Moses Maimonides

1135-1204. A leading Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages. His Guide to the Perplexed is of central importance. “Perplexity” is what was aroused by the supposed opposition of the Greek sciences to Jewish religious belief. Maimonides, who was concerned with the socially divisive effects of popularized Greek learning, responded by attempting to make Aristotle as unsystematic and contradictory as possible. This makes the Guide something of an enigma. On one view Maimonides seeks to show the limitations of philosophy; on another, he is showing that the practical worth of religion is undiminished by the existence of supposedly alien philosophies. On his view, God cannot be known, but can be appreciated and loved through an acquaintance with His workings in the natural order. Revelation has the role of educating the believer to know God in knowing nature, and not of imparting distinctive truths. The Guide not only became a fundamental text of medieval Jewish thought and the subject of much debate, but exercised an influence on medieval discussions of the relation between faith and reason, and later it had a somewhat different influence on Spinoza.*