Greek thought in arab ethics: Miskawayh's theory of justice

07 Oct 2009

Miskawayh (d. 1030) was the first Arab philosopher to have written a substantial work on ethics, The Refinement of Character, which had a great impact on the development of Islamic philosophical ethics after him. In this paper we examine his theory of justice, and the manner in which he appropriated Greek notions of justice. Miskawayh deals with the justice to the self as understood in Platonic psychology, and justice to others as understood by Aristotle. He harmonised these two concepts of justice by embracing the Aristotelian notion of justice and integrated it within the framework of Platonic psychology. I also show how Miskawayh introduced Islamic elements to bring his theory of justice more in line with the Islamic tradition.