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p. 49






On the subject of human actions Alfarabi says:

The end of human actions is happiness. Happiness is something all men desire. The voluntary actions by which man attains the end of his existence are called good, and from them proceed the habits of doing good, known as virtues; while the voluntary actions which prevent man from attaining his end are called evil, and from them flow the habits of doing evil, known as vices. Good actions deserve reward, whereas bad actions deserve punishment. 109

And he continues:

In addition to good and bad actions there are actions that are indifferent. These possess a morality without significance to merit or demerit, and because of this they are called indifferent or amoral. 110

Finally, man will attain full happiness only when he becomes free from the obstacles of the body.

Beyond these fundamental ideas we know very little of Alfarabi's Ethics, simply because his commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics, which represents his ethical thought, has been lost. However, these few ideas show perfectly well the general trend of his thought.


49:109 Alfarabi, Political Regime, op. cit., pp. 66-67. See also A Letter in Reply to Certain Questions, n. 30, p. 107.

49:110 With regard to indifferent acts, see Alfarabi, The Knowledge of God, in traitès inèdits d’anciens philosophes arabes, published by Malouf, Edde and Cheikho, Second Arabic ed. Beirut, 1911. P. 23.

Next: Chapter V. Political Society