LONG COMMENTARY ON THE DE ANIMA OF ARISTOTLE – Book Sample
LONG COMMENTARY ON THE DE ANIMA OF ARISTOTLE – Introduction
In 1168-1169, at the age of about forty-two, Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad Ibn Rushd al-Hafid (Averroes), whose grandfather was the famous legal and religious scholar of the same name, had already devoted serious study to Aristotle and the Greek Commentators.
This was clearly evidenced in Short Commentaries or Epitomes (mukhtaṣarat or jawimzi’) on the works of Aristotle, drawing heavily on the understandings of the Greek and Arabic commentators. Yet thanks to Ibn Tufayl, the work of Averroes came to be even more focused on the texts and thought of Aristotle, even while he continued his studies and writing on law and theology and also served as qadz’ (judge).
In this period Ibn Tufayl presented Averroes at the court of the Almohad ruler Abu Ya’qub Yusuf, who succeeded his father, ‘Abd al-Mu’min, champion of the teachings of al-Mahdi Ibn Tumart (d. ca. 1129-1130) and vanquisher of the Al moravides. As the story goes, Abu Ya’qub Yusuf raised the question of whether the heavens were eternal or had a temporal beginning, much to the distress of Averroes, who knew well that the issue had important religious ramifications since the Qur’an was held to have taught the temporal creation of the world. Only after Abu Ya’qub Yusuf had displayed his sophisticated understanding of the issue in discussion with Ibn Tufayl did Averroes feel sufficiently at ease to join the discussion and to show his own erudition on this matter.
Apparently at the request of Ibn Tufayl and with the patronage and support of Abu Ya’qub Yw:;uf, Averroes, appointed qadf at Seville in 1169, undertook the task 1. With the exception of the Middle and Long Comm entarie s on the De A nima, which are discussed below, I follow for the most part the chronologies of Jamal al-Din al-Alawi (1986) and Miguel Cruz Hernandez (1997), who benefited from Manuel Alonso’s (1947) chronology in Teo/ogza de Averroes.
The most recent account of the works of Averroes is that of Gerhard Endress (1999), which is an inventory of “the present state of critical work on the text of Ibn Rushd” (339) and supplements Wolfson (1931) and (1963). Also see Bouyges (1922) and (1923); Gomez Nogales (1978a); Anawati (1978); and Rosemann (1988).
For more recent and current work on Averroes and his thought, consult Daiber (1999) and the bibliographiesofDruart and Marmura (1990), (1993), and (1995) and Druart (1997b) and (2001). Druart’s most recent versions of her “Brief Bibliographical Guides in Medieval Islamic Philosophy and Theology” are available on the Internet. See Druart (2002), (2004a), and (2006). The most comprehensive bibliography concerning Averroes is part of the Internet Averroes Database, located at the Thomas Institut in Cologne and presented by David Wirmer. See Wirmer, Thomas Institut (2006). The 1998 celebrations in honor of the anniversary of the death of Averroes resulted in a great many new studies of the thought of Averroes; a number of these are still in press.
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