Who is Moses Maimonides?June 26, 2021
The greatest Jewish medieval philosopher was Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), who was born in Cordoba, Spain.
In his most important work, “Guide to the Confused”, he addressed all readers of philosophy who were unsure of how to harmonize philosophy with faith. In his thoughts, Maimonides was greatly influenced by the works of Aristotle, just like Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd before him. However, he saw an inconsistency in simultaneously accepting both Aristotle’s belief that the world is eternal and the revealed theology that the universe was created by God. After all, the Bible claims that the world had a beginning. Maimonides’ “solution” has been to show that Aristotle’s arguments are inconclusive and inadequate and need not be accepted.
Despite Maimonides’ attempts to remain faithful to the Talmud (religious texts encompassing Jewish civil law, ceremonial rules, and legends) on the issue of the eternity and eternity of the world in his interpretation of Aristotle, he, however, could not escape being perceived as a heretic by conservative Jewish scholars. For this reason, his philosophical studies were condemned and neglected by Jewish scholars until the 19th century.
A century before Aquinas, Maimonides envisioned three of Aquinas’ proofs for God’s existence. Using parts of Aristotle’s physics and metaphysics, also relying on concepts such as possible and necessary beings, Maimonides argued for the existence of a Main Force (Chief Motive), a necessary Being (here also based on Avicenna) and a first cause. . In his commentary on the Mishnah Torah (the most important written document on Jewish law), Maimonides formulated thirteen “principles of faith”. These are what Judaism sees as essentials of faith in the following matters:
1. God’s existence
2. Oneness of God
3. God’s spirituality and disembodiment
4. God’s eternal existence
5. God is the only being to be prayed and obeyed
6. The righteousness of God’s revelations through his prophets
7. Moses is the greatest of all prophets
8. The righteousness of God’s law given at Mount Sinai
9. The immutability of the Torah as God’s law
10. God’s foreknowledge of all man’s actions and thoughts
11. The good will be rewarded and the bad will be punished
12. The coming of the Jewish Messiah
13. The dead will rise again
Unlike Aquinas, according to Maimonides, one cannot say what God is like, what he looks like; No positive attributes can be attributed to God. On the contrary, one can only use negative descriptors or descriptions by saying how God is not, what is not like. This is Maimonides’ understanding of what is known as the “negative way” or the negative way.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook