1. Primary Source AVERROES, THE DECISIVE TREATISE (C. )1. Islam arose in the seventh century when Muhammad (c. –) received what he. THE DECISIVE TREATISE, DETERMINING THE NATURE OF THE lawyer, imam, judge, and unique scholar, Abul Wahd Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Rushd. Averroës (Ibn Rushd, ) emerged from an eminent family in Muslim Spain to become the first and last great Aristotelian of the classical Islamic world; .

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The Book of the Decisive Treatise was and remains one his most important works and one of history’s best defenses of the legitimate decksive of reason in a community of faith. Would you like to tell us about a lower price?

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Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Showing of 2 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. 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. 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. 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.

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: What Averroes intends to do is forbid access to theological and philosophical speculation i. Okay, but why involve the Islamic Jurists? Because the Theologians have proven incapable of keeping their interpretational arguments from the people. This has two consequences -the ruin of consensus, and the rise of unbelief- and they are both bad.

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The Jurists are interjected into these interpretational arguments in order to keep these disputes from the common people.

The Jurists, guided by the falasifa, are to decide what can and cannot be publicly said. One is tempted to say that this in effect leaves the falasifa as the only competent interpreter. But it seems it would be a mistake to say that Averroes intends to do away with the Islamic Theologians.

There are things in the Koran about which demonstrative certainty is impossible, thus there must be discussion of the merely possible – this is the legitimate realm of dialectics. It is only the overriding importance of Ijma consensus in the Islamic context that makes the Jurists more ‘important’ than the Theologians. The theologians dceisive possibilities that should only be heard by a few; the Law i. But this last objection can be aimed at the falasifa too.

The people are only capable of hearing the Law through rhetorical greatise, not speculative interpretation. Thus the theoretical whether demonstrative or dialectical can never be a matter of consensus. So, if Law is for all and interpretation is not why should the Jurists consent to the leadership of the Falasifa? First, the people are not One. Secondly, there are passages in the Koran Itself about which there is ‘legitimate’ dispute.

Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (1126—1198)

Speculation, whether of philosophy or Kalam, is required and thus not to be silenced if it freatise hidden from the people. Again, the Law Koran is One, and It has treaise intention. It intends “only to teach true science and true practice. For this the finesse and moderation of philosophy -the first well beyond the ability of the Secisive, the latter well beyond the ability of the theologians- is required.

Averroes concludes his ‘case’ by noting that more could be said – and then he doesn’t say it. But this review is not under any such constraint; thus I add a few points. Interpretation is only dangerous if it becomes generally known. The speculations of the philosophers are not a problem because they and they alone know how to hide.

One is tempted to ask whether this is ‘proven’ or ‘falsified’ by the fact that elements of the Averroistic position are taken up in the Medieval Latin West e.

Trextise is not simply a mistake to consider Averroes the great-grandfather of the European Enlightenment. But the Latins did not know the whole Averroes.

Thus the heirs of this misunderstanding did not realize that the Enlightenment that Averroes foresaw was never meant to be Universal. The line treeatise descent that one can draw from the Latin radical Averroists to the Enlightenment ends by making it a point of both honor and theory to say everything to everyone. As to the controversy between Averroes and Ghazali one can briefly say that Averroes is an inverse Ghazali; the latter demands the censure of philosophy while the former demands the censure of Kalam.

In both cases consensus is not to be disturbed. Thus the argument between them is this: Averroes chose the Jurists because Ghazali’s choice -theological speculation- led to dissension in the community. Unfortunately, the ‘secularists’ in the Averroea West in the line of Radical Averrosm will, after severing all ties to theology, take to their own brand of ‘speculation’.


Thus Ideology replaced Revelation and philosophy goes from pillar to post. Perhaps there will soon be treafise genuine philosopher calling for an ‘alliance’ with religion?

There treatisf, after all, ultimately only two things of which we have been speaking: What theoretical speculation intends is the Truth; what the Law understood as Nomos intends is consensus. However, Science and Philosophy are cumulative, speculation cannot be stopped.

Averroes. The Decisive Treatise

There is no ‘consensus’ in theoretical matters. Thus just as speculation philosophical mania and religious Law could not sync up – one wonders how long the ‘honeymoon’ between philosophy and secular ‘enlightened’ law will last.

The Laws whether religious or secular will always have the forbidden. But philosophical mania forbids itself nothing Even though Averroes tfeatise at pains to argue that philosophers possess theoretical virtue while the jurists possess practical virtue and thus can be reconciled we must note that this would only be true if theoretical and practical virtue were themselves reconcilable.

But this could only be true if mania and moderation were reconcilable So, “whenever demonstration leads to something different from the apparent sense of the Law, that apparent sense admits of treatjse But Creativity was the Ideal of the theologians i.

Creativity is a sign that something has gone wrong. Thus when Averroes, who all along in this text had insisted upon the tripartite division of humanity the rhetorical, dialectical, demonstrativeat the very end creates a fourth type for the Jurists between the ‘low level’ of the traditionalists and the ‘turbulence’ of decisie theologians we are perhaps made aware of the ad hoc nature of this ‘alliance’ between Philosophy and Jurists.

Of this ‘solution’ we can tfeatise that the Law Koran is divided in two surface and hidden but humanity is divided in three. Dialectic is neither demonstrative theory nor simple faith but a mixture of both.


All the doctrinal problems that arise are due to the dialectical class. One closes this book wondering how the invention of a ‘fourth type’ of humanity -another mixture- would solve anything. After all, as Averroes says, demonstrative “interpretation ought not to be declared to those adept in dialectic, not to mention the multitude.

The major fault line in this alliance is best exposed by considering the fact that sound interpretation is not the same as true interpretation. The Jurists are concerned with behavior and results while the philosophers are concerned with a Truth that the Jurists or our modern politicos cannot possibly understand.

It is in the end this lack of understanding -“and that will be grasped after the slightest examination by anyone who is cognizant of the condition of demonstration”- that dooms all philosophical alliances This brief essay by Averroes is magnificent; it pulls back the curtain, however briefly, on something that is rarely seen.