69 million page views

Averroes' "The Incoherence of the Incoherence" -- A key to understanding the world today?

Reader comment on item: [American Muslim Group for Policy Planning;] Another "Moderate" Muslim Group

Submitted by GWK (United States), Jan 5, 2005 at 11:01

Dr. Pipes:

I've enjoyed reading your writings and wanted to point you to a area of research that may not have been called to your attention. Have you ever thought about the prospects that the burgeoning populations of the Middle East may have already have been exposed to Western style rationalism and have rejected it? It is perhaps a theme worth revisiting, because rationalism may still eventually appeal to the people of the Middle East.

Consider the following two philosophers:

- Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali, 1058-1111
- Ibn Rushd, (aka "Averroes"), 1126-1198

Al-Ghazali wrote a work entitled The Incoherence of the Philosophers; Averroes replies with The Incoherence of the Incoherence - a defense of the philosophers, or rather of Aristotelian philosophy. The origins of Salafism run through the writings of al-Ghazali. Yet one of the muslim scholastics who attempted to rationalize extremism was Averroes, who defended Aristotelian philosophy against al-Ghazali's claims. In Islamic lands, where orthodoxy and al-Ghazali's intuitive and mystical sense of the Divine won, Averroes' rationalism did not have following. However, because rationalism became the dominant path of western thought, this conflict emerges as one of the keys to understanding (and perhaps bridging) the widening gulf between Muslim thought and Western thought.

Here are some initial links to the philosophical conflict between the two paths of thought:

http://www.humanities.mq.edu.au/Ockham/x52t07.html
www.kirjasto.sci.fi/averro.htm
www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/arab-y67s11.html

In addition, you might consider any of the following three books:

1. Ibn Rushd's Metaphysics: A Translation with Introduction of Ibn Rushd's Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics; Ibn Rushd Averroes, Format: Hardcover, Pub. Date: December 1984

2. Averroes: His Life, Works and Influence; Majid Fakhry, Format: Paperback, Pub. Date: January 2002

3. Averroes' Middle Commentary on Aristotle's Poetics; Ibn Rushd Averroes, Charles Butterworth (Translator)

I'd be delighted to see a commentary or analysis on the possibility of reviving the influence of Averroes among the people of the Middle East. In addition, a contrast between that part of the world's rationalists versus its extremists would be interesting.

Again, keep up the great writing!
Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

Actually, I wrote my undergraduate thesis in 1971 on "A Medieval Islamic Debate: The World Created in Eternity?" a study of Averroes' Incoherence of the Incoherence (Tahafut at-Tahafut), so I am aware of this rejection. But the rejection of Greek philosophy (falsafa) eight hundred years ago does not imply its premises are doomed today.

DP

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to Averroes' "The Incoherence of the Incoherence" -- A key to understanding the world today? by GWK

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2022 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)