>ra> bi>’s
Maba> di' A< ra> ' Ahl Al-Madi> na Al-Fa> d}ila 
ByGina M. BonelliInstitute of Islamic StudiesMcGill University, MontrealAugust, 2009“A thesis submitted to McGill University in partial fulfillment of therequirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.”©Gina Marie Bonelli 2009
AcknowledgementsI would like to thank above all my advisors Professor Eric Ormsby andProfessor Robert Wisnovsky for all of their work in helping me to finish thisdissertation. I cannot even begin to estimate the hours spent by Professor Ormsby reading and editing my work, but, based on the copies that he sent back to me stained by his infamous red pen, perhaps I could fathom a guess. I wouldalso like to thank Professor Donald P. Little for providing me with the invaluableadvice that “sometimes it is enough to ask the questions.” Since leaving theinstitute, due to a family illness, I have great appreciation for the frequent emailsand occasional phone calls from Professor Uner Turgay and Kirsty McKinnon,which varied from a progress report to a friendly hello, but reminded me that Iwas still a part of the Institute. Of course, a huge thank you to Salwa Ferahian,Wayne St. Thomas, and Steve Millier at the Institute of Islamic Studies Libraryfor always promptly getting the information and articles to me that I desperatelyneeded. I would also like to mention my undying gratitude for the support givento me from my family and friends. I cannot even begin to thank RebeccaWilliams who actually volunteered to read my work and provide insightfuladvice during the pivotal moments of research and writing. And most of all Iwould like to thank my brother Joseph for letting me stay at his home while Ifinished this dissertation and of course for his infinite patience and kindness for listening to my incessant discussions of Plotinus, Augustine, and Fa>ra> bi>and their  works.
AbstractHappiness (
sa‘a> dah 
) materializes as the ultimate goal of man in Abu>Nas}Muh{ammad b. Muh{ammad b. T{arkha>n al- Fa>ra>bi>’s
Maba> di' A< ra>' Ahl Al-Madi> na  Al-Fa> d}ila 
Principles of the Views of the Citizens of the Best State 
). Buthappiness, i.e., happiness in this life and happiness in the afterlife, is onlyattainable by the virtuous citizen. The prevailing academic vision of Fa>ra> bi>’s Virtuous City essentially can be placed into two categories: either it is an idealas found in Plato’s
or it is an actual city that has been founded or will be established at some time in the future. The difficulty with both of theseinterpretations is that they limit who can attain happiness. I will argue that wemust examine Fa>ra> bi>’s Virtuous City in a different light. I will show that Fa>ra> bi>’s Virtuous City is comparable to the Plotinian World Soul in which it isthe genus of all souls and it is the place to which all souls strive to return, andthere attain happiness. As a result, it can be argued that Fa>ra> bi>’s Virtuous City is a city that exists in the intelligible world; it contains both citizens that residewithin the city and citizens that reside in the material world. Through acomparison of Fa>ra>bi>’s Virtuous City with the Plotinian World Soul, we shall seethat Fa>ra> bi>’s Virtuous City is not unlike Aurelius Augustine’s City of God, which is also a city that exists in the intelligible world, and has citizens within both this city and here on earth. By comparing the relevant texts of Plotinus,Augustine, and Fa>ra> bi>, it becomes possible to illustrate how Fa>ra> bi>, like Augustine, utilized the Plotinian Triple Hypostases (The One,
, and theWorld Soul) in order to answer the ultimate questions: Why does man desire

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