IbnRushd – Averroes 1126-1198 Religion and Philosophy
The Decisive Treatise • The Decisive Treatise was written by Averroes in 1179. • This work is one of Averroes’ most original and important philosophical writings. • Its central theme is on the relationship between philosophy and religion. • Averroes argues that philosophy is essential for religion and provides it with foundational knowledge that permits Islamic theologians to derive the genuine meaning of scripture (the Koran).
The various attitudes theologians can have towards philosophy. • Unfriendly: philosophy undermines religion (Philosophy should be prohibited.) • Friendly: philosophy can help us understand religion but it can also cause confusion. (Philosophy may be practiced by some but not by all; it is not necessary.) • Very friendly: religion needs philosophy to reach its climax, i.e., its full interpretation and meaning. (Philosophy is necessary for meaningful religious beliefs.) • Too friendly: Beliefs derived through philosophy are superior to beliefs derived from scripture alone.(Philosophical thought is necessary and superior to faith).
Does religious Law prohibit, permit, recommend or require philosophy and logic? According to Averroes, the law commands the study of philosophy and logic. Averroes argues that not only is philosophical studies permitted but they are required. For one thing, philosophy studies the world and therefore it also studies its author (for one knows the creator though his creation). What is Averroes’ view of the relationship between the Law and philosophy?
Scripture and Philosophy • According to Averroes, can philosophy confuse a devout Muslim and deviate him or her from the proper religious path to God? If so, shouldn’t philosophy be prohibited? • Yes, but the confusion is accidental and not essential. Meaning that the cause of the confusion is not philosophy but rather the lack of intellectual capacity of the person. • So the study of philosophy should not be prohibited to all only those who do not have the intellectual capacity to understand it.
Muslim Faith • What are the different paths to assent to the Muslim faith? 1) Rhetorical Method 2) Dialectical Methods 3) Demonstrative Methods
Philosophy and Islam • What is the relationship between philosophy and Islam according to Averroes? • Very Friendly: Islam requires and obligates one to study Logic and Philosophy
Scripture vs. Reason • What happens if scripture conflicts with reason? • Scripture must then be interpreted allegorically or metaphorically as opposed to literally. • There cannot be two truths (Doctrine of Double truths) so either we are mistaken in the formulation of our demonstration or we must interpret the Koran metaphorically.
Muslims and Non-Muslims • Can Muslims learn from non-Muslims? Can they obtain truth? • Knowledge must be gained through a community of scholars and must build on the works of others, regardless of their religious or cultural affiliation. • Therefore, not only can they accept the knowledge derived by pagans they must do so.
Apparent and Inner Meaning • Explain the difference between an apparent and an inner meaning of scripture? • Apparent meaning are literal interpretations. • Inner meanings are allegorical interpretations that require elaboration on the part of the interpreter. • According to Islam, the method of assent to the faith must be adapted to each individual’s natural intellectual capacities. • All Muslims accept that scripture has both apparent and allegorical interpretations; they don’t all agree, however, on which are the parts are to be interpreted literally and which metaphorically.
Unanimous Agreement • Can there be unanimity on theoretical matters concerning the interpretation of scripture? • No. Only on practical matters can there be unanimity. • Averroes says, “That unanimity on theoretical matters is never determined with certainty” (68). • At no time do all Islamic scholars agree on the interpretation of scripture regarding doctrine. If unanimous agreement cannot be derived in a certain manner then unanimity cannot be certain.
Unbelievers • Why can’t those who violate unanimity be called unbelievers? Provide some examples. • Because there is no way to guarantee that an interpretation of a difficult theoretical doctrine is correct! (Certainty)
Learned vs. the Unlearned • Can everyone in the Islamic community receive allegorical interpretations? Who can and who cannot? Why? • Not everyone has the same natural intelligence. For this reason God reveals Himself in a various manners. • Allegorical interpretations are only for the the learned and educated Muslims.
Learned vs. Unlearned • Learned: “Those who are well grounded in the sciences” • The learned arrive at truth through demonstration. • Unlearned: The majority or the masses of the population.
God’s Knowledge • Explain the issue about God’s knowledge of particulars. What is Averroes’ interpretation of Ghazali’s view? • It is not that God does NOT know particulars and universals but rather that God does NOT know them in the way we do. • Our knowledge is discursive, piecemeal, and changing, whereas God’s knowledge is absolute, eternal and perfect.
Pre-eternity of the World • What are the three classes of beings corresponding to the views on the pre-eternity of the world? 1) A being that is brought into existence by another and from a pre-existing material (this is the common case of generation). 2) A being that is not brought into existence by another (has no cause) and is not preceded by time (i.e., is infinite). This is God. 3) A being that is not made from anything and not preceded by time. It is however, created or brought into existence by an agent.
Infinite vs. Finite Past 3) A being that is not made from anything and not preceded by time. It is however, created or brought into existence by an agent. • This being either has a finite past (Plato and theologians) or an infinite past (Aristotle).
Errors of Interpretation • Why are some people excused from error and some are not? • Qualified interpreters are excused but unqualified interpreters are not excused from errors. • Scholars who are qualified to make judgments about interpretation can make mistakes, like doctors who are skilled at curing illnesess can make mistakes, and these mistakes are excusable. • However, people who are not qualified to make judgments about interpretation of scripture are unexcused if they do so mistakenly. They are either SINNERS or UNBELIEVERS