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Decisive Treatise and Epistle Dedicatory (Brigham Young University - Islamic Translation Series) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0842524797
ISBN-10: 0842524797
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Arabic (translation)
Original Language: Arabic

From the Inside Flap

Averroës (Ibn Rushd, 1126-1198) emerged from an eminent family in Muslim Spain to become the first and last great Aristotelian of the classical Islamic world; his meticulous commentaries influenced Christian thinkers and earned him favorable mention (and a relatively pleasant fate) in Dante's Divina Commedia. The Book of the Decisive Treatise was and remains one his most important works and one of history's best defenses of the legitimate role of reason in a community of faith. The text presents itself as a plea before a tribunal in which the divinely revealed Law of Islam is the sole authority; Averroës, critical of the anti-philosophical tone of the Islamic establishment, argues that the Law not only permits but also mandates the study of philosophy and syllogistic or logical reasoning, defending earlier Muslim philosophers and dismissing criticisms of them as more harmful to the Islamic community than the philosophers' own views had been. As he details the three fundamental methods the Law uses to aid people of varied capacities and temperaments, Averroës reveals a carefully formed and remarkably argued conception of the boundaries and uses of faith and reason.

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Product Details

  • Series: Brigham Young University - Islamic Translation Series
  • Hardcover: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Brigham Young University; 1 edition (2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0842524797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0842524797
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Ibn Rushd or Averroes is one of the most important philosophers in the Islamic tradition, and also one of the most important of all commentators on Aristotle. And Charles Butterworth is one of the premiere translators of Averroes.
This particular text is a very important defense of philosophy against those (in Averroes's specific case, Muslims) who argued that philosophical reasoning is a violation of religious law. Such issues are still alive, more or less (for example, in the struggle between science and religion), so this book has more than merely antiquarian interest.
The translation is very clear, and, for those who read Arabic, it's helpful to have the original text on the facing page. Given the quality of the work, too, the book is surprisingly inexpensive.
Highly recommended.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Martin on September 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is an extraordinary work. Averroes is here presenting a 'legal' case against the art of Kalam (speculative theology) with the Islamic Jurists sitting in Judgment. But, and this is important, this argument is not against religion per se. Now, the Latin West was very aware of the Aristotelian writings of Averroes but unaware of his other writings. The Christians knew his Commentaries and even of his controversy with Ghazali. But they were largely unaware of his works that attempt to 'harmonize' philosophy and revelation (i.e., religious law). The 'Decisive Treatise' is among the most important of these. Here Averroes is at pains to show that not only isn't philosophy forbidden by the Koran; it is in fact commanded - but only for some!

Humanity is divided into three groups by Averroes. There are the common people (the 'people of rhetoric'), people of uncommon discernment (the 'people of dialectic'), and philosophers (the 'people of demonstration'). It is a pyramid, with the ordinary people at the base and the falasifa (i.e., Islamic philosophers) at the summit. But this is no celebration of diversity, the ideal that hovers over these pages is Ijma - consensus. Averroes is charging the 'people of dialectic' with the ruin of consensus. What ruins consensus? Interpretation. The 'people of interpretation' (both Falasifa and Theologians) must keep the vagaries of interpretation from the people. In this the Islamic Theologians have, according to our author, failed miserably. The Falasifa are let off with a slap.

Now, to introduce a schema not entirely foreign to the text, one could say that in the medieval Islamic landscape there are basically three institutions: Law, Theology, Philosophy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. J. Spaulding on October 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Averroës (ibn Rushd) remains one of the most important and influential figures in both Islamic and Western philosophy, though his thought was more enduring in the latter. While he marks essentially the end of the philosophical tradition in the Islamic West (philosophy continued in the Islamic East in Persia), his thought and writing on Aristotle would go one to be an important influence on Thomas Aquinas and other medieval scholastic theologians in Christian Europe, and Averroës is even paid homage by the great Italian poet Dante.

For Averroës, a devout Muslim, in the wake of the attack leveled against the philosophers by al-Ghazali his goal was to show that philosophy was not the enemy or rival of religion, but rather its partner. In the Decisive Treatise Averroës seeks to demonstrate the compatibility of philosophy with the Islamic faith and even claims that the study of philosophy is commanded by the Qur'an.

Dr. Charles Butterworth presents to us an excellent and scholarly translation of Averroës' writings. For anyone interested in the debates between philosophers and the traditional theologians within the Islamic intellectual tradition, as well as more information on one of the figures that shaped Western philosophy, this is an essential book to have.
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