A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages by Colette Sirat

By Colette Sirat

This e-book surveys the large physique of medieval Jewish philosophy, devoting plentiful dialogue to significant figures equivalent to Saadiah Gaon, Maimonides, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Judah Halevi, Abraham Ibn Daoud, and Gersonides, in addition to proposing the ancillary texts of lesser identified authors. Sirat charges little-known texts, supplying observation and situating them inside their ancient and philosophical contexts. A entire bibliography directs the reader to the texts themselves and to contemporary experiences.

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E. the wise and the seekers of knowledge. This running to andfro may be of two kinds: ( I ) They shall run over the countries in search of knowledge, because scholars will be found in every region; the seekers of knowledge, therefore, will go to and fro to learn from them; this is expressed by Amos (viii. I 2 ) . This shall be at the beginning of their career; when they seek so ardently, God will make revelations to them. (2) They shall run to andfro in God's Word like those who seek treasures, and thereafter knowledge shall increase; knowledge of two things: (a) the commandments; (b) the end.

The animal soul is inferior in clarity and eminence, for it comes into being from the shadow of the rational soul, and thus it is further removed from the light of the Intellect; it becomes clouded and is governed solely by the imagination ; its knowledge is external, based on the perception of the senses; its characteristics are movement and locomotion. Thus animals make proof of audacity and of courage to achieve victory and power, but there is neither discernment nor knowledge in their conduct.

137) Thus, with Isaac Israeli, the ambiguous role played by the imagination first emerges. The imagination permits one to attain spiritual, abstract, and divine things, but it clothes them in a mantle of corporeality, of images, of which they must be divested. Since imagination is the 'medium' of dream and of prophecy, it is at the core of the revealed Book, which is also clad in image and corporeality so that it may be understood by all men whatever their level of comprehension. T o be sure, the Divine Word provides keys to its interpretation, but only the philosopher is capable of recognizing and using them to decipher the whole Book, and fulfil God's design.

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