Averroes: biography of the father of modern medicine

Abu Walid Muhammad ibn Rusd, better known as Averroes in the Western world he was a Hispano-Arab philosopher, thinker, physician and jurist considered one of the most important philosophers of the Muslim world and Europe, as he translated hundreds of works of Aristotle and never ceased his studies and reflections.

Below we will do a brief review of the biography of Averroes, with the main events of his life and work.

    Short biography of Averroes

    Born in Cordoba under Islamic rule (1126 – 1198), Averrois comes from a family of intellectual jurists, the specialty was advice. His father, Abu Al Qasim Ahmad, was a cadet of Cordoba during the time of Al-Andalus, a period in which Muslims dominated Hispania in the Middle Ages for around 800 years.

    The thought of Averroes as a philosopher

    Following the family tradition, Averroès completed his law studies, specialized and deepened in the interpretation of laws, Their reasons for being and their objectives. From an early age, he excelled in his approach to jurisprudence. He achieved his fame with his two great works: Point of Departure of the Supreme Jurist and The Arrival of the Average Jurist.

    This Muslim philosopher was known as “the commentator”, “the consultant” from the West, and is that their main successes result from three works called the Commentaries of Aristotle, divided into three parts with the Large Commentary, the Middle Commentary and the Small Commentary, being in that order of more or less in terms of analytical extension.

    Science and religion, converging

    Contrary to what one might imagine on the way in which religion can influence the empirical domain, Averrois want to bring together theology and philosophy. To begin with, instead of confronting the three monotheistic religions, he recognized the importance of all three.

    For Averroes, the sacred books of the Torah, the Bible and the Koran have the same background and the same purpose, which is to give a logical explanation for the existence of life. On the other hand, aware of the controversy that exists in the interpretation of the writings, he went so far as to assert that only philosophers and thinkers should be allowed to decode the Quran.

    Likewise, the Hispano-Arab philosopher put in relation the two types of knowledge, stressing that they were indispensable to each other to understand the meaning of life. Justify divine existence (Supreme God) to give order, coherence and stability to the world of the psyche; this world of the human spirit which is that of the senses and the imagination, and therefore not objective, according to Averroès.

      Work and transcendence

      Despite all his philosophico-legal influences, Averroès’ most remarkable and most appreciated work concerns medicine. And as a doctor, the author wrote Kulliyat, a scientific book that talked about generalities of medicine. Many have criticized his contribution to science, but the Qur’an itself advocates “the pursuit of science from the cradle to the grave.”

      The medical profession at the time was one of the most recognized achievements for a sage. An examination of high intellectual difficulty had to be passed under the knowledge of Hippocrates, as well as under his oath. Moreover, what exalts the figure of Averroes as a doctor is that to practice as such, one did not need only knowledge and technical skills. Morality, ethics and a sense of justice had to be demonstrated.

        “Al el-Kulliyat”, the genesis of modern medicine

        The book Al-Kulliyat, General on Medicine, written in seven astonishing volumes, was written on the basis of the idea that, as Averroes would say, “the visible can give a glimpse of the invisible”. In this way, Ibn Rusd again surprised his contemporaries, avoiding preconceptions and intuitions in his scientific studies.

        For Averroes, medicine was an art, And the doctor brushes it to perform. A specialty that aimed to preserve health and cure their illnesses. Based on three fundamental pillars (principles, elements and their causes), the doctrine of Al-Kulliyat is presented as follows:

        Volume 1. Anatomy

        Knowledge of the parts of the human body, describing the parts that can be perceived.

        Volume 2. Physiology

        It deals with the organic and mechanical functioning of the human body of each of the components that compose it. Describe what we now call “the state of health”

        Volume 3. Pathologies

        Description and explanation of the causes of diseases.

        Volume 4. Semiotics

        Study and analysis of symptoms and syndromes

        Volume 5. Therapeutics

        The healing technique, providing dietary recipes and natural medicines.

        Volume 6. Hygiene

        Recommendations and advice on hygiene techniques for maintaining health.

        Volume 7. Drugs

        Comprehensive description of the different drugs and solutions for all types of diseases.

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