The global history of ideas includes a handful of names whose contributions have stood the test of time: among those most celebrated is the twelfth century Muslim polymath Abu 'l-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd (1126-1198), known to the Latin West as ‘Averroes’.
Ibn Rushd was a master of philosophy, theology, law and jurisprudence, astronomy, geography, mathematics, medicine, physics and psychology. He is seen as a founding father of secular thought in Western Europe, where his school of philosophy is known as Averroism.
In the Muslim world, he is known largely for his defence of philosophy form theological attacks, particularly by scholastic theologian al-Ghazali (1058-1111). Today, all over the world, streets, statues and postage-stamps commemorate the life and works of one of the most important philosophers of all time. These lectures in honour of Ibn Rushd, delivered annually on the first Wednesday of June by notable academics and thinkers, explore the contemporary relevance of the intellectual history of Islam.
Ibn Rushd: A Man for Our Times?
A Lecture by Amira Bennison, University of Cambridge
5 June 2013
Ibn Rushd was a respected man of law and a philosopher who found favour with the rulers of his day; but towards the end of his life he was accused of heresy by his fellow scholars and exiled from court. After his death, his philosophy was translated into Latin and had great impact on Christian Europe but it found little audience in the Muslim world. Indeed even today, Ibn Rushd is remembered in the Islamic East not so much for his rationalist philosophy, but for finding fame in the West. How did this come to be?
In our first Annual Ibn Rushd Lecture, Amira Bennison, Reader in the History and Culture of the Maghrib at the University of Cambridge, considers Ibn Rushd's life and influence in Muslim and Christian circles. Who was Ibn Rushd? How was he viewed in his own times? And what relevance does his philosophy and experiences, rather than his image, have for us today?
Dr Bennison takes us on a journey into politics and philosophy, faith and unbelief in twelfth century Al-Andalus, delving deep into the life and times of a man whose story may well be a tale for our own times.
Listen to the lecture: