Ibn Rushd (1126–1198)
IBN RUSHD (1126–1198)
Ibn Rushd, whose Latin name was Averroes, was the most outstanding philosopher in the Islamic world working within the Peripatetic (Greek) tradition. He was particularly interested in the work of Aristotle and wrote a large number of commentaries of differing length on his works. Ibn Rushd was not only a philosopher but also a judge, legal thinker, physician, and politician, like so many of the other philosophers in the Islamic world. His work is marked by its commitment to what he took to be pure Aristotelianism and his relative antipathy to Neoplatonism. He defended the acceptability of philosophy in the Islamic world, arguing that it does not contradict religion but complements it. Ibn Rushd held that philosophy represents the system of demonstrative or rational argumentation, while religion presents the conclusions of philosophy to a wider audience in a form that enables the latter to understand how to act.
This thesis came to be characterized as the "double-truth" thesis, which held that philosophy and religion are both true despite contradicting each other. Nevertheless, Ibn Rushd did not hold such a thesis, whatever views were attributed to him outside of the Islamic world after his death. During his lifetime, Ibn Rushd suffered at the hands of rulers who were occasionally unsympathetic to philosophy, and after his death his style of philosophy soon fell out of fashion in the Arabic-speaking Islamic world. It is the commentaries that led to his continuing influence in Jewish and Christian Europe long after he was forgotten in the Islamic world.
Leaman, Oliver. Averroes and his Philosophy. Richmond, U.K.: Curzon, 1997.
Nasr, Seyyed, and Leaman, Oliver, eds. History of Islamic Philosophy. London: Routledge, 1996.