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Averroes or Ibn Rushd Andalusian philosopher: Spain 1967

Averroes, (in Arabic Ibn Rushd) (1126-1198 AD), was a 12th century Andalusian-Arab philosopher, theologian, and physician. He is regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of philosophy and Islamic thought, as well as being one of the most important figures in medieval philosophy. 

Averroes was born in Cordoba, Spain in 1126 AD, in a family was well known in the city for their public service, especially in the legal and religious fields. His grandfather Abu al-Walid Muhammad  ibn Rushd (1058-1126) nicknamed al-Jadd (“the grandfather”), served as chief Qadi (Judge) in the city of Cordoba and the imam of the Great Mosque of Córdoba under the Almoravids.

He wrote about many subjects, including philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, psychology, mathematics, Islamic jurisprudence and law, and linguistics.

His works:

Averroes or Ibn Rush on a Spanish stamp of 1967.
Averroes or Ibn Rushd on a Spanish stamp of 1967.

Averroes authored more than 108 books and treatises but only 58 exist today in their original Arabic text.  Heis best known for his commentaries and interpretations of Aristotle’s works, which had a profound influence on medieval philosophy. He wrote commentaries on almost all of Aristotle’s works, from the Categories and the Poetics to the Metaphysics and the Politics. Averroes also wrote on topics such as Islamic law, medicine, and astronomy, and wrote extensively on topics such as the nature of God, the immortality of the soul, creation, and the problem of evil.

Averroes was an advocate for reason and empirical investigation and believed that philosophical and theological disputes should be resolved by rational argument and evidence. He argued that reason and faith were not incompatible, and that faith should be used to support and extend the conclusions of reason. He argued that revelation should be interpreted in light of reason and the natural world, and that religious texts should not be taken literally but should be interpreted within a philosophical and rational framework.

Averroes was an important figure in the development of philosophical thought in the medieval period, and his works had a major influence on the development of Islamic and Jewish philosophy. He is remembered today as one of the greatest Islamic philosophers, theologians, and scientists of the medieval era.

Professional Career:

Averroes had many official positions in the Almohad empire that controlled Andalusia and Morocco and other parts of north Africa.

Averroes was made a qadi (judge) in Seville in 1969, then in his native Córdoba, in 1171.  Despite his other commitments and his trips around the Almohad empire, his writing rate improved during this period. He used his travels as an occasion to carry out astronomical studies as well. Instead of Córdoba, many of his works created between 1169 and 1179 were dated at Seville. He was once more appointed qadi in Seville in 1179. He succeeded his friend the Arab philosopher Ibn Tufayl (1105-1185) as court physician in 1182, and later the same year he was chosen to take over his grandfather’s former position as chief qadi of Cordoba.

Because of some political considerations, Averroes was banned from the royal court in 1995, and his books banned and burned. Later, in 1997, was readmitted to the court of the Almohad Caliph, but he died a year later in Marrakesh.

Catalogue Reference: Yvert & Tellier #1444


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