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Volume :9 Issue : 35 1989      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

Al-Farabi's Theory of the Soul and Intellect (in Arabic)

Auther : Ghassan Finianos

Al-Farabi believed that souls are of three sorts: the souls of celestial bodies, the souls of animals and the souls of humans. The first sort differs from the other two both in substance and kind. It also has a nobler and more perfect being, for celestial souls are always actual.

On the two questions specifying the nature of the soul and its immortality, Al-Farabi oscillated between the Aristotelian and Platonic teachings. Concerning the first issue his position remained unclear. On the one hand, he did not limit himself to mentioning Aristotles definition of the soul as the form and perfection of the body but went further, like Aristotle himself, to affirm that it does not precede the body but exists with it. He also showed that matter is the source of the difference among the individual members of the same species. On the other hand, he also showed, under Platos influence, that the soul is both mans substance and separate from his body. This, although he disagreed with Plato on several other points as in his rejection of reincarnation and his denial that the soul exists before the body. In fact, the soul is created with the creation of the body and at the moment of the Tatters readiness to receive it.

Concerning the question of the immortality of the soul, he tended, in the end, in an Aristotelian direction. This is evident in the way he distinguished the different faculties of the soul. In one respect the soul is perishable, while in another it is immortal. It is perishable as far as its sensitive and imaginative faculties are concerned, but immortal as far as its Acquired Intellect is concerned. Thus, for Al-Farabi, as for Aristotle, the human soul cannot continue after death unless it becomes a pure Intellect sufficient unto itself.

In spite of the fact that the soul has several powers or faculties it is, nonetheless, one. That is to say its faculties are the parts of a single substance.

 

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