A Critical Investigation of the Platonic Influence on Early Arab Philosophers’ Notion of Creative Control. The Waqwaq Way: A Novel

Roshan Lall, Rashmee (2020) A Critical Investigation of the Platonic Influence on Early Arab Philosophers’ Notion of Creative Control. The Waqwaq Way: A Novel. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis investigates the impact of Plato’s views on mimesis on early Arab philosophers. Using historical, literary and philosophical methodologies, I examine the development of ideas about art and creative expression from the Quranic period through to the Abbasid age, the second Muslim dynasty. It is argued that in the Abbasid period there was a change from the early Muslims’ enthusiasm for philosophical inquiry and artistic freedom in the secular space. My research traces the circulation and influence of Platonic ideas, especially on Al Farabi, who is considered the Arab world’s most original thinker. The thesis draws upon existing historical scholarship on Islam’s early period and commentaries on Platonic philosophy and Islamic philosophy and theology and also takes into account the changing attitude to images within the larger regional context of the eastern Mediterranean.

Al Farabi’s writings show that ideas about controlling creative expression were in circulation in the mediaeval Arab world. Among Muslim philosophers, Al Farabi hewed most closely to Platonic principles, formulating a political philosophy that naturalised Plato’s imaginary ideal state for the world to which he belonged. Like Plato, Al Farabi argued that creative expression should support the ideal ruler of the ideal state. I suggest that Al Farabi was the point at which Platonic ideas influenced the way Muslim thinkers responded to creative expression.

The creative work, The Waqwaq Way, engages with the critical investigation in several ways. The framing narrative is the Worldwide Conclave of the Faithful, a first in Islam’s history. The Conclave discusses the state of Islam and the daring prospect of “unreform” or the reversal of puritanical measures. One of the novel’s main characters is an admirer of Al Farabi’s intellectual prowess. And the mediaeval Inkwell, the fount of every story ever told, provides guidance on the argument about creative expression.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing (former - to 2011)
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2022 13:43
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 13:43
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/89973


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