Almost a criminalistic task - Averroes and the search for the true text

Verantwortlich: Patrick Honecker


International conference of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Arts and the University of Cologne

"The true text perhaps is lost." - Based on Lessing’s Ring Parable this could be the motto, with which more than 40 academics from Beirut and Jerusalem, Paris and Oxford, Berlin and New Orleans - who come together in Cologne from October 25th to 28th - describe their endeavor and work. Their mutual topic: Averroes - the Arabic thinker - who operated as a physician, a qadi and a philosopher in the 12th century in Cordoba, in Muslim Spain.
Averroes himself was in search of the "true text", i.e. the real meaning of the works of the ancient philosopher Aristotle. This search found expression in several series of commentaries, which Averroes constantly revised. Due to his huge success - which also showed in multiple Latin and Hebrew translations - the textual corpus, which is known to us today, grew to be one of the most diverse and complex ones in the history of science. Unraveling the knot of this Arabic-Latin-Hebrew textual thicket, which the researchers are faced with as countless versions, fragments and glosses, second-hand translations and retranslations, can be called a criminalistic task. To accomplish this, newest techniques of the digital edition are used by the Thomas-Institute at the University of Cologne. The institute hosts the DFG.project Digital Averroes Research Environment and the research project on Averroes of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy.

Participants of the conference continue the search for the "true text" just as Lessing’s wise judge advises: Every single language and version will be presented ideally in its individuality, thus making it possible to work out connections and correlations. However, the research platform does not only bring the texts up for discussion, but also the researchers themselves - virtually on the net and live in Cologne.

The conference is financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Arts and is publicly accessible.




October 25th - 27th at the Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung (Apostelnkloster 13-15) and on October 28th at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.



Andreas Speer & David Wirmer, Thomas-Institut of the University of Cologne, tel. 0221 470 2309


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