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Averroes — Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Rushd

(1126 - 1198)


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Philosopher, physician, jurist known as Averroes in the West; born in Cordoba, Spain 1126, died in Morocco, 1198. Averroes, as he was called by the Latins, was educated in his native city, where his father and grandfather had held the office of cadi (judge in civil affairs) and had played an important part in the political history of Andalusia. He devoted himself to jurisprudence, medicine, and mathematics, as well as to philosophy and theology. Under the Caliphs Abu Jacub Jusuf and his son, Jacub Al Mansur, he enjoyed extraordinary favor at court and was entrusted with several important civil offices in Morocco, Seville, and Cordoba. Later, howeevr, he fell into disfavor and was banished with other representatives of learning. Shortly before his death, the edict against philosophers was recalled, but many of his works in logic and metaphysics had been consigned to the flames.

His "Commentaries" on Aristotle, his original philosophical works, and his treatises on theology were translated and studied predominantly in Latin or Hebrew. His original philosophical treatises include: a work entitled "Tehafot al Tchafot," or "Destructio Destructiones" (a refutation of Algazel's "Destructio Philosophorum") published in the Latin edition, Venice 1497 and 1527, two treatises on the union of the Active and Passive intellects, also published in Latin in the Venice edition; logical treatises on the different parts of the "Organon," published in the Venice edition under the title "Quaesita in Libros Logicae Aristotelis;" physical treatises based on Aristotle's "Physics" (also in the Venice edition); a treatise in refutation of Avicenna, and another on the agreement between philosophy and theology. Of the last two, only Hebrew and Arabic texts exist. In the Western world, he was recognized, as early as the thirteenth century, as the Commentator of Aristotle, contributing thereby to the rediscovery of the Master, after centuries of near total oblivion in Western Europe. That discovery was instrumental in launching Latin scholasticism and, in due course, the European Renaissance of the fifteenth century.


Sources: "Averroes." Catholic Encyclopedia; Saudi Aramco World, (January-February 2002); Islamic Philosophy Online

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