Skip to main content
×
Home

AL-MIKLĀTĪ, A TWELFTH CENTURY AŠʿARITE READER OF AVERROES

  • Yamina Adouhane (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

The aim of this article is to present a new witness of Averroes' reception in the Muslim world, in the years that immediately followed his death. Indeed Abū al-Ḥağğāğ al-Miklātī (d. 1237) is an Ašʿarite theologian, who was born in Fez. He is the author of a Quintessence of the Intellects in Response to Philosophers on the Science of Principles in which he aims at refuting the Peripatetic philosophers in their own field, using their own weapons. This article will first attempt to draw the portrait of this atypical theologian. It will then focus on showing that al-Miklātī – although he never mentions his name – is a reader of Averroes and in particular, of his Tahāfut al-Tahāfut, of which he makes various and unexpected uses. A close look at these uses will enable us to better define the nature of al-Miklātī's work. More importantly, this article will try to prove that al-Miklātī provides us with a key passage of Averroes' lost treatise On the Prime Mover. At the heart of the Rushdian criticism of Avicenna's “metaphysical” proof, this passage should throw new light on Averroes' precise understanding of this proof.

Résumé

L'objectif de cet article est de présenter un nouveau témoin de la réception d'Averroès dans le monde musulman, dans les années qui suivirent immédiatement sa mort. En effet, Abū al-Ḥağğāğ al-Miklātī (m. 1237) est un théologien ašʿarite, né à Fès. Il est l'auteur d'une Quintessence des intellects en vue de répondre aux philosophes en matière de science des fondements, où il entreprend de réfuter les philosophes – les Péripatéticiens en premier lieu – sur leur terrain et avec leurs propres armes. Cet article cherchera dans un premier temps à dresser le profil de ce théologien atypique. Il s'attachera ensuite à montrer qu'al-Miklātī – bien qu'il ne mentionne pas une seule fois son nom – est un lecteur d'Averroès et en particulier de son Tahāfut al-Tahāfut, dont il fait des usages variés et inattendus. L'examen de ces usages permettra de mieux définir le statut de l'œuvre d'al-Miklātī. Enfin, et surtout, cet article tentera de prouver qu'al-Miklātī nous fournit un passage clé d'un traité perdu d'Averroès: le Traité sur le Premier Moteur. Au cœur de la critique rushdienne de la preuve “métaphysique” d'Avicenne, ce passage devrait apporter un éclairage nouveau à la compréhension qu'Averroès pouvait avoir de cette preuve.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Email: adouhane_yamina@yahoo.fr
References
Hide All

1 Renan E., Averroès et l'averroïsme (Paris, 2002): “Quand Averroès mourut, en 1198, la philosophie arabe perdit en lui son dernier représentant, et le triomphe du Coran sur la libre pensée fut assuré pour au moins six cents ans.” Such a picture appears today as a mere caricature and has been discredited notably by studies that defend the idea of a “second ‘formative’ period” of philosophy in the Islamic world “after Avicenna and beginning with influential reaction he provoked from al-Ġazālī”. Cf. the introduction of Adamson P. (ed.), In the Age of Averroes: Arabic Philosophy in the Sixth/Twelfth Century (London and Turin, 2011), pp. 167, p. 2. Still, it seems that such studies rarely challenge this conception when it comes to the Muslim West, at the exception perhaps of the Andalusian mystic Ibn ‘Arabī.

2 Benchérifa M., Ibn Rušd al-ḥafīd. Sīrat waṯāʾiqiyya (Casablanca, 1999); Hernandez M. Cruz, Abū-l-Walīd Muḥammad ibn Rušd (Averroes). Vida, obra, pensamiento, influencia (Cordoba, 1997); D'Ancona C. (ed.), Storia della filosofia nell'Islam medievale. Vol. II, “Averroè” di M. Geoffroy (Torino, 2005); G. Endress, “Le projet d'Averroès”, in Averroes and the Aristotelian Tradition: Sources, Constitution and Reception of the Philosophy of Ibn Rushd (1126-1198), Proceedings of the Fourth Symposium Averroicum, Cologne, 1996 (Leiden, 1999); Leaman O., Averroes and his Philosophy (Oxford, 1988); Urvoy D., Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (London and New York, 1991); Urvoy D. (sous la dir. de), La philosophie andalouse. Auteurs et œuvres, Introduction par D. Urvoy (Casablanca, 2006).

3 The information and anecdotes we have about the theologians that opposed Averroes and other philosophers does not draw a glorifying portrait of them. The attacks they orchestrated seem to have been mainly sophistic and opportunist. I am thinking of someone like Muḥammad ibn Zarqūn and Abū ʿĀmir ibn Rabīʿ who was said “[to insult Averroes] in public and with obscenities” and “[to accuse] him of plagiarism” (cf. Montada J. Puig, “Materials on Averroes’ circle”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies (JNES), 51 [1992]: 241–60, pp. 253–5). As M. Benchérifa explains in his biography of Averroes, the motives which led to Abū ʿĀmir's attacks were an old and profound rivalry between the two families and no doubt his lusting for the function of Qāḍī of Cordoba. Still, his opposition was also doctrinal and he wrote several works that all seem from their titles to be directed against Ibn Rušd, the grandson mainly but also the grandfather. However, only the titles of these refutations have reached us (thanks to one of his disciples, Abū al-Ḥasan al-Raʿīnī, who wrote a bibliography of his masters) and so we are left with no information on the nature and content of the theologians' doctrinal attack against Averroes (cf. Benchérifa, Ibn Rušd al-ḥafīd, pp. 180–3).

4 “It is generally accepted that the philosophical works of Averroes were not read in the Islamic world after Averroes' fall from grace in Córdoba in 1195, and until the early twentieth century, when they were taken up again by Egyptian philosophers. There are, however, traces of the presence of his works amongst Western Muslims.” (Burnett C., “The ‘sons of Averroes with the emperor Frederick’ and the transmission of the philosophical works by Ibn Rushd”, in Averroes and the Aristotelian tradition [Leiden, 1999], pp. 259–99, p. 275.) Burnett mentions the notorious example of Ibn Ḫaldūn. One can also think of Ibn Taymiyya: according to Jon Hoover, “Ibn Taymiyya's view of God's perpetual creativity is remarkably similar to that of Ibn Rushd” (Perpetual creativity in the perfection of God: Ibn Taymiyya's hadith commentary on God's creation of this world”, Journal of Islamic Studies, 15.3 (2004): 287329, p. 295). Elsewhere, he even calls him “the nearest of the philosophers to Islam” (Mağmūʿ Fatāwā Šayḫ al-Islām Aḥmad Ibn Taymiyya, ed. ʿA. Ibn Qasim and M. Ibn Muhammad, 37 vols. [Cairo, n.d.], vol. 17, p. 295, quoted by J. Hoover in p. 295). Burnett then adds: “What has not been sufficiently appreciated, however, is the apparent survival of interest in his philosophical works for at least one generation after his death, among scholars associated with the court of al-Nāṣir in Marrakesh.” (The underlining is mine.) In this article, Burnett examines the hypothesis of the presence of Averroes' sons at the court of the Emperor Frederick and of their role in the transmission of their father's works. He also mentions one of Averroes' disciples who held an ambiguous position towards his former master: Ibn Ṭumlūs. Cf. Elamrani-Jamal A., “Éléments nouveaux pour l'étude de l'Introduction à l'art de la logique d'Ibn Ṭumlūs (m. 620 H./1223)”, in Hasnawi A., Elamrani-Jamal A. and Aouad M. (eds.), Perspectives arabes et médiévales sur la tradition scientifique et philosophique grecque (Leuven and Paris, 1997), pp. 465–83. If we admit Elamrani-Jamal's new datation, Ibn Ṭumlūs (c. 1150/5–1223) is the exact contemporary of al-Miklātī (c. 1155–1237).

5 He most likely owes this nickname to his affiliation to the tribe of Miklata. Cf. p. 11 of the long introduction to his work by the editor presented in note 7.

6 The year of Averroes' death.

7 Professor at the University of ʿAyn Shams, she published the same year in Cairo Ašʿarī's al-Ibāna ‘an uṣūl al-diyāna. Cf. Anawati G. C., “Textes arabes anciens édités en Egypte au cours des années 1976–1977–1978”, MIDEO, 14 (1980): 211–62, pp. 214–15.

8 I am immensely grateful to Marwan Rashed for bringing my attention to this work and giving me the opportunity to study it under his direction.

9 Daiber H., Bibliography of Islamic Philosophy, vol. 1 (Leiden, 1999). He describes it as “a dogmatic work, refuting Ibn Sīna, Fārābī and theological schools of Islam, esp. the Ašʿarites”.

10 Anawati, “Textes arabes anciens”, pp. 219–23.

11 This is how I translate the terms derived from ḥadaṯa: ḥādiṯ = adventice, ḥadaṯ = adventicity, ḥudūṯ/iḥdāṯ = advention, muḥdaṯ = advented, muḥdiṯ = adventor. Although it is not the most intuitive one, this family of terms is the one that better enables to translate the range of Arabic terms. For instance it renders the difference between ḥādiṯ and muḥdaṯ, and ḥadaṯ and iḥdāṯ, although it fails to distinguish between ḥudūṯ and iḥdāṯ.

12 However, Averroes is not once named in al-Miklātī's entire work.

13 Al-Miklātī , The Quintessence of Intellects in Response to Philosophers on the Science of Principles (Cairo, 1977), pp. 23. All the translations are mine. Around 1140, in the Muslim East, the popularity of philosophical ideas among scholars brought the Muʿtazilite theologian, Rukn al-Dīn ibn al-Malāḥimī, to write a Tuḥfat al-mutakallimīn fī al-radd ʿalā al-falāsifa (The Unique Gift of/for Theologians in Response to Philosophers). He was afraid that these Muslim scholars would follow the path of the Christians whose “leading proponents were inclined towards the Greeks in philosophy, to the point that they modelled the religion of Jesus upon [the doctrines of] the philosophers” and produced such absurdities as the three hypostases and the incarnation. Cf. Ansari H. and Madelung's W. introduction to their edition of the text: Tuḥfat al-mutakallimīn fī al-radd ʿalā al-falāsifa (Tehran, 2008), and G. Schwarb, “Muʿtazilism in the age of Averroes”, in Adamson (ed.), In the Age of Averroes, pp. 251–82, at pp. 259–61.

14 From now on, will be referred to as Quintessence.

15 In the fourth introduction of his Tahāfut al-Falāsifa, al-Ġazālī writes that, in this book, he will address the philosophers “in their own language, i.e. with the expressions [they use] in logic” (Algazel, Tahāfot al-Falāsifat, ed. Bouyges M., Bibliotheca Arabica Scholasticorum, Série Arabe, tome II (Beirut, 1927), p. 16, l. 24).

16 There are actually three preliminary parts. The first one aims at determining the relation of this science – fundamental science – to the other religious sciences. The second one exposes the subject-matter of this science. In my Phd thesis, I will study more closely the place ascribed by him to kalam and its consequences as to his conception of the role of the mutakallim.

17 Al-Fārābī's Book of Letters (Kitāb al-Ḥurūf). Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, ed. Mahdi M. (Beirut, 1990).

18 When no contrary indication is made, I will be quoting Arnzen's translation: Arnzen R., Averroes on Aristotle's Metaphysics. An Annotated Translation of the So-called “Epitome” (Berlin, 2010).

19 Arnzen translates “mawğūd” by “being”.

20 “Quantity”, “quality” and “relation” are not defined by al-Miklātī, most likely because they are subdivisions of the concept of “accident” and defined immediately after the definition of “accident” in Averroes' Epitome, whereas here al-Miklātī gives al-Fārābī's definition of ‘accident’. “Huwiyya” is also dropped, for, in the Epitome, its definition is joined to that of “existent” and al-Miklātī follows al-Fārābī's definition of “existent”, not Averroes'.

21 Averroes was born in 1126 and died in 1198 whereas al-Miklātī was born around 1155 and died in 1237.

22 Averroes, Tahāfot at-Tahāfot, ed. Bouyges M., Bibliotheca Arabica Scholasticorum, Série Arabe, vol. 3 (Beirut, 1992). Will be noted “TT” from now on. When no contrary indication is made, I will be quoting Van Den Bergh's translation with the Arabic pagination: Van den Bergh S., Averroes' Tahāfut al-Tahāfut (London, 1954).

23 In addition to the numerous homoioteleuta which corrupt al-Miklātī's text and which my translation will make sure to indicate and correct, al-Miklātī skips whole paragraphs from the definitions of the Book of Letters that go into linguistic considerations of this sort.

24 Indeed, before entering the discussion and before the three preliminary sections, al-Miklātī enunciates four conditions one must fulfil in order to be qualified to read his work. Cf. pp. 4–6.

25 About the meaning of mawğūd for “the masses”, Averroes writes: “There is no need to take this [meaning further] into account” (chap. 1, p. 28).

26 Al-Miklātī (in Quintessence, p. 35) reproduces al-Fārābī's presentation of the common meaning of the term, then he inserts Averroes' definition (“As for the theoreticians, ‘accident’ is predicated – according to them – of that which does not make known the quiddity of the concrete thing [al-mušār ilayhi] that is not in a substrate. It is of two types: one which does not make known the essence of a thing, this is [the accident] qua individual and another which makes known the essence of the individual [accident], this is the [accident] qua universal”), he then returns to al-Fārābī's definition.

27 Quintessence, pp. 8–9. The mutakallim is defined by the subject-matter of his science that is nothing less than the ‘existent’.

28 The same is true of “essence” (al-ḏāt), p. 19.

29 Avicenna , The Metaphysics of the Healing. Aš-Šifāʾ: Ilāhiyyāt, ed. Marmura M. E. (Provo, Utah, 2005), Book I, chapter 5, p. 27, ll. 78. When no contrary indication is made, I will be quoting Marmura's translation.

30 Though al-Miklātī does not produce the definitions himself but merely collects them, he can be said to establish the glossary for, as I have tried to show, he is far from being a neutral transmitter: by choosing the terms he wishes to define, the definitions he prefers and the order of the definitions, he is truly active and, in this preliminary section, what takes place is already a re-framing of the discussion.

31 Cf. for example p. 133, ll. 14 sq.

32 Quintessence, pp. 86–9.

33 He reminds them that “what is true of the whole is not necessarily true of each one [ḥukm al-ğumla ġayr ḥukm al-āḥād]”, p. 87, l. 15, and again p. 89, l. 14.

34 The principles presented in the Posterior Analytics have played an important part in the construction of Avicenna's “metaphysical” proof of the existence of God and in Averroes' criticism of this proof. Cf. Davidson H. A., Proofs for Eternity, Creation and the Existence of God in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy, (New York and Oxford, 1987), pp. 284–8, pp. 312–18. As Bertolacci A. notes in his article “Avicenna and Averroes on the proof of God's existence and the subject-matter of metaphysics”, Medioevo. Rivista di storia della filosofia medievale, 32 (2007): 6197, p. 62, “the common background of the overall discussion is given by Avicenna's and Averroes' attempt of adjusting the epistemological profiles of metaphysics and physics to the canons of Aristotle's Posterior Analytics”. Therefore, it is not unlikely that al-Miklātī's knowledge of Aristotle's Organon derives from such a context.

35 Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, I, 9–10.

36 Al-Miklātī was also influenced by other theologians, notably al-Šahrastānī whom he quotes several times (without necessarily naming him).

37 Will be noted “TF” from now on.

38 Will be noted “TTT” from now on.

39 I replace “qadīm bi-nafsihi” in our text by “qāʾim bi-nafsihi” as can be read in the TT. I will have to check the manuscript to determine whether this is a mistake of the editor who misread the word or if it is present as such in the manuscript.

40 In the same way, I replace “la yatağazza'” by “la yataḥayyaz”, which is graphically very close in Arabic.

41 TT, p. 550, l. 12–p. 551, l. 2, and p. 551, l. 12–p. 552, l. 8.

42 The translation is mine.

43 The validity of this premise is admitted by al-Miklātī only for the sake of discussion (ğadalan).

44 Quintessence, pp. 135–6.

45 TT, p. 543, l. 7.

46 It is called ‘imaginative’ in animals, ‘cogitative’ in men.

47 TT, p. 544, l. 21.

48 TT, p. 547, ll. 7–8.

49 Quintessence, p. 128.

50 TT, p. 547, ll.5–6.

51 Quintessence, p. 132.

52 TT, p. 552, l. 12.

53 Id., p. 552, ll. 12–17.

54 It is a litteral quotation of al-Ġazālī. See TT, p. 548, ll. 5–6.

55 Quintessence, pp. 113–14.

56 Al-Miklātī defines the “muḫaṣṣiṣ” as “that which realises [al-muṯbit] existence rather than non-existence” (Quintessence, p. 67).

57 Quintessence, pp. 115–16.

58 “It is impossible for [nothingness] to be created and to inhere in the world's essence for then the inherent meets its place of inherence and co-exists with it if only for an instant, but if they could co-exist, then [nothingness] would not be the contrary [of the world] and would not annihilate it.” (TT, II, p. 134, ll. 10–12, the translation is mine).

59 Unlike al-Ġazālī in his TF, al-Miklātī begins by giving a positive proof of the adventicity of the world before criticising the philosophers' arguments in favour of eternity. His proof is as follows: “All existents except God the Sublime are possible [ğāʾiz] in view of themselves; all possibles in view of themselves are adventice; thus all existents except God the Sublime are adventice.” (Quintessence, p. 64). He then proves each of the minor and major premises and the validity of the inference of the consequent from the antecedent by refuting possible objections.

60 Quintessence, p. 159: “The proof [establishing the producer] is to say: if it is established that the world is adventice, then it is unavoidably established that it is possible; all possibles need an instantiator; therefore the world needs an instantiator. Then to say: its instantiator is either endowed with choice or not. [But it cannot be devoid of choice]. It has therefore been established that the producer of the world is an agent that instantiates it through power and will, and this is what we wanted to show.” It can be noted that al-Miklātī deduces the world's possibility from its adventicity whereas, in the proof of the adventicity of the world, he deduced its adventicity from its possibility. It enables him to tie together the proof establishing a producer and the affirmation of the adventicity of the world, as al-Miklātī's goal is to show that, contrary to what they claim, philosophers who admit the eternity of the world cannot establish a producer. This does not invalidate al-Miklātī's proof for, as he states in page 168, the affirmation of the eternity of the world not only prevents the philosophers from establishing a producer of the world but also from affirming the latter's possibility.

61 Avicenna, Šifāʾ: Ilāhiyyāt, Book VI, chapter 2, §9, p. 203.

62 TT, p. 164, ll. 2–5.

63 TT, pp. 163–4: “[This argument] is sophistic, because Avicenna leaves out one of the factors which a complete division [al-taqsīm al-ḥāṣir] would have to state. […] This argument is faulty, because the act of the agent is only connected with existence in a state of non-existence, i.e. existence in potentiality [al-wuğūd allaḏī bi-al-quwwa], and is not connected with actual existence, in so far as it is actual, nor with non-existence, in so far as it is non-existence. It is only connected with imperfect existence in which non-existence inheres. The act of the agent is not connected with non-existence, because non-existence is not an act, nor is it connected with existence which is not linked together with non-existence [al-wuğūd allaḏī lā yuqārinuhu ʿadam], for whatever has reached its extreme perfection of existence [mā kāna min al-wuğūd ʿalā kamālihi al-āḫir] needs neither existentiation nor an existentiator.” I modified the translation slightly.

64 Quintessence, p. 163.

65 The existence of an instantiator is indeed a necessary step in both proofs, which actually imply a common preliminary syllogism: the world is possible, possibility implies an instantiator, hence the world needs an instantiator. From this need of an instantiator, the first proof deduces the adventicity of the world – as eternity contradicts the idea of an instantiator –, and the second proof deduces the existence of a producer of the world by showing that this instantiator is endowed with power and will.

66 One might be surprised that a theologian defending creation ex nihilo may admit, with Averroes, that adventing is bringing existence in potentiality into actuality (while this corresponds to the process of generation – and corruption – which implies a precedent matter). But – as I will show in my PhD thesis – al-Miklātī is actually using the philosopher's vocabulary and stripping it of its meaning, in a way that is similar to the way Averroes, in the TT, sometimes feigns to agree with al-Ġazālī and to share his conception when he is actually professing the contrary.

67 Cf. Quintessence, pp. 155–6.

68 Quintessence, p. 161, ll. 6–9.

69 TT, p. 162, I modified the translation slightly. Quintessence, p. 161.

70 Quintessence, p. 162.

71 This is a true problem for Averroes: as I shall show in the last part of this article, Averroes admits only Aristotle's physical proof from motion. He will argue that the First Mover and the First Principle which Avicenna distinguishes are one and the same thing. Therefore the proof leading to the First Mover is a proof leading to the First Principle. Nevertheless this First Principle as a First Mover is only proved to be the principle of the motion of the world not of its existence. According to Wolfson (“Averroes' lost treatise”, in note 90), Averroes' answer to this difficulty is to say that, as its formal and final cause, God is the cause of the unity, order and motion of the world, and because the real existence of the world consists precisely in its unity, order and motion, it can be said that God in this sense is the cause of its existence. Cf. TT, III, pp. 167–8; p.172; pp. 180–1 + Long Commentary of Metaphysics, Lām, C44, pp. 1650–2.

72 One may be surprised that he starts by refuting Averroes before criticising Avicenna, but al-Miklātī is actually following the order of the TT. This suggests that al-Miklātī is dealing with arguments rather than their authors, at least in the case of Averroes.

73 This corroborates the idea developed by Peter Adamson in his introduction to In the Age of Averroes (pp. 5–6), in which he states that, in the period extending from al-Ġazālī's death to the mid-seventh/thirteenth century, Avicenna is taken to be “the main representative of falsafa, and thus as a target of extensive criticism” and that, during this period, “most authors think of falsafa as being synonymous with Avicennism, rather than as synonymous with Aristotle and his commentators”, or in other words, that “in this period, falsafa means Avicenna”.

74 Quintessence, p. 163.

75 Avicenna , Kitāb al-Ishārāt wa-'l-tanbīhāt, ed. Forget J. (Leiden, 1892), p. 146. French translation (where Forget's pagination is given): Livre des directives et remarques, ed. Goichon A. (Beirut and Paris, 1951). Quoted by Davidson, Proofs for Eternity, p. 287.

76 Id., p. 146.

77 Cf. Avicenna, Al-Mabdaʾ wa-al-maʿād, fol. 141r = Nurani 33, quoted by Gutas D. in his Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition. Introduction to Reading Avicenna's Philosophical Works (Leiden, 1988), p. 263 (L54).

78 Quoted in Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 263 (L55).

79 Quoted in Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 264 (L56).

80 Cf. Šifāʾ: Ilāhiyyāt, I, 1, §12, p. 4, and Davidson, Proofs for Eternity, p. 285.

81 Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, p. 264.

82 Quoted in Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition, T13, §8, p. 71 and L80, p. 309. It is however not unlikely that Avicenna was led to develop such a rhetoric as a defence strategy against attacks similar to the ones addressed to him by al-Miklātī, questioning the compatibility of his proof with his Aristotelianism.

83 “This is necessarily implied for all Peripatetic philosophers who profess eternity”, Quintessence, p. 163, l. 7. I underline.

84 Cf. the beginning of I, 9.

85 I underline and modify the translation slightly.

86 The underlining is mine.

87 The underlining and the translation are mine.

88 Chap. I, p. 24, ll. 10–13: “The demonstrations [al-bayānāt] employed by Ibn Sīnā in this science [of metaphysics] in order to show [the existence] of the first principle are, on the other hand, altogether dialectical and untrue propositions [aqāwīl], which do not state anything in an appropriate manner”.

89 Chap. I, p. 24, ll. 16–18: “Therefore, he who practises this science [of metaphysics] takes for granted the existence of the [first mover] from physics, as said before”.

90 Averroes, Commentaria Magna in Libros Physicorum, VIII, C3 (in Aristotelis opera, 10 vols. [Venice, 1573–76]). Quoted by Wolfson H. A. in “Averroes' lost treatise on the Prime Mover”, Studies in the History of Philosophy and Religion, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1973), vol. 1, pp. 402–29, p. 413. The translation is his.

91 I, C83 and II, C26 (quoted in Wolfson, “Averroes' lost treatise”, pp. 410–11 and pp. 412–13).

92 Averroes , Šarḥ al-Burhān li-Arisṭū wa-Talḫīṣ al-Burhān, ed. ʿBadawī A. (Kuwait, 1984), C70: “[…] the only way by which he [Aristotle] could demonstrate the existence of the prime mover was through a sign in that science, namely, physical science, and not as it was thought by Avicenna. Whence we have composed a special treatise to show the falsity of the universal [kullī] method whereby Avicenna thought the metaphysician can prove the existence of a First Principle”. Quoted in Wolfson, “Averroes' lost treatise”, p. 411.

93 Averroes, Tafsīr mā baʿd at-ṭabīʿat, ed. Bouyges M., Bibliotheca Arabica Scholasticorum, Série Arabe, tome VII (Beirut, 1990).

94 Lām, C5, p. 1422, ll. 5–7.

95 Lām, C5, p. 1423, l. 11.

96 Lām, C5, p. 1424, l. 2.

97 Steel C., Guldentops G., “An unknown treatise of Averroes against the Avicennians on the first cause. Edition and translation”, Recherches de théologie et philosophie médiévales, 64 (1997): 86135. The first title given by the translator, “Master Alfonso”, was: “Against some Avicennians, to prove that the First Necessary Being, i.e., the first principle, namely God, exists separated from matter, i.e., subsists in virtue of itself”.

98 Id., p. 97. The underlining is mine.

99 Long Commentary of Physics, VIII, C3: “We, moreover, have composed a special treatise concerning this, and he who would like to learn the difficulties which occur in this method, let him consult the work of Algazali, for many things which he inveighs against others are true.”; Long Commentary of Posterior Analytics, C70 quoted in note 91. Cf. Wolfson, “Averroes' lost treatise”, p. 413, n. 29; p. 411, n. 25; Steel and Guldentops, “An unknown treatise of Averroes”, p. 92, n. 18, n. 19.

100 Cf. the translator's preface in Steel and Guldentops, “An unknown treatise of Averroes”, p. 95: “it is reasonable that there should be no other such treatise, for another one would have been superfluous”. Elamrani-Jamal A. (in his article “Ibn Rushd et les Premiers Analytiques d'Aristote: aperçu sur un problème de syllogistique modale”, ASP, 5 [1995], pp. 5174) provides us with a convincing counter-example: on such a technical question as that of the mode of conclusion of mixed syllogisms, Averroes wrote several short works to justify the truth and coherence of his Master's statements. “La conscience de ce problème conduit Ibn Rushd à lui consacrer plusieurs petits traités ou Opuscules, après en avoir traité dans son Commentaire moyen des APr.” (p. 62) and A. Elamrani-Jamal concludes his article by saying: “Ses efforts dans ce domaine aride et difficile pourraient nous servir d'indicateur pour apprécier la rigueur de ses recherches sur d'autres grands problèmes qui l'ont occupé, relatifs à la psychologie ou à la métaphysique d'Aristote.”(p. 74.)

101 Steel and Guldentops, “An unknown treatise of Averroes”, p. 93.

102 Cf. also TT, X, p. 421.

103 Wolfson, “Averroes' lost treatise”, p. 403: “Averroes has composed a treatise for the purpose of refuting this method, in which treatise he censures its inventor, namely, Avicenna, and ridicules the method, and argues in favour of the view that the first mover is identical with the Necessary Being.”

104 Quoted above in note 99.

105 Quoted above in note 92.

106 I translate from the French translation of the text in Vajda G., “Un champion de l'avicennisme. Le problème de l'identité de Dieu et du Premier Moteur d'après un opuscule judéo-arabe inédit du XIIe siècle”, Revue thomiste, III (1948): 480508, pp. 486–7. Vajda translated both from the Arabic original, which he found had been quoted by Joseph Ibn Waqar in one of his treatises (“al-maqāla al-ǧāmiʿa bayn al-falsafa wa-al-šarīʿa”) and from the Hebrew translation, whereas Wolfson followed the Pamplona manuscript of the Hebrew translation. Wolfson's quotation is slightly different and is only partial: “Hence it necessarily follows that the metaphysician cannot prove the existence of the Necessary Being but must accept it from the physicist as granted or else he must compose a proof for it out of the combination of the two sciences.” (p. 409.)

107 Wolfson, “Averroes' lost treatise”, fragment 4, p. 417. The underlining is mine.

108 Id., p. 418: Wolfson comments on these adjectives by saying that it is “an indirect way of saying that it is not a true scientific demonstration, for a true scientific demonstration, according to Aristotle, must be based upon premises which are appropriate (ἀρχαὶ οἰκεῖαι) and not something common (κοινόν τε)”.

109 Vajda, “Un champion de l'avicennisme”, p. 482. The translation from the French and the underlining are mine.

110 Id., p. 483. The translation from the French and the underlining are mine.

111 Id., p. 483. The translation from the French and the underlining are mine. G. Vajda writes in a note that the Arabic text is not certain here. I was not able to have access to the Arabic manuscript to verify the text nor to see what adjective he translates by ‘general’.

112 Id., pp. 483–4: “cet homme, dont nous ne nions pas les grandes qualités et l'autorité en matière de sciences spéculatives”.

113 Id., p. 483: “Quant à Abū al-Walīd Ibn Rošd, il prend, selon son habitude, la défense de la doctrine du Philosophe et cherche à réfuter ses adversaires”; “Dans son désir de secourir le Philosophe […]”.

114 Id., p. 488: “Abū al-Walīd dit dans sa dissertation que la méthode suivie par Abū ʿAlī dans sa démonstration de l'Être Nécessaire ressemble à celle des adeptes du Kalām, autrement dit que les prémisses qui y sont employées sont de caractère général et ne sont point pertinentes. Mais cette affirmation n'est pas juste. En effet les prémisses générales qu'on nomme “logiques”, c'est-à-dire celles qu'on emploie dans les disciplines particulières qui spéculent sur l'être en une chose, [ces prémisses, dis-je] ne sont point pertinentes; elles sont dès lors inférieures aux prémisses démonstratives. Lorsque cependant elles sont employées dans les disciplines générales, c'est-à-dire celles qui spéculent sur l'être pris au sens absolu comme la métaphysique, elles sont pertinentes. Cela est clair pour quiconque possède la moindre formation logique”. The underlining is mine.

115 Wolfson, “Averroes' lost treatise”, fragment 1, p. 406.

116 I have replaced “allā” by “an”.

117 According to the editor, the word cannot be read clearly in the manuscript.

118 I have replaced “yaʿtarifāni” by “yaftariqāni”.

119 I have replaced “bi-amrihi” with “bi-asrihi”.

120 Quintessence, pp. 163–6. For the Arabic text, see below Appendix p. 195.

121 Davidson, Proofs for Eternity, pp. 319, 320, 334–5.

122 Al-Ḥikma al-ʿarūḍiyya, 3v16–4r12, quoted by Wisnovsky R., in Avicenna's Metaphysics in Context (Ithaca, N.Y., 2003), p. 247. I modified his translation slightly.

123 Šifāʾ: Ilāhiyyāt, I, 6, 37, 7–11, text quoted by Wisnovsky, Avicenna's Metaphysics, p. 256. The translation is his.

124 Wisnovsky, Avicenna's Metaphysics, p. 263.

125 Šifāʾ: Ilāhiyyāt, I, 5, pp. 22, 27–28, quoted in Davidson, Proofs for Eternity, p. 289.

126 TT, IV, p. 277, ll. 12–13.

127 TT, IV, p. 276, ll. 10–11: “Avicenna wanted to give a general sense to this statement, and he gave to the ‘possible’ the meaning of ‘what has a cause’, as al-Ġazālī relates”.

128 TT, X, p. 417, l. 13–p. 418, l. 1: “We have already said that if by ‘necessary existent’ is understood the causeless and by ‘possible existent’ is understood that which has a cause, the division of being into these two sections is not acknowledged […]”; TT, IV, p.279, ll. 10–12: “To divide existents primarily into what is possible and what is not possible is not valid, I mean that it is not a division that comprehends [taḥṣuru] existent qua existent” (the translation is mine).

129 Avicenna , Rasāʾil al-šayḫ al-raʾīs Abī ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā (Iran, 1980).

130 The translation is mine.

131 Avicenna , al-Nağāt min al-ġaraq fī baḥr al-ḍalālāt (Tehran, 1985), p. 546.

132 Id., p. 546, l. 11; p. 547, l. 12.

133 Avicenna, Išārāt, p. 141; Šifāʾ: Ilāhiyyāt, I, 6, §2, p. 30.

134 Šifāʾ: Ilāhiyyāt, Book I, chap.7, §14: “As regards the possible existent, from this its specific property has become evident – namely, that it necessarily needs some other thing to render it existing in actuality. Whatever is a possible existent is always, considered in itself, a possible existent; but it may happen that its existence becomes necessary through another. This may either occur to it always, or else its necessary existence through another may not be permanent – occurring, rather, at one time and not another.” The underlining is mine.

135 At first sight, Avicenna and Averroes' divisions appear to be similar, but both the two-fold and the three-fold divisions correspond to two diametrically opposed conceptions of the universe:

Avicenna: Necessary through itself (uncaused) // Possible through itself (caused)

↔ God // Supralunary / Sublunary

Averroes: Necessary (i.e. eternal) // Possible (i.e. contingent)

↔ God / Supralunary // Sublunary

136 Cf. Davidson, Proofs for Eternity, pp. 318–20. In one work, namely his Long Commentary of Physics (VIII, C79), the division is understood slightly differently by Averroes: the incorporeal movers of the spheres are included in the first group with the first principle, and the second group contains only the celestial spheres.

137 In the fourth discussion, pp. 276–7, he understands, in accordance with al-Ġazālī, the distinction between what is possible and what is not possible to signify the distinction between what has a cause and what has none, and writes that what has a cause can be divided into what is possible and what is necessary (ḍarūrī) but it is not clear whether or not Averroes attributes this subdivision and the expressions “truly possible” and “necessary-possible” to Avicenna.

138 Averroes , Al-Kašf ʿan manāhiğ al-adilla fī aqāʿid al-milla, ed. al-Jābirī M. A. (Beirut, 1997), pp. 113–14, §55. The translation and underlining are mine.

139 The underlining is mine.

140 Averroes evokes Avicenna's conception of his own proof: “superior to those given by the Ancients”, “based on the essence of the existent” (IV, p. 276; same idea in X, p. 419); he exposes briefly some aspects of Avicenna's argumentation that he criticises – such as the idea that the existent necessary through another is in itself a possible existent – (VIII, p. 395) and gives his interpretation of the motives that led Avicenna to conceive such a proof (VIII, p. 395; X, p. 418).

141 Wolfson, “Averroes' lost treatise”, fragment 1, p. 406. The underlining is mine.

142 Vajda, “Un champion de l'avicennisme”, p. 486. The underlining is mine.

143 Idem, p. 492. The translation from the French is mine.

144 The underlining is mine.

145 Cf. for instance Šifāʾ: Ilāhiyyāt, Book I, chap.7, §§12–13.

146 Avicenna, al-Nağāt, p. 559.

147 This is the case of the development on the four causes.

148 Cf. Davidson, Proofs for Eternity, p. 334.

149 Wolfson, “Averroes' lost treatise”, fragment 6, p. 421.

150 Quintessence, p. 167.

151 Wolfson, “Averroes' lost treatise”, p. 405.

152 What he rejects is the essential possibility that Avicenna attributes to them but he admits that they are possible in their local movement.

1 في المطبوع: ألا.

2 في المطبوع: أن لا.

3 في المطبوع: يعترفان.

4 في المطبوع: لهذه.

5 في المطبوع: بغير.

6 في المطبوع: بأمره.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
  • ISSN: 0957-4239
  • EISSN: 1474-0524
  • URL: /core/journals/arabic-sciences-and-philosophy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 26 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 147 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.