While the great medieval philosopher, theologian, and physician Maimonides is acknowledged as a leading Jewish thinker, his intellectual contacts with his surrounding world are often described as related primarily to Islamic philosophy. Maimonides in His World challenges this view by revealing him to have wholeheartedly lived, breathed, and espoused the rich Mediterranean culture of his time.Sarah Stroumsa argues that Maimonides is most accurately viewed as a Mediterranean thinker who consistently interpreted his own Jewish tradition in contemporary multicultural terms. Maimonides spent (...) his entire life in the Mediterranean region, and the religious and philosophical traditions that fed his thought were those of the wider world in which he lived. Stroumsa demonstrates that he was deeply influenced not only by Islamic philosophy but by Islamic culture as a whole, evidence of which she finds in his philosophy as well as his correspondence and legal and scientific writings. She begins with a concise biography of Maimonides, then carefully examines key aspects of his thought, including his approach to religion and the complex world of theology and religious ideas he encountered among Jews, Christians, Muslims, and even heretics; his views about science; the immense and unacknowledged impact of the Almohads on his thought; and his vision of human perfection.This insightful cultural biography restores Maimonides to his rightful place among medieval philosophers and affirms his central relevance to the study of medieval Islam. (shrink)
This book studies the phenomenon of freethinking in medieval Islam, as exemplified in the figures of Ibn al-Rāwandī and Abū Bakr al-Rāzī. It reconstructs their thought and analyzes the relations of the phenomenon to Islamic prophetology and its repercussions in Islamic thought.
In his commentary on the first Aphorism of Hippocrates Maimonides lists the seven parts of medicine. Scholars have studied the relation of this text to the work of al-Fārābī. In particular, they have focused on the Iḥṣāʼ al-ʼulῡm, which in its present form does not contain a discussion of medicine, and on al-Fārābīʼs Risāla fi al-ţibb. The article examines the medieval Hebrew versions of the Iḥṣāʼ al-ʽūlum. On the basis of these versions, it is argued that there existed a version (...) of the Ihşāʼ al-ʽulūm which did contain a section on medicine; that the Risala fi al-ţibb could have originated in such a fuller version of the Ihsa' al-'ulum; and that Maimonides's ultimate source for his classification of medicine was probably the Iḥṣāʼ al-ʽulūm. An appendix to the paper examines Maimonides's references to Galen and to Abū Bakr al- Rāzī. These references show Maimonides's perception of al-Fārābīʼs view of physicians who claim to be philosophers. Dans son commentaire sur le premier aphorisme d'Hippocrate, Maïmonide décrit les sept parties de la médecine. Dans le passé, les chercheurs ont étudié le rapport de ce texte avec l'œuvre d'al-Fārābī, surtout le Iḥṣāʼ al-ʼulῡm et la Risāla fi al-ţibb. L'article examine les traductions hébraïques médiévales du Iḥṣāʼ al-ʽulūm. Ces traductions suggèrent l'existence d'une version, aujourd'hui disparue, du Iḥṣāʼ al-ʼulῡm, contenant une section sur la médecine. II est possible que la Risāla fi al-ţibb trouve son origine dans cette version, et il semble que la taxonomie de la médecine offerte par Maïmonide est issue, en dernière analyse, du Iḥṣāʼ al-ʼulῡm. Un appendice examine les références faites par Maïmonide à Galien et à Abū Bakr al-Rāzī, et prend note de ce que Maïmonide croyait être l'opinion d'al- Fār¯bī sur les médecins qui se prennent pour des philosophes. (shrink)
The literary works of ninth-century scholar Dawud Al-Muqammas, who converted from Judaism to Christianity and then back to Judaism, reflect his pioneering approaches during a formative time in Jewish and Muslim medieval philosophy. A master of diverse genres, he composed, among other works, the thoughtful Twenty Chapters, which is not only the first known Jewish Kalam text but also the earliest extant theological summa written in Arabic. This authoritative edition presents an Arabic-letter edition of the Judeo-Arabic text, along with a (...) parallel English translation, notes, and introduction, by Sarah Stroumsa. (shrink)
The Commentary on Sefer Yeṣira, with its pronounced Pythagorean and Neo-Platonic overtones, written by Saadya Gaon in 931, stands out among the other writings of this Jewish theologian, and raises the question of the purpose of its composition. It has been argued that in writing a commentary on this work of letter-speculation, Saadya responded to mythical and mystical trends in tenth-century Judaism, endeavoring to recast this foundational mystical text as a work of rational philosophy. The present article argues that Saadya (...) was also responding to the intellectual challenge of his broader environment, stretching beyond the Jewish community. In some circles in the Islamicate world, letterspeculations, often associated with the sciences of the occult, were presented in this period as the height of philosophy. In particular, al-Tawḥīdī’s account of the Pure Brethren and Ibn Masarra’s Book on the Properties of Letters demonstrate the relevance of these trends in Saadya’s immediate geographic and intellectual environment. (shrink)
In studying the attitude of medieval philosophers towards the act of writing, scholars have tended to concentrate on their esoteric tendencies and their reluctance to commit philosophy to writing. The basic attitude of medieval philosophers to the decision to commit something to writing, whether it be that made by the prophets, the sages or the medieval philosophers themselves, however, is on the whole positive. This article examines the sources - both religious and philosophical - from which this positive attitude stems (...) and then discusses its manifestations in the work of three medieval thinkers: Abu Nasr al-Farabi, Abu al-Barakat al-Baghdadl and Moses Maimonides. (shrink)