Al-Farabi (d. 950) on Prerequisites for Philosophers

“As for mutilated philosophy: the counterfeit philosopher, the vain philosopher, or the false philosopher is the one who sets out to study the theoretical sciences without being prepared for them. For he who sets out to inquire ought to be innately equipped for the theoretical sciences that is, fulfill the conditions prescribed by Plato in the Republic: he should excel in comprehending and conceiving that which is essential. He should by natural disposition disdain the appetites, the dinar, and like. He should be high-minded and avoid what is disgraceful in people. He should be pious, yield easily to goodness and justice, and be stubborn in yielding to evil and injustice. And he should be strongly determined in favor of the right thing”—Abū Naṣr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Farābī (d. 950), “The Attainment of Happiness,” in Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook, eds. Ralph Lerner and Muhsin Mahdi (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1961), p. 80.


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