Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest...

In this original study, noted scholar and theologian David Hartman discusses the relation between Maimonides' halakhic writings and The Guide of the Perplexed. This pioneering work earned Dr. Hartman a National Jewish Book Award for a book on Jewish thought.

Foreword perception of good and bad, of right and wrong, and of the other moral qualities. The fact that men have this characteristic in common accounts for the existence of households and of cities; it renders possible political and social life. However according to the tenth book of the Nicomachean Ethics, this life is not the highest end of the superior man nor is it directly conducive to it. “ For it is the activity of [ the theoretical intellect] that constitutes complete human happiness. . . . Nor ought we to obey these who enjoin that man should have human thoughts and a mortal the thoughts of mortality” ( 1177b). According to the implications of this passage, thoughts about practical ( for instance, political) matters would undoubtedly fall un-der the inferior category of “ human thoughts.” Aristotle explicitly states ( ibidem) that the activity of the politician ( as that of the warrior) does not constitute happiness. Maimonides seems to be in agreement with Aristotle. This view comes out clearly in his allegorical interpreta-tion of the story of Adam’s fall ( Guide of the Perplexed, I, 2). According to him, before his transgression, Adam was engaged in theoretical thought ( i. e., only concerned with truth and falsehood), which is the highest state of man. It was as a result of his sin and the desires engendered thereby that he acquired the knowledge of good and bad. It is, in Maimonides’ view, an inferior kind of knowledge, and this is in accord with the Aristotelian tradition. In fact, reference to Aristotle’s De Anima ( 433a 14) and to the “ Commentary” of this work by the sixth- century Christian philosopher, John Philoponus, shows that concern with truth is a property of the theoretical intellect, while knowledge of good and bad characterizes the practical intellect. Thus, in the passage which is cited, Maimonides, like other Aristotelians, affirms the superiority of the theoretical intellect. Other passages in the Guide seem to xii   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C  | I n d e x For use on stand- alone, non- institutional computers only. To purchase Scholar PDF version with advanced functionality, go to www. publishersrow. com

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest


About Book Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

FRONT MATTERTitle PageCopyright PageDedication PageACKNOWLEDGMENTSFOREWORDCONTENTSINTRODUCTIONOption 1. The way of insulationOption 2. The way of dualismOption 3. The way of rejectionOption 4. The way of integrationOne. PHILOSOPHY IN MAIMONIDES' LEGAL WORKSTwo. HALAKHIC AND AGGADIC CATEGORIES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO PHILOSOPHICAL SPIRITUALITYThree. REASON AND TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY WITHIN HALAKHAH AND PHILOSOPHYFour. THE PHILOSOPHIC RELIGIOUS SENSIBILITYFive. MORALITY AND THE PASSIONATE LOVE FOR GODNOTESSELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHYWorks of MaimonidesBackground Literature and General PhilosophyLiterature on Maimonides and Jewish ThoughtINDEX
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