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Averroës (əvĕrˈōēz), Arabic Ibn Rushd, 1126–98, Spanish-Arab philosopher. He was far more important and influential in Jewish and Christian thought than in Islam. He was a lawyer and physician of Córdoba and lived for some time in Morocco in favor with the caliphs. He was banished for a period, probably for suspected heresy. Averroës's greatest work was his commentaries on Aristotle. The Averroistic interpretation of Aristotle remained influential long after his death and was a matter of intellectual speculation well into the Renaissance. He attempted to delimit the separate domains of faith and reason, pointing out that the two need not be reconciled because they did not conflict. He declared philosophy the highest form of inquiry. He had the same Neoplatonic cast to his metaphysics as Avempace, to whom he was certainly indebted for his ideas on the intellect. Averroist doctrines on personal immortality and the eternity of matter were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. St. Thomas Aquinas was respectful of Averroës, but he attacked the Averroist contention that philosophic truth is derived from reason and not from faith. See scholasticism. Averroës's works in English translation include Incoherence of the Incoherence, ed. by Simon Van Den Bergh (1955); On Aristotle's De Generatione et Corruptione, ed. by Samuel Kurland (1958); Commentary on Plato's Republic, ed. by E. I. J. Rosenthal (1956, repr. 1966); and On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy, ed. by G. F. Hourani (1961).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Abu al-Walid, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd). Born 1126 in Cordoba; died 1198 in Marrakech, Morocco. Arab philosopher and physician; last major representative of eastern Aristotelianism.

Averroës lived in Andalusia and Morocco, occupying the positions of judge and court physician; he suffered persecution as a heretic shortly before his death. Most of his philosophical works are commentaries on Aristotle; for this reason he received the honorary appellation “the Commentator.” In his treatise The Incoherence of the Incoherence, Averroës refuted the attacks on philosophy by Ghazali and other theologians, defending the primacy of reason in cognition. His separation of a so-called rational religion accessible to a few educated men and a figurative, allegorical religion accessible to all later became one of the sources of the double-truth doctrine. Affirming the eternity of the world and the eternity of primal matter, Averroës understood god’s creation of the world as the transformation by god (who is “coeternal” with the world) of the potential forms of primal matter into reality. The abstract universal intellect, the Aristotelian nous, is seen by Averroës as the unique and impersonal substance, common to all men and acting on individual souls from without. As a consequence, he rejected the im-mortality of the individual soul. These rationalist and materialist tendencies in the Aristotelianism of Averroës greatly influenced the subsequent development of medieval philosophy. His social ideals were’based on Plato’s Republic.

Averroës wrote the encyclopedic medical work Kitab al-Kulliyat (a general guide to medicine), containing in its seventh volume, known as the Colliget in European literature, clinical observations of his own and other doctors.


Izbr. proizv. myslitelei stran Blizhnego i Srednego Vostoka 9–14 vv. Moscow, 1961. Pages 397–554.
Averroës’ Tahafut ai-Tahafut, vols. 1–2. London, 1954.
Averroës’ Commentary on Plato’s Republic. Cambridge, 1956.


Renan, E. Averroës i averroizm. Kiev, 1903. (Translated from French.)
Ley, H. Ocherk istorii srednevekovogo materializma. Moscow, 1962. Pages 143–206. (Translated from German.)
Gauthier, L. Ibn Rochd (Averroës). Paris, 1948.
Corbin, H.Histoire de la philosophie islamique, vol. 1. Paris, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.