By Ian Richard Netton
"These Ikhwan al-Safa' are to boot identified to an informed Arab as, say, the names of Descartes, Hegel and Wittgenstein are to the aesthetic ecu. This ebook is an creation to their suggestion: it makes no claims to be accomplished or to hide each part of the Ikhwan's doctrine yet seeks in basic terms to introduce the reader to a couple points of that doctrine". (From Author's Preface and Acknowledgements)
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Additional resources for Muslim Neoplatonists, An Introduction to the thought of the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwān al-Safā’)
Of pure Platonic philosophy there is little. Plato's mentor Socrates is placed on a pedestal as a wise and good man who knew how to face death bravely, but the questions which his pupil Plato put into his mouth in the various dialogues, such as the existence of Forms like perfect goodness and justice, are hardly raised, much less answered. The Ikhwan had their own questions, didactically posed, dogmatically answered. Only in the field of ethics is much direct Platonic influence perceptible, as where the Brethren's eagerness for learning and knowledge brought them to 'a perfect Socratism where knowledge, the good and virtue are identified with one another'.
However, before considering the Neoplatonic development of the various Aristotelian concepts which they employed, and their integration with this pagan philosophy, it is profitable to consider first two complementary concepts of paramount importance in Neoplatonism: emanation and hierarchy. Both were adopted by the Ikhwan. 3 He postulated a hierarchy of three hypostases or principles above Matter, comprising The One or The Good, Intelligence or Intellect, and Soul. The first is described as beyond being but the second is said to be both being and the Intellectual-Principle.
131 When we turn to the last five Rasa 'il dealing with the Organon in the Mathematical Sciences section, we find that the treatment by the Ikhwan of these logical treatises, despite their enthusiasm for logic, is somewhat rudimentary. As has been mentioned already, the treatises discuss Aristotle's Categories, On Interpretation (known in the Arabic of the Rasa 'il as Baramaniyas from the Greek Peri Hermimeias), Prior Analytics, and Posterior Analytics, and the Neoplatonist Porphyry's Introduction or Eisagoge.
Muslim Neoplatonists, An Introduction to the thought of the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwān al-Safā’) by Ian Richard Netton