Searching for a Distant God: The Legacy of Maimonides by Kenneth Seeskin

By Kenneth Seeskin

Monotheism is mostly thought of Judaism's maximum contribution to global tradition, however it is way from transparent what monotheism is. This paintings examines the concept that monotheism isn't lots a declare concerning the variety of God as a declare in regards to the nature of God. Seeskin argues that the belief of a God who's break away his production and special isn't just an abstraction yet an appropriate foundation for worship.

He examines this end within the contexts of prayer, construction, sabbath observance, repentance, spiritual freedom, and love of God. Maimonides performs a primary position within the argument either as a result of his value to Jewish self-understanding and since he bargains with the query of the way philosophic rules are embodied in spiritual ritual.

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Maimonides did not leave philosophy or religion as he found them. Though he borrows heavily from rabbinic Judaism and the Aristotelianism of Alfarabi and Avicenna, he feels perfectly justified in reinterpreting the former and departing from the latter. From a historical perspective, there is nothing startling in the claim that a great thinker extends the limits of a tradition by asking new questions and introducing with new modes of thought. So even if Judaism in its classical period is incompatible with philosophy in its classical period, there is no reason to think that Maimonides or anyone else is stuck with a conflict between static bodies of knowl- The Urge to Philosophize 19 edge.

Since God, as Aviccnna argued, cannot fall under a genus, no definition of God is possible. 52, p. " If no definition, then no essence either. In short, there is no "what-ness" connected with God, nothing that allows us to bring God within the scope of a category. We should be clear about the radical nature of Maimonides' position. To say that God cannot be defined is to say that even claims like "God is pure intellect" or "God is pure activity/' though helpful up to a point, are misleading, for while they distinguish God from other things, they still try to make God fall within conceptual boundaries, to condition the unconditioned.

59, p. 138). "35 In this way, religious wisdom is really a kind of learned ignorance. What separates the wise person from the fool is that the former realizes that only God can comprehend God. In some respects, Maimonides' view of language resembles the one expressed by Wittgenstein at the end of the Tiactatus:^6 My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: Anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them—as steps—to climb up beyond them.

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