The Search for Felicity in al-Madinat al-Fadilah and Hayy ibn Yaqzan: A Comparison of the Rational Religion of Abu Nasr al-Farabi and the Rational Mysticism of Ibn Tufayl Open Access

Mckinney, Jarred (Spring 2018)

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This essay examines al-Farabi’s and ibn Tufayl’s presentation of the journey to human felicity within al-Madinat al-Fadilah and Hayy ibn Yaqzan. Al-Farabi’s project is best understood as rationalist religion which leads him to posit the need of community. Ibn Tufayl’s project, on the other hand, dismisses the notion of society and encourages rational-mysticism which is individualistic in scope. Upon delineating their religious notions, I will present the implications these variant understandings had on their understanding of the importance of community.

Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                                                   1


Chapter 1    Historical Background and Comments on the Text                    7

                       Historical Background                                                                      7

                       Comments on the Texts                                                                   9


Chapter 2    Neoplatonism and al-Farabi’s Metaphysics                               13

                       Neoplatonism                                                                                  13

                       Al-Farabi’s Cosmology                                                                   17


Chapter 3    Rationalism                                                                                    20

Hayy’s Rational Foundations                                                          20

                     To the First Cause                                                                           28

                       Sufficiency of the Rational Faculty                                             33


Chapter 4    Mysticism                                                                             42                   

Ibn Tufayl’s Mysticism                                                                   42

                       Al-Farabi’s Rationalism and ibn Tufayl’s Rational-Mysticism   49


Chapter 5    King, Philosopher, Politics                                                           58

Characteristics of Al-Farabi’s Philosopher-King                              58

                       The King and Hayy                                                                          61

                       Politics or A Lack Thereof                                                               67


Chapter 6   The Role of Society in Attainting Felicity                                       76

                       Society                                                                                              76

                       The Role of the Philosopher                                                            83


Chapter 7     The Medium of Transmission                                                          88

                      Implications on the Medium of Transmission                               88


Conclusion                                                                                                            91       

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