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Dean's Lecture, 2/20: “The Political and Philosophical Significance of Alfarabi’s Political Regime”
Who: Charles Butterworth, Department of Government & Politics, University of Maryland, College Park
What: Dean’s Lecture Series
Title: “The Political and Philosophical Significance of Alfarabi’s Political Regime”
Where: Great Hall, Peterson Student Center, St. John’s College
When: Friday, February 20, 8 p.m.
Details: This lecture is free of charge, open to the public, and followed by a question and answer period.
The Political Regime begins abruptly with a detailed account of the universe from something like a neo-Platonist perspective. There is no introduction, nor any attempt to explain what the book is about. The detailed account of the universe is followed by a general overview of political life and then a taxonomy of imperfect cities. They are imperfect because their inhabitants turn away from conduct that would allow them to achieve human perfection and that would be in accord with the order sketched out in the earlier parts of the treatise. Yet simple reflection reveals that no regime adheres to that order. If all existing political regimes are thus flawed, what can be done to transform them into an admirable regime? Or is the work better understood as a treatise on metaphysics rather than on politics?
Emeritus professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, Charles Butterworth specializes in medieval Arabic and Islamic political philosophy. He has lectured and taught at universities in Egypt, the West Bank, Gaza, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Zaire, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Belorussia, France, Germany, Hungary, and Ukraine. Professor Butterworth’s publications include critical editions of most of the Middle Commentaries written by Averroes on Aristotle’s logic; translations of books and treatises by Averroes, Alfarabi, and Alrazi, as well as Maimonides; and studies of different aspects of the political teaching of these and other thinkers in the ancient, medieval, and modern tradition of philosophy. Butterworth received his B.A. from Michigan State University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science at the University of Chicago.