August 17, 2003

Averroes found

Here, in fact. Or, at least, the missing volume on him to which I referred below, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) by Doninique Urvoy, translated by Olivia Stewart. The passage I remembered below reads,

Renan's pioneering work of 1861, admirable for its time, suffers from his indirect acquaintance with Ibn Rushd's work which he studied through Latin or Hebrew translations. More serious though is its tendency -- despite the care of the researcher -- to view the Muslim author as a free thinker along nineteenth-century lines...

Similarly, there are a number of Muslims who as a result of the current tensions within their culture tend to advocate the simple resurrection of Falsafa as a rational attitude justified and even implied within the revelation of the Koran. However, in failing to situate Ibn Rushd's work in the context of rationalizing reform of the Almohads, they rob it of its essence, reducting it to a collection of slogans which at their most extreme are quite as obscuratantist as those of their fundamentalist opponents.

The title page says it was published in 1991, and I'm just about certain that's the year I bought it, during the 4 1/2 hours it was in print (it's out of print now). And now I remember why not much else made an impression on me beyond those first few introductory paragraphs -- the work is almost incomprehensible. Not so much the language, but the fact that various figures pop in and out without so much as a line of biography or a date, so that one never knows whether we're reading about someone who influenced Ibn Rushd or someone who was influenced by him. Ibn Tumart, on whom the author lavishes 28 of 130-odd pages, is never identified as the founder of the Almohad dynasty (which reigned in Spain during Ibn Rushd's lifetime). Without a good encyclopedia by one's side, one is utterly lost.

Coming up with a post on the subject will take some time.

Posted by Ideofact at August 17, 2003 11:34 PM

If you are interested in his text "Incoherence of the Incoherence" which was a reply to Ghazali's "Incoherence of philosophers" (, it's available online at:

Posted by: Zack at August 20, 2003 10:03 PM