Kindī, al- [Abū Yūsuf Ya‘qūb]
- Owen Wright
[Abū Yūsuf Ya‘qūb]
(b ?c801; d ?c866). Arab philosopher and theorist. He was a figure of great importance in the early development of Islamic philosophy. His father was the governor of Kufa, and he was educated at Basra, a lively intellectual centre at the time. During the reigns of al-Ma’mūn (818–33) and al-Mu‘taṣim (833–42) he was attached to the Abbasid court in Baghdad, coming into close contact with the scholars who were beginning to make Greek philosophical works available in Arabic. Known as the ‘philosopher of the Arabs’, he was a prolific author with wide-ranging interests, and his works include a number of short treatises on music, at least five of which have survived. Reflecting his general receptiveness to the Aristotelian, neo-Platonic and Pythagorean traditions, they are eclectic in approach and cover a rather wider range of subjects than many later writings.
His analysis of intervals and scales uses Greek concepts such as the Greater Perfect System, but the presentation is in terms of strings and frettings on the indigenous ...