Averroes, Qadi al-Qurtubi & al-Sebilla

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Abu ’l-Walīd Muḥammad ibn Rus̲h̲d, Qadi al-Qurtubi, al-Sebilla

Also Known As: "ibn Rus̲h̲d", "Averroes", "Abu ’l-Walīd Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad ibn Rus̲h̲d"
Birthplace: Córdoba, Córdoba, Andalusia, Spain
Death: circa 1198 (63-80)
Marrakesh, Marrakesh, Marrakesh-Tensift-Al Haouz, Morocco
Immediate Family:

Son of Abū Bakr Yaʿīs̲h̲ ben Muhammad ibn Yaʿīs̲h̲, haNasi, Qadi of Toledo and unknown Saffiya bint Abu l'Hasan
Father of Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdallāh Ibn Rus̲h̲d, Qadi

Managed by: Private User
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About Averroes, Qadi al-Qurtubi & al-Sebilla

Abu ’l-walīd muḥammad b. aḥmad b. muḥammad b. rus̲h̲d, al-ḥafīd (the grandson), the “Commentator of Aristotle”, famous in the Mediaeval West under the name of Averroes, scholar of the Ḳurʾānic sciences and the natural sciences (physics, medicine, biology, astronomy), theologian and philosopher.

I. Life . He was born at Cordova in 520/1126 and died at Marrākus̲h̲ in 595/1198. The Arabic biographical sources are: Ibn al-Abbār, Takmila , BAH, vi, no. 853; Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, ʿUyūn ; al-Anṣāri, supplement to the dictionaries of Ibn Bas̲h̲kuwāl and of Ibn al-Abbār (notice published in the complete works of Renan, iii, 329); al-D̲h̲ahabī, Annales (ibid., 345); ʿAbd al-Wāḥid al-Marrākus̲h̲ī, Muʿd̲j̲ib .

Ibn Rus̲h̲d belonged to an important Spanish family. His grandfather (d. 520/1126), a Mālikī juris-consult who was also trained in Jewish Jurisprudence, had been ḳāḍī and imām of the Great Mosque of Cordova. His father was also a ḳāḍī. The biographers stress the excellent juridical education of the future Commentator; his teacher was al-Ḥāfiẓ Abū Muḥammad ibn Rizḳ and he became very competent in the science of k̲h̲ilāf (controversies and contradictions in the legal sciences). He learned by heart the Muwaṭṭāʾ . Ibn al-Abbār mentions that he studied “a little” with Ibn Bas̲h̲kuwāl, which implies that he touched on the science of the traditions of the Prophet; but the same author says that the science of law and of the principles ( uṣūl ), dirāya , interested him more than the science of traditions, riwāya . He worked also on As̲h̲ʿarī kalām which he was later to criticize. In medicine, he was the pupil of Abū D̲j̲aʿfar Hārūn al-Tad̲j̲ālī (of Trujillo), who was in addition a teacher of ḥadīt̲h̲ (cf. ʿUyūn ). Ibn al-Abbār mentions another of his teachers, Abū Marwān ibn Ḏj̲urrayūl (notice no. 1714), who (he says) was one of the foremost practitioners of his art. The biographers do not mention philosophic studies. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa limits himself to reporting, following al-Bād̲j̲ī, that Averroes studied “philosophical sciences” ( al-ʿulūm al-ḥikmiyya ) with the physician Abū Ḏj̲aʿfar. Ibn al-Abbār mentions in passing that he “inclined towards the sciences of the Ancients ( ʿulūm al-awāʾil )”, probably an allusion to his knowledge of Greek thought.

In 548/1153, Averroes was at Marrākus̲h̲. Renan supposes that he was occupied there in carrying out the intentions of the Almohad ʿAbd al-Muʾmin “in the building of colleges which he was founding at This time”. It is known, through the Commentary of the De Caelo , that he was engaged there in astronomical observations. It is perhaps to This period of his life that he is referring in the Commentary of book Λ of the Metaphysics , when he speaks of the researches which must be done on the movements of the planets in order to found an astronomy which would be physical and not only mathematical: “I hoped in my youth that it would be possible for me to carry out This research successfully; but now that I am old, I have lost This hope...”. It is possible that he met at This time Ibn Ṭufayl, who was to play an important part in his career as a philosopher by presenting him to Abū Yaʿḳūb Yūsuf, the successor of ʿAbd al-Muʾmin. Al-Marrākus̲h̲ī ( Muʿd̲j̲ib , ed. Dozy, 174-5) obtained the account of This interview from a pupil of Ibn Rus̲h̲d, who reported the actual words of his teacher. The prince questioned Averroes on the sky: is it a substance which has existed from all eternity, or did it have a beginning? (It is known that, ever since Plato’s Timaeus and the De Caelo and the Metaphysics of Aristotle down to Proclus and Johannes Philoponus (Yaḥyā al-Naḥwī), This problem had been fiercely debated). Ibn Rus̲h̲d was worried by This dangerous question, but Yūsuf understood This and began a discussion with Ibn Ṭufayl, displaying a wide knowledge of the ancient philosophers and of the theologians. Put thus at ease, Ibn Rus̲h̲d in his turn began to speak and was able to show the extent of his learning. He received rewards and thenceforth enjoyed the prince’s favour. This event may be dated to 1169 or slightly earlier. Al-Marrākus̲h̲i also tells us that the Commander of the Faithful complained to Ibn Ṭufayl of the obscurity of the texts of Aristotle and of their translations. He wished them to be clearly explained. It is said that Ibn Ṭufayl, considering himself to be too old and too busy, asked Averroes to undertake the work.

Averroes remained in favour throughout the reign of Abū Yaʿḳūb Yūsuf (558-80/1163-84). In 565/1169, he was ḳāḍī of Seville (Muʿd̲j̲ib, 222). In a passage in the fourth book of the De partibus animalium, completed in that year, he points out the duties of his post, and the fact that he was separated from his books which remained in Cordova, all things which made difficult the writing of his paraphrase (Munk, 422). In 567/1171, he was back at Cordova, still as ḳāḍī. During This period he increased his rate of production of commentaries in spite of his numerous obligations: he travelled to various towns of the Almohad empire, in particular to Seville, from which he dates several of his works between 1169 and 1179.

In 578/1182, at Marrākus̲h̲, he succeeded Ibn Ṭufayl as chief physician to Abū Yaʿḳūb Yūsuf (Tornberg, Annales Regum Mauritaniae , 182). Then he received the office of chief ḳāḍī of Cordova.

During the reign of Yaʿḳūb al-Manṣūr (580-95/1184-99), Ibn Rus̲h̲d still enjoyed the prince’s favour. It was only during the last years (from 1195) that he fell into disgrace. Several stories exist on this matter. It seems that the caliph, at that time engaged in Spain in a war against the Christians, thought it advisable to gain the support of the fuḳahāʾ , who had long imposed on the people their rigorous orthodoxy (cf. D. Macdonald, Development of Muslim theology, New York 1903, 255). Indeed, not only was Averroes banished to Lucena, near Cordova, and his doctrine pronounced anathema following his appearance before a tribunal consisting of the chief men of Cordova, but edicts were issued ordering that philosophical works be burned and forbidding these studies, which were considered dangerous to religion. Those who were jealous of Ibn Rus̲h̲d or doctrinally opposed to him took advantage of the occasion to criticize him in vulgar epigrams, which have been published and translated by Munk (427-8 and 517).

But once he had returned to Marrākus̲h̲, to a Berber milieu which was less sensitive on matters of doctrine, the caliph repealed all these edicts and summoned the philosopher again to his court. Ibn Rus̲h̲d did not have long to enjoy this return to favour, since he died in Marrākus̲h̲ on 9 Ṣafar 595/11 December 1198. He was buried there outside the gate of Tag̲h̲zut. Later his body was taken to Cordova, where the mystic Ibn al-ʿArabī, still a young man, was present at his funeral (cf. H. Corbin, L’imagination créatrice dans le soufisme d’Ibn ʿArabī , 32-8).

II. Works . The chronology of the works of Averroes has been established by M. Alonso ( La cronología en las obras de Averroes , in Miscelanea Camillas , i (1943), 411-60). When Ibn Rus̲h̲d was presented to the caliph Yūsuf, he had already written some paraphrases or short commentaries ( d̲j̲awāmiʿ ) on the Organon , the Physics and the Metaphysics, as well as the first redaction of his great medical work, the Colliget ( al-Kulliyyāt , the Book of Generalities), requesting his friend Abū Marwān Ibn Zuhr to write a book on the “particularities” ( al-umūr al-d̲j̲uzʾiyya , therapeutics), “so that their two works together should form a complete treatise on the art of medicine” (Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa). He continued to write the short or middle commentaries ( talk̲h̲īṣ ) between 1169 and 1178. But from 1174 to 1180 was the period in which his original works were produced: “Treatises on the intellect”, De substantia orbis, Faṣl al-maḳāl , Kas̲h̲f al-manāhid̲j̲ , Tahāfut al-Tahāfut . The great commentaries ( tafsīr ) did not begin until later. M. Cruz Hernandez ( La filosofía árabe , Madrid 1963, 253) has produced a clear outline of the various tendencies which have governed the study of Averroes’s work. Whereas for the Latin schoolmen Averroes is essentially the Commentator: Averroes, che ’l gran comento feo (Dante, Inferno , iv, 144), Renan points out the differences which can exist between the ideas contained in the commentaries and often presented as those of Aristotle, and the personal ideas of the philosopher. Nevertheless, even where Ibn Rus̲h̲d marks This distinction, Renan’s attitude is “This may have been only a precaution to allow him to express his philosophical ideas more freely under the cover of someone else” ( Oeuvres complètes , iii, 61). A little later (67), on the subject of the Tahāfut , he claims that “the doctrine set out in it is, on several points, in flagrant contradiction with that of Ibn Rus̲h̲d”. It is true that he bases his judgement on the Latin version, in which he suspects there are interpolations. For him, as for the followers of Averroes in the Middle Ages, the Arab thinker is the one who revealed in Aristotle a rationalist method and doctrine, which as such were opposed to religious dogmas. This being so, Renan, following his preconceptions, considers the theological writings as artifices intended to deceive or to provide a challenge to the inquisition of the Māl̄ikī fuḳahāʾ . An examination of the biography and the work of Averroes shows that This assessment is entirely without foundation. Munk, on his side, has attempted to extract from the commentaries Ibn Rus̲h̲d’s own ideas. Asín Palacios, studying the theoĺogical Averroism of St. Thomas Aquinas, considers that the philosopher’s personal ideas are to be found in the Tahāfut, the Faṣl and the Kas̲h̲f . Gauthier takes a middle line; he himself has produced a summing up of the question ( La théorie d’Ibn Rochd , 1-18) and, demonstrating the importance of the theory of prophethood, he ends (180-1) by attributing to Ibn Rus̲h̲d a doctrine fundamentally analogous to that of al-Fārābī on the philosopher and the prophet: “the double expression of one and the same truth, in terms which are abstract and clear on the one hand, in sensitive and symbolic terms on the other, philosophy and religion will thus exist side by side, without ever clashing, since, addressing themselves to two different categories of mind, their fields will remain entirely separate”. Cruz Hernandez concludes his investigation by showing the absurdity of making a priori a choice between the philosopher and the theologian. Since Averroes was never forced to dissimulate his ideas, he considers that one must admit the sincerity of the whole work and the fundamental unity of the thought it expresses.

Only a small number of works in Arabic survive. The majority have been preserved only in Latin or Hebrew translations. Some manuscripts give the Arabic text in Hebrew characters. Brockelmann gives (I, 461 f., S I, 833-6, I2, 604 f.) a list of the manuscripts, editions and translations. M. Bouyges, Note sur les philosophes arabes connus des latins, v, a list of the Arabic texts of Averroes, in MFO, viii/1 (1922), may also be consulted. Among the work” in Arabic which are known so far to have survived are: short or middle commentaries on the Physics ( al-Samāʿ al-ṭabīʿī ); on the De Caelo et mundo ( al-Samāʾ wa ’l-ʿālam ); on the De Generatione et corruptione ( al-Kawn wa ’l-fasād ); on the Meteorologica ( al-Āt̲h̲ār al-ʿulwiyya ); on the De Anima ( al-Nafs ); on metaphysical questions ( Mā baʿd al-ṭabīʿa ); on the De Sensu et Sensibilibus ( al-ʿAḳl wa ’l-maʿḳūl ), the great Commentary on the Metaphysics ( Tafsīr ..., ed. M. Bouyges, Beirut 1938-48), the Faṣl al-maḳāl and the Ḍamīma (ed. with Fr. tr. L. Gauthier, Traité décisif , Algiers 1948, ed. G. F. Hourani, Leiden 1959), the Kas̲h̲f ʿan manāhid̲j̲ al-adilla (ed. with German tr., with the Faṣl, by M. J. Müller, Philosophie und T̲h̲eologie von Averroës , Münich, text 1859, tr. 1875). There should also be mentioned the research and publications of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Badawī in Cairo.

III. The thought of Averroes. It seems certain that Ibn Rus̲h̲d approached philosophy through the theoretical sciences. As a jurist, he was interested in the uṣūl (on This question, see R. Brunschvig, Averroès juriste, in Etudes ... Lévi-Provençal , i, Paris 1962, 35-68). Ibn al-Abbār mentions the important Kitāb Bidāyat al-mud̲j̲tahid wa-nihāyat al-muḳtaṣid fi ’l-fiḳh , and adds: “In it he gives the reasons for divergences, demonstrates their motivations and justifies them”. What interested him in law was a strictness of thought which, without going as far as that of philosophical syllogism, entailed a well-defined method of reasoning and a logic. On the other hand, it is known that he received his first education in philosophy from a physician. At the end of his book on the Generalities ( Colliget ), he stresses the method followed and writes: “We have assembled, in our propositions, the individual facts and the general questions ... Whoever has grasped the generalities which we have written is capable of understanding what is correct and what is erroneous in the therapeutics of the writers of kunnās̲h̲ ” ( ʿUyūn ). At the time when he was writing the Colliget, Averroes was studying the Organon and the Physics, which naturally led him to formulate the metaphysical problem. He thus saw in Aristotle mainly the logician who follows a strict method of demonstration, the scholar who starts from the concrete in order to explain it by linking it with general propositions. He was to grasp even better the theory of knowledge when writing a commentary on the Posterior Analytics (1170). This approach led him to discover the true Aristotle, and he thus learned to distinguish it from the image of him given by the Greek commentators such as Alexander of Aphrodisias and the Muslim falāsifa such as Ibn Sinā. This is why he criticized so vigorously the philosophy of Ibn Sinā, while respecting the medical work of his predecessor (he wrote a commentary on his medical poem al-Urd̲j̲ūza fi ’l-ṭibb ). Among the other philosophers, he was interested in the ideas of al-Fārābī on logic and was inspired by his moral and political doctrines in the commentary which he wrote on Plato’s Republic . But he was chiefly in the tradition of Ibn Bād̲j̲d̲j̲a, and wrote a commentary on his Risāla on union with the Intellect and on his book on the “Régime of the solitary”. His relations with Ibn Ṭufayl are well known: Ibn Rus̲h̲d wrote a commentary on Ḥayy b. Yaḳẓān [q.v.]. There are definite similarities between the two philosophers, but although both recognize the convergence of the two independent attitudes inherent in philosophy and revealed faith, in Ibn Ṭufayl the duality of the persons Ḥayy and Absāl who represent them (This is resolved, at the end of the myth, in a common life devoted to contemplation far from human society) leads to a mystic vision of knowledge, which is not at all to be found in Ibn Rus̲h̲d, as Renan has clearly pointed out.

A. The theologico-philosophic treatises. It may be considered that they were written in the following order: Faṣl al-maḳāl and its appendix the Ḍamīma, Kas̲h̲f al-manāhid̲j̲ (575/1179, which mentions the Faṣl), Tahāfut al-Tahāfut (which does not mention either of the two preceding works and which, according to Bouyges, was not written before 1180).

(a) The Faṣl al-maḳāl wa-taḳrīb mā bayn al-s̲h̲arīʿa wa ’l-ḥikma min al-ittiṣāl (“An authoritative treatise and exposition of the convergence which exists between the religious law and philosophy”). Ibn Rus̲h̲d begins by giving a definition of philosophy entirely in accordance with the Ḳurʾānic recommendations. He himself quotes verses LIX, 2 and VII, 184, among others. It is a rational view of creation which leads to the knowledge of the Creator. These sacred texts are interpreted as a recommendation to use either purely rational inferences ( ḳiyās ʿaḳlī ), or to use them together with inferences based on the Law ( ḳiyās s̲h̲arʿī ). Thus the Law establishes the legitimacy of rational speculation ( naẓār ), whose method reaches perfection with demonstrative syllogism ( burhān ). Here Averroes was involved in a quarrel among the theologians about the definition of faith and what part it should play in intellectual knowledge. His reply is clear: “The Law imposes an obligation on the believer, since it must be obeyed when it commands rational speculation about beings: that is, before undertaking rational speculation, to proceed by degrees and to take account of what plays the same part in relation to speculation as instruments do in relation to action”. This is less a fides quaerens intellectum than a perfect faith which embraces rational knowledge. It demands the knowledge of the ḳiyās ʿaḳlī, which is indispensable to the true knowledge of God, as it demands also that of the ḳiyās fiḳhī , thanks to which, in matters of law, it is possible to know exactly the Divine commandments. Nevertheless This obligation is bounded by the intellectual capacity of each person, since God never imposes more than an individual soul is able to carry out.

But Ibn Rus̲h̲d states that a study of this magnitude cannot be made without taking previous research into account. Thus the pursuit of the above reasoning involves the obligation to examine the works of the ancients (cf. a similar idea developed by Fak̲h̲r al-Dīn al-Rāzī in his Mafātīḥ al-g̲h̲ayb , introduction). It is therefore contrary to the Law to forbid such an examination, provided that the person carrying it out possesses d̲h̲akāʾ al-fiṭra (a technical term, derived from a Ḳurʾānic root, to indicate a gift which is given to man of remembering things and recognizing the truth, which may be translated by “a keen sense of the truth”), and al-ʿadāla al-s̲h̲arʿīyya accompanied by ethical virtue, that is a religious and moral qualification defined by the Law. But not all men accept proof by demonstration: some give their assent ( taṣdīḳ ) only to dialectical discourses ( al-aḳāwīl al-d̲j̲adaliyya ), others only to rhetorical discourses ( k̲h̲iṭābiyya ). God speaks to men through these three types of discourse in order to reach them all (cf. Ḳurʾān, XVI, 126). If rational research ends in a truth which is not mentioned in the Ḳurʾān, there is no problem; it is the same as in law (This new comparison with fiḳh deserves to be noted), when there are inferred by a juridical syllogism aḥkām which are not to be found in the text of the revealed Law. In cases where the Ḳurʾān does not employ rational demonstration, either it is, in its manifest meaning, in agreement with the conclusion of the syllogism, and there is no difficulty, or else it is in apparent disagreement, and it is then necessary to make an interpretation ( taʾwīl ) of the literal meaning in a figurative ( mad̲j̲āzī ) meaning, in accordance with the usual practice of the Arabic language. In all This Ibn Rus̲h̲d’s thought follows the best established categories of Muslim hermeneutics. This, he points out, is what the jurists do; for them it is simply a case of making a text agree with the conclusion of a syllogism of opinion ( ḳiyās ẓannī ); the taʾwīl of the philosopher has a much stronger title to legitimacy, since it produces an agreement between a text and a syllogism which is certain ( ḳiyās yaḳīnī ). Thus there takes place a union between what derives from reason and what derives from tradition ( al-d̲j̲amʿ bayn al-maʿḳūl wa ’l-manḳūl ), and This is the aim of Ibn Rus̲h̲d. The Ḳurʾān itself distinguishes the passages which need interpretation from those which are to be accepted ¶ as they stand: on the one hand, the āyāt mutaṣḥābihāt , on the other, the āyāt muḥkamāt (Ḳurʾān, III, 7), the verses which have several meanings and those which have a clear and precise meaning. The taʾwīl of these ambiguous verses is known only to God Himself and to those who have a solid grounding in scholarship. Ibn Rus̲h̲d reads This text as a justification of taʾwīl for men of true scholarship (cf. L. Gauthier, La théorie , 59 f., on the two possible readings). To determine what should be interpreted and what should be understood literally, Averroes does not have recourse to consensus ( id̲j̲māʿ [q.v.]), which he criticizes with arguments curiously reminiscent of those of Ibn Ḥazm on the impossibility of establishing concrete proof of its existence (cf. R. Brunschvig, Averroès juriste, 47). On This subject Averroes deals briefly with a question disputed among the jurists: that of takfīr , an accusation of infidelity; he considers that the excommunications launched against the philosophers should not be regarded as takfīrḳaṭʿan (or ʿalā ṭarīḳ al-ḳaṭʿ i.e., a decisive condemnation against which there is no appeal). It is known that more tolerant persons practised the takfīr ʿalā ṭarīḳ al-tag̲h̲līẓ as a severe measure. But in the case of the philosophers, they cannot be accused of infidelity on the strength of the consensus, since God restricts the use of taʾwīl to scholars in particular. It cannot be a question of a consensus communis ( id̲j̲māʿ mustafīd ) accessible to all. Here Ibn Rus̲h̲d uses the technicality of the law to support the cause of the philosophers whom he is defending. Thus he attacks the takfīr that al-G̲h̲azālī launched against the falāsifa . Then he reverses the positions and shows that it is often the mutakallimūn , the theologians, who make undue use of tāʾwīl , for example over the verses (XI, 9) concerning the Creation: the Ḳurʾān manifestly teaches that the Throne and the Water existed before This world, and that before the six days there existed a period which is the number of the sphere. It is not, of course, impossible that the philosopher may be wrong on such difficult questions ( fi ’l-as̲h̲yāʾ al-ʿawīṣa ). But he may be excused and he will nevertheless have his reward, like the judge who blunders when performing id̲j̲tihād , since in This case his error is an involuntary one ( k̲h̲aṭāʾ ) which may creep in even when a duty is being performed.

Thus there are in the Law texts which are to be taken in their ẓāhir and to interpret which would be to lapse into unbelief ( kufr ) or heretical innovation ( bidʿa ); there are also texts which it is obligatory for scholars to interpret, but concerning which, for those who are not scholars, on the other hand, taʾwīl is a kufr or a bidʿa (This is what happens to theologians who do not make use of rational demonstration); finally, there are texts concerning which there is doubt: thus the verses on the future life are to be understood literally so far as regards the affirmation of its existence but they admit of different opinions as regards the qualification ( ṣifa ) given to them by scholars, whereas the common man must adhere to the literal meaning. The scholars, for their part, must not “popularize” their learning in the form of dialectical, rhetorical or poetic writings; they must write only works of demonstration ( kutub al-barāhīn ) so that they will be accessible only to those who are capable of following such demonstration. Al-G̲h̲azālī did not follow This rule and was therefore in error, though his intentions were good. The books written by scholars must be forbidden to the ordinary man by the leaders of the community.

Faith involves an assent (taṣdīḳ) to a representation ( taṣawwur ). This assent is in response, according ¶ to temperament, to a demonstrative, dialectical or rhetorical argument. The representation leads to a grasp of either the thing itself or its image ( mit̲h̲āl ). Revelation, being addressed to a larger number, makes very little use of demonstration. It can happen that premises based on opinion may also be certain ( yaḳīna ). In This case, and if no term used in the conclusion is understood in a figurative sense (representing the image of the thing), the text must be understood literally. But if the conclusion is in figurative terms, then interpretation is necessary. If the premises are based entirely on opinion and if the conclusion affects the things themselves, the premises may be interpreted, but not the conclusion. Finally, if the premises consist only of opinion and the conclusion is figurative, scholars have an obligation to interpret, but the ordinary man may not go beyond the literal meaning. Otherwise, in This case, it would be turning away from the letter a mind which had access to nothing else, and since the text contains only opinions and figurative meanings, it would no longer offer any support to a person unable to find other support elsewhere. Thus his faith would be destroyed.

There is therefore only one truth, and strictly speaking there cannot be two different expressions of one single truth as though it were spoken in two languages, that of reason and that of imagination, for that would only introduce different types of taṣawwur . Ibn Rus̲h̲d’s original contribution is to stress thus the importance of adherence to the truth. Men understand it through the ways ( ṭuruḳ ) which gain their assent; the majority consent to something because of what they themselves are, rather than because of what the thing itself is. Their truth is subjective. Incapable of adopting a rational objective attitude which would govern their personal reactions, they have to have their personal sensibility affected in order to accept what is proposed to them. Consequently it is necessary that the dialectical or rhetorical approaches which they follow should lead them to a representation of the truth, either actual or figurative, which they can accept and adopt, so that their subjective attitude does not lead them into erroneous representations. This is realized in the Ḳurʾān. But going beyond this, scholars, through tāʾwīl , find the way of reason which leads to the understanding of the truth itself. They verify at the same time the agreement of Law and Reason, of religion and philosophy, while the common man profits from this agreement without knowing that it exists. But it is necessary to respect the situation of the ordinary man and not to reveal to him anything of the interpretations. To act in any other way is to give rise to sects, and this was the error in particular of the Muʿtazila and the As̲h̲ʿarīs. The majority of people should be taught only the general methods which the Ḳurʾān has revealed and used for them. The special method which the Holy Book suggests for those who are capable of it should be reserved for scholars. To conclude, the agreement of the maʿḳūl and the manḳūl is not that of two formulations, of two expressions, of two equivalent types of representation. It is the fact that different types of mind can arrive at the same truth; it is the practical agreement of two methods in order to arrive at a single practical conclusion, one of them being no more than This, the other based also on a theoretical demonstration and a speculative knowledge. It is thus that, to take an example which is not in Ibn Rus̲h̲d, the same problem may be solved and the same result arrived at by arithmetic or by algebra, although the arithmetical method, remaining at the level of real intuition, ¶ produces a better understanding of the concrete relations between facts than does the algebraic method, consisting of the manipulation of conventional signs.

The Faṣl al-maḳāl is therefore a treatise on methodology. The problematical element is that of all Muslim thinking: that of the jurisconsults, the grammarians and the Ḳurʾānic commentators, and indeed the theologians. Averroes employs the technical vocabulary in use among these scholars. But he very skilfully manipulates all these ideas within a logical framework borrowed from the Greeks, which can later easily be applied to the problems of philosophy: it is the framework of Aristotle’s Organon , rational demonstration ( Analytics ), dialectical reasoning ( Topics ), rhetorical argument ( Rhetoric and to a lesser degree Poetics ), with, discernible at times in the background, allusions to sophistics.

(b) The Kitāb al-Kas̲h̲f ʿan manāhid̲j̲ al-adilla fī ʿaḳāʾid al-milla wa taʿrīf mā waḳaʿa fīhā bi ḥasb al-taʾwīl min al-s̲h̲ubah al-muzayyifa wa’l-bidāʾ al-muḍilla (“Exposition of the methods of demonstration relative to the dogmas of religion, and definition of the equivocations and innovations which appear in them as methods of interpretation and which distort truth or lead into error”). This treatise foreshadows the Tahāfut still more clearly than the preceding one, whose general conclusions it evokes in its introduction. Its aim is to show that the theories of the sects satisfy neither the demands of scholarship nor the needs of the common man. It consists of five chapters. The first is devoted to the existence of God; in it the author examines the opinions of the Ḥas̲h̲wiyya, the As̲h̲ʿarīs, the Ṣūfīs and the Muʿtazila. For the first, faith is based entirely on the authority of the Book and owes nothing to reason: a question already dealt with in the Faṣl . The As̲h̲ʿarīs allow the use of reason but their methods are open to criticism. They prove the existence of God by the contingency of the world, which has come into existence ( muḥdat̲h̲ ). But the agent which brings it into existence ( muḥdit̲h̲ ) must have an eternal existence. Consequently its action is eternal and the effects of it also eternal. In order to escape this consequence, it is not possible to say with these theologians that the action of an eternal being has a beginning in time, since This would presuppose a cause which at first prevented This action from coming about, and then a cause which precipitated it. This cause, in its turn, is either eternal or situated within time. And so the reasoning continues, reminiscent of a similar argument of Fak̲h̲r al-Dīn al-Rāzī on tark and the murad̲j̲d̲j̲iḥ . There follows a criticism based more particularly on the atomism of This school. Averroes disagrees with a thesis which, in order to retain the absolute freedom of God, destroys His wisdom and the regular order of His providence. In addition, the As̲h̲ʿarī argument supposes that the universe, in its entirety, is formed in exactly the same way as the sublunary world which surrounds us, which is not proved (Aristotle gives to heaven and the heavenly bodies a separate situation). Ibn Rus̲h̲d also considers time— whether it is created or eternal. This recalls very early discussions which go back to Plato, Aristotle, to middle Platonism (Calvisius Taurus), Philo of Alexandria, Johannes Philoponus (Yaḥyā al-Naḥwī; cf. Ernst Behler, Die Ewigkeit der Welt ; J. Pouilloux and R. Arnaldez, Philon d’Alexandrie , De Aeternitate , Introduction, translation and notes). He examines critically the argument that the infinite cannot be crossed, which demands a point of first departure if one is to arrive at the present event. This is true for sequences in a straight line, but not for cyclic ¶ sequences where an initial point of departure is not apparent. Thus, evaporation is not the first origin of the clouds at any given moment in the sky, since in order to produce evaporation rain is necessary, itself produced by clouds. These clouds therefore stem from other clouds; the very nature of clouds does not permit the idea of any definitely first clouds. In rectilinear causality on the other hand (man gives birth to man), a point of departure is necessary. Nevertheless, if, in such a line, each cause were merely the instrument of an eternal agent, the present effect would result from the present action of This eternal agent, and it would exist even if This agent had made use of such instruments an infinity of times (cf. the double causality of Spinoza).

Ibn Rus̲h̲d devotes a special criticism to al-Ḏj̲uwaynī, accusing him of being unaware of the necessity of that which exists, which leads him to oppose Avicenna’s doctrine of the necessary by itself and the possible by itself (which is necessary by another). That which is possible by itself can never become necessary by means of its agent. Another argument of al-Ḏj̲uwaynī is that the world was created at a certain place within the infinite void; but any one part of the void is the same as another (cf. Leibnitz), therefore a free will is necessary to decide between one place and another. But, Averroes objects, it is essential to prove first that the void exists and that it is infinite and eternal, otherwise another void would be necessary to contain it.

Against the theory of the Ṣūfīs Ibn Rus̲h̲d admits that mystic training may help in the attainment of rational knowledge, but that it cannot replace it. Regarding the Muʿtazila, he states that he has found none of their books in Spain; he says nothing of them, and passes on to the Ḳurʾānic proofs. This is argument by means of Providence and by means of the creation of substances (animals, vegetables, heaven). Averroes underlines the generation of the organic starting from the inorganic; there is therefore an agent which gives life (This was to be stated in the Tafsīr of book Λ of the Metaphysics , see below). As for the heavens, they are commanded; it is the Ḳurʾānic idea of task̲h̲ir ( sak̲h̲k̲h̲ar Allāh , in many verses). The idea of the divine amr expressing the act of the unmoved Mover which commands without having to move itself was to be taken up again in the Tahāfut . These two types of proof concern the ordinary man, but the scholars give them demonstrative value, and they have a deeper and wider knowledge of the realities on which they base their demonstrations.

In the second chapter he studies the unity of God. The Ḳurʾān proves it by the unity of the government of the world, a proof which the scholars, and Averroes in particular, take up and go into deeply. The criticism of the As̲h̲ʿarī reasoning is subtle and technical. It is enough merely to mention it.

The third chapter deals with the attributes of God: knowledge, life, power, will, hearing, sight, speech. Ibn Rus̲h̲d distinguishes clearly between the Ḳurʾānic doctrine and the theories of the theologians who raise problems on which the Ḳurʾān is silent. Thus on knowledge: God knows what He has created, for there exist in creation an order and a wisdom which show that the Creator has knowledge. He must therefore know what will exist, what exists and what will perish. But although the Ḳurʾān presents God’s knowledge in This way, it is related only to man’s own experience of knowledge. But for man, the knowledge possessed by the subject who knows is, as has already been mentioned in the Faṣl , the effect of the object known ( maʿlūl li ’l-maʿlūm ). For the eternal knowledge which ¶ is creative, the reverse is true. Thus it is not possible, philosophically speaking, to raise the problem of the knowledge of future contingents in the same way for both God and man; however, in order to be understood, they have to be discussed in the same terms. There appears in This chapter a certain agnosticism, very Islamic, in particular in the matter of knowing whether the attributes may be reduced to the essence or whether they are added to it, whether they are nafsiyya (essential) or maʿnawiyya (qualificative). Ibn Rus̲h̲d dismisses as irrelevant both As̲h̲ʿarīs and Muʿtazila, and criticizes in passing the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (since it is with regard to the attributes that kalām attacks Christianity; cf. al-Bāḳillānī, Tamhīd , and Averroes himself, even in the Tafsīr of the Metaphysics, iii, 1620, 1623). This attitude becomes more firmly established as the treatise proceeds, for example in chapter 4, in the discussion on the corporeality of God, in which, in a surprising way, Ibn Rus̲h̲d condemns the Muʿtazila for their denial of any corporeality, and the As̲h̲ʿarīs for having sought a compromise solution. In fact the ordinary man has no idea at all of an incorporeal being, and these doctrines do not give it to him; he needs to address his prayers to a Being who exists somewhere, and the Ḳurʾān states that He is in heaven. Therefore it should be taught, with the Revelation, that God is Light, which solves the problem of the vision of God ( ruʾya ) in the next life. Furthermore, in the same way that light enables colours to be seen but is itself difficult to see, so is God the principle of all sensible experience but nevertheless Himself enveloped in veils of light. But in order to conceive of an incorporeal being, it is necessary first to have an exact knowledge of the soul, which is not possessed by the ordinary man and which is not easy to acquire. The problem of the “direction” ( d̲j̲iha ) in which God is found is solved by Ibn Rus̲h̲d by a skilful use of the Aristotelian theory of place: “the limit of the enveloping body” (τὸ πέρας τοῦ περιέχοντος σώμτος, Physics , IV, 212a6). God, not being enveloped by anything, has no place. But He is in a direction, since direction is indicated by the surfaces of bodies. Thus the enveloping sphere is not in any place, since there is no body outside it, any more than there is a void. Thus the Being which exists in the direction marked by the exterior surface of this sphere will be incorporeal. That is the true demonstration.

The fifth chapter deals with divine actions: creation, the sending of prophets, predestination and divine decree, justice and injustice, the future life. On the creation, in addition to what he has already said about it, Averroes states against the As̲h̲ʿarīs that although the world contains contingency, it cannot be contingent as a whole. The liberty of God cannot be that of indifference. Finally the term ḥudūt̲h̲ (coming into existence) is not Ḳurʾānic and constitutes in itself a bidʿa . On the prophetic mission, Ibn Rus̲h̲d makes a critical examination of the probative value of miracles and of the iʿd̲j̲iāz al-Ḳurʾān . He regards the problem of predestination as “one of the most difficult”. The Ḳurʾān contains on this verses for and against, and these contradictions are found also in ḥadīt̲h̲ . Both series of texts must be retained: on the one hand human action obviously depends, both for its cause and its execution, on external and internal conditions created by God; but on the other hand, we are the authors of our own acts since “it is evident that God has created in us faculties by means of which we can acquire things which are opposed by nature”, which proves that freedom of choice exists. ¶ Here there is involved the question of secondary causes. All causes other than God Himself have no existence, neither they nor their effects, other than through God. The word “agent’’ may not be used indiscriminately of God and of other causes. But causes operate, not only because God uses them as instruments, but also because He created them as causes. Furthermore, it can be said that substances and essences have for their cause only God, whereas accidents have other causes. On divine justice, Ibn Rus̲h̲d agrees with As̲h̲ʿarism: it is necessary to believe at the same time both that God is just and that He is the creator of good and evil, in order to avoid any dualism. God created evil with good ends in view: it is by accident that fire, which is good, does harm. On This delicate problem, Averroes does not hesitate to reproduce all the sophistries which creep into the theodicy of all periods. It is true that this is a point on which it is necessary to convince both the ordinary man and the philosophers themselves. This does not mean that God is above the just and the unjust: He is just, but in Himself, and not as a judge is, in the service of others. Finally the future life exists; that is not contrary to reason. It is left to each person to imagine the modalities of it for himself.

This treatise is directed against the doctrines that the theologians, going beyond all sound demonstration, construct upon the Book; against the problems which they raise. The feeling behind it is not, basically, very different from that of al-As̲h̲ʿarī and al-G̲h̲azālī at the beginning of their careers, they having become theologians rather in spite of themselves, in order to refute the errors which were threatening Islam. But they were wrong; Ibn Rus̲h̲d considers that the only recourse is to demonstrative knowledge. He condemns theology; the literal meaning of the sacred text seems to him on the whole wiser, even more acceptable to reason, than the theological lucubrations. One would expect that, in distinguishing thus clearly between the common man and the scholars, he would maintain that the arguments and the representations which are in the Ḳurʾān form a bad diet for the uneducated masses who are incapable of teaching themselves (the doctrine of the double truth of the western Averroists: that which is true for religion is false for philosophy). But This is not so: there exists a religious truth which is true for all men whoever they are. The worst misfortune which could befall them would be to lose their faith. Now philosophy, particularly when dealing with obscure questions, shakes the faith of many men and should be reserved for scholars. But theology, with its uncertain or sophistic arguments, while giving the appearance of adhering to the texts, is still more dangerous, especially because its intention is to elaborate the authentic doctrine in which everyone must believe. Philosophers, in all cases where the system of rational demonstration is not followed, are in the same situation as the ordinary man; they also must adhere to the literal meaning of the Ḳurʾān and beware of the false explanations of theology.

(c) The Tahāfut al-Tahāfut . In the Faṣl and the Kas̲h̲f , al-G̲h̲azālī had been very severely handled. In the Tahāfut , the battle against him grows, becomes more definite and leads Ibn Rus̲h̲d to embrace all the great problems of philosophy. This work combines the results of the paraphrases and of the middle commentaries, as well as all his basic personal ideas on religious questions, the development of which may be traced in the preceding treatises. But in the attack on the Tahāfut al-falāsifa al-G̲h̲azālī is not the only target. Many of the criticisms in his work directed ¶ against Avicenna are accepted by Averroes, if not in the form of argument used by al-G̲h̲azālī. at least for the correctness of their conclusions. The Tahāfut al-Tahāfut is thus a reconstruction of the true philosophy, that of Aristotle himself, against the false, that of the neo-Platonic falāsifa , which distorted the thinking of Aristotle, and against the theological systems. In This sense, it can be said that Ibn Rus̲h̲d’s original philosophical doctrine is to be found in this book.

There is a very precise study of this work in the introduction written by S. van den Bergh to his English translation. The two Muslim thinkers are separated on a fundamental point: in the tradition of his master al-D̲j̲uwaynī, al-G̲h̲azālī does not consider that philosophical reasoning has the strictness of mathematical reasoning, and in the Maḳāṣid , he points out that there exists there a source of error which misleads the unthinking supporters of logic. Aristotle, on the other hand, believes in the value of demonstration, and shows, as he did for the theologians, that it is the neo-Platonic philosophers who lack strictness, but that sound logic should not be accused of this.

A large part of the work of al-G̲h̲azālī, and thus that of Ibn Rus̲h̲d which follows it, is devoted to the problem of the creation of the world. Averroes’ solution is that of an eternal creation. There cannot have existed an empty time which preceded the appearance of the world at a certain moment in it. Time is, according to Aristotle, the numbered number (τὸ ἀριθμούμενον) of movement ( Physics , IV, 219 b 8). It measures movements only within the limits that movement measures time itself since they are mutual definitions of each other (οὐ μόνον δέ τήν κἱνησιν τῷ χρόνῳ μετροῦμεν ἀλλὰ καὶ τη κινήσει τὸν χρονὸν διὰ τὸ ὁρίςεσθαι ‘υπ’ ἀλλήλων, Physics, IV, 220 b 14-16). But although the time of the movement of the sphere measures the movements within the world, there is no movement outside the sphere which enables time to measure the movement of the sphere. The illusion is therefore one of “aligning”: the revolutions of the sphere in a sort of empty, rectilinear time, which, if it is infinite, cannot be crossed, so that an actual revolution cannot take place. But in reality, each revolution is independent of the others. Each of them depends immediately on the actions of the first agent: “Their sequence is accidental” (para. 20). In the sequences of causes it is necessary that the present effect is the result of all these causes. If they are all infinite, it cannot exist. But it is not necessary for all the past revolutions of the sphere to be added together in order for the present revolution to take place. Thus it can be said that “the circular movements of the past and the future are non-existent” (para. 23). This example shows that in the Tahāfut the ideas already outlined in the earlier treatises are analysed philosophically in a much deeper fashion. He maintains that the creative will in God should not be conceived in relation to our own; it is founded in the excellence of God, separate from the world; the world does not emanate from Him, in continuity with Him; God is not an agent in the way that it is said, at least as an image, that a person “makes” a shadow, his own shadow. The term “will” expresses the method of this action of a perfectly transcendental being. This is why Ibn Rus̲h̲d sees no incongruity in the fact that such a creator produces a multiplicity of beings as the effect of his act; he thus rejects the principle which is the basis of the emanatist doctrines, that the One can give birth only to one.

In ontology, Averroes criticizes with al-G̲h̲azālī ¶ Avicenna’s conception of the Being necessary in itself ( wād̲j̲ib al wud̲j̲ūd bi-d̲h̲ātih ). But he goes further: being is that “which is predicated of the ten categories analogically, and it is in This sense that we say of the substance that it exists by itself and of the accident that it exists through its existing in the existent which subsists by itself. As to the existent which has the meaning of the ‘true’, all the categories participate in it in the same way, and the existent which has the meaning of the ‘true’ is something in the mind, namely that a thing is outside the soul in conformity with what it is inside the soul” (303-4). A quiddity, in thought, is only the explanation ( s̲h̲arḥ ) of the meaning of a name; and it is only when one knows that This meaning exists outside the soul that one knows that it is a quiddity. It is thus not possible really to separate essence and existence; the distinction is made only in thought. In this lies Avicenna’s error. If the being which is possible of itself is pure essence, it exists only in thought. Outside it, it is either an essence which exists, or it is nothing. If it exists, to “add” to it existence so that it shall be has no meaning. If it does not exist, it is obviously not possible to add something to nothing. Thus when Avicenna defines the possible as that which has a cause, it must first be specified what cause is referred to, since apart from the fiction of a cause which would give an existence added to a pure essence, if the idea of the cause enters that of the possible, then either the possible becomes necessary ( ḍarūrī ) (since the cause which makes it necessary forms part of its definition), or else one becomes involved in a tautology: that which has a cause is possible, that is, it has a cause (277), and This line can be followed to infinity. In short, Avicenna destroys the idea of the possible as such, since he makes of it either the necessary, or a simple verbal idea in thought. Averroes admits the existence of the true possible ( mumkin ḥaḳīḳī ), which leads to the necessary possible (mumkin ḍarūrī), by which he implies a necessary reality based on a true possibility, that is on a potentiality. The cause is the agent which translates the potentiality into the actuality. There is no other action than this. God makes actual the potentialities which are in the world. The world in its totality (bi-asrih) is not a pure possible which receives existence. It is an organized whole necessary through the interplay of the causes which are its laws, a commandment ( amr ) of God; but everything in it, even the heavens, is organized starting from potentialities (even if only the potentiality of place), and the proof of This is that everything in it is subjected to movement. God is thus really an agent and it is known in what His action consists. Thus it is legitimate to call him Creator, which is not the case with Avicenna’s God. The division of being into actuality and potentiality is much more realistic than Avicenna’s division into necessary and possible. It follows being itself, since it can claim to belong to the ten categories and explains movements according to these categories. It makes heaven enter into the physical, since it is moved in a circular direction, and it eliminates from it any “intermediary” character, in the mystic sense of the word. The necessary and the possible of Ibn Sīnā are vague ideas which set on the one side God and on the other the world, and which can no longer explain, except by imprecise images, the relations between them. They limit the action of God to that which is scarcely action: the unique procession of the first Intellect in its perfect unity of essence. The God of Averroes, a true agent, acts on all beings. E. Gilson, comparing the two Muslim ¶ thinkers, writes: “For Averroes, God forms part of the universe. In such a universe, divinity is the metaphysical cause of the physical order; it is therefore natural that physical science demonstrates in it the existence of God... Thus conceived, God is included in the world, and the science of God, or metaphysics, is necessarily the supreme science beyond which no other exists. The universe of Avicenna is quite different. Avicenna’s God is transcendent and situated beyond the moving Intelligences... the highest of which is his first and only emanation” ( Jean Duns Scot , 77). Certainly the God of Averroes is not the object of a mystic knowledge. He is present in the physical world and He is the keystone of the arch of the universe. But He is nonetheless transcendent and intelligence cannot reach to Him in Himself, but simply as creator (the first prime mover). In This sense, Averroes’ thinking conforms completely to Muslim orthodoxy. This God is not quite that of Aristotle although he is reached by an entirely Aristotelian method. He is not the νὁησις νοησέως which thinks in and to itself and draws the world to it without being aware of it. Ibn Rus̲h̲d considers that although the unmoved mover remains mover and unmoved, it moves by its own command, as does a king seated on his throne. It has all the Ḳurʾānic attributes. The attributes are essential and express the richness of the essence: “to suggest... that the essence cannot be formed by attributes is not correct, since all essence perfects itself ( istakmalat ) thanks to the attributes through which it becomes more perfect ( akmal ) and more eminent” (328). But these attributes in God are not separated; it is our thinking which distinguishes them according to what we consider to be one or another of the infinite divine perfections.

On the knowledge which God has of the universe, Ibn Rus̲h̲d repeats what he has said in his other treatises. It does not resemble the knowledge which we have of the universal, which is abstractive and potential. Nor does it resemble the knowledge we have of the particular, which is perceptible, material and pluralist. But being in action and not potential, it resembles more closely our knowledge of the particular than our knowledge of the universal. Similarly God’s will does not resemble ours (see above).

There remains the question of the last things. Demonstrative proof can establish spirituality and immortality only as regards the intellect, since it alone among the faculties of the soul is indivisible and operates without the need of physical organs. It has been deduced from this that Averroes did not believe in personal immortality. But this is merely the doctrine which he extracts from Aristotle in his commentaries. In fact, he says, there is nothing to prove that the faculties which make use of the physical organs do really weaken at the same time as the organs do. Although this is not a demonstrative proof, it is at least an open door. Since the knowledge of the soul remains obscure, it is reasonable to have recourse to revelation. As for the resurrection of the body, this is not demonstrable. But the speculative virtues cannot do without the moral virtues. Although the soul is immortal, it will not survive by contemplation alone but will need those moral virtues which imply the presence of the body. However the resurrection is not conceived of as the return of life to the earthly body. It is, as the Ḳurʾān says, a second creation.

B. The Tafsīr of the Metaphysics . Averroes’ work ended with the great commentaries. We therefore now examine the main ideas which, towards the end of his life, he drew from Aristotle’s ¶ Metaphysics . Understanding well his thought and his method, he elucidates the Aristotelian doctrine while expressing his own point of view on it. Among the possible interpretations he chooses that which suits his own ideas. This commentary is a major work. The Arabic translations were bad. Often Ibn Rus̲h̲d consulted two or three of them. He studied the writers of antiquity: Alexander of Aphrodisias, Themistius, Nicholas of Damascus, Johannes Philiponus. He discusses them and often, by his own inspiration, he improves an accepted version. Even where the incomprehensibility of a text causes him to stray from the original thought of Aristotle, Averroes never strays very far.

The object of metaphysics. This science is concerned with the study of certain words: “His aim in this book is to distinguish the meanings contained in words. In This science a speculative examination is made of them, and these meanings have in it the place which in any art is held by the object ( mawḍūʿ ) of this art. These words are those used according to different points of view with reference to a single thing ( Comment ., Δ, Introd.). Thus the examination of these words is a part of metaphysics: they bear an analogical meaning which can be discovered only through them, “to such an extent that here the examination of words is of the same order as the examination of the different sorts of objects which the scholar considers to be his own field”. In other sciences, words, having a single meaning, are the immediate signs of objects of experience or of general ideas. In metaphysics, it is true that the words are also signs, but they do not allow their full significance to be grasped; there is nothing which can replace them. The search for the absolute One, the dream of the neo-Platonists, remains for Averroes simply an aim, always in relation to a multiplicity of different aims without which it would be indeterminate. Thus metaphysics must be attached to the fundamental diversity of being, reducible to that of the ten categories. It is because being is always presented in the plurality of the categories that there exists a metaphysical problem of being.

Because of this, metaphysics cannot have the same logical method as the particular sciences, mathematics and physics. The analogy of being, the one, the cause etc. implies an analogical reasoning. Thus, although in one sense it is the First Science which comprehends all the others and takes account of them, it cannot be considered as their source from which they could be unequivocably deduced. Metaphysics itself follows physics, which supplies it with the concrete experience of beings. The object of metaphysics is in fact being as being ( al-mawd̲j̲ūd bi-mā huwa mawd̲j̲ūd ): there is no other science which speculates on this. Mathematics considers being by quantity without asking the question of their existence. Physics considers being as something moved according to the various categories. Metaphysics considers the lawāḥiḳ of being (τὰ ὑπάρχοντα τόυτῳ καθ’ αύτό, that is, all which is attached to it in its quality as being), and, Averroes adds, its causes ( asbāb ). But metaphysics cannot be the science of the totality of causes, because beings do not form one single category and the same is true of causes. This being so, he defines his thinking thus: “Principles, taken in the absolute sense, even although it happens accidentally that certain beings are perceptible and not absolute, must of necessity be sought for beings considered in the absolute sense. These principles are sought for them in so far as they are beings in an absolute sense, not as they are this or that, for example moved ¶ or mathematical” (i, 300). Thus it is by remaining in contact with concrete beings that metaphysics asks the question about their being, that is their existence. This idea is repeated in a commentary of E (ii, 713). If metaphysics is the science with the noblest ( as̲h̲raf ) object, is it universal and does it apply to many categories? It is not the science of one single category; it therefore has regard for the plurality of categories and a fortiori the plurality of beings. Thus the highest science is not the science of the general, as are the particular sciences. In its universality it reaches all that is in its character most concrete. Universal science is not abstract, and this is where the universal is distinguished from the general. It is thus seen that perfect metaphysics would resemble the knowledge which belongs to God. The philosopher attempts to achieve it without succeeding, because he cannot escape completely from generic ideas and material perception, analogy being only an imperfect method of knowing. But metaphysics will attain its culminating point if, among beings, there exist natures separated from matter ( al-ṭabāʾiʿ al-mufāriḳa ). These natures are not, like the Platonic Ideas, hypostasized abstract concepts, but realities which are not composed of matter and form. It is right that theology should have as its object a being thus separate, unmoved and eternal. It is above the science of the heavenly bodies, eternal but moved, of which it grasps the cause: “Just as the things of nature are those which have nature included in their definition ( ḳawl ), so the divine things are those which have God and the divine causes included in their definition” (ii, 712). Thus the word θεολογική) is translated and understood as al-ilāhiyyāt al-ḳawl . “Since separate things precede in existence things which are not separate, the science which is first and earliest in existence must be the science of separate things” (ii, 711). But “first in existence, not first in knowledge since the order in teaching begins with the end. This is why This science is called meta-physics” ( mā baʿd al-ṭabīʿa , i, 714).

Thus God is not being considered as being, even taken absolutely, since all being, before becoming what it is, is. Nor can the idea of God be drawn from the notion of being considered as being by means of a sort of division. It is therefore by studying concrete beings and their causes in the distribution of the ten categories that metaphysics must begin the search for God, discovering the distinction of matter and form, then of potentiality and actuality, in order to reach a cause which includes neither matter nor potentiality and which is the eternal and unmoved mover. Thus between physics and theology there exists an intermediary metaphysical research at the level of the concrete universality of being considered as being within all beings. It prepares that theology whose object is neither spiritual in the mystic sense nor ideal in the Platonic sense, but truly meta-physical.

It is not surprising therefore that Averroes gives great importance to the accidental in all the phenomena of this world. He realizes with Aristotle that although the world as a whole is necessary, it includes within itself some realities whose existence merely occurs with a greater frequency ( akt̲h̲ariyya ). This presupposes the existence of realities which occur with a lesser frequency ( aḳalliyya ). Without the accident of chance, there would be no frequency greater than another and everything would be necessary. There must therefore exist in this world accidental causes. But if every cause necessarily produces its effect and itself necessarily results from another ¶ cause, there would have to exist an eternal and continually existing anniyya which would determine absolutely the production and the disappearance of each being. Appealing to experience, Averroes disagrees with this entirely determinist conception. No doubt the relation of the cause to the effect is always necessary; but a cause can interfere in a natural process which, as such, is a stranger to its causality. “As for a cause which results in an effect of chance, This is not at all the cause of a natural movement” (ii, 735-6). The result is that the causation of this cause, with regard to the effect produced in the natural process, is without cause. The natural causes are ordered towards a natural end. But the accidental cause, not being naturally directed towards This, is one which produces such an end without its being determined by any cause. Thus fire burns or heats; this is its natural effect. But if it burns a man, its causation intervenes in the natural process of life and destroys it, although the natural end of fire is not to alter the natural processes of life.

Contrary to this is the study of primary substance and of ontological necessity. In a long preamble to the commentary on book Λ, Ibn Rus̲h̲d re-states the complete rational plan of the work and explains that This book is the actual end of it, the two following containing only the criticism of the philosophy of Ideas and Numbers.

Although he is conversant with the analogy of proportionality (iii, 1552), Ibn Rus̲h̲d considers in depth the analogy of attribution. He shows that anteriority of a substance is not like that of one number in relation to another, but that it is “the anteriority of a thing to that which is related to it”. Substance is not a universal (This is contrary to Plato). It is divided into perceptible substance, either eternal ( sarmadī ), the heavens, or corruptible ( fāsid ), and unmoved and separate substance. Perceptible eternal substance comes into the field of physics (This is contrary to Avicenna): “the metaphysician seeks to discover what are the principles of substance considered as such, and he explains that separate substance is the principle of physical substance; but in order to solve This problem, it is necessary to resort on the one hand to what is explained in book I of the Physics either on generable and corruptible being (i.e. composed of matter and form), or on eternal substance; and on the other hand to that which is explained at the end of book VIII: that the mover of eternal substance is exempt from matter” (iii, 1424). Unmoved substance therefore forms part of metaphysics, but in order to reach an understanding of it, it is necessary to study the changes in moved beings. All generation stems from a being in posse: matter. But the matter of the heavenly bodies, subjected merely to a change of place, is in actuality. Thus the heavenly bodies are neither divisible nor corruptible, contrary to the ideas of Avicenna, who considers that the matter of all the bodies is in posse.

All generation has three causes: the subject ( mawḍūʿ ), matter in posse, and the two contraries ( ḍiddān ) to which it is in posse: the one, on which the definition hangs, is form ( sūra ), the other is the lack of form ( ʿadam al-ṣūra ). Such are the principles ( mabādiʾ ) of substance. Neither form nor matter can be generated; all that can be engendered is their union ( mad̲j̲mūʿ ) under the action of a mover ( muḥarrik ); what it moves is matter, that towards which it moves is form. Thus the only thing which is engendered is that which is composed ( murakkab ).

Ibn Rus̲h̲d stresses, in criticizing Alexander and Themistius, the question of the “synonymous” or univocal. ¶ agent ( al-muwāṭiʾ ): man is born of man. But how to explain the animals which are bred by putrefaction ( ʿufūna )? It is explained thus: there are the natural substances which are engendered naturally (This is. what is meant by “univocal generation”), and the accidents which may be produced by nature, art, chance (bi ’l-ittifāḳ ) or spontaneity ( min tilḳāʾ nafsih , ἀπὸ τοῦ αὐτομάτου). But all generation of natural substance is natural. Thus the animals which are born from putrefaction are natural productions of a synonymous agent and not the products of chance, “since that which is produced by chance is a generation without order ( niẓām ) and is not an aim pursued by nature”. The efficient natural cause has always a natural finality. Decay has the same power as semen among creatures which reproduce themselves in a line of issue ( mutanāsil ): like semen it contains a power of forming each animal which is born of it.

Matter is common to all material beings. In This sense “it has the nature of something universal”. But if this were really the case, it would have a form and would be made one by the form. How, being one in number, can it exist in a plurality? It is possible only because it is in posse. When the individual differences ( al-fuṣūl al-s̲h̲ak̲h̲ṣiyya ) which give existence to numerical multiplicity are removed, it is said of matter that it is one, and thus that it is common to many things. But it is not called common because it has a common form, as is the case with the category (cf. iii, p. 1473). Unity by form comes from the fact that several concrete beings, numerically distinct, form one same species or one same category. “The community ( is̲h̲tirāk ) which the intelligence recognizes in the common forms has an existence in posse outside the soul. That which the intelligence recognizes in matter is pure nothingness, since it is included only by the negation which withdraws from it individual form. But since matter has no existence outside the soul, in so far as it is conceived of as common to the totality of the generables and of the corruptibles ..., that by means of which it is matter distinct from nothingness and existing outside the soul, is reduced to the fact that it is a subject (substratum) of the perceptible individual which may be seen but is not understood” (p. 1473-4). In short, what makes Zayd exist is not the fact that the intelligible form of the man is shared by common matter: This form and This matter are only thought, and from their encounter, which is that of a universal positive (form) and a universal negative (matter), it having existence only in the soul, there cannot result, outside the soul, This concrete and individual reality which is Zayd. Properly speaking, the creation of an individual takes place neither through matter nor through form. As has been clearly said by M. Cruz Hernandez: “la materia y la forma no poseen per se actividad motora, ni autoprincipio de transformacíon alguna”. What exists is the individual form in a particular subject, and that which engenders a particular is a particular. Ibn Rus̲h̲d disagrees here with Themistius, who believed that, in generation, the form was created (for him the generation of animals by putrefaction was a proof of This since, he asked, where did the form of these animals come from?). The substantial form would thus be separate and come from without; there would be a dator formarum ( wāhib al-ṣuwar ) which would be the agent intellect ( al-ʿaḳl al-faʿʿāl ). This was also the doctrine of Avicenna, based on the following argument: “there are no active powers in matter except the four qualities, hot, cold, dry and wet. These qualities produce what is similar to ¶ them. But the substantial forms do not act upon each other”. Ibn Rus̲h̲d’s thesis is that “the agent produces only the composite result of matter and form, and This by setting matter in motion and changing it so that that within it which is in posse to the form passes into actuality”.

As for the agent, Averroes criticizes the theologians who admit only one single efficient cause and who deny secondary causes. This is because they think that all action is creation ex nihilo, and when they see a mover act on a mobile thing, they ask which of them creates the movement. But this is not the question; the true agent is that which causes a subject to pass from potentiality to actuality, and it is in this sense only that it is said that it unites matter and form. The forms exist in posse in primary matter and in action in the prime mover, rather in the sense in which it is said that the object of art exists in actuality within the soul of the artist.

The moved movers are thus really agents which have their own natural action. This being so, it is necessary to find not only what moves them but what co-ordinates them. There exists a real and universal movement, that of the sphere, which gives continuity and perenniality ( al-ittiṣāl wa ’l-azaliyya ) to all the movements of the world. As for the sphere and the heavenly bodies, they are moved by the desire inspired in them by the first unmoved mover, “because they understand of themselves that their perfection and their substance are only in movement... and also that their movement is the cause of the passage into actuality of what is in posse in the separate forms, i.e., the material forms” (iii, p. 1595). In fact, although the forms are in action in the prime mover and in posse in matter, as has been seen above, it must be stated that the reverse is true in connexion with the concrete realization of material beings: “one has the impression ( yus̲h̲abbahu ) that they have two existences: the one in action, which is material existence, and the other in posse, which is their existence as separate forms ”(ibid.). This was the theory of the supporters of the Platonic Ideas, but they fell short of the truth, since the separate forms in themselves are not movers: they are found in the Prime Mover which draws all beings to them and through them. The first end of the movement of the heavens is their own perfection, and it is in consequence of ( tābiʿ ) its search for This that in the second place it ensures This passage of material beings from potentiality to action. “Thus he who performs exercise to preserve his health by practising an art, has as his main aim the preservation of health, and as a secondary aim the practice of This art” (1596).

On the Intellect, Ibn Rus̲h̲d takes his stand against Alexander, who considered that the material intellect was generated and corruptible, which presents insoluble problems in the matter of intellectual knowledge. Ibn Rus̲h̲d takes up a thesis which he attributes to Theophrastus, Themistius and the majority of the Peripatetic philosophers: the material intellect exists and the separate agent Intellect is as the form in the material intellect. But he states this more clearly by referring to what he has said in the De Anima . The material intellect is in itself generable and corruptible (Bouyges, 1489; the Latin translations add a negative: non est generabilis et corruptibilis.) The habitual intellect (bi ’l-malaka/habitu/ἓξει), which holds at our disposition the knowledge of the intelligibles, has a generable and a corruptible part; the corruptible is its action; but in itself it is incorruptible. It comes to us from without ( min k̲h̲ārid̲j̲ /θυράθεν) and is not generated; This is why the intellect in posse ¶ is for it like a place ( makān ) and not like a material thing. If this intellect, in so far as it must unite with the material intellect, had an action which was not generable, its action would be its essence and there would be nothing in it which constrained it to unite with the material intellect. But since it does unite with it, its action in so far as it unites is not its substance. The action which it produces is not for the benefit of itself, but of another. So it is possible for an eternal being to give to a generable and corruptible being the power to understand. When human perfection is achieved, this intellect sheds all potentiality, and of necessity its action, which is not it itself, is reduced to nothing. So, either we no longer understand at all through this intellect, or we understand through it, in the sense that its action is reduced, in this state, to its substance. Ibn Rus̲h̲d shows that the second case is the true one (cf. iii, 1489-90). The question is a difficult one. It seems that Averroes considered the habitual intellect to be the way in which the agent Intellect is present in us, that is, in that part of our soul which is the material intellect. Its action in us has a beginning and an end; like acquired knowledge in the scholar, it is not continually in use. It is therefore, from This point of view, connected with the psychological reality of the feelings, of the imagination, of the memory, and of the will. But when used to perfection, it no longer needs the instruments of the soul: it turns back on itself and in itself in its own action, in which it is identical with the intelligible which it thinks. In This perfection of our intellection we understand through the agent Intellect itself, that is through the action which substantially constitutes it. This is what has led to the statement that our individuality disappears. We have seen the modifications which Averroes introduces into this doctrine, which he considers as being that of Aristotle, without altering it in its demonstrative value: since although all that is demonstrated is true, that which is not demonstrable is not necessarily false.

A general study of the thought of Averroes would have to be based on the texts preserved in Latin or Hebrew. This article has been limited to the main works surviving in Arabic. A Latin Averroes, given the slight variations in emphasis which translations always give to the original work, could be quite different on certain details. A complete and meticulous study on this point would be desirable, but it would be a long and difficult task.

There should however finally be mentioned the commentary on the Republic which has survived in Hebrew (ed. with introd., tr., and notes by E. I. J. Rosenthal, Averroes’ Commentary on Plato’s Republic , Cambridge 1956). Ibn Rus̲h̲d did not know the Politics of Aristotle; Plato takes its place. “the two works — Nichomachean Ethics and Republic—form two complementary parts of the same science of Politics, as Averroes stated himself”. Averroes’ social awareness appears here in his ideal of a perfect city, the image of the world; he makes frequent use of al-Fārābī; he transposes in a very interesting fashion the Greek institutions into Muslim realities, as, in the Poetics , he transposed the Greek literary genres; finally he makes many allusions or applications to Muslim public law and to the situation of the Almohad empire compared with the Almoravids.

Ibn Rus̲h̲d had few disciples in Islam. His great fame among the Western schoolmen is well known. Renan, followed by many others, claimed that Ibn Rus̲h̲d’s thinking contained nothing original. This is because he deliberately belittled the religious and ¶ juridical works. In a general way, he committed an error of appreciation which was to remain a blind spot with the historians of “Arab” thought, who have seen the falāsifa as nothing more than the heirs of Greece. If one considers the whole corpus of Ibn Rus̲h̲d’s works and the unity of his wide thought, it becomes apparent that the “Commentator” was a true philosopher.

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abu ’l-walīd muḥammad b. aḥmad b. muḥammad b. rus̲h̲d, celebrated in mediaeval Europe as averroes, the greatest Arab philosopher of Spain, was born at Cordova in 520 = 1126. His grandfather had been ḳāḍī of Cordova and had left important works, while his father also held the office of ḳāḍī. He studied law and medicine in his native town; one of his teachers was Abū Ḏj̲aʿfar Hārūn of Truxillo. He lived in 548 t= 1153 in Marrākus̲h̲, whither Ibn Ṭufail [q. v.] had probably induced him to go. The latter introduced him to the Almohad Abū Yaʿḳūb Yūsuf who became his patron. An account of this interview is preserved (see Hist, des Almohades de Merrākechī, transl. by Fagnan). The Caliph asked Ibn Rus̲h̲d what was the view of the philosophers on heaven (the universe), whether it was an eternal substance or had a beginning. “I was so overcome with terror” says Ibn Rus̲h̲d “that I could not answer”. The Caliph put him at his ease and began to discuss the question himself by expounding the views of various scholars with an intimacy and learning rare among princes. The Caliph then dismissed him with rich presents.

It was Ibn Ṭufail who advised Ibn Rus̲h̲d to comment on Aristotle and told him that the commander of the faithful often lamented the obscure language of the Greek philosophers or rather of the available translations and that he (Ibn Rus̲h̲d) ought to undertake to explain them.

In 565 = 1169 he became ḳāḍī of Seville and two years later ḳāḍī of Cordova. In spite of the burden of work of this office he composed his most important works in this period. In 578 = 1182, Ibn Yūsuf summoned him to Marrākus̲h̲ as his physician to replace the aged Ibn Ṭufail, but soon afterwards sent him back to Cordova with the rank of chief ḳāḍī.

At the beginning of the reign of Yaʿḳūb al-Manṣūr, Yūsuf’s successor, Ibn Rus̲h̲d was still in favour with the Caliph, but he fell into disgrace as the result of the opposition of the theologians to his writings and after being accused of various heresies and tried, he was banished to Lucena near Cordova. At the same time, the Caliph ordered the books of the philosophers to be burnt except those on medicine, arithmetic and elementary astronomy (about 1195). Duncan Macdonald observes that these orders of the Almohad ruler who had hitherto encouraged philolosophical studies, probably were a concession to the Spanish Muslims, who were much more orthodox than the Berbers. At the time the Caliph was actually waging a religious war against the Christians in Spain. On returning to Marrākus̲h̲ he raised the ban and recalled Ibn Rus̲h̲d to his court (D. Macdonald, Development of Muslim Theology, New York 1903, p. 255).

Ibn Rus̲h̲d did not long enjoy the restoration of his fortunes for he died soon after his return to Marrākus̲h̲ (9th Ṣafar 595 = 10th Dec. 1198) and was buried near the town outside the gate of Tagazūt.

A great part of the Arabic original of Averroes’ ¶ works is lost. There have survived in Arabic his Tahāfut al-Tahāfut, the “Collapse of the Collapse”, an answer to G̲h̲azālī’s celebrated Tahāfut al-Falāsifa, “Collapse”, or perhaps “Collapse of the philosophers” (cf. Miguel Asin y Palacios, Sur le Sens du mot “Tehâfot” dans les œuvres d’al-Ghazali et d’Averroès in Revue Africaine, 1906, N°. 261, 262, particulary p. 202), also the medium commentaries on the Poetics and Rhetoric of Aristotle (ed. and transl. by Lasinio); the exposition of fragments of Alexander of Aphrodisias on the Metaphysics (s. J. Freudental and S. Fraenkel, op. cit.); the large commentary on the Metaphysics in Leiden (Cat. Cod. orient., N°. mmdcccxxi); small commentaries at Madrid Kitāb al-Ḏj̲awāmiʿ (Guillén Robles, Catálogo … Bibl. Nacion., N°. 37; cf. H. Derenbourg, Notes sur les mss. arab. de Madrid, N°. 37, in Homenaje á D. Franc. Codera, p. 577 sq.) referring to Aristotles’ treatises De Physica, De Coelo et Mundo, De Generatione et Corruptione, De Meteorologia, De Anima, and certain mutaphysical questions; cf. also H. Derenbourg, Le commentaire arabe d’Averroès sur quelques petits écrits physiques d’Aristote in Arch, für Gesch. der Philos., xviii. (1905), p. 250, and lastly two interesting treatises on the relations between religion and philosophy (discussed by Léon Gauthier and by Miguel Asin). One of these writings is entitled Kitāb Faṣl al-Maḳāl and vigorously champions the agreement between religion and philosophy, the other is called Kitāb Kas̲h̲f al-Manāhid̲j̲, etc. Both works are edited and translated into German by M. J. Müller (see Bibl.) and printed at Cairo under the joint title Kitāb Falsafat Ibn Rus̲h̲d (1313, 1328). There also exists in Arabic in Hebrew characters an abstract of the Logica, the medium commentaries on De Generatione et Corruptione, De Meteoris, De Anima, a paraphrase of the Parva Naturalia (Paris, Bibl. Nat., N°. 303, 317), the commentaries on De Coelo, De Generatione and De Meteoris (Bodleiana, Uri, Cat., codd. hebr., p. 86) (Renan, Averroès, 3e ed., p. 83).

The celebrated commentaries of Averroes on Aristotle are of three kinds or rather one in three editions, a large, medium and small edition. This threefold arrangement corresponds to the three stages of instruction in the Muslim universities, the small commentaries, are for the first, the medium for the second and the large for the third year. The exposition of the ʿaḳāʾid is similarly arranged.

We possess in Hebrew and Latin translation the three commentaries of Averroes on the Second Analytics, the Physics and on the treatises of the Universe, the Soul and the Metaphysics; the large commentaries on the other works of Aristotle are lacking and no commentary on the Zoology has survived.

Ibn Rus̲h̲d also a wrote a commentary on Plato’s Republic, and criticisms on al-Fārābī’s logic and his interpretation of Aristotle as well as discussions on certain theories of Avicenna and glosses on the ʿAḳīda of the Mahdī Ibn Tūmart. He also wrote several legal (Kit. Bidayat al-Mud̲j̲tahid wa-Nihāyat al-Muḳtaṣid, Cairo 1329), and astronomical and medical works. His work on the ‘whole art of medicine’, al-Kullīyāt (codd. Granada, s. Dozy, Zeitschr. der Deutsch. Morgenl. Ges., xxxvi. 1882, p. 343; Petersburg, Dorn, Cat., N°. 132, and probably Madrid, Robles, Catal., N°. 132, cf. H. Derenbourg, Notes etc. N°. 132, Homenaje, ¶ p. 587 sq.), corrupted in the Latin translations to Colliget, enjoyed a certain renown in the middle ages, but cannot be compared with the Canon of Avicenna.

The philosophy of Averroes cannot be considered original (cf. Renan, Averroès 3, p. 88). It is rather the philosophy of the Hellenising school of the Falāsifa [cf. failasūf, ii. 39b] which had already been taught in the east by al-Kindī, al-Fārābī, and Avicenna and in the west by Ibn Bād̲j̲d̲j̲a. On some points, however, he contests the views of his great predecessors but these points are only subsidiary and on the whole his philosophy runs on the same lines.

He owes his fame mainly to his acute analysis and his gift of annotation, qualities which we can hardly appreciate accurately at the present day on account of the differences in our mode of thought, our methods and scientific resources, but they were all the more appreciated by the scholars of the middle ages, notably in Jewish and Christian circles. His commentaries aroused great admiration, even among theologians who saw in his system a danger to faith.

The school of philosophers had already been vigorously attacked by the theologians in the Muslim east. The Tahāfut of al-G̲h̲azālī directed mainly against al-Fārābī and Avicenna is the most important memorial of this struggle in the east. In the west the school was first attacked by the Muslim theologians of Spain; and later by the Christian theologians also after the commentaries of Averroes had been made known to them in translations. In the xiiith century Ibn Rus̲h̲d was condemned by the bishops of Paris, Oxford and Canterbury for reasons similar to these that had earned his condemnation by the orthodox Muslims of Spain.

The main doctrines of Ibn Rus̲h̲d’s system, that brought the charge of heresy upon him, concern the question of the eternity of the world, the nature of God’s apprehension, and His foreknowledge, the universality of the soul and of the intellect, and the resurrection. Averroes may easily appear heretical on these doctrines; he does not deny dogma, but expounds it in such a way as to bring it into conformity with philosophy.

Thus in the doctrine of the eternity of the world he does not deny the creation but only gives a rather different explanation from the theological one. For him there is no creation ex nihilo once and for all, but rather a creation renewed from moment to moment whereby the world is maintained and changes. In other words: a creative power is perpetually at work on the world, maintaining and moving it. The constellations in particular exist only through motion, and they receive this motion from the moving force which is acting on them from all eternity. The world is eternal but in consequence of a creative and moving cause: God is eternal and without cause.

In the chapter on the apprehension of God Ibn Rus̲h̲d repeats the principle of the philosophers that “the first principle only apprehends his own being”. According to that school this presupposition is necessary in order that the first principle may retain his unity, for if he recognised multiplicity of being, he would himself become multiple. Interpreted strictly according to this principle, primal being must live entirely within himself and have knowledge of his own existence only ¶ and foreknowledge would then be impossible. The theologians endeavoured to force the philosophers to this conclusion.

But Ibn Rus̲h̲d’s system has more elasticity. He grants that God in His own essence knows all the things of the world. But His knowledge is neither to be called particular or universal and is therefore not like man’s knowledge, but rather of a higher kind of which we can form no conception. [Cf. falsafa, ii. 50a]. God’s knowledge cannot be the same as that of man’s, for.God would then have ‘sharers’ in His knowledge and He would no longer be the one God. Moreover God’s knowledge is not like man’s knowledge derived from things, nor is it produced by them. On the contrary, it is the cause of all things. Therefore the assertion of the theologians that the system of Averroes denies fore-knowledge is incorrect.

Concerning his teaching regarding the soul, Ibn Rus̲h̲d has been reproached with teaching that the individual souls after death pass into the universal soul, and thereby denying the personal inmortality of the soul of man. But this is not at all correct. The soul must be distinguished from the intellect in Averroes’ system as well as in the systems of other philosophers. The intellect is quite abstract and immaterial and only exists in reality when it is associated with the universal or active intellect. What we call intellect in the individual is strictly a faculty for grasping the ideas that come from the active intellect, a faculty to which the name ‘passive’ intellect is given and which is not permanent by itself. It must realise itself and become the ‘acquired’ intellect (intellectus adeptus). Then it is bound up with the active intellect, in which the eternal ideas rest, and merged into it this faculty becomes itself eternal.

It is not the same with the soul. This with the philosophers is the driving force which effects the life and growth of organic bodies. It is a kind of energy which gives life to matter not free from the qualities of matter like the intellect, but on the contrary closely associated with it. It perhaps may even consist of a kind of half or very fine matter. These souls are the form of bodies, and are therefore independent of the body, but continue to exist after the death of the body and can remain individual.

The latter according to Averroes is a bare possibility. He does not believe that a convincing proof of the immortality of the soul so conceived can be established by purely philosophical means. The task of solving the question is left to revelation. (See Tahāfut al-Tahāfūt, p. 137).

The theologians have further charged Averroes with denying the resurrection of the body. Here also his teaching is rather an exposition than a denial of the dogma. The body which we shall have in the next world is according to him not the same as our earthly body, for what has passed away is not reborn in its identity, it can at best appear again as something similar. Averroes moreover remarks that the future lite will be of a higher kind than earthly life; bodies there will therefore be more perfect than in this world. For the rest, he disapproves of the myths and representations which are made of the life in the next world.

As this philosopher was more attacked by orthodoxy than his predecessors, he made more definite pronouncement than they on the relations ¶ between philosophical research and religion. He expounds his views on this subject in the above mentioned works Faṣl al-Maḳāl and Kas̲h̲f al-Manāhid̲j̲. His first principle is that philosophy must agree with religion. This is an axiom of the whole of Arab scholasticism. There are in a way two truths or so to speak two revelations, the philosophic truth and the religious truth, both of which must agree. The philosophers are prophets of their class, prophets who appeal by preference to scholars. Their teaching may not contradict the teaching of the prophets in the proper sense, who appeal particularly to the people; it must rather give the same truth in a higher, less material form.

In religion a distinction must be made between the literal sense and its exposition. If for example a passage is found in the Ḳurʾān which appears to contradict the results of philosophy, we must believe that this passage really has another than the apparent sense and seek the true meaning. It is the duty of the multitude to keep to the literal meaning; to seek the correct interpretation is the task of the learned. Myths and allegories must be understood by the people as revelation presents them; the philosopher, however, has the right to seek out the deeper and purer meaning concealed in them. Finally the learned should make it a practice not to communicate their results to the masses.

Averroes has expounded how religion must be taught according to the intellectual standard of the hearer. He distinguished three classes of men according to their mental endowments: the first and most numerous comprises those who believe as a result of preaching the divine word and are susceptible almost only to oratorical effect. The second class includes those whose beliefs are based on reasoning but only on such as proceeds from a priori premisses assumed quite uncritically. The third and smallest class finally consists of those whose beliefs are based on proofs which rest on a chain of established premisses. This method of coordinating religious instruction to the mental endowment of the hearer is evidence of a keen psychological insight but it may run the risk of not appearing sincere and it was natural that it should arouse the distrust of professional theologians.

Finally we do not think that Averroes was an infidel, who was trying to protect himself from the attacks of the orthodox with more or less skilful interpretations; we are inclined to think that in general agreement with the attitude of many scholars in the east he was a syncretist, who honestly believed that one and the same truth could be presented under very different aspects and who was able by his great philosophical ingenuity to reconcile doctrines which must have appeared directly contradictory to less elastic minds.

The commentaries of Averroes were translated in the xiiith and xivth century into Hebrew by Jacob ben Abba Mari Anatoli of Naples (1232), Judah b. Salomon Cohen of Toledo (1247), by Moses b. Tibbon of Lunel (1260), Samuel b. Tibbon, S̲h̲ēm Ṭob b. Joseph b. Falaquera and Kalonymus b. Kalonymus (1314). Levi b. Gerson of Bagnols (Gersonides) wrote a commentary on Averroes just as the latter had commented on Aristotle. In the Christian west, Michael Scott and Hermann, both connected with the House of Hohenstaufen, ¶ began in 1230 and 1240 a Latin translation of the Arabic text of Averroes.

Towards the end of the xvth century Niphus and Zimara made some improvements in the old translations. New translations based on the Hebrew text were later made by Jacob Mantino of Tortosa, Abraham de Balmes and Giovanni Francesco Burana of Verona. The two best Latin editions of Averroes are those of Niphus (1495—1497) and of the Juntas (1553).

(Carra de Vaux)


Ibn Rus̲h̲d, Tahāfut al-Tahāfut (Cairo 1303)

M. J. Müller, Philosophie und Theologie des Averroes (arabic text, München 1859; Germ, transl., München 1875)

Lasinio, Il commento medio di Averroe alla Poetica di Aristotele (Arab, and Hebr.; Ital. transl.), Pisa 1872

do., Il Testo arabo del Commento medio di Averroe alla Retorica di Aristotele (Florence 1875—1878)

J. Freudenthal and S. Fränkel, Die durch Averroes erhaltenen Fragmente Alexanders zur Metaphysik des Aristoteles, in Abh. der Kgl. Akad. der Wiss. zu Berlin, 1884

Kitāb Falsafat Ibn Rus̲h̲d (Cairo 1313)

M. Horten, Die Metaphysik der Averroes nach dem Arabischen übers. und erläutert in Abh. zur Philosophie und ihrer Gesch., number xxxvi. (Halle 1912)

do., Die Hauptlehren des Averroes nach seiner Schrift: Die Widerlegung des Gazali, Bonn 1913

Léon Gauthier, La Théorie d’Ibn Rochd sur les Rapports de la Religion et de la Philosophie (Paris 1909)

Miguel Asín y Palacios, Averroismo teológico de Santo Tomás de Aquino, in Homenaje á D. Francisco Codera, p. 217 sq.

M. Worms, Die Lehre von der Anfangslosigkeit der Welt bei den mittelalterltchen arabischen Philosophen etc. (Appendix: Abh. des Ibn Rošd über das Problem der Weltschöpfung in Beitr. z. Gesch. der Philos. d. Mittelalters, ed. Baeumker and Hertling, vol. iii., Münster 1900)

Renan, Averroès et l’Averroisme 3 (Paris 1866)

Munk, Mélanges de philosophie arabe et juive (Paris 1859), and an article in the Dict. des sciences philosophiques by Frank

A. F. Mehren, Etudes sur la Philosophie d’Averroès, concernant ses rapports avec celle d’Avicenne et de Gazzâli, in Muséon, vol. vii.

Forget, Les Philosophes arabes et la Philosophie scolastique (Brüssel 1895)

T. Wood Brown, Life and Legend of Michael Scott (Edinburgh 1897)

de Boer, Die Widersprüche der Philosophie nach al-Gazzālī und ihr Ausgleich durch Ibn Rošd (Strassb. 1894)

do., The History of Philosophy in Islam (London 1903)

D. Macdonald, Development of Muslim Theology (New York 1903), p. 255 sqq.

Anṭūn Fārah, Ibn Rus̲h̲d wa-Falsafatuhu (Alexandria 1903)

Goldziher, Die islam, u. jüd. Philosophie in Die Kultur der Gegenwart, i. v, 64 sqq.

Brockelmann, Gesch. d. arab. Litt., i. 461 sq., with bibliography

Ueberweg-Heinze, Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie, ii. § 25.

In addition to the works mentioned in the article: M. Alonso, Avertoes observador de la naturaleza, in al-And., v (1940)

idem, El “tāʾwīl” y la hermeneutica sacra de Averroes, ibid., vii (1942)

R. Arnaldez, La pensée religieuse d’Averroès, I. La création dans le Tahâfut, in St. Isl., vii (1957), II. La théorie de Dieu dans le Tahâfut, ibid., viii (1957), III. L’immortalité de l’âme dans le Tahâfut, ibid., x (1959)

M. Asín Palacios, El averroismo teologico de Santo Tomas de Aquino, in Homenaje a F. Codera, Saragossa 1904

T. J. De Boer, Die Widersprüche der Philosophie und ihr Ausgleich durch Ibn Roschd, Strasbourg 1894

idem, The history of philosophy in Islam, London 1903

Carra de Vaux, Les penseurs de l’Islam, iv, Paris 1923

P. S. Christ, The psychology of the active intellect of Averroes, Philadelphia 1926

Cruz Hernandez, Historia de la filosofia hispano-musulmana

Madrid 1957, ii

idem, La libertad y la naturaleza social del hombre según Averroes, in L’homme et son destin, Louvain 1960

idem, Etica e Politica na filosofia de Averrois, in Rev. Portug. de Filos., xvii (1961)

H. Corbin, Histoire de la philosophie islamique, Paris 1964

H. Derenbourg, Le Commentaire arabe d’Averroès sur quelques petits écrits physiques d’Aristote, in Arch. f. Gesch. d. Phil., xviii (1905)

J. Freudenthal and S. Fränkel, Die durch Averroes erhaltene Fragmente Alexanders zur Metaphysik des Aristoteles, in Abhandl. d. kgl. Akad. d. Wiss. zu Berlin, 1884

L. Gauthier, La théorie d’Ibn Roschd sur les rapports de la religion et de la philosophie, Paris 1909

M. Horten, Die Metaphysik des Averroes, Halle 1912

idem, Die Hauptlehren des Averroes nach seiner Schrift: Die Widerlegung des Gazali, Bonn 1913

F. Lasinio, Il commento medio di Averroè alla Poetica di Aristotele (Ar. and Hebr.), in Annali delle Università Toscane, Pisa 1872

idem, Il commento medio di Averroè alla Retorica di Aristotele, Florence 1877

idem, Studi sopra Averroè, in Annuario delle Società Italiana per gli studi orientali, 1872-3

G. M. Manser, Die göttliche Erkenntnis der Einzeldinge und die Vorsehung bei Averroës, in J. f. Phil, und spek. Theol., xxiii (1909)

idem, Das Verhältnis von Glauben und Wissen bei Averroës, ibid., xxiv (1910) and xxv (1911)

I. Mehren, Études sur la philosophie d’Averroès concernant ses rapports avec celle d’Avicenne et de Gazzali, in Muséon, vii (1888-9)

S. Munk, Mélanges de philosophie juive et arabe, Paris 1859 (repr. 1927)

C. A Nallino, art. Averroè in Enciclopedia Italiana

S. Nirenstein, The problem of the existence of God in Averroes, Philadelphia 1924

G. Quadri, La philosophie arabe dans l’Europe médiévale des origines à Averroès, Fr. tr. by R. Huret, Paris 1947

M. Worms, Die Lehre der Anfangslosigkeit der Welt bei den mittelalterlichen arabischen Philosophen... (Append. Abhandl. des Ibn Rošd über das Problem der Weltschöpfung), in Beitr. der Gesch. d. Phil. d. Mittelalters, iii/4, Munster 1900

M. Allard, Le rationalisme d’Averroes d’après une étude sur la création, in BEO, xiv (1952-4)

J. Windrow Sweetman, Islam and Christian theology, ii, 2nd part, London n.d., 73-210.

(R. Arnaldez)

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"Ibn Rus̲h̲d." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online, 2013. <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-isla...>

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de Vaux, Carra. "Ibn Rus̲h̲d." Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition (1913-1936). Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, R. Hartmann. Brill Online, 2013. <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-isla...>

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