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Author Stern, Josef, 1949-

Title The matter and form of Maimonides' guide / Josef Stern
Published Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2013


Description 1 online resource
Contents 1. Matter and form -- 2. Maimonides' theory of the parable -- 3. The parable of adamic perfection -- 4. Physical matter and its limitations on intellects -- 5. Maimonidean skepticism I -- 6. Maimonidean skepticism II -- 7. In the inner chamber of the ruler's palace: the critique of the theory of separate intellects -- 8. The embodied life of an intellect -- 9. Excrement and exegesis, or shame over matter
Summary Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed has traditionally been read as an attempt to harmonize reason and revelation. Another, more recent interpretation takes the contradiction between philosophy and religion to be irreconcilable, and concludes that the Guide prescribes religion for the masses and philosophy for the elite. Moving beyond these familiar debates, Josef Stern argues that the perplexity addressed in this famously enigmatic work is not the conflict between Athens and Jerusalem but the tension between human matter and form, between the body and the intellect. Maimonides' philosophical tradition takes the perfect life to be intellectual: pure, undivided contemplation of all possible truths, from physics and cosmology to metaphysics and God. According to the Guide, this ideal cannot be realized by humans. Their embodied minds cannot achieve scientific knowledge of metaphysics, and their bodily impulses interfere with exclusive contemplation. Closely analyzing the arguments in the Guide and its original use of the parable as a medium of philosophical writing, Stern articulates Maimonides' skepticism about human knowledge of metaphysics and his heterodox interpretations of scriptural and rabbinic parables. Stern shows how, in order to accommodate the conflicting demands of the intellect and the body, Maimonides creates a repertoire of spiritual exercises, reconceiving the Mosaic commandments as training for the life of the embodied mind. By focusing on the philosophical notions of matter and form, and the interplay between its literary form and subject matter, Stern succeeds in developing a unified, novel interpretation of the Guide
Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed is generally read as an attempt either to harmonize reason and revelation or to show that they are irreconcilable. Moving beyond these familiar debates, Josef Stern argues that the perplexity addressed in this famously enigmatic work is the tension between human matter and form: the body and intellect
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes English
Print version record
Subject Maimonides, Moses, 1135-1204. Dalālat al-ḥāʼirīn.
SUBJECT Dalālat al-ḥāʼirīn (Maimonides, Moses) fast
Subject Judaism -- Doctrines.
Jewish philosophy.
Philosophy, Medieval.
PHILOSOPHY -- Eastern.
PHILOSOPHY -- Religious.
Jewish philosophy
Judaism -- Doctrines
Philosophy, Medieval
Form Electronic book
LC no. 2012039313
ISBN 9780674075948