Averroës Biography

Author Profile (Critical Survey of Ethics and Literature)

0111205911-Averroes.jpgAverroës (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

The most scrupulously Aristotelian of the medieval Islamicate philosophers, Averroës nevertheless introduced some significant innovations in his interpretation of Aristotle. His Incoherence of the Incoherence responded to al- Ghazâlî’s attacks on demonstrative philosophy, which, Averroës argued, is independent of revelation and even is necessary for correct interpretation of revelation. Religion is useful for the masses, who can only attain a modicum of practical moral virtue at best, whereas philosophy is for the few who can attain intellectual contemplation of immaterial substance. Agreeing with Aristotle that only the intellectual part of the soul is immaterial, Averroës argued that the bliss of the soul is in its conjoining (ittiśâl) with the (Neoplatonic) Active Intellect, returning the individual intellectual soul to the source from which it emanated. This apparent denial of the individual immortality of the soul was championed by Latin Averroists (such as Siger of Brabant), whose challenge to Catholic orthodoxy was so persistent that it was the professed target of Descartes in his Meditations.