Averroes


Averroes
Averroes Alfred Ivry Abū’l Walīd Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Rushd (1126–98) needs to be known only as Averroes to be familiar to students of philosophy in the West. Greatly respected as a commentator on Aristotle’s writings, Averroes was also strongly attacked for what were perceived to be his theologico-political and metaphysical views. He was accused of holding a double-truth theory, in which religion had its own truths which could contradict, though not invalidate, the truths of reason; and accused as well of believing that our minds belong essentially, and return at death, to a single eternal intelligence, a doctrine known as monopsychism. ‘Averroism’ came to be synonymous with these views, though the ‘double truth’ accusation is a distortion of his position. Averroes, however, cannot be faulted for the particular view of him that the Latin West had, which it chose to have, on the basis of the translations of his work that it privileged. For Christian Europe may be seen to have been so taken with Averroes as the disciple and interpreter of Aristotle, that it disregarded his indigenous Islamic identity. The Muslim Ibn Rushd, however, is very concerned to show that the teachings of philosophy are not antithetical to those of Islam, that religion not only has nothing to fear from philosophy, but that philosophy endorses its teachings as a popular expression of its own. At the same time, Averroes’ argument with his co-religionists may be seen as a plea for toleration of dissent within Islamic society. Averroes was able to take this stand because he was deeply rooted in the religious establishment of his day. Born into a Cordoban family of learned jurists, Averroes studied and wrote on Islamic law and eventually became chief judge of Cordoba, following in the family tradition. As a young intellectual he also studied theology, and his familiarity with the writings of al-Ghazzālī (d. 1111) in particular were critical to his later defence of philosophy against the latter’s criticisms. In addition to mastering the traditional ‘religious sciences’ of Islam, Averroes avidly studied the full range of the ‘secular sciences’ of his day. Besides Arabic poetry, these subjects were basically the heritage of Greek learning (in Arabic translation), and featured mathematics, astronomy, medicine and philosophy. He achieved prominence as a physician, and wrote a medical treatise, known in the Latin West as Colliget (from al-Kulliyāt, the Arabic for ‘generalities’ or principles). Averroes’ major scholarly effort, however, went into the study of philosophy, which for him meant the writings of Aristotle. For him, as for others from Andalusian Spain (Maimonides, for example), Aristotle was ‘the master of those who know’, and Averroes dedicated himself to expounding peripatetic views. In so doing, he set himself against both the competing influence of Neoplatonic ideas, which had made considerable inroads in the Muslim East, and the domestic opposition of anti-philosophical theologians, the mutakallimūn. Averroes’ philosophical position attracted the Almohad caliph, Abū Ya‘qūb Yūsuf (reigned 1163–84).1 The caliph, while apparently interested in understanding and cultivating science and philosophy, was no doubt also interested in having philosophers at court for reasons of state, perhaps as a check on the influence of the more traditionallyoriented theologians and lawyers. Averroes’ repeated criticism of these people, and of al-Ghazzālī in particular, bespeak the author’s confidence in royal support, which he in fact enjoyed for many years. It was the Prince of the Believers, Abū Ya‘qūb himself, who (in 1168– 9) comissioned Averroes to summarize Aristotle’s corpus, and who then appointed him to various high offices, first as a qadi and then, from 1182, as court physician. Averroes remained at court during the reign of Abū Yūsuf, the son of Abū Ya‘qūb, and was able to complete, under apparently favourable conditions, what had become a monumental task of philosophical exegesis. In 1195, however, the caliph turned against Averroes and other philosophers, apparently deferring to the conservative majority in his regime. For a brief time the study of philosophy was prohibited, Averroes was banished from court and placed under house arrest, his books banned and ordered burnt. Having made his point, the caliph then relented, and Averroes was a free and respected person when death took him in 1198. Islamic philosophy of the sort Averroes advocated died with him, however, in a Muslim climate which had become increasingly conservative. Averroes had no significant Muslim disciples, and his books were largely ignored by Arab readers, some writings disappearing in their original language. Fortunately, interest in Averroes and in Aristotelian thought remained high among Jews and Christians; the Jews reading him in Judaeo-Arabic (Arabic in Hebrew characters) and then Hebrew translation, the Christians in Latin. Averroes’ commentaries on Aristotle were read alongside the original works from the thirteenth century on, and themselves engendered supercommentaries; while a Latin (and, to a lesser extent, Hebrew) Averroism emerged which claimed him as its progenitor. Today, Muslim scholars, particularly in North Africa, are reclaiming Averroes for their culture, appreciating his contribution to Western philosophy while viewing him within the social and political context of Almohad Andalusia and the Maghreb. An international consortium of learned societies is engaged in publishing critical editions, with concordances, of his Aristotelian commentaries in Arabic, Hebrew and Latin, the languages in which they circulated in the Middle Ages; they bring to fruition the project first proposed by Harry Wolfson in 1931. Averroes wrote thirty-eight commentaries in all, mostly two and sometimes three per Aristotelian work.2 The commentaries differ in length, and are called ‘short’, ‘middle’ and ‘long’ accordingly. The short or ‘epitomes’ are free-standing summaries, apparently Averroes’ initial effort to digest the arguments of Aristotle and his successors, both Greek and Muslim, on a given text. There are only five long commentaries, for the Posterior Analytics, Physics, On the Heavens, On the Soul and Metaphysics, and they are exhaustively detailed and uncompromising studies, quoting Aristotle in full and commenting on his every sentence. Comparison of Averroes’ middle and long commentaries on On the Soul and Metaphysics has raised the possibility that the middle are abridgements and somewhat revised versions of the long. It seems likely that Averroes wrote the long commentaries for himself and the few who would have the training and patience to follow him, while composing the middle commentaries in a relatively shorter and somewhat more accessible and hence popular form, presumably for the edification of the caliph and his educated retinue. Besides these commentaries, Averroes composed a number of smaller independent treatises, particularly on issues relating to epistemology and physics, both terrestrial and celestial. He also wrote two defences of philosophy, against the critical onslaught of al-Ghazzālī and the theologians of Islam. In these apologia, Averroes insists upon respecting the dogmas of Islam, while presenting himself as a dedicated philosopher, and offering a spirited defence of the religious obligation to pursue philosophy. Refraining on principle from deliberating upon the truth value of articles of faith in general, Averroes yet asserts the political and ethical necessity of affirming traditional religious beliefs. Though this non-judgemental attitude to religious claims may be seen as disingenuous, it could as well be argued that Averroes was simply applying the same criterion to religion that he applied to other fields of enquiry, namely, that it had its own premisses, which, as premisses, were non-demonstrable. Moreover, he knew that the particular nature of the claims made in Islam, as in all revealed religions, based as they were on a belief in miracles, did not comply with the natural and empirical foundations which he saw as necessary for logical, rational discourse. Accordingly, the theology which Averroes allowed himself is of the philosophical kind, in which the particular affirmations of Islam are relevant only at the most universal and impersonal level, concerned with the existence and nature of God, creation and providence. Averroes’ God is thus the philosophers’ God, with no historical or ethnic identification. As a medieval philosopher, however, Averroes works within a modified Aristotelian view of the deity, such that God relates to the world more directly and affectedly than Aristotle thought. Averroes’ logical commentaries attest to the advanced state of the art in the Islamic world by the twelfth century, with full understanding of the technical aspects of syllogistic proof as well as of the political purposes to which logical argument could be put. Viewing, with his predecessors, the Poetics and Rhetoric as part of the Organon, Averroes has less sympathy with poetry as a vehicle for expressing the truth than he has for rhetoric, recognizing the common and even necessary use of rhetoric in traditional religious discourse ([3.4] 73, 84). Dialectical reasoning is both criticized, when used by the mutakallimūn as a selfsufficient methodology; and praised, when treated by the falāsifah as an effective stepping-stone to demonstrative proof. It is the demonstrative proof, with its necessary premisses, which remains the ideal form of argument for Averroes, though he may well have suspected it was an ideal not often realized. As al-Ghazzālī insisted, foreshadowing Hume, many of the philosophers’ physical and metaphysical premisses, and hence proofs, were not necessarily true. Nevertheless, Averroes’ physics and metaphysics follow Aristotle mainly in integrating the principles of being in the sublunar and supralunar spheres. As much as is possible, Averroes presents a uniform picture of the universe. The same principles obtain in the celestial and terrestrial realms, despite the matter of the heavens being considered as eternal. Even where Averroes acknowledges the special properties of the heavens, and even more so of God, and qualifies his descriptions as ‘equivocal’, and ‘analogous’ language, it appears he believes in the universal applicability and intelligibility of his ontological principles. Developing Aristotle’s hylomorphic perspective, Averroes posits a prime matter which, through its connection with an initial amorphous ‘corporeal form’, is conceived of as an existing substantive potentiality ([3.12] 51–4). This, because the corporeal form for Averroes is an indeterminate tridimensional extension, an actual substance of sorts. Prime matter thereby represents being in a perpetual state of becoming. At the other end of the spectrum of being—and part of that spectrum for Averroes—the first mover or God is conceived as an immaterial substance, both fully actual and the very principle of actuality, the actual state of every being deriving ultimately from him. In this way, while representing the very principle of being, God functions to facilitate continuous change and becoming in the world. Every substance in the universe in this view is regarded as the product of these eternal formal and material principles of being, and each substance exists in actual and potential states. At the extremes there is no absolutely separate existence either, prime matter not being found without a corresponding ‘corporeal form’, and God’s very existence ‘proven’ only in relation to the motion of the heavens, for which he is a first and necessary cause. Averroes gets this view of God partly from Aristotle, together with Aristotle’s conceptualization of the first mover as an immaterial and intelligent being: a mind the essential being and sole activity of which is thought, treated in the post-Aristotelian tradition as equivalent to knowledge. For Averroes, as for his Muslim predecessors, this divine knowledge is not purely self-referential; in thinking himself, God was believed to think and hence to know the essential forms (i.e. the species) of all beings ([3.9] 155). While not subscribing to a Neoplatonic emanationist view, and instead believing that all forms are intrinsic to the substance in which they appear, Averroes yet believes that the actualization of each form depends ultimately on the first cause. For Averroes, the physical dependency of the world upon God is couched not only in terms of intelligence and knowledge, but also desire and even love ([3.9] 154). The heavenly bodies were each thought to have intellects which functioned as their immaterial, formal principles. For Averroes this meant that each intellect ‘knew’ the place and role of its sphere in the cosmos, both in relation to the other spheres, and to the unmoving first cause itself. This knowledge could also be expressed as a desire in the intellect to realize itself as perfectly as it could, which for the spheres took the form of perfectly circular and hence eternal motion. Averroes does not seriously posit the existence of a soul in addition to an intellect for each sphere, believing he had no need for a second immaterial principle to explain the motion of the planets ([3.9] 149). For him, the intellect alone could both think or know its object, and desire or love it, desire being the external manifestation of its knowledge, intellect in action. Moreover, the intellects of the spheres could be said to ‘know’ events on earth, inasmuch as their movements, and particularly the heat of the sun, affected the generation of substances here. This knowledge Averroes judged ‘accidental’ or incidental to the ‘essential’ knowledge or function of the spheres, which was to maintain their own, more immediate perfection, expressed by perfect circular motion ([3.9] 38). Averroes clung to the Aristotelian model of circular planetary motion, though aware that astronomical theory had long since modified it. He thereby shows his fundamental if anachronistic loyalty to Aristotle as the arbiter of scientific truth. At the same time, Averroes modified his Aristotelian stance, or appears to have done so, as circumstances required. A striking example of this occurs in his treatment of the process of intellection, at the juncture where mortal and immortal intellects, transient and eternal thoughts, supposedly meet. This is a subject about which Aristotle was notoriously vague in On the Soul 3.5, and for which the post-Aristotelian tradition had proposed a number of theories. The fundamental question was whether the potential human intellect, being formed and informed by the imaginative and sensory faculties of the soul, could transcend these physical origins and become an independent and hence immortal substance. Averroes formulated different responses to this question throughout his life ([3.31] 220–356), and it appears his final position is that the individual intellect is only ‘accidentally’ related to the other corporeal faculties of the soul, belonging ‘essentially’ to a universal immaterial ‘Agent Intellect’. Put another way, the Agent Intellect is ‘essentially’ a single immaterial actual substance, ‘accidentally’ related, as a potential or material intellect, to many corporeal beings. The Agent Intellect for the peripatetic post-Aristotelian tradition is that intellect which is the last of the heavenly intelligences, its sphere of operation our earth. For Averroes, it acts in much the same way that God does in the universe as a whole, as the actualizing principle for all innate forms, including and especially the form of human beings, their intellects. The Agent Intellect thus actualizes the potential and natural intelligibility of all objects here, and the potential knowledge of all persons who exercise their minds. The philosopher’s knowledge, his ‘acquired intellect’, may be considerable indeed, when directed towards and conjoined with the Agent Intellect, his ultimate goal; yet this conjunction does not, for Averroes, render the individual intellect itself immortal. Its truths are not personal, though its knowledge is its own, as long as the person lives. The immortality that the individual may anticipate is as part of the sum of universal truths, identified with the Agent Intellect. For Averroes this knowledge, however inadequate it may seem to the person seeking a personal immortality or mystical union with the deity, yet provides the philosopher with a sense of great felicity and fulfilment. The uncompromising teachings of Averroes’ commentaries are modulated in the works he composed in his own name in defence of philosophy. The Faṣl al-Maqāl, paraphrased in English as ‘Averroes on the harmony of religion and philosophy’,3 was probably written about ten years after Averroes received his mandate from the caliph to explain and summarize Aristotle’s works, i.e. in a period when Averroes enjoyed the caliph’s support and felt confident in presenting philosophy’s claim to religious legitimacy before its detractors. The Harmony has a logical and legal focus, Averroes arguing before his fellow jurists that while rooted in the Qur’ān, Islamic law is as much of an innovation or post-Qur’ānic development within Islam as is philosophy, and that therefore both are equally permissible expressions of the faith. For Averroes, the Qur’ān demands that one reflect upon, hence study the world, which he takes as an obligation to pursue philosophy, for those capable of it. This means, in effect, those who appreciate the difference between demonstrative and nondemonstrative arguments, people (i.e. philosophers) who can argue apodictically ([3.11] 45). Persons such as these are relatively few in any society, Averroes recognizes, and he readily accepts the use of the less conclusive and more popular forms of religious discourse, expressed dialectically and rhetorically. Averroes believes the Qur’ān appeals to people on all three levels, though its demonstrative arguments may only be alluded to, and that only by understanding the text allegorically. Averroes has no hesitation in doing so, his philosophical—here metaphysical— convictions dictating his interpretation of God’s word ([3.11] 58). The Harmony is in this respect a dogmatic assertion of the superiority of scientific, i.e. demonstrable, philosophical discourse, to all other forms of reasoning. Averroes could scarcely expect to persuade his critics of the virtues of philosophy in this manner, and his writing simply attests to his complete conviction and self-confidence. Averroes’ claims for philosophy are buttressed in this book by a brave de facto attack upon one of the institutions of Islamic faith, the concept of ijmā‘ or consensus, which when invoked has the status of law. To his critics, there is a consensus in Islam that philosophy is an irreligious and hence unacceptable pursuit. Averroes, in response, claims that a unanimous consensus does not exist on this issue, simply because there may always be private reservations to positions publicly declared, undermining theoretically the seeming unanimity; while this is true in many areas, it is particularly so for philosophy, which has always had an esoteric tradition of its own ([3.11] 52). Averroes in fact insists upon the private nature of philosophical instruction, claiming it wrong to teach the masses philosophy or the allegorical meaning of Scripture, since they would misunderstand the philosophers and be led to unbelief. It is better to have them believe in ideas which approximate and imitate the truth, thereby preserving society and their own (and the philosophers’) well-being ([3.11] 66). While it would be too much to claim that Averroes is fully preaching toleration, within the limits of his society he may be seen as advocating a fair measure of freedom of speech. He is not beyond branding as heretics disbelievers in creation, prophecy and the afterworld, but insists, without going into much detail, that the traditional understanding of these concepts should not be the only permissible ones. Averroes addresses these particular issues more fully in the Tahāfut al-Tahāfut (The Incoherence of the Incoherence), his major defence of philosophy against the theological attack of al-Ghazzālī. Here the polemical side of Averroes takes a back seat to his gift for philosophical argument, his sights set on Avicenna (d. 1037) as much as on al- Ghazzālī. For it is Avicenna’s philosophy which al-Ghazzālī had first summarized, in his Maqāsid al-Falāsifah (The Intentions of the Philosophers), and then attacked, in his Tahāfut al-Falāsifah (The Incoherence of the Philosophers). The incisiveness of al-Ghazzālī’s attack may well have contributed to the declining fortunes of philosophy in the Muslim East, and eventually in the Muslim world as a whole. In Andalusia, however, the rational philosophical tradition lived on through the twelfth century, and Averroes’ Incoherence may be seen as a last hurrah for a rigorous Aristotelianism within Islamic culture. Averroes may have hoped that in discrediting Avicenna’s Neoplatonically inclined approach to philosophy he could defuse al-Ghazzālī’s critique of philosophy in general, not appreciating the fact that if Avicenna’s more religiously compatible philosophy was refuted, his own more uncompromising approach would be even more at risk in Islamic society. As does his Harmony, Averroes’ Incoherence daringly insists on the legitimacy, if not necessity, of his interpretation of creation, providence and the afterworld, though realizing the philosopher’s political and moral obligation to uphold conventional beliefs in these issues. Accordingly, he gives sufficient lip-service to traditional religious locutions to permit wildly divergent assessments of his views on these matters in contemporary scholarship. Averroes’ Incoherence of the Incoherence is a detailed response to al-Ghazzālī’s Incoherence of the Philosophers, containing a verbatim transcript of the former work. As such, it offers, among other things, Averroes’ proofs for the eternity of the world, so presented as to be compatible with the notion of God as creator; Averroes’ utilization of positive predication of divine attributes in the one God; and Averroes’ rejection of the Avicennian distinction between essence and existence, as well as of the Neoplatonically inspired emanationist ontogony which Avicenna adopted. In place of Avicenna’s scheme, Averroes advocates a more immanentist role for God in the cosmos, modifying thereby Aristotle’s self-centred deity. Averroes’ physics, both celestial and terrestrial, is basically Aristotelian, as is his closing defence of the logical necessity for believing in causation, directed against al-Ghazzālī’s Occasionalism. Averroes’ final remarks defending his views on immortality of the soul and resurrection are very abbreviated, and perhaps indicative that he knew how difficult it was to make them acceptable to his critics, though ostensibly he claims these are not topics amenable to philosophical investigation. For al-Ghazzālī, the notion of the eternity of the world poses two main difficulties: it challenges God’s role as sole creator of the universe, and pre-empts the exercise of his free will. Al-Ghazzālī thus attempts both to discredit the notion of eternal motion and the philosophers’ use of the concept of divine will. He claims, using arguments which may be traced to John Philoponus, that the different rates of motion of the supposedly eternal heavenly bodies would create disparate and hence impossible infinite numbers; while a divine will in an eternal universe would have to act for that which already is and always has been existent, chaining its will to necessity and thereby rendering it otiose. Averroes’ response to the problem of different infinities distinguishes between actual and potential states of being; as all actual movements are finite, infinity is predicable only of non-actual or potential movements, which as such are non-quantifiable ([3.18] 10). As for the divine will, Averroes acknowledges that its action is indeed eternal and necessary, but that it is nevertheless a real will, not the same as ours, though equivocally predicable ([3.18] 90). ‘Creation’ for Averroes is the term for an eternal process in which God is the agent directly responsible, as the first and final cause, for the motion of the heavenly bodies; and indirectly responsible, through those motions, for the formal and efficient causality which determines the nature of all objects. Even matter may be said to come within God’s purview, through the forms with which all matter is connected ([3.18] 108). This eternally created world is viewed as the willed effect of God’s knowledge, which ‘knowledge’ is tantamount to the creative act itself. God thus ‘knows’ the world, in so far as he is its creator. This knowledge is of the world as it is, the actual world, with its corresponding real potentialities, integral to the nature of every actual being. God’s knowledge accordingly is of that which is necessary, being actual, though full knowledge of that entails, for Averroes, knowledge as well of non-necessary or possible alternative states of being. Averroes’ assurance in the divine awareness of logically possible alternative orders in the universe encourages him to speak of the divine will as ‘choosing’ to act in the manner which he does, though the choice is eternally foreknown and necessary. The divine will is thus, for Averroes, the external realization of a theoretically more comprehensive divine knowledge. These and other attributes may be predicated of God, since as immaterial properties they pose for Averroes no quantifiable challenge to the divine oneness ([3.18] 188, 212). Nor do such distinct notions as knowledge and will, or power and life, for example, introduce differentiation into the divine essence for Averroes, since in that essence they are undifferentiated ([3.18] 257). It is we who, assessing the multiple effects of God’s presence in the world, attribute diverse faculties to him. God’s nature remains unique, though it is not necessary therefore to strip it of all meaningful predication, and to distance God from the world physically and logically. God’s involvement in the world is thus a necessary part of his very being, even as the full nature of every object includes the effect it has upon others. Averroes is, accordingly, more willing than other medieval philosophers to detail God’s manifold presence in the world, a presence which allows him to speak even of God’s knowledge of individuals, though such statements must not be taken without qualification ([3.18] 207). A frequent form of qualification for Averroes, used in many contexts as we have seen, is the distinction he employs between ‘essential’ and ‘accidental’ states of being, though both are necessary for the full description of the object discussed. Thus, it may be said that God’s knowledge is essentially one (or single) though accidentally many (or diverse). Averroes’ political philosophy is known to us from a variety of sources, not least his commentary on Plato’s Republic.4 This work is particularly intriguing, being included, presumably intentionally, within the corpus of his Aristotelian commentaries. Admittedly, Averroes’ choice of the Republic was determined in part by his unfamiliarity with Aristotle’s Politics, a text which was unavailable to him in Spain, and largely unknown throughout the Islamic world. However, that fact may itself indicate the status which the Republic enjoyed among the Muslim falāsifah, particularly Averroes’ predecessor, al-Fārābī (d. 950). As the pre-eminent textual representative of Greek political philosophy, the Republic thus had to be included in the canon of philosophical texts which Averroes was charged to present, with his commentaries, to the caliph. The paraphrase of the Republic which Averroes offers his readers is, however, imbued with Aristotelian perspectives, and shows the influence of the Stagirite’s Organon as well as his Nicomachean Ethics ([3.30] 17–45). The metaphysical and dialectical underpinnings of the Republic all but disappear, and the examination of personal and civic virtue which Plato describes is pursued by Averroes for essentially instrumental purposes. Political philosophy is treated primarily as a practical science, though surely Averroes knew the kind of state Plato advocated was impractical and totally unrealistic for a Muslim society. Though it is not necessary to believe Averroes endorsed everything he reports Plato as recommending in the Republic, it is quite clear that he is sympathetic to many of Plato’s teachings there. Averroes’ own affinities can be discerned from the style of his composition, both in his omissions and elaborations, as well as in his comparisons of Plato’s teachings with references to the situation obtaining in the cities or states of his own time. Averroes omits the opening and closing Books of the Republic, with their dialectical, poetic and mythic emphases, and omits also the discussion of the Ideas and of the divided line in Book 6 of Plato’s work; substituting for it an attack upon the world view and methods of the mutakallimūn, a critique which may be seen as an indirect way of affirming Aristotelian nominalism and logic. There as elsewhere in this commentary, Averroes emphasizes Aristotelian distinctions between demonstrative and non-demonstrative forms of reasoning. While preferring demonstrative arguments, Averroes acknowledges the necessity of presenting philosophical truths to the masses in less rigorous ways. Suspicious of the dialectical arguments of the mutakallimūn and of the themes and excesses of much of poetic discourse, and recognizing the limited scope of demonstrably necessary argument in this field, Averroes would apparently consider the métier of political discourse, if not of political philosophy in general, to be rhetoric. This non-literal interpretation of Averroes’ approach to the Republic may help the reader understand his stunning indifference to the conventions of Muslim society. Daringly, Averroes follows Plato in considering religion from a political perspective only. It is seen as a structural component of all societies, part of the legal and moral composition of each city, with Islam and its Prophet accorded no special priority ([3.13] 48). Prophecy as an institution is not placed above the leadership and laws bestowed by the philosopher-king or imām (the one Muslim term which Averroes uses, though treating it as a mere synonym for Plato’s ideal leader) ([3.13] 72). Nor is Averroes particularly sensitive to the strictures of Islamic law, in apparently advocating equal rights and responsibilities for both sexes, and in seeming agreement with Plato’s views on the engendering and upbringing of the guardian class. Again, Averroes does not hesitate to convey and apparently concur with Plato’s remarks about the necessity for political leaders to lie to their subjects on occasion, presenting abstract or impersonal truths in fictive dress. While Averroes is sympathetic to the particular teachings of popular Islam, with its personal and providential God, and afterworld beliefs, he considers them only from a neutral political perspective, risking thereby the wrath of his community ([3.13] 24). Here it would appear that his philosophical zeal has overwhelmed his political prudence. On the other hand, a conventional Islamic influence on Averroes may be discerned in his treatment of Plato’s views on warfare ([3.13] 12). Unlike the Greek philosopher’s defensive (if pre-emptive) military strategy, which Averroes sees as a racially biased attempt to keep the barbarians at bay, the war which the Cordoban faylasūf advocates is a jihād or ‘holy war’; this is intended, however coercively, to bring the virtues of good government and civilization to all those capable of being educated, particularly the young.5 Averroes, we could thus assume, did not ponder the destabilizing effects upon society of a permanent state of warfare, and this despite the ample evidence from the cities of his own time. We know, however, from his legal compendium Bidāyat al-Mujtahid wa-Nihāyat al-Iqtiṣād (which may be loosely translated as The Proper Rational Initiative of a Legist), written for the most part well before his Republic commentary, that Averroes had considered jihād in all its ramifications, including the advisability, under duress, of declaring a truce, in effect making peace. His remarks in the Republic commentary should therefore not be taken as a realistic assessment of or prescription for Islamic society, but as a commentary on an ideally imagined state, as loosely Muslim as Plato’s was Greek. This commentary, like many other commentaries of his, leaves the reader wondering which of Averroes’ remarks are meant to be taken as truly his, and to what degree we must see him adopting a rhetorical stance, and for what ultimate purpose. Fundamentally, Averroes has an appreciation for the philosopher-king model of leadership, with all its stratification and manipulation for the common good; and he has an elitist but apparently egalitarian view of society. It would be surprising if he did not know that this Platonic political philosophy was anything but a practical or implementable document, and that therefore this commentary, as all his philosophical writings, were primarily intended for theoretical reflection, the path to happiness for him best reached through intellectual pursuits. NOTES 1 Cf. the description of Averroes’ momentous encounter with the caliph, as given by Hourani [3.11] 12. 2 Cf. the inventory of these commentaries assembled by Harry Wolfson [3.29]. 3 The full title more literally would be ‘The Book of the Distinction of Discourse and Determination of the Connection between Religious Law and Philosophy’, cf. Hourani [3.11] 1. 4 Averroes’ commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics is only partially extant; for his paraphrase of Plato’s work see Ralph Lerner [3.13]. 5 Cf. Rudolph Peters [3.14] 21 (the chapter on Jihād from Averroes’ legal handbook Bidāyat al-Mujtahid). BIBLIOGRAPHY This is an abbreviated bibliography, owing to the large number of editions, translations and studies of Averroes’ philosophical writings. A complete listing to date may be found in the Rosemann and Druart-Marmura entries given in the bibliographical section below. Complete Editions of Arabic Original, and of Hebrew and Latin Translations 3.1 Aristotelis opera cum Averrois Commentariis, 9 vols and 3 supplements, Frankfurt-On-Main, Minerva, 1962. Reprint of Aristotelis omnia quae extant Opera…Averrois Cordubensis in ea opera omnes, qui ad haec usque tempora pervenere, commentarii, Venice, 1562. 3.2 Corpus Commentariorum Averrois in Aristotelem. Ongoing series, published by the Mediaeval Academy of America, Cambridge, Mass. until 1974, Arabic editions since then published in Madrid and Cairo, Hebrew editions in Jerusalem, and Latin editions in Cologne, under the auspices of learned academies in each country. Nine editions published to date, three each in Arabic, Hebrew and Latin. The American Research Center in Egypt has sponsored the publication of various Arabic commentaries on the Organon, edited by C.Butterworth et al. Editions and Translations of Single Works 3.3 Bland, K. (ed. and trans.) The Epistle on the Possibility of Conjunction with the Active Intellect by Ibn Rushd with the Commentary of Moses Narboni, New York, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1982. 3.4 Butterworth, C. (ed. and trans.) Averroes’ Three Short Commentaries on Aristotle’s Topics, Rhetoric, and Poetics, Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1977. 3.5 ——(trans.) Averroes’ Middle Commentaries on Aristotle’s Categories and De Interpretatione, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1983. 3.6 ——(trans.) Averroes’ Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1986. 3.7 Davidson, H. ‘Averrois Tractatus de Animae Beatitudine’, in R.Link-Salinger (ed.) A Straight Path, Washington, DC, Catholic University of America Press, 1988, pp. 57–73. 3.8 Freudenthal, J. and S.Fränkel, ‘Die durch Averroes erhaltenen Fragmente Alexanders zur Metaphysik des Aristoteles untersucht und übersetzt von J.F.Mit Beiträgen zur Erläuterung des arabischen Textes von S.F.’, Abhandlungen der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin aus dem Jahre 1884; repr., New York, Garland, 1987. 3.9 Genequand, C. (trans.) Ibn Rushd’s Metaphysics, Book Lam, Leiden, E.J.Brill, 1984. 3.10 Goldstein, H. (trans.) Averroes’ Questions in Physics, Dordrecht, Boston and London, Kluwer, 1991. 3.11 Hourani, G. (trans.) Averroes on the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy, London, Luzac, 1961; repr. 1976. 3.12 Hyman, A. (ed. and trans.) Averroes’ De substantia orbis, Cambridge, Mass. and Jerusalem, Medieval Academy of America and Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1986. 3.13 Lerner, R. (trans.) Averroes on Plato’s Republic, Ithaca, NY and London, Cornell University Press, 1974. 3.14 Peters, R. (trans.) Chapter on Jihād from Averroes’ legal handbook Bidāyat almujtahid, in Jihad in Mediaeval and Modern Islam, Leiden, E.J.Brill, 1977, pp. 9–25. 3.15 Puig, J. (trans.) Averroes, ‘Epitome in Physicorum Libros’, Madrid, Instituto Hispano-Arabe de Culture, 1987. (Pages 14–24 contain a bibliography.) 3.16 Rosenthal, E. (ed. and trans.) Averroes’ Commentary on Plato’s Republic, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1956; repr. with corrections 1966 and 1969. 3.17 Van den Bergh, S. (trans.) Die Epitome der Metaphysik des Averroes, Leiden, E. J.Brill, 1924 (repr. 1970). 3.18 ——(trans.) Averroes’ Tahafut al-Tahafut (The Incoherence of the Incoherence), London, Luzac, 1954 (repr. 1969, 2 vols). Bibliographies 3.19 Cranz, F.E. ‘Editions of the Latin Aristode accompanied by the commentaries of Averroes’, in E.Mahoney (ed.) Philosophy and Humanism. Renaissance Essays in Honor of Paul Oskar Kristeller, Leiden, E.J.Brill, 1976, pp. 116–28. 3.20 Druart, T.-A. and Marmura, M. ‘Medieval Islamic philosophy and theology: bibliographical guide (1986–1989)’, Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale 32, ed. SIEPM (1990): 106–11. 3.21 Rosemann, P. ‘Averroes: a catalogue of editions and scholarly writings from 1821 onwards’, Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale 30, ed. SIEPM (1988): 153–215. 3.22 Vennebusch, J. ‘Zur Bibliographie des psychologischen Schriftums des Averroes’, Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale 6 (1964): 92–100. Surveys 3.23 Badawi, A. Histoire de la philosophie en Islam, II: les philosophes purs, Paris, Vrin, 1972, pp. 737–870. 3.24 Cruz Hernández, M. Abu-l-Walîd Ibn Rušd (Averroes): Vida, obra, pensamiento, influencia, Cordoba, Caja de Ahorros, 1986. 3.25 Fakhry, M. A History of Islamic Philosophy, London and New York, Longman and Columbia University Press, 1970, 2nd edn 1983, pp. 270–92. 3.26 Gätje, H. ‘Averroes als Aristoteleskommentator’, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 114 (1964): 59–65. 3.27 Jolivet, J. (ed.) Multiple Averroès, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1978. 3.28 Schmitt, C., ‘Renaissance Averroism studied through the Venetian editions of Aristotle-Averroes (with particular reference to the Giunta edition of 1550– 2)’, in L’Averroismo in Italia, Rome, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 1979, pp. 121–42. 3.29 Wolfson, H. ‘Revised plan for the publication of a Corpus Commentariorum Averrois in Aristotelem’, Speculum 38 (1963): 88–104; 39 (1964): 378, corrections. Studies 3.30 Butterworth, C. ‘Ethics and classical Islamic philosophy: A study of Averroes’ Commentary on Plato’s Republic’, in R.Hovannisian (ed.) Ethics in Islam, Malibu, Calif., Undena, 1985, pp. 17–45. 3.31 Davidson, H. Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect, New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992, pp. 220–356. 3.32 Hourani, G. ‘Averroes on good and evil’, Studia Islamica 16, (1962): 13–40. 3.33 Hyman, A. ‘Aristotle’s theory of the intellect and its interpretation by Averroes’, in D.O’Meara (ed.) Studies in Aristotle, Washington, DC, Catholic University of America Press, 1981, pp. 161–91. 3.34 Jolivet, J. ‘Divergences entre les métaphysiques d’Ibn Rušd et d’Aristote’, Arabica 29 (1982): 225–45. 3.35 Kogan, B. Averroes and the Metaphysics of Causation, Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1985. 3.36 Mahdi, M. ‘Averroes on divine law and human wisdom’, in J.Cropsey (ed.) Ancients and Moderns, New York and London, Basic Books, 1964, pp. 114–31. 3.37 Merlan, P. Monopsychism—Mysticism—Metaconsciousness, The Hague, Nijhoff, 1963, 2nd edn, 1969, pp. 85–113. 3.38 Sabra, A.I. ‘The Andalusian revolt against Ptolemaic astronomy: Averroes and Al-Bitrûjî’, in E.Mendelsohn (ed.) Transformation and Tradition in the Sciences, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1984, pp. 133–53. 3.39 Wolfson, H. ‘Averroes’ lost treatise on the Prime Mover’, Hebrew Union College Annual 23, 1 (1950/1): 683–710. 3.40 ——‘Avicenna, Algazali, and Averroes on divine attributes’, Homenaje a Millás- Vallicrosa, Barcelona, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, vol. 2 (1956): 545–71.

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