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quick take: Averroes

I’d like to point readers to an August episode of The Philosopher’s Zone on ABC Radio National devoted to the medieval Islamic philosopher Averroes [link]. He was a sort of transitional figure, influenced by Aristotle, influenced Aquinas [link]; every time I hear something about him I’m amazed how strange the world he lived in seems to me. It’s hard to believe that people like him were situated almost exactly halfway between the First Century and the present day, especially for someone like me who tends to lean heavily on plain readings of modern translations of two-thousand-year-old books. Just saying.

This particular episode is devoted mostly to his disagreements with one of his contemporaries, Al-Ghazali, over questions of whether God can change, the relationship between religion/theology and philosophy, etc. A lot of the discussion boils down to one basic question: are all things that are true true in the same sense?

As a modern, I don’t have a good answer for this question. As a postmodern, I’m not sure it can be answered. I wonder sometimes if the ancients were disturbed by questions like this, and if so how they answered them.


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