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Eriko Okamoto: Al-Fārābī and the division between theory and practice: the case of music
January 7, 2022 @ 14:00 - 16:00 CET
The 10th-century philosopher Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī was interested in, among other subjects, the classification of different sciences. In several of his works, he follows Aristotle’s approach to dividing philosophy into theoretical and practical sciences. Yet, in other works, al-Fārābī argues that some sciences have both theoretical and practical components. One such science is music. In some works, he classifies it as a theoretical science (as part of mathematics), while in other works, he introduces a bipartite division of the science of music as having both theoretical and practical parts. How are we to make sense of this seeming difference in his approach? And, thinking about his bipartite division of music, how do the theoretical and practical relate to each other? This talk attempts to address the tension between his two approaches as well as to analyze how the two parts of music are different yet interrelated, examining their nature, methods, and subject matters as explicated by al-Fārābī in the following works: Kitāb al-mūsīqā al-kabīr, Iḥṣā’ al-‘ulūm, and Kitāb al-burhān.
Eriko Okamoto is a PhD candidate in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC. She is currently a Research Associate at the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Williams College, Massachusetts. She holds a BA in Philosophy from University of Dayton, Ohio. For the academic year 2020-2021, she was a recipient of the Templeton Foundation Doctoral Fellowship for the Theology, Science, and Knowledge project at the Philosophy Department at University of Missouri, St. Louis. Currently she is writing her dissertation on the 10th-century philosopher Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī’s theory of knowledge.