The Incoherence of the Incoherence

The Incoherence of the Incoherence (Arabic: تهافت التهافت Tahāfut al-Tahāfut) by Andalusian Muslim polymath and philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (1126–1198) is an important Islamic philosophical treatise,[1] in which the author defends the use of Aristotelian philosophy within Islamic thought.

It was written in the style of a dialogue against Al-Ghazali's claims in The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahāfut al-Falasifa), which criticized Islamic Neoplatonic thought. Originally written in Arabic, The Incoherence of the Incoherence was subsequently translated into many other languages. The book is considered Averroes' landmark; in it, he tries to create harmony between faith and philosophy.


In The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Arabic: تهافت الفلاسفة Tahāfut ʾal-Falāsifaʰ), the Sufi sympathetic Imam Al-Ghazali (Algazel) of the Asharite school argued against the Islamic Avicennian school of thought, denouncing philosophers such as Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Al-Farabi (Alpharabius). The text was dramatically successful, and marked a milestone in the ascendance of the Asharite school within Islamic philosophy and theological discourse. It was preceded by a summary of Muslim Neoplatonic thought titled Maqasid al-Falasifah (Aims of the Philosophers).

Al-Ghazali stated that one must be well versed in the ideas of the philosophers before setting out to refute their ideas. Al-Ghazali also stated that he did not have any problem with other branches of philosophy such as physics, logic, astronomy or mathematics. His only axe to grind was with metaphysics, in which he claimed that the philosophers did not use the same tools, namely logic, which they used for other sciences.


Averroes' (Ibn Rushd) response defends the doctrines of the "philosophers" and criticizes al-Ghazali's own arguments. It is written as a sort of dialogue: Averroes quotes passages by al-Ghazali and then responds to them.


Averroes attempted to create harmony between faith and philosophy, between Aristotelian ideas and Islam. He claimed that Aristotle is also right and the words of Quran are also the eternal truth.

Critical reception

The Incoherence of the Incoherence was not well received by later Islamic scholars. In the 15th century, a strong refutation of Ibn Rushd's arguments in Tahāfut al-Tahāfut was written by an Ottoman scholar Mustafā Ibn Yūsuf al-Bursawī (from Bursa), also known as Khwājah-Zāda (d. 1487), defending Al-Ghazali's views. This once again asserted the weakness of human understanding and the strength of faith.

In Europe, on the other hand, Ibn Rushd's philosophical writings were generally well received by Christian scholars and gave rise to the philosophical school of Averroism.[1]


  1. 1 2 Ahmad, Jamil (September 1994), "Ibn Rushd", Monthly Renaissance, 4 (9), retrieved 2008-10-14

External links

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