Mexico City 20-21 September 2013


         Aquinas,               Alfarabi,             Avicenna,         Averroes,       Maimonides  &    Albertus

Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ International Working Group (AAIWG) annual European Workshop in London at

The Warburg Institute of the University of London

1-2 June 2017

Creation and Artifice in Medieval Theories of Causality

Including an afternoon 31 May pre-workshop visit for

AAIWG members with faculty at The Institute of Ismaili Studies

followed by a presentation by

Prof. Richard Taylor (Marquette University &

DeWulf-Mansion Centre, KU Leuven)

“Creation and Artifice:

The Metaphysics of Primary and Secondary Causality”

Confirmed Workshop presenters include:

Amos Bertolacci, Pisa

Charles Burnett, London

Dragos Calma, Cambridge

Michael Chase, Paris

Therese Cory, Notre Dame

Ann Giletti, Cambridge

R. E. Houser, Houston

Luís López-Farjeat, México City

Jon McGinnis, St. Louis

Nicola Polloni, Durham

David Twetten, Milwaukee

Philippe Vallat, Vienna

Further information forthcoming


Plans are underway for a meeting at

Marrakesh in March 2018.


Many thanks to our hosts, Pedro Mantas and Juan Pedro Monferrer Sala, of the Universidad de Córdoba for their wonderful hospitality

and also for their scholarly contributions.

Thanks are also due to our participants for their strong and

insightful presentations and comments.

Córdoba, the home city of Ibn Rushd / Averros and the birthplace of Rabbi Moses Maimonides, was a wonderful venue rich with history directly relevant to our work

Our visit was a delightful treat to the eye, the imagination and the mind. And the “summer camp” experience at a well appointed and charming AirBnB rental close to the University was also a special treat.

The 2016 meeting of the Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’

International Working Group (AAIWG)

Córdoba, Spain, 20-21 June 2016


Faculty of Humanities, Universidad de Cordoba

Travel & Housing Information, see below.

(tentative schedule)

Monday 20 June

9h00.  Welcome Pedro Mantas, Richard Taylor, et alii

Session One: Chair Prof. Luis López-Farjeat, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City

9h15-10h15 Presentation #1: Prof. Juan Pedro Monferrer Sala, Universidad de Cordoba, “Behind the veil: The Syriac influence in the construction of the Arabic legacy”

10h25-11:25 Presentation #2: Dr. Janis Esots, Institute of Isma’ili Studies, London: “Al-Fārābī on milla.”

11h25-11h45. Coffee.

11h45-12h45. Presentation #3:  Dr. Rafael Ramon Guerrero, Profesor Emerito, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, “Ibn Hazm on Philosophy and Religion”

13h00-15h00 Lunch.

Session Two: Chair Prof. Josep Puig Montada, Universidad Complutense, Madrid

15h00-16h00. Presentation #4: Prof. Pedro Mantas, Universidad de Cordoba, “The Tathlīth al-waḥdānīyah

16h00-17h00 Presentation #5: Prof. Francisco J. Romero Carrasquillo, Universidad Panamericana, Campus Guadalajara, Mexico: “Aquinas’ Reception of John of Damascus’ Philosophy of Religious Worship”

17h00-17h20 coffee break

17h20-18h20 Presentation #6: Prof. Luis López-Farjeat, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City: “Philosophical Argumentation For the Eternity of the World in Classical Islam”

18h20-19h20 Presentation #7: Dr. Ann Giletti, University of California, Rome Campus, Crying Heresy: Aquinas and the Controversy over Eternal Creation” (via Skype)

Tuesday 21 June

8h45 Session Three: Chair Dr. Katja Krause, Max Planck Institut for the History of Science, Berlin

8h45-9h45 Presentation #8: Prof. Terence Kleven, Central College, Iowa: “Al-Fārābī’s The Book of Analysis (Kitāb al-Taḥlīl)

10h00-11h00 Guided visit to the Cathedral / Mosque

11h15-11h20. Coffee.

11h30-12h30. Presentation #10: Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, Milwaukee, and DWMC, KU Leuven: “Remarks on the Metaphysics of the Kalām fī maḥḍ al-khair / Liber de causis, Avicenna and Thomas Aquinas.”

12h30-13h30. Presentation #11: Dr. Daniel DeHaan, Cambridge University, “Avicenna’s Metaphysics and the Triplex Via in Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae 1. 2-4”

13h40 Lunch.

Session Four: Chair Prof. Therese Scapelli Cory, University of Notre Dame, USA

15h30-16h30. Presentation #12: Prof. José Meirinhos & Dr. Celia López Alcalde, University of Porto “Abstraction and intellectual illumination. Petrus Hispanus as a mediator between the Arabs and Thomas Aquinas?”

17h30-18h30 Presentation #13: Prof. David Twetten, Marquette University, “Albert the Great's Arabic Cosmology: The Early Reversals Reconsidered”

18h30-19h00 Closing remarks

Cordoba Workshop Travel & Housing Information

The Seminar will be held at the “Faculty of Humanities”:


Every lesson and Seminar room have Wi-Fi access, a computer connected to the internet and a projector. One or more of the presentations may be via Skype.


AVE (High-speed train) connections to/from Madrid (1h 45 min), Barcelona (4 h), Malaga (50 min) and Seville (30 min), the Railway station is located city center.


There are many hotels in Córdoba but our hosts recommend the following:


- “Hotel Los gallos” a three starts hotel 20 minutes walking distance from our Faculty, very convenient and good prices ($69 Academic attendees: If any of you choose this, please, contact Prof. Pedro Mantas ( for arrange booking.


- “Hotel Mezquita”, a two stars hotel ($56 opposite to the Mosque East façade, 100 meters from our Faculty, in low to middle season price is 35-40 Eur incl. breakfast).


-“Hotel Exe Conquistador” a four starts hotel (ca. $70/nt just beside “Hotel Mezquita” ($56 /nt Very nice.


If any prefer a five stars hotel, this is recommended:


- “Hotel Eurostars Palace”, a new five starts hotel ($95-100,, 250 meters from our Faculty. Very good and not very dear in Summer. Please, check price at



Daniel DeHaan, Cambridge University, “Avicenna’s Metaphysics and the Triplex Via in Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae 1. 2-4” Abstract: This paper examines the influence of Avicenna's metaphysical theology and Pseudo-Dionysius's Triplex Via on Thomas Aquinas’s own account of divine existence, simplicity, and perfection in Summa theologiae I.2–4.  From Pseudo-Dionysius's Triplex Via, Aquinas argued we can arrive at knowledge of God’s existence via causality, God’s simplicity, via negation, and God’s perfection via super-eminence. From Avicenna, Aquinas developed his own metaphysical theology of the divine as Ipsum esse, simple, and perfection.

Janis Esots, Institute of Isma’ili Studies, London: “Al-Fārābī on milla.” Abstract: In order to achieve happiness, the inhabitants of the Excellent City must know certain metaphysical truths, which are only accessible to the non-philosophers through a

system of symbols, called by Fārābī milla ('religion'). However, the symbols in which the milla expresses these truths contain certain topics of contention, which, in turn, posits the problem of the 'noble lie'. In my paper, I will discuss the relevant intricacies.

Ann Giletti, University of California, Rome Campus, “Crying Heresy: Aquinas and the Controversy over Eternal Creation” Abstract: This paper examines how the theories of eternal creation and the eternity of the world were sometimes called ‘heretical’ in the 13th century, though technically they were not heretical. Aquinas’ De aeternitate mundi, an interesting case in this phenomenon, reveals the motivations behind this term (mis)use.

Terence Kleven, Central College, Iowa: “Al-Fārābī’s The Book of Analysis (Kitāb al-Taḥlīl)

Abstract: In al-Fārābī’s commentaries on Aristotle’s logical works, he inserts two books, The Book of Analysis (Kitāb al-Taḥlīl) and The Book of the Sophistical Refutations (Kitāb al-Amkina al-Maghlaṭa), between his commentaries on the two books of the Analytics of Aristotle, the Prior and Posterior Analytics. The purpose of this essay is to show that The Book of Analysis is an exposition of certain parts of the art of dialectic and this book forms the introduction to al-Fārābī’s account of the five syllogistic arts.

Luis López-Farjeat, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City: “Philosophical Argumentation For the Eternity of the World in Classical Islam” Abstract: The arguments concerning the eternity of the world are a good example of the tensions between theology and philosophy in the Islamic context. Some Islamic theologians were concerned about the philosophical view of the eternity of the world given that they seemed to contradict the notion of "creation in time." Consequently, these theologians tried to build arguments against such possibility. In contrast, Islamic philosophers such as Avicenna and Averroes were convinced of the eternity of the world and they thought that this does not necessarily contradict a certain notion of creation. In this presentation I discuss the number of arguments surrounding this issue showing how influential they were in later philosophical and theological debates within the Jewish and Christian traditions.

Pedro Mantas, Universidad de Cordoba, “The Tathlīth al-waḥdānīyah”

Abstract: Among the different issues affecting the interchange of knowledge processes along the Middle Ages, there is one that was particularly influential and, in many cases, decisive: the cultural and religious substratum in which such interchange was to be promoted or hindered. In the context of twelfth and thirteenth centuries apologetic and polemical treatises there is a work, the Tathlīth al-waḥdānīyah (Trinitizing the Unity [of God]), that van Koningsveld (1985) and Thomas Burman (1994) have highlighted due to the presence of Augustinian elements in the Trinitarian argumentation of the text – something that allow them to propose a hypothesis on its authorship (Petrus Alfonsi?) as being aware of Peter Abelard’s and Hugh of St. Victor’s theology.

José Meirinhos & Departamento de Filosofia da Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto,  & Celia López Alcalde, Instituto de Filosofia, Universidade do Porto, Portugal, “Abstraction and intellectual illumination. Petrus Hispanus as a mediator between the Arabs and Thomas Aquinas”

Petrus Hispanus’ long though unfinished Sententia cum questionibus in De anima (only I.1-3 till 405a30 and II.1-4 till 415b28 are commented) discusses in passing perception and the cognitive role of the soul’s faculties, as well as the way in which the soul knows the material world through abstraction. It was once stated that the theory of the soul's "conformitas" to outer reality, offered by Petrus, provides the 'missing link' between early 13th-century innatist theories and Thomas Aquinas’ intellective cognition theory. This paper aims to discuss Petrus Hispanus’ account of abstraction and how the soul conforms to outer reality, how Aristotle’s abstraction process is interpreted under the influence of Arabic thinkers, and whether, or how, this interpretation could have been transmitted to Thomas Aquinas.

Juan Pedro Monferrer Sala, Universidad de Cordoba, “Behind the veil: The Syriac influence in the construction of the Arabic legacy” Abstract: The Syriac-speaking Christians of Syria and Mesopotamia made one of the most important contributions to the intellectual eflorescence centred in ʽAbbasid Baghdad which became the chief glory of mediaeval Islam. The first century and a half of the ʽAbbasid dynasty saw the momentous movement of translation of Greek, Syriac and Persian works into Arabic and the transference of Hellenistic lore to the followers of the Arabian Prophet.

Rafael Ramon Guerrero, Profesor Emerito, Universidad Complutense, Madrid,“Ibn Ḥazm: sobre filosofía y religión” Abstract: La primera figura que afrontó el problema de las ciencias en al-Andalus fue Ibn Ḥazm de Córdoba (994-1064). Hombre de una gran formación, supo hacer frente a la cuestión planteada por el conocimiento religioso y el de la filosofía y de las ciencias. Su concepción de la ciencia tiende a ser un término medio entre los extremos, pues se dirige a quienes ignoran o deforman las dos fuentes de la verdad que reconoce: la razón y la revelación. Para él, la ciencia tiene dos vertientes, complementarias entre sí: la espiritual, que tiene que ver con la revelación, y la puramente científica, que tiene que ver con la razón. Sólo reconociendo estas dos vertientes o aspectos, se comprenderá el sentido de la ciencia como totalidad de la experiencia humana. Como la ciencia es un saber universal, en ella caben tanto los conocimientos teológicos como los filosóficos, puesto que el origen de todos ellos es Dios. Combinando un riguroso método científico con criterios religiosos, reconoció que todas las ciencias profanas, aún las más exactas y veraces, son útiles como propedéuticas y auxiliares para llegar al conocimiento y a la práctica de la ciencia revelada. Las ciencias humanas ayudan y preparan al hombre en su investigación de la verdad. Todas ellas colaboran para que el hombre alcance la salvación. Son ciencias que poseen un valor universal para todos los pueblos. Pero, por encima de ellas, están las ciencias religiosas islámicas, que son las que para él tienen un valor absoluto, porque expresan la voluntad de Dios.

Francisco J. Romero Carrasquillo, Universidad Panamericana, Campus Guadalajara, Mexico: “Aquinas’ Reception of John of Damascus’ Philosophy of Religious Worship” Abstract: One Arab thinker whose significant influence on Aquinas’ philosophical and theological thought has been widely neglected in scholarship is John of Damascus (675/6-749).  This paper seeks to shed light on Aquinas’ thought by tracing John’s influence on Aquinas’ philosophy of religion, in particular on the topics of prayer, religious worship, and the role of the body and of images in worship.

Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, Milwaukee, and DWMC, KU Leuven: “Remarks on the Metaphysics of the Kalām fī maḥḍ al-khair / Liber de causis, Avicenna and Thomas Aquinas.” Abstract: In this presentation the metaphysics of the Kalām fī maḥḍ al-khair is shown to be founded on key teachings in the Plotiniana Arabica and yet to involve a very special role for the First Cause and Creator particularly valuable as a source of inspiration for the metaphysical thought of Thomas Aquinas.

David Twetten, Marquette University, Milwaukee, “Albert the Great's Arabic Cosmology: The Early Reversals Reconsidered”

Albert the Great’s earliest writings show the clear influence of the cosmology that he learned from the Arabic philosophers and that he ascribes to Aristotle. Under the apparent influence of Averroes, Albert equates the celestial souls that move the heavens with angels or Intelligences. When he “published” his commentary on Book 2 of Lombard’s Sentences in 1246, he completely rejected this cosmology, observing that nothing is safer than to say that God alone moves the heavens. Later Albert returns to the cosmology of the Arabic philosophers, embracing it, with some qualifications. Some of his mature positions, in turn, are condemned at Paris in 1277. This paper reexamines the data and the reasons for Albert’s reversals. There is no question that the cosmology creates a conflict between faith and reason. But to precisely what is Albert reacting in 1246, and why does he revert subsequently to something like his original position?


Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ International Working Group

and French Colleagues will meet in Paris

27-28 May 2015 for

“Necessity and Knowledge in the Middle Ages”

Institut Catholique de Paris website

This event will feature eleven (11) presenters,

including AAIWG members and Parisian colleagues.

Organizers of this event are AAIWG members

Prof. Isabelle Moulin (Institut Catholique de Paris) &

Dr. Katja Krause (Max-Planck-Institut, Berlin)


(semi-final 14 April 2015)

Mercredi 27 mai. Nécessité et science en Dieu

9h00. Accueil

9h15. Olivier Boulnois (EPHE et ICP, Paris). Introduction.

9h30. Marc Geoffroy (CNRS, Paris). « La science humaine et la participation à la science divine chez Averroès ».

10h30. Pause.

11h00. Daniel De Smet (CNRS, Paris). « Le mal est-il voulu et connu par Dieu? Le décret (qadâ’) et la prédétermination (qadar) selon le Tafsîr sûrat al-falaq d'Avicenne ».

12h00. Luis Xavier López-Farjeat (Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City). « Avicenna and Aquinas on the Foreknowledge of Future Events ».

13h00. Déjeuner.

15h00. Michael Chase (CNRS, Paris). « Boethius, Aquinas, and Nāṣir al-Dīn Ṭūsī on Foreknowledge and Free Will ».

16h00. Fabio Gibiino (LabEx HASTEC, Paris). « La connaissance du singulier en Dieu : Thomas d'Aquin face à Avicenne (I Sent. d. 36) ».

17h00. Pause

17h30. Christian Jambet (EPHE, Paris). « La science divine selon les philosophes shî’ites au temps des Safavides (XVIIe siècle) ».

Jeudi 28 mai. Nécessité et connaissance de l’homme

9h00. Accueil

9h30. Meryem Sebti (CNRS, Paris).  « Eschatologie et intellection dans la doctrine de l'âme d'Avicenne »

10h30. Pause.

11h00. Henryk Anzulewicz (Albertus Magnus Institut, Bonn). « Albert on Knowledge Acquisition: A Holistic Account ».

12h00. Richard Taylor (Marquette University & DWMC KU Leuven). « Remarks on Aquinas’s Early Understanding of Averroes on Knowing Separate Substances and It’s Importance for Latin Averroism ».

13h00. Déjeuner.

15h00. Katja Krause (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin). « Aquinas’ Differing Interpretations of Averroes’ Theory of Knowing Separate Substances ».

16h00. Therese Scarpelli Cory (Humboldt Foundation JMU Würzburg & University of Notre Dame, IN). « The Scope of Our Intellects: Negative Knowledge of Immaterial Being in Aquinas ».

17h00. Pause.


Christian Jambet, Directeur d’études à l’École pratique des Hautes Études. « La science divine selon les philosophes shî’ites au temps des Safavides (17ème siècle) .

Le dix-septième siècle a connu un vaste essor du savoir philosophique sous le patronage des rois de la dynastie safavide, qui ont choisi le shî’isme imamite comme religion officielle de l’État. Mîr Dâmâd, Mullâ Sadrâ, Qâzî Saʽîd Qummî ont élaboré des systèmes où la métaphysique, science de l’étant en tant qu’étant, se parachève en des théologies rivales, où la définition des attributs divins est l’objet de mainte controverse. Quelle est la nature de la science que Dieu a de Lui-même et de la totalité de l’étant ? En quoi la science divine est-elle le modèle idéal de la science métaphysique ? Nous examinerons ces deux questions solidaires l’une de l’autre dans le cadre de ces métaphysiques du shî’isme, instruites par un programme commun mais distinguées par des solutions diverses et parfois opposées.

Daniel De Smet, CNRS. « Le mal est-il voulu et connu par Dieu ? Le décret (qadâ’) et la prédétermination (qadar) selon le Tafsîr sûrat al-falaq d'Avicenne ».

Dans son commentaire de la sourate 113 du Coran, Avicenne soutient que l'Être nécessaire veut et connaît le bien par intention première au niveau du décret, tandis qu'il veut et connaît le mal par intention seconde au niveau de la prédétermination. En partant de ce traité peu étudié, j'explorerai la question de la prescience et de la providence à l'aide de plusieurs autres textes tirés du corpus avicennien.

Fabio Gibiino, LabEx HASTEC. « La connaissance du singulier en Dieu : Thomas d'Aquin face à Avicenne (I Sent. d. 36) ».

Dans son commentaire sur le premier livre des Sentences, à la distinction 36, Thomas d'Aquin aborde les conditions d'une connaissance du singulier par Dieu. Si nous analysons la structure de la d. 36, nous pouvons observer clairement deux parties bien distinctes, mais dont l'une prépare l'autre. Dans la première partie, Thomas tâche d'analyser le problème de la connaissance divine du singulier, tandis que dans la deuxième partie, il examine la doctrine des idées divines. De fait, une fois que Thomas a montré la possibilité d'une connaissance immédiate des singuliers dans la science divine, il poursuit en expliquant sa réalisation en Dieu : par les idées qui sont les formes exemplaires des choses existantes. Si Thomas revient au début de la d. 36 au sujet de la connaissance du singulier, c'est pour réfuter la position avicennienne de la médiation dans la connaissance de Dieu et admettre, au contraire, un rapport d'immédiateté de l'agir et du connaître de Dieu à l'égard des créatures. En suivant Denys, Thomas affirme que Dieu connaît les choses par sa propre essence qui est cause des choses. Ainsi, Dieu œuvre dans les choses d'une façon immédiate. Mieux encore, si Dieu connaît les choses de la même manière qu'il les crée, et qu'il crée les choses sans médiation, alors Dieu les connaît choses immédiatement.

Marc Geoffroy, CNRS. « La science humaine et la participation à la science divine chez Averroès ».

L’historiographie courante attribue encore aujourd’hui à Averroès une rupture avec les schèmes néoplatoniciens ayant déterminé la lecture d’Aristote par ses prédécesseurs dans l’Orient musulman, en premier lieu Avicenne. Dans la théorie de la connaissance avicennienne, l’abstraction des formes matérielles assurée par l’intellect humain apparaît comme le point initial d’un processus de retour (ma‘ād) des formes descendues dans la matière, affectées des « appendices » qui les ont rendues générables et corruptibles, vers leur Origine (madba’) intelligible, éternelle et stable ; et l’achèvement de ce processus en une auto-intellection de l’intellect par laquelle on s’assimile à la « pensée de pensé » du livre Lambda de la Métaphysique, comme l’accomplissement du devenir eschatologique de l’homme intellectuel. Le déroulement de ce processus paraît indissociable du modèle néoplatonicien reçu par Avicenne de la pseudo-Théologie d’Aristote, et l’on sait qu’Averroès a critiqué à bien des égards ces « scories » néoplatoniciennes qui auraient affecté l’enseignement du philosophe persan (critique de la doctrine de l’émanation, de la théologie de l’Être nécessaire), et prétendu restaurer un aristotélisme « authentique ». Et l’aristotélisme authentique, au contraire de la mystique intellectuelle d’origine plotinienne, exclut en principe l’autodépassement de la connaissance empirique en une science contemplative d’ordre non discursif.

Cette perspective est cependant bien présente chez Averroès, pour qui elle constitue la finalité ultime de la philosophie et même sa raison d’être, en l’espèce de la conjonction (ittiṣāl) avec l’Intellect agent. Le but de l’acquisition de la connaissance théorique est de pourvoir l’intellect humain de toutes les formes connaissables de l’univers ainsi que de toutes les relations causales des unes envers les autres, pour que l’homme, ainsi que cela est dit explicitement, puisse devenir « semblable à Dieu dans la mesure où cela est possible à l’homme »,conformément à une définition bien connue de la philosophie, dont Averroès a connaissance par Thémistius.

On s’attachera à monter la manière spécifique dont Averroès a articulé les différents pans de sa doctrine péripatéticienne, en métaphysique, en noétique, en cosmologie, en psychologie et même en zoologie, pour les faire concourir à constituer la science philosophique en moyen de participer à l’éternité de l’Intelligence divine.

Meryem Sebti, CNRS. « Eschatologie et intellection dans la doctrine de l'âme d'Avicenne »

Le pivot de la noétique avicennienne est l'idée que l'homme est en mesure de réaliser sa perfection par son effort intellectuel; le but ultime de l'existence humaine étant de devenir semblable au Principe Premier qui intellige tout ce qui est. L’homme est un être en devenir : il œuvre sa vie durant à son salut individuel. Son existence est orientée vers ce but unique, celui de sa béatitude, qui est le fruit de la réalisation de son intellect. Il y a cependant un paradoxe dans cette doctrine, qui établit

un lien étroit entre savoir et salut individuel, connaissance et eschatologie. Si l’âme est une substance existant par soi, émanée du Donateur des formes lorsqu'un corps est disposé à la recevoir, son existence n’est pas conditionnée par son activité. L’acte de penser n’est pas immanent, il n’est pas une véritable energeia du sujet, puisqu’il requiert l’intervention d’un principe séparé, l'intellect agent. L’intellect matériel qui est une puissance de l’âme humaine ne passe à l’acte que sous l’effet de l’intellect agent qui infuse en lui les formes intelligibles. L'intellectualité de l'âme n’est donc pas substantielle, mais acquise alors même que le salut de l'âme dépend de sa réalisation intellectuelle. La subordination du salut de l'âme à sa réalisation

intellectuelle soulève des problèmes inédits dans la doctrine avicennienne de l'âme humaine que je souhaiterais examiner au cours de cette communication.

Henryk Anzulewicz, Albertus-Magnus-Institut, Bonn. « Albert on Knowledge Acquisition: A Holistic Account »

Albert’s conception of human knowing entails two key characteristics that holistically reflect the two distinct modes of being of humans: 1. the mode of cognition in this life depends on the specific corporeal and intellectual nature of humans, and 2. the disembodied human soul’s intellectual mode of cognition in the afterlife constitutes the ‘act of eternal life’. Both modes share the grounding of the epistemological necessity in the demonstrable and essential knowledge of the noetic object’s specific characteristics. But they do not share the same route of acquisition. Indeed, in his early works Albert introduces a distinctive version of the disembodied soul’s mode of cognition for embodied natural knowing in this life: due to its similarity with separate substances, the human soul naturally cognises in virtue of the formae ad res that have been infused into the intellect by God as ‘similarities of divine ideas’. In contrast, Albert equally maintains that the human soul cognises in virtue of forms that have been abstracted from things in the world due to its substantial connection with the human body. Except for a few instances, however, this latter kind of natural knowledge acquisition in this life suppresses the former kind due to its overriding stimulation of the soul. Yet when the human soul attains its disembodied status in the afterlife, it is no longer be subject to this overriding. The purpose of this paper, then, is to illuminate Albert’s conceptions of human knowledge acquisition in this life and in the afterlife and to show in detail how his explanations rely on Ancient Greek and Arabic sources.

Michael Chase, CNRS. « Boethius, Aquinas, and Nāṣir al-Dīn Ṭūsī on Foreknowledge and Free Will »

It is well known that in his theory of divine omniscience and free will, Thomas Aquinas adopts Boethius' solution of God's timeless eternity: since God exists in a timeless eternity, He knows all past and future things and events as present. But just as Jill's observing Jack to be sitting does not impose any necessity on Jack (although it is necessarily true that Jack is sitting when he is sitting), so God's knowledge of the future contingent proposition “Chase will get up at 8:00 on June 1 2015” does not impose any necessity on me, since God does not foresee this truth, but sees it as present. After briefly recalling the structure of this defense of compatibilism, I will discuss some modern objections to the Boethius-Aquinas solution. I will then defend this solution, adducing a little known text by Nāṣir al-Dīn Ṭūsī in support of my view.

Therese Scarpelli Cory, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, University of Notre Dame, IN. « The Scope of Our Intellects: Negative Knowledge of Immaterial Being in Aquinas »

As is well known, Aquinas holds that we can have only a negative knowledge of immaterial being in this life, arguing, e.g., against Avicenna and Averroes, for whom some positive knowledge of separate Intellects is possible through conjunction. Aquinas's strictures against positive knowledge of immaterial being, however, have often been read as applying to anything that is immaterial, including God, angels, and the human soul itself. In particular, they have been taken as evidence against any positive experience or knowledge of the nature of the human soul itself. This paper examines Aquinas's texts in light of the sharp ontological distinction he draws between human souls and separate intellects, and the historical debates that motivated his statements against positive knowledge of immaterial being. I propose that (1) Aquinas statements about negative knowledge of the immaterial realm apply only to separate substances; (2) for Aquinas, the soul's direct experience of itself in self-awareness allows for some limited but positive knowledge of the human soul’s immaterial being; (3) it is only because the soul has this positive knowledge of what it means to be humanly intellectual, that it can say anything at all, even negatively, about the realm of separate substances.

Katja Krause, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. ( Aquinas’ Differing Interpretations of Averroes’ Theory of Knowing Separate Substances.

It is well-known that in his Summa contra gentiles (1259-1264) and De unitate intellectus (1269) the mature Aquinas rejects Averroes’ theory of human knowledge of separate substances. Indeed, he shows that conjunction with Averroes’ separate Agent Intellect would necessarily be mediated through phantasms. In contrast to this mature rejection, Aquinas’ early Commentary on the Sentences (1252-1255) and De veritate (1256-1259) reveal a strikingly different interpretation. Here, the young Aquinas reads Averroes to maintain that knowledge of separate substances, and consequently ultimate happiness in this life, is possible in virtue of an unmediated conjunction with the Agent Intellect. But what are the reasons for Aquinas’ differing interpretations of Averroes? The purpose of this paper is two-fold: to establish the precise differences in Aquinas’ youthful and mature interpretations of Averroes’ theory of knowing separate substances and to provide historical and systematic reasons for Aquinas’ change in interpretation, key among them the distinction of various kinds of formal causalities.

Luis Xavier López-Farjeat, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City. « Avicenna and Aquinas on the Foreknowledge of Future Events »

In this presentation I examine Aquinas’s understanding of Avicenna’s doctrine of natural prophecy, focusing on the analysis and discussion of the process that explains the foreknowledge of future natural events. I shall analyze De Veritate 12.3 where Aquinas admits the soundness of natural prophecy and characterizes it as follows: (1) in natural prophecy the foreknowledge of future contingents proceeds from secondary causes, that is, from the celestial bodies; (2) natural prophecy is limited exclusively to the prediction of future events that have determinate causes in nature; and (3) natural prophecy is not infallible. I will discuss whether Avicenna would have accepted this conception of natural prophecy.

Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University & DWMC KU Leuven. ( Remarks on Aquinas’s Early Understanding of Averroes on Knowing Separate Substances and Its Importance for Latin Averroism

In his early account of the noetics of Averroes in the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas set forth his own interpretation of the teachings of Averroes on ultimate human happiness as knowing separate substances. However, this account and that found in his Disputed Questions on the Soul, are both radically different from the teachings of Averroes himself. Ironically, the unsound understanding of Averroes set out by Aquinas during his first Paris regency seems to have proven to be very valuable to the development of the Latin Averroism which Aquinas himself fiercely attacked in later works.


“International Conference: Aquinas and Arabic Metaphysics”

Würzburg 7-8 June 2013

Location: Residenz

Organizers: Jörn Müller, Dag Hasse & Richard Taylor

Friday 7 June

15.00-18.00: Graduate Student Workshop: Aquinas and Arabic Metaphysics

Presentations and discussion (schedule forthcoming)

Hosted by the local Lichtenberg research unit:

“History of Philosophy and of the Sciences in the Graeco-Arabic-Latin Tradition”


Evening Lecture

Pasquale Porro (Bari):

Avicenna and Thomas Aquinas on the indifference of the essences

Dinner at the Bürgerspital to follow.

Saturday 8 June


Opening and welcome address: Jörn Müller (Würzburg)


Rollen E. Houser (Houston):

Introducing the Principles of Avicennian Metaphysics into Sacra Doctrina:

Thomas Aquinas, In I Sent., d. 8

Chair: Peter Adamson (München)

10.15-10.30 Coffee break

10.30-11.30 Uhr

Deborah Black (Toronto):

Aquinas and Avicenna on Divine Knowledge

Chair: Peter Adamson (München)


Olga Lizzini (Amsterdam):

chairRelations, metaphysics and the demonstration of God’s existence

Moderation: Peter Adamson (München)

12.30-14.30 Lunch


Luis X. López-Farjeat (Mexico City):

Avicenna and Aquinas on the Unity and Multiplicity of Divine Attributes in light of I Sent., d. 2, q. 1, art. 1-3

Chair: Gabriele Galluzzo (München)


Richard C. Taylor (Milwaukee):

The Metaphysics of Creation in Avicenna, Averroes and Aquinas

Chair: Gabriele Galluzzo (München)

16.30-17.00 Coffee break


David B. Twetten (Milwaukee):  

Avicenna and Albert at the back of Aquinas’ Doctrine of Being – Reliance and Departure

Chair: Jules Janssens (Leuven)


Dag Nikolaus Hasse (Würzburg):

Thomas Aquinas’ media via between Avicenna and Averroes on the Spontaneous Generation of Compounds

Chair: Jules Janssens (Leuven)

19.00 Closing

20.00 Conference dinner at the Nikolaushof

The conference takes place in the library of the

Institute of Philosophy in the Würzburg residence castle:

Institute of Philosophy

Room 28

Residenzplatz 2

97070 Würzburg

Conference hotel:

Hotel Franziskaner

Franziskanerplatz 2, 97070 Würzburg

Phone: 0049-931-35630

For organizational matters and questions please contact:

Marie-Luise Zurhake

Institute of Philosophy

Residenzplatz 2, 97070 Würzburg

Phone: 0049-931-3182778



Paris 3-4 June 2013

“Thomas d’Aquin et ses sources arabes /

Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’”

Université Paris - Sorbonne

Organizers: J.-B. Brenet (Paris), Isabelle Moulin (Paris),

Luis X. López-Farjeat (Mexico City) & Richard C. Taylor (Milwaukee & Leuven)

Conference location & directions:

salle Cavaillès à l'Université de Paris 1:

17, rue de la Sorbonne, 75005 Paris:

Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne,

Room Cavaillès

(entrance left side of the chapel, turn immediately left, 1st stairs on the left,

2d floor [premiere étage en Français], turn right).

3 June 2013: Avicenna, Aquinas & Roger Bacon

Session Chair: TBA

  1. (i)10h-11h: Anne-Sophie Jouanneau (Paris), “L’Équivocité du désir : sur le mouvement des corps célestes chez Avicenne et Thomas d’Aquin”

  2. (ii)(ii) 11h-12h: Daniel DeHaan (Houston), “Aquinas and the Possibles in St Thomas’s In I Sent., d. 8, q. 3, a. 2”

(iii) 12h-13h: Julie Swanstrom (West Lafayette, Indiana), “Creation as Emanation in Aquinas”

13h-15h Déjeuner / Lunch

Session Chair: TBA

(iv) 15h-16h: Syamsuddin Arif (Kuala Lumpur), “Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) and Aquinas between Essentialism and Existentialism”

(v) 16h-17h: Hector Ferreiro (Buenos Aires), “Absoluta consideratio naturae: An Avicennian Theme as a Leitmotiv of Thomas Aquinas’ Metaphysics”

  1. (vi)17h-18h: Günther Mensching (Hannover), “Roger Bacon and Islamic Physics and Metaphysics”

4 June 2013: Aquinas & Averroes

Session Chair: TBA

(vii) 10h-11h:  Katja Krause (London), “Intellectual Union with God: Textual Reasons for Aquinas’ Adoption of and Retraction from Averroes’ Conjunction Theory as a Model for the Beatific Vision”

  1. (viii)11h-12h: Yamina Adouane (Paris), “A New Approach to Averroes’ Restitution of Avicenna’s Proof of the Existence of God”

(xi) 12h-13h: Charles Ehret (Paris), “Semen as an instrument in Averroes and Aquinas”

13h-15h Déjeuner / Lunch

Session Chair: TBA

  1. (ix) 15h-16h: Catarina Belo (Cairo), “Aquinas’ References to Averroes in Quaestiones disputatae de veritate

(xi) 16h-17h: Traci Phillipson (Milwaukee & Leuven), “The Role of the Will in the Psychology of Aquinas and his Predecessors”

  1. (xii)17h-18h: Francisco Romero (Guadalajara, Mexico), “Natural Theology and the Interpretation of Scripture in Averroes, Maimonides, and Aquinas”


Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, and ‘the Arabs’:  Paris & Leuven 30 May - 5 June 2012

Organized by J.-B. Brenet (Sorbonne), Cristina Cerami (CNRS, Paris), Isabelle Moulin (Institute Catholique de Paris) & Richard C. Taylor (Marquette University, Milwaukee, & DeWulf Mansion Centre, K. U. Leuven)

  1. 1.Thomas d’Aquin et ses souces arabes / Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’

Paris 30 May, 31 May & 2 June 2012

1.1 The Sentences of Lombard and the Commentary of Aquinas

30 May 2012

Institut Catholique de Paris

21, rue d’Assas, 75006 Paris

Programme Journée du 30 mai 2012 :

Pierre Lombard en ses Traditions

Matinée : travaux du Groupe de Recherche Pierre Lombard/IEM

-9h00-9h15 : Accueil

-9h15-9h30 : Gilles Berceville, Institut Catholique de Paris, Comission Léónine : Présentation du Groupe de Recherche Pierre Lombard de l’IEM.

-9h30-10h00 : Marc Ozilou : « Au centre de la théologie médiévale : les Sentences de Pierre Lombard ».

-10h00-10h45 : Gilles Berceville : « La traduction du livre des Sentences ». Réponse de  Marc Ozilou.

-10h45-11h00 : pause

-11h00-12h00 : Isabelle Moulin, Institut Catholique de Paris/Faculté Notre-Dame de Paris : « La définition du sacrement comme signe chez Albert le Grand dans sa lecture de Pierre Lombard ».

-12h00-13h00 : Therese-Anne Druart, Catholic University of America : « Les miracles dans les traditions islamiques et latines médiévales. Etude comparée de l'épisode de Moïse et des magiciens chez al-Ghazâli et Bonaventure (II Sent. d. 18) ».

  1. -13h00-14h30 : Déjeuner. Restaurant Polidor.

Après-midi: travaux du Groupe de Recherche : «Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’».

-14h30-15h00 : Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University (USA) & DWMC, K.U. Leuven: Présentation du projet du Groupe « Aquinas and the Arabs ».

-15h00-16h00 : Therese Scapelli Cory, Seattle University (USA) : “The Footprint of Avicenna's Flying Man in the Early Aquinas”

-16h00-16h30 : pause

- 16h30-17h30 : Katja Krause, King's College London : “Beatitude in Aquinas’s Commentary on the Sentences”.

Therese Scarpelli Cory (Seattle, WA)

The Footprint of Avicenna’s Flying Man in the Early Aquinas


In thirteenth-century Latin discussions of self-knowledge, one of the foremost concerns was the phenomenon of self-familiarity.  In his De Trinitate Augustine had unforgettably described how the mind can never encounter itself as foreign or new, but only as something that had always been familiar.  In Avicenna’s ‘Flying Man’ thought experiment (Liber de anima I.1 and V.7), a number of early thirteenth-century thinkers found an explanation for this phenomenon: The soul is by nature self-thinking, even though it is generally distracted from itself by involvement with sensation.  Although Aquinas initially adopts this Avicennian position at the beginning of his career (In Sent. I), he soon rejects it, arguing instead in Sent. III and De ver. that the intellect perceives itself only in its acts of cognizing other things.  While these two views are strikingly different (Avicenna posits an unconscious realm of natural self-thinking, whereas Aquinas posits only a natural habitual self-knowledge, locating self-awareness in the structure of intentional acts), Aquinas’s mature position turns out to have some interesting debts to Avicenna. This paper will begin by sketching Avicenna’s position on self-knowledge as expressed in the texts available to the Latin medievals.  I will then trace the Avicennian elements in Aquinas’s developing theory of self-knowledge in four early texts texts—In Sent. I.3.4.5, In Sent. III.23.1.2, ad 3, De ver. 1.9, and De ver. 10.8.  Given the prominence of the ‘Flying Man’ in his predecessors’ treatments of self-knowledge and Aquinas’s own strenuous objections to the theory of self-knowledge illustrated therein, however, it is odd that he never refers to it.  I conclude by considering possible explanations for this striking absence.

Katja Krause (London)

"The Significance of Averroes for the Lumen Gloriae in Aquinas' Scriptum super Sententiis"


In strikingly different ways, Albert and Aquinas present the lumen gloriae as an inherent medium under which God is seen in the beatific vision. While Albert holds that this light is a substantial inherence of God’s essence in the whole soul, Aquinas vehemently rejects his teacher’s view view in his Scriptum super Sententiis, Book 4, D. 49 Q. 2. In contrast, Aquinas presents the lumen gloriae as a new intellectual disposition enabling the intellect for God’s formal inherence in the intellect. While recent scholarship has formidably shown that Aquinas derived his philosophical argumentation for God’s formal inherence from Averroes’ conjunction theory, it has not been explored to what extent Aquinas relies on Averroes’ conjunction theory for his understanding of the lumen gloriae as aliqua dispositio sibi inherens. In this paper, I examine in detail the synthetic reasoning of Aquinas and elucidate in detail Averroes’ importance for its development.

Special Note:

The Conference Dinner will take place Wednesday evening 30 May at

8 pm at the Cacio e Pepe, 18 Rue Vulpian 75013 Paris (Cost: ca. 40-45€ each)

To reserve a place at dinner,  contact Prof. Taylor at no later than 10 May 2012.

“Matière, Génération, Création” and Other Topics

31 May & 2 June 2012

Université Paris-Sorbonne


31 mai 2012

la Sorbonne, Paris I, salle Cavaillès

(à gauche en entrant, premier étage, à droite tout au fond du couloir)

10h00 -11h25: Michael Chase (CNRS Paris)

“Abrahamic creation and Neoplatonic emanation in Greek, Arabic and Latin. Reflections on a recent paper by Richard Taylor”


11h35-13h00: Richard C. Taylor (Marquette University, Milwaukee, & DWMC, KU Leuven)

“Creation according to Averroes”


15h00-16h25: R. E. Houser (University of St. Thomas, Houston, TX)

“Avicenna and the Thomistic Doctrine of Creation”


16h35-18h00: David Twetten (Marquette University, Milwaukee)

“Emanation as ‘Aristotelian Cosmology’ for the Created Material Order in Albertus Magnus” 

2 juin 2012

la Sorbonne, Paris I, Amphithéâtre Bachelard

10h00 -11h25: Silvia Donati (Thomas Institut, Cologne)

“Averroes and Aquinas on Prime Matter as Pure Potentiality”


11h35-13h00: Marta Borgo (Commissio Leonina Paris) “Lectures d’Averroès au XIIIe siècle. Quelques considérations sur l’anti-pluralisme de Thomas d’Aquin”


15h00-16h25: Francisco J. Romero Carrasquillo (Universidad Panamericana, Guadalajara, Mexico)

“Averroes and Aquinas on the Dialectical Nature of Revealed Theology”


16h35-18h00: Joel Lonfat (Blackfriars, Oxford)

“Averroès, Thomas d’Aquin et Gilles de Rome à propos de la localisation de l’espèce intelligible”


Marta Borgo (Commissio Leonina, Paris)

Lectures d’Averroès au XIIIe siècle. Quelques considérations

sur l’anti-pluralisme de Thomas d’Aquin”


La structure hylémorphique des substances sublunaires est un sujet qui a suscité l’intérêt de Thomas d’Aquin tout au long de sa carrière. Dès la première heure adversaire de la thèse de la pluralité des formes substantielles, l’Aquinate aborde en effet la question à maintes reprises, et selon des perspectives diverses. Alors que le cible doctrinal reste fixe, la réfutation thomiste relève de sources différentes.

À partir de l’argument proposé par Thomas dans son commentaire à la distinction 18 du IIème livre des Sentences de Pierre Lombard (q. 1, a. 4), je me propose de parcourir les toutes premières étapes de la formation de son paradigme hylémorphique. Mon but étant de montrer le rôle joué par les sources arabes dans la formulation de la thèse thomiste de l’unicité de la forme substantielle, je me concentre notamment sur la manière – très différente par rapport à celle de ses contemporaines – dont le jeune Thomas aborde et interprète certains passages du Commentateur.

Michael Chase (CNRS, Paris)

“Abrahamic creation and Neoplatonic emanation in Greek, Arabic and Latin.

Reflections on a recent paper by Richard Taylor”


This paper is conceived as a critical discussion of paper presented by Richard Taylor at a conference last Fall in Mexico City, in which he investigated the notion of creatio in the Liber de Causis and Thomas Aquinas, concluding that Neoplatonic emanationism may indeed be described as a kind of creation. In response, I study Taylor's definitions of creation and necessity, then proceed to a critical examination of two central claims: that Plotinus, Proclus, and the Arabic tradition that depend on them allow for the causing by the primary cause of something after nothing, and that the main distinction between Abrahamic and Neoplatonic creationism is the role of the Creator's free will in the former and its absence in the latter. Finally, I return to the Late Antique debate between Simplicius and Philoponus, to evaluate whether Abrahamic and Christian doctrines of “creation ” are really as compatible as Taylor claims.

Silvia Donati (Thomas Institut, Cologne)

“Averroes and Aquinas on Prime Matter as Pure Potentiality”

The traditional interpretation of Aristotle’s notion of prime matter as an absolutely formless and purely potential substrate has been repeatedly called into question in the last decades within Aristotelian scholarship. Although, like many other medieval thinkers, Averroes and Aquinas endorse the theory of prime matter as a pure potentiality and believe it to be a genuine Aristotelian doctrine, they develop different interpretations of this theory. Central to Averroes’s understanding of prime matter is the idea of matter as a physical principle: in his view, its essential role is to serve as the substrate of substantial change.  By contrast, Aquinas’s approach is more decidedly metaphysical and is focused on the essential relationship between prime matter and substantial form. In my paper, I intend to explore Averroes’s and Aquinas’s different understandings of the notion of prime matter as pure potentiality and their implications.

R. E. Houser (Houston, TX)

“Avicenna and the Thomistic Doctrine of Creation”


At the outset of his consideration of creatures in the Summa theologiae, Aquinas asks “whether primary matter is created by God or is an independent co-ordinate principle.” To prove God creates even prime matter, Aquinas turns historian and paints a memorable miniature of the history of metaphysics, one in which Avicenna holds pride of place.  Avicenna contributed to the following Thomistic doctrines: (1) Aquinas’s doctrine of creation includes two parts: the religious doctrine of the creation at a first moment in time, and the metaphysical doctrine of creation as absolute dependence of the creature upon God. (2) The historical development of philosophy mirrors the ontology of creatures. (3) It was Avicenna, even more than Plato or Aristotle, who conceived metaphysics as a truly universal discipline. (4) In creatures there is a distinction between essence and being, while in God there is not. (5) These two theses are so fundamental to metaphysics that they constitute the kind of proper principles called “hypotheses” or “suppositions.” (6) Consequently, Avicenna was correct in distinguishing physics from metaphysics, not just in terms of their subjects, but even more importantly in terms of their principles; for the fundamental principles of physics are the causes, while the fundamental principles of metaphysics are essence and being. First Avicenna and then Aquinas held that the principles of physics are not the same as the principles of metaphysics. Aquinas set out the principles of physics in De principiis naturae, based on Avicenna’s Physics 1 of The Healing; and he set out the principles of metaphysics in his much misunderstood De ente et essentia, based on Avicenna’s Metaphysics of the Healing, Bk. 1. 

Joel Lonfat (Blackfriars, Oxford) (2 June 2012)

“Averroès, Thomas d’Aquin et Gilles de Rome à propos de

la localisation de l’espèce intelligible”


La localisation de l’espèce intelligible, ainsi que les propriétés hébéphréniques qui en découlent, occupent une place centrale dans la dispute fantôme, car sans adversaire en état de répondre, entre Averroès, Thomas d’Aquin et Gilles de Rome. En mettant en lumière les deux critiques concernant la « localisation » de l’espèce intelligible, la première adressée par Thomas à Averroès dans le De unitate intellectus contra averroistas, la seconde de Gilles à l’encontre de Thomas dans son De plurificatione intellectus possibilis, nous espérons non seulement présenter une analyse fine des problèmes posés par les différentes positions et leur/s critique/s, mais aussi – et surtout – rendre compte de l’importance centrale que ces positions occupent dans la construction des théories de la connaissance proposées par nos différents auteurs et, ultimement, de l’adoption – ou non – d’une théorie aristotélicienne de l’intellection.

Francisco J. Romero Carrasquillo (Guadalajara, Mexico)

“Averroes and Aquinas on the Dialectical Nature of Revealed Theology”


Two of the greatest Aristotelian commentators, Averroes and Aquinas, used the Aristotelian distinction between demonstrative, dialectical, and rhetorical discourses to assign an epistemological status to religious or theological knowledge, that is, to conclusions drawn from revelation. But their respective views on this point turned out to be very different, even opposite. Averroes considered religious knowledge to be dialectical in nature, whereas Aquinas believed revealed Christian theology to be a demonstrative science. The author shows that both of these greater Aristotelian commentators strive, although very differently, to be faithful to Aristotle concerning the epistemological status of theology. Ultimately, however, their approaches converge, particularly insofar as in both accounts, theology is dialectical in nature, at least in a qualified sense in the case of Aquinas.

Richard C. Taylor (Marquette University, Milwaukee)

“Creation according to Averroes”


In his Long Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle Averroes considers three accounts of creation and proceeds to reject (i) an account that all things are latent in matter and only require an agent moving cause for their appearance in creation; and (ii) the account of the Muslim theologians and the Christians that holds for a temporal creation involving no preexistent substance or matter out of which the created world exists so that there are no conditions on the action of the Creator. His own view involves  one of three subcategories of  a view he describes as involving (iii) generation and a substrate for changing in substance. This presentation explains Averroes’s typology of understandings of creation and explicates his own view. I will address the issue of whether his own understanding is in accord with the Islamic conception of creation.

David Twetten (Milwaukee, WI)

“Emanation as ‘Aristotelian Cosmology’ for the Created Material Order in Albertus Magnus “ 


Albert of Cologne has won the designation “the Great” thanks to a monumental literary legacy, especially thanks to his nearly twenty-year project of paraphrases, “rendering Aristotle intelligible to the Latins.” Given contemporary historiographic categories, it would be absurd to render Arabic Proclus materials (the Liber de causis) compatible with Aristotle’s physical sciences. But given Albert’s own categories, not only does this project make sense, but once completed, it can be shown to be anti-Platonic. The paper systematizes Albert’s reflections on the emanative origin of the material order, and it examines Albert’s understanding of their Platonic and Aristotelian credentials.

  Translation and Transformation in Philosophy:

Albert, between Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’

DeWulf Mansion Centre

for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium 4-5 June 2012


Prof. Andrea Robiglio, De Wulf-Mansion Centre, KU Leuven,


Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, member De Wulf-Mansion Centre

& guest professor at KU Leuven 2010-12

Monday 4 June 2012

18h00 Welcome by Prof. Antoon Vandevelde, Dean, Institute of Philosophy, KUL

Session 1 Chair: Gerd Van Riel, coordinator, De Wulf-Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy, KU Leuven

18h10 Amos Bertolacci,  Scuola Normale, Pisa,

“Albert the Great in front of Averroes' Criticisms of Avicenna”

20h00 Dinner for all presenters, chairs and special guests

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Session 2 Chair: Russell Friedman, De Wulf-Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy, KU Leuven

9h00 - 9h50 Richard C. Taylor, Philosophy Department, Marquette University, Milwaukee & member DWMC, KU Leuven, 

“Albert the Great’s Account of Human Knowledge in his De homine: A Concoction Formed From the Writings of Avicenna and Averroes”

9h55-10h45 Jörn Müller, Institut für Philosophie, Universität Würzburg, 

“Are intelligibles stored in the soul? Avicenna, Albert and Aquinas on the functions of memory”

10h45-11h15 Coffee

Session 3 Chair: Cécile Bonmariage, Institut supérieur de Philosophie Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-neuve

11h15-12h05 Jörg Tellkamp, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City,

“Incohatio formae and incohatio animae in Albert the Great’s Commentary on De anima” 

12h10-13h00 López-Farjeat, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City, 

“Albert the Great on the Knowledge of Separate Forms and his Discrepancies with ‘the Arabs’ in the De anima III, 3, 8-11” 

13h00-15h00 Lunch

Session 4 Chair: Isabelle Moulin, Institut Catholique de Paris

15h00-15h50 Olga L. Lizzini, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,

“Fluxus.  Some remarks on Avicenna and Albertus Magnus”

15h50-16h20 Coffee

Session 5 Chair: Thérèse-Anne Druart, The Catholic University of American, Washington, DC

16h20-17h10 Jules Janssens, De Wulf-Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy, KU Leuven,

Arabic Sources in Albert the Great’s Section on Sleep and Dreams of the De Homine”

17h15-18h05 Josep Puig Montada, Universidad Complutense de Madrid,

“Albert and 'the Arabs': On the Eternity of Movement”

18h05-18h15 Closing remarks

Presentation titles & abstracts

Amos Bertolacci (Pisa)

“Albert the Great in front of Averroes' Criticisms of Avicenna”

Averroes frequently and harshly criticizes Avicenna in the Long Commentary on the Metaphysics, the commentary of his in which the polemic against Avicenna is most recurrent and intensive. Now, on the issues about which Avicenna’s and Averroes’ standpoints are at odds, in his own commentary on the Metaphysics Albert the Great adopts a harmonizing strategy, striving to focus on similarities and to dispense with differences. This strategy consists in “hiding”, as much as possible, the dissent, and has material, stylistic and doctrinal aspects.

Due to this articulated strategy, Albert’s commentary on the Metaphysics represents a noteworthy case: it is the only Aristotelian commentary in which Albertus, despite using the corresponding long commentary of Averroes, does not reproduce explicitly (i.e. naming both Avicenna and Averroes) any of the criticisms of Avicenna that he finds in his source. Conversely, it is also the only Aristotelian commentary of this kind in which Avicenna and Averroes are never said to be in agreement on a certain position. In other words, despite his reticence, Albert is deeply aware of the dissent that he tries to conceal. This concealment of dissent concentrates on a precise theoretical area, namely the doctrine of the primary and most universal concepts (the so-called “transcendentals”) in ontology, which Albert rightly individuates as a crucial aspect of the confrontation between Avicenna and Averroes.

Jules Janssens (Leuven)

“Arabic Sources in Albert the Great’s section on sleep

and dreams of the De Homine”

It is generally acknowledged that the De Homine, which can be dated ca. 1241-2, belongs to Albert’s earlier works. In the section, entitled De proprietatibus animae sensibilis in se, quae sunt somnus et vigilia et somnium, one encounters a rather important use of Arabic sources, among which preeminently Avicenna’s de Anima, Algazel’s Metaphysics, as well as Averroes’ De somno et vigilia – although always, as has already been noted by scholars as R. de Vaux and H. Gätje, attributed to Alfarabius. Besides one finds minor quotations from Averroes’ Capitulum de corde and De substantia orbis, pseudo-Avicenna Liber celi et mundi, Costa ben Luca’s De differentia animae et spiritus and the Liber de Causis. It will be examined how Albert uses these sources in his exposé and what is their significance with respect to Albert’s own doctrine. This latter aspect will be highlighted in a more detailed way with regard to a few major aspect of Albert’s theory of dreams.

Olga Lizzini (Amsterdam)

“Fluxus.  Some remarks on Avicenna and Albertus Magnus”

One of the most important elements of the legacy that Arabic metaphysics left to the Latin world is the theory of emanation or fluxus.  As has emerged from recent studies (de Libera, Ronin), Albertus Magnus seemed particularly receptive to the concept of emanation.  Two texts, both translated into Latin in 12th-century Toledo, are especially relevant:  the Liber de causis and Avicenna's Metaphysics.  My contribution will focus on the latter.  First I shall attempt to introduce the essential elements of Avicenna's theory of emanation in order to show which elements may be related to Albertus Magnus' metaphysical analysis as regards the God-world relationship.  I shall then focus on the notion of appropriate preparation (isti'dad ḥass), presenting a comparison with the Albertine doctrine of incohatio formae.

Luis Lóṕez-Farjeat (Mexico City)

“Albert the Great on the Knowledge of Separate Forms and

his Discrepancies with ‘the Arabs’ in the De anima III, 3, 8-11” 

In Albert’s De anima III, 3, chapters 6-11 there is a discussion on whether the human intellect is able to apprehend only the forms abstracted from matter or if is possible for it to know something separated from magnitude. If the human intellect is able to understand separate forms, this would mean that some forms are not apprehended with phantasms and magnitude but by the conjunction of the human possible intellect and the separate intellect. This matter is quite problematic since it is not clear enough whether separate forms are known through the perfect conjunction of the possible intellect and the agent intellect or by means of the agent intellect which acts both as efficient and formal cause of these forms. When discussing these matters Albert brings to his digressions several opinions from ‘the Arabs’: he discusses with Avempace, al-Fārābī, Avicenna, and al-Ghazālī. Finally, he explains his own position following Averroes and some views from Avempace and Avicenna. In this paper I reconstruct Albert’s argumentation against Avempace and Avicenna showing that beyond his discrepancies with them he was influenced by some of their views and by the way in which Averroes states the discussion in his Long Commentary on the De anima.      

Josep Puig Montada (Madrid)

“Albert and the Arabs: On the eternity of movement”

Per rationes physicas, based on physical arguments, movement is perpetual but metaphysical speculation shows that movement has a beginning. Albert tries to prove the beginning of the world because he can consequently prove the beginning of movement, and of time. However he admits his arguments to be based not of the physical science but on metaphysical speculation.

The paper considers his sources and his differences to Averroes. While Averroes considered that God’s infinite will created the world impressing it with an infinite duration, Albert defended that “the necessary order” between the cause and the effect necessitated the duration of the world to have a beginning."

Jörn Müller (Würzburg)

“Are intelligibles stored in the soul? Avicenna,

Albert and Aquinas on the functions of memory”

According to Avicenna’s De anima the main function of memory is to store the connotational attributes (intentiones) of perceived objects which are instinctively registered by the estimative power. But Avicenna denies a higher epistemological role to memory by stating that it is not a storehouse for intelligibles. Albert partially agrees with this denial of intellectual memory in De homine but nevertheless posits remaining intelligibles in the possible intellect. Aquinas, on the other hand, strongly objects to this Avicennian doctrine as early as in his commentary on the Sentences. I will reconstruct the central lines of argument in this debate with its philosophical and theological background, thereby throwing light on the complex interplay between the three positions. From this analysis, some general considerations concerning the possible functions of memory in this area will emerge. 

Richard C. Taylor (Milwaukee)

“Albert the Great’s Account of Human Knowledge in his De homine:

A Concoction Formed From the Writings of Avicenna and Averroes”

The theory of knowledge set forth in detail by Albert the Great in his De homine explicitly draws its key elements from the De Anima by Avicenna and the Long Commentary on the De Anima of Aristotle byAverroes.  From the former Albert adopted the account of pre-intellectual abstraction and rejected the notion that the forms intelligible in act come to be in the individual human soul only due to an emanation from or a conjoining with the unique separately existing substance called Agent Intellect shared by all human beings. From Averroes Albert took the account of intellectual abstraction whereby forms intelligible in potency are transferred from the mode of being of particulars to the mode of being of intelligibles in act essential for the formation of universals. But Albert also erroneously read the texts of Averroes as holding for the material intellect and the agent intellect to be powers belonging individually to each human soul. Only by this complex array of ingredients was Albert able to concoct the epistemology of the De homine.

Jörg Tellkamp (Mexico City)

“Incohatio formae and incohatio animae in

Albert the Great’s Commentary on De anima

Albert the Great’s conception of the soul seems to be ambiguous, because he characterizes the coming into existence of an animate being (a) in an Aristotelian fashion as first perfection due to the embodiment of a substantial form and (b) as a process that relies on the primordial receptivity of matter with regard to a form. The (meta)physical theory of incohatio formae translates into incohatio animae and it thus adds a component that is not consistent with the Aristotelian naturalism.  Instead Albert relies on a philosophical tradition that holds that the soul, apart from being intrinsic to the animate being, has an extrinsic and transcendent origin, combining a Platonizing theory of the soul with an Aristotelian account.

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Spring 2011 Research Seminar Conference


20 & 24 May 2011

The Commissio Leonina and the Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ Project

in collaboration with the CNRS équipe UMR 7219, SPHERE,


“Thomas d’Aquin et ses sources arabes / Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’”

20 May, 2011

Université de Paris VII-Diderot, salle Mondrian (646A) 6ème étage,

4 rue Elsa Morante ou 4 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet

75023, Paris


24 May 2011

Bibliothèque du Saulchoir, salle de ISTINA

43bis/45 rue de la Glacière, 75013 Paris*

(For Paris travel information, click here.)

Organized by

Dr. Adriano Oliva, O.P., president, Commissio Leonina, Paris,

Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, USA

(2010-11 visiting research professor, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven),

Dr. Cristina Cerami, CNRS, Paris,  & Dr. Valérie Cordonier. CNRS, Paris

Detailed Program for 20 May 2011 at Université de Paris VII-Diderot

10h00-11h15: R. E. Houser, Center for Thomistic Studies, University of St. Thomas, Houston: « Avicenna and Aquinas's De principiis naturae, c. 1-3 »

11h15-12h30: M. Chase, CNRS, Centre Jean Pépin (UPR 76): « From Philoponus to Aquinas : Studies in the posterity of John Philoponus in Arabo-Latin philosophy »

14h30-16h00: J. McGinnis, University of Missouri, St. Louis: « Making Something of Nothing. Privation, Possibility and Potential in Avicenna and Aquinas »

Detailed Program for 24 May 2011 at the Bibliothèque du Saulchoir

(Revised and updated 7 May 2011)

9h30-10h30  Chair: Prof. Jules Janssens, DeWulf-Mansion Centre. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Presentation: Prof. Luis X. López-Farjeat, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City

“Aquinas on Creation in II Sent., d 1, q 1, art. 1-2 and his Arabic / Islamic Sources”

10h30-11h00 Coffee break

11h00-12h00  Chair: Dr. Cristina Cerami, CNRS Paris

Presentation: Prof. Olga Lizzini, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

“Possibility and creation. Some remarks on the views of Avicenna and Aquinas”

12h00-12h15 Short break

12h15-12h45: Prof. Richard C. Taylor, “An Update on the Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ Project and the Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ International Working Group” with discussion to follow.

13h-14h30   Lunch

14h30-15h30: Chair: Prof. M. C. Sommers, Director, Center for Thomistic Studies, University of St Thomas, Houston

Presentation: Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, Milwaukee, & Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, “‘First Averroism’and ‘Second Averroism’: An Analysis”

15h30-15h50 Coffee

15h50-16h50: Chair: Prof. Isabelle Moulin, Institut Catholique de Paris

Prof. David Twetten, Marquette University,

“Aquinas’ Early Essentialist Realism and the Avicennian Tri-fold Essence”

*NOTE: To register for lunch on site on 24 May (ca. 15 Euros per person) before May 15 email your request to: Payment will be onsite.

Conference titles and abstracts

Prof. Olga Lizzini, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

“Possibility and creation. Some remarks on the views of Avicenna and Aquinas”

In his Metaphysics from the K. al-Shifa’, Avicenna declares that the Cause has power over existence: its action is on the existence of the thing and only on it (Ilāh., VI, 1, pp. 259, 11-263, 18). The quiddity (and/or the possibility) of the thing qua quiddity (and possibility) is in some way removed from the power of the Cause: on the one hand, possibility expresses the necessary distinction between  the Cause and its effect; on the other hand, it is a sort of condition  of  Causal power.

    That possibility is a sort of condition does not mean, however, either that it is temporally precedent to the thing, or that it has an essential anteriority (which still appertains to the Cause and never to the caused thing). Instead, possibility is a determinant condition of the causal relationship (in re or in intellectu). 

    This topic is discussed by Thomas Aquinas (Qq. De potentia). Beatrice Zedler has offered an interpretation of the relationship between Thomas and Avicenna in this work (Traditio, 1948; cf. already M. Bouyges, L’idée génératrice du de Potentia de saint Thomas, «Revue de Philosophie», 2, 1931, pp. 131-131; 246-268).

    More recently, in his book on Avicenna and Thomas Aquinas (Talking about God, talking about Creation, Brill, Leiden 2005), Rahim Acar has given his own interpretation of the question.

    Without attempting to deal exhaustively with the subject, I shall be offering some remarks, and stressing some elements which – I believe – are essential to the comprehension of the relationship between possibility and the creative power of the Cause in Avicenna.

Prof. Luis X. López-Farjeat, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City

“Aquinas on Creation in II Sent., d 1, q 1, art. 1-2 and his Arabic / Islamic Sources”

    The creation of the world has been widely discussed since the Middle Ages until our present time. This doctrine, essential to the Christian faith, had a particular development that reached its maturity within the Christian tradition with Thomas Aquinas. Before him, Christian philosophers and theologians understood that the eternity of the world, a proposition coming from Greek philosophers, mainly from Aristotle, was contrary and incompatible with the doctrine of creation in time and ex nihilo. The theological and philosophical basis of Aquinas’ doctrine of creation is found in II Sent., d 1, q 1. There, especially in article 2, Aquinas argues for an eternal and created universe, quite an innovative approach considering the whole array of refutations of the eternity held by most of his Christian predecessors and contemporaries. In this paper, I argue that Aquinas builds this possibility, i.e. an eternal and created universe, on the basis of Averroes’ notion of continuous production (ihdāth dā’im). There are, however, relevant differences between both philosophers. Given that Averroes definitely rejects the possibility of creation out of nothing, Aquinas resorts to Avicenna’s metaphysics in order to propose a different meaning of the Latin expression ex nihilo. In this sense, Aquinas offers a radically different doctrine of creation to that of theologians as Bonaventure and Albert the Great. In addition to the metaphysical differences between these theologians and Aquinas, there is also a notorious contrast in their argumentative strategies. For most Christian thinkers it is not possible to attain a demonstrative argument for creation. Aquinas himself seems to accept, following Maimonides, that the discussion on whether the world is eternal or has been created is a dialectical one and, in this sense, there are no demonstrative arguments in any respect (II Sent., d 1, q 1, a 5 co). With this in mind, it is not unexpected to read in Summa Theologiae I, q. 46, a. 2 that the creation of the world is a matter of faith but not demonstrable (credibile, non autem scibile vel demonstrabile). In contrast, in II Sent., d 1, q 1, a 2 co Aquinas affirms that creation is not only a matter of faith but also demonstrable by reason (ratio demonstrat). After explaining Aquinas’ doctrine of creation paying attention to his Arabic / Islamic sources, I elucidate what can reason demonstrate about creation.

Prof. Richard C. Taylor,

Marquette University, Milwaukee, &  Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

“‘First Averroism’and ‘Second Averroism’: An Analysis”

Over the course of several years of study and drawing on the work of Salman, Gómez Nogales, and others, R. A. Gauthier developed and refined the thesis of what he came to call ‘First Averroism’ and ‘Second Averroism.’ Briefly put, according to this view Averroes's teaching on the human intellect in the Long Commentary on the De Anima was understood by Latin thinkers initially such that the agent intellect and material or possible intellect are powers of the human soul, while it was only later that they came to view Averroes as holding that these intellects are separately existing immaterial substances. For Gauthier this latter position was not the genuine view of Averroes himself but rather a ‘Second Averroism’ created by the Christian theologians and surfacing around 1252.  This presentation reexamines the sources of Gauthier for this thesis as well as additional sources to provide a different view of the reception and use of Averroes by the theologians of the early to mid-Thirteenth century. Particular attention is given to the use of Averroes by Albertus Magnus in his De homine where he developed a natural epistemology remarkably similar to that set forth in the Commentary on the Sentences and later works by Thomas Aquinas.

Prof. David Twetten, Marquette University,

“Aquinas’ Early Essentialist Realism and the Avicennian Tri-fold Essence”

    In interestingly different ways, Gilson and Fabro, the greatest Aquinas scholars of the last century (along with nearly everyone else), have criticized Aquinas’ early Avicennian arguments for the “real distinction” between essence and esse (act of being). I submit that these scholars do not attend, however, to Aquinas’ other early (and late) “real distinction:” between individual substance or supposit and essence. I draw out the grounds, textual and philosophical, for this real distinction, especially in the early works, and I explore its background in Avicenna and Albertus Magnus. Aquinas takes this real distinction as already established within the philosophical tradition that he furthers, and within this context we must read his “Avicennian” essence-esse distinction.

Conference dinners will take place 19 or 20 May and 24 May. (Self pay.)

Information forthcoming.  Registration for one or both dinners due by 15 May.

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Spring 2010 Research Seminar Conference

May 20, 2010

  “Thomas d’Aquin et ses sources arabes / Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’”

Bibliothèque du Saulchoir

43bis rue de la Glacière, 75013 Paris, France

Organized by Dr. Adriano Oliva, O.P., Commissio Leonina, Paris,

and Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, USA

Conference photo gallery: click here.

Conference Program

20 May 2010

9 h 30     Luis Xavier López-Farjeat, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City, Mexico, “Aquinas on the Eternity of the World in II Sent., d. 1, q. 1, a., 5”

10 h 30   Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, “Avicenna in the Development of Aquinas’s Epistemology in the Commentary on the Sentences

11 h 45   Jörg Tellkamp, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City, Mexico, “Vis aestimativa and vis cogitativa in the Commentary on the Sentences

13 h     Lunch break

14 h 30  Marta Borgo. Commissio Leonina, Paris), “Entre Avicenne et Averroès : considérations sur l'Aristote de Thomas d'Aquin à ses débuts”

15 h 30 Fabio Gibiino (Commissio Leonina, Paris), Les Arabes, Denys, Thomas : un face à face sur la science divine. Analyse historique et doctrinale du traité de la science divine dans le commentaire de Thomas d'Aq. au Ier livre des Sentences

16 h 40 Discussion of all presentations

Sessions will take place at the new salle de ISTINA, above the

Bibliothèque du Saulchoir, 45 rue de la Glacière, Paris XIIIe.

Those who would like to have lunch on site (ca. 15 Euros) must give notice before May 12 via email to:

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Spring 2009 Research Seminar Conference

   “Thomas d’Aquin et ses sources arabes /

Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’”

Bibliothèque du Saulchoir

43bis rue de la Glacière, 75013 Paris, France

March 27 & 28, 2009

Organized by the Commissio Leonina, Paris,  France, and

the Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ Project,

Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Conference Program

27 March 2009

10 h    Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Role of Arabic / Islamic Philosophy in Thomas Aquinas’s Conception of the Beatific Vision in his Commentary on the Sentences IV, d.49, q.2, a.1

11 h 30    Jean-Baptiste Brenet (Université de Paris X - Nanterre) L’image requise. Averroès et Thomas d’Aquin lectuers de De anima 431a16-17

13 h     Lunch break

14 h 30  R.  E. Houser, University of St. Thomas (Houston), How Br. Thomas Introduces the Principles of Avicennian Metaphysics into Sacra doctrina: 1 Sent. d. 8, q.1

28 March 2009

10h    Cristina Cerami, CNRS Paris, Physique et Métaphysique: l’ordo scientiarum chez Averroès et Thomas d’Aquin

11 h 30    Isabelle Moulin (Faculté Notre Dame, Paris) The Question of the Status of Secondary Causes in Three Commentaries on Peter Lombard’s Sentences: Albert the Great, Bonaventura, and Thomas Aquinas

13 h    Lunch break

14 h 30    David B. Twetten, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Aquinas’ Early Appropriation of Averroes: The Contra Gentiles’ Reading of the Physics

Sessions will take place at the Bibliothèque du Saulchoir, Salle Saint Thomas, 43bis de la Glacière, Paris XIIIe.

Those who would like to have lunch on site (15 Euros) must give notice three days in advance by writing to: