August 16, 2003

More searching for Averroes

I vaguely recall a statement, in an introduction to a book I can't seem to find amid the chaos here, to the effect that Averroes has been emptied of content. For reformist or progressive Muslims, he has become something of a slogan and a symbol of rational thought; in the West he is regarded as an important figure because through him Western thought was reintroduced to the West; but the historical Averroes, the man Ibn Rushd, who struggled with many problems that no longer interest us, who was a contemporary of many other thinkers, who had his own precursors, is lost. Averroes did not write for Europeans and certainly had no inkling of 20th or 21st century politics.

None of this is to suggest that Averroes is not important, or that the general impression of him is seriously mistaken -- he is a thinker worth reading. But he's not exactly a Muslim John Stuart Mill. I'm going to try to get my thoughts together and do a post on his writings and ideas in their historical context, although tracking down the missing volume (I can't even remember what it's called, and the variations of what I thought the title was turned up nothing on Amazon) would greatly facilitate this.

Posted by Ideofact at August 16, 2003 12:12 AM