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Al-Frb's Imperfect State Al-Farabi on the Perfect State: Ab Nar al-Frb's Mabdi r Ahl al-Madna al-Fila by Richard Walzer

Review by: Muhsin Mahdi Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 110, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1990), pp. 691-726 Published by: American Oriental Society Stable URL: . Accessed: 03/07/2013 14:03
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Richard Walzer's revised text of the Arabic philosophic classic, al-Farabli's Virtuous City, published with an introduction, translation, and commentary, is an impressive work of recent scholarship on Islamic philosophy. After a general account of his intention and method (sec. 1) and of his understanding of the Virtuous City's subject matter and place in al-Farabli's life and writings (sec. 2), the article examines Walzer's approach to source criticism (the imagined Greek author, special authority, predecessor, prototype, or source of the Virtuous City, as against the generally-known Greek philosophic tradition available to al-Farabli [sec. 3]), and to contextual analysis (the assertion that in the Virtuous City al-Farabli gives full expression to his religious commitment as an Imamr Shl'ite sectarian [sec. 4]). Next, it presents certain cautions that may help those who wish to benefit from the translation (sec. 5). Finally (sec. 6), it describes the newly constructed Arabic text and the assumptions underlying the stemma (6a), points to the characteristic features of the apparatus (6b), and explains the implications of what is known about the history of the text and the evidence of the manuscripts for a future edition, which, it is suggested, must abandon the notion of a single recension of the original and recover the text of al-Farabli's chapter-headings and summary of the Virtuous City absent from all existing editions (6c).


of a new edition of a significant Arabic philosophic work would have been an occasion for rejoicing even if it did not have the additional merit of being the culmination of the lifework of a well-known and respected scholar, who was Reader in Greek and Arabic Philosophy at the University of Oxford, and Fellow of the British Academy. The occasion is worthy of special attention for other reasons as well. The name of al-FarabT, the author of the work, may not be a household word among philosophers or even general historians of philosophy today. Yet it was.he who initiated in Islamic philosophy the movement
* This is a review article of: Al-Farabi on the Perfect State: Abii Nasr al-FdrdbT's Mabddi' Ard' Ahl al-Madina alFddila. A revised text with introduction, translation, and
commentary by RICHARDWALZER. Oxford: THE CLARENDON PRESS, 1985. Pp. viii + 571. $69. Page and line numbersin

the body of the article refer to the pages and lines of this book. References to al-Fdrabl's other works, and to other Arabic works, are by short title; references to secondary literature, by author and publication date. A list of references follows the article. 691

back to the works of Plato and Aristotle, pointing the way by engaging in careful study of, and commentary on, these works, with special attention to subsequent views and developments. For many of those who came after him, he was the greatest philosophic authority since Aristotle: Avicenna referred to alFarabi as the most excellent among his predecessors; Maimonides said his writings are finer than fine flour; Averroes began his career as a faithful student of his works; Albert the Great made use of his works on logic; Roger Bacon quoted him as an authority on religion and theology; Thomas Aquinas and the Latin Averroists made much use of his work On the Intellect; and the Renaissance scholar Pico della Mirandola admired his grave and meditative style. Al-Farabl's works on political science, logic, and music continued to be studied in the Islamic world until modern times. The story of his position in, and significance for, the philosophic and scientific tradition of the past millennium is just beginning to be pieced together by modern scholarship. The work here edited was part of al-FarabI's effort to revive Platonic political philosophy as the discipline with which to approach the establishment of the revealed religions and the regimes founded on them. He saw that the theme of the relation between philosophy and politics (the city as polity) had to be revived and made intelligible again

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) thesis he wishes to present and his frequently expressed doubts and hesitations are merely scholarly refinements. This impression must be revised, however, so as to accommodate a second thesis. Though occupying little space in the commentary and lacking the enormous number of references to the literature that the Greek-prototype(s) hypothesis seems to enjoy, it is asserted with equal emphasis and conviction, namely, that al-Farabl gives full expression in this work to his own personal religious commitment as an ImamT Shl'ite sectarian. Those who have followed Walzer's writings know that he worked hard and long on al-FarabT and the Virtuous City over many decades (al-Farabi's Philosophy of Plato, edited with Franz Rosenthal, was published in 1943). The plan for the present book was conceived at least two decades before its author's death in 1975. During this period, he frequently mentioned his work on al-Farabli's Virtuous City, reported on its progress, and summarized his findings. At the same time, he contributed a number of papers and encyclopedia articles on the Greek background of early Islamic philosophy, the Islamic reception of Greek philosophy, and works or fragments of works whose Greek originals are lost but have survived in Arabic translation. (Some of the essays were collected in Walzer 1962; see Mahdi 1965; Stern, Hourani, and Brown 1972: 5-16.) Coming to the study of Islamic philosophy after having been trained in the philological and historical approaches to Greek philosophy under WernerJaeger, he was well placed to reconstruct from the Virtuous City one or more Greek prototypes and write a detailed account of their career throughout pagan and early Christian times. A sympathetic reader, while admiring his learning and industry, may wonder at times whether he was not perhaps tackling the wrong Arabic philosophic work and cannot help noticing that his conclusions are by no means simple or unequivocal. Walzer did not work on al-Farabl's Virtuous City in isolation. He consulted a number of colleagues on manuscript readings and on al-Farabli'shistorical and religious background, fields in which he lacked professional competence. He records their contributions in the apparatus of the Arabic text and elsewhere in the book. The manuscript he left behind is a collective effort that includes the views of many like-minded friends and students, with generous references to their contributions to general questions of interpretation as well as to a number of particular points of textual criticism. It can be surmised that Walzer encountered numerous difficulties in his effort to edit, translate, and write "a very detailed analytical commentary"

in a context where the overriding question seemed to be the relation between philosophy and religion. What we today call the philosophy of religion was practiced by him as a branch of political philosophy.
The work itself, the Virtuous City, has become a

sort of classic of Arabic philosophic writing since it first appeared toward the middle of the tenth century. It was read, commented on, cited, quoted, and summarized by Muslim authors in the manuscript age. It was widely copied by scribes and scholars, who also compared and collated various manuscript copies and prepared a number of "editions" in which they pooled those copies to produce copies thought to be better, more complete, or more correct. Since the late nineteenth century, two editions (Dieterici 1895; Nadir 1959; 1985) and a host of popular printings have been published, along with numerous selections for the use of students. At the same time, the work was translated into a number of languages, including German (Dieterici 1900), French (Karam, Chlala, and Jaussen 1949; 1980), and Spanish (Alonso 1961-1962). As for comments and criticism, they have been extensive and varied: liberals find it inimical to the open society; conservatives find it outrageously radical; Marxists and pseudo-Marxists find it reactionary. Richard Walzer contributes to almost every aspect of this complex tradition. In his introduction he assesses the work's importance and character. In his edition of the Arabic text he presents new manuscript evidence, a new arrangement of the parts, a fuller text, and a fuller account of the manuscript tradition. He offers a first English translation for those with no access to the Arabic text or to any of the earlier translations. And in his detailed commentary he discusses the work's sources and cultural context at length. The first impression one forms of Walzer'sextensive commentary is that he was primarily interested in tracking down the work's Greek sources and became convinced in the process that al-Farabi was copying from a Greek text in Arabic translation, even perhaps at some point abandoning one Greek text and going on to copy from another. Walzer had made this kind of suggestion before and extends it here in the commentary to other works by al-Fardbl. He is convinced that in many of his works al-Farabl was copying Greek "prototypes," all of which have strangely disappeared-or, as he prefers to put it, "have not been traced as yet" leaving no trace, not even a substantial fragment, either in their supposed original form in Greek or in their presumed Arabic translation. To judge by the space allocated to this hypothesis and the number of times and the various forms in which it is repeated, it readily appears to be the most important

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Al-FdrdbT'sImperfect State


(p. 1) on the Virtuous City. Not a few of al-Farabli's works of immediate relevance to the study and interpretation of the Virtuous City were published only during the final years of Walzer's work on this book. He could not have had the time to investigate them and determine their import for his work. Gerhard Endress, who deserves praise for his effort "to avoid errors and inconsistencies in the printing," for compiling the massive bibliography, and for preparing the useful indices to the introduction and the commentary (there are none to the text or translation), says in a brief postscript that upon his death Walzer "left the manuscript of the present work ready for publication, but he did not live to give the finishing touches to his study nor to see the book through the press" (p. 571). What one may surmise the author would or would not have done to give the finishing touches to his study or to see his book through the press (his earlier writings prove that Walzer would- have done much) can be of little help now. One must judge this impressive and many-sided book on its own merits and point out Walzer's achievement in each of the domains it covers al-Farab'is biography and the place of this work in his corpus, the edition, the translation, and especially the general interpretation of the Virtuous City in the introduction and the commentary. By taking more than ten years to publish the book and then doing such a poor job of producing it, the publisher did not make this task easier. To begin with the Arabic text, one must wonder why an important philosophic classic was printed in the handwriting of an anonymous scribe, why so many simple errors were not corrected, and why the photographic process was not better controlled to avoid missing so many diacritical points. One notes with astonishment that this is the same pioneering press that began printing in Arabic as far back as the middle of the seventeenth century and, as late as 1959, printed F. Rahman's superb edition of the Arabic text of Avicenna's De Anima, many times more difficult to edit and set in print than the Arabic text of the Virtuous City. Then there are the numerous misprints in the English text of the introduction, translation, and commentary. Altogether, the work deserves a prize for the Oxford University Press as its most poorly printed book. It is hardly to be believed that it issues from the same press that for so long published the best and most accurately printed books in English, in classical languages, and in modern foreign languages. Despite the manner in which the book has been published, whoever is able and willing to look critically at the material presented in it will not fail to find interesting information, stimulating suggestions, and

fruitful lines of inquiry. To the extent that students of Islamic philosophy and Arabic philosophic writings are willing to sift through this material, evaluate the suggestions made in it, develop those that need to be developed, and discard or correct the rest, Walzer's labor will not have been in vain. The general student of medieval philosophy, on the other hand, not acquainted with the history of scholarship in this particular area or with the questions disputed in it, will have no idea most of the time why Walzer says what he says, does what he does, or carries on so frequently against unnamed persons and their views. He will not be in a position to judge the character or validity of the assertions made or the points of view presented. And he will be particularly hampered by the way Walzer qualifies and modifies his position within the introduction, from the introduction to the commentary, and then within the commentary.

Since a review of Walzer's contribution as a textual critic requires examining a number of technical questions of less interest to the general student of medieval and Islamic philosophy, it is best to leave that for later discussion, and to begin instead with the general, composite picture drawn in the introduction of alFarabl's biography, the place of the Virtuous City among his writings, the work's intended audience and purpose and range, its subject matter, its Greek sources, and its Islamic context. It is an attractive picture that ought to encourage anyone with the slightest interest in the later history of Greek philosophy or Islamic cultural history to begin reading the Virtuous City with excitement so as to discover al-Farabi, the militant intellectual (p. 4), to learn more about the Muslim philosopher who had "a clear commitment to one of the most animated and topical political controversies of his century" (p. 15), and to observe the dexterity with which Walzer analyzes the "different layers of Greek thought" on which the book is purportedly based and tries to "reconstruct a considered view of metaphysics and other philosophical topics going back-in all probability to the time of Justinian, i.e. the early sixth century" (p. 9). It is only when one takes a closer look at the individual elements of the composite picture that they begin to fade and the picture itself to crumple. Editors of works by al-Farabl seem persistently tempted to claim that the work they have edited is the last, or among the last, of al-Farabrs writings (Dunlop 1961: 15-17; Khalifat 1987: 38). The Virtuous City is one of a few works by al-Fdrdbl about which there is

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) characterization of the work as a "Summa Philosophiae" also had to be modified when he realized that al-FarabT"shows little, indeed scarcely any, interest in any special features of the various branches of philosophy on which he touches. Almost entirely ignored in this work are the many different aspects of astronomy, for instance, or general natural science or biology or psychology or formal logic" (p. 8); indeed the "account given is as remote from being a comprehensive philosophical encyclopaedia. . . as it could possibly be" (p. 413). Still, Walzer's very characterization of the Virtuous City as a "Summa Philosophiae" prevented him from attempting to see what theme or aspect of political philosophy it deals with or, to use al-Farabi's favorite expression (see, for instance, Philosophy of Plato, 3, 11. 1ff.), what "part" of political philosophy the work means to set forth and the "rank of order" of that part in the discipline to which it belongs. In order to decide which of al-FarabT'sworks is the last and most mature, assuming the two characterizations need to go together, one has to correlate the works with his career as writer. Yet there are serious difficulties with most of the information about alFarabT'slife. Much of it surfaces for the first time only three centuries after his death, and one does not know to what extent it is genuine, when and in what context it originated, who transmitted it, and what transformation it may have undergone in the process of transmission. It must therefore be treated with circumspection rather than embroidered. For instance, there is no basis for the supposition that al-FarabT lived in Damascus at any time prior to his departure from Baghdad in 330 A.H./A.D. 942. Therefore, even if one were to credit any of the stories told about him as having taken place in Damascus, such as Ibn Abi Usaybi'a's fanciful tale that al-FarabT worked as a gardener or as guard in a garden, one should not add "presumably before he settled down in Baghdad" (pp. 3-4, emphasis added), a presumption that flies in the face of everything known about his family's origin in Central Asia and his father's connection with the Samanids, namely, that he came to settle in Baghdad from the east rather than from Damascus. Another piece of information about him is that he used to wear brown SiifTgarb. To deduce from this that he was one of those whom we nowadays call "militant intellectuals" is, again, to interpret his lifework in a manner not borne out by what is known for certain about him. The temptation to engage in "more or less likely guesses of this kind" (p. 4) presumes, as we shall see, a far closer relation between al-Farabi's political phi-

some historical information. Although this information does not state the date of the works's original composition, one can nevertheless infer from it the date of its revision, the composition of its chapterheadings, and the composition of a summary of the book in six sections. These dates fall in the last decade of al-FarabT'slife. Walzer goes beyond this information and says that the Virtuous City is "the last and most mature Summa Philosophiae by al-Farab"l' (p. 1). He is also "certain that it is the last of his extant works," even though "the date of none of the other works can be definitely fixed.... Hence one has at present to confess absolute ignorance, and content oneself with private guesses which cannot for the time being be verified" (pp. 1-2). The difficulty is not that "there are no explicit or implicit cross references in the various writings [of al-Farab-1]" (p. 1), as Walzer says in this context. Cross references are rather numerous in some of his works, but these alone, even where they do occur, do not provide reliable guides to dating al-Farabli'sworks. The example of the Virtuous City shows that some of these works were written over a long period, and that al-Farabl carried them with him on his travels, looked them over and revised them at various times, and made significant additions to them. Cross references could have been inserted long after the composition of any of these works, and the fact that a work does not refer to other works does not mean that the others had not already been composed. Again, this is borne out by the text of the Virtuous City, which refers to none of al-Farabl's other works, even though it is certain that most of them were composed before or during the relatively long period when the Virtuous City was being composed and revised. The notion that the Virtuous City is al-Farabl's most mature work needs to be supported by an account of what is meant by "mature," citing the works considered less mature, and identifying the features that indicate maturity or lack of it in alFarabT'sworks. Walzer acknowledges that there are "no monographs on, nor any analysis of, the various writings." He makes no effort to analyze any of them himself and confines himself to quoting some of them "only where they contribute to the explanation of" the Virtuous City (p. 1), without explaining how one unanalyzed work can shed light on the argument of another. This is perhaps why he revises his judgment regarding both questions that is, how late and how mature the Virtuous City is by saying soon thereafter that the work "appears to be the latest and the most mature of [al-Farabl's works]" (p. 5). Walzer's

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Al-FdrdbT's Imperfect State


losophy and actual political and religious conditions than is consonant with his writings, including the Virtuous City. Finally, there is a certain ambiguity in what Walzer thought about the subject matter of the Virtuous City and al-FarabT's intention in writing it that colors much of what he says in describing the book's place among al-Farabli'swritings in general and his political writings in particular, the audience for which it was written, its content, its Greek sources, and its Islamic context. Although he makes a number of sensible remarks about many of these subjects, it is difficult to evaluate any of them before determining what the book is about. Walzer's view that the book is a Summa Philosophiae led him to answer this question in the most general of terms, such as considering it "the product of an Islamic philosopher of the tenth century." This, in turn, prompts him to describe alFarabl's intention in writing it as giving "a new... answer to the intellectual as well as the religious and political questions of his century" and to suggest that the audience to whom the book was addressed, "the Arabic-speaking Muslim public of his own day," consisted of "sophisticated readers" (p. 6). When he comes to list the main contents of the work, he discloses that these statements mean the Virtuous City is neither a translation of a Greek original, nor an adaptation, nor a teaching manual. He now sees the book's "Islamic purpose" and "its real significance" (p. 6). The work is not confined to "theoretical philosophy, i.e., to metaphysics and natural science," nor to "man considered in isolation." Indeed, "the average late Greek student of philosophy .., would presumably have been shocked" to find that more than onethird of it is devoted to a description of the "structure of human society as it ought to be." This "interest in 'political philosophy'," this "rather uncommon emphasis on 'politics'," this "remarkable revival in the Muslim world of Plato's message of the philosopherking" (p. 8), and this "admirable adaptation of Platonic truth to the realities of the Muslim world" (p. 9) need to be understood. For a brief moment, Walzer takes "a first cursory glance at the book" and discovers some strange things. Its approach to the socalled theoretical sciences is neither complete nor exhaustive and its emphasis is on "justice" and "hierarchic structure" in the world of nature. There is a "key passage" that demands that human action follow the principles established "outside" the human sphere (pp. 8-9). Instead of pursuing any of these puzzling questions, Walzer reformulates his earlier description of the

work as a Summa Philosophiae. It is now seen as a work in which al-Farabl appends to the account of metaphysics, nature, and man a "political section" or "'political' chapters" based on an explanation of Plato's Republic, and in doing this he is said to have been continuing the tradition of "'political' Platonism," which may have been "rather obsolete" in certain branches of the Neoplatonic movement, but "not defunct" in late antiquity (pp. 4, 8, 9-10). "Moral philosophy and political science as well, from Chapter 15 onward-are from now on being added to theoretical philosophy" (p. 408, emphasis added). "Politics," "political," and "political philosophy" typically occur within quotation marks. Political science, unlike any other science, theoretical or practical, seems to disturb the sensibility of a modern student of Greek and Islamic philosophy. One must wait for the commentary to come across the phrase "this mainly 'political' work" (p. 333). Perhaps political science or political philosophy has become "rather obsolete" again today, and Walzer does not wish to confuse it with real politics. Whatever the reason, he shows great resistance to accepting the notion that this work treats one discipline and one discipline only, namely, what al-FarabTcalls political science and political philosophy; indeed, it treats only one of the subject matters covered by that discipline. To the innocent reader all this may appear to be clearly stated by alFarabTin the full title of the book: "The Principles of the Opinions of the Citizens of the Virtuous City." But "virtue," like "city," has lost much of its shine; it no longer signifies excellence and what is best; modern embarrassment or incomprehension induces a less shocking but basically misleading reformulation: hence, "The Perfect State." This observation could have raised a number of interesting questions regarding the precise subject matter of the Virtuous City. What is the difference between the "principles" of the opinions and the particular opinions prescribed for the citizens of a city, especially a virtuous city? What does the lawgiver who prescribes such opinions need to take into account in formulating particular opinions for the citizens of his city? What does the lawgiver need to prescribe for the citizens in addition to opinions whose principles are stated in this book, and where are these other things to be found in al-FarabT's political writings? (Consider, for instance, al-Farabi's Book of Religion and Avicenna's Healing: Metaphysics, bk. 10.) What other topics does political science or political philosophy deal with according to al-Farabi? Why is it that the opinions of the citizens

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) intended to establish his claim as a legitimate successor to, and authorized teacher of the writings of, Plato and Aristotle and a competent -interpreter of their thought in the light of later philosophic and scientific developments, rather than a follower of any particular fifth- or sixth-century Alexandrian philosopher. This is especially true of his interest in political philosophy and the manner in which it dominates his own writings as distinguished from his commentaries. Nothing in this respect connects him with any known fifth- or sixth-century Greek philosopher. One needs to go as far back as Cicero (whose works were not translated into Arabic) and the Middle Platonists (of whose writings on political philosophy not a great deal has survived or can be shown to have been translated into Arabic) almost a millennium earlier to find a comparable interest in political philosophy. This being the case, it is relatively easy to spin out various hypotheses about al-Farabl's sources and background. There is the rise of Islam and the new religious and political context. There is the continuity presented by the extraordinary translation movement into Arabic of the classics of Greek philosophy and the Greek commentaries on them. There is the possibility of the persistence of Greek and Syriac school traditions so that what was written down and what was taught orally to advanced students may not have been the same. However, one is still faced with the formidable contrast between the "higher mysteries" (see, for instance, Dodds 1963: xxii-xxiii; 1964: 283ff.) pursued by the Greek philosophers since the third century (in Athens as well as in Alexandria) and alFarabl's pursuit of political philosophy or of the question of the relation between philosophy and the city. Walzer's quest for the "sources" (in the plural) and the "source" (in the singular) covers the major part of his commentary. It is not easy to determine how and when the second theme, the contextual analysis, emerged and developed alongside -the quest for the sources and the source. It is also not clear how the two approaches complement or supplement one another, or why on occasion the one is suspended and the other introduced. The contextual analysis in the commentary is based largely on a few "terms" presumed to be Islamic or used in a particularly sectarian sense, a presumption, as will be shown below (sec. 4), based on rather superficial impressions. So the quest for the sources and the source-outmoded and even amusing, given the length to which it is carried remains the dominant approach and the one in need of closer attention, though one needs to keep remind-

of the virtuous city need to cover views about "theoretical" things (indeed, why is it that views about theoretical things appear to be more important, and are therefore treated more extensively, than opinions about practical things), and yet such terms as "metaphysics" and "natural science" are absent from the text of the Virtuous City? Why are there no citations of authorities in this work or even cross references to al-Farabi's other works? Why does it not present philosophic arguments for the principles of the opinions stated in it? What justification does al-Farabi provide for turning a new page in the history of Islamic philosophy and placing a rather obsolete, if not defunct, political philosophy in center stage? These questions are obviously not answered by saying
'since man . . . cannot live in isolation and cannot

find fulfilment except as a member of society, his main concern ought to be to strive for the perfect state.... That ought to be the supreme aim of philosophical thought" (p. 9). For almost all men and all philosophers admit the premise without admitting the conclusion. Instead of offering the reader a discussion of the issues stated in the book he is editing, translating, and commenting on, and trying to develop some answers to the questions raised by them, Walzer wanders into the treacherous fields of source criticism and contextual analysis. The primary subject matter of the book, political philosophy, is thus abandoned and the reader forced to consider side issues that could very well have waited until the main subject matter of the work had been elucidated.

Students of the early period of Islamic philosophy are faced with a puzzling discontinuity between the philosophic traditions presented by al-Kind! and alRazT, on the one hand, and al-FarabT and what became the dominant tradition after him, on the other. Difficult and controversial as the attempts to clarify the Greek background of the philosophic thought of al-KindT and al-Razl are, they seem to meet with far greater success than the attempts to understand the relation between what is known about the character of the Greek philosophic tradition during the fifth and sixth centuries and the character of al-FarabT's writings four centuries later. Al-FarabT was eager to present himself as a disciple of the ancients, more particularly, as a thinker in a tradition that went back to Roman times and had moved from Alexandria to Antioch, Harran, Marv, and finally to Baghdad. But his statements on this subject seem

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Al-Fdrdbi's Imperfect State


ing oneself that a second approach lurks in the wings. (Between them, the two approaches produce a most novel view of the activity of philosophy.) By the time Walzer attempted to summarize in his introduction the results of his "quest for the identity" of al-Farabl's "Greek authorities," or "putative Greek 'source'," or "Greek predecessor," it must have already become clear to him that, while one can speculate endlessly about the subject, very little could be said with certainty that was not public knowledge already, viz, that al-Farabl's authorities, sources, and predecessors are the ones cited by al-Farabl explicitly and repeatedly in his own works. These, however, are not the sources Walzer was seeking. He was, rather, in quest of hidden Greek sources no one knows anything about and of works that have survived neither in Greek nor in Arabic. Walzer concluded that this quest, in which he spent about two decades, "does not yield absolutely certain results" (p. 9). This statement does not surprise students of alFarabT who are aware of his account of, and commentaries on, the works of Plato and Aristotle as well as the works of numerous later Greek philosophers and scientists and commentators such as Alexander of Aphrodisias, Porphyry, and Plotinus. One would have thought that the first order of business was to determine which of these works was "used" in the Virtuous City and which part or parts of the work still remain in need of a search for an authority, source, or predecessor. (One might have found it useful as well to ask why al-FarabTwould wish to copy the work or works of some unknown author instead of the authors he does acknowledge as his authorities; why he would wish to go to Middle Platonist or other unknown "predecessors," about whom so very little is known, when he was otherwise openly engaged in the reception and transmission of a learned tradition.) For it would seem unwise to go aimlessly hunting for sources without first deciding what one does and what one does not have a source for. Available to al-FarabT were Plato's Republic, Statesman, Timaeus, and Laws, as well as nearly all of Aristotle's works, with the possible exception of the Politics. Aristotle's criticisms of some of the views expressed in Plato's Republic were known to commentators such as Proclus, through whom they might have been known to the Arabs even in the absence of the text of the Politics. The first questions to be asked, then, should have been how the Virtuous City is related to such works as were not only available to al-Farabi but also known to have been studied and commented on by him (in the case of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, al-

FarabT'scommentary became notorious for the view it expressed about survival after death), whether it agrees or disagrees with the doctrines contained in them, and the grounds of disagreement if any. Al-FarabT is not usually reticent about his sources. If he is silent about them in the Virtuous City, there must be a reason. It could mean that this work's purpose, intended audience, and point of view do not require mentioning the sources or reference to the Greek authorities mentioned in many of his other works. Walzer, it must be added, does not take a hard line on the question of the availability of complete Arabic translations of many Greek works, such as Plato's Republic and Laws, which other scholars think were available only in summary form. It is reasonable to assume that alFarabTdoes not mention all his Greek authorities or all the Greek works he utilized, even in the works in which he does mention Greek authorities, and one might ask to what extent one needs to supplement the authorities he does mention with authorities or sources he could have used but for one reason or another does not mention. These works are of two sorts: first, works generally admitted to have been translated from Greek into Arabic that could have been available to him and are available to us in their Arabic translations, their Greek originals, or both; second, works known to have been translated from Greek into Arabic and that could therefore have been available to al-Farabl, but have not survived either in their Arabic translations or in their Greek originals, about which one could speculate with some profit on the basis of what one knows about their authors, surviving fragments in Greek or Arabic, and so forth. Speculative as the conclusions of this quest might have been, one could at least have presented the following argument in justifying it: having made the attempt to isolate the Greek authorities or sources of this work on the basis of writings al-FarabT says he had access to, or writings on which he is known to have commented, there remain a number of questions, or parts of the Virtuous City, that cannot be accounted for; let us see, therefore, whether other Greek writings available to al-FarabTand to us, or available to al-FarabT and about which we know something, can account for these remaining questions or parts. But, given the sources that were available to, and used by, al-Farabl, and are sufficient to explain most if not all of the Virtuous City, was all this effort needed to locate sources for whose existence or even availability to al-FarabTthere is hardly any evidence? One could have then proceeded to ask why alFarabTchose this particular form and structure for his

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) work he had hoped to find contained (it contained, of course, almost everything contained in the Virtuous City), did not contain (it did not contain, for instance, the "Islamic" terms found in the Virtuous City), and about who its author was and when he lived (he lived "in all probability" at "the time of Justinian, i.e. in the early sixth century"). If Walzer did not succeed in laying his hand on a sixth-century Greek source, that was because we do not possess much of the Greek literature available to the Arabs, and "unfortunately" because "the intermediate stages -in the more than three hundred years between the 'source' and alFarabi are unknown" (pp. 9-10). It is important to keep in mind that when Walzer speaks of al-Farabi's "authority," "source," and "predecessor," he does not mean what those engaged in the study of the philosophic tradition, ancient, medieval, or modern, generally understand by these expressions-that a later philosopher reads about, studies, reflects upon, learns from, modifies, develops, and hands down, his predecessor's thought, either with or without fully acknowledging his debt to him. He means, rather, that the Virtuous City is by and large a collection of foreign (Greek) passages textually copied from a sixth-century Greek work, presumed to have been available to al-Farabi in Arabic translation. Walzer's task as scholar was conceived primarily as one of tracing these foreign passages to their rightful Greek author. It is this curious quest that does not seem to yield absolutely certain results. The sixthcentury "source" must-have in turn been copied from an earlier source or sources that go back to the first and second centuries, presumably because that is when political Platonism existed among the Middle Platonists. It is in this sense that al-FarabT is said to base the Virtuous City upon different layers of Greek thought, which Walzer sees it as his task to analyze. Then, the sixth-century "source" was recopied during the four centuries between the time it itself was copied and sometime toward the middle of the tenth century when al-FarabTcame across the copy from which he copied all that he copied. All the intermediary copies between the first- or second-century and the sixthcentury "source" and all the intermediary copies between the sixth-century "source" and al-FarabT are lost as well. It is surprising, nevertheless, that Walzer's encyclopedic knowledge of the Greek sources could not lead him to a single source in the sense in which he understood "source," a text copied or followed. Given the paucity of evidence-given the total lack of it, in fact-one must wonder why a serious scholar would engage in such a quest, especially since it yields

work. Why, for example, does he begin with opinions about God and the higher world? Why does he reverse Plato's procedure in the Republic and make the discussion of the excellent city precede rather than follow the discussion of justice? Other interesting political questions would then emerge also. For instance, what about the radical communal arrangements in the Republic regarding women and children and community of property, which Aristotle had found particularly objectionable? Why is al-FarabT silent about them? Is it due to his having adopted Aristotle's criticisms of Plato's position on these issues? But then how would his adherence to Aristotle on these issues accord with his adherence to the Platonic view of the full equality of men and women? Starting with such questions, one could have proceeded to give an account of the long tradition of discussions on these issues (including, for instance, Galen's modification of the complete community of women as reported in Averroes' Commentary on Plato's Republic, 56, 11.24ff.) as a backdrop against which one might have been able to gain some understanding of al-Farabl's position. None of this, however, seems to have commended itself to Walzer in his quest to ascertain al-Farabl's Greek source. For a reason that must have been ultimately founded on a general view of how medieval philosophers worked and the character of what they did and said, he distrusted the information provided by al-Farabl about his authorities and sources and was not satisfied with the view that al-FarabTcould have learned what he states in the Virtuous City from the authorities he acknowledges having studied and followed. Walzer was after bigger game: "absolutely certain results" about al-FarabT's Greek sources or source in the form of the particular Greek book or books, presumably in Arabic translation, that alFarabliwas thinking about, looking at, or copying as he wrote the Virtuous City. Thus the aim of the part of the quest that did not lead to absolutely certain Greek authorities or sources results was not al-FarabT's in general, nor the Greek tradition al-Farabli openly says he studied and is transmitting, but a "special authority" and a particular Greek "author." Indeed, in a number of cases the antecedents of pronouns used by Walzer can be understood as referring either to alFarabli, the author of the Virtuous City, or to a presumed Greek author of a supposed Greek original (pp. 334, 343, 365, 366, and the antecedent of "It" in the last line of p. 9). Walzer could identify neither work nor author. Yet his commentary is full of discourses about what the

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little of anything that is new or interesting about the Greek tradition or about al-Farabl's Virtuous Citynothing, that is, that cannot be learned from studying the Virtuous City along with Plato's Republic and Laws, and the writings of Aristotle and those of the Middle Platonists and Neoplatonists, to which it is certain that al-FarabT had access. Walzer tried to apply the generally accepted rules of the sourcehunting game in a thoroughgoing manner. Philosophers, it seems, do not engage in independent and critical study of their authorities, and none of them appears able to think of the same simple idea independently. The result is a commentary that looks like a collection of disjointed notes and that dismembers the Virtuous City, replacing what was meant to be a living tree with a heap of shavings. Walzer's training as a classical philologist and textual critic must at some point have overwhelmed his common sense and driven him to imagine that the quest for al-Farab'is Greek authorities should take the form of reconstructing a lost sixth-century Greek text. He never abandoned this view despite the astonishing lengths to which he had to go to suggest even the most meager results. The results may not have been absolutely certain, but there is no intimation that there could be anything wrong with the quest itself: to attempt to reconstruct an imagined Greek text, while claiming to interpret an Arabic philosophic work. Nor is there any recognition that there may have been something slightly odd, even weird, about the initial assumptions on which philology and textual criticism base this extension of the territory that is legitimately theirs. So long as this approach controlled Walzer's quest, the model that guided his story of the "source" of al-FarabT's Virtuous City was the one philology and textual criticism use to account for the manner in which a text travels through time. It is described by Maas:
A river comes from an inaccessible source under the peak of a high mountain. It divides underground . . . and finally flows onward in visible form overground. The water from its source onwards is of everchanging but fine and pure colours. In its subterranean course it flows past several places at which colouring matters from time to time dissolve into the water; the same thing happens every time the stream divides and every time it comes to the surface in a spring. Every influx changes the colour of a certain part of the stream, and this part keeps the colour permanently; only very slight colour changes are eliminated by natural processes. The distinction between the dyed

water and the originalremainsalwaysvisible to the in the sense that the eye at eye, but only occasionally a colour as falsifiedby influxes;often once recognizes only in the sense that the differencebetween the colours of the variousspringsis discernible. On the can oftenbe detected otherhand,the falsified elements and the originalcolourrestored by chemicalmethods; at other times this method fails. The object of the of the colours investigationis to test the genuineness on the evidenceof the springs. (Maas 1958:20) Using this model, Walzer engaged in a two-pronged inquiry into the Virtuous City. The first was the search for the "original" of the book as a whole, a quest which he must have finally recognized was leading nowhere with respect to locating an author anyone knows anything about or a book for whose existence there is evidence other than that presumably drawn from al-Farabrs Virtuous City. But that need no more discourage one from assuming the existence of the presumed author and the reality of the presumed Greek work than from reconstructing that work's contents and discoursing on its particular features. The second was to dissolve the Virtuous City into smaller and smaller elements and attempt to trace them, or as many as could be traced, to their respective "sources." For the most part, the comments and notes in the commentary follow the second line of inquiry, but it is clear that the author's heart was set on finding the original for the whole book, or at least for a substantial part of it. He appears to have been thinking that, somehow, the more individual items he could trace to their presumed sources, the more he could allow himself to assume that a common prototype, authority, author, or text was being copied or followed by al-Farabl; thus he uses the word "author" to designate not al-Farabl but the imagined sixthcentury Greek author. Having chopped the work into words, phrases, sentences, and passages, Walzer went on to seek their Greek sources, with a rate of success inversely proportional to the size of the item in question. One must wonder at the value of these meager results, achieved as they are at the expense of the progressive removal of the context and sense of the work as a whole. One needs to wonder also whether the presumed connections thus established mean anything at all. For it is a well-known rule in the source-hunting game that if you pull a philosophic work to bits "you can usually find for each bit, if not anything that can strictly be called a 'source', at any rate some more or less closely related model or antecedent or stimulus" (Dodds 1973: 129). The atom-

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) what his acknowledged authorities, or those authors in the tradition within which he was working and thinking, said? And where does one stop when looking for sources and prototypes? Is there an "original" source of a philosophic work similar to the original source of a river-assuming, that is, that one knows the "original" source of a river? Finally, what exactly is one supposed to learn from so many brief references to presumed sources? That one should understand what al-Farabli is saying against the background of what was said by the Greek source? And what does this mean? Perhaps it means something to the classicist interested in lost Greek authors and works, in which case one may wish him good hunting. But it does very little to make sense of al-Farabl's Virtuous City, its structure, its intention, its relation to alFarabT'sother political writings, or its place within his writings in general. It succeeds only in turning the reader's attention away from the work before him to the analysis of several layers of Greek thought whose relevance to the task at hand is rarely evident. In what is called a "commentary"-the most substantial part of Walzer's book-there is in fact little commentary on the substance of what al-Farab! says, and hardly any serious interest in understanding what he is saying. The reader's attention is constantly drawn to questions of Greek sources and historical context, questions that would have been of some interest had they led to anything more substantial than an unlikely

izing method, even were it to lead to an occasional association between al-Farabl's statement and that of a presumed source, in no way supports the view that al-FarabT was following or copying a source or two when writing the Virtuous City. There is the further difficulty that most of the associations made between such elements and their presumed sources remain problematical as well. For instance, there is a long list of vocabulary items in the commentary where Walzer's English rendering of an Arabic term in the Virtuous City is equated with a Greek term, and occasionally with a Latin term as well (see the group on pp. 337ff., for example). Now these are for the most part terms that have many senses in each of these languages. There is usually no indication who used the Greek or Latin term, in what work, or in what context, even though the particular sense of each term depends very much on the author using it, the work in which it is used, and the particular context in which it is used in that work. The equal sign in these cases means nothing apart from the fact that a certain Arabic term happened to remind Walzer, correctly or incorrectly, of some Greek or Latin term. It is true that, in the case of most phrases, sentences, or passages, the reader is provided with a reference to a Greek source or sources. Yet this is normally not of much help either. One reads the Arabic and the presumed Greek source only to be baffled at what Walzer had in mind and to wonder why he did not elucidate what he thought the connection might have been between what al-FarabT is saying and what the presumed source says. Then there are those cases where something said by al-FarabT "brings to [Walzer's] mind" or "recalls"something else said by some Greek author, or he describes the "Greek tradition which he [al-FarabT] seems to continue" (see, for instance, pp. 338, 339, 420). In most of these cases one learns very little about the substance either of al-Farabrs statement or of its presumed Greek source. But the main difficulty is that once a work like the Virtuous City has been cut up into smaller and smaller elements, elements as small as single words, it takes little to see loose parallelisms between what alFarabTsays and what many earlier philosophers and writers of philosophic works may have said, especially if one makes allowances for the passage of many centuries, translation from one language to another (sometimes through the intermediary of yet a third language), and different religious and cultural contexts. What is so surprising, or even interesting, about such parallelisms between what al-FdrdbT says and

For instance, in contrast to numerous Neoplatonic writers of late antiquity, al-FarabT presents in the Virtuous City and in a parallel work, the Political Regime, a simplified structure of the higher world. Walzer comments on this aspect of the work: "It cannot be decided, in my view, whether the simplified structure of the higher world which we find in this and in other similar works of al-FarabTis due to him or to a Greek predecessor" (p. 12). The ground for suspending judgment is the failure to locate a Greek predecessor. But in the absence of an "original" predecessor, one must be consistent and suspend judgment about "the simplified structure" as having been due to the presumed Greek predecessor, and his Greek predecessor, and so on. One may ask what is wrong about suspending judgment in this or any other case in which a definite "original" has not been located. Is this not more "scientific"than deciding that it was due either to al-FarabT or to his presumed Greek predecessor? Yet to pose the question this way is to remain within the charmed circle of the source-hunters, in a state of uncertainty whether this simplified structure is

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nothing more than a foreign passage from a presumed Greek predecessor which al-Farabli happened to come across, or something that was of his own making. We congratulate ourselves for a scientific attitude that enables us to suspend judgment rather than rush into premature decision. In the unlikely event, however, that the simplified structure was due to al-Farabl, this will never be known. For how or when can one ever be "absolutely certain" that one has exhausted allpossible Greek predecessors when the works of so many of them have been irretrievably lost? In the meantime we fail to ask the necessary questions a commentator is under some obligation to ask. Why did al-FarabT present a simplified structure of the higher world in this book and in the parallel work, the Political Regime? Was it perhaps because he thought the citizens of his virtuous city needed a view of the higher world more in harmony with the conclusions of astronomical theories such as those of Ptolemy? in harmony with the prevailing religion? or in harmony with their view of the political structure under which they are to live? Such questions remain in suspenseindeed, unanswered-as long as the primary interest in al-FarabT'swork is whether a certain idea was due to him or to some Greek predecessor. The sourcehunter's argument here, as everywhere else it is employed, seems to absolve the commentator of having to wonder about the one thing the author and his readers did care about: the subject matter of the book. A second useful example is al-Farabl's discussion of the world state. In this case Walzer is sure that it was due to the Greek predecessor; for, according to Walzer, this notion assumes the Roman Empire. But why should this be the case? Why could the universal claims of Christianity and Islam and their empires not serve as the historical background, if a historical background is deemed necessary for the notion of a world state? It is evident that Walzer was not asking himself in this case whether one needs at all to go as far back as the Roman Empire to explain the presence of the notion of the world state in al-Farabl. The question uppermost in his mind seems rather to have been: how far back could the "source" of this notion be traced? Assuming that no one can think of the world state without there having existed a world state, assuming that the Roman Empire was a world state of the type al-Farabi is thinking of, and assuming that al-FarabT could not independently have thought of the world state even after the success of the universal claims of Christianity and Islam and the existence of an empire that covered a wider area than the Roman Empire and was much closer to al-FarabT's own

time-Walzer can do no better than direct the reader's attention to some hypothetical predecessor who is supposed to have lived a millennium before al-FarabT. This in turn is enough to absolve him of the responsibility to reflect on what al-Farabl himself is saying and why. Strangely enough, it absolves him of the responsibility of even asking whether al-Farabi's notion of the world state has anything to do with the Roman Empire, or with the Christian and Islamic empires for that matter, and where the differences lie. A third example must suffice. Al-FarabT does not identify the divine mind called the Active Intellect with God and thus does not follow the tradition emanating from Alexander of Aphrodisias, the great commentator on Aristotle. Walzer engages in a complicated quest for the "source" of this view: I suppose the tradition which al-Farabl will have chosento accept-or the new standwhichhe himself may have taken-is comparable to the attitudeto be observedin Ps. Alexander'scommentaryon books E-N of Aristotle's Metaphysics,where Alexander's ideas are linked, indeed equated, with neo-Platonic concepts.Al-Farabimay have followeda similarlate Greek traditionwhich happensnot to be preserved elsewhere.Al-Farabihimselfpoints out, in his essay De intellectu,that his conceptionof the Divine Mind occurs in book Lambdaof Aristotle'sMetaphysics. He does not mention by name any of the Greek authoritieshe followed, either in the Ard' [the Virtuous City] or in the K al-Siyasa [the Political Regime]. (pp. 343-44)

Then he tries to get closer to the Greek "predecessor" through Marinus: Marinusof Sichem,the biographer of Proclus,whom he succeededas head of the Platonic Academyafter A.D. 485, is creditedwith a description of the Active Intellectwhich is somewhatakin to al-Farabl's doctrine.... I make bold to say that a Greek expression

for an inferiordegreeof divinity,like Marinus'daimonion or angelikon, does not fit too badly alFarabl's tenthintellect... althoughMarinus will most likely not have held exactly the same view as alFarabT's predecessor. (p. 404) Because the Greek "predecessor"in question is said to presuppose "some view such as that put forward, perhaps for the first time, by Marinus," he is construed to have lived in the sixth century. "There can thus, in my view, be no doubt that the proximate

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) citizens of the perfect state must be aware" (p. 472). As he rewrites the work he is commenting on, Walzer tends to render al-Farabl's statements less precise. If, for instance, al-Farb-i says that, with respect to the powers of sense perception, representation, and reason, the human male and female "do not differ" (Walzer's own translation of p. 196, 1. 5 at p. 197, 1. 6), the commentary paraphrases "there is no noticeable difference" and goes on to wonder whether this suggests the inference "that al-Farabl shared Plato's view that women too could be philosophers and rulers" (pp. 400-401; see also below, sec. 5). Walzer must have convinced himself not only that source-hunting was a worthier occupation than reflection on the Virtuous City itself, but that it was also not really worth seeking help from al-Fardbl's other writings for the purpose of comparison, clarification, or placing the Virtuous City within the broader context of the author's concern with political philosophy. During the two decades in which Walzer was working on the Virtuous City, a number of alFarabl's political works became available for the first time in published form (he made little use, in the commentary, of al-FarabT's works in manuscript form). These are listed in the bibliography appended to the Virtuous City, and one has the impression that Walzer had some recourse to them for the commentary. Most of the references to them are brief, consisting largely of page numbers, without any indication how they differ from one another in treating the same subject matter. In particular, Walzer seemed not to have realized that the Virtuous City cannot be interpreted without first understanding al-Farabl's account of political science as a whole, its parts and the relationship among them, which of his works on political philosophy treat what part or parts, and the different points of view from which a certain part is presented in parallel works such as the Virtuous City and the Political Regime. Thus, having noted that in the Attainment of Happiness al-Farabl refers explicitly to Plato's Republic and Timaeus while he "does not mention by name any of the Greek authorities he followed" either in the Virtuous City or in the Political Regime, Walzer concludes that "to produce the Greek evidence in detail would not have been relevant to the purpose of these works" (p. 344), but ignores that such a judgment presupposes a clear and coherent account of the "purpose" of each of the works-an account nowhere to be found in the commentary. It is also impossible to say anything intelligent about the intended audience of the Virtuous City without first finding out whether and how al-FarabT's writings

common source of Chapters 10-15 [of the Virtuous City] is to be found in a Greek work of the sixth century" (p. 405; see also p. 440). All this in order to explain why al-Fdrabl does not identify the divine mind called the Active Intellect with God. Now Marinus may or may not have been the father of some such view about the divine mind, called the Active Intellect, and he may or may not have been the "source" of al-FardbT'snot identifying it with God. Yet the transition from the possible "source" of this particular notion to the global, presumed predecessor and his work that presumably served as a model for al-FarabT can in no way be supported by what is known about Marinus or his doctrines. Source-hunting is not the innocent game it appears to be. It tends to turn the commentator away from his primary task of analyzing and explaining the work's structure, method, problems, and point of view. Excessive concern with source-hunting, especially when it is so uncertain as to require many levels of hypothetical construction, is liable to distract the commentator's attention from even the salient characteristics of the work on which he is supposed to be commenting. One of the striking opinions presented in the Virtuous City, for example, is that there are "first intelligibles" of morality and the practical arts and that these are first principles common to all (pp. 2024). This view, which underlies such natural law doctrines as are found in Aquinas, receives little attention in the commentary, and the comment that is made ("good and bad are useful common notions in practical, moral philosophy" [p. 407]) has nothing to do with the significance of what is being said by alFarabT.Then, the "first intelligibles" of the theoretical sciences, which do receive some attention, occasion a statement that causes one to wonder: "Undemonstrable starting points of theoretical sciences," we are told, "are all the subjects discussed in the preceding chapters 1-12 of al-Farabl's book: Heaven and First Cause are specially mentioned here" (p. 407, emphasis added). That al-Farabl does not demonstrate any of the views presented in the Virtuous City is easy to see, and this applies to chapters 1-12. But the subjects discussed in these chapters are not the "starting points of theoretical sciences." They are the subjects of the theoretical sciences, which cannot be said to be simply undemonstrable. This confusion is not removed by the subsequent remarks that "al-Farabi restricts himself to informing the reader of the results of philosophical discussions without providing any reasoned demonstration" (p. 457), or that "there are certain results of philosophical research of which all the

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differ in subject matter, style, and complexity; what each assumes as preparation on the part of the reader; and what particular aspect or stage of a discipline it is meant to deal with. Not having made an effort to deal adequately with this question, Walzer, when in the mood to wonder about the intended audience of the Virtuous City (for some reason he never speaks about the intended audience of the work of al-Farabi's "Greek predecessor" or "author'), can form only the haziest notion and say the most innocuous, albeit sometimes contradictory, things about it. The book is "written by a philosopher qua philosopher"; al-FarabT is "by no means talking down to the unsophisticated common man"; the book "is not intended specifically for professional students of philosophy in the technical sense of the word"; al-Farabli"composed a number of books with a comparatively wide appeal to the general public of his time" (p. 5). "The sophisticated readers to whom the book is addressed are able to understand philosophy without practicing it themselves and are willing to accept as true the results of philosophical discussion without questioning fundamentals and without being acquainted with the ways and proofs which lead to them. They are meant to be at least familiar with basic philosophical concepts. We have to assume-I think rightly-that such a reading public existed in al-Farabi's days" (p. 6). Al-Farabi's "book can be understood by every reader of Arabic" (p. 7). "The term belongs to the basic vocabulary which al-FdrabTdoes not care to explain in this book" (p. 341). "In my view al-FarabT wants the reader to connect these various chapters. A more explicit reference would certainly have made it easier to understand his intentions immediately. But al-Farabi's ability as a writer of books, has its shortcomings-in this book as elsewhere-even assuming that he addresses a very sophisticated audience" (p. 417). One of the reasons for not making better use of alFarabi's other political writings to gain some perspective on the Virtuous City is again Walzer's conviction that these other works, like the Virtuous City, follow presumed Greek predecessors or models or prototypes. The work On One and Unity, for example, "depends ... more immediately, on some late Greek manual on unity and plurality," even though it is "almost completely free from any neo-Platonic features" (p. 339). This is never proved in the case of any particular work. With the passage of time, a work that had been subjected to the rules of the source-hunting game with questionable results is later assumed to have been shown with certainty to have been copied from a Greek model. Slowly, what appears to be a

solid case is developed for the notion that each one of al-FarabT's writings was copied from a presumed Greek predecessor, author, or prototype, when in fact not a single one of his major writings (as distinct perhaps from some of his lecture notes or the papers found in his Nachlass) has really been shown to have been thus copied. Nevertheless, the general hypothesis is used in support of the notion that the main question to be asked in the case of each of al-FarabT's writings is how to trace the Greek predecessor or prototype that was being copied or followed. If alFarabT'sdifferent writings are in any way different, whether in subject matter, style, or doctrine, that must be because he was following different Greek predecessors or models. This, in turn, absolves the commentator of the responsibility to attempt an overall account of these writings, to explain whether or how they differ, or what the intention is in each case. Nor does one ask these questions about their respective sources. That, it seems, is not part of the rules of the sourcehunting game, especially since one has little to go on regarding the identity of these sources and their authors. It must be added in all fairness to Walzer that he did not invent the rules of the source-hunting game, but was only following a long and respected tradition in classical scholarship. That tradition had already badly harmed major figures of antiquity, such as Cicero, whose fate was described by Richard Harder in a moving and graphic picture: Der Philosoph Cicero war noch zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhundertseine europAische Grdsse; er galt als Kennerder Philosophie,als grosserSchriftsteller und als grosser Romer. Dann fiel er in die Hande der and zurUckblieb nur ein SchlachtQuellenforscher, feld, zerstortwieje ein Ort erbitterten Kampfes.Und zudem war der Kampsieglos:denn wo sind hier die Siege, wo gibt es eine erhartete Feststellung, wo eine allgemeinzugestandeneZuweisung,selbst wenn wir der ciceronischenQuellenforschung auf ihr eigenes Feld folgen?(Harder1960:328) There are many places in the commentary where, on a particular point, one learns something useful from Walzer's account of the Greek tradition and its development from Plato or Aristotle through Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism down to the sixth century (see, for instance, pp. 343ff., 362ff., 472). In his commentary on chapter 10 (pp. 384ff.), for example, he considers the question of the order of rank of the soul's faculties, how some authors in the tradition

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) was copied from a copy of the earlier one that must have been available to the copier of the later copy. Walzer's "Greek predecessor" refers not so much to a human being as to a written copy of which a later copy must have been available to al-Farabl. For this reason Walzer can say that the copy of the Greek predecessor-the original copied by al-FarablT-has "not yet" been traced. (The Elysian fields are populated by faceless scribes.) This assumption allows the philologist-historian to move freely across fifteen hundred years of a philosophic tradition and deduce from traces he finds in a tenth-century book the presence of influences from the entire spectrum of that tradition. All that is needed, in order to assume the existence of the work of the Greek predecessor, is that every bit of what al-Farabi says in this book be connected with something in the earlier philosophic tradition-if not the late Athenian, then the late Alexandrian; if not either, then the Middle Platonic; if not the Middle Platonic, then the Stoic or the Epicurean; and so forth. Therefore, that the work al-FarabTwas following (or rather the particular text or texts he was copying) does not exist, or that the text he was copying happens to be unknown in Greek or Arabic, does not really matter: its traces are present in al-Farabi's book. That none of this corresponds to what is otherwise known about al-FarabT as author and thinker, and his access to works known to have been available to and used by him, seems to raise no doubts in the mind of someone under the spell of the model in question. One notices with bewilderment the frequency with which Walzer was obliged to qualify the references to the presumed Greek predecessor, author, or prototype, and to derivations from other Greek authorities: something "appears"to be the case (p. 414); a certain Peripatetic view "may have reached" al-FarabT'spresumed Greek predecessor "through an otherwise unknown work by Alexander of Aphrodisias" (p. 419); and it is "more likely to look for al-Farabi's Greek predecessor among the members of the sixth-century school of Alexandria than to connect him with the more mystically-minded Platonic Academy of Proclus and his successors" (p. 420). Or, "al-Farabi may have followed a similar late Greek tradition which happens not to be preserved elsewhere" (p. 344). Or, again, "alFdrabb'sGreek predecessor had thus an appreciation of" (p. 421) what al-FdrabThas an appreciation of in the Virtuous City. And, finally, "al-Farabi and his predecessor do not attribute such extraordinary qualities to the philosopher" (p. 421); that is, they seem to have had identical thoughts. It is almost charming to

make use of it while others do not. Yet one soon begins to wonder whether one is reading a commentary on the entire Greek philosophic tradition or on al-Farabi's Virtuous City, and if the latter, why the relevance of what is being said about the Greek tradition to al-Farabli's Virtuous City is not being explained, and why the information about the Greek tradition and its development is not confined to matters that throw light on the work the commentary is meant to elucidate. These questions must be raised with particular urgency since the approach Walzer chose to follow not only fails to lead to certain results, but also fails to provide him at any significant point in the commentary with a firm ground on which to stand. It all seems to reduce to the following (see pp. 404-5, 420): if al-Farabi says X, and X or something like X or something that X recalls or that X brings to mind was said in the fifth or sixth century by some obscure or unknown Greek predecessor, then alFarabi could not have learned it from Plato or Aristotle or anyone else earlier than the presumed Greek predecessor; nor could he have thought of it independently by reflecting on what the authorities of that Greek predecessor had said or written, even though their works were available to him and he is known to have studied them. If, on the other hand, X is thought to have been a modification of what the Greek predecessor had presumably written, then the modification occurred subsequent to the Greek predecessor and before al-Farabl; it could not have been due to someone who preceded the Greek predecessor or to al-FarabThimself. In all such instances, it is assumed that al-Farabi was following the practice of a scribe, a copyist who copies what is before him, while occasionally inserting terms and comments reflecting his personal, political, or religious condition, precisely the kind of thing scribes are apt to do. The task of the philologisthistorian is to follow the course of the written copy of a text through the centuries and show when and where the original may have been altered. There is nothing inherently wrong with this procedure when tracing the fate of a real text. Here, however, the original text itself is an assumption. Reviewers (Jolivet 1987; Lerner 1987) may wonder what could prompt someone to engage in a search for a "Greek predecessor" when another, more sensible explanation is close at hand. Yet there is nothing surprising about this approach, once the simile of the copy of a text traveling like a subterranean river takes possession of the researcher's mind. If a later copy presents features of an earlier copy, it is assumed that the later copy

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Al-FdrdbT'sImperfect State


see the source-hunting game played with such dedication and pushed to extreme limits. Its failure, which must in all honesty be admitted even by Walzer's admirers, is a telling lesson to imitators who lack his encyclopedic knowledge or devotion to this approach. Walzer's commentary is the best proof that something is missing in the Greek tradition that came down to al-Farabl, namely, an overall concern with political philosophy, the central and dominant theme of the Virtuous City. Al-FarabT needed to go back to the writings of Plato and Aristotle in order to develop his political philosophy. Walzer's main difficulty in understanding the Virtuous City is that he did not follow al-FarabT'slead.

The Ard' [the VirtuousCity] is then to be consideredas the productof an Islamic philosopherof the tenth century,as a book in its own right which al-Farabiwrote for a specialpurposeof his own and addressed to the Arabic-reading Muslimpublicof his own day. It is neither a translation of a Greek original-I mean one of the many original Greek philosophicalwritingsof late Antiquitywhich were into Arabicin the ninth or tenth centuries translated and subsequently lost in the laterstages of Byzantine Greekcivilization-nor an adaptation.... It is not a teachingmanual;nor is it concernedwith imparting antiquarian information for its own sake.(p. 6) It is appropriate to begin the account of Walzer's contextual analysis with this quotation in order to indicate the manner in which he superimposes a cultural and historical interpretation on his quest for the Greek sources or source of the Virtuous City. The substance of this second-order analysis, however, is thinner and less wide-ranging than the first. It lacks the support of al-Farabl's own emphasis on his debt to the Greek tradition and cannot benefit from Walzer's extensive acquaintance with that tradition or his dexterity in connecting what he finds in the Virtuous City with both well-known and obscure Greek sources. One has the impression that the ground has become slippery. There is no investigation of al-FarabT's Islamic philosophic sources-al-Farabl does not seem to have a Muslim "predecessor" or to follow earlier Muslim authors or prototypes. And one misses a historian's critical sense and ability to control and evaluate medieval and modern historical accounts. The absence of substantial details about al-FarabT's life has given rise to the fabrication of numerous

anecdotes and fables, a process that started in medieval times and has been continued by modern scholars. One of the few events of his life which can be relied on, because the information about it survives in the margins of manuscripts of the Virtuous City (the source from which the medieval biographers drew this information), is that, in 330 A.H./A.D. 942, at the age of seventy, al-Fardbl left Baghdad for Syria and Egypt, where he spent the last decade of his life. In the article on al-Farabl in the Encyclopaedia of Islam (1913-1936a, 2:53b), Carra de Vaux described the event as follows: "He then went to Halab to the court of the Hamdanid Saif al-Dawla, under whose protection he lived the life of a Siffi. He died . . . in Damascus, whither he had accompanied his king on a campaign." I am embarrassed to add that hardly an item in this account bears historical examination. To Walzer fell the lot of revising the article in the new edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam (1960-, 2:778b). Now we read: "For reasons unknown he accepted in 330/942 an invitation of the ShTCT Hamddnid ruler Sayf al-Dawla [q.v.] and lived in his entourage, mainly in Aleppo, together with other men of letters, until his death." Where Walzer got the additional information that there was an invitation by Sayf alDawla and that al-Farabi accepted such an invitation, I do not know. Given the widespread notion that the Encyclopaedia of Islam does not disseminate unreliable historical information, it is not surprising to find W. Montgomery Watt inserting this additional information in the new edition of his manual Islamic Philosophy and Theology (1985: 69): "In 942 he accepted an invitation to the court of the Hamdanid prince Sayf ad-Dawla in Aleppo, and spent the remainder of his life there." By the time the work on the Virtuous City was completed, the invitation's potential for contextual analysis was in full bloom. How could one imagine that al-FarabT would "give up his principles" for the presumed "salary" of four silver dirhams a day, well above subsistence level, "but not enough to cut a respectable figure as a member of the middle or upper classes"? What possible reason could he have had for accepting an invitation that carried such a small stipend? "There is only one explanation: being himself a partisan of the Sh-cite Imamiyya ... he did not hesitate to become an independent member of this circle and gladly accepted the ImamTi Hamdanid prince's invitation" (p. 5). From this point onward, alFarabT'sconnection to ImamT(Ithnacashari, Twelver) Sh-icism is formulated in the strongest terms: alFarabT was "taking the side of the Imamiyya"; this

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) tout en se situant imamite:les theories farabiennes, sur un plan intellectuel, subissaientles effets des politico-religieuses en faveurdans le preoccupations (1979:117) furent&laborees. milieuoii elles-memes Thus it would seem that al-FarabT's theories were elaborated at the Hamdanid court in Aleppo, which would mean that al-FarabT'sphilosophy was born just before his death. Laoust is more careful and says of al-Farabl merely that it is through interpreting Plato's Republic and Laws "a travers une theologie d'inspiration mu'tazilite et imamite qu'il a construit sa propre politique" (1970: 68), which can mean anything. At one point Walzer quotes Laoust approvingly to the effect that "les qualites exigees du chef de la cite parfaite sont, ah peu de choses pres, celles-la meme que ses imams et, en particulier, le chiisme a demandees ah au premier d'entre eux, atl'imam 'AlT, compagnon et successeur legitime du Prophete" (p. 445, n. 686; see Laoust 1965: 420). The phrase "a peu de choses pres" leaves the door open as to how close the two positions are and suggests that the differences are not decisive enough to make the agreement between the two sets of qualifications of no value. W. Montgomery Watt's views regarding the connection between al-Farabl and ImamTShT'ism are even more guarded, for he restricts his comments to "the second head," that is, the second-best rulers (see below), those successors of the founder of the city who lack some of the latter's qualifications. Thus one reads in the first edition of Islamic Philosophy and Theology: "What is said about the 'second head' could be interpreted in such a way as to make him more or less identical with the Imamite imam; and this would mean that al-FarabT's philosophy could be regarded as providing a basis for Imamite Shi'ism. This would make him acceptable in ShT'ite Aleppo" (1962: 55). A similar view is found in the new extended edition: "the 'second head' might just conceivably be an imam as conceived by the Imamites" (1985: 70). One must conclude that, while scholars like Carra de Vaux, Sourdel, Laoust, and Watt may have "pointed out" and "indicated" to Walzer (as he says referring to Laoust [pp. 15, 502]) the way to the connection between al-FarabT and ShT'ism, none of them expressed the strong views he expresses on the topic. These views are his own. The only basis for them is the evidence he found in the Virtuous City after long and exhaustive study, evidence contained in his commentary on the Virtuous City. Therefore, in order to avoid any misunderstanding and to extricate oneself from a maze of cross references that lead nowhere, it

"meant a clear commitment"; to appreciate this fully is "to have the key to al-FarabT as a Muslim writer" (p. 15). Then, on the basis of this conviction, Walzer proceeds to imagine where al-FarabTstood in relation to different Muslim communities and political movements: he "definitely favoured the answer of the Alid Shc'a''; he "unmistakably dissociated himself" from the Isma'Tlis; he "disagreed with the 'Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad and felt like an exile and an alien while living in the 'City of Peace'"; the attitude of the Hamdanids "appealed to him"; the sympathies of the Buwayhids "were most probably to his liking"; and so on. Beyond this, Walzer promises to show that "the most fundamental ideas of the author of the Ard' [Virtuous City] agree fully and precisely with the ImamT interpretation of Islam" and that al-Farabl gives "a most adequate and fitting description of these basic ImamT ideas" (p. 17). Following suggestions made by Henri Laoust and Dominique Sourdel, Walzer thought that he had indeed found the key to the Virtuous City, or at least to the Islamic purpose of the Virtuous City: "once one is aware of this ImamTtenet, the opening paragraphs of Chapter 16 appear in a new and rather unexpected light: they read like a philosophical commentary on this tenet of Imami eschatology" and "there can be no doubt" that alFarabT"has this ImamTdoctrine in mind" (pp. 17-18). Since Walzer provides no evidence for what he asserts, other than references to his own earlier articles, which do not substantiate the claims made here, and to the works of Laoust and Sourdel, one is led to expect that these historians (and W. Montgomery Watt, a student of Islamic theology who had commented on this question) will clarify some of the strong statements he makes. Yet their writings on this issue are disappointing as -professional historians, they avoid flowery language and strong, unsupported claims. With respect to al-FarabT's visit to Sayf alDawla, for instance, Sourdel confines himself to, "qui la cour des &mirshamdanides fit un sejour ahAlep ah [in the plural] et mourut atDamas en 950" (1979: 116). And on the many questions that have to do with the connection between al-FarabT and Sh-cism, Sourdel speaks rather vaguely of certain "analogies" and concludes with a curious suggestion:
Mais il n'est pas inutile de noter les analogies qui existaient entre les conceptions qu'elle [la philosophic d'al-Farabi] mettait en oeuvre et celles des chiites. Ces analogies ne sauraient etonner lorsqu'on songe qu'une telle philosophie prit naissance a la cour des Hamdanides qui professaient eux-memes la doctrine dite

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Al-FdrdbT'sImperfect State


is best to discount all references in the commentary back to Walzer's own introduction and to his earlier writings on al-Farabli (since none of them claims to have been based on as thorough an investigation of this question as his commentary on the Virtuous City), as well as all references to other scholars, who cannot be held responsible for his conclusions. Instead, it is necessary to turn to Walzer's commentary as the most authoritative statement of his views on the topic and evaluate the evidence it presents. We recall that in his introduction, he explains the historical event-al-Farabi's visit to the court of Sayf al-Dawlaon the basis of al-Farabli's strong Imamli Shl'ite partisanship and commitment, and these in turn were to be proved through doctrines found in the Virtuous City. Since the commentary makes no reference to Sayf al-Dawla, I will postpone discussing this particular aspect of the question until I have clarified the doctrinal basis for it, provided in the commentary, and begin with the overall thesis about the audience of the Virtuous City and its character as an Islamic book. This thesis is argued along at least five lines. (1) Walzer points to several passages where he sees a general correspondence between the views stated by al-FarabT in the Virtuous City (for instance, those having to do with divine attributes) and certain views found among an early school of Islamic theology, the Mu'tazilites. (2) He identifies several passages where he says that the text, regardless of the Greek source from which al-Farabl drew the particular passage, supports the political stance of the Imami Shl'ites. (3) In connection with several passages, he claims alFarabi meant either to disagree with or to criticize the political and theological views of the IsmaclTM (Sevener) Shl'ites. (4) He indicates a number of passages that, he suggests, show that al-Farabl either disagrees with or criticizes the SunnT 'Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad. (5) He suggests in connection with a few passages that al-Farabl rejects other-worldly mysticism and the contemporary mystical interpretation of Islam. (All the references to these five points can easily be found in Professor Endress's useful "Index Nominum et Rerum.") The first argument is, in many ways, the most substantial and convincing. Walzer does understand something of the reasons for which al-Farabl would agree with, and even reproduce and propose as opinions for the citizens of the virtuous city, certain theological views that seem to be either in general agreement with or at least not to contradict the philosophic tradition he is espousing. And the frequent comparisons between the views expressed in

the Virtuous City, on the one hand, and Mu'tazilite (and Ash'arite) theology, on the other, are one of the most useful aspects of his commentary. But this argument cannot be used to buttress al-Fdrabl's ImamT Shl'ite leanings, at least not on the basis of the Imami Shl'ites' adoption of Mu'tazilite theology, which happened after al-Farabl's death, by Ibn Babiya (d. 381 A.H./A.D. 991-992) and al-Mufid (d. 413 A.H./A.D. 1022; see McDermott 1978). Similarly, much of what al-Farabi is said to have thought about the IsmadclT Shlcites, the Sunni cAbbasid caliphate at Baghdad, or contemporary mysticism, while plausible, is not central to what Walzer claims to be al-Farabl's positive doctrine in the Virtuous City-that is, the doctrine of the ImamTShicites, the only group of whom al-Farabi is said to be a "partisan" and to whom he is said to be "committed." This is the argument that deserves close consideration. Again, and in order to center the reader's attention on the main issue, I will ignore various remarks that appear to have something to do with that issue-the relation between al-Farabi's views in the Virtuous City and ImamTShlcite doctrines-but are irrelevant or based on presumed hints in the Virtuous City that Walzer chooses to understand in a way that supports his main contention. The following cases exemplify such remarks. If al-FarabTcriticizes a certain view or a certain kind of regime, and the ImamT Shlcites "accused the cAbbasids of misusing religion," the two facts are noted in succession so as to imply something, presumably that al-Farablisupports the Imami Shlcite denunciation of the cAbbasids (p. 490). If Ibn Khaldin disagrees with al-Farabil on some issue and happens also not to support the ShTcites, this, too, is noted as significant (p. 490, n. 976), presumably to imply that al-FarabTsupported the Shlcites. Then there are numerous remarks not made On passing and meant to prove something without doing so. I cannot list all of them, but here is a sampling, drawn largely from the portion of the commentary that deals with the particular part of al-FarabT'swork (secs. 5-6, chaps. 15-19 [pp. 423ff.]) where the fundamental ideas, according to Walzer, "agree fully and precisely" with ImamT ShTcite doctrines. Such, for instance, is the remark that the term imdm in Averroes' Commentary on Plato's Republic "appears as kohin in the medieval Hebrew translation and as sacerdos in the Renaissance Latin version of the Hebrew" (p. 442, n. 664). What Hebrew or Renaissance translators took this term to mean contributes nothing to understanding the way al-FarabTuses the term, since the term in Averroes occurs in a quotation

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) imdm should be taken to show that "al-Farabl applied this [Neoplatonic] way of looking at established religions to the circumstances of his own day" (p. 479), if what is meant is his own lifetime and his political commitments. Having thus limited the discussion to those places in the commentary where the question is discussed with a degree of seriousness, it is important to notice that the main reason for connecting al-FarabT with ImamT ShT'ism turns out to be his use of the term
imdm in the Virtuous City. Now the term imdm is

from al-Farabl (Attainment of Happiness, 43,1. 9; see Averroes, Commentary on Plato's Republic, 61,1. 15), and the question now is what al-FarabTmeant by this term. Or the remark about the expression wadic alsharica, "lawgiver,"that it "is the Shi'ite equivalent of wddical-milla " (p. 442, n. 665). There is nothing particularly Shi'ite about this expression any more than
the expression tamdm fadlat
waddc al-sharTca, "the

complete virtue of the lawgiver," which in the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity introduces a quotation from al-FdrabT's Virtuous City and is characterized by Walzer as an "exclusively Shi'ite term" (p. 446). Then there is the remark about al-Farabl's use of the term wahy, "revelation" (the incarnation of the divine mind called the Active Intellect in the philosopher-ruler; see below), to the effect that the term "had become quite popular in ShT'ite thought" (p. -439), without explaining which ShT'ites, what they meant by it, or whether that meaning had anything to do with al-FarabT'suse of this otherwise common term in a particular sense in the Virtuous City. In connection with al-Farabl's allowing two "second [that is, second-best] rulers," it is said that "a co-existence of two or even three Imams was assumed as possible in Shl'ite circles" (p. 449); yet when the two Imams are described by Walzer as the "vocal" and the "silent," it is clear that the reference is not to ImamT Shl'ites, but to the Isma'clis, when it had just been said of al-FarabTthat "nowhere does he appear to have been close to the Ismad'lT Shi'a and to have believed in the early reappearance of another infallible Imam" (p. 447). In any case, al-Farabl does not use the term imdm here in connection with the "second [or second-best] rulers" at all. Further on, a reference is made to some Imami Sh-cites who held that their twelve Imams are "one and the same light, one and the same essence" (p. 462). This is meant to throw light on al-Farabi's statements (pp. 258-60) which carefully, repeatedly, and invariably say of the persons he is talking about that they are "as it were" one. Then there is the remark that the "'second' ruler ... is particularly mentioned" (p. 474), when al-Farabi is actually listing (p. 278) all the major elements of the virtuous city. This inaccurate characterization of what occurs in the text leads, in turn, to the following remark: "Is this another hint that alFarabT was not thinking of his perfect state as an impossible utopian dream but as a serious proposal for political reform and that he was constantly aware of the Imaml application?" (p. 474). To repeat, alFarabTnever uses the term imdm in the Virtuous City in connection with these second-best rulers. It is therefore not at all evident why the use of the term

used in connection with the virtuous city twice only, once in the singular (at p. 246, 1. 6, rendered in the facing translation as "Imam" with capital "I") and once in the plural (at 250.12, rendered in the facing translation as "Imams," again with capital "I"-that is, the term is made to refer to particular Muslim religious figures). Since it may not be immediately evident to whom the term refers in its second occurrence, and Walzer's translation and commentary offer no straightforward account of the matter, it is useful to state what is at issue. The first occurrence of the term refers to what al-Farab1 calls the "first" ruler (p. 246, 1. 6), which here means sovereign, supreme, and absolute ruler, but in view of the many ways in which the term can be used (it is applied by al-Farabli to the founders of nonvirtuous cities as well [see p. 258, 1. 7]) and the way "first" rulers of the virtuous city are distinguished by al-Farabl from the class of rulers below them, it is less confusing to call them also "best" (excellent or virtuous) rulers, rulers in the strict sense, as al-Farabl calls them elsewhere. And there are two points to be noticed in connection with first or best rulers. First, there are two types of such first or best rulers. The only difference between them is that the first type possess a perfect imaginative power that enables them to prophesy ("prophesying" and being a "prophet" are to be distinguished from "revelation," understood by al-FarabTin this context as the incarnation of the divine mind called the Active Intellect in the mind of the first or best ruler), while the second type possess all the qualifications of the first type except for the power of the imagination that enables them to prophesy or warn of things to come. Al-FarabT states the difference between the two types and yet calls both "first" rulers (al-uwal [p. 250, 1. 7]), or best rulers in the strict sense. The absence of the ability to prophesy in no way compromises the status of the second type of first or best rulers in the virtuous city. Second, both types of first or best rulers may be the initial founders of the virtuous city, succeed the initial founder, or succeed one another; in every case

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MAHDI: Al-FdrdbI's

Imperfect State


they can be described as founders and lawgivers, because even those who are not the initial founders are free to establish new laws and ways of life and change their predecessors' laws as they see fit (Political Regime, 80, 1. 15-81, 1. 2; Book of Religion, 49, 1. 9-50, 1. 3). Thus both types of first or best rulers are to be distinguished from what al-Farabi calls "second rulers" who are second-best rulers. The latter are never the initial founders of the virtuous city. They can only come after or succeed the first or best rulers. And they are not lawgivers, either in the sense of establishing new laws or in the sense of being free to change the laws of the first or best rulers. They are jurists whose function is to preserve the laws of the first or best rulers, and to interpret and apply those laws. Once the distinction between the first or best and the second-best rulers is grasped, a cursory reading makes it plain that al-FarabTuses the term imam here to refer exclusively to the first or best ruler or rulersthat is, the founders and lawgivers of virtuous citieswhile the Imams of the ImamTShlcites are definitely not founders or lawgivers, but can correspond only to al-FarabT's second-best rulers-that is, to those-who succeed the first or best rulers and who have no lawgiving powers. Walzer is therefore faced with a dilemma. What he takes to be "the Islamic term" is not being used in the sense he expected. He sees what he calls an "evident inconsistency" on al-FarabT'spart, and this inconsistency is said to be "intentional" and to have "its very specific meaning" (p. 436). He adds, with reference to the use of imam by al-FarabTin the Attainment of Happiness, that this usage "may be admitted" and may "also" be considered correct; it is evident that he had already determined that the only "consistent" use of the term imam is when it is used to refer to the "Imams" of the Sh-cites or of the ImamT Shlcites, as he himself "translated" the two places in the text where al-Fdrabi uses the term imam. However, now he admits that this is not the meaning of the term in the text he is translating and commenting on. Holding to the notion that imam is an Islamic term and speaking of the "Islamic Imam," he finds in his comments on the first occurrence of the term imam that even the "Islamic Imam," which is normally applied to the "successor of the Prophet," "could be applied to the Prophet himself" (p. 441). Now we have two candidates for al-FarabT'simam: the Imams of the ImamT Sh-lites and the Prophet Muhammad himself. Next, certain difficulties emerge that militate against the assumption that the Imams of the ImamT ShTcites can be candidates for al-Farabl's imam: "AlFarabl's Imam is neither a bodily descendant of CAlT

as the Sh-cites taught, nor does al-Farabi appear to consider it necessary that he should belong to Muhammad's tribe, the Quraysh." In that case, al-FarabT's view of the qualifications of the imams-Walzer is forced to admit-is neither Shicite nor Sunnite; it might possibly have been in accord with the views of some obscure Mu'tazilite theologians, and-if one confines oneself to these two negative qualificationsit would certainly have been in accord with the views of the Kharijites (pp. 441-42), the opponents of the Imam 'AlT himself and of the Shlcites in general. All this on the assumption that al-Farabi had in the back of his mind the "Islamic Imam." But Walzer is forced to admit further that "alFarabT does not aim at a definition of the Imam within the religious sphere, but provides a philosophical answer," which is now described as follows: it "looks like a counterpart to the views of the Imamiyya in his days." And Walzer is now content with the rather limited postulate that, in introducing his first or best ruler as "Imam," al-Farabl merely "wanted his reader to think" of the Imams of the ImamTShTcites in the first instance and "also" of the Prophet Muhammad, "though not in the first instance" (p. 442). What, then, is al-FarabT's"philosophical answer," an answer that goes beyond the religious sphere, is a counterpart to some religious views, and is expressed in such a way as to make the reader think of the Imams of the ImamT Sh1c'ites and of the Prophet Muhammad? Walzer answers this question quite clearly and in amazingly strong terms: In his [al-Farabl's] view, I [Walzer] hold, Muhammad himselfhad been at the same time a philosopher and a metaphysician and, throughhis visionaryand legislative gifts, also the Lawgiver, wadi' al-sharfca. The

Qur'anconveysthe philosophical truthto Muslimsin symbolicform,beinga workof rhetoricand poetryin one. The Sh!'ite Imams of the Imamiyyaare philosophersin a similarfashion.(p. 442) The attribution of this view to al-Farabli is puzzling for a number of reasons. Walzer does not assume that al-FarabTwas so ignorant, confused, or ill-informedeither about what it means to be a philosopher and a metaphysician or about the lives and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and the Imams of the ImamT Shl'ites-as to harbor the thought that any of them was "a philosopher and a metaphysician." They did not claim this title and their informed followers did not attach it to them. In any case, the Imams of the ImamTSh-cites should not have been mentioned here

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) realized by Walzer who assumes that only the first or best ruler of the first type, the one with the perfect imaginative faculty, will lay down the laws of the virtuous city. These two types of first or best rulers are distinguished from the "second ruler"(al-ra'Tsal-thdni [p. 250, 1. 7]) who belongs to the second-best class of rulers (he is not merely the "next sovereign" as the facing translation suggests). This second-best ruler is a "wise man" and a ruler. ("Wise" [hakTm (p. 250, 1. 9)], not "philosopher" as the translation says on the facing page: "philosopher" occurs once only, and that is when the first or best ruler is described [p. 244, 1. 12] as "wise" [hakTm], "philosopher" [faylasuif], and "prudent" [mutacaqqil] the last item is a technical term that does not mean "thinker" as the facing translation suggests.) He "preserves" the laws and ways of life of the first or best rulers. ("Preserver" [hdfiz (p. 250, 1. 9)], not one who "will. . . remember" as the term is mistranslated at p. 251, 11.13-14.) The various arrangements proposed for the second-best rulers of the virtuous city are meant to be more easily realized. But even here al-FarabT insists on the presence of wisdom in the ruler or of a wise man among the rulers. Walzer begins his commentary on the passage (thinking perhaps of the aporia that one seems to need the best city in order to produce the philosopher-king, and the philosopher-king in order to establish the best city [see p. 234, 11.14-16, p. 250,1. 2; Averroes, Commentary on Plato's Republic, 62, 1. 24]) by claiming that al-Farabl, like Plato, "starts from the assumption that a perfect state has previously been in existence" (p. 447). He offers no evidence regarding what Plato may or may not have assumed in this regard (alFarabl says that the city described by Plato was fashioned "in speech" [Philosophy of Plato, 20, 1. 15]); and the only support for what he says about al-FarabT suggests again that he holds the view that al-Farabl identified Plato's and his own first or best ruler with the Prophet Muhammad: "It is not clear whether alFarabTwould have held that there were other previous Imams of a quality comparable to that of Muhammad's perfection. There are well-known Shl'ite parallels" (p. 447, n. 700). (The second sentence presumably refers to Isma'TlI views regarding prophetic cycles and is therefore not relevant to an account of the views of al-Farabi who, Walzer acknowledges, had nothing to do with the Isma'clis.) The first conclusion, then, is that al-FarabT'svirtuous city existed in the past and the Prophet Muhammad was its founder. This leaves the alternate first or best ruler, the one who possesses all the qualifications except for the perfection of the

since al-Farabi is speaking exclusively of the first or best ruler, the founder and lawgiver of the regime. One may suggest that here al-Farabi presents a view of the "ideal"-that is, a pattern in heaven-ruler of the regime who is meant to possess, among other qualities, those of prophecy and lawgiving; along with other terms, al-Farabi uses imdm in this context; since Muslims attribute some of those qualities to their Prophet and according to them the Prophet may be called imdm, they are being encouraged to think of their Prophet in relation to the first or best ruler described here by al-Farabi. One may even venture to add that al-Farabi may has-e wanted them to believe in, and understand and interpret the Koran according to the view Walzer attributes to al-Farabi, in which case one will have to explain why such a view is salutary either to them or to the fate of philosophy in the Islamic community. But to hold that this was alFarabi's own view and to claim that this can be the result of analyzing and interpreting what he says in this passage cannot be based on any rationally accessible rule for analyzing and interpreting a philosophic text. Things become more complex when Walzer comments on the second occurrence of the term imdm (p. 447ff.). Al-Farabli is discussing (pp. 248, 1. 15-252, 1.4) the alternate forms of rulership of the virtuous city in the absence of the extraordinary figure described as the person who combines wisdom, philosophy, and perfect prudence, the man who receives revelation and is a prophet at the same time. First he considers the case of the human being who possesses all the qualifications of the human being described earlier, but lacks "warning through the imaginative faculty." This human being, too, he says, will be "the ruler"-that is, the first or best ruler in the strict sense, who will have the same ruling position in the city as the one who possesses, in addition, the perfection of the imaginative faculty. Each one of these two types of first or best rulers, and any of their predecessors or successors who possess the qualifications of either type, is next referredto as both "ruler" and "first" (al-ra'Ts and al-awwal [p. 250, 11.4, 6, 7 (removing Walzer's correction of the manuscripts)]); and he speaks of both collectively as the "first ones" (al-awwalzin [p. 250,11. 10, 15; p. 252, 1. 1]), the "ancestors" (al-salaf [p. 250, 1. II]), and the "first imdms" (al-a'imma al-awwahln [p. 250, 1. 12]). The alternate first or best ruler does not possess the perfection of the imaginative faculty; but this does not prevent him from laying down laws and establishing ways of life (shardYic, sunan, and siyar [p. 250, 11.5, 9, 12; p. 252, 1. 1; removing the editor's square brackets in line 9]). This is not

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Al-Fdrdbi's Imperfect State


imaginative power, but who is considered by alFarabT a founding ruler and lawgiver nevertheless. This is the ruler we now need to center our attention on, for Walzer appears to be certain that "there are no conceivable counterparts to the remaining three possibilities [these concern the second-best rulers] to be found in actual Islamic politics; they rather appear to be meant as proposals for a change of contemporary conditions" (p. 447). This ruler, Walzer says, "will have been considered in Greek political speculation as well, but can equally be understood as a reflection on early Islamic history. I suggest the reign of the 'visible' ShTcite imams (there is no hint at their numbers)" (p. 447). Because this first or best ruler and his like do not possess the perfection of the imaginative power, in connection with which al-FarabT mentions "prophet" and "prophecy," Walzer is right to suggest that "they seem to correspond more closely to Plato's own philosopher-kings" (p. 448). Then, having misunderstood the reference of the expressions "first ones," "ancestors," and "first imdms," in the text (pp. 25052, cited above), he assumes that these expressions refer exclusively to this alternate type of first or best rulers and not to both types. Since the term imams in the plural occurs in one of these expressions, he assumes also that "the ShTcite term is certainly used here intentionally" (p. 448, n. 701). Then he goes on to state-it is not clear whether this is Walzer's own view, the one he attributes to al-FarabT,or the one he attributes to Imami Shlcites-that these Imams were philosophers and metaphysicians.
Being philosophers they are obviously granted wa&y [revelation] like the First Ruler [it was explained above that they are first or best rulers], waby to be understood as the highest level which metaphysical speculation can reach. (p. 448)

It is now possible to retrace the steps through which Walzer was led to assume that the Virtuous City supports a stronger view about the connection between al-FarabT and Imami Shicism-stronger, that is, than the connection suggested by Laoust, Sourdel, and Watt. Al-FarabT is willing to consider two types of first or best rulers (founders and lawgivers) of virtuous regimes, the second type lacking a certain power of the imagination (al-FarabT mentions in particular the power to predict future events included earlier among the powers of prophecy and then mentioned in connection with the first type of first or best rulers [p. 224, 1. 6; p. 244, 1. 13]). Walzer begins by assuming that the second type of first or best rulers

are not prophets-which is true, but only in the sense in which al-Fardbl speaks of prophecy in the Virtuous City-and not lawgivers-which is not true, since alFardbTrefers to their activity as lawgivers and at least three times to their "laws" in this very passage (p. 250, 11.5, 6, 9; p. 252, 1. 1). But if not prophets or lawgivers, why does al-Farabl call them imdms? Instead of observing that al-Farbli refers to them as first or best rulers regardless of their lacking the ability to predict future events, Walzer's thoughts wander in the direction of the ImamT Sh-cites' Imams who were not viewed as prophets or lawgivers. And since al-Fdrabi's imdms-whom Walzer had wrongly identified only with the alternate type of first or best rulers-evidently possess all the remaining qualifications of the first type of first or best rulers, and these include receiving "revelation"-explained by Walzer "as being identical with the supreme insight of the metaphysician" (p. 332)-and being "philosopher[s]" (p. 244, 11.9-12), it seemed reasonable to Walzer to conclude that in al-Farab'is view the ImamT Sh-cite Imams were philosophers and metaphysicians. Having come this far, it was relatively easy to extend this view to the Prophet Muhammad himself: since he also uses the term imdm in connection with the prophet and lawgiver, al-Farabl must have been of the view that the Prophet Muhammad, too, was a philosopher and metaphysician; in any case, he could not have held the view that the Imams of the Imaml Shilites were philosophers and metaphysicians and denied these qualities to the Prophet himself. Walzer could thus attribute to al-FarabTthe amazing view that the Imams of the Imaml Sh-cites were philosophers and metaphysicians and, by extension, that the Prophet Muhammad was himself a philosopher and a metaphysician-all this due to the initial prejudice that al-Farabl's use of the term imdm was meant to evoke in the mind of the reader the Imams of the Imaml Sh-cites in particular, even though the context specifically requires qualifications not present in the Imams of the Imami Sh-cites. (When speaking of the meaning of imdm, al-FdrabTstates its meaning in the Arabic language, not as an Islamic term, and says it "signifies the one whose example is followed and who is well received" [Attainment of Happiness, p. 43, 11.9-10], which explains why he can speak in the same breath of imdms of the right path and the truth and of imdms of error and ignorance who are to be condemned as base [Book of Religion, 45, 11. 10, 17, 18; 46, 11. 3, 6].) Now it is easy to think of the Imams of the Imaml Sh-cites in connection with some of the roles of the imdm in the Virtuous City,

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) questions must be answered with an emphatic "no." For during that year, Sayf al-Dawla had not yet occupied Aleppo or Damascus; he had no court there to which to invite al-Farabl; and al-FarabTdid not go to Aleppo. Syria was ruled by the Ikhsh-idids(army officers from the same general area in central Asia as al-Farabli's family) whose "court" was in Cairo. Had al-Farab! wished to go to the Hamdanid court, he would have had to go to Mosul in northern Mesopotamia, as did the 'Abbasid caliph who fled Baghdad at that time (Miskawayh, Tajarib, 2:25; for all this and the state of affairs in Baghdad, see Mahdi 1971: 524). Abi! al-Hasan 'AlTIbn 'Abdallah Ibn Hamdan, the future Sayf al-Dawla, first met the 'Abbasid caliph alMuttaqi in Takrit northwest of Baghdad, having been sent by his brother, the ruler of Mosul, to accompany the caliph who had fled his capital to seek safety and help at the Hamdanid court in Mosul. He supplied the caliph and his company with food, bedding, clothing, and money. Then Sayf al-Dawla and his brother the future Nasir al-Dawla accompanied the caliph back to Baghdad, where Sayf al-Dawl. headed an army to fight the 'Abbasid caliph's enemy alBarfidi, and both -Sayf al-Dawla and his brother continued to fight in defense of the 'Abbasid caliph and his capital. (For his services, the 'Abbasid caliph bestowed on 'All the title "Sayf al-Dawla," "the Sword of the [Ruling 'Abbasid] Dynasty" [Miska943 Sayf wayh, Tajarib, 2:26-30].) In 331 A.H./A.D. al-Dawla was in Wasit southeast of Baghdad planning to move south to Basra and help extend the caliph's direct control to that region (Miskawayh, Tajdrib, 2:38-40; when the Turkish soldiers heard him talk about conquering Syria and Egypt, they mocked him, attacked his camp, and plundered it). And he was at the head of an army supporting the caliph and fighting along his side when the latter was defeated by the Turkish general Tuzun near Takrit in 332 A.H./A.D. 944 (Miskawayh, Tajarib, 2:48, 49). Thus, in 330 942, Sayf al-Dawla could not have invited A.H./A.D. al-FarabT or anyone else to come to his nonexistent court in Aleppo. Sayf al-Dawla entered Aleppo for 29 October I 333 A.H./A.D. the first time in 8 RabWc 944 and proceeded to occupy Damascus, which he entered in the spring of 333 A.H./A.D. 945, but had to retreat, abandoning Damascus and even Aleppo before the IkhshTdids of Egypt, who kept Damascus when they concluded peace with Sayf al-Dawla. Then, upon the death of the Ikhsh-id, Sayf al-Dawla oc946, but a few cupied Damascus in 334 A.H./A.D. months later the Ikhshidids entered Damascus again,

for example, his role as teacher of the community (McDermott 1978: 105ff.). But one will then have to think of other imdms in connection with other qualifications-the 'Abbasid caliphs as supreme rulers whom Sunnite jurists and theologians considered their Imams, viziers who displayed great prudence, and Turkish generals who were great leaders in war. But thoughts of this sort direct attention to al-Farabl's second-best rulers rather than the first or best rulers who are founders and lawgivers of the virtuous regime. Walzer's predecessors based their views of the connection between al-FarabTand Imaml ShT'ism on two principal theses: al-Fardbl's relation to Sayf al-Dawla and what al-FarabTsays about the second-best rulers of the virtuous city. Walzer pays little attention to the second-best rulers; he tries to prove al-FarabT'scommitment to Imami ShT'ism on the basis of what is said about the two types of first or best rulers. Since his analysis of al-Farabl's Virtuous City proves nothing in this respect (the evidence for any strong doctrinal connection between al-FarabT and ImamT Sh!'ism is simply not there), there remains the question of al-FarabT'srelation to Sayf al-Dawla. Walzer, as we saw earlier, embellished the account of alFarabT'srelation to Sayf al-Dawla. According to the two thirteenth-century biographers cited in this connection, al-Qifti (TarTkh, 279) and Ibn Abli Usaybi'a ('Uyun, 2:134-39), al-FarabTleft Baghdad for Syria at the end of 330 A.H./A.D. 942; he was in Damascus in 943; he was in Egypt in 337 A.H./A.D. 331 A.H./A.D. 949-950; he returned to 948 and in 338 A.H./A.D. Syria, staying there under Sayf al-Dawla's protection kanafih); and died in Damascus in or sponsorship (f T Rajab 339 A.H./A.D. December 950-January 951. The prominent men of letters who attended Sayf alDawla's court in Aleppo were not all committed to lmamT Shi'ism, and the presence of any of them in Aleppo proves nothing about his Sh!'ite leanings. Further, Sayf al-Dawla's own Sh!'ite leanings did not prevent him from serving and fighting on behalf of the 'Abbasid caliph. Thus al-Farabl's departure from Baghdad, even on the assumption that he intended to join Sayf al-Dawla in Aleppo, cannot be construed to indicate that "he disagreed with the 'Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad" (p. 17). The whole issue- can be settled, however, by asking a few simple questions. Could Sayf al-Dawla have invited al-Farabl to join his court in Aleppo on that date (in or shortly before 330 A.H./ A.D. 942), and was al-Farabl in a position to "accept" such an invitation? Can this be sustained on the basis of the available evidence? Is it supported by any nearcontemporary source? It so happens that all these

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Al-FdrdbT'sImperfect State


and their troops pursued Sayf al-Dawla and entered Aleppo in DhU al-Hijja 335/June-July 947. It was not until Rab-c II 336 A.H./A.D. October-November 947 that Sayf al-Dawla re-entered Aleppo definitively and a definitive peace with Egypt was concluded (Carra de Vaux 1913-1936b; Canard 1951, 1:501-5, 579-88). There were plenty of reasons why al-FarabT should have wished to leave Baghdad in 330 A.H./A.D. 942 and move to what was then a more peaceful and efficiently run province-Syria and Egypt of the Ikhsh-idids-free of the problems that beset the capital city and the dangers that threatened the safety of its inhabitants. It must be assumed that when hostilities between the Ikhshildids and Sayf al-Dawla commenced, he left Damascus for Egypt and stayed there until after the definitive end of hostilities. Walzer incautiously accepted suspect biographical information and interpreted it on the assumption of a far closer relation between al-Fdrdbl's political philosophy and what he assumed to have been the political and religious conditions of the time. 5.

The English translation is meant to serve the needs of scholars interested in classical, medieval, or Islamic philosophy. Begun as "a shorthand commentary, as it were, in the time-honoured form of a vernacular modern version" (p. 31), it displays the marks of repeated, though not systematic, revisions "to steer a middle course between a faithful rendering of the Arabic text and a modern philosophical style" (p. 32). As indicated above, this translation was preceded by a number of translations of the Virtuous City into other European languages, one of which (Karam, Chlala, and Jaussen 1949) is described by Walzer as "a very adequate and useful translation" (p. 33). During the period when Walzer was working on his translation, both of the qualities he referred to-faithful rendering of the original and modern philosophic style-were being combined in an exemplary manner in a number of English translations of Greek philosophic texts produced by classicists in England and the United States, translations that are gradually replacing older ones that may have been elegant, skillful, and convenient, but not sufficiently faithful, needlessly departed from the original, made no serious effort to be consistent in rendering key terms, did not trust the reader's own judgment in matters of interpretation, and were not consistent with modern English usage, preserving instead classical and medieval Latin expressions that were not accurate renderings of the

Greek terms to begin with and had lost much of their original signifying power. Notable among the new translations have been the volumes in the "Clarendon Aristotle Series" (published by the Oxford University Press), with useful introductions, notes, and glossaries. Walzer's translation lacks the virtues of the older translations as well as those of the new ones. Still, assuming for the time being that it is better to have some English translation of the Virtuous City than none at all, certain cautions may help those who wish to benefit from this translation as well as those who wish to help their students benefit from it. There are, to begin with, certain omissions from the Arabic text, and therefore from the translation, or omissions from the translation alone. These are not extensive-that is, in no case do they extend to a whole section-but consist usually of a sentence, a phrase, an occasional word, no doubt due to oversight. Such is the case, for example, with the omission of the chapter-headings, to which I shall return below (sec. 6c); four lines from the text after the first word of p. 138, 1. 12; phrases from the translation corresponding to the Arabic of p. 100, 11.8-9, p. 306,11. 1314, and p. 324, 1. 2; and grammatical parts of the English sentence at p. 59, 1. 12, and p. 271, 11.15-16. (For the opposite phenomenon, that of repeating a phrase for no reason, see p. 133,1. 7-9.) Then there are Arabic words and constructions that are not technical philosophic terms, but which are incorrectly taken as technical terms. The word rusiim (p. 48, 1. 9) means "rules," "injunctions," "commands" (Lane 1863-1893: 1085b, 1086a), not "impressions," which should have been clear from the meaningless translation: "How the 'impressions' ought to be in those excellent cities" (see p. 49, 11.10-11; the reference at p. 49, n. 2 to p. 402 leads the reader to a series of references that try to define the singular of the same word as a translation of a Greek term [typos, typosis, typan]; it is true that the word occurs in that sense elsewhere in the Virtuous City, but that has nothing to do with its meaning here). Similarly, multahiq (p. 152, 1. 15), translated as "attached," is a misreading for multahif (as in MSS PY, not reported in the apparatus) or yaltahif (as in MS S, not reported in the apparatus), meaning "wrapped," and the phrase should be translated as "and the form [al-saratu, in the nominative case, not al-sarata] in which it is wrapped [or: in which it wraps itself] envelops it until the power weakens," not "and clothes it with the form attached to the body until this faculty becomes weak" (p. 153, 11. 16-17). The words hdzil and munabbih (p. 216, 11. 8-9) do not mean "a man who mimics

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) degree of license. In many cases, and without any warning, the reader of the English translation is needlessly confused through the use of a number of English equivalents for the same Arabic philosophic term. The key term in the title, fkd/il, is rendered variously as "perfect," "excellent," and "virtuous"; while the term tdmm is rendered as both "complete" (p. 60,11. l5ff. and p. 61, 11.25ff.); and even and "perfect" kdmil is also rendered as "perfect" (p. 228, 11. 10ff. p. 229, 11. 18ff.). Another key term, hakrm, "wise," is often rendered as "philosopher" (and hikma, "wisdom," is also rendered as "philosophy" [e.g., p. 252, 11.6, 8, 10 and p. 253, 11.7, 11, 14]), thus obliterating the distinction (made at p. 244, 1. 12; see p. 245, 11.19-20) between "wise" and "philosopher." The term qiwam is variously translated as "sustained by," "based on," "maintained," "support" (e.g., pp. 59, 101). The term mdhiyya, "essence," is suddenly translated as "quality" (p. 215, 1. 2), and the term wujud, "being," "existence," is suddenly translated as "essence"(p. 287, 1. 10). Then there is the frequent introduction of technical terms that are nowhere to be found in the Arabic text, such as "transcendent" for mufdriq (p. 224, 1. 4 and p. 225, 1. 7). The term macmara, "inhabitable world,"' is translated also as the "universal state" (p. 230, 1. 2 and p. 231, 1. 4; p. 230, 1. 10 and p. 231, 1. 17; p. 246, 1. 7 and p. 247, 1. 11). The term sharWdit, "conditions," "qualifications," is translated also as "qualities" (p. 250, 11.3, 8 and p. 251, 11.2, 10) and khasla, "disposition," is also rendered as "quality" (p. 246, 1. 9 and p. 247, 1. 13). And even though the translator had the occasion to elaborate on his translation in a massive commentary almost twice as long as the translation, terms are frequently explained in the translation itself without always indicating that this is an addition by the translator. The term yusdwiq (p. 68, 1. 12), "goes with," is translated also as "goes necessarily with" (p. 69, 1. 16). The term tatazayyaf (p. 280, 1. 14), "considered false," is translated as "holds that they are inadequate and false" (p. 281, 11.20-21). The simple expression kulla md, "all" or "everything" (p. 238, 11.5-6, 8), is translated twice as "all the essentials" (p. 239, 11. 10, 14). (The term ashyd', "things" [p. 288, 1. 16 and p. 291, 1. 1], is glossed in an amusing footnote: "Al-Farabrs expression 'things' is vague; he probably did not reproduce his [sixth-century Greek?] source adequately" [p. 291, n. 19].) In some cases, additional explanations are given in brackets or in parentheses. Some of these explanations are themselves technical terms nowhere to be found in the Arabic text-"metaphysical," Others "supernatural," "transcendental,""awareness."" make no sense or are superfluous. Thus one meets

action" and "a man who reminds you of a certain action" (p. 217, 11.13-14), but "weakening" and "stimulating" agents. The expression laha (p. 136, 1. 15) means "for them" or "in them," not "because of them" (p. 137, 11. 16-17). The expression wa-ld khidmatah& (the addition of the shadda that makes it read khaddamathd is a mistake) lil-quwwa al-ndtiqa (p. 222, 1. 3) means "and [when the representative faculty is] not [absorbed completely] in the service of the rational faculty," not "and [the sensibles] do not make it work in the service of the rational faculty" (p. 223, 11.3-4), which makes no sense at all. This is also perhaps the place to mention that the antecedent of such demonstratives as "this" (p. 97, 1. 3) and "these" (p. 99, 1. 19) and "them" (p. 225,1. 22) are not clear. More serious, perhaps, are the numerous cases in which no attention is paid to the presence of technical philosophic terms, translated as though they were ordinary terms. The term al-macqal, "the intelligible" (p. 76, 1. 15), is translated as "the result of that process of the thinking of the thing" (p. 77, 11. 25-26). The term 'ilm, "knowledge" (p. 84, 1. 15), is translated as "becoming aware of" (p. 85, 11.23-24). This happens most frequently in the so-called political parts of the Virtuous City. Thus al-jamil, "the noble," and alqabrh, "the base" (p. 204, 1. 2; they occur many times from here on), are translated as "good" and "evil" (p. 205, 1. 2). The nawdbit, "weeds" (p. 254, 1. 1), the persons who grow up without having been "planted" or cared for by the city and therefore tend to be different and to have different views from the citizenry as a whole, is translated as the "common people" (p. 255, 1. 1). In the commentary (p. 451) they are spoken of as the "individual citizens" of the faulty states. And a footnote (p. 451, n. 725) speaks of nawdcib, a misspelling of nawdib (itself a mistaken reading rejected earlier in the text [at p. 254, 1. 1] for the same reason [a reference to al-Farabl's Political Regime] for which it is accepted in the commentary). The index, finally, generates the singular ndib, under which the mistake is listed again (p. 561). The expression af'dlahum al-madaniyya (p. 232, 1. 16), "their political actions," is translated as "their actions in the city" (p. 233, 1. 26). The term mutacaqqil, "prudent" (p. 244, 1. 12), is translated as "thinker" (p. 245, 1. 20). The term fdsid, "corrupt"(p. 286, 1. 3 and later on), is translated as "pernicious"(p. 287,1. 5). And, generally, there is much discrepancy and lack of precision in the expressions chosen to render the names of the moral virtues and of the various kinds of regimes enumerated and described in the Virtuous City. Even when technical philosophic terms are recognized, they are frequently treated with an unusual

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Al-FdrdbT'sImperfect State


curious explanations such as the following: "corporeal [three dimensional] circle" (p. 129, 1. 6, square brackets in Walzer's translation); "'prophecy' (supernatural awareness)" (p. 225, 11.9-10); "brutish ('bestial,' 'subhuman')" (p. 293, 11.7-8); and "freedom (to do what he likes)" (p. 307, 11.11-12). None of this contributes to clarity or precision, the hallmarks of modern philosophic language. At the opposite extreme are passages totally unintelligible due to excessive literalness. One example must suffice: "Therefore that existence of it through which existence emanates to something else than it, is in its substance and in that existence of it through which its essence has substance identical with that existence of it through which everything else comes into existence from it" (p. 93, 11. 1-5). In a number of other problematic passages, the difficulty starts with the way the text has been edited. Consequently, no account of the translation can be complete without an account of the edition of the Arabic text. 6.

a. Introductory Remarks In the absence of al-Fdrdbl's final and certified autograph, no edition of the Virtuous City can claim immortality. It can represent only a temporary stage in the interpretation of the evidence available to the editor; and it will be amply justified if it makes better use of the evidence available to earlier editors or good use of new evidence. The following remarks will not be based on new evidence unknown to Walzer; they are confined to evaluating, or rather re-evaluating, the evidence available to him as editor and to explaining the use he made of it. The reader will recall that the Arabic text is not printed, but handwritten by an anonymous scribe presumably commissioned by Walzer. Scribal errors remain in the Arabic text. Many would have been considered "printing errors"were the Arabic text set in type, except that the apparatus too often affirms the same error as the text (see, for instance, p. 40, 1. 12; p. 66, 1. 1; p. 72, 1. 4; p. 82, 1. 9; p. 88, 1. 5; p. 96, 1. 13; p. 128, 1. 13; p. 184, 1. 7 [the numbering of the lines in the margin of this page needs to be corrected]; p. 276, 1. 10; p. 286, 1. 7; p. 296, 1. 5). Unlike some of these errors, which are easy to detect and correct, the errors in supplying vowel signs and diacritical marks (such as the ones at p. 46, 1. 9; p. 58, 1. 6; p. 188, 11. 1ff.; p. 190, 11. 1ff.; p. 196, 1. 10; p. 246, 1. 11) do not appear to be due to oversight. Because there are more serious issues to consider in connection with the edition of the Arabic

text, however, I can but point to these external characteristics of the handwritten text and express the hope that the reader not be overly annoyed by them. One ought to begin the appreciation of Walzer's new edition of the text of the Virtuous City by stating that, no matter what a critic's dissatisfaction with it may be, it is far superior to earlier editions, both the ones made in the manuscript age and the two more recent printed editions, to say nothing of the numerous other printings. It has the unique merit of raising numerous questions regarding the history and structure of the Virtuous City, of which some have been answered by Walzer; others can now be answered due to his preliminary examination of the manuscript evidence; and still others suggest new lines of inquiry that could throw light on dark corners of the book's long and complex history during the manuscript age. It goes without saying that Walzer's edition is a substantial improvement on the two earlier editions by Dieterici and Nadir. (The latter, which appears to be largely dependent on Dieterici's edition, is not marked on Walzer's graphic representation of the relation among the manuscripts; Dieterici's edition is [d] in the accompanying figure 1 [p. 716], to which I now invite the reader's attention.) The superiority of Walzer's edition turns less on its being based on more manuscripts than, or on any criticisms that may be leveled against, the earlier ones, but largely and most importantly on introducing a new branch of the manuscript tradition (Mss YIS) of which not a single witness was used by Dieterici or Nadir. For Dieterici's edition was based on MSSAB, and Nadir's was based on Dieterici's (Mss AB) and MS E. In addition, Walzer collated one manuscript (Ms P) earlier in date than the three manuscripts used in the two preceding editions. Furthermore, he made use of a few early witnesses, fragments that throw some slight additional light on the very early history of the text. Finally, Walzer's edition records a large number of variants in the apparatus, raises interesting questions about many of them, and discusses the significance of others. That the two preceding editions had used witnesses from two of the three branches into which Walzer chose to divide the descendants of the archetype (alpha) must have alerted him to the possibility that this division is problematical. Such a tripartite division is exceedingly rare in stemmas. In any case, it is highly improbable that two of the three branches descending directly and independently from the archetype (alpha)-that is, hyparchetypes gamma and Pshould agree so consistently against a third branch and disagree between themselves only on matters that can easily be attributed to scribal error, conjecture, or

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990)



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contamination; unless, of course, the readings in which they agree represent the readings of the archetype (alpha). But in this case variants offered by the third branch (hyparchetype beta) would have to be rejected as worthless in reconstructing the text of the archetype (alpha), which Walzer does not do. The same is true of the two earlier editions of the text of the Virtuous City, each of which is based on a witness belonging to one of the two branches gamma and P. Had these been truly independent branches descending from the archetype (alpha), the two earlier editions could have differed so substantially from Walzer's edition only if Walzer had chosen to follow the readings of a single branch (beta) against the agreement of two other branches with equal claim to have descended from the archetype (alpha), which is not what he does. Yet Walzer's edition, as noted earlier, represents a vast improvement on the earlier editions

largely because it makes use of manuscripts descending from the third branch (beta). Thus with little reflection one can realize that neither the manuscripts in those two branches (gamma and P) nor the two editions based on witnesses descending from them can so consistently agree against the third branch (beta), if all three branches in fact descend directly from the same archetype (alpha). However, assuming for the time being that the initial branching out of the archetype (alpha), as presented by Walzer, is correct, let us look at each branch by itself. Walzer does not report the outcome of his "complete collation of ten manuscripts." Instead, his text is based on "selected manuscripts." He "singled out three main witnessesP, Y, and C-and tried to give a faithful and complete report of the evidence which they provide" (p. 19). This procedure is justified as follows: MS B depends on MS P, and MSS S and I depend on MS Y, while MSS

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Al-Fdrdbf's Imperfect State


TKA represent a "widespread later text" whose "best witness is C, though it was written at a later date than all the other representatives of this group" (p. 19). Therefore, should it turn out that MS B does not depend on MS P, that MS S or MS I or both do not depend on MS Y, and that MS C is not the "best witness" of the group in question, one would have to reconsider the grounds for the selection of the manuscripts deserving a faithful and complete report of the evidence they provide, as well as the grounds for not reporting much of the evidence provided by the other manuscripts. Walzer himself is not quite sure about any of these matters. Let us begin with MS B. Does it depend on MS P? When Walzer comes to describe it later on, he says that MS B is "copied . . . from a manuscript which belongs to the same tradition" (p. 25) as MS P, which can mean that MS B is or is not dependent on MS Pthat is, that the hypothetical manuscript from which MS B was copied may not have been a descendant of MS P, but of a manuscript that was earlier than MS P. Because of this, the editor "made an exception in the case of B and recorded its readings much more fully than those of the other manuscripts of secondary importance" (p. 19). He then goes on to explain that MS B does not depend on MS P, but is "the other representative of this group," that "it contains peculiar errors of its own which are not always just slips of the pen" (p. 23), and that these peculiar errors "can neither be dismissed as mere slips nor considered legitimate old variant readings." He concludes, somewhat enigmatically, that MS "B is by no means of the same value as P, although its readings are occasionally to be preferred"(p. 25). It is true that MS B, like every other manuscript used by Walzer, confronts the editor with numerous questions; and Walzer is right to point to some of these, even though he seems to be oblivious to the possibility of contamination, which can be shown to be present in MS P itself regardless of Walzer's faith in its value due to its early date. Nevertheless, given that MS B is the only other witness to this important branch of the manuscript tradition, it would have been important to clarify its relation to MS P and reach a decision on the precise nature of this relation. For, if it is not dependent on MS P (and the evidence presented by Walzer in the apparatus and a more careful study of the manuscript indicate that it is not), the two manuscripts together could clarify the character and readings of their common ancestor, which could in turn throw more light on the manuscript tradition of the Virtuous City. As things stand, the relation between MS P and MS B as shown in Walzer's diagram makes no sense.

The same holds for the relation between MS I and on the one hand, and MS Y, on the other. Walzer's initial assertion that both MS I and MS S depend on MS Y (p. 19) is first modified to speak of MSS "I and S, which both depend on the same hyparchetype" beta (p. 25), suggesting that neither MS I nor MS S depends on MS Y. This is then modified again: first to confirm that MS I is "a direct descendant of Y" (what the diagram also shows) and that MS S is, on the contrary, "another descendant" of the hyparchetype beta (that is, not a descendant of MS Y, and the diagram shows this) and, secondly, to speculate that MS S is "probably derived from an unknown ancestor of Y" (p. 28). Walzer obviously could not make up his mind on the actual relation among these manuscripts and consequently says different things in different places. Instead of thoroughly collating at least MS S with MS Y in order to learn as much as possible about the character and readings of their common ancestor (his hyparchetype beta) and the new branch which is his major contribution to the edition of the Virtuous City, he asserts in conclusion: "Both I and S are of very minor importance for the establishment of a critical text" of the Virtuous City (p. 29). Regardless of what the case of MS I may prove to be, neglecting to pay close attention to MS S and to MS B deprived Walzer of the opportunity to engage in a critical study of the manuscript tradition available to him. This situation-that is, neglecting to ascertain the crucial relations between the manuscripts he utilized-explains also why the relation between the two branches represented by MSS YIS and MSS P(PI)B is left in the dark. All the manuscripts descending from the hyparchetypes beta and gamma are said to be "obviously dependent on the same trend of the early al-Farabl reading," identified with the archetype, alpha, which is "to be found in P (and B) but their ancestors are different manuscripts of this family, now apparently lost" (p. 27). This is not what the diagram (in which all three branches appear to "descend" from alpha) is meant to show. Before leaving the hyparchetype beta, however, it is important to appreciate Walzer's effort to correlate the manuscript tradition of the Virtuous City and the history of Islamic philosophy throughout the centuries in which these manuscripts were copied. This is especially true of the care with which he tries to explain the extraneous evidence in MS P and MS Y and to show what they indicate about the time and learning of the copyists. He points out in this connection that for many thinkers since at least al-GhazalT's time, "the differences between al-Farabl and Ibn STna [Avicenna] are no longer stressed; they both belong

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) errors in MS C due to misreading an unpointed original, consider the reading nawdaib for the unpointed nawdbit of MS P [p. 254, 1. 1]). All this should have alerted him that MS C does not deserve either the importance he conferred upon it or the trust he placed in it. It is only because Walzer chose this manuscript to represent the hyparchetype gamma that he identified gamma as an independent hyparchetype and not a sub-branch of the line represented by MSS P(PI )B. b. The Apparatus Walzer hoped to devise an apparatus which, even if not complete, would at least have been thorough and accurate for the evidence he chose to report. But his uncertainty about the relationships among the manuscripts available to him led to vacillation and confusion. Nevertheless, the apparatus remains a useful basis for further discussion (see p. 31). It contains a large number of variants, notes, and suggestions not available in the preceding editions; and there are numerous cases where interesting textual problems are pointed out. Because an item by item account is not practical in this general appreciation, I will confine myself to a few remarks. First, it is to be noticed that the evidence presented in the apparatus is hardly ever the plain reading of the manuscripts; it is already "edited" by supplying vowel signs and diacritical marks, usually the same as those added to the manuscript readings in the body of the edited text. This forms a screen between the reader and the manuscript readings and prevents one from judging the value or correctness of the editor's choice, unless one has access to the manuscripts and is willing in every case to compare the readings offered in the apparatus and those of the manuscripts themselves. It also deprives one of the advantage of learning about instructive variant readings or ones preferable to those given by the editor in the body of the text. An example from the first page of the edited text is the term jawharuhu, "its [the First Being's or God's] substance" (p. 56, 1. 12). The apparatus states that the reading in the body of the text occurs in MSs PBC, but that MSS YT provide the reading tajawhuruhu, "its becoming a substance," which the reader can ignore, since the First Being or God does not become a substance. However, the term tajawhuruhu is not the reading offered by MS Y, but an "edited" version of it: MS Y reads bi-jawharihi, "in [due to] its substance," which is reported as tajawhuruhu by omitting the diacritical point of the letter bad and replacing it with the diacritical points of the letter td-, with the result

now to the mainstream representatives of Islamic falsafa and their works have become an integral part of the established syllabus of philosophy reading." This situation, which certainly obtained in certain regions in the eastern part of the Islamic world, led Walzer to conclude: "It is not really surprising that the prominent position of Ibn STna during this long period reflects itself in variations in the text of alFarabi's Ara' [Virtuous City], both in terminology as well as in style" (p. 27). These comments are made in connection with MS Y in particular, and it would have been instructive had Walzer presented some evidence of peculiarly Avicennan philosophic terms and stylistic features that may have found their way into alFarabi's text. Instead, he refers to a marginal notation in MS Y, clearly marked as such, and not ascribed to al-FarabT.No place in the text is shown to have been thus contaminated. Walzer does not seem to have looked with any care at the marginal notations in MS Y or to have distinguished between the various kinds of marginal notations. (See below, sec. 6b; all the references given at p. 28, n. 65 refer to marginal notations in Y that have nothing to do with altext.) FarabT's As for the group of manuscripts placed under the hyparchetype gamma that "appears ultimately to descend from some other copies of the tradition represented for us by P" (p. 29), we recall that Walzer had chosen MS C as their best representative. Yet according to Walzer, the scribe of MS C was no innocent copyist. He collated other manuscripts. He was "quite a competent scholar in his own right. His references to the beginnings of chapters and sections which alFarabThimself had introduced are not very consistent, but he obviously depends on a MS. in which they were clearly indicated" (p. 24). This must mean that he consulted a manuscript from outside the manuscripts grouped under the hyparchetype gamma of which his is supposed to be the best representative. MS C, as Walzer puts it, is "some sort of an edition" of the text (p. 20). Whatever the expression "best representative" may mean, it does not mean that MS C tells us more about the hyparchetype gamma than the rest of the group associated with it; indeed, Walzer shows that MS C deviates from the hyparchetype gamma more than its sisters. In addition, there are numerous interpolations that show active interference in the text by a scribe or a reader with inadequate philosophic education (see, for instance, the readings of MS C reported in the apparatus at p. 174, 1. 5 and the interpolation in MS C placed in the body of the edited text at p. 174, 1. 5 [cf. p. 198, 1. 5]; for an example of

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Al-FdrdbT'sImperfect State


that one of only two possible readings between which the editor and the reader could have chosen is made to disappear from sight in the edition of the Arabic text. Second, the apparatus does not report the evidence of the manuscripts consistently. Though assured by the editor that he "tried to give a faithful and complete report of the evidence" provided by MSS PYC (p. 19), the reader finds that the evidence reported is frequently neither faithful nor complete. In the apparatus of the first page alone, the editor's promise is not kept in at least five cases: at p. 56, 1. 9 the word aslan is said to be omitted from MS Y, and the word illd is bracketed to indicate that it is not in the margin of MS Y, but both are present in the text and margin respectively; at p. 56, 1. 10 the reader is given to understand that the reading of the text, imkdn, is in MS P, whereas MS P provides al-imkdn; again at p. 56, 1. 10, the reader is told that the reading of the text, bi-wajhin, exists in MS P when MS P, along with the other manuscripts cited in the apparatus, provides biwajhin ma; finally, at p. 56, 1. 13 the reader is meant to assume that only the second la is missing in MS P when what is missing is wa-ld. On the next page of the Arabic text, five readings not in MS P are attributed to it, and its readings are replaced with those of other manuscripts or with readings that have no manuscript authority. Since the first pages of an edited text are normally the most thorough and accurate, this is not a good omen. Nor do matters improve in the rest of the text. More difficult to explain is the frequent omission of the evidence provided by the main manuscripts (MSS PY) for example at p. 138, 1. 12; p. 144,1. 14; p. 224, 1. 8 from the text and the apparatus altogether (at p. 224, 1. 8 MS Y adds wa-akmal al-maratib allatT yablughuhd al-insan biquwwatih al-mutakhayyila, "and the highest rank of perfection which a human reaches through the power of imagination"). Third, there is utter confusion regarding the status of the marginal notations in the manuscripts. The extent to which they are reported is not explained and the process of reporting them is not systematic. They occur rather frequently in the main manuscripts. When the apparatus does not explicitly declare that the evidence occurs in the margin of a manuscript, one does not know whether what one is reading in the edited text and what is attributed to this or that manuscript in the apparatus occurs in the body of a manuscript or is a marginal addition. Furthermore, where the evidence of the manuscripts is identified as marginal additions, no effort is made to distinguish

their various types. The reader is left in the dark as to the nature of the particular marginal addition and therefore how to interpret or evaluate it: is it by the same scribe or by a different hand? does the script tell anything about its age? is it a conjecture on the part of the scribe or a reading that has a manuscript authority? is it a correction made by the scribe upon consulting his original again or a correction or variant reading he adopted upon consulting another manuscript? is it a comment by the scribe or some reader that has nothing to do with the text of the Virtuous City? is it the work of an early "editor" trying to divide the text according to information found in another source, such as "al-FarabT's Summary" placed at the beginning of the edited text? To be sure, it is not always easy to answer these questions with certainty. Yet in the majority of cases answers are provided in the manuscripts, either indirectly through the script, or directly where the scribes identify the marginal notations through different symbols and abbreviations. The marginal notations in the manuscripts of the Virtuous City need to be studied carefully for yet another reason: to ascertain the presence and extent of contamination between various manuscripts and between different branches of the stemma presented by Walzer. The Virtuous City is a work that has been read continuously in manuscript since the middle of the tenth century. Copies were prepared by and for scholars who had their own system of editing the manuscripts they prepared and read. And the surviving manuscripts give ample evidence that the scribes and readers of a number of them consulted other manuscript copies of the work, added variants to their own copies, corrected the places where they thought there were mistakes on the basis of other copies, and added what they thought were missing words, phrases, sentences, or passages from other copies. Under these circumstances, how can one ignore the possibility of contamination between manuscripts of the same branch and especially contamination between different branches? And how can one be sure that there are "no interpolations" (p. 22) in the text of the Virtuous City when the apparatus points out instances the editor and others who examined the text with him consider to be interpolations (see, for example, line 5, p. 58)? Furthermore, what is one to make of the two passages of the text (p. 184, 11.4-14 and p. 286, 11.5-9) present only as marginal additions in MSS PY that reappear four centuries later in the body of the text, but only in MSS IS of hyparchetype beta? Even though the phenomenon is evident in the marginal additions and the text of the main

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) Farabi in six sections (Book of Religion, 79-86); and, subsequently, the first of these six sections, contained in a Tashkent manuscript (cited by Walzer [p. 29, n. 72]), was published by BadawT(1973: p. 33, 1. 1p. 35, 1. 11) along with the opening passage of the Virtuous City (see BadawT1973: p. 35,1. 11-36,1. 23), indicating that the Tashkent manuscript belongs to the same group as MSS YIS. The suggestion that the summary of the Virtuous City in six sections (let us call them the "Six Sections" of the Virtuous City), of which the only complete text to be discovered so far is contained in MS S, is the one mentioned in Ibn AbT Usaybi'a's biographical notice had not been thought unlikely until Walzer's remarks that it "cannot be derived from any tenth-century authority" and that it "appears very baffling at first reading" (p. 28 and n. 64). Since Walzer is the first to comment on the evidence, we must begin by explaining how he understood and used the information about the history of the work in editing the text of the Virtuous City. To do so, it is best to set aside the text of the "Six Sections" until we learn why Walzer was baffled by it and what he meant by a tenth-century authority. Let us start with a look at the structure of Walzer's edition. It begins with the text of what in a large number of manuscripts is presented under the heading "Enumeration [or "Summary"] of the Chapters of this Book," which Walzer translates as "al-FarabT'sSummary" (pp. 38-49). This is a list of nineteen statements or chapter-headings that cover the content of the Virtuous City from beginning to end and occurs in all the manuscripts used in Walzer's edition except for MSS YIS, or hyparchetype beta. It is followed (pp. 5055) by a group of five quotations (translated by Walzer as "Appendix to the Summary" and called "Addenda" in his commentary [pp. 331-33]). Two of these are from a certain AbM Ishaq, identified as the Baghdad grammarian Ibrahim Ibn 'Abdallah, to whom al-FarabTrefers in the introduction of his essay against astrology (p. 331; Astrology, 104). They deal with the meanings of the word "city" in Arabic. The next two quotations are attributed to al-Farabl. The first explains what the wise men understand by the word "city." The second gives a summary of the content of "this book" in three sections, two of which seem to have survived. Since we do not know the context of the quotation, it is not clear what the book in question is, and the summary appears more appropriate to al-FarabT's Political Regime than to the Virtuous City. The fifth quotation is from Alexander of Aphrodisias (possibly as quoted by al-FarabT) on what follows from Aristotle's view regarding the

manuscripts utilized by Walzer (Mss PYC), he pays no attention to its presence or to what it might imply for the edition of the Arabic text. Finally, one should perhaps question the utility of the numerous times in the apparatus when Walzer attributes conjectural readings to his distinguished teachers, friends, students, and colleagues: principally to Baneth, but on occasion also to van den Bergh, Bergstrisser, Gibb, McCarthy, Pines, Schwarz, and Stern. There is no hint anywhere in the book about the circumstances under which these conjectures were provided, which manuscripts were or were not available to the person suggesting a correction or reading, and above all whether he would have changed his mind had he become acquainted with the additional manuscript evidence that came into Walzer's hands long after the suggested correction or reading. This is especially pertinent to the suggestions made by Baneth, who seems to have carefully gone over an entire draft edition prepared by Walzer at a rather early stage before Walzer had collated a number of other manuscripts. And Walzer himself made no effort to weed out conjectures that were made by others at an early stage of his editorial work, but that no longer made any sense after other manuscripts were collated and the conjectures had perhaps lost their value. c. Al-FdrdbT's original and the division of the text into sections and chapters The Virtuous City is unique among al-FarabT's writings as regards the information available concerning the history of the original recensions composed by al-Farabi himself. However, the manner in which this information has been understood by copyists and modern editors of this work has a long history that could not be unraveled until the appearance of Walzer's edition, his use of and comments on the manuscripts of the new branch (hyparchetype beta or MSS YIS) he was the first to introduce, and the fresh examination of some of these manuscripts themselves. The preceding two editors, Dieterici and Nadir, neither of whom had access to any of these manuscripts, relied on the information reported in alFarabT's biographical notice by Ibn AbT Us.aybi'a ('Uyin, 2:138-39), who wrote during the second half of the thirteenth century in Syria. Even though MS Y came to light before the publication of Nadir's edition (Kritzeck 1956), it was not consulted in preparing that edition. Then the same information given by Ibn AbI Usaybi'a was found in MS S and published along with the text of a summary of the Virtuous City by al-

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Al-FdrdbT'sImperfect State


role of the divine mind, called the Active Intellect in sublunary things, a view that does not agree with the opinion expressed by al-FarabT in the Virtuous City (pp. 198ff.). The five quotations are present in MSS PB only. They are there because the scribe of the source of MSS PB thought they were of some interest to the reader of the Virtuous City. The serious question has to do with the authorship of "al-FarabT'sSummary." This introductory material is then followed by the text proper, which Walzer divides into nineteen chapters, largely on the basis of indications for such a division only in the late (eighteenth-century) MS C ("It provides, incidentally, the best extant record of the division into chapters and sections" [p. 29]), revising and completing the division on the basis of the text of "6al-FarabT's Summary" (see, especially, pp. 88, 100, 174 [cf. p. 44, 1. 2], 258 [cf. p. 260, 1. 7], 314 [cf. MSS TA at p. 48, 1. 15]) as the copyist of MS C had done earlier. Following the lead of MS C, Walzer's edition completes the invention of nineteen chapter-headings of the form "Chapter 1," "Chapter 2," and so forth. Walzer acknowledges, in addition, the existence of a division into six sections and divides the text into six sections on the basis of certain indications in MSS YC and, by a second and later hand, in MS P, indications that Walzer completes by providing the first sectionheading (p. 56). The copyists of MSS PYC and Walzer understood the six sections to mean six sectionheadings of the form "Section 1," "Section 2," and so forth. The ultimate source of this latter division into sections and of these section-headings is the report about "Six Sections" mentioned earlier. But the places in the text where the divisions are indicated and where the section-headings are placed by the scribes and by Walzer are scribal and editorial conjectures. What is it, though, that allows "al-FarabT's Summary," the division of the text into nineteen chapters with the chapter-headings supplied in Walzer's edition, and the divisions of the text into six sections with the section-headings supplied in Walzer's edition, to be ascribed to al-Farabi? Walzer has the merit of having doubted and finally rejected al-Farabrs authorship of this summary, in which he must have believed when translating it as "'al-FarabT's Summary." In his introduction, he speaks of the "summary of the nineteen chapters which may well be due originally to al-FarabT himself since it implicitly gives the reasons for this division [i.e., the subsequent division of the text into chapters 1-19]. The form in which it appears in our MS. [i.e., MS C] is, however, the work of a very early editor" whom he calls the scribe of the archetype (alpha) of "all our

MSS." And a note adds "He may have been Yahya b. 'AdT. . . or Ibrahim b. 'AdT"' (pp. 20-21 and n. 14). In the commentary, on the other hand, Walzer provides the title "The Summary (by Yahya b. 'AdT?),''making a reasoned choice between the two brothers, who were al-Farabi's students, since Ibrahim was not known for the kind of creativity or doctrinal deviation from his teacher that Walzer recognized in the text of "alFarabi's Summary." There he states, without hesitation, that the "summary of the nineteen chapters .. [is] not written by al-FarabT himself, to whom the division into chapters (abwab) and sections (fusul) is due" (p. 331). In the end, then, Walzer was willing to abandon the belief in al-FarabT's authorship of the summary of the nineteen chapters that remains at the beginning of his Arabic text and translation under the title "al-FarabT'sSummary." However, these statements also show that he continued to believe in alFarabT'sauthorship of the division into chapters and sections as he understood and inserted, in the text, these divisions. Walzer says of them, "I firmly believe [they] existed in the archetype [i.e., alpha] of all the surviving manuscripts" (p. 28). He offers no reason for this belief or for the fact that the "fullest account of both divisions can be found in the late" MS C, a manuscript he describes, we recall, as "some sort of an edition" (p. 20) and in which he finds evidence that the scribe had "collated other manuscripts." In addition, this is a manuscript that shows signs of extensive editorial conjecture. Its "author," we are told, "was, in my view, quite a competent scholar in his own right" (p. 24; see also p. 29). Even though this should have raised doubts about the authority he conferred upon MS C, Walzer inexplicably allowed himself to be taken in by the learned editor of this manuscript. Beyond this, it is clear from Walzer's use of the Arabic expressions abwdb, "chapters," and fusul, "sections," that he based his belief in al-FarabT's authorship of these divisions not merely on the indications he found in the manuscripts, and MS C in particular, but ultimately on the information provided in the report found in Ibn AbT Usaybi'a's biographical notice on al-FarabT and in MSS YS, to which he refers in this context, paraphrasing and commenting on them. To see how Walzer could have misunderstood the import of this report in his paraphrase and comments, one must first look at the report given in MSS YS: AbU Nasr al-FdrdbT began writing this book in Baghdad.He carried it withhim to Syriaat the end of the year 330 [A.H./A.D. 942] and completed it in Damascus in the year [3]31 [A.H./A.D. 943]. Then,

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) after preparinga clean copy, he-examined it and wrote down in his own hand the chapter-headings (abwdb)which are in the margins[of the text]. Then someone asked him to make sections(fusil) for the book, and he made the sectionsin Egyptin the year [3]37 (A.H./A.D. 948] and placedthem as an addition to the book. Theyconsistof six sections. ters and sections in his edition.... If he had followed the tradition, the study of the book would have been made much easier" (p. 20). In fact, there was no tradition to follow that could claim al-FarabT'sauthority. There was a scribal tradition based on the same sort of misunderstanding as Walzer's. Walzer adopted it, perfected it, and tried-to give it historical and scientific respectability. He allowed himself to be misled by earlier scribes, especially the scribe of MS C. As a result, "al-Farabrs division into chapters and sections is reproduced throughout" Walzer's edition (p. 31). The division into nineteen chapters and six sections in Walzer's edition, which results from conflating the number nineteen in the spurious "al-Farabli's Summary" and the number six in Ibn Abi Usaybi'a's report, is thus attributed to al-Farabi himself. The editor's major failing and consequently, one of the major shortcomings of the new edition of the Virtuous City-was that he lacked enough curiosity to go on reading what followed the report in MSS Y and S, where he could easily have learned, not only Summary" and the implied division that "6al-FarabT's of the text of the Virtuous City into nineteen chapters have nothing to do with the report, but that these two manuscripts contain the text of the chapter-headings and one of them contains the text of the "Six Sections." Had he scanned their form and content, he would have realized that the Arabic term "chapters" (abwdb) in this context means chapter-headings or titles appended to parts of the text without indicating a number and that the term "sections" (fus#l) means short, compact summaries of certain parts of a book in the form of paraphrases or aphorisms. (The term fusW is commonly used in this sense in scientific and medical works: one recalls, for instance, the "Fusid" of Hippocrates, the "Medical Fusul" of Maimonides, and al-FarabT'sown "FusWlExtracted from the Sayings of the Ancients" [see Dunlop 1961: 9ff.].) In the margins of MS Y the scribe tries, on his own, to divide the- text into sections by providing section numbers (from what he calls "section two" to "section six"). He also says that for brevity's sake he did not copy the text of the "sections." Since omitting six phrases (section one, etc.) could not have saved him much time or effort or space, and since he does not in fact omit any of these except what he would have called "section one" (which is self-evident, since this is where the text of the Virtuous City begins), he must have omitted something else more substantial than the short phrase "section one." Indeed, MS Y omitted the text of the "sections." However, it did not omit the text of the "chapters," a series of statements


Yadds: we found in the manuscript This is the [information] copies[of this book]. Wehaveleft out the sectionsfor brevity'ssake and have written down the chapter[of the text]. in the margins headings

In contrast, MS S, which descends from an ancestor of MS Y, did not leave out the sections, but copied all six sections out and then wrote the chapter-headings, not in the margins of the text, but as chapter-headings immediately preceding the parts to which they belong. The difficulty with the report is this. If one reads it as reported by Ibn Abli Usaybi'a (who had copied it from a manuscript such as MS Y), without looking at the text of the chapter-headings given in MSS Y and S or at the text of the summary of the sections (the "Six Sections") written out in MS S (that is, without looking at the content of the chapter-headings and of the "Six Sections" whose presence in the manuscripts the report was meant to explain), and if instead one has in mind the text of "al-Farabli'sSummary" printed in Walzer's edition, it is very easy to jump to the conclusion that the report concerns mere divisions of the text of the Virtuous City into chapters and sections, that is, the breaking up of the text into sections and chapters and perhaps supplying such headings as "Section 1, Chapter 1" and so forth, as the scribes did in some manuscripts. It is in this sense that Walzer paraphrases the report; his additions, comments, and translation of the main terms all point to such an understanding. Al-FarabT, we are told, took the book with him "when he accepted an invitation from the Imamite ruler of Aleppo Sayf al-Dawla." He "added the division into (nineteen) chapters of varying length (abwdb) after this date, and added, at the request of some reader, a further division into six larger sections (fu#V ) while staying in Egypt in 337/948.... This double division of the work which is not very balanced is presupposed in the earliest extant MS. (P), and reference to it is made in most of the latter MSS. which have been examined...." Walzer then goes on to assert that Dieterici "failed to appreciate the significance of this division into chap-

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Al-FdrdbT'sImperfect State


placed in the margins of the manuscript. Had Walzer taken a look at these, he could have easily seen that they do not take the form "Chapter 1," and so forth. Instead, these chapter-headings, some short, some more extensive, begin with the phrase "the statement
on . . ." (followed by a brief indication of the subject

matter treated in the part in question), with a mark in the body of the text indicating the place where the part whose heading this is begins. These are the same chapter-headings copied in the body of the text in MS S. More important, however, is that the text of these chapter-headings is the same as in MS P, where they occur also in the margins of the text. Above all, these chapter-headings, which the report said were placed by al-FarabT himself in his copy, are not the ones given in "al-Farab~is Summary," which Walzer edited, translated, and placed at the beginning of his edition of the Virtuous City. It is hard to figure out why Walzer failed to report these chapter-headings in his edition or why he remained silent about them, especially since they occur also in the margins of the oldest manuscript (MS P). What he says about MS Yin this connection is not easy to figure out: The scribeof Y(or ratherone of his predecessors) has noticedthat the two formsof divisionof the Ard'[the VirtuousCity]-both into nineteenchapters(abwdb) and into six sections (fusul).. . are really incompatible,and hencehe has discarded the abwdb["chapters"] and the summaryof their contents, which is extant in P and B.... The manuscript copiedby him provided a summaryof the fuCil ["sections"]in its own right, preserved in S, and which cannot be derivedfromany tenth-century authority." (p. 28) The scribe of MS Y did not know of a division into nineteen chapters, saw no incompatibility between the "sections" and the "chapters," and did not discard the "chapters" or the summary of their contents, but copied them in the margins of his text. The content of these "chapters" is extant in MS P, not where Walzer looked for them,- that is, in the introductory material before the text of the Virtuous City, but in the margins, and Walzer says nothing about them. Until it can be shown that these cannot be the chapterheadings written by al-Farabi in his copy, they (and not "al-FarabT'sSummary" and its division into nineteen chapters, which is present in the editions by Dieterici, Nadir, and Walzer) should be taken as the genuine chapter-headings of the text. A decision as to whether they are complete or not (for they seem to stop before the last part of the text) will have to await

their edition. There was a division into chapters in alFarabi's own copy and in the two originals (see below) of the surviving manuscripts, but it consisted of marks in the body of the text and of the text of the chapter-headings that survive in the margins or in the body of the manuscripts, not the division by chapter numbers given in Walzer's edition. The same holds for the text of the "sections." The text of the "Six Sections" is attested to by the report quoted above, as is the fact that it did not consist merely of section numbers. That the scribe of MS Y says he omitted them for brevity's sake, and that MS S descends from an ancestor of MS Y, are not in question. That the manuscript copied by the scribe of Y "provided a summary of thefusil ["sections"] in its own right" and that this summary is "preserved in S" is also admitted by Walzer and will have to be admitted by whoever examines the two manuscripts. There is thus no reason to doubt that the text of the "sections" preserved in MS S is the text of the "Six Sections" composed by al-Farabi in Egypt in 337 A.H./A.D. 948. The text of the "Six Sections" may have appeared very puzzling to Walzer at first reading, but I suspect the reason for his puzzlement was his conviction that the "sections" made by al-Faradb in Egypt were what some of his manuscripts recorded in their margins, that is, "Section 1," and so forth, rather than a paraphrase of the Virtuous City. He is correct to say that the text of the "Six Sections" cannot be derived from any tenth-century authority. But this is true of most of the parts of the text of the Virtuous City itself, and no one, including Walzer, had questioned their authenticity on this ground alone. In any case, his tenth-century authority for the so-called "alFarabl's Summary," that is, the historian al-MascUdT, who wrote in 345 A.H./A.D. 956, quotes part of the so-called "al-FarabT'sSummary" without attributing it to al-Farabl or mentioning his name in the context. Just as Walzer was misled regarding "al-Farabi's Summary" because he gave too much importance to the date of MS P, he was misled regarding the text of the "sections" because he gave too much importance to the number of manuscripts that did not report it. This prevented him from editing and making use of the divisions indicated in the text of the "Six Sections," which has better right to be placed at the beginning or end of the text of al-FdrabI's Virtuous City than the spurious "al-FarabT'sSummary" provided by all three editions of the work. Walzer's statement that the text of the "Six Sections," which has survived in MS S, but which is explicitly attributed to al-Farabl in MS Y also, "cannot

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990) of the Virtuous City prepared by al-FarabT himself. The surviving manuscripts reflect this situation quite clearly. The largest group represents the first recension prepared in 331 A.H./A.D. 943 and shortly thereafter. Their original contained the text of the chapterheadings in the margins, but did not contain or refer to the composition of the "Six Sections." The scribe of the oldest of these, MS P, did not know of a division based on the text of the "Six Sections"; long after this manuscript was written, another scribe added two section divisions. Of the manuscripts used by Walzer, only one other manuscript-MS C, of a much later date-was contaminated in this fashion, and only to the extent that it provides four of the section divisions. Otherwise, this entire group (that is, the branch placed by Walzer under MS P and the group of manuscripts under hyparchetype gamma) is characterized by having at the beginning of the text the spurious "al-Farabl's Summary." They vary to the extent that they place chapter divisions based on divisions found in this "Summary" in the margins of the text; and apparently MS C is the only member of this group that does anything like a complete job in this respect. The 331 A.H./A.D. 943 Damascene recension of the Virtuous City was read by al-Farabl's former students and transmitted to their students during the second half of the tenth century in Baghdad and further east. It is quite understandable that this should be the recension known to the students of philosophy in Baghdad, such as the historian alMas'UdTor the Brethren of Purity, whom Walzer had in mind when he spoke of a tenth-century authority. It needs to be emphasized that this first recension does contain the chapter-headings (abwab); they are present in the margins of MS P, the oldest among this group. What is called "al-Farabi's Summary" of the nineteen chapters must have been added in Baghdad, without either attributing it to al-Farabl or dividing the text according to the division implicit in this summary. Only a later re-edition of this first recension, represented by MS C, tries to divide the text of the Virtuous City into nineteen chapters to show the breaks in the text of the Virtuous City that may correspond to this summary. The second, the 337 A.H./A.D. 948 Cairene recension, is represented by a small group of manuscripts that includes MSS YIS. In addition to the text of 331 A.H./A.D. 943 (and possible revisions of this text) and the chapter-headings written by al-FarabTin his copy of that earlier recension, their original contained the text of the "Six Sections," which was present in the ancestor of MS Y and survives in MS S and (in part) in

be derived from any tenth-century authority" raises yet a larger issue. The report quoted above shows that there were at least two stages in the development of the recension and publication of the Virtuous City in al-Farabl's lifetime. First, the period in which the book was completed and examined, a clean copy prepared, and the text of the chapter-headings added to the author's copy in his own handwriting. That took place in Syria (Damascus) in the year 331 A.H./ A.D. 943 and shortly thereafter. Second, in Egypt 948, he composed (Cairo) in the year 337 A.H./A.D. the text of the "Six Sections" and added it to the Virtuous City. This means that there were at least two recensions of the book by al-Farabl, separated by about five years. Beyond this, one may speculate whether al-Farabl left a draft of the Virtuous City in Baghdad, having dictated it to his prominent student or having allowed him to and scribe Yahya Ibn CAdT copy the draft of the book before al-Farabl left 942. (Given the Baghdad for Syria in 330 A.H./A.D. dangers of travel that particular year, when fighting seemed to be raging all around Baghdad, it makes sense to think that al-Farabl would have his student keep a copy of a book he had started, even though it may not have been ready for publication.) In that case, one can suspect that Yahya composed the socalled "al-Farabrs Summary," perhaps for his own use or for the use of students who needed an outline of the topics treated in the book. Then, when alFarabi dispatched the revised copy of 331 A.H./A.D. 943 from Damascus to his former students in Baghdad, with the chapter-headings written out in the margins, the revisions and additions were inserted in the copies circulating in Baghdad, which already contained Yahya Ibn 'AdT's summary. This could explain the overall structure and content of MS P, if it had followed Yahya's copy faithfully. In that case one would have to think of three stages in the history of the text: (1) the copy, in draft form, left in Baghdad in 330 A.H./A.D. 942; (2) the Damascene recension of 331 A.H./A.D. 943, which revised the draft and added the chapter-headings in the margins; (3) the Cairene 948, which may have recension of 337 A.H./A.D. included certain revisions of the Damascene recension, but added, above all, the text of the "Six Sections." The scribe to whom al-FarabTdictated the two recensions was probably Ibrahim Ibn 'AdT, to whom he is known to have dictated his commentary on the Posterior Analytics in Aleppo (Ibn AbTUsaybi'a, 'Uyuin, 2:139). However this may be, it seems clear that there were, not one, but at least two "originals"-two recensions

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Al-FdrdbT'sImperfect State


the Tashkent manuscript. No importance need be attached to the fact that the text of these "Six Sections" at first puzzles those who, like Walzer, give too much weight to the number of the manuscripts that have survived from the first recension. Such readers simply do not suspect that all these manuscripts go back to the same archetype and that their numerical superiority, compared to the group of manuscripts representing the second and final recension of the Virtuous City, proves nothing. Their archetype just happened to be more fortunate in having more descendants due to their popularity in Baghdad and further east.

This being the case, it makes little sense to speak of "the" archetype of "all the surviving manuscripts" as Walzer does. We have here a text that goes back not to one, but to two archetypes, each presenting a somewhat different recension of the original, only one of which, the one that included the text of the "Six Sections," was al-FarabT's final recension. This conclusion at least has the virtue of conforming to the evidence of the manuscripts. Only after abandoning the notion of a single recension of the original can the work of reconstructing the text of al-Farabis Virtuous
City go forward.


A. PRIMARY LITERATURE Averroes. Commentary on Plato's Republic [Jawdmi' Siydsat Afld~idn]. Hebrew text, edited with an introduction, translation, and notes by E. I. J. Rosenthal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956. Averroes on Plato's "Republic. " Translated, with an introduction and notes by Ralph Lerner. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1974. Avicenna. Healing: Metaphysics [Al-Shifda: al-Ildhiyydt]. Arabic text, edited by Ibrahim Madkur et al. 2 vols. Cairo: al-Hay'a al-'Amma li-Shu'an al-Matabi' alAmiriyya, 1380 A.H./A.D. 1960. English translation of bk. 10, chs. 2-5, by Michael E. Marmura. In Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook, edited by Ralph Lerner and Muhsin Mahdi, with the collaboration of Ernest L. Fortin. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1967. al-Farabi. Astrology [Ahkam al-Nujiim]. In Alfdrdbr's philosophische Abhandlungen. Arabic texts edited by Friedrich Dieterici, Pp. 104-14. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1890. . Attainment of Happiness [Tahsii al-Sacada]. Arabic text. Hyderabad, 1345 A.H. English translation in Alfarabi's Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Translated with an introduction by Muhsin Mahdi. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1969. . Book of Religion [Kitdb al-Milla]. In Kitab al-Milla wa-Nusiis Ukhra. Arabic texts, edited with introduction and notes by Muhsin Mahdi. Beirut: Dar alMashriq, 1968. English translation by Charles E. Butterworth (forthcoming). . Philosophy of Plato [Falsafat Afl!Cin]. Arabic text, edited and translated into Latin with a commentary by

Franz Rosenthal and Richard Walzer. London: Warburg Institute, 1943. English translation in Alfarabi's Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. See al-FdrdbT, Attainment of Happiness. . Political Regime [Al-Siyasa al-Madaniyya]. Arabic text, edited with an introduction and notes by Fauzi M. Najjar. Beirut: Imprimerie Catholique, 1964. English translation of part 2 by Fauzi M. Najjar. In Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook. See Avicenna, Healing: Metaphysics. _____. Virtuous City [Mabadi' Ara' Ahl al-MadTna alFddila]. Arabic text, edited and translated into German by Friedrich Dieterici under the title Der Musterstaat von Alfardlff Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1895 (text), 1900 (translation). Arabic text, edited with introduction and notes by A. N. Nadir. Beirut: Dar al-Mashriq, 1985 [1959]. Nadir's Arabic text was reprinted with a French translation (with introduction and notes) by Youssef Karam, J. Chlala, and A. Jaussen. Beirut and Cairo: Commission Libanaise pour la Traduction des Chefsd'oeuvre/ Institut Francais d'Archeologie Orientale, 1980 [1949, French translation only]. A revised text with introduction, translation, and commentary by Richard Walzer.- Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985. Ibn Abi Usaybi'a. 'Uyuin al-Anbd'f l Tabaqdt al-AtibbdE Arabic text, edited by August Miller. 2 vols. Cairo and Kdnigsberg, 1299 A.H./A.D. 1882-1884. Miskawayh (Ibn). Tajdribal- Umam, pts. 5-6. In The Eclipse of the Abbasid Caliphate: Original Chronicles of the Fourth Islamic Century. Edited, translated, and elucidated by H. F. Amedroz and D. S. Margoliouth. 7 vols: vols. 1-2 (text), 4-5 (translation). Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1920- 1921. (References are to the volume and

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (1990)

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