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Was Maimonides a radical philosopher who subtly argued for a naturalist world and who saw the obligation to keep the Torah's commandments as a social and moral obligation – or was he a conservative Jewish believer who only tried to formulate philosophical arguments in favour of a revealed religion? This question has been central to the interpretation of Maimonides from the 12th century until modern times. In the four chapters of this book, Shalom Sadik argues for a radical philosophical interpretation of Maimonides.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4391-3
  • *
Publication Status: Forthcoming
Publication Date: Jan 4,2023
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 225
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4391-3
$105.00

Was Maimonides a radical philosopher who subtly argued for a naturalist world and who saw the obligation to keep the Torah's commandments as a social and moral obligation – or was he a conservative Jewish believer who only tried to formulate philosophical arguments in favour of a revealed religion? This question has been central to the interpretation of Maimonides from the 12th century until modern times. In the four chapters of this book, Shalom Sadik argues for a radical philosophical interpretation of Maimonides.

In the first chapter, Sadik analyzes the esoteric method Maimonides employed in his writing of the Guide of the Perplexed. This analysis attempts to demonstrate that in the Guide, Maimonides was addressing two distinct audiences: 1. The perplexed reader who has a solid philosophical background and is struggling with the literal interpretation of Judaism and its religious texts; 2. The student who lacks a deep philosophical background. Based on this distinction, one can perceive the different aims of Maimonides in the Guide and thereby develop a modern method of interpretation of the book – a method which Sadik proposes should be adopted by academic scholars.

In the remaining three chapters, Sadik analyzes the opinion of Maimonides on the topics of the nature of free will and the psychological process of choice; examines the question of the epistemological importance of commonly accepted opinions; and deals with the relationship between the Biblical commandments and the question of natural law.

Was Maimonides a radical philosopher who subtly argued for a naturalist world and who saw the obligation to keep the Torah's commandments as a social and moral obligation – or was he a conservative Jewish believer who only tried to formulate philosophical arguments in favour of a revealed religion? This question has been central to the interpretation of Maimonides from the 12th century until modern times. In the four chapters of this book, Shalom Sadik argues for a radical philosophical interpretation of Maimonides.

In the first chapter, Sadik analyzes the esoteric method Maimonides employed in his writing of the Guide of the Perplexed. This analysis attempts to demonstrate that in the Guide, Maimonides was addressing two distinct audiences: 1. The perplexed reader who has a solid philosophical background and is struggling with the literal interpretation of Judaism and its religious texts; 2. The student who lacks a deep philosophical background. Based on this distinction, one can perceive the different aims of Maimonides in the Guide and thereby develop a modern method of interpretation of the book – a method which Sadik proposes should be adopted by academic scholars.

In the remaining three chapters, Sadik analyzes the opinion of Maimonides on the topics of the nature of free will and the psychological process of choice; examines the question of the epistemological importance of commonly accepted opinions; and deals with the relationship between the Biblical commandments and the question of natural law.

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ContributorBiography

Shalom Sadik

Shalom Sadik holds the Rosen Family Career Development Chair in Judaic Studies at the Goldstein Goren Department of Jewish Thought at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Prof. Sadik has published more than 70 articles, principally on medieval Jewish philosophy. In addition, he has published two books, both in Hebrew: The Essence of Choice in Medieval Jewish Philosophy and The Ideology of Apostasy. The current book is his third, and his first book to be published in English.

Table of Contents (vii)
Note from the Translator (xi)
Acknowledgments (xiii)
Introduction (1)
   What is religious philosophy? (4)
   Moderate religious philosophy and radical religious philosophy (8)
Chapter 1. The Secret of the Multiple Secrets of the Guide of the Perplexed (13)
   Esotericism in Maimonides’ halakhic compositions (19)
   Speaking in “chapter headings” and subtle hints for scholars (22)
   Philosophical concealment for educational reasons (28)
   Esotericism in the Guide of the Perplexed (35)
   Similarities between the Guide of the Perplexed and Maimonides’ halakhic works (36)
   Special instructions for reading the Guide of the Perplexed (43)
   “Interpret each of its chapters in accordance with all the other chapters” (44)
   Favorable Interpretation (47)
   The use of contradictions in the Guide of the Perplexed (49)
   The purpose of the Guide of the Perplexed (56)
   The main target audience of the Guide: The perplexed thinker (57)
   The secondary target audience of the Guide: the novice philosopher (64)
   Summary: The different methods of concealment in the writings of Maimonides – their purpose and intended outcomes (68)
   Methods of concealment in the various books of Maimonides (68)
   Between the purpose of the secret and the understanding of the secret (71)
Chapter 2. Maimonides’ Mechanism of Choice (77)
   The Eight Chapters (83)
   The Definition of Choice (אכ'תיאר) in the Guide of the Perplexed (94)
   The Role of Reflection in Adam’s Original Sin, as per Guide I:2 (112)
   Conclusion (117)
Chapter 3. Defining Maimonides’ Mash’hurath and its Philosophical Sources (119)
   ἔνδοξα in Aristotle’s Topics (122)
   شھر in the writings of al-Farabi (125)
   Mash’shurat in the Words of Logic (131)
   Mash’hurath in the Guide of the Perplexed (135)
   Some possible implications of Maimonides’ unique position (145)
   Conclusion (147)
Chapter 4. Maimonides, The Law of the Torah, and the Question of Natural Law (149)
   A principled negation of natural law (153)
   The Torah as a vessel suited to natural law (166)
   Summary of intra-textual tension and possible solutions (172)
   The esoteric-solution option (173)
   The rejection of the esoteric solution and the resolution of tension via general human history (175)
Conclusion (181)
   General chapter summary (181)
   Conclusions: the naturalist opinion of Maimonides (183)
   Between religion and philosophy (187)
Bibliography (191)
   Ancient Sources (191)
   Modern Sources (192)
Index (207)

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