Tineke Melkebeek


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This paper investigates the twelfth-century commentary on Plato’s Republic by the Andalusian Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes). Ibn Rushd is considered to be the only Muslim philosopher who commented on the Republic. Written around 375 BC, Plato’s Republic discusses the order and character of a just city-state and contains revolutionary ideas on the position and qualities of women, which remained contested also in Ibn Rushd’s time. This Muslim philosopher is primarily known as the most esteemed commentator of Aristotle. However, for the lack of an Arabic translation of Aristotle’s Politics, Ibn Rushd commented on the political theory of Aristotle’s teacher, i.e. Plato’s Republic, instead. In his commentary, Ibn Rushd juxtaposes examples from Plato’s context and those from contemporary Muslim societies. Notably, when he diverges from the text, he does not drift off toward more patriarchal, Aristotelian interpretations. On the contrary, he argues that women are capable of being rulers and philosophers, that their true competencies remain unknown as long as they are deprived of education, and that this situation is detrimental to the flourishing of the city. This article aims to critically analyse Ibn Rushd’s statements on the position of women, as well as their reception in scholarly literature. 


Ibn Rushd; Averroes; women; Plato; Republic; Aristotle


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