Philosophical Humanism in The Tenth Century: Miskawayh's Concept of Justice and Benevolence
A cultural revival of Islam took place in the tenth and eleventh centuries in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Baghdad under the Buyid dynasty. There were two strands of humanism that prevailed in this period, one was literary and the other philosophical. This paper is concerned about the philosophical strand of humanism. The Greek philosophical works, especially of Plato and Aristotle, had a profound impact on Arabic philosophers. The first Muslim philosopher t have absorbed Greek ethics and to have written his own treatise, The Refinement, was Miskawayh (422/1030). This work is representative of Islamic humanistic ethics, and it became an important source for later figures, especially, al-Raghib al-Isfahani (453/1060) from Isfahan, and Nasir al-din al-Tusi (673/1274) from Tus. More specifically, the paper will deal with Miskawayh's concept of justice and benevolence, and it will attempt to show where he is in agreement with Greek concepts of justice, and were he differs. The paper concludes with the relevance of Miskawayh's critique of Aristotle's concept of justice, which has shaped modern conceptions of human rights. It proposes an alternative, more humanistic conception theory of justice for today.
Keywords: Ethics, Aristotle, Plato, Miskawayh, The Refinement, Justice, Benevolence, Humanistic, Human rights, Philosophical
Yasien Alli Mohamed
Associate Professor and Chairperson, Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Arts, University of the Western Cape,