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Le statut « scientifique » de l’ éthique d’ après le Commentaire moyen d’ Averroès à l’ Éthique à Nicomaque d’ Aristote

In: Oriens
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  • 1 CNRS/ENSVillejuif
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Abstract

Following an exegetical method similar to the one used two years earlier in his Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Rhetoric, Averroes usually stays very close to the Arabic version of the Nicomachean Ethics in his Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. For he mostly reproduces Aristotle’s text without reformulating it. When necessary he nonetheless deletes the most obscure passages and develops those requiring more explanation, adding examples and replacing some terms with other terms, usually technical ones. By doing so, Averroes gives the ten Books of Aristotle’s treatise a greater unity and coherence. One of the commonest modifications that Averroes introduced in the Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics on the microstructural level is the use of the term scientia/ ḥokhma to refer to the content of the Ethics, whereas Aristotle’s text had no specific word for this. Likewise, Averroes makes clear in the first lines of his Commentary on the Republic that the discursive mode he is going to follow is the mode of scientific or theoretical arguments, not dialectical arguments. Hence, bestowing the status of a « science » on ethics (and on politics) clearly seems problematic – from a strictly Aristotelian perspective at any rate. This contribution seeks to understand, from Books I and X of Averroes’ Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, how the « scientific » status of ethics shall be understood, by observing in particular the inscription of the Ethics in the knowledge system as Averroes conceives it, and by raising the question of the addressee of his Middle Commentary, who obviously is no longer the Aristotelian figure of the legislator ἐπιεικής.

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