The Philosophical and Intellectual Heritage during Medieval Period: A Study of Ibn Rushd

Dr. Ashaq Hussain


Philosophy connotes the search for knowledge and understanding of the nature and meaning of the universe and of human life. Reflection on cosmic processes and on the mystery of human existence is as old as man himself. Therefore, Philosophy may be regarded as the oldest discipline. All civilization possesses a rich collection of observations on cosmology and on human nature, which is reflected in their world-view, folklore, legends and mythology. Muslim Scholars made an outstanding contribution to the history of ideas as well as to the description and classification of the various disciplines. Islamic epistemology has an astonishingly open and dynamic character. Inspired by this epistemology, Muslims embarked on the pursuit of knowledge with a fervor and intensity which has not been witnessed either before or after. They explored the treasure-houses of knowledge in the East and the West, and imbibed the wisdom of the ancients. They carefully sifted and evaluated the intellectual heritage of other civilizations within the ideational and moral framework of Islam. What emerged out of this process was a creative synthesis which bore the unmistakable imprint of the Islamic ethos. The story of the quest for philosophy in the annals of Islamic civilization conforms to this patter. Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd, better known in the Latin West as Averroes, lived during a unique period in Western intellectual history, in which interest in philosophy and theology was waning in the Muslim world and just beginning to flourish in Latin Christendom. Just fifteen years before his birth, the great critic of Islamic philosophy, al-Ghazzali (1058-1111), had died after striking a blow against Muslim Neoplatonic philosophy, particularly against the work of the philosopher Ibn Sina (Avicenna). From such bleak circumstances emerged the Spanish-Muslim philosophers, of which the jurist and physician Ibn Rushd came to be regarded as the final and most influential Muslim philosopher, especially to those who inherited the tradition of Muslim philosophy in the West. This paper provides an overview of Ibn Rushd’s contribution to philosophy, emphasizing his commentaries, his educational philosophy with special reference to Averroism school of thought and his lasting influence on medieval thought and the Western philosophical tradition.


Philosophy, Ibn Rushd, Medieval Period, Averroism, Epistemology

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a. Primary Sources

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