What's Art Got to Do with Happiness in Farabian Utopia
Farabi has put the artists on the second level of his utopia seeing them as ‘the carrier of the task of religion’. The first level, of course, belongs to God’s prophet and his successors. This might seem, at first, as some sort of religious mumbo-jumbo but with some speculation on the age Farabi was living in, one could see that it is a rarity for artists to be such noteworthy entities in a philosopher’s utopia. This philosopher, of course, is deeply influenced by Greek philosophy, as it was the case for Islamic philosophy before Abu-Hamid Al-Ghazali shattered it into pieces. The level of importance that Farabi imagines for the artists is hardly traceable in Greek philosophy or any other philosophy before him. This importance, however, comes at a price. The artist has a task like that of the prophets. In the prophet’s case, the angel of revelation bestows the rational concepts to his rational faculty and then to his imaginative faculty. The majority of people are not able to obtain rational happiness through reasoning because they are not used to implement their rational faculty. So the prophet, who is well aware of the truth, conveys the truth to peoples’ imagination through allegories and examples. The artist too, in Farabi’s eyes, is a person who can transfer rational happiness to the minds of the masses through sensible and imaginative forms.
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