Printer Friendly

Politics and Excellence: The Political Philosophy of Alfarabi.

Galston has made a solid contribution to Farabian studies in this book. She commences with a chapter on Alfarabi's method of writing, and proceeds on the basis of conclusions reached in the initial chapter to discuss his views concerning "the nature of happiness and perfection ... ; the qualifications of rulers of excellence, in particular the contribution of both theoretical and practical wisdom to the formation of practical judgments; and the kind or kinds of political orders that make possible a political community of excellence" (p. 54). A final chapter discusses the extent to which political science is an autonomous science, not needing a metaphysical foundation upon which to reside.

Galston is extremely well read in the scholarly controversies that have arisen over the last fifty years regarding the way to read and understand Alfarabi. Leo Strauss and others have pointed to a tradition of "multilevel" writing, to which Alfarabi (and other medieval Islamic and Jewish thinkers) were attracted. According to Strauss, this tradition of writing on two different levels, exoteric and esoteric, was primarily political in intent, but political in a special sense. Reflecting upon the death of Socrates at the hands of the unenlightened masses, Plato, according to Strauss, noted the necessity that philosophy (and philosophers) hide their true views from the masses, lest their fate be like the great martyr. For Strauss, then, the exoteric/esoteric distinction was developed by philosophers primarily to avoid political persecution, to save their skin. But such a self-interested program does not seem very Socratic in spirit; after all, Socrates was not afraid to die. Perhaps, then, a new impetus for multilevel writing can be found, one which is more truly Socratic. Such a one is to be found I think in Galston's presentation of Alfarabi's method as primarily pedagogical in intent rather than as self-preservative. We must suppose that Alfarabi was most concerned to enlighten, in different ways, all the members of the community, both those philosophically inclined and those not so. In this sense, Alfarabi stands revealed as a great teacher, sensitive to the varying abilities of his audience, and with a political agenda rather different than that of a solitary, lonely figure intent upon survival. To me, it is obvious which is the more Socratic in spirit, and it is to Galston's credit to have altered the terms of the debate concerning the proper way in which to read Alfarabi.

With this methodology in place, Galston proceeds to distinguish between different types of multilevel writing, religious and philosophic. Both are operative throughout the Farabian corpus, indeed within single works. "Using persuasive arguments, religious multilevel writing tries to present the reader with an apparent demonstration; in contrast, through carefully juxtaposed persuasive arguments, philosophic multilevel writing seeks to guide readers to their own discovery of the appropriate proofs, In short, the ultimate goal of philosophic multilevel writing is to provide those who wish to know with the passion, the tools, and the awareness necessary to engage in the arduous search for truth" (p. 48). Whereas religious multilevel writing deals with appearances (rhetorical proofs, etc.), philosophic multilevel writing presents "opposing arguments of roughly equal persuasive power" (p. 10), offered with a view to stimulating the philosophically inclined to move beyond the mashhurat (the endoxa) to the foundations of the science. It is in this sense that we are to understand how and why, according to Alfarabi, religion is an imitation of philosophy. This, perhaps Alfarabi's most famous (and infamous) view, is ngle consonant, e.g., daq, laf, fak, etc. There are synonyms in AAT, e.g., babur and sayyara `car', maktab and hafis `office', ash and sakan 'to live', jaw and taqs `weather', mutarjim and turjuman `translator', etc. Students would like to know the differences, if any, between, e.g., babur and sayyara, on the one hand, and which is more commonly used, on the other.

Inaccuracies are, e.g.: lyaman sh shamali, not lyaman sh shamaliyya, for `North Yemen', al id alkabir, not Lid alkabir, for Greater Bairam' (not the Greater Bairam), alt d azzaghir, not id azzaghir, for `Lesser Bairam' (not the Lesser Bairam). If "Muslim countries" (p. I 1 8) means Arab countries whose constitutions state that Islam is their religion, then most of those countries follow the Gregorian, not the Higra calendar. Yemenis buy qat by the bunch, not by the branch (p. 119). id al ummal (p. 119) probably is better translated as May Day, which is celebrated in most Arab countries on May 1. hadi binaya ghariba (p. 142) is `this is a . . .', not `this building is . . .'. So is hadi bint maliha (p. 160) 'this is a . . .' rather than 'this girl is . . .'. assaff attani tanawi is eleventh, not twelfth grade in Aden.

I would have liked to see a glossary of Adeni Arabic-English, English-Adeni Arabic and an index of grammatical terms at the end of AAT, and Adeni stress rules in the pronunciation section. In the transcription system (pp. xi-xiii), /d/ is ambiguous since it stands for the two sounds /d/ and 3/. Short /a/ (fatha) in Adeni is not equivalent to a in English bat; it is shorter.

Despite the shortcomings mentioned above, AAT is a most welcome addition and an asset to Arabic dialect studies.

Arabic Adeni Reader (AAR) is an intermediate textbook which is designed to serve primarily as a language text for American college and university students and other personnel engaged in acquiring a conversational tool beyond the basic level of AAT. AAR consists of forty-five selections or lessons that utilize the same transliteration system as AAT. Each selection is followed by new vocabulary items, grammatical notes, and an occasional cultural note. Almost all the grammatical notes compare Adeni to MSA - whether borrowed from, a corruption of, or equivalent to MSA. A few items do not occur in MSA and among them are Adeni isoglosses which the author claims are characteristic only of Adeni Arabic, such as saman `personal effects', band `closing', jahil `child', stawa `to become', etc. These items occur in Gulf Arabic also. The selections are followed by English translations which are not literal translations but approximations of the meanings in order to preserve the uniqueness of the Adeni items.

Unlike AAT, AAR contains a glossary of approximately 1,100 Adeni Arabic-English items. Better control is kept over the vocabulary in AAR than in AAT. However, some items in AAT are repeated in the AAR glossary, e.g., nidam `system', igtima `meeting', mudir `director', obah `to take care of', ahyanan `sometimes', safar `to travel', murrayyish `well-to-do', sa'al `to ask', etc.

Again, I have found a number of typographical errors. Inaccuracies include such items as MSA mad u `invited' (p. 3), should be mad uww; MSA dihaban `going' (p. 4), should be oahaban; masha rigl is `to go on foot' not `on foot' (p. 10); MSA yahubbunaha `they like it' (p. 16) is either yuhibbunaha or yahibbunaha; wasat means `in the middle of' not `middle' (p. 50) as used in the text; alamana al amma is `The Secretariat General', not `The General Security' (p. 51); maxtutat (n. pl.) (p. 51) is `manuscripts' not `manuscript', the singular of which is maxtuta; irhabi (p. 66) is a nisba adjective used as a noun, i.e., `saboteur', not `sabotage', which is shi irhabi. In ma qassaratsh (p. 77) `she did not fall short of', there is no double negative, because the perfect is negated by ma + V-sh. qassaratsh is ungrammatical. janaza is also used in MSA to mean funeral procession' not only bier' (p. 105). According to derivation, gle consonant, e.g., daq, laf, fak, etc. There are synonyms in AAT, e.g., babur and sayyara `car', maktab and hafis `office', ash and sakan 'to live', jaw and taqs `weather', mutarjim and turjuman `translator', etc. Students would like to know the differences, if any, between, e.g., babur and sayyara, on the one hand, and which is more commonly used, on the other.

Inaccuracies are, e.g.: lyaman sh shamali, not lyaman sh shamaliyya, for `North Yemen', al id alkabir, not Lid alkabir, for Greater Bairam' (not the Greater Bairam), alt d azzaghir, not id azzaghir, for `Lesser Bairam' (not the Lesser Bairam). If "Muslim countries" (p. I 1 8) means Arab countries whose constitutions state that Islam is their religion, then most of those countries follow the Gregorian, not the Higra calendar. Yemenis buy qat by the bunch, not by the branch (p. 119). id al ummal (p. 119) probably is better translated as May Day, which is celebrated in most Arab countries on May 1. hadi binaya ghariba (p. 142) is `this is a . . .', not `this building is . . .'. So is hadi bint maliha (p. 160) 'this is a . . .' rather than 'this girl is . . .'. assaff attani tanawi is eleventh, not twelfth grade in Aden.

I would have liked to see a glossary of Adeni Arabic-English, English-Adeni Arabic and an index of grammatical terms at the end of AAT, and Adeni stress rules in the pronunciation section. In the transcription system (pp. xi-xiii), /d/ is ambiguous since it stands for the two sounds /d/ and 3/. Short /a/ (fatha) in Adeni is not equivalent to a in English bat; it is shorter.

Despite the shortcomings mentioned above, AAT is a most welcome addition and an asset to Arabic dialect studies.

Arabic Adeni Reader (AAR) is an intermediate textbook which is designed to serve primarily as a language text for American college and university students and other personnel engaged in acquiring a conversational tool beyond the basic level of AAT. AAR consists of forty-five selections or lessons that utilize the same transliteration system as AAT. Each selection is followed by new vocabulary items, grammatical notes, and an occasional cultural note. Almost all the grammatical notes compare Adeni to MSA - whether borrowed from, a corruption of, or equivalent to MSA. A few items do not occur in MSA and among them are Adeni isoglosses which the author claims are characteristic only of Adeni Arabic, such as saman `personal effects', band `closing', jahil `child', stawa `to become', etc. These items occur in Gulf Arabic also. The selections are followed by English translations which are not literal translations but approximations of the meanings in order to preserve the uniqueness of the Adeni items.

Unlike AAT, AAR contains a glossary of approximately 1,100 Adeni Arabic-English items. Better control is kept over the vocabulary in AAR than in AAT. However, some items in AAT are repeated in the AAR glossary, e.g., nidam `system', igtima `meeting', mudir `director', obah `to take care of', ahyanan `sometimes', safar `to travel', murrayyish `well-to-do', sa'al `to ask', etc.

Again, I have found a number of typographical errors. Inaccuracies include such items as MSA mad u `invited' (p. 3), should be mad uww; MSA dihaban `going' (p. 4), should be oahaban; masha rigl is `to go on foot' not `on foot' (p. 10); MSA yahubbunaha `they like it' (p. 16) is either yuhibbunaha or yahibbunaha; wasat means `in the middle of' not `middle' (p. 50) as used in the text; alamana al amma is `The Secretariat General', not `The General Security' (p. 51); maxtutat (n. pl.) (p. 51) is `manuscripts' not `manuscript', the singular of which is maxtuta; irhabi (p. 66) is a nisba adjective used as a noun, i.e., `saboteur', not `sabotage', which is shi irhabi. In ma qassaratsh (p. 77) `she did not fall short of', there is no double negative, because the perfect is negated by ma + V-sh. qassaratsh is ungrammatical. janaza is also used in MSA to mean funeral procession' not only bier' (p. 105). According to derivation, regorian, not the Higra calendar. Yemenis buy qat by the bunch, not by the branch (p. 119). id al ummal (p. 119) probably is better translated as May Day, which is celebrated in most Arab countries on May 1. hadi binaya

ghariba (p. 142) is `this is a . . .', not `this building is . . .'. So is hadi bint maliha (p. 160) `this is a . . .' rather than 'this girl is . . .'. assaff attani tanawi is eleventh, not twelfth grade in Aden.

I would have liked to see a glossary of Adeni Arabic-English, English-Adeni Arabic and an index of grammatical terms at the end of AAT, and Adeni stress rules in the pronunciation section. In the transcription system (pp. xi-xiii), /d/ is ambiguous since it stands for the two sounds /d/ and 3/. Short /a/ (fatha) in Adeni is not equivalent to a in English bat; it is shorter.

Despite the shortcomings mentioned above, AAT is a most welcome addition and an asset to Arabic dialect studies.

Arabic Adeni Reader (AAR) is an intermediate textbook which is designed to serve primarily as a language text for American college and university students and other personnel engaged in acquiring a conversational tool beyond the basic level of AAT. AAR consists of forty-five selections or lessons that utilize the same transliteration system as AAT. Each selection is followed by new vocabulary items, grammatical notes, and an occasional cultural note. Almost all the grammatical notes compare Adeni to MSA - whether borrowed from, a corruption of, or equivalent to MSA. A few items do not occur in MSA and among them are Adeni isoglosses which the author claims are characteristic only of Adeni Arabic, such as saman `personal effects', band `closing', jahil `child', stawa `to become', etc. These items occur in Gulf Arabic also. The selections are followed by English translations which are not literal translations but approximations of the meanings in order to preserve the uniqueness of the Adeni items.

Unlike AAT, AAR contains a glossary of approximately 1,100 Adeni Arabic-English items. Better control is kept over the vocabulary in AAR than in AAT. However, some items in AAT are repeated in the AAR glossary, e.g., nidam `system', igtima `meeting', mudir `director', obah `to take care of', ahyanan `sometimes', safar `to travel', murrayyish `well-to-do', sa'al `to ask', etc.

Again, I have found a number of typographical errors. Inaccuracies include such items as MSA mad u `invited' (p. 3), should be mad uww; MSA dihaban `going' (p. 4), should be oahaban; masha rigl is `to go on foot' not `on foot' (p. 10); MSA yahubbunaha `they like it' (p. 16) is either yuhibbunaha or yahibbunaha; wasat means `in the middle of' not `middle' (p. 50) as used in the text; alamana al amma is `The Secretariat General', not `The General Security' (p. 51); maxtutat (n. pl.) (p. 51) is `manuscripts' not `manuscript', the singular of which is maxtuta; irhabi (p. 66) is a nisba adjective used as a noun, i.e., `saboteur', not `sabotage', which is shi irhabi. In ma qassaratsh (p. 77) `she did not fall short of', there is no double negative, because the perfect is negated by ma + V-sh. qassaratsh is ungrammatical. janaza is also used in MSA to mean funeral procession' not only bier' (p. 105). According to derivation, mutasila 'connected' is not a passive participle. tul alyom (p. 129) is MSA tul alyawmi, not tul annahari, since nahar is only daytime, i.e., from dawn to dusk. Finally, I doubt that qa ada `bed' (p. 110) is an MSA word, since neither Wehr nor Al-Munjid gives it.

There is an inconsistency in the transliteration of words (verbs, nouns, adjectives, particles, etc.) that end with a double consonant in both AAT and AAR. Most are transcribed with a final single consonant but some are transcribed with a double consonant, e.g., in AAT we find shall `to carry' (p. 20) radd `to answer' (p. 136), etc., but may `water' (p. 167), am general' (adj.) (p. 136), fak `to unbutton' (p. 162), etc. In AAR we find hall `to solve' (p. 70), daqq `to knock' (p. 80), alhagg pilregorian, not the Higra calendar. Yemenis buy qat by the bunch, not by the branch (p. 119). id al ummal (p. 119) probably is better translated as May Day, which is celebrated in most Arab countries on May 1. hadi binaya ghariba (p. 142) is `this is a . . .', not `this building is . . .'. So is hadi bint maliha (p. 160) `this is a . . .' rather than 'this girl is . . .'. assaff attani tanawi is eleventh, not twelfth grade in Aden.

I would have liked to see a glossary of Adeni Arabic-English, English-Adeni Arabic and an index of grammatical terms at the end of AAT, and Adeni stress rules in the pronunciation section. In the transcription system (pp. xi-xiii), /d/ is ambiguous since it stands for the two sounds /d/ and 3/. Short /a/ (fatha) in Adeni is not equivalent to a in English bat; it is shorter.

Despite the shortcomings mentioned above, AAT is a most welcome addition and an asset to Arabic dialect studies.

Arabic Adeni Reader (AAR) is an intermediate textbook which is designed to serve primarily as a language text for American college and university students and other personnel engaged in acquiring a conversational tool beyond the basic level of AAT. AAR consists of forty-five selections or lessons that utilize the same transliteration system as AAT. Each selection is followed by new vocabulary items, grammatical notes, and an occasional cultural note. Almost all the grammatical notes compare Adeni to MSA - whether borrowed from, a corruption of, or equivalent to MSA. A few items do not occur in MSA and among them are Adeni isoglosses which the author claims are characteristic only of Adeni Arabic, such as saman `personal effects', band `closing', jahil `child', stawa `to become', etc. These items occur in Gulf Arabic also. The selections are followed by English translations which are not literal translations but approximations of the meanings in order to preserve the uniqueness of the Adeni items.

Unlike AAT, AAR contains a glossary of approximately 1,100 Adeni Arabic-English items. Better control is kept over the vocabulary in AAR than in AAT. However, some items in AAT are repeated in the AAR glossary, e.g., nidam `system', igtima `meeting', mudir `director', obah `to take care of', ahyanan `sometimes', safar `to travel', murrayyish `well-to-do', sa'al `to ask', etc.

Again, I have found a number of typographical errors. Inaccuracies include such items as MSA mad u `invited' (p. 3), should be mad uww; MSA dihaban `going' (p. 4), should be oahaban; masha rigl is `to go on foot' not `on foot' (p. 10); MSA yahubbunaha `they like it' (p. 16) is either yuhibbunaha or yahibbunaha; wasat means `in the middle of' not `middle' (p. 50) as used in the text; alamana al amma is `The Secretariat General', not `The General Security' (p. 51); maxtutat (n. pl.) (p. 51) is `manuscripts' not `manuscript', the singular of which is maxtuta; irhabi (p. 66) is a nisba adjective used as a noun, i.e., `saboteur', not `sabotage', which is shi irhabi. In ma qassaratsh (p. 77) `she did not fall short of', there is no double negative, because the perfect is negated by ma + V-sh. qassaratsh is ungrammatical. janaza is also used in MSA to mean funeral procession' not only bier' (p. 105). According to derivation, mutasila 'connected' is not a passive participle. tul alyom (p. 129) is MSA tul alyawmi, not tul annahari, since nahar is only daytime, i.e., from dawn to dusk. Finally, I doubt that qa ada `bed' (p. 110) is an MSA word, since neither Wehr nor Al-Munjid gives it.

There is an inconsistency in the transliteration of words (verbs, nouns, adjectives, particles, etc.) that end with a double consonant in both AAT and AAR. Most are transcribed with a final single consonant but some are transcribed with a double consonant, e.g., in AAT we find shall `to carry' (p. 20) radd `to answer' (p. 136), etc., but may `water' (p. 167), am general' (adj.) (p. 136), fak `to unbutton' (p. 162), etc. In AAR we find hall `to solve' (p. 70), daqq `to knock' (p. 80), alhagg pilof dialects" that characterize the Arabic of Al-Andalus, and goes on to cite the dialects of Granada, Cordoba or Valencia. One would also expect that Andalusian Arabic, over four centuries, would evidence "dialectal" variation, which makes a better reason to speak of "dialects," not a "dialect."

While Marguan's article draws on medieval Spanish Arabic, Moutaouakil, in his essay "Negative Constructions in Arabic: Towards a Functional Approach," presents the negation phenomenon in Modem Standard Arabic (MSA) from a functional grammar point-of-view. Moutaouakil's article is well presented and argued; it serves as an important piece of work on negation in MSA.

Agius' piece draws on Ibn Makki al-Siqilli's (d. 1107 a.d.) Tathqif al-Lisan, the medieval Sicilian treatise on recorded speech errors among Arabic speakers in Sicily, and on archival and notarial documents that employ originally Arabic words and idioms from the Sicilian dialect. The concern of this article is the matter of variation in gender as reported by Ibn Makki in Tathqif al-Lisan and in Sicilian Arabic. There is evidence, Agius argues, that classical Arabic masculine nouns changed into feminine in Sicilian, while it is rare to find a case of feminine nouns changing into the masculine. Such change, according to Agius, could have been the result of the impact of the Romance languages; in other instances, Berber could have been the trigger. Further work, Agius points out, is undoubtedly necessary for a fuller exploration of this phenomenon. Agius' efforts indicate an important research direction for historical linguistics, as well as the complexity of the task. Such an important and fascinating language-contact situation requires knowledge both of Romance and Berber languages.

Regrettably, some participants in the conference (their names are listed at the end of the volume) did not submit for publication their contributions to the oral presentations of the colloquium proceedings. This reviewer would like to have seen the essays by Shelomo Morag, Jonathan Owens, and Kees Versteegh. Undoubtedly, the exclusion of the articles by these scholars takes away from the richness of this volume.

One should also point out this volume's quality of print. Whereas an effort was made to standardize the type face for the articles written in Western languages in this book, the final product is blurry and difficult to read; the ink is not dark enough to make the text readable, perhaps because of the poor copying conditions at the press. By their nature, books resulting from conference proceedings often vary in rigor and research quality. This book is no exception; consider Shivtiel's admission on p. 335, fn. 1. Despite this and the technical problems pertaining to the book's production, this volume remains a valuable addition to Arabic linguistic studies.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Oriental Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Frank, Daniel H.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1993
Words:3737
Previous Article:The Sea of Precious Virtues (Bahr al-Favaid): A Medieval Islamic Mirror for Princes.
Next Article:Arabic Adeni Textbook.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters