Abstract

In a 2013 issue of Utopian Studies, Alireza Omid Bakhsh argues that Alfarabi established the foundation of Iranian and Islamic utopianism. According to Bakhsh, Alfarabi bases utopianism on (1) a conception of justice that resists social discrimination and (2) opposition to violence. While social equality and nonviolence are worthy political aspirations, Alfarabi does not endorse them in the way Bakhsh suggests. In actuality, Alfarabi’s view of justice entails that the virtuous society should be hierarchically organized according to the inherent worth of individuals and the tasks they perform. Alfarabi also allows some leeway for offensive wars to enforce happiness. In addition, he advises the virtuous ruler to use coercion against rebellious individuals he calls “weeds” and to enslave or execute feral human beings who roam the wild. Bakhsh’s misinterpretation masks these crucial issues and, consequently, Alfarabi’s nuanced theoretical reflections on the virtuous city and the political realities it faces.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2154-9648
Print ISSN
1045-991X
Pages
pp. 432-449
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-14
Open Access
No
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