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On the Perfect State Hardcover – January 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-1871031768 ISBN-10: 1871031761 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 588 pages
  • Publisher: Kazi Publications, Inc.; Revised edition (January 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1871031761
  • ISBN-13: 978-1871031768
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 6.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Arabic

About the Author

Abu Nasr Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Tarkhan b. Awzalaugh (or Uzlugh) al-Farabi was born abut 870 AD in Turkestan, at Wasij in the district of Farab on the Jaxartes. He eventually settled down and spent many yars in Baghdad, the seat of the Abbasid calphs. During part of the last ten years of his life, he stayed at the court of Sayf al-Dawla, the renowned Hamdanid Amir of Aleppo. He is reported to have died in 950 AD.

Al-Farabi's life was more that of a cynical philosopher than of an aristocratic intellectual. We are told that he always wore a brown Sufi garb. In al-Farabi's day no adherence to mystical Sufi views was indicated by the use of this garment, and in his particular case it can be easily shown that he was decidedly opposed to the mystic's unworldly interpretation of life and his overemphasis on the world-to-come. In the tenth century AD the Sufi cloak had a quite different meaning. This has been aptly characterized by Professor G. Makdisi, People of this kind are often what we may call nowadays militant intellectuals. They accept no one's patronage, they are afraid of compromising their independence by becoming connected with men of wealth and power and prefer to remain self-employed and are content with living on a mere subsistence level.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Martin on March 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the only English translation of 'Mabadi ara ahl al-madina al-fadila' (henceforth referred to as the Ara) of which I am aware. Richard Walzer provides a very suggestive annotated commentary that is about 170 pages long. The text itself is almost 300 pages and it appears in both Arabic and English on facing pages. Walzer "left the manuscript of the present work ready for publication" upon his death but did not live to see it through the publishing process. He made use of 10 manuscripts in preparing this critical edition. One of the main problems he faced in establishing the text for this edition was that it was "written in an ordinary naskhi, eighteen lines to the page, with no vowels and very few diacritical consonantal signs, so that quite a few words can be understood in different ways. [...] Numerous variant readings in later MSS. of the Ara are best explained in this way." Following the introduction Walzer indicates which manuscripts he found most useful in preparing this edition and why he thought they were useful.

Walzer argues that Farabi is something of a Shia who clearly preferred the Imamiyya to the Ismaili's. I do not have enough knowledge of the times Farabi wrote to have a judgement one way or the other about this. However, I did find Walzer's continual assurance in his commentary that Farabi must have had a Greek predecessor every time he is original really quite annoying.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tron Honto on September 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Though this book is somewhat expensive, it is definitely worth the money for those interested in understanding the political philosophy of al-Farabi. His book is truly beautiful in its philosophical grace. As a Christian whose tradition also was profoundly impacted by its contact with classical philosophy, I could not help being pulled in with great fascination peering into how Greek philsophy was adapted and understood by a philsopher of Arab-Islamic culture.
This edition is excellent. Included with the translation is the parallel Arabic text with variants and an extensive introduction and notes written by the translator, Richard Walzer. Walzer's work here is excellent making a reading of the contents of this book a study in itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Khalil on November 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Farabi here lays out the foundations of his political philosophy. On the basis of the title, the work appears to be simply a political text. It is in fact a comprehensive summation of Farabi's worldview of which political philosophy is only a part. Walzer's edition contains useful commentary, but he minimizes Farabi's own creative genius, reading into too many of his ideas Greek antecedents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Isaac Q. Dupont on June 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Walzer's edition is the de facto standard for the Ara. Compiled from 10 MSS with an exhaustive commentary and parallel englsh-arabic translation it is a very important edition of a very important text by Al-Farabi. A must-have for any serious student of arabic philosophical thought.
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