Method, Structure, and Development in al-Farabi'’s Cosmology by Janos, Damien

By Janos, Damien

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20 For K. al-qiyās, see al-Fārābī (1963 and 1985c), Gyekye (1972), and Lameer (1994); for ʿIbārah, see Zimmermann’s analysis (in al-Fārābī 1981a), and Black (2006); for Khaṭābah, see al-Fārābī (1971a), Black (1990), and Aouad (1992). 20 chapter one about al-Fārābī’s cosmological theories. By way of illustration, according to Maimonides in Guide, al-Fārābī’s Physics commentary argued that different degrees of celestial matter should be ascribed to the different types of celestial bodies in the heavens.

In addition to these foundational Ptolemaic writings, it is possible that al-Fārābī also had access to more minor Greek astronomical works (such as parts of Aratus’ poem), as well as excerpts from Geminus’ (fl. 28 In any case al-Fārābī’s knowledge of ancient Greek astronomy was substantial enough for him to write about its method and to take its findings into account when elaborating his own cosmology. The question of whether al-Fārābī truly penned a commentary (sharḥ ) on Ptolemy’s Almagest is important, since it has a direct bearing on the proper understanding of his cosmology.

While I despaired for some time thinking that no exemplar of Fārābī’s commentary had survived, I was informed recently and incidentally that a microfilm copy of the Majlis Library manuscript was made and preserved in the Al-Asad Library in Damascus. Unfortunately, I was not able to consult the Al-Asad Library microfilm in time to include its contents in my study, nor was I even able to ascertain its authenticity. Given the unpredictable history associated with al-Fārābī’s commentary, it should be confirmed first, that the Al-Asad copy is indeed a commentary on Ptolemy’s Almagest, and second, that it is by al-Fārābī himself and does not consist in another misattribution.

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