By Alfarabi, ed. and trans. Muhsin Mahdi
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Extra resources for Alfarabi's Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle
Similarly, if his deliberative virtues are confined to means that are most useful for a restricted end when a specific event occurs, then this is the measure of his [moral] virtue also. Accordingly, the more perfect the authority and the greater the power of these deliberative virtues, the stronger the authority and the greater the power of the moral virtues that accompany them. 30 (1) Since the deliberative virtue by which one discovers what is most useful and noble with respect to the ends that do not vary except over long periods and that are common to many nations, to a whole nation, or to a whole city when an event that affects them in common occurs, has more perfect authority and greater power, the [moral] virtues that accompany it should possess the most perfect authority and the greatest power.
This is to be found in his book known as the Protagoras. 1 2 3 15 5 5 55 THE PHILOSOPHY OF PLATO « 6 Then he investigated whether this attainable knowledge is attained by chance or by investigation or by instruction and study; and whether a way of investigation or instruction or study exists by which to attain this knowledge, or whether no way of investigation, instruction, or study by which to attain this knowledge exists at all—as Meno (meaning fixed) used to assert. For he [Meno] claimed that investigation and instruction and study are futile, useless, and do not lead to knowledge; that man either knows a thing, not through investigation or instruction or study, but by nature and chance, or does not know it; what is not known cannot become known either by investigation or by study or by inference; and the unknown remains unknown forever, despite what the protagonists of investigation assert about a thing's being apprehended by investigation, instruction, or study.
The leading art that is not surpassed by any other in authority is such that when we decide to fulfill its functions, we are unable to do so without making use of the functions of all the arts. It is the art for the fulfillment of whose purpose we require all the other arts. This, then, is the leading art and the most powerful of the arts—just as the corresponding moral virtue was the most powerful of all the moral virtues. It is then followed by the rest of the arts. An art of a 1 32 « ALFARABI certain class among them is more perfect and more powerful than the rest in its class if its end can be fulfilled only by making use of the functions of the other arts in its class.
Alfarabi's Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle by Alfarabi, ed. and trans. Muhsin Mahdi