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Plato

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

    Plato

    (d. 347 B.C.E. )

    Arabic Aflaton. Hellenistic philosopher, some of whose writings (Timaeus, Republic, and Laws) were partially translated into Arabic during the Middle Ages. Much was known of Plato's works through oral transmission as well. Thus, in his Philosophy of Plato, al-Farabi (d. 950 ) provided an extensive account of Plato's philosophy, identifying all of the dialogues now accepted as authentic and providing a reasonable explanation of the topic covered in each. Either because of his penchant for metaphysical investigations or due to the acknowledged enigmatic character of his writings, Plato was accorded the title “divine” and thus distinguished—at least for popular discussions—from the more sober Aristotle . Al-Farabi, along with Ibn Sina ( Avicenna , d. 1037 ) and Ibn Rushd ( Averroës , d. 1198 ), considered Plato's Laws especially important for understanding the significance of lawgiving within the framework of revelation. Others, such as Ibn Bajjah ( Avempace , d. 1138 ) and Ibn Tufayl (d. 1185 ), relied heavily on Plato to explore what they held to be the necessary tension between philosophy and politics.

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