Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason

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Maimonides Rambam, Spinoza, and Reason by Rabbi Marc Angel

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Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason. Hip-Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason. Reason Discourse. Thomas and Philosophy Aquinas Lecture Thomas and the Greek Moralists. Thomas and Analogy Aquinas Lecture 5. St Thomas Aquinas. Descartes, Rene - Reason Discourse. It is expected that chosen problems will engage with both Jewish and Christian sources. This may come about either through recognizing a common problem that both traditions share or by noting a problem that is unique to a particular tradition, and helping the reader to understand why this problem is unique to only one of these two closely related religious traditions.

Negotiating and articulating the relationship between faith and reason is a necessary prologue to any philosophy religion. It is here that boundaries are drawn and the formal identity of a philosophy of religion is established in contrast to other approaches to religious truth. For the medievals, the most dominant contrast with faith or theology, which typically takes revealed data as its central starting point.

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However, understanding and distinguishing between faith and reason was also important for the medievals for another reason: namely, it was a serious and debated question as to whether and to what extent faith could improve a genuinely philosophical discourse. In this opening problem, we begin from Maimonides' reflections on the history and influence of "Kalam" in both Christian and Muslim forms. We will pay special attention to what Maimonides understands by "Kalam" and his criticisms of it.

Some attention will be given to the ways modern scholarship has criticized the historical narrative Maimonides provides. From here we momentarily move backward in time to consider the work of Saadia and to evaluate his approach to faith and reason in light of the narrative given by Maimonides. Finally, we turn explicitly to the perspective on faith and reason in the works of Thomas Aquinas.

The views of Thomas Aquinas will be put alongside those of Maimonides so that we can draw a fruitful comparison.

We will also try to assess the place that Aquinas holds with respect to the Christian tradition itself, both with what comes before and with what immediately follows. In light of the importance of revealed data for medieval thinkers and their interest in its potential value for good philosophy, it makes sense to consider early on whether or not there can be a philosophical justification for this revealed data. Medieval Christians and Jews were certainly aware of the need to find some way to justify and validate what they took to be real and authoritative revelation. In short, reason plays a role in what we choose to be our 'authorities'.

Thus how revelation occurs and how it can be identified as genuine were central preoccupations for Jews and Christians alike.

In this section we compare the philosophical justifications of revelation and prophecy found in the Jewish sources of Saadia, Maimonides, and Gersonides with the justifications found in Aquinas and Duns Scotus. The question of God's existence is the first and most foundational question of medieval philosophical approaches to God.

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The quest to provide a rational account for the beliefs of a religious system begins with the search for a rational demonstration of the existence of God. In this section, we consider first Maimonides' proofs for God's existence. Here, we will be introduced to the idea of the cosmological argument in particular and the form this argument takes in both Aristotle's and Maimonides' work. Of particular interest will be what these proofs seem to tell us about who God is.

The attributes of unity, incorporeality, and necessary existence will be especially important as they will carry with them ramifications for how philosophy may approach the religious doctrine of creation Problem IV and the possibility of divine attributes Problem V. After looking a Maimonides' proofs, we compare these proofs with the five-ways of Thomas Aquinas. To these arguments, we add a consideration of Anselm's ontological argument and its fate in the medieval Christian tradition.

Central to our general consideration is the tension between the religious desire for a rational proof and religious dissatisfaction with the kind of God that a philosophical proof seems to demand.

Maimonides on the limits of human knowledge

A brief consideration of Judah Halevi's critique of Aristotelian-like proofs will serve as helpful example of this tension. In light of the centrality of the cosmological argument for philosophical attempts to prove God's existence, we next turn to what these argument can tell us about who God is and the manner in which he can and cannot relate to the physical world. In particular, we focus on the difficulty of how an immaterial being can have a causal role in physical change.

We look first at Aristotle's view of how God can and cannot be thought of as the first cause. Secondly, we turn to the neo-Platonic qualifications of Aristotle's idea. In surveying Aristotle's solution to this problem, we will also be attentive to the close connection between this solution and Aristotle's position on the eternity of the world.

With these fundamental conceptual problems and possible solutions in the background, we move to see how Jewish and Christian sources adopted, altered, or rejected these philosophical approaches. Much time will be spent considering a third view of creation - creatio ex nihilo - against the Aristotelian and Neo-Platonic positions. Our attention will be on how Jewish and Christian authors dealt with the philosophical objections to creatio ex nihilo as well as how far they thought reason could go toward either demonstrating the fact of creatio ex nihilo or demonstrating its impossibility.

The latter question was particularly acute for medieval thinkers, since Aristotle's beloved cosmological proof for God's existence, at times, appeared to required that the world was eternal. Maimonides and Aquinas together represent a middle ground in this debate, arguing that: while reason cannot demonstrate creatio ex nihilo , neither can reason demonstrate the necessity of the eternity of the world. In this way, they attempt to put some distance between Aristotle and themselves.

Further, in recognizing the impotence of reason at this juncture, they established a place where faith must become operative. As representatives of the two extremes, we will look at the positions of Gersonides and John Pecham respectively. Gersonides disagrees with Maimonides and believes that reason can establish that creatio ex nihilo is not possible, and we will further consider how he believes this to be perfectly compatible with Jewish teaching.

On the other hand, we will see in John Pecham's debate with Aquinas, a view the claims to have found a genuine demonstration against the eternity of the world and in support of the doctrine creatio ex nihilo. In this problem, we consider how philosophers have approached the question of human speech about God. As we explore the problem we follow a two-fold difficulty. On the one hand, we analyze the way Jewish and Christian philosophers assess the general applicability of human attributes to God. Much attention will be given here to the philosophical commitment to God's unity and by extension God's incorporeality.

Are human words and descriptions, formed in corporeal and multifarious reality, actually applicable to God? Can they signify anything true? If so, how? On the other hand, setting aside the problem of human language, we consider the more fundamental question of whether a description of the divine is in principle possible. This is a deeper ontological or metaphysical question about God's nature. The answer to this question rests on the nature of one's prior philosophical commitment to the simplicity of God.

Idit Dobbs-Weinstein (Vanderbilt University) - PhilPeople

Altre traduzioni che non sono elencate qui sotto, vengono citate ove appropriato. Nel caso della Mishneh Torah , certe traduzioni sono state modificate. Today, from a distance, I saw you walking away, and without a sound the glittering face of a glacier slid into the sea. An ancient oak fell in the woods, holding only a handful of leaves, and an old woman dreaming of youth in her chair looked up for an instant.

At the other side of the galaxy, a star thirty times the size of our own sun exploded and vanished, leaving a small green spot on the astronomer's retina as he stood on the great open dome of my heart with no one to tell.

Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason
Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason
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Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason
Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason
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Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason Maimonides and St. Thomas on the Limits of Reason

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