"The reissue of Guttmann's edition of Rabin's translation is a welcome event. There has long been a need for a readable, judicious edition, for classroom use, of this large and complex work." --Michael L. Morgan, Indiana University.
Jewish philosophy is often presented as an addendum to Jewish religion rather than as a rich and varied tradition in its own right, but the _History of Jewish Philosophy_ explores the entire scope and variety of Jewish philosophy from philosophical interpretations of the Bible right up to contemporary Jewish feminist and postmodernist thought. The links between Jewish philosophy and its wider cultural context are stressed, building up a comprehensive and historically sensitive view of Jewish philosophy and its place in the (...) development of philosophy as a whole. Includes: · Detailed discussions of the most important Jewish philosophers and philosophical movements · Descriptions of the social and cultural contexts in which Jewish philosophical thought developed throughout the centuries · Contributions by 35 leading scholars in the field, from Britain, Canada, Israel and the US · Detailed and extensive bibliographies. (shrink)
The Jewish Philosophy Reader is the first comprehensive anthology of classic writings on Jewish philosophy from the Bible to postmodernism. The Reader is clearly divided into four separate parts: Foundations and First Principles, Medieval and Renaissance Jewish Philosophy, Modern Jewish Thought, and Contemporary Jewish Philosophy. Each part is clearly introduced by the editors. The readings featured are representative writings of each era listed above and are from the following major thinkers: Abrabanel, Baeck, Bergman, Borowitz, Buber, Cohen, Crescas, Fackenheim, Geiger, Gersonides, (...) Goodman, Graetz, Halevi, Hartman, Heschel, Hess, Hirsch, Ibn Ezra, Ibn Gabirol, Ibn Paquda, Kellner, Kook, Krochmal, Leibowitz, Levinas, Maimonides, Maybaum, Mendelssohn, Novak, Philo, Plaskow, Rosenzweig, Saadia, Scholem, Seeskin, Soloveitchik, Spinoza, Strauss, Wolf, Zunz. (shrink)
Maimonides’ moral psychology undergoes development, which this essay attempts to detail. In the early Shemonah Peraqim (Eight Chapters) Maimonides charts out a seemingly anti-Aristotelian view that underscores the specificity of each part of the human soul and the utter distinctiveness of the human species. Human beings share nothing with non-human animals, prima facie not even the most “animalistic” features. Over time, however, a change in Maimonides’ position is to be noted. In his philosophical magnum opus, the Guide of the Perplexed, (...) Maimonides adopts a more Aristotelian position, understanding human beings as sharing with nonhumananimals certain sub-rational faculties, but differing from them in their ratiocinative capacities. As in Aristotle, human beings turn out to be essentially rational animals. (shrink)
This volume brings together leading philosophers of Judaism on the issue of autonomy in the Jewish tradition. Addressing themselves to the relationship of the individual Jew to the Jewish community and to the world at large, some selections are systematic in scope, while others are more historically focused. The authors address issues ranging from the earliest expressions of individual human fulfillment in the Bible and medieval Jewish discussions of the human good to modern discussions of the necessity for the Jew (...) to maintain both a Jewish sensibility as well as an active engagement in the modern pluralistic state. Contributors include Eugene Borowitz, Elliot N. Dorff, Daniel H. Frank, Robert Gibbs, Lenn E. Goodman, Ze'ev Levy, Kenneth Seeskin, and Martin D. Yaffe. (shrink)
The communitarian critic of liberalism argues that the socio-political context is fundamental to any understanding of the individual as such. This debate is advanced by particularising it to the experience of Jews in the modern world. Essays focus on the variety of views of the relationships between the individual Jew and the communities, religious and secular, of which he or she is a member.
Saadya ben Joseph al-Fayyumi, gaon of the rabbinic academy at Sura and one of the preeminent Jewish thinkers of the medieval period, attempted to create a complete statement of Jewish religious philosophy in which all strands of philosophical thought were to be knit into a unified system. In _The Book of Doctrines and Beliefs_, Saadya sought to rescue believers from "a sea of doubt and the waters of confusion" into which they had been cast by Christianity, Islam, and other faiths. (...) By employing philosophical--or kalamic--argumentation to examine and defend traditional Jewish beliefs, Saadya hoped to turn blind faith into conviction based on rational understanding. First published in 1946, and reprinted here without alteration, Alexander Altmann’s judicious abridgment of his own translation has remained the standard edition of this influential work. A new Introduction by Daniel Frank sets Saadya’s work in its broader historical, cultural, and philosophical contexts. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Book Reviews Catherine Osborne. Rethinking Early Greek Philosophy: Hippolytus of Rome and the Presocratics. London: Duckworth, 1987. Pp. viii + 383. NP. A quick look at Kirk, Raven, and Schofield's standard The PresocraticPhilosophers(Cambridge University Press, 1983) or Barnes's recent Early GreekPhilosophy (Penguin, 1987) reveals a clear distinction between (a) direct quotations (ipsissima verba) of the Presocratics and (b) testimonia (doxographic or otherwise) about their thought. This bifurcation into original (...) fragments and testimonia is called into question by Osborne in her book. For Osborne, the standard procedure of identifying fragments within a larger context and then interpreting the fragments without reference to that context is to be put aside "in favour of reading the text of the Presocratics as embedded texts within the context of the interpretations they were selected to illustrate" (183). This new methodology is not offered by Osborne as applicable across the board, for all the Presocratics. It is a nonstarter for, say, Parmenides, for whom we have (obvious) verbatim quotation in Simplicius (and consequently no need to take into account the Simplician context). But in the case of some other Presocratics we are not on such secure grounds. Or so Osborne thinks, and the book illustrates her hermeneutical principles with reference to Heraclitus and Empedocles as their thought is embedded in the text of Hippolytus of Rome's Refutation of All Heresies. Osborne's strategy proceeds in two distinct stages: (1) She first offers us a couple of examples of Hippolytus's interpretive skills, both of which, in different ways, reveal him as a pretty reliable (if biased) and interesting philosophical and textual exegete. In this regard she presents Hippolytus's discussion of Aristotle's doctrine of substance in the Categoriesand Metaphysics Z (in the context of Hippolytus's refutation of the heretic Basileides) and, secondly, his reworking of Irenaeus's life of Simon Magus, the reputed founder of gnosticism. Aristotle is a particularly good test case because we can, of course, check Hippolytus's report against the original. Having done so, Osborne is led to conclude that "little of interest can be derived from the limited amount of material that is quoted directly from Aristotle" (183; cf. also 66). Nonetheless, for Osborne comparison with Aristotle's text reveals Hippolytus as not bereft of philosophical acumen, even though his interpretation is colored by the particular polemics in which he is engaged. In sum, then, Osborne understands Hippolytus as an intelligent (if biased) interpreter of Aristotle and not a particularly good source for ipsissimaverba. (2) On the basis of these conclusions about Hippolytus as a source for Aristotle's metaphysical theory and for the life of Simon Magus, Osborne turns to Hippolytus's discussion of Heraclitus and Empedocles (in the context of his refutations of the [ll9] 120 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 28"1 JANUARY ~99 o heretics Noetus and Marcion). Her goal is to urge a new nonfragment-based methodology for the study of the Presocratics, grounded in the conclusions she has just reached about Hippolytus as an interpreter of Aristotle and Irenaeus. The major obstacle which she faces in validating such a methodology is that in the cases of Heraclitus and Empedocles we have no original text by which to judge Hippolytus's reliability or interpretive skills. In lieu of such original texts all that Osborne has at her disposal is her own conclusion just reached about Hippolytus as a generally reliable (if biased) interpreter of Aristotle and Irenaeus. But just here is the major problem with Osborne 's proposed methodology: granting for the sake of argument that Hippolytus is a pretty good interpreter of Aristotle and Irenaeus, this does not entail that he is a reliable exegete of anyone else. He might be, he might not. We don't know and, more importantly, we have no way of finding out. Osborne assumes that Hippolytus had a greater knowledge of the relevant texts than we do (67, 185), and thus interpreted the Presocratics on this basis. He might have, he might not. In any event, Osborne's assumption is a case of special pleading. Equally plausible is that Hippolytus possessed no more of Heraclitus or Empedocles than we do and, consequendy, had... (shrink)
Daniel H. Frank - The Book of Job in Medieval Jewish Philosophy - Journal of the History of Philosophy 44:2 Journal of the History of Philosophy 44.2 318-319 Robert Eisen. The Book of Job in Medieval Jewish Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Pp. xii + 324. Cloth, $55.00 Robert Eisen has written a very good book on medieval philosophical interpretations of the Book of Job. In it he discusses the varying interpretations of Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, Samuel Ibn Tibbon, (...) Zerahiah Hen, Gersonides, and Simon ben Zemah Duran. For readers of this journal, the aforementioned, with the exception of Maimonides and possibly Gersonides, may be just names, but in the context of medieval Jewish philosophy they together present a wonderful discussion.. (shrink)
Daniel H. Frank - Spinoza and the Irrelevance of Biblical Authority - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40:2 Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.2 263-264 Book Review Spinoza and the Irrelevance of Biblical Authority J. Samuel Preus. Spinoza and the Irrelevance of Biblical Authority. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Pp. xvi + 228. Cloth, $54.95. This book is the history of ideas at its best. In lesser hands, volumes in the genre tend to be reductionist to the (...) point of redundancy and irrelevance, forcing the reader to wonder about the originality of the thinker under discussion and the ideas in question. If the relevant ideas are no more than those of others, then why should one take an interest in them ? Accounting for originality and genius bedevils the history of ideas. Preus is well aware of the problem of reductionism and redundancy throughout his book and works hard to show how Spinoza is.. (shrink)
G.E.L. Owen was, with Harold Cherniss and Gregory Vlastos, the most influential scholar of Greek philosophy in the English-speaking world since the War. Of the three his views were, in their time, the most controversial. And if it seems today to be uncontroversial that Plato's thought grew and matured and even altered throughout his career, that Aristotle was not a monolithic system builder committed to explaining everything by means of a small, favored set of principles, and that Aristotle was never (...) a Platonist, an adherent of Plato's theory of Forms, not even at the outset of his career, this is in no small measure due to the degree of acceptance of Owen's views. Owen's essays, collected here in their entirety, are required reading for anyone seriously working in Greek philosophy. (shrink)
This chapter analyzes Maimonides' revisionist reading of Job, which is a good example of the ‘naturalizing’ of Judaism – a reductive and deflationary analysis that revisions grand theological categories which tended to magnify the gulf between divine and human. In the Jewish philosophical tradition, such a reductive analysis is typified by thinkers such as Saadia Gaon, the first systematic Jewish philosopher; Maimonides himself; and at the very end of the classical tradition, Spinoza. Saadia's defence of rabbinic Judaism against its detractors (...) and Spinoza's vigorous critique of Maimonides are discussed. (shrink)
This article reviews the thoughts of some major Jewish philosophers. It presents a case study of Jewish philosophical theology, which demonstrates how Maimonides explicates the reasons for the revealed commandments. Prima facie, some of the commandments appear to be quite arbitrary and irrational, and it is shown how Maimonides deals with this. Further, this ‘theoretical’ discussion in legal philosophy about the reasons for the commandments has manifestly practical implications, specifically aretaic implications about the inculcation and establishment of certain dispositions. Jewish (...) philosophical theology muddies the grand dichotomy of theory and practice. Study is commanded for the sake of moral and social reform. And the law itself becomes most effective in a human life when obedience follows on consideration of its grounds. (shrink)
From the ninth to the fifteenth centuries Jewish thinkers living in Islamic and Christian lands philosophized about Judaism. Influenced first by Islamic theological speculation and the great philosophers of classical antiquity, and then in the late medieval period by Christian Scholasticism, Jewish philosophers and scientists reflected on the nature of language about God, the scope and limits of human understanding, the eternity or createdness of the world, prophecy and divine providence, the possibility of human freedom, and the relationship between divine (...) and human law. Though many viewed philosophy as a dangerous threat, others incorporated it into their understanding of what it is to be a Jew. This Companion presents all the major Jewish thinkers of the period, the philosophical and non-philosophical contexts of their thought, and the interactions between Jewish and non-Jewish philosophers. It is a comprehensive introduction to a vital period of Jewish intellectual history. (shrink)
Spinoza scholars have had good reason to be in Shirley's debt in the past on account of his excellent translations of the Ethics and the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. Now again, they will be no less in his debt with his translation of Spinoza's correspondence. The text translated is "based largely on Gebhardt, but takes into account the more recently discovered letters and additional critical work published through 1995". Shirley's is the first complete English translation of the correspondence since Wolf's pioneering effort (...) in 1928. Curley's translation has, to date, presented only letters 1-29. (shrink)