The Genesis of Secular Politics in Medieval Philosophy: The King of Averroes and the Emperor of Dante

Labyrinth 18 (2):209-231 (2016)

Sabeen Ahmed
Vanderbilt University
In contemporary political discourse, the "clash of civilizations" rhetoric often undergirds philosophical analyses of "democracy" both at home and abroad. This is nowhere better articulated than in Jacques Derrida's Rogues, in which he describes Islam as the only religious or theocratic culture that would "inspire and declare any resistance to democracy". Curiously, Derrida attributes the failings of democracy in Islam to the lack of reference to Aristotle's Politics in the writings of the medieval Muslim philosophers. This paper aims to analyze this gross misconception of Islamic philosophy and illuminate the thoroughgoing influence the Muslim philosophers had on their Christian successors, those who are so often credited as foundations of Western political philosophy. In so doing, I compare the ideal states presented by Averroes and Dante – in which Aristotelian influence is intimately interlaced – and offer an analysis thereof as heralds of what we might call the secularization of the political, inspiring those democratic values that Derrida believes to be absent in the rich philosophy of the Middle Ages.
Keywords Averroes, Dante, Aristotle, medieval philosophy, political philosophy, secularism, democracy, religion
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.25180/lj.v18i2.54
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 43,999
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Philosophy and Exegesis in Al-Fârâbî, Averroes, and Maimonides.Carlos Fraenkel - 2008 - Laval Théologique et Philosophique 64 (1):105-125.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Medicine and Philosophy in the Thought of Averroes.Beatrice H. Zedler - 1979 - Philosophy Research Archives 5:138-160.
The Political Teaching of Averroes*: CHARLES E. BUTTERWORTH.Charles E. Butterworth - 1992 - Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 2 (2):187-202.
Middle Commentary on Aristotle's de Anima.Alfred L. Ivry (ed.) - 2001 - Brigham Young University.


Added to PP index

Total views
10 ( #730,981 of 2,266,815 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #845,032 of 2,266,815 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature