Aristotle in the Arabic Commentary Tradition

Peter Adamson

in The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195187489
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Aristotle in the Arabic Commentary Tradition

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In late antiquity, the commentary became the most prominent genre of philosophical writing. Aristotle was the author who received the lion's share of attention, even though the commentators, beginning with Porphyry, were Platonists. Since Aristotle was seen not only as harmonious with Plato, but as more suitable for initial study in philosophy, commentaries for the use of students were naturally more often devoted to his works than to Plato's. The practice of writing commentaries on Aristotle, and the curriculum the commentaries were meant to support, cut across confessional lines. The Arabic tradition of commentary on Aristotle focuses on the earlier parts of the Aristotelian curriculum, with most emphasis on the logical and physical works. Only the greatest commentator of the Arabic tradition, Averroes, commented extensively on the De Anima or the Metaphysics. As in the Greek tradition, confessional divides were no obstacle to continuous and even co-ordinated efforts to understand Aristotle. This is best shown by the group of commentators known as the “Baghdad school.”

Keywords: Aristotle; Plato; commentaries; Baghdad school; philosophy; Arabic tradition; Averroes; De Anima; Metaphysics

Article.  10652 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy

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