Maimonides the Rationalist

Herbert A. Davidson

£19.95
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ISBN: 9781906764777

Publication: September 3, 2015

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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Maimonides was not the first rabbinic scholar to take an interest in philosophy, but he was unique in being a towering figure in both areas. His law code, the Mishneh torah, stands with Rashi's commentary on the Babylonian Talmud as one of the two most intensely studied rabbinic works coming out of the Middle Ages, while his Guide for the Perplexed is the most influential and widely read Jewish philosophical work ever written. Admirers and critics have arrived at wildly divergent perceptions of the man. We have Maimonides the atheist or agnostic, Maimonides the sceptic, Maimonides the deist, Maimonides the Aristotelian, the Averroist, or proto-Kantian. We have a Maimonides seduced by the blandishments of 'accursed philosophy'; a Maimonides who sowed the seeds that led to Spanish Jews' loss of faith and mass apostasy and who was therefore responsible for the demise of Spanish Jewry; a Maimonides who incorporated philosophical elements into his rabbinic works and wrote the Guide for the Perplexed not to propagate doctrines to which he was personally committed but in order to rescue errant souls seduced by philosophy; a Maimonides who was the defender of the faith and defined the articles of Jewish belief for all time. In his own estimation, Maimonides was neither exclusively a dedicated philosopher nor exclusively a devoted rabbinist: he saw philosophy and the Written and Oral Torahs as a single, harmonious domain, and he believed that this view was similarly fundamental to the lives of the prophets and rabbis of old. In this book, Herbert Davidson examines Maimonides' efforts to reconstitute this all-embracing, rationalist worldview that he felt had been lost during the millennium-long exile.

Note on Transliteration Abbreviations and Note on Sources 1 The Study of Philosophy as a Religious Obligation 2 The First Two Positive Divine Commandments The 613 Commandments Four Writers on the Commandments Prior to Maimonides Maimonides What Followed 3 Maimonides' Knowledge of the Philosophical Literature in his Rabbinic Period Background Neoplatonism Kalam Aristotle The Arabic Aristotelians Summary 4 Maimonides' Eight Chapters and Alfarabi's Fusul Muntazaa 5 Maimonides' Knoeeldge of the Philosophical Literature of his Later Period Kalam Aristotle The Commentators on Aristotle Other Greek Philosophers The Arabic Philosophers Medieval Jewish Thinkers Summary 6 Maimonides on Metaphysical Knowledge Introduction Alfarabi's Lost Commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics Ibn Bajja's Positionon Metaphysical Knowledge The Guide for the Perplexed on Metaphysical Knowledge The Active Intellect as the Form that the Human Intellect Thinks; Conjunction with the Active Intellect The Manner Whereby Metaphysical Knowledge Can Be Acquired Summary 7 A Problematic Sentence in Guide for the Perplexed, ii. 24 The Setting The Problematic Sentence Ibn Tibbon's Emendation Other Proposed Solutions The Solution 8 Maimonides' Ethical Systems Commentary on the Mishnah; the Eight Chapters The Mishneh torah The Guide for the Perplexed Possible Explanations The Closing Paragraphs of the Guide for the Perplexed Summary 9 Maimonides the Rationalist Rationalist Exegesis of Scripture Rationalist Exegesis of Aggadah Rationalism and Halakhah Monotheism and History Intellectual Worship of God Works Cited Index

'Not surprisingly, this book is a major contribution to Maimonidean studies and to the history of medieval Jewish philosophy generally.' Aleph 'Davidson contributes much to the understanding of Maimonides ... recommended for all students of Maimonides and religious thought.' Stephen D. Benin, Religious Studies Review
 

Format: Paperback

Size: 235 x 155 x 18 mm

334 Pages

ISBN: 9781906764777

Publication: September 3, 2015

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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