|Art as the Best way to Teach Philosophy and Religion|
|کد مقاله : 1004-NEXT|
نادیا مفتونی *|
دانشیار گروه فلسفه و کلام اسلامی
|In my courses, I have vastly used art works and entertainment for education in Covid 19 era. In this paper, I am presenting the philosophical foundation of my method.|
Farabi believes in art as the best and sometimes the only way to teach philosophy as well as religion. He places artists in the second position of Virtuous City as religion-conveyers after the prophetic rulers. The main job of artists is to teach religious and philosophical concepts and statements.
The first head of Virtuous City is no one but the prophet, and his government is believed to be accompanied by the divine revelation and all his actions and views are based on heavenly inspiration. In the second place, there are religion-conveyers including orators, missionaries, poets, musicians, singers, writers and the like. The role of poets, singers, musicians, writers, and all artists in Virtuous City can be best accounted for in terms of the roles with which Farabi credits the imaginary faculties in both revelation and poetics. The angel of revelation transfers the totality of intelligible truths to the prophet's intellectual faculty and to his imaginary faculty thereafter. Happiness of society plays a pivotal role in Farabi’s thought. According to Farabi, final happiness is the state in which the human would be successful in perceiving the intelligible and in achieving the nearest status to Active Intellect. On the other hand, there is a familiarity with imagination among the public who cannot understand the rational. So intelligible truths and happiness should be transferred somehow to the imaginary faculty of the people, and they should be approached to the true happiness through imagination. Prophet conveys the objectified form of the intelligible truths through earthly instances to people's minds. The Virtuous City’s artist deals with imagination and transfers rational facts and intelligible happiness by sensory and imaginary forms to people’s minds.
Farabi entitles the society in which the public cooperate toward real happiness ‘al-Madīnah al-Fāḍilah’, which has been translated as Virtuous City and Excellent City . Virtuous City includes five sections of which the highest position is dedicated to the first head and the sages, as well as the clear-sighted in important affairs. The first head of Virtuous City is no one but the prophet, and his government is believed to be accompanied by the divine revelation and all his actions and views are based on heavenly inspiration. In the second place, there are ‘religion-conveyers’ including orators, missionaries, poets, singers, writers and the like. The third class includes engineers, physicians, astronomers and the like; fourth rank belongs to the country's warriors and the guards and the like; and the fifth rank includes artisans, farmers and the like.
The subject matter is that why on the one hand, Farabi puts poets immediately following the prophetic rule and on the other hand, next to the orators and religious missionaries. What is the relation between the Virtuous City poet and both groups that one of them is his superior and the other is at the same position? What is the function of poetics in Virtuous City to achieve happiness?
The answer needs to know Farabi’s theory of revelation and his theory of imagination, as well as components of poetics from his viewpoint. Because the element of imagination in Farabi's special conceptualization, both exists in the theory of revelation and the conceptualization of poetics. Therefore, it can be useful in analyzing the relation between religion and poetics in Farabi’s Virtuous City.
2. Farabi’s Theory of Revelation
Farabi used Active Intellect in explaining his revelation and prophecy, and introduced it as the revelation angel or the Holy Spirit. He places Active Intellect in a position from which the intelligible, whether theoretical or practical, are imparted to the prophet’s intellectual faculties and from there to his imagination. Aristotle, before him, had spoken about the concept of Active Intellect, of course without titling it as, and he regarded it as a factor for transforming potential knowledge into the actual knowledge, as light transforms potential colors into actually visible colors. Although Kindi had a brief essay about the intellect before Farabi, no attention was paid to subject of revelation in his essay.
There are two aspects in which imagination theory is used by Farabi to explain the revelation: receiving the revelation from Active Intellect and delivering it to the people.
2.1. Prophet and Active Intellect
Farabi regards the prophet as a human who has traversed the stages of perfection and has been linked to the revelation angel, and his intellectual faculties have been completed with perceiving all the intelligible. Furthermore, prophet’s imaginary faculties have reached the highest possible extent. Whatever is granted to Active Intellect by God reaches the prophet's intellect; and it is being reincarnated in both theoretical and practical parts of intellectual faculties, from which it is imparted to his imagination.
The Prophet’s imaginary faculties are considered to be in the utmost perfection and power. This ability will cause that on one hand the sensations which enter in imagination don’t become so dominant that all the space of mind would be taken, and on the other hand, imagination is not entirely used by the intellectual faculties. This means that, while involving in the intellectual faculties and the sensible, imagination still has a vast empty space and extra capacity in which its own actions can be performed. The state of mind of such a human when involving in the sensible and intellectual faculties at the time of being awake is like that of others when being asleep. When sleeping, the imaginary faculty has the most perfect capacity and neither the sensible nor the intelligible has any involvement in it. Therefore, while sleeping and being awake, imagination of the prophet receives both the particular details of the present and the future, and the intelligible and universal causes of beings. The particular details of the affairs are comprehended either in direct way or indirectly through their similar and analogous entities, while he receives the intelligible only through the similar and illustrating entities. This level is considered as the most perfect extent to which imagination can reach, and as the most perfect stage which human can attain through the imaginary faculty. Prophecy comes about due to the intelligible having been conferred by Active Intellect to the imaginary faculty.
2.2. Prophet and People
Now a question might arise: why does Farabi include the imagination in the explanation of revelation? This is not a question of reason, but a question of cause. When explaining the revelation, why Fārābī did not suffice to say that Active Intellect is granting prophet’s passive intellect all theoretical and practical forms of the intelligible, in a way that his passive intellect knows all the intelligible? Considering the fact that according to him final happiness is to perceive the intelligible and to reach Active Intellect . What is the necessity for entering the imaginary faculties to revelation process? Of course, one reason for focusing on the imagination is to explain the divine verses in details. These particular details cannot be rationally understood and are merely within an imaginary and sensory perception. There is another point for which Farabi involved the imaginary faculties to explain revelation.
According to Farabi, final happiness is the state in which a human being would be successful in perceiving the intelligible and in achieving the nearest status to Active Intellect. On the other hand, for him, as it will be further described, there is a familiarity with imagination among the public who cannot understand the rational. So the intelligible truths and happiness should be transferred somehow to the imagination of people, and they should be approached to the true happiness through their imaginary faculties. This should be undertaken firstly by the Prophet who himself has been linked to Active Intellect and received all the facts by the intelligible and imaginary forms.
According to Farabi, there are two ways to understand the affairs and things: perceiving the essence of one thing and imagining it in its existing form, or imagining the ideas and things similar to it. It is not possible to speak of or bring in action the particular details of non-sensible arenas, such as soul, ten heavenly intellects, the hyle, and all abstract beings unless they are formed in the imagination. But given that these affairs are not possible to be imagined through feeling them, another way should be chosen to help us imagining them and this way is nothing but analogy or parallelism or allegory.
This is related to beings and affairs about which it is not basically possible to reason, concerning the other affairs about which the reasoning is possible, the majority of people has not reasoning power due to its nature or habit. In other words they are not used to reason and intelligible affairs. In most of them the soul is absorbed in imagination, imagination controls the self and physical forces prevent that the self with its essence and special perceptions, i.e. the rational, can be sole and independent; and there is confidence of the self in the sensible to some extent that it denies existence of the intelligible and considers them as baseless delusions. So the proper method for educating the affairs to public is transferring images and resemblances of the affairs to their mind and imagination.
Farabi elsewhere has also reiterated that the public are not to follow the intelligible, and human actions in many times, is subject to imagination, though this imagination may be in conflict to his knowledge or suspicion.
Even in some cases, belief of people is contrary to what they think about, and are sure that the reality is different with what it has imagined. However, when imagining the frightening affair, people are being shocked; and there are also similar instances in other cases of the self. So, to make people happiness there is no way except that the prophets transfer facts and the rational and intelligible happiness, to public minds through ideas and analogy in the imagined and the embodied form.
3. Farabi’s Theory of Imagination
Farabi conceptualizes the imagination through the three main activities of which the third activity creates the ability of imagination to illustrate and embody the intelligible: 1. Storing sensory forms after sensory disconnection; 2. Analyzing and synthesizing sensory forms. There are a variety of analyses and syntheses on which the mind desirably governs; sometimes they are concord with the sensible and sometimes they are not so. For example, the main invents winged human through combining wing of the bird with the human body; 3. Embodiment or metaphor: among the forces of the soul, only the imaginary faculty is able to embody the sensible and even the intelligible. The imagination even can embody the intelligible, such as the Prime Cause and abstract beings of matter, which have attained perfection. Of course, embodying them is done by the highest and most perfect forms of the sensible, such as handsome and beautiful things. On the contrary, it does embody the imperfect intelligible by bad, ugly and imperfect forms of the sensible.
Thus, the imaginary faculty is a force that stores, analyzes, and synthesizes forms of the sensible and utilizes them to embody the sensible and intelligible affairs. For example, Iranian poet, Hāfiz brought one the highest metaphor of the sensible to the intelligible. Human life is as a farm in which his actions grow as seeds and harvestman of the time looks for the crop with scythe. The moon, that is formed like a scythe in the sky in the first nights, reminds their actions and the results which will be finally harvested. Hāfiz has compared actions and their results to a beautiful landscape, based on intelligible law of the survival of action and result conservation. This very intelligible law has also been likened by another poet, Mowlavī to the mountain and the voice being repeated in it: this universe is regarded as the mountain, and our action is an echo. After being encountered with the Mountain, our voice returns toward us.
Although before Farabi, Aristotle had spoken about the nature of imagination in the discussions of the self, he had not considered the third feature. Some researcher has mentioned this point.
4. Tenets of Poetics
In Farabi’s works, there are several sections in which he has spoken of poetics. Analyzing the speech shows the share of fancy imagination in essence and coordinates of the poetics.
He divided poetics to six types, three of which are considered as the desirable, and three other ones as undesirable. First type of poetics, which is regarded as the highest from Farabi’s viewpoint, aims at reforming the faculty of reasoning, thoughts, and actions toward the happiness and the poetics which is concentrated on leading to think about divine actions, goodness, presenting real virtues as good and great.
The second type is the poetics trying to moderate radical qualities and attributes: these qualities of the self include feelings such as anger, egotism, domination, greed and the like, which its holders are intended to use them to get to goodness and wellness, instead of to create vices and obscenity.
Third type, as desirable poetics, wants to moderate dissipative qualities of the self and to turn inability and weakening of the self and desires, as well as to change lassitude, fear, grief and welfare, etc. in order to moderate the feelings. And it would firmly be used for acquiring goodness, instead of creating vices and obscenity.
Farabi does not describe more three wicked poetics, and points out that the three undesirable ones are just against the three sorts, wanting to corrupt thought and tending to sensual qualities and moods. In short, when describing desirable poetics, Farabi focuses on setting to think of goodness, happiness and moderation of feelings, i.e., he emphasizes on two elements: imagination and emotions.
In another section, when expressing characteristics of the poem, he says:
Poetic speech is words through which a mood in excited in the audience, and indicates something above what exists or lower than the fact. These qualities are directed at beauty, ugliness, magnificence, contempt and the like. When listening poetic words, we are given so much imagination that it will be just like a state which we feel when looking, for example, at uncomfortable objects.
In this definition of poetry, Farabi also emphasizes on the two components: exciting sensual emotions and creating strong imagination.
On the whole when discussing essence and descriptions of poetics, Farabi focuses on the components of taste or the intelligible element, i.e., understanding of meanings, imagination, sensual passions and pleasure. Of course, it should be noted that, as mentioned above, in his view, people understand the intelligible and meanings through imagination. Furthermore, feelings and emotions of people often originate from the imagination and the imaginary forms.
|Farabi, art, teaching, revelation, imagination, intelligible.|
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