Islamic Studies Ibn Bâjjah
by
Josep Puig Montada
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0245

Introduction

Abû Bakr Muhammad Ibn al-Saʾigh Ibn Bâjjah was known as Avempace by the medieval Latin philosophers. He was born in Zaragoza around 1080, died in Fez in 1139 CE, and had a chequered life, he lived first in Zaragoza under the rule of the Banu Hud, an Arab family, that was toppled by the Almoravid dynasty. Zaragoza fell into Christian hands and he had to leave, after which he served the Almoravids in other places of the Iberian peninsula and Morocco. Avempace was outstanding in poetry, music, medicine and sciences. He followed the Aristotelian tradition in logic, and was influenced by Alfarabi (d. c. 950 CE) in its interpretation. He was first in al-Andalus to comment on Aristotle’s works with original readings but he also composed books to express his own philosophy.

General Overviews, Life

Unfortunately, very few general overviews are available in Western languages, and there is none in English. Lomba Fuentes 1989 is the more comprehensive. Genequand 2010 (cited under Ethics and Metaphysics) has a French introduction suitable as an overview.

  • Asín Palacios, Miguel. “El filósofo zaragozano Avempace.” Revista de Aragón 1 (1900): 193–197; 234–238; 278–281; 338–340.

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    Continued in Revista de Aragón 2 (1901): 301–303; 348–350. Asín Palacios was himself from Zaragoza; when he was twenty-nine years old, he published these eight articles in a journal of general contents. He closed the series comparing Avempace’s thought with that of Maimonides.

  • Douglas, M. Dunlop. “Philosophical Predecessors and Contemporaries of Ibn Bajja.” The Islamic Quarterly 2 (1955): 100–116.

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    There is not too much known about Ibn Bajja’s circle. Dunlop gives information on Abu l-Hasan Ibn al-Imam (d. post-1152), who was a friend and disciple, on Malik ibn Yahya Ibn Wuhayb and Abu Jaʿfar Yusuf Ibn Hasday, members of his circle, and other figures.

  • Ibn Bâjjah, Abû Bakr. Rasâʾil falsafîya li-Abî Bakr Ibn Bâjja. Edited by Jamal al-Din al-ʿAlawi. Beirut: Dar al-Thaqafa, 1983.

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    Includes 23 unedited texts of the Oxford manuscript Pococke 206, and divides them into 11 authentic and 12 apocryphal. Al-ʿAlawi considers apocryphal the writing “on political and afterlife’s felicity, or a defense of Abu Nasr [Alfarabi],” translated in Ibn Bâjjah 1995 (cited under Politics and Religion).

  • Lomba Fuentes, Joaquín. Avempace. Colección “Los aragoneses.” Zaragoza: Diputación General de Aragón, 1989.

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    The book is addressed to a general audience and wants to make Ibn Bajja known among his Aragonese countrymen. Nevertheless, the author is a renowned scholar in Arabic philosophy and the book deals with all aspects of Avempace’s life, works, and outcome in a demanding way.

  • Rachak, Jamal. Ibn Bāğğa (Avempace): Philosophe de Saragosse et Fès (533/1139). Bio-bibliographie. Marrakesh: Dâr al-Nashr Faḍâ’ Âdam, 2016.

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    Pp. 19–62 (Arabic) contain a detailed biography, reproducing Avempace’s extant poems. Little attention has been paid to his poetical activity and the publication fills the gap. The biography is updated, with some errors in the Latin typography. In Arabic.

  • Zainaty, Georges. La morale d’Avempace. Études Musulmanes 22. Paris: Vrin, 1979.

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    The book is a general overview of Avempace’s doctrines in spite of the title, “Ethics.” The author makes the point that Avempace starts from metaphysics, goes through psychology to found his ethics.

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