Averroes

po_AverroesAbū l-Walīd Muḥammad bin ʾAḥmad bin Rušd, commonly known as Ibn Rushd or by his Latinized name Averroës (April 14, 1126 – December 10, 1198), was an Andalusian Muslim polymath.

He was a master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, logic, psychology, politics and Andalusian classical music theory, and the sciences of medicine, astronomy, geography, mathematics, physics and celestial mechanics.

Averroes was born in Córdoba, Al Andalus, present-day Spain, and died in Marrakesh, present-day Morocco. He was interred in his family tomb at Córdoba. The 13th-century philosophical movement based on Averroes’ work is called Averroism.

Averroes was a defender of Aristotelian philosophy against Ash’ari theologians led by Al-Ghazali. Averroes’ philosophy was considered controversial in Muslim circles. Averroes had a greater impact on Western European circles and he has been described as the “founding father of secular thought in Western Europe”. The detailed commentaries on Aristotle earned Averroes the title “The Commentator” in Europe. Latin translations of Averroes’ work led the way to the popularization of Aristotle and were responsible for the development of scholasticism in medieval Europe.

Averroes’s works were spread over 20,000 pages covering a variety of different subjects, including early Islamic philosophy, logic in Islamic philosophy, Islamic medicine, mathematics, astronomy, Arabic grammar, Islamic theology, Sharia (Islamic law), and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). In particular, his most important works dealt with Islamic philosophy, medicine and Fiqh. He wrote at least 80 original works, which included 28 works on philosophy, 20 on medicine, 8 on law, 5 on theology, and 4 on grammar, in addition to his commentaries on most of Aristotle’s works and his commentary on Plato’s The Republic.

Averroes wrote a medical encyclopedia called Kulliyat (“Generalities”, i. e. general medicine), known in its Latin translation as Colliget. He also made a compilation of the works of Galen, and wrote a commentary on the Canon of Medicine (Qanun fi ‘t-tibb) of Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (980-1037).

Averroes also authored three books on physics namely: Short Commentary on the Physics, Middle Commentary on the Physics and Long Commentary on the Physics. Averroes defined and measured force as “the rate at which work is done in changing the kinetic condition of a material body” and correctly argued “that the effect and measure of force is change in the kinetic condition of a materially resistant mass”. He took a particular and keen interest in the understanding of “motor force”

Averroes’s work on Aristotle spans almost three decades, and he wrote commentaries on almost all of Aristotle’s work except for Aristotle’s Politics, to which he did not have access. Hebrew translations of his work also had a lasting impact on Jewish philosophy. Moses Maimonides, Samuel Ben Tibbon, Juda Ben Solomon Choen, and Shem Tob Ben Joseph Falaquera were Jewish philosophers influenced by Averroes. His ideas were assimilated by Siger of Brabant and Thomas Aquinas and others (especially in the University of Paris) within the Christian scholastic tradition which valued Aristotelian logic. Famous scholastics such as Aquinas believed him to be so important they did not refer to him by name, simply calling him “The Commentator” and calling Aristotle “The Philosopher. ” Averroes had no discernible influence on Islamic philosophic thought until modern times. His death coincides with a change in the culture of Al-Andalus. In his work Fasl al-Maqāl (translated a. o. as The Decisive Treatise), he stresses the importance of analytical thinking as a prerequisite to interpret the Qur’an.