Averroes' Natural Philosophy and Its European Reception
Radboud University Nijmegen
Ibn Rushd (1126–1198), more famous under the Latinized name "Averroes" in the West, is known as the unrivalled commentator of Aristotle's entire corpus. Indeed, Averroes' productivity, originality and impact on later generations are remarkable. His works were constantly read as the main guide for understanding Aristotle's teachings until the eve of the Age of Enlightenment. But Averroes was more than just an exegete. In the words of Charles Schmitt, he "was a major philosopher and scientist to bereckoned with and as such exerted an important influence." In fact, Averroes even developed his own philosophy by transforming Aristotle's original teachings through the method of commentary.
Both Averroes and the so-called movement of "Averroism" have constantly attracted the attention of historians of philosophy and science. But, while most studies have focused on his psychology and notably on his famous and much criticized doctrine of the unity of the intellect, Averroes' natural philosophy and its influence still remainlargely unexplored. This international conference aims to fill in the gap by studying different contexts in order to evaluate the impact of his thought on the history of natural philosophy and science between the late Middle Ages and early Modern periods, by focusing specifically on the issue of the interaction between the celestial and terrestrial realms. Instead of merely putting weight on the commentaries on the De anima, we seek to look at the Latin and Hebrew reception of such diverse works as the Long Commentaries on Aristotle's Physics, On the Heavens, Metaphysics, and the original treatise De substantia orbis. More thematically, this conference is concerned with such different topics as spontaneous generation, the celestial origin of terrestrial forms, the intellectual life of celestial bodies, the role of human imagination, and the diverse meteorological phenomena, etc. The aim of this conference is thus to reveal more fully how the evolution of Aristotelian natural philosophy was influenced by the reception of Averroes' works and how the resulting transformation even contributed to the emergence of the Scientific Revolution.