Averroes on Plato’s Republic – Book Sample
Introduction – Averroes on Plato’s Republic
Why a Muslim like Averroes should chose to write on Plato’s
Republic is not immediately self-evident. pr what’ use is this pagan closet philosophy to men who already hold what they believe to be the inestimable gift of a divinely revealed Law, a sharra?Can that Law, which presents itself as complete and sufficient and which addresses all men, the Red and the Black, be in need of supplement or correction? fFurther, what has the “lawyer, imam, judge, and unique scholar” (as Averroes chooses to describe himself elsewhere) to do with those matters that Plato makes the theme of the Republic? We know that this list of titles exhausts.neither Averroes’ interests nor his qualifications. Aquinas and Dante have in mind no one else when they speak of the Commentator on Aristotle’s works.
Marrakushi, in his History of the Maghrib, repeats a first-person account in which Averroes explains to a pupil how he was led to · summarize Aristotle’s works in response to the wish of the ruler Abu Yaqub and the urgings of the latter’s chief physician and vizier, lbn Tufayl. This epitome or paraphrase of the Republic is to be seen, then, as a part of that larger project, for as Averroes himself says at the beginning of this work, he has taken up Plato’s book because · Aristotle’s Politics “has not yet fallen into our hands” (22.5). But all this, while it accounts for some things, leaves unanswered
the earlier and more basic question: What is the standing of pagan philosophy in the Muslim community? We may say, with little exaggeration, that almost the first and last words of this work point to the utility, relevance, even necessity, of political science (21.7; 105.5-6). Again and again, Averroes quietly points
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