Biography of Avempace o Avenpace (1095-1139)

Real name Abu Baker Muhammad Ibn Yahya Ibn Bayya al - Andalusi as-Saragusti, was the first Moorish thinker of real stature. As well as philosopher, also highlighted in the field of mathematics, poetry and science in general.

He was born in Zaragoza (Spain), in the time in which the city was ruled by the dynasty of the Banú Hud, towards the year 1095, and died in Fez (Morocco), in the year 1139. Avempace was the first philosopher Muslim direct representative of the Arabic philosophical school follower of the work of Aristotle. All his works revolved around two main themes: the main goal of the man and his maximum happiness lie in contact (union) of the soul with the active intellect, that is, the divine higher than human is always able to understand; and the active intellect can achieve by itself the absolute truth without the competition of divine revelation. The fruitful work of Avempace influenced all subsequent thinkers of the middle ages, especially in the largest of them all, the great Averroes. For his part, Abentofail was inspired by it when writing the self-taught philosopher, who in turn exerted a remarkable influence on the Muslim, Jewish and Christian thought. Both Maimonides and Ibn Khaldun compared with Averroes in the Muslim West and al-Farabi in the East.


Though hardly certain details are known of the private life of Avempace, this belonged to a family of craftsmen Zaragoza with good economic position, since Avempace was able to study philosophy at the Koranic school of Zaragoza. Thanks to his reputation as a scholar, poet and musician, when he/she was just 20 years old, the Almoravids of Berber origin favoured his career; Avempace worked the post of vizier twice and became, according to certain unreliable Chronicles, Minister of one of them. Until the city was conquered definitively by the Aragonese King Alfonso I the Battler, in the year 1118, Avempace fell twice in disgrace: the first accused of treason and the second for the serious crime of heresy as a consequence of his philosophical theories. After residing temporarily in several cities of Andalusia (Almería, Sevilla, Granada and Jaen), always looking for the necessary tranquility to continue his philosophical investigations, its task as writer and the dedication to teaching, Avempace moved to FES, where enjoyed great prestige in the Court of the Almoravids, completely retired from active politics. During his last years, Avempace held numerous disagreements and friction with doctors and writers of the Court, dying poisoned FES, victim of an intrigue hatched against him and his reputation for wise, at 48 years of age.

Prolific writer, left numerous works between philosophical reviews (Aristotle's his physics, generationes et corruptione and history animalium; al - Farabi its logic, etc), and original works, including above all three: Risalatul al - Wida (letter of farewell), Kalam fi ittisal Al el-aql bi-l-insan (Treaty on the union of the intellect with man) and de to el-mutawahhid (the lone Regimen)without a doubt the most transcendental, currently at whereabouts unknown, but whose abstract has come to us through a very remarkable translation into Hebrew in the 14th century by Moshe of Narbonne, in his commentary on the work of Abentofail.

Philosophical in Avempace influences

The historical moment that preceded the birth of Avempace was the most suitable for the development of philosophy, the time of the taifas. With the fall of the Caliphate of Cordoba also disappeared the rigid centralism and control exercised by the Caliphs over thought, with the consequent dispersion of the intellectuals who began to benefit from the best heat mecenas-rey, ideas and the libraries of the capital of the Caliphate, which went to different taifales capitals. At the same time, there were various Koranic schools in Toledo, Badajoz, Zaragoza, Almeria and a long etcetera. The Zaragoza in particular was enriched by the addition of the neoplatonic encyclopedia of the brethren of purity, introduced between the years 1056 and 1064. In all these schools a sense fervor they breathed by the works of Algacel and the Neoplatonism of Ibn Msarra Ibn Hazan.

Wanted to see on Avempace the philosopher who cut the line etico-teologico - mystique of character neoplatonic to give way to a more Aristotelian intellectualism, however this is not true at all, since Avempace reviewed and incorporated into the Arabian-Andalusian thought prevailing at the time of Aristotle, Avicenna, al - Farabi, but with a high component of neoplatonic, since the Aristotelian texts used were sirio-alejandrinas versionsheavily contaminated by Neoplatonism. Avempace drew profusely to build his theories of Plotinus, Proclus and Jambico elements, using in addition numerous mystical and ascetic thoughts that would then return to Santo Tomás de Aquino to build his beatific vision. Therefore, Avempace followed this path etico-teologico - Mystic reviving it with the authors cited, especially with al - Farabi, followed rigorously in physics, metaphysics and logic.

Avempace objected to Sufism and Algacel as as soon as the Sufis had relegated to a second rational knowledge on the subject of union with God as the end of man. Avempace confronted most of Muslim beliefs more in vogue of his time who considered the union divine as an unattainable State during the life of a man, as we will soon see commenting on the regime of the solitary, his best work.

Philosophical corpus of Avempace:Regime of Solitaire

Regime of Solitaire, Avempace proposed teach how the end of man is to achieve union with God, what he/she calls intellect in Act, through a cognitive process which culminates in a maximum speculative knowledge, whose acquisition help together as means the perfect state of our powers, intellectual training and moral virtues. Avempace considered man isolated from society, that is, free from their vices, but part of its virtues. The goal of Solitaire is to reach the intelligible forms (also called spiritual), i.e. to the speculative truths; useful for this purpose actions come in the field of the intellect. This purpose is achieved when the man becomes intellect acquired or issued, for which the forms intelligible should be considered in themselves, i.e., separated by full of matter that are United in the things of the world. The acquired intellect is the only one that can think for itself, and thus comes to your high end: union with the intellect in Act or intellect separate divine (God). With this work, Avempace developed the Aristotelian problem of intellect in a way to raise and purify the man, so that it became a religious problem a problem of logical and metaphysical speculation.

But the Sage who configures Avempace in his work rarely can occur in the real society, when faced with a problem or capital paradox: the man is sociable by nature, and that sociability is positive, but it is not the specific social status that the wise man should live. This problem Avempace meets it in the work through a series of guidelines which he/she calls "solitary", which should serve to engage within the imperfect civil society, without departing from it but living in it, but not participate in it. Proposed by Avempace loneliness is a relative solitude, since the solitary sages are to each other forming an ideal society that is model and germ of renewal for the coming perfect society, when doctors of the body are not required (no vices no diseases), or medical of the soul, nor society, etc.


CRUZ HERNÁNDEZ, Miguel: History of thought in al - Andalus. Granada, Ed. gathered Andalusian publishers. 1985).

STRONG LOMBA, Joaquin: Avempace. Zaragoza, Ed. Diputación General de Aragón, 1989.

STRONG LOMBA, Joaquin: Avempace (1095-1139). Madrid, Ed. Ediciones del Orto, 1995.