Averroes criticized the philosophic criticisms of al-Ghazali in his Incoherence of the Incoherent. Averroes blamed democracy for emphasizing private life and for its lack of control of people’s desires, and in his commentary on Plato’s Republic he concurred with the government deceiving people in order to maintain its class system. Believing that truth was not always persuasive, Averroes advised compelling people also as though they were children. Yet he regretted that women were not treated equally in Islamic society. He wrote that one of the causes of poverty in their cities is that women are not allowed to do anything except procreate and raise children. He agreed with Plato that women could be philosophical governors.

Averroes wrote The Decisive Treatise Determining the Nature of the Connection between Religion and Philosophy about 1180. He believed that everyone should follow Islamic law but that only the elite could understand philosophy. Averroes argued that the law commands the study of philosophy and that this is best done by demonstrative reasoning. Thus the religious thinker as well as the lawyer must study logic. He believed that the demonstrative and dialectical methods are superior to the rhetoric used for the common people. For Averroes demonstrative truth and scripture could not conflict. If the apparent meaning is different, then the scripture must be interpreted allegorically. This stimulates the learned to greater study, but metaphorical interpretations must never violate the Islamic consensus that is certain.

Averroes argued that al-Ghazali’s criticisms of al-Farabi and Avicenna were only tentative, and he contended that the Aristotelians do believe God has an omniscient awareness that does include particulars. Averroes warned against the learned setting down allegorical interpretations in popular writings, as al-Ghazali did, because they can confuse the common people, who rely on the apparent meaning. Thus he warned that the philosophical view of scripture should not be taught to the majority. Everyone must attempt to understand the symbols by their own ability because to tell someone the inner meaning without helping them to understand it destroys their simpler belief without replacing it with something better. Even worse is to give people allegorical interpretations that are false. He argued that hostile sects arose in Islam because of the wrong use of allegory by the Mu’tazilis and the Ash’aris. Averroes believed that these harms could be cured by teaching people the apparent meanings, but he supported the Muwahhid policy of censoring any deviation from the consensus of Islamic law.


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