A Study of the Views of Farabi and Ibn Sina on the Definition of Happiness and Its Relation to the Faculties of the Soul

Document Type : Research Paper


Professor of Theology at Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University, Iran


This research is an attempt to compare the views of Farabi and Ibn Sina on the question of happiness, which is discussed in two parts: the definition of happiness and its relation to the faculties of the soul. Farabi has suggested five definitions and Ibn Sina one definition for happiness. It will be shown that in some respects the definition of Ibn Sina and in some others those of Farabi are more to the point. In regard to semantics, Farabi uses a few terms such as good, joy, and true wisdom, while Ibn Sina employs such terms as joy, perfection, good, reward, and achievement as equal to happiness. In regard to the relationship between happiness and the faculties of the soul, Farabi holds that experiencing happiness is confined to the theoretical rational faculty of the soul and the other faculties cannot understand happiness, whereas Ibn Sina argues that all the faculties of the soul have the ability to acquire happiness, and the happiness of each faculty lies in the actuality of its potentials.


Aristotle. 1999. Nicomachean Ethics. 2nd. Translated by Terence Irwin. Hackett Publishing Company.
Bahmanyar. 1375Sh. Al-Tahsil. 2nd. Edited by Mortaza Motahhari. Tehran: Tehran University.
Farabi, Abu Nasr. 1405AH. Fusus Al-Hikmah [The Bezels of Wisdom]. Edited by Ja'far Al-Yasin. Qom: Bidar.
———. 1366Sh. Al-Siyasat al-madaniyah, [Civil Politics]. Tehran: A-Zahra Publication.
———. 1992. Al-A'mal al-falsafiyya. Introduced and Edited by Ja'far Al-Yasin. Beirut: Dar Al-Manahil.
———. 1999. Ara' ahl al-madinah al-fadila [The Utopians' Opinions]. Edited by Fo'ad Sezgin. Institute of the History of Islamic and Arabic Sciences.
Ibn Sina. 1400AH. Rasa'il al-Shaykh al-Ra’is Abi ‘Ali al-Husayn ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Sina [The Treatises of Ibn Sina]. Qom: Bidar.
———. 1403AH. Al-Isharat wa al-tanbihat [Allusions and Admonitions]. Qom: Daftar Nashr al-Kitab.
———. 1363Sh. Al-Mabda' wa al-ma'ad [The Origin and Return]. Edited by Abdollah Nurani, Tehran: Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University with the corporation of Tehran University.
———. 1420AH. Al-Falsafat al-Islamiyya. Edited by Fo'ad Sezgin. Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences.
Mulla Sadra, n.d. Al-Asfar al-arba'ah, [Four Journeys]. Qom: Mostafavi Publication.