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Reviewed by:
  • Maestros de Occidente: Estudios sobre el pensamiento andalusí
  • Massimo Campanini
Maestros de Occidente: Estudios sobre el pensamiento andalusí. By A. Martínez Lorca. Madrid: Editorial Trotta, 2007. Pp. 264.

Maestros de Occidente: Estudios sobre el pensamiento andalusí is a collection of seventeen papers by Andres Martínez Lorca, sixteen of which were previously published in different places between 1992 and 2007.

The book is divided into three parts. The first is devoted to general problems: the birth of philosophy in Andalusia, Aristotle’s philosophical language in the translations of William of Moerbeke and Michael Scot, and the Almohad Reform in the Muslim West. The second part is devoted to a wide range of Muslim thinkers and philosophers, from Ibn Hazm to Ibn Tufayl, and from Averroës and Maimonides to Ibn Khaldūn. The third part is devoted to two prominent Spanish Arabists, Miguel Asín Palacios and Emilio García Gomez. Thus, both the whole history of Arab Islamic thought in Andalusia through its protagonists and some important contributions to Spanish historiography on the same subject are covered. Martínez Lorca argues that we can understand Andalusian philosophy only if it is appropriately contextualized historically. Many of the papers here are overall reconstructions of either particular or general aspects of Andalusian thought, like the inquiries of Sa‘id al-Andalusi concerning the history of science, the pivotal role of Ibn Rushd, and the Aristotelian attitude of Maimonides on the one hand and a global philosophical overview of the same Jewish thinker on the other.

One of the aims pursued by Martínez Lorca is to demonstrate the valuable contribution made by the “masters of the Islamic West” to the geographical and cultural West, that is, Europe in the so-called Middle Ages. This is the reason why he emphasizes in particular the “modernity” of Andalusian philosophy: “What did Muslim Spain bring to the common roots of Islamic pluralism? In particular, a deeper accentuation of that pluralism and the raising of a philosophical rationalism with unquestionable elements of modernity” (p. 25). Averroës/Ibn Rushd is obviously the champion of this philosophical rationalism directed toward modernity, being the philosopher who led Europe in that direction. He renewed philosophy, applying the laws of logic and a rational reflection to the data provided by the natural world, making of philosophy an autonomous science whose inner dialectics allows the correction of mistakes (p. 124). Averroës was the most important interpreter of the intellectual revolution of the thirteenth century. He changed philosophy through a new intellectual style, since after all he preferred accurate commentaries to Avicenna’s encyclopedias, and through a new role for philosophy, emphasizing its autonomy and rationality (pp. 150–151).

Martínez Lorca is keen to bring out the novelty of the thinkers he studies. Thus, Sa‘id al-Andalusi is credited as the first to have written a universal history of science since ancient times. Moreover, his Tabaqat al-umam is a far better historiographical [End Page 107] work than Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of the Famous Philosophers (p. 103). Ibn Khaldūn elaborated a new conception of history because he did not confine himself to telling historical facts; rather he looked for the causes of the historical facts, trying to explain them (p. 218).

This valuable book includes three indexes: an index of relevant Arab words and locutions, an index of Greek and Latin words and locutions, and finally an onomastic index.

Massimo Campanini
State University of Milano


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