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Averroism

Averroism was a philosophical trend among scholastics in the late 1200s based on AverroŽs interpretations of Aristotle. The main philosophers involved were Sigerus of Brabant and BoŽthius of Dacia.

The main ideas of averroism (founded in AverroŽs commentaries to Aristoteles) was:

  • that the world was eternal
  • the soul was divided in two parts, one individual part and one divine part
  • that the individual soul was not eternal and
  • that all humans at the basic level shared one and the same divine soul, also known as monopsychism
  • the resurrection of the dead is not possible (BoŽthius of Dacia)


This standpoint resulted in two condemnations in 1270 and 1277, this time by Bishop Etienne Tempier of the Catholic church. Tempier specified 219 different unacceptable averroist theses. To resolve the problem, Sigerus of Brabant tried to claim that there existed a "double truth": one factual or "hard truth" which is reached by science and philosophy, and one "religious truth" reached through religion. This idea had not originated in AverroŽs.

The later philosophical concept of averroism was the idea that the philosophical and religious worlds are separate entities. However, upon scrutinizing the 219 theses condemned by Tempier, it was obvious that not many of them originated in AverroŽs, so for a while other terms were commonly used to refer to the actual philosophical movement started by Sigerus and BoŽthius: Radical Aristotelianism or Heterodox Aristotelianism are other words used for this movement, but nowadays most call it averroism anyway.

Thomas Aquinas specifically attacked the doctrine of monopsychism in his book De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas. In this context, the word averroism is used correctly.

Although the condemnation of 1277, many averroistic theses survived during the XVI century and can be founded in the philosophy of Giordano Bruno or Pico de la Mirandola . These theses talk about the superiority of the philosophers upon the common people and the relation between the intellectus and the human dignity.


See Also

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45