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Title: Cosmic justice in al-Fārābī's Virtuous City : healing the medieval body politic
Author: El Fekkak, Badr
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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This dissertation argues that, far from being incidental to al-Farabi’s political theory, the structural correspondence between the corporeal, cosmic and civil realms, constitutes one of its central tenets. The first chapter demonstrates that, according to al-FarabT, the universe displays a clear hierarchical organization (tartTb). Each one of its elements, whether material or immaterial, receives an allotted share (qusta) of existence (wujud), which reflects its ontological merit (isti’haf). As a result, each being in the celestial and sublunary realms, is fairly endowed with a proper rank (rutba) and a given function: Some elements have a serving role (khidma), while others occupy a leading position (ri’asa). The second chapter shows that the effects of this cosmic justice lead to a stratified structure in the human body. Indeed, according to al-FarabT’s strictly cardiocentric physiology, the heart rules over and directs all other subservient corporeal organs. These are, in order of importance; the brain, liver, lungs, stomach, spleen, intestines and genitalia. The third chapter examines how the structure and institutions of the virtuous city (al-madlna al-fadila) exhibit a similar hierarchy. The ideal sovereign ranks the polity’s various inhabitants in accordance with their innate or providentially endowed dispositions and acquired merit (isti’haf). As a result, the most gifted citizens occupy ruling positions, whereas the less talented members of the city are assigned a number of subordinate roles and functions. The closing chapter explores how al-FarabT frames his influential definition of civil science (’ilm al-madanT) by appealing to this structural analogy. Thus, he describes the virtuous kingly craft (mihna malikiyya fadila) in medical terms by comparing the physician’s ability to heal bodies with the supreme ruler’s capacity to govern virtuous cities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available