A responsibility to seek the truth: revisiting Averroes’ Decisive Treatise for academic freedom’s missing imperative

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This paper argues that, in contemporary formulations of academic freedom, insufficient attention has been given over to the responsibility to seek the truth, prior to what is more commonly affirmed as academic freedom as the right to speak the truth. The paper seeks to restore something of this balance by looking at Averroes’ text the ‘Decisive Treatise’ (c.1180), an apologia for philosophy in the face of the charge that it constitutes a heretical pursuit. Averroes argues that, because the law compels “reflection upon all existing things”, that reflection must include the work and ideas even of those predating the Prophet Muhammad. Indeed, Averroes goes further in suggesting that those who would prevent access to the Ancients’ work are themselves barring people from reflection upon knowledge of God. Some thoughts on the implications of Averroes’ argument for academic freedom are offered in the conclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)21-40
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophy and Theory in Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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