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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Averroes (1126December 10, 1198), was an Andalusian philosopher, physician, and polymath: a master of philosophy, theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, astronomy, geography, mathematics, medicine, physics, psychology and science. He was born in Córdoba, modern day Spain, and died in Marrakech, modern day Morocco. His school of philosophy is known as Averroism. He has been described as the founding father of secular thought in Western Europe.

The Incoherence of the Incoherence

His most important original philosophical work was The Incoherence of the Incoherence (Tahafut al-tahafut), in which he defended Aristotelian philosophy against al-Ghazali's (AD 1058 - 1111) claims in The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahafut al-falasifa). Al-Ghazali had argued that Aristotelianism, especially as presented in the writings of Avicenna, was self-contradictory and an affront to the teachings of Islam. In particular he argued that three philosophical points (viz. a pre-eternal world, God only knowing universal - that is to say, Platonic - characteristics of particulars, and a spiritual rather than physical resurrection) constituted not just heresy, but rather disbelief in Islam itself. Ibn Rushd's rebuttal was two-pronged: First, he contended that al-Ghazali's arguments were mistaken, arguing that the Qur'an actually commanded devout Muslims to study of philosophy. Second, Ibn Rushd contended that he actually agreed with al-Ghazali in regards to a number of the latter's criticisms of Avicenna; Ibn Rushd argued that the system of Avicenna was a distortion of genuine Aristotelianism, and as a result, al-Ghazali was effectively aiming at the wrong target. Ibn Rushd thus argues that his own system is, as R. Arnaldez notes, "a reconstruction of the true philosophy, that of Aristotle himself, against the false, that of the neo-Platonic falāsifa, which distorted the thinking of Aristotle".

Whereas al-Ghazali believed that phenomenon such as cotton burning when coming into contact with fire happened each and every time only because God willed it to happen: "all earthly occurrences depend on heavenly occurrences." Ibn Rushd, by contrast insisted while God created the natural law, humans "could more usefully say that fire cause cotton to burn - because creation had a pattern that they could discern."

In Fasl al-Maqal (Decisive Treatise), Ibn Rushd argues for the legality of philosophical investigation under Islamic law, and that there is no inherent contradiction between philosophy and religion

In Kitab al-Kashf, which argued against the proofs of Islam advanced by the Ash'arite school and discussed what proofs, on the popular level, should be used instead.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Averroes" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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