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AVERSA


151


AVESTA


Averroes professed the greatest esteem for Aris- totle. The word of the Stagirite was for hini the highest expression of truth in matters of science and philosophy. In this exaggerated veneration for the philosopher he went farther than any of the School- men. Indeed, in the later stages of Scholastic phi- losophy it was the Averroists and not the followers of Aquinas and Scotus who, when accused of sub- servience to the authority of a master, gloried in the title of "Aristotle's monkey". Averroes advo- cated the principle of twofold truth, maintaining that religion has one sphere and philosophy an- other. Religion, he said, is for the unlettered multitude; philosophy for the chosen few. Religion teaches by signs and .symbols; philosophy presents the truth itself. In the mind, therefore, of the truly enlightened, philosophy supersedes religion. But, t hough the philosopher sees that what is true in the- ology is false in philosophy, he should not on that account condenm religious instruction, because he would thereby deprive the multitude of the only means which it has of attaining a (sjrm- bolical) knowledge of the truth. Averroes' phi- losophy, like that of all the other Arabians, is Aris- toteleamsm tinged w-ith neo-Platonism. In it we find the doctrine of the eternity of matter as a posi- tive principle of being; the concept of a multitude of spirits ranged hierarchically between God and matter and mediating between them; the denial of Providence in the commonly accepted sense; the doctrine that each of the heavenly spheres is ani- mated; the notion of emanation or extraction, as a substitute for creation; and, finally, the glorifica- tion of (rational) mystical knowledge as the ultimate aspiration of the human soul — in a word, all the distinctively neo-Platonic elements which the Ara- bians added to pure Aristoteleanism.

What is peculiar in Averroes' interpretation of Aris- totle is the meaning he gives to the Aristotelean doc- trine of the Active and Passive Intellect. His prede- cessor, i^.vicenna, taught that, while the Active Intellect is universal and separate, the Passive Intel- lect is individual and inherent in the soul. Averroes holds that both the Active and the Passive Intellect are separate from the individual soul and are universal, that is, one in all men. He thinks that Alexander of Aphrodisias was wrong in reducing the Passive In- tellect to a mere disposition, and that the "other Commentators" (perhaps Themistius and Theo- phrastus) were wrong in describing it as an individual substance endowed with a disposition; lie maintains that it is. rather, a disposition in us, but belonging to an intellect outside us. The terms Passive, Possible, Material are successively used by Aver- roes to designate this species of intellect, which, in ultimate analysis, if we prescind from the dispo- sitions of which he speaks, is the Active Intellect itself. In other words, the same intellect which, when in the act of actually abstracting intelligible species is called acti^•e, is called passive, possible, or material so far as it is acted upon, is potential, and furnishes that out of which ideas are fabricated. Besides, Averroes speaks of the Acquired Intellect {intetlectus acqitisitus, adeptus), by which he means the individual mind in communication with the Ac- tive Intellect. Tims, while the Active Intellect is numerically one, there are as many acquired intel- lects as there are indi\'idual souls with which the Active Intellect has come in contact. (The Scholas- tics speak of continuatio of the universal with the individual mind, translating literally the Arabic word which here means contiguity rather than union.) The sun, for instance, while it is and remains one source of light, may be said to be multiplied and to become many sources of light, in so far as it il- luminates many bodies from which its light is distributed; so it is with the universal mind and


the individual minds which come in contact with it.

The weakness of this doctrine , as a psychological ex- planation of the origin of knowledge, is its failure to take account of the facts of consciousness, which, as the Scholastics were not slow to point out, indicate that not merely an individual disposition but an ac- tive individual principle enters into the action which one expresses by the words "I think". Another weak- ness of the doctrine of monopsychisra, or the doc- trine that there is but one mind, a weakness at least in the eyes of the Scholastics, is that it leaves unanswered the question of the immortality of the individual soul. Indeed, Averroes openly admitted his inability to hold on philo.sophic grounds the doc- trine of individual immortality, being content to maintain it as a religious tenet. Averroes' greatest influence was as a commentator. His doctrines had a varying fortune in the Christian schools; at first they secured a certain amount of adherence, then, gradually, their incompatibility with Christian teach- ing became apparent, and finally, owing to the revolt of the Renaissance from everything Scholastic, they secured once more a temporary hearing. His com- mentaries, however, had immediate and lasting suc- cess. St. Thomas Aquinas used the "Grand Com- mentary" of Averroes as his model, being, apparently, the first Scholastic to adopt that style of exposition; and though he refuted the errors of Averroes, and devoted special treatises to that purpose, he ahvays spoke of the Arabian commentator as one who had, indeed, perverted the Peripatetic tradition, but whose words, neverthele.ss, should be treated with respect and consideration. The same may be said of Dante's references to him. It was after the time of St. Thomas and Dante that Averroes came to be rep- resented as "the arch-enemy of the faith".

Averroes' works in the Venice etlition, 1497, 1527, and. in part, in Munk'.s Melanges i&c. (Paris. 1S59); Munk, in Diet, des sciences philosophiques {Pari.s, 1844-52), art. Ibn Roschd ; Renan, Averroes el rAnerroisme (Paris, 9th e.l.. 1882): Mandonnet, Siger de Brabant el I'Averroisme lalv. au Kill siccle (Fribourg, 1899); Ueberweg-Heinze, Oesch. dec Phil., (9th ed.. Berlin. 1905), VI 250 sqq. (tr. I); Ttonlr. Hisl. of Phil. (Boston, 1903), 313 sqq.; Stockl, Gesch. der Phil, des MiUelallera (Mainz, 1865), II.

William Turner.

Aversa, Diocese of, comprising twenty-one towns in the Province of Caserta and twelve in the Prov- ince of Naples, is under the immediate jurisdiction of the Holy See. This city is of relatively recent origin. It arose in the eleventh century on the ruins of Atella, a city of the Oscians, famous for their piquant raillery, which furnished the basis for the licentious interludes called Atellana:. The ruins of ancient Atella, destroyed during the inva- sions of the barbarians, are still to be seen in the neighbourhood of Arpino. On these ruins the Nor- man Duke, Robert Guiscard, built a fortification which in time became a city called Aversa. The same Duke Robert, becoming a vassal of the pope and supporting him in his struggle with the em- peror, obtained permission from Leo IX to have the Bishopric of Atella transferred to Aversa. The city has many fine monuments in the Norman style. It contains 54 parishes; 177 churches, chapels, and oratories; 674 secular clergy, and a population of 130,100.

Venturi, Storia delta arte Itatiana (Milan, 1903), 502-522; Ughelli, Italia Sacra (Venice, 1722). 1, 485: Cappelletti, Le ehiese d'ltalia (Venice, 1866), XXI, 433: Gams, Series cpiseoporum Ecctesice cathoticce (Kaiiahon, 1873), 855; Fabozzi. I storia delta fondazione di Aversa (Naples, 1770).

Ernesto Buonaiuti.

Avesta, The, the sacred books of the Parsees, or Zoroastrians, and the main source of our knowl- edge concerning the religious and spiritual life of the ancient Persians. This collection of writings occupies the same place in the literature of Iran