THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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AVEMPACE [Abu Bakr Muḥammad ibn Yaḥya, known as Ibn Bājja or Ibn Ṣa‛igh, i.e. son of the goldsmith, the name being corrupted by the Latins into Avempace, Avenpace or Aben Pace], the earliest and one of the most distinguished of the Arab philosophers of Spain. Little is known of the details of his life. He was born probably at Saragossa towards the close of the 11th century. According to Ibn Khāqān, a contemporary writer, he became a student of the exact sciences and was also a musician and a poet. But he was a philosopher as well, and apparently a sceptic. He is said to have rejected the Koran, to have denied the return to God, and to have regarded death as the end of existence. But even in that orthodox age he became vizier to the amir of Murcia. Afterwards he went to Valencia, then to Saragossa. After the fall of Saragossa (1119) he went to Seville, then to Xativa, where he is said to have returned to Islam to save his life. Finally he retired to the Almoravid court at Fez, where he was poisoned in 1138. Ibn ‛Usaibi‛a gives a list of twenty-five of his works, but few of these remain. He had a distinct influence upon Averroes (see Arabian Philosophy).

For his life see McG. de Slane's trans. of Ibn Khallikān's Biographical Dictionary (Paris and London, 1842), vol. iii. pp. 130 ff., and Ibn ‛Usaibi‛a's biography translated in P. de Gayangos' edition of the History of the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain, by al-Maqqari (London, 1840), vol. ii., appendix, p. xii. List of extant works in C. Brockelmann's Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, vol. i. p. 460. For his philosophy cf. T. J. de Boer's The History of Philosophy in Islām (London, 1903), ch. vi.

(G. W. T.)


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