Cover: The Matter and Form of Maimonides' <i>Guide</i>, from Harvard University PressCover: The Matter and Form of Maimonides' <i>Guide</i> in HARDCOVER

The Matter and Form of Maimonides' Guide

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$57.00 • £45.95 • €51.50

ISBN 9780674051607

Publication Date: 06/03/2013

Text

448 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

World

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.

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket: Why We Act: Turning Bystanders into Moral Rebels, by Catherine A. Sanderson, from Harvard University Press

Getting through a Crisis

How do we respond when a crisis occurs? And how do we know what to do? Catherine Sanderson, a renowned psychologist who has done pioneering research on social norms and the author of Why We Act: Turning Bystanders into Moral Rebels, tells us that we tend to look to each other for answers—and that’s why it’s important we model proper behavior for those around us. In October of my senior year at Stanford, I was in a

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library (loebclassics.com) extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.