The New International Encyclopædia/Averroës

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Edition of 1905.  See also Averroes on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

AVERROËS, a-vĕr'rṓ-ēz (Abu’l Walid Mohammed ibn Ahmed ibn Roshd) (c.1126-98). A famous Spanish-Arabian philosopher and jurist, born at Cordova. His father and grandfather had been great jurists. His grandfather wrote works on Arabic civil and religious law, and it was only natural that Averroës should turn to law. At Cordova he studied theology and philosophy under Tofail and medicine under Zuhr. His father instructed him in jurisprudence. By Tofail he was introduced to Abu Yakub Yusuf, the Caliph of Morocco. Averroës, however, did not stay long in Morocco. In 1169 he was appointed judge in Seville, and then at his native town, Cordova. In 1182 he was appointed physician to the Caliph of Morocco, but again he left to take a judgeship in Cordova. Being accused of doctrines contrary to orthodox Mohammedanism, he was deprived of his office and exiled to Lucena, where he lived in great poverty. Again he was called to Morocco, where he died.

Averroës regarded Aristotle as the greatest of all the philosophers, and the one who alone was able to attain perfection. His commentaries on the works of Aristotle (extant in Hebrew and Latin translations) exerted a great influence on the scholastic school in Europe. He opposed the orthodox school, and insisted that the Koran must he explained in the light of reason, and not along mystical lines, as Algazali had done. The latter had written a work against philosophy, The Destruction of Philosophy. This was answered by Averroës in The Destruction of the Destruction, which was translated into Latin by Locatellus (1497-1529). In medicine Averroës sided with Aristotle as against Galen; his medical work, Colliget, appeared in Latin (Venice, 1482 and 1514). His complete works were published in 1552 at Venice. For more extended bibliography consult Renan, Averroès et l'averroïsme (Paris, 1852); Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur (Weimar, 1899).