Averroès; a great European

Averroès; a great European

The Belgian newspaper, Le Soir, is selling a series of seminal cultural and philosophical texts in book form. The one on sale this morning (I bought two straightaway) was about Averroès. Go on; be honest. Have you heard of him? He was a fascinating and inspirational figure, born in Cordoba, died in Marrakech, an Andalusian Muslim, a philosopher, lawyer, theologist, geographer, mathematician, astronomer, musician, physician, doctor and courtier. Many argue that he was the founding father of Western European secular thought. You can read about him here. And here’s a little anecdote. When we were finalising our Erasmus Mundus proposal (see 27 February post), we were casting about for a name. It was a new programme so, we thought, we needed a new name, and the one we hit upon was Averroès. To us, in our post 9-11 world, with a Commission President who’d put inter-cultural dialogue at the top of his priorities, what could be better than the name of this extraordinary polymath who had spanned the Western and Arab worlds, to the benefit of both? But our Commissioner at the time, Vivianne Reding, with impeccable political logic, pointed out that, with all sorts of belt-tightening going on, it would be better to give the impression of extending an existing winning model, rather than creating a new one. And so our ‘Averroès’ became ‘Erasmus Mundus’ and went on to flourish mightily. I still think it was a nice idea, though!


  1. Jeannette

    Great tip, Martin. Thanks!

  2. Bernard

    Well, I will not comment on Averroès – of course I have heard about him, since I read a lot about the period of the muslim/jewish presence in the Iberian peninsula – but will take this opportunity to say hello to you! It is the 1st time I have been through your blog, shame on me…
    I liked it very much, and will always wonder how you can manage your time so skilfully that you can do so many things at a time!
    For my side, I’m just confirming that retired people are very busy indeed. Today is maybe the first time I feel like spending a lot of time reading just what I want, at home…
    I see from your blog that the Committee remains very active, congratulations, maybe even trying to select the right people for the vacant posts 🙂 No news?
    For the moment I’m in Brussels and if you feel like it I would enjoy having lunch, or just a cup of coffee with you one of these days.
    By the way, you were right about “Le Grand Macabre”; I think it was one of the best mises en scène I have seen in all my life. La Monnaie is one of the things I will miss in Brussels, although I hope I’ll manage to watch some of the operas of the next season anyway.
    All the best,

  3. Martin

    Bernard! How lovely to hear from you! And even better to hear that life is treating you well and that you at last have found the time to read properly. Lucky you! I am jealous. You are always welcome whenever you fancy a coffee. Just pass by. All the very best, Martin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2023 Martin Westlake

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑