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MUHSIN S. MAHDI, Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001). Pp. 281. $37.50 cloth.



This volume does not “distill more than four decades of research,” as its jacket blurb asserts, but brings together eleven articles on Farabi's “political philosophy” by Muhsin Mahdi published between 1963 and 1999. They are arranged in the book in three parts. The first, introductory part contains two general essays titled “The Political Orientation of Islamic Philosophy” and “Philosophy and Political Thought,” and a historical study on “The Foundation of Islamic Philosophy.” The second and third parts contain seven articles, which present detailed readings of eight selections from Mahdi's canon of Farabi's “political” writings: Enumeration of the Sciences (chap. 5), Book of Religion, Virtuous City (second half), Political Regime (second half), Attainment of Happiness, Philosophy of Plato, Philosophy of Aristotle, and the second part of the Book of Letters (some of Mahdi's renditions of the titles are misleading; see later). Another general essay on “Religion and the Cyclical View of History,” roaming from Plato to Nietzsche, concludes the collection.


Corresponding author

Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
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International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 0020-7438
  • EISSN: 1471-6380
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies
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