Ibn Rushd was the major philosopher of the 12th century who lived in Cordoba from 1126 to 1198 and was a contemporary of the great Jewish Rabbi and philosopher Maimonides. Toward the end of Ibn Rushd’s life he encountered severe censorship, after the Almohad invasions of Andalusia that enforced strict censorship and the banning and burning of his books and forced him to exile and to seek refuge in the predominantly Jewish village of Lucena outside of Cordoba (Hillier 2016). Ibn Rushd is best known for his commentaries on Aristotle and for his attack on Al-Ghazali (d. 1111) in a who upheld an Ash’arite theology, also known as the Mutakallimun. Al-Ghazali had written a long work that attacked the philosophy of Ibn Sina and that attacked philosophy in general. Ibn Rushd wrote a long work that took apart Al-Ghazali’s argument and that instead defended philosophy as a subject that could exist with or independently from faith. Ibn Rushd’s commentaries on Aristotle were also of vital importance in the history of philosophy, for these texts were translated into Latin and held great influence at the University of Paris in the mid 1200s where figures like Albert Magnus, Thomas Aquinas and Roger Bacon debated its merits. For Aquinas Averroes and the school of philosophy known as Averroism was dangerous and so he sought to defend the inseparability of faith and reason in his Summa Theologiae. Those who followed Averroes’ teachings were accused of denying the infinity of the soul. Interestingly a group of Jewish philosophers from Cordoba, including Maimonides would absorb and modify a number of his key ideas.
Listen to the Podcast on Averroes with Melvyn Bragg, In Our Time on the BBC
With Amira Bennison, Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge; Peter Adamson, Reader in Philosophy at King’s College London; Sir Anthony Kenny, philosopher and former Master of Balliol College, Oxford.
Despite the advances in Ibn Rushd’s philosophical defense of rationalism, as with Ibn Sina, there are a number of weaknesses that show the limits of physical knowledge. Like Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd believed in spontaneous generation and also dismissed Al-Ghazali’s interesting mention of the calculable differences of planetary orbits. He also upholds a cosmology in which the Earth is the center around which all objects rotate. This mirrors his implied view of a political order in which the monarch or ruler is at the center all other subordinates are moved and kept in order by rank (Hillier 2016).
His works are available to download from Muslim Philosophy.com
- Tahfut at Tahafut (Incoherence of the Incoherence)
- On the harmony of Religion and Philosophy (E-text) HTML version
- New Translation by G. F. Hourani
- A newer Translation: Decisive Treatise & Epistle Dedicatory (Averroes), a parallel English-Arabic text translated and introduced with notes by Charles Butterworth (Information link)
- Turkoman Translation (pdf) by Dr. Tahir Ashurov. Courtesy of the translator.
- Kitab al-kashf ‘an manahij al-‘adilla- translated into English as Faith & Reason in Islam. Introduction–Table of contents(link). Note that with the above two works they form a sort of a trilogy of works on the interaction of philosophy and theology.
- Bidayat al-Mujtahid (Distinguished Jurist) (Link-Intro/Contents)
- Ibn Rushd’s Metaphysics. C. Genequand (PDF)
- In Hebrew. (Image of Manuscript.)
- Middle Commentary on Poetics translated by Charles Butterworth. St. Augustine’s Press, ISBN: 1-890318-03-5, 2000, (link: – book info.)
- Averroes Latin Corpus project. (link) By Prof. Gerhard Endress.
- Averroes’ Middle Commentaries on Aristotle’s Categories and De Interpretatione: Translation, with notes and introduction by Charles Butterworth, St. Augustine’s Press; ISBN: 1-890318-01-9, 1998- (link: – book info.)
Biographical and critical works on Ibn Rushd from Muslim Philosphy.com
- Basic biography in Arabic… (e-text)
- Another biography edited by E. Renan (Arabic pdf)
- In English & other languages:
- Averroes’ Critique of Kalam Atomism by M. Altaie (Arabic PDF E-text) Arabic Word. (note there is an abstract in English on page 2).
- BEING AND LANGUAGE IN AVERROES’ “TAHAFUT AT-TAHAFUT” by: Prof. M. Campanini
- Ibn Rushd Encyclopedia of Islam article (e-text).