Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason by Idit Dobbs-Weinstein

By Idit Dobbs-Weinstein

This ebook indicates that Maimonides and St. Thomas reached strikingly related conclusions in regards to the limits of cause and that those limits, in flip, express the size of philosophical figuring out. via a comparative philosophical exam of the various aporiae constituting the query of "providence," the writer seeks to make certain the measure of philosophical compatibility among Maimonides and St. Thomas Aquinas, and the place war of words is clear, its foundation, nature and philosophical results. Dobbs-Weinstein retrieves a few occluded elements in their suggestion that render a greater realizing of every philosopher and supply a richer philosophical vocabulary for discussions of the bounds of "reason," the ensuing inevitable limits of language and interpretation and, mainly, the relation among figuring out and appearing. This research additionally exhibits how and why, even though they undertake a few substantially assorted ontological rules, Maimonides and Aquinas succeed in strikingly related conclusions in regards to the existential dimensions of human lifestyles, particularly the probabilities and modes of information and the activities consequent upon them.

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In the Preface, Maimonides indicates but does not elaborate upon the causes of perplexity. From his remarks about the preliminary nature of mathematics and from his certainty about its conclusions we know that by themselves the natural sciences do not lead to dangerous doubt. These subjects require merely the acquisition of an art, a skill, in order to ensure their proper pursuit. We also learn from the Preface that inordinate haste, untimely pursuit, and improper instruction in divine matters are the causes of that type of perplexity which is the principle reason for the composition of the Guide.

Prior to raising these type of doubts in the minds of the perplexed, the prudent teacher both begins to dissolve minor doubts and establishes primary principles for inquiry into more obscure subjects. The introduction to Book 1 and the lexicographical chapters constitute the preparatory stages for overcoming the perplexity consequent upon the first confrontation between philosophy and revelation through recourse to the teachings of both traditions. 90 The opening statement is thus also an indication that adherence to the letter of the Guide will lead to error.

Aristotle's status as the paradigm of natural perfection only is significant not only with respect to his Metaphysics, but also in relation to his Physics since, according to Maimonides, the impossibility of providing a clear exposition extends even to the principles of natural science. 104 < previous page page_28 If you like this book, buy it! next page > < previous page page_29 next page > Page 29 The major principle of interpretation to be derived from the Preface and the Introduction, and repeated throughout the Guide, also exhibits Maimonides' debt to Aristotle.

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