Volume 4, 2008
About Celestial Circulation: Averroes’ Tahafūt al-tahafūt and Aristotle’s De Caelo
For Averroes, celestial circulation is evidence of a divinely mandated rational universe. This paper follows Averroes’ account on cosmic contact between the eternal and the temporal, in Tahafūt al-tahafūt contra al-Ghazālī. It argues that the polemical perspective of the Tahafūt al-tahafūt frames Averroes’ appeal to Aristotle’s account of cosmic motion. Consequently, Averroes’ exceptional account of the universe contrasts Aristotle’s exemplary account of the mutual participation of intellect and nature. Their accounts of celestial circulation implicate the status of human nature conditioned by cosmic nature. As such, the possibility of human freedom rests on the nature of causality between divine intellect and cosmic manifestation. The convergence and divergence of Aristotle and Averroes regarding celestial circulation reveals Averroes’ politics that guide a rational argument for a strong cosmic causal connection between the unmoved mover and the universe, against al-Ghazālī’s rationally inaccessible divine will.