Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Höffe I 127
State/al-Farabi/Höffe: in addition to the perfect state, the author recognizes two further, i.e. a total of three forms of state as legitimate.
Al-FarabiVsAristotle: (...) two forms represented since Aristotle and taken up by Cicero do not exist, neither the state of free and equal citizens nor the mixed constitution.According to al-Fārābī there may be no form except
1. the monarchy of the par excellence best ruler nor the
2. the monarchy of a second best ruler, finally
3. an aristocracy, in which the rule is divided among several persons whose abilities complement each other.
What they have in common is that one does not inherit the rule, since it is not the son but the most capable who should rule.
Religion/al-Farabi: The religions (...) have the task of bringing the same truth [of philosophy] to ordinary people, the non-philosophers, in parables and symbols. For them, each political community (umma) has its own tradition, which results in a remarkable tolerance: Because of the diversity of their cultural context, each community expresses its beliefs in different parables and symbols, and therefore different religions.
According to this, there can be excellent nations and excellent cities, which, despite different religions, claim the same happiness and pursue exactly the same goals(1).
Höffe I 128
Deviations from the Excellent State; sources of error:
a) Ignorant community: (...) [here] both the ruler and the subjects lack the knowledge of the true good, the veritable happiness.
b) Irritant community: (...) [here] the rulers possess the knowledge, but do not share it with their subjects.
c) Immoral or sinful communities: Here both sides, ruler and subjects, have access to knowledge, but because of low motives they neglect the good or even strive for the bad. All three misshapings lead man away from salvation and draw him to ruin.
Höffe I 130
Legitimate power constellations:
(1) A person fulfills all the conditions that make the best form of government, a monarchy, the philosopher-prophet rule, possible.
(2) No single person, but several persons, because their specialized skills complement each other, fulfil the conditions together, which leads to a kind of aristocracy.
(3) a "monarchy according to the law" or
(4) an "aristocracy according to the law"(2) (...)


1. al-Farabi, On the perfect state, chap 17, § 2.
2. al-Farabi, Aphorisms of the statesman, I 54


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
al-Farabi
Höffe I
Otfried Höffe
Geschichte des politischen Denkens München 2016


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2020-09-19
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