This article is arranged according to the following outline:what is jewish philosophy?
recent histories of jewish philosophy
biblical and rabbinic antecedents
hellenistic jewish philosophy
Philo of Alexandria
god, logos, and the world
knowledge and prophecy
ethics and politics
Sources and Translations
Critics of Aristotelianism
Other Rabbanite Followers of Kalām
Solomon Ibn Gabirol
Baḥya Ibn Paquda
Abraham Bar Ḥiyya
Joseph Ibn Ẓaddik
Moses and Abraham Ibn Ezra
attitude toward philosophy
Abraham Ibn Daud
evil and divine providence
analysis of the torah
Hebrew Translators of the 13th Century
samuel ibn tibbon
shem tov ben joseph ibn falaquera
joseph ibn kaspi
Hillel ben Samuel
Abner of Burgos and Isaac Pollegar
Moses of Narbonne
Levi ben Gershom
predestination and divine providence
basic principles of judaism
space and infinity
existence of god
providence and freedom
Simeon ben Ẓemaḥ Duran
Shem Tov Family, Abraham Shalom, and Isaac Arama
Isaac and Judah Abrabanel
Influences on Christian Thought
Christian Scholastic Influences on Jewish Thought
Kant, Schelling, Hegel
Developments in the Late 20th Century
the jewish people
two diaspora thinkers
five israeli thinkers
jewish law – halakhah
man's relationship with god
women and gender in jewish philosophy
Jewish Philosophy in Antiquity
Medieval Jewish Philosophy
Modern Jewish Philosophy
Feminist Jewish Philosophy
Jewish philosophy is described or defined in various ways, depending on the philosopher's or historian's understanding of both Judaism and philosophy. In general, the question of "what is Jewish philosophy?" would have been alien to the medieval Jewish philosophers, who saw themselves as engaging not in something particularly "Jewish" in a cultural sense, but in philosophy as a science, indeed as the "mother of sciences." As "lovers of wisdom," they understood the truth to transcend cultural or religious boundaries, and had no problem agreeing with and borrowing from the classical Greek and medieval Arab philosophers. Moses *Maimonides thus states explicitly that he borrows from "the words of the philosophers, ancient and recent, and also from the works of various authors, as one should accept the truth from whoever says it" (Introduction to the Eight Chapters on Ethics (Commentary to Mishnah Avot)), an attitude reiterated by Shem Tov ibn *Falaquera (13th century): "A person should learn whatever he is capable [of learning] from those who speak the truth, even if they are non-believers, just as one takes honey from a bee" (Epistle of the Debate, p. 13); "It is appropriate to accept the truth from any person, even if he is on a lower level than oneself or from another nation … It is not proper to look at the speaker, but rather at what is said" (Book of Degrees, pp. 11–12). These positions reflect similar views expressed by Islamic thinkers, such as the early Arab philosopher al-*Kindi ("We ought not to be ashamed of appreciating the truth and of acquiring it, wherever it comes from, even if it comes from races distant and nations different from us. For the seeker of truth, nothing takes precedence over the truth" (Al-Kindi's Metaphysics, ed. A. Ivry, pp. 57–58)) and Maimonides' contemporary *Averroes, who regarded the study of philosophy, including that of the non-Muslim ancients, "regardless of whether this other one shares our religion or not," as a religious obligation, and that to forbid the study of philosophy because of its foreign source is like denying a thirsty person water, so he dies of thirst, just because some people have choked on water (cf. Averroes on the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy, ed. G. Hourani, pp. 46–49).
The customary modern assignment in universities of philosophy to the humanities, rather than to the natural sciences, would also have violated the classical and medieval self-perception of the philosophers. It is, however, precisely that categorization of philosophy as one of the humanities, and not as an empirical, natural science, which renders philosophy subject to particular cultural influences and forms of expression, such as literature, history and the arts, and makes possible the historical and cultural question, "What is Jewish philosophy?"
There is no clear consensus among Jewish philosophers and scholars of Jewish philosophy regarding the proper definition of the field. The approaches to our question are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and, therefore, we find thinkers and scholars who may support more than one approach. The responses to "what is Jewish philosophy" include a denial of "Jewish philosophy" as an oxymoron; purely biographical or linguistic criteria; religious "philosophy of Judaism"; harmonizing Judaism and philosophy; essentialist message vs. method; and contextual criteria, including Jewish sources, motives, audience, and impact. All of these approaches, in turn, raise further questions.
For some philosophers, including Leo *Strauss and Emmanuel *Levinas, and for some scholars, like Joseph *Sermoneta and Zev Levy, philosophy (at least when it deals with purely philosophical questions of logic, ethics, esthetics, epistemology and the like) is essentially a universal discipline, like physics, and therefore "Jewish philosophy" is an oxymoron. Levinas, for example, accordingly regarded his philosophical and his Jewish writings to be different and basically unrelated genres (although many of his interpreters and readers, Levy included, question that dichotomy in Levinas' self-evaluation).
When moving to biographical or linguistic criteria, presumably a non-Jew cannot produce Jewish philosophy – but is any philosophy produced by a Jew ipso facto Jewish philosophy? A Jew who plays football is not usually considered to be playing Jewish football, so does the accident of Jewish birth automatically mean that a Jew who philosophizes is engaging in Jewish philosophy in any meaningful sense? Or should the thinker's Jewish identity be regarded as a necessary but not sufficient criterion for determining the Jewishness of his or her philosophy? Similarly, is the fact that philosophy is written in Hebrew or another Jewish language a sufficient criterion for determining the Jewishness of the philosophy, as suggested by no less of a scholar than Jacob *Klatzkin (whose Oẓar ha-Munaḥim ha-Filosofiyim (Thesaurus Philosophicus Linguae Hebraicae, 1928–33) remains a classic reference book for students of medieval Jewish philosophy)? Does translating works of non-Jewish philosophers into Hebrew "convert" their philosophy and make it Jewish? Are the Greek works of *Philo, the Arabic works of all the medieval philosophers from *Saadiah Gaon to Maimonides, and the books written by modern Jewish philosophers in European languages, not to be considered Jewish? Returning to the biographical criteria, how are we to regard such philosophers as *Abner of Burgos, who wrote some of his works in Hebrew, but converted to Christianity; Abu al-Barakat al-Baghdadi, who converted to Islam; or free-thinkers like *Hiwi al-Balkhi, who attacked all religion, including Jewish; or Baruch *Spinoza, who was excommunicated? Is their philosophy Jewish in some sense, and if so, only prior to their apostasy, critique or excommunication?
Jewish sources, audience, motivation and impact have also been suggested as criteria for defining Jewish philosophy, but raise similar difficulties. Jewish philosophers frequently and explicitly cite non-Jewish sources (as mentioned above); they may intend to be read by one group but in fact be read by another; and in some cases (among 20th-century thinkers, notably Martin *Buber and Abraham Joshua *Heschel), although their thought is overtly Jewish in content, it frequently has a significant impact upon certain trends in Christian thought.
Emil *Fackenheim is among those who have suggested that Jewish philosophy refers to the combination of an essential Jewish message with the general philosophical method; the message is the ethical teaching of the classical prophets of ancient Israel, and the method is that of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. While undoubtedly accurate when applied to such philosophers as Fackenheim himself, such a definition has less obvious application when the subject of the philosophizing is something other than ethics, and deals with questions such as cosmology or creation vs. eternity, which may be hinted at in various books of the Bible, but are by no means central to the concerns of the prophets.
The idea that Judaism has some identifiable and definable essence, presumed by Fackenheim, becomes much more pronounced in the essentialist approach of such scholars as Julius *Guttmann and Alexander *Altmann, for whom Jewish philosophy is the religious philosophy of Judaism, in other words, where Judaism has a religious essence and is the subject of the philosophical inquiry. Guttmann's classic book, still unrivaled in its scope as the work of a single author surveying Jewish philosophy in all its periods, is, therefore, deliberately called Philosophies of Judaism (although in the German original, and in the expanded Hebrew translation from which the English was prepared, the title appears in the singular, Die Philosophie des Judentums), and not a "history of Jewish philosophy." For Guttmann, "Since the days of antiquity, Jewish philosophy was essentially a philosophy of Judaism… This religious orientation constitutes the distinctive character of Jewish philosophy" (Philosophies, p. 4). "The great majority of Jewish thinkers made the philosophic justification of Judaism their main subject" (ibid, p. 55). As R.J.Z. Werblowsky points out in his introduction to the English translation of Guttmann's Philosophies, "The very title of the book contains a programme and betrays its basic orientation – that of the philosopher of religion. The philosopher of religion philosophizes about religion, just as the philosopher of law philosophizes about law … Judaism is something given, a datum, something that is there before the philosophers begin to philosophize about it" (Philosophies, pp. viii–ix). In Guttmann's view, the unique character of Jewish life in the Diaspora prevented the development of a "Jewish philosophy" in the way that French or German philosophy evolved. This view was explicitly shared by Alexander Altmann: "It would be futile to attempt a presentation of Judaism as a philosophic system, or to speak of Jewish philosophy in the same sense as one speaks of American, English, French or German philosophy. Judaism is a religion, and the truths it teaches are religious truths. They spring from the source of religious experience, not from pure reason" ("Judaism and World Philosophy," in: L. Finkelstein (ed.), The Jews: Their History, Culture and Religion, 2 (1949), 954). Guttmann's and Altmann's essentialist definition is shared by such scholars as Leon *Roth, S.B. *Urbach, and Eliezer *Berkovits. It also underlies the approach of Arthur Hyman, who served as editor of the Jewish philosophy division of the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971) and who wrote the original Jewish Philosophy entry: "Jewish philosophy may be described as the explication of Jewish beliefs and practices by means of general philosophic concepts and norms. Hence it must be seen as an outgrowth of the biblical and rabbinic traditions on which Judaism rests as well as part of the history of philosophy at large."
Hyman then recognized the need to modify this essentialist position to make it more flexible: "This description must, however, be expanded to include the general philosophic literature in Hebrew produced by Jews in the latter part of the Middle Ages and the various secular philosophies of Jewish existence formulated by modern Jewish thinkers. General philosophers who happened to be Jews or of Jewish extraction are not considered part of the tradition of Jewish philosophy. Whereas the biblical and rabbinic traditions were indigenous products of the Jewish community, Jewish philosophy arose and flourished as Jews participated in the philosophic speculations of the external culture. Significant religious and philosophical differences distinguish ancient and medieval from much of modern Jewish thought; nevertheless, the subject matter of Jewish philosophy may be divided into three parts. First, as interpretation of unique aspects of Jewish tradition, Jewish philosophy deals with such topics as the election of Israel; the revelation, content, and eternity of the Torah; the special character of the prophecy of *Moses; and Jewish conceptions of the Messiah and the afterlife. Second, as philosophy of religion, it investigates issues common to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (as well as to certain kinds of metaphysics), such as the existence of God, divine attributes, the creation of the world, the phenomenon of prophecy, the human soul, and general principles of human conduct. Third, as philosophy proper, it studies topics of general philosophic interest, such as the logical categories, the structure of logical arguments, the division of being, and the nature and composition of the universe. Historically, Jewish philosophy may be divided into three periods: (1) its early development in the Diaspora community of the Hellenistic world, from the second century b.c.e. until the middle of the first century c.e.; (2) its flourishing in Islamic and Christian countries during the Middle Ages from the tenth until the early 16th century; and (3) its modern phase beginning in the 18th century and continuing to the present. Its prehistory, however, begins with the Bible."
The essentialist approach to defining Jewish philosophy clearly and unequivocally answers our question of what is Jewish philosophy: it is a philosophy of Judaism (i.e., a philosophy whose subject of inquiry is Judaism), and it is a philosophy which verifies, or in the very least, accords with, Judaism, which is understood to be an invariable given, prior to and transcending changing philosophies, whether its essence is presumed (as in Guttmann) or defined explicitly (as in Berkovits).
A modification of the essentialist approach is offered by Colette *Sirat, who maintains both of these essentialist conditions, and according to whom "only the combination of philosophy and Jewish tradition forms Jewish philosophy … The essence of Jewish philosophy is the harmonizing of a particular system of thought with the Jewish sources" (Jewish Philosophical Thought in the Middle Ages (Heb.), 1975, p. 8). Sirat further modified her definition a decade later, in the revised and expanded English edition of her book, to provide greater recognition of the manifold spectrum of Jewish opinions: "One can say that the history of Jewish philosophy in the Middle Ages is the history of the efforts of Jews to reconcile philosophy (or a system of rationalist thought) and Scripture… The harmonizing of these two systems of thought in one unique verity was the theme of almost all Jewish medieval philosophy" (A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages, p. 5).
Despite its clarity, the essentialist approach, even in its modified harmonizing form, presupposes a Jewish essence, or a definitive Jewish tradition, although it generally avoids defining that essence and tradition. As with the via negativa to the divine attributes, it seems far easier to determine what Judaism is not (eg., it is not Christianity or Islam) than what it is, and attempts at a positive definition, like that proposed by Berkovits (the irreducible facts of the events of revelation) are far from universally accepted and tend to be more prescriptive than descriptive. Moreover, limiting philosophy to an explication or verification of given truths undermines the openness which is basic to the philosophical method and weakens, if not eliminates, the distinction between philosophy and theology – a distinction Maimonides insisted upon in his critique of the *Kalām (Islamic theology), which attempts to make reality conform to its hypotheses, rather than adapting its hypothesis to reality (Guide of the Perplexed 1:71). The essentialist approach also makes it difficult to account for a richness of varied and even opposing points of view in Jewish philosophy on many questions, for example on such questions as creation, free will and proofs of God, and for Jewish philosophers disagreeing with each other (Maimonides vs. Saadiah Gaon) while agreeing with much of non-Jewish thought (respectively Aristotelianism or Mu'tazilite Kalām). Furthermore, the assumption of the essentialists that there is a continuous and uniform tradition that we may call "Judaism" or "the Jewish tradition," which must then be harmonized with foreign philosophy, does not provide an adequate paradigm for dealing with the prior encounters in each generation or period of that "Judaism" or "Jewish tradition" with foreign cultures, and the ways in which foreign elements were always adopted by Judaism and adapted to its needs. The ideas or values perceived as novel, foreign, or heterodox in one period came, in later periods, to be an integral and organic part of what was perceived to be orthodox Jewish tradition, as the case of Maimonides himself demonstrates.
A third approach to defining Jewish philosophy – between the formalism of purely biographical or linguistic criteria on the one hand, and essentialism on the other hand – suggests that Jewish philosophy is to be understood as philosophy in a Jewish context. The contextual approach shares with essentialism a rejection of external formalist criteria which indicate nothing of the content of the philosophy, and shares with formalism a rejection of the essentialist reduction of Jewish philosophy to philosophy of Judaism and agreement with Jewish tradition. Zev Levy, who regards "Jewish philosophy" as an oxymoron when the philosopher is dealing with universal and purely philosophical questions, acknowledges that a philosophy can be Jewish contextually, when it relates to the destiny of the Jewish people and expresses Jewish cultural creativity. The contextual criteria for making such an assessment include sources and influences (the dimension of the past, whether the philosopher's ideas grew out of the collective experience of the Jewish people), the intended audience or the philosopher's motivation (the dimension of the present, whether the philosopher is attempting to address Jewish concerns, or whether Jewish concerns motivate the philosophizing), and impact (the dimension of the future, whether the philosopher's ideas had an impact on subsequent Jewish thought) – questions for which there may not always be a clear and unequivocal answer, especially for recent philosophers whose impact cannot yet be gauged. Such philosophy may be Jewish in a narrow sense, if it deals with overtly Jewish issues, or in a broader sense, if it deals with any questions, but does so within a Jewish context. As Aviezer *Ravitzky suggests, what is common is the question, not the answer. Jewish philosophy, he suggests, "is a philosophy which deals with a certain problem (or more precisely, a certain type of problem), namely the confrontation or encounter of the nonphilosophic Jewish sources and the non-Jewish philosophic sources … That is, it deals with the problem of the existence of the Jew as a Jew confronted by his universal philosophic knowledge and consciousness… The problem which motivates the rise of Jewish philosophy is the encounter of two traditions, the Jewish tradition and the philosophic tradition" ("On the Study of Medieval Jewish Philosophy," in History and Faith: Studies in Jewish Philosophy (1996), 4, 7).
An essentialist approach to defining Jewish philosophy was possible so long as histories were written by one author with a consistent overview of what is Jewish philosophy. Julius Guttmann's Philosophies of Judaism retains its unique status as the only attempt by a single author to provide such a total and consistent survey of Jewish philosophy in all its periods. Subsequent scholars (such as Harry Wolfson, Shlomo Pines, and Alexander Altmann) focused their scholarly attention on particular thinkers and specific issues, and did not write general histories. Others (such as Jacob Agus, Raphael Jospe, Nathan Rotenstreich, Norbert Samuelson, Eliezer Schweid, Kenneth Seeskin, Colette Sirat, S.B. Urbach) generally wrote only histories or text books relating to a given period (medieval, modern, or contemporary), although Joseph Blau wrote a popular overall survey, The Story of Jewish Philosophy (1962) and Norbert Samuelson also wrote a general text book, Jewish Philosophy: An Historical Introduction (2003), presenting at least a few representatives of different periods.
With the rapid growth in recent decades of interest in, access to, and availability of Jewish philosophy, including previously unknown or unpublished manuscript material, and with increasing emphasis on specialization, the kind of total overview achieved by Guttmann is unlikely to be replicated, and recent overall histories and anthologies, not limited to one period or one topic, have been collective efforts of teams of scholars, and have appeared with accelerated frequency, as have recent encyclopedias.
Earlier 20th-century histories of Jewish philosophy, written by single authors, appeared once every generation – roughly once every 35 years. Isaac *Husik's History of Medieval Jewish Philosophy was published in 1916. Guttmann's Philosophies of Judaism, which first appeared in German in 1933, was revised and expanded in Hebrew and published posthumously in 1951 (and the Hebrew was the basis for the 1964 English translation). The expanded and revised English version of Colette Sirat's History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages appeared in 1985. These later works do not share Guttmann's essentialist approach, and, as collective works, have tended to a more inclusive, contextual presentation. Colette Sirat's 1975 Hebrew and 1985 English histories already broke new ground by devoting a chapter to astrology. The 1997 History of Jewish Philosophy (Routledge History of Word Philosophies, Vol. 2), edited by Daniel H. Frank and Oliver Leaman, which includes a team of 35 authors, takes this inclusivistic trend further by incorporating under Jewish philosophy discussions of its historical, social and cultural contexts (chapters 6, 13, 22, 23, 25); political philosophy (ch. 18); mysticism (ch. 19); Jewish nationalism (ch. 31), and Zionism (ch. 32); the Shoah (ch. 36); and Jewish feminist thought (ch. 38).
The loss of a consistent theoretical overview provided by a single author may, therefore, prove to be a gain for our understanding the history of Jewish philosophy. Research in recent decades has tended to blur the already unclear demarcations between strictly philosophical and other types of thought. Moreover, the historical fact is that, in some cases, the more purely philosophical and theoretical works exerted less influence on the Jewish community of their day and on subsequent Jewish history and thought than did works which, while including philosophic terminology and doctrines, are not themselves strictly philosophical.
In the paradoxical tradition of 19th-century German-Jewish *Wissenschaft des Judentums, which (in the words of Leopold *Zunz) sought to provide a scientific "account of what has already been sealed away," while rapidly disappearing Jewish books could still be found, and thereby contributed to a renaissance of Jewish literature and learning, Isaac Husik concluded his early 20th-century history with the pessimistic comment, "There are Jews now and there are philosophers, but there are no Jewish philosophers and there is no Jewish philosophy." Husik had little idea how his own book, and those which came after it, would play a role in the revitalization in the 20th century of the study and practice of Jewish philosophy.
[Raphael Jospe (2nd ed.)]
Although the Bible and the rabbinic literature contain definite views about God, man, and the world, these views are presented unsystematically, without a technical vocabulary, and without formal arguments in their support. Hence, it is more appropriate to speak of biblical and rabbinic theology rather than philosophy. Nevertheless, Jewish philosophers of all periods held that their opinions were rooted in the Bible and the rabbinic writings, and they quote these literatures extensively in support of their views. Interestingly, quotations from the Bible far outnumber those from the rabbinic writings, so that one may speak of a certain "Bible-centeredness" of Jewish philosophy. In quoting the Bible, Jewish philosophers often imposed a philosophic rigor on its vocabulary and thought that is not immediately apparent from the literal reading of the text. However, besides quoting the Bible, certain philosophers also had a theory concerning the nature of this document. Aware that the world view of the Bible is rather simple and unphilosophical, they found it difficult to accept that the Bible lacked philosophical sophistication. If God created man with reason, the discoveries of the human mind must be related in some fashion to the content of divine revelation. Hence, they viewed the Bible as twofold: on its literal level it was addressed to philosophers and non-philosophers alike, and thus it had to speak in a manner intelligible to all; but behind its rather simple exterior it contained a more profound meaning, which philosophers could discover by proper interpretation. This esoteric content is identical, fully or in part, with the teachings of philosophy. In assuming this methodological principle, Jewish philosophers resembled Jewish mystics, who discovered secret mystical teachings behind the literal biblical text. We may now examine some representative biblical passages which Jewish philosophers cited to support their views. (For a fuller picture the reader may refer to the indexes of biblical passages appearing in Saadiah Gaon, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions, tr. by S. Rosenblatt (1949); Judah Halevi, The Kuzari, tr. by H. Hirschfeld (1964); Moses Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed, tr. by M. Friedlaender (19042; repr. 1956); Joseph Albo, Sefer ha-Ikkarim, ed. and tr. by I. Husik, 4, pt. 2, 1930).
Of verses concerning God that were cited by Jewish philosophers, perhaps the central one was "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Deut. 6:4), which was held to refer to God's uniqueness as well as to His simplicity. The opening of the Decalogue – "I am the Lord thy God" (Ex. 20:2, Deut. 5:6) – was understood as a declaration of God's existence, and, by some, even as a positive commandment requiring the affirmation of the existence of God. God's omnipotence was indicated by the verse: "I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted" (Job 42:2), and His omniscience, by the verse: "His discernment is past searching out" (Isa. 40:28). That God is incorporeal was derived from the verses: "… for ye saw no manner of form" (Deut. 4:15) and "To whom then will ye liken Me, that I should be equal?" (Isa. 40:25), and that His essence is identical with His existence, from the verse: "I am that I am" (Ex. 3:14). How God can be known was derived from a story concerning Moses. Moses had asked God to show him His ways and then he had requested that He show him His glory. God granted Moses the first of these requests, but denied him the second (Ex. 33:12ff.). This story was interpreted to mean that God's glory, that is, His essence, cannot be known by man, but His ways, that is, His actions, can be known.
Of passages and verses concerning the universe, the creation chapters (Gen. 1–2) were interpreted as stating that the world was created out of nothing and in time. The creation of the universe was also derived from the verses: "I have made the earth, and created man upon it; I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their hosts have I commanded" (Isa. 45:12) and "It is He that hath made us, and we are His" (Ps. 100:3). That the celestial spheres are animate and rational was deduced from the verse: "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Ps. 19:2), and the verse: "The sun also arises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to his place where he arises" (Eccles. 1:5) was seen as a description of the daily motion of the uppermost celestial sphere, which produces day and night. That the heavens and the earth are finite was derived from the verses: "… from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth" (Deut. 13:8) and "… from the one end of heaven unto the other …" (Deut. 4:32). From four terms appearing in Genesis 1:2 it was deduced that the sublunar world consists of the four elements: earth (ereẓ), air (ru'aḥ), water (mayim), and fire (ḥoshekh – ordinarily darkness, but here interpreted as fire). Reference to the composition of these four elements of matter and form and to the succession of forms in matter was seen in the verses: "Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he was at his work on the wheels. And whensoever the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter, he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it" (Jer. 18:3–4). Somewhat more fancifully, Abraham and Sarah, respectively, were identified with form and matter.
Other verses provided a description of human nature. The verses: "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil … therefore choose life, that thou mayest live …" (Deut. 30:15–19) were frequently quoted in support of the notion that man possesses freedom of choice. That man's essential nature is his reason was derived from the verse: "Let us make man in our image…" (Gen. 1:26), and that wisdom distinguishes him from other creatures, from the verse: "He that teaches man knowledge" (Ps. 94:10). That man has five senses is indicated by the verses "They have mouths, but they speak not; Eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; Noses have they, but they smell not; They have hands, but they handle not …" (Ps. 115:5–7). "For the life of the flesh is in the blood …" (Lev. 17:11) refers to the nutritive faculty of the human soul, and "Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh within all thy gates, after all the desire of thy soul …" (Deut. 12:15), to the appetitive. Some interpreted that man's ultimate goal in life is to understand God from the verses: "Know this day, and lay it to thy heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath …" (Deut. 4:39) and "Know ye that the Lord He is God" (Ps. 100:3); but others invoked the verse "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God …" (Deut. 6:5) to show that man's final goal is the love of God. That man should be modest in his conduct is indicated by the verse: "The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his desire …" (Prov. 13:25), and that the middle way is the best is shown by the verse: "… and thou shalt walk in His ways" (Deut. 28:9). While many other verses and passages were cited in support of these and other teachings, Jewish philosophers were also interested in whole chapters and complete biblical books. The theophany in Isaiah 6 and the account of the divine chariot in Ezekiel 1 and 10 were used as descriptions of God and the angelic realm. Of special interest were the more philosophical books of the Bible, including Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes, on which numerous philosophical commentaries were written, especially in the late Middle Ages.
Since the Greek philosophers had appeared by the time the rabbis of the Talmud formulated their teachings, it may be asked whether the rabbinic literature reveals any Greek philosophical influence. While the rabbis had some acquaintance with Greek philosophical ideas, particularly with those of the Stoics (in popular versions), it has now been shown that the rabbis were not familiar with formal philosophy (see S. Lieberman, in: Biblical and Other Studies, ed. by A. Altmann (1963), 123–41). The names of the major philosophers are absent from the rabbinic writings, and the only philosophers mentioned by name are Epicurus and the obscure, second century cynic Oenomaus of Gadara. In the tannaitic literature the term "Epicurean" (apikoros) is used, but it seems to refer to a heretic in general rather than someone who embraces Epicurus' doctrines. H.A. Wolfson, the modern historian of philosophy, stated that he was unable to discover a single Greek philosophic term in rabbinic literature (Wolfson, Philo, 1 (1947), 92). Talmudic scholar Saul *Lieberman replied to Wolfson: "I want to state more positively: Greek philosophic terms are absent from the entire ancient Rabbinic literature" ("How Much Greek in Jewish Palestine?," in: A. Altmann (ed.), Biblical and Other Studies (1963), 130). In his Greek in Jewish Palestine (1942) Lieberman wrote that "Certain elements on most of the Greek sciences of that time were known to the rabbis in Palestine, and the formulations and the definitions in natural sciences are very similar to those of the Greek scholars. But here again there is no evidence for rabbinic quotations from first-hand sources; all their information may have been derived from secondary sources" (pp. 1–2). In the case of the rabbis and the Gnostics, according to Lieberman, the situation is similar: "Certain basic teachings of the rabbis were not entirely foreign to the rabbis … However, even in this domain the early rabbinic literature never mentions a single Greek 'philosophic' term used by the Gnostics" (ibid, pp. 132, 141).
This conventional view has been challenged by Jacob *Neusner in a series of studies. While acknowledging that there are no overtly philosophical terms in rabbinic literature, that the rabbis never cite any Greek philosophical text, and that it is unlikely that they had direct personal or literary contact with philosophy, Neusner argues that "a sizeable portion of the Mishnah is philosophical in method, manner of formulating results, and … in specific philosophical program," and that when read philosophically, the Mishnah's arguments coincide with Aristotle's rules of classification, and its issues and positions are congruent with those of Greek philosophy. Neusner concludes, therefore, that the Mishnah is philosophical in method (which he sees as similar or parallel to Aristotelian classification), medium and message (which he compares to the Neoplatonic unity of being) (Judaism as Philosophy, 1990; reissued as The Method and Message of the Mishnah, 1997). In Neusner's analysis, Wolfson and Lieberman, by looking only at the trees, thus missed the forest. The Mishnah, in his view, is philosophy and not theology because it doesn't merely cite Scripture, but analyzes its truths rationally. In the Mishnah, as in Aristotle, God serves as a principle but is not involved in the system of classification of natural reality. But what follows the Mishnah is theology, not philosophy, because the later rabbinic literature appeals to citations of Scripture and of the Mishnah for authority, not to reason (The Transformation of Judaism, 1992). Neusner later extends the argument to the Gemara as well. He sees the Mishnah as philosophy (especially natural history) in form of a law code, and the Gemara also as philosophy, specifically dialectical analysis, in the form of a commentary on the Mishnah, but reiterates that his claim is "congruity," i.e., similarity, and not direct continuity or contact between the rabbis and Greek philosophy (Jerusalem and Athens: The Congruity of Talmudic and Classical Philosophy, 1997). In Neusner's view, the concrete cases of law, at least in some cases, thus reflect a "philosophical template," in which diverse subjects yield an orderly system of abstract thought (Intellectual Templates of the Halakhah, 2006).
Jewish philosophers cited rabbinic sayings, as they did biblical quotations, for support of their views, once again imposing a philosophic rigor that the sources, on literal reading, lacked. To indicate that attributes describing God in human terms must be interpreted allegorically, philosophers invoked the saying: "The Torah speaks in the language of the sons of man" (Yev. 71a; bm 31b). How circumspect one must be in describing God is shown in the following story:
Someone reading prayers in the presence of Rabbi Ḥanina said "God, the great, the valiant and the tremendous, the powerful, the strong, and the mighty." Rabbi Ḥanina said to him, "Have you finished all the praises of your Master? The three epithets 'the great, the valiant, and the tremendous,' we should not have applied to God, had Moses not mentioned them in the Law, and had not the men of the Great Synagogue followed and established their use in prayer; and you say all this. Let this be illustrated by a parable. There once was an earthly king who possessed millions of gold coins; but he was praised for owning millions of silver coins. Was this not really an insult to him?" (Ber. 33b).
To show that the substance of the heavens differs from that of sublunar beings the philosophers cited R. Eliezer's saying: "The things in the heavens have been created of the heavens, the things on earth of the earth" (Gen. R. 12:11). Similarly, that the heavens are animate beings was derived from a passage in Genesis Rabbah (2:2) which states in part "… the earth mourned and cried on account of her evil lot saying, 'I and the heavens were created together, and yet the beings above live forever, and we are mortal.'" The saying "The world follows its customary order" (Av. Zar. 54b) was taken as confirmation that a natural order exists in the world.
Other rabbinic sayings deal with human nature. The saying: "All is in the hands of heaven except the fear of heaven" (Ber. 33b; Nid. 16b) is interpreted to mean that, while certain natural dispositions are fixed in man, his actions are free. That there is a correlation between what man does and the fate he suffers is supported by the sayings: "There is no death without sin, and no sufferings without transgression" (Shab. 55a) and "A man is measured with the measure he uses himself " (Sot. 1:7). The spiritual nature of the afterlife is taught in the saying of Rav: "In the World to Come, there is no eating, no drinking, no washing, no anointing, no sexual relations, but the righteous sit, their crowns on their heads, and enjoy the radiance of the Shekhinah" (Ber. 17a). Many other citations could be added to this list.
Of special interest are two esoteric rabbinic doctrines known respectively as "the account of creation" (ma'aseh bereshit) and "the account of the divine chariot" (ma'aseh merkavah). While it is clear that, historically speaking, these two doctrines were forms of Jewish gnosticism (see Scholem, Mysticism, 40ff.; idem, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition, 1960), philosophers saw in them philosophical truths. Maimonides goes so far as to identify ma'aseh bereshit with physics and ma'aseh merkavah with metaphysics, holding that the rabbis were conversant with philosophic doctrines but presented them enigmatically.
For editions and translations of philosophic works described below, the reader is referred to the entries appearing under individual philosophers' names. The modern scholarly literature concerning individual philosophers is also listed there.
Jewish philosophy began, as has been noted, in the Diaspora community of the Hellenistic world during the second century b.c.e. and continued there until the middle of the first century c.e. It arose out of the confrontation between the Jewish religion and Greek philosophy (particularly the Stoic-Platonic tradition) and had as its aim the philosophic interpretation of Judaism. It also had an apologetic purpose: to show that Judaism is a kind of philosophy, whose conception of God is spiritual and whose ethics are rational. Jewish philosophers polemicized against the polytheism of other religions and against pagan practices. In spite of their philosophic interests they maintained that Judaism is superior to philosophy (see H.A. Wolfson, Philo, 1 (1947), 3–27). Philo of Alexandria is the only Jewish Hellenistic philosopher from whom a body of works has survived; all the other materials are either fragmentary or only allude to philosophic or theological topics. The dating of these other materials also presents considerable difficulties. The language of Hellenistic Jewish philosophy was Greek. Jewish Hellenistic culture may be said to have begun with the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible. The translation of the Pentateuch dates from the third century b.c.e. Some scholars have held that this translation already manifests philosophic influences (ibid., 94, n. 39).
The first Jewish philosopher appears to have been *Aristobulus of Paneas (middle of second century b.c.e.), who wrote a commentary on the Pentateuch, fragments of which have been preserved by Christian Church Fathers. He argues that Greek philosophers and poets derived their teachings from the wisdom of Moses, and he interpreted the Bible allegorically. He held, for example, that the expression "hand of God" refers to God's power. He maintained that wisdom (the Torah) existed prior to heaven and earth and that God's power extends through all things. He gives a symbolic interpretation of the Sabbath and comments on the symbolic character of the number "seven." The letter of *Aristeas, a pseudepigraphic account of the history of the Greek translation of the Bible, which incidentally polemicizes against paganism, states that God's power is manifested throughout the world, praises the mean as the best course of action, holds that the help of God is necessary for the performance of good deeds, and advocates the control of passions. The author also presents moral interpretations of the ritual laws, holding that such laws are designed to teach man righteousness, holiness, and perfection of character. ii Maccabees mentions cryptically resurrection and creation out of nothing. iv Maccabees, evidently written by someone familiar with Greek philosophy, particularly with the teachings of the first-century b.c.e. Stoic Posidonius, maintains that reason can control the passions, illustrating this theme through examples from Jewish history. The author cites the Stoic definition of wisdom and identifies wisdom with the Law. The Sibylline Oracles (in their extant form a combination of Jewish and Christian teachings) denounce paganism and mention the resurrection and the messianic age. The Wisdom of Solomon, which is patterned after Hebrew Wisdom Literature, contains occasional philosophic terms and arguments. The work polemicizes against idolatry, holding that it is a source of immoral practices. H.A. Wolfson (Philo, 1 (1947), 287–9) maintains that the author's conception of wisdom is the same as Philo's conception of the logos (see below), although others have argued that the two conceptions are different. According to Wolfson, wisdom first existed as an attribute of God, then as an independent being created by God prior to the creation of the world, and, finally, as immanent in the world. God created the world out of formless matter. Man can love righteousness, God, and wisdom, and the love of wisdom is manifested in the observance of the Law. The attainment of wisdom also requires the help of God. The righteous are rewarded with immortality, while the wicked shall perish.
*Philo (c. 20 b.c.e.–c. 50 c.e.), who was well versed in Greek philosophy and poetry, presented his views in a series of commentaries on passages of the Pentateuch, works on biblical topics, and independent philosophic treatises. He was influenced largely by Platonic and Stoic ideas, and his philosophy also has a mystical streak. Because of its unsystematic presentation, his philosophy has been interpreted in several ways. Some consider Philo merely a philosophic preacher, others a philosophic eclectic, still others a mystic. H.A. Wolf-son, in his Philo (on which what follows is based), presents him as a systematic philosopher who is the founder of religious philosophy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Wolf-son describes philosophy from Philo to Spinoza as essentially Philonic (Philo, 1 (1947), 87–115). (For a discussion of Philo's knowledge of Hebrew and of Palestinian Jewish traditions, see Philo, 1 (1947), 88–93.)
The Bible for Philo was the revealed word of God which had an apparent and a hidden meaning: the apparent meaning was addressed to the masses, while the hidden meaning was reserved for students of philosophy. To discover these two meanings Philo used the literal and allegorical methods of interpretation. Most biblical passages lend themselves to both kinds of interpretation, but Philo insists that anthropomorphic descriptions of God must be interpreted allegorically. While he interprets certain parts of the creation story only allegorically, and while he allegorizes biblical names, persons, and events, he also appears to accept biblical narrations in their literal sense. Philo's attitude toward the laws of the Pentateuch is complex and depends on one's evaluation of the nature of Alexandrian halakhah. In some passages he maintains that one must observe the totality of Mosaic law, but in others he states that such laws as that requiring the return of a pledge before sunset (Ex. 22:25–26) are trivial in their literal sense and must be understood allegorically.
Philo's conception of the world is based on Platonic notions, particularly as interpreted and systematized by Posidonius. Characteristic of this approach is the opinion that there exist intermediary beings between God and the world. God, according to Philo, transcends the world. He is one (both in the sense of unique and simple), self-sufficient, eternal, incorporeal, and unlike His creatures. He is good, but He is not identical with the idea of the good of which Plato spoke. In His essence He is unknowable, indescribable, and unnamable; the terms used by Scripture to describe Him are properties referring to His actions. To explain creation and the structure of the world, Philo uses the Platonic notion of "ideas." These ideas, according to him, exist first as patterns in the mind of God, then as incorporeal beings between God and the world, and finally as immanent in the world. Since ideas must inhere in a mind, Philo posits a logos (also called wisdom) in which the ideas inhere. Like the ideas, the logos exists in three forms: as an attribute of God, as an incorporeal being existing between God and the world, and as immanent in the world. The ideas are patterns of things, but they are also causes producing these things; in the latter sense they are called powers. God created the world because He is good, and He created it freely and by design. He first created the incorporeal logos, also called intelligible world, and then the perceptible world. The perceptible world was created out of matter, but it is not clear whether Philo held that this matter was created or uncreated. Creation is not a temporal process, and when it is said that God is prior to His creation it is meant that He is its cause. To create the world God used the self-existent logos, but everything is said to have been created by God Himself except man's body and his irrational soul. The immanent logos, while inhering in the material world, is still immaterial. It produces the laws of nature; but since God created these laws, he can change them if he so desires, and this makes miracles possible.
When God created the world, He created with it incorporeal rational souls of varying degrees of impurity. The souls which had greater purity remained incorporeal and became the angels which are God's messengers; the less pure souls were joined to bodies and became the souls of men. The human soul is active in sensation and cognition and it possesses free will. Upon death, the human soul may ascend to the upper realm, where it may come to rest among angels, in the intelligible world, or even beyond this, close to God, Immortality is the gift of God.
Basing himself on Plato, Philo speaks of three kinds of knowledge: sensation or opinion, rational knowledge derived from sensation, and the knowledge of ideas. However, whereas Plato describes knowledge of ideas as recollection, Philo identifies it with prophecy. Prophecy, which is said to come from God, can come in three possible ways: through the Divine Spirit, through a specially created divine voice, or through angels. Prophecy can be accompanied by frenzy and ecstasy, and it is here that Philo's mystical inclination comes to the fore. There are also three kinds of prophetic dreams which correspond to the three kinds of prophecy. Prophecy through an angel can come to a non-Jew, prophecy through the Divine Spirit can also come to a non-Jew provided he has attained moral and intellectual perfection, but prophecy through the voice of God is reserved for Jews. Prophecy has a fourfold function: prediction of the future, expiation of the sins of the people, promulgation of law, and vision of incorporeal beings.
Philo accepts the philosophic notion that happiness comes through the acquisition of the moral and the intellectual virtues; but he holds that human laws achieve this purpose only imperfectly, whereas the Law of Moses, divine in its origin, achieves it perfectly. The good life is not so much life in accordance with virtue but life in accordance with the Law. The Law contains the philosophic virtues, but adds to them additional ones of its own, such as faith, humanity, piety, and holiness, as well as prayer, study, and repentance. Obedience or disobedience to the Law leads to reward or punishment, respectively, which are, for Philo, individual. Philo presents Jewish law in the light of Greek political theories. The Law of Moses is the constitution of a state initiated by Moses. In this state there live citizens and noncitizens of various kinds. The state is ruled by a king, a high priest, and a council of elders. However, since this state is based on God's Law, God is the real ruler, and earthly rulers only administrate and interpret the divine Law. This state was originally only a state for the Jewish people, but it also provides the pattern for an ideal society (still composed of states) which will come to be in messianic times. Philo influenced the teachings of Church Fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Gregory of Nysea, but his works remained unknown to Jewish philosophers of the Middle Ages. Whatever influence he may have had on them came through the indirect transmission of his ideas. It was only in the 16th century that, through Azariah dei Rossi, his works became known once again among Jews.
Medieval Jewish philosophy began in the early tenth century as part of a general cultural revival in the Islamic East, and continued in Muslim countries – North Africa, Spain, and Egypt – for some 300 years. The Jews of the period spoke, read, and wrote Arabic and thus were able to participate in the general culture of their day. Although Jews produced a rich literature on biblical and rabbinic subjects and much poetry, they did not produce an extensive scientific and philosophical literature of their own. The extant literature was adequate for their needs, and their major speculative efforts were devoted to investigating how Judaism and philosophy were related. Most of their philosophic works were written in Arabic. Toward the end of the 12th century the setting of Jewish philosophy began to change. The Jewish communities in the Islamic world declined, and communities hospitable to philosophic and scientific learning developed in Christian lands, particularly Christian Spain, southern France, and Italy. As a result, Arabic was gradually forgotten, and since, with some notable exceptions, Jews had little occasion to learn Latin, Hebrew became the language of Jewish works in philosophy and the sciences. Thus, whereas in Muslim countries Jews were part of the mainstream of general culture, in Christian lands they had to foster a general culture of their own. In this period, while Jews continued to write works investigating the relationship of Judaism and philosophy, they now also produced an extensive literature devoted to purely philosophic topics. As a first step they translated into Hebrew the extensive Arabic philosophical literature of the previous period. Then they commented on the newly translated works, summarized them in compendia and encyclopedias, and composed their own treatises and books. Jewish philosophy during this period was largely based on sources from the Islamic philosophic tradition, but some Jewish philosophers were also influenced by the views of Christian scholastics. The second period in medieval Jewish philosophy lasted until the early 16th century.
The philosophic literature available during the Islamic period was based on works studied in the late Hellenistic schools. As the Islamic empire expanded, these schools came under Muslim rule, and the works studied in them were soon translated into Arabic. At times these translations were made from Greek originals, but more often from intermediary Syriac translations. A number of works were translated more than once. The translators, most of whom were Nestorian and Jacobite Christians, were active from about 800 until about 1000. (For an account of these translations see R. Walzer, Greek into Arabic, 1962.) Of Platonic works translated, the most important were the Timeaus, Republic, and Laws, but Arabic translations of some other dialogues are extant. Perhaps the most important influence was exercised by the works of Aristotle, all of which were known, except for the Dialogues and Politics. Together with the works of Aristotle there were translated works by his commentators *Alexander of Aphrodisias, *Themistius, Theophrastus, Simplicius, and John Philoponus. There were also translations of works by Galen, some of which are no longer extant in the original Greek. The neo-platonic tradition was represented by the Theology of Aristotle, a collection of excerpts from Plotinus' Enneads, and the Liber de Causis, a collection from Proclus' Elements of Theology, as well as by other neoplatonic writings, some of which have been discovered only recently. There were also translations of the Hermetic writings. In addition, philosophers of the period were familiar with Epicurean, Stoic, and skeptic teachings (see *Epicurus, *Stoicism, and *Skeptics), which, however, reached them through the reports of other authors rather than through translations of original works. Jewish philosophers were similarly influenced by the works of Islamic philosophers of the period, including Al-Kindī Al-Rāzī, *Al-Fārābi, *Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā), Al-*Ghazālī, *Avempace (Ibn Bājja), and *Averroes (Ibn Rushd). However, Averroes influenced medieval Jewish philosophy during its second period rather than its first. Jews were familiar, also, with the collection known as the "Epistles of the *Brethren of Sincerity," and they knew the writings of Sufi mystics.
Paralleling Islamic philosophers, Jewish philosophers of the Islamic period may be divided into four groups: followers of the Muʿtazilite branch of the *Kalām, Neoplatonists, Aristotelians, and philosophical critics of Aristotelian rationalism. In the work of one philosopher, at times doctrines from several schools were mixed. Before expositions of the opinions of individual philosophers are given, the characteristics of each of the four groups will be briefly described.
Muʿtazilite Kalām arose in Islamic circles toward the end of the eighth century. Its views developed out of reflections on problems posed by Scripture. The two major problems were the unity of God and God's justice, and because of their concern with these problems, Muʿtazilites were also called "Men of Unity and Justice." The first problem arose from the observation that the Koran affirms that God is one, yet describes Him by many attributes; the second, from the observation that God is omnipotent and omniscient (which seems to imply that God causes everything in the world including man's actions), yet punishes man for his wrongdoing. To solve the first problem, the Muʿtazilites set out to show that God can be described by many attributes without violating His unity; to solve the second, that, although God is omnipotent and omniscient, man's freedom and, hence, responsibility for his actions are not precluded. These two interests were broadened to include discussions of other aspects of God and human nature. Muʿtazilites also addressed themselves to more theological problems, such as the nature of different kinds of sinners and the afterlife. Since the Muʿtazilites' speculations derived from a concern with scriptural problems, they did not formulate a systematic philosophy as the neoplatonists and later the Aristotelians did. Philosophy was for them a way of solving scriptural difficulties, and they made use of any philosophical argument that might be of help. Hence, their philosophic speculations were eclectic, and a philosopher would make use of Platonic, Aristotelian, or Epicurean arguments as the need arose. Characteristic of Muʿtazilite works is their division into sections devoted to the unity of God and His justice. Also characteristic are proofs of the existence of God based on proofs of the creation of the world and the division of scriptural commandments into rational and traditional. In reaction to the Muʿtazilites, a more orthodox kind of Kalām, known as Ashʿarite (founded by Al-Ashʿarī, d. 935), arose. While Ashʿarite Kalām was known to Jewish philosophers and is cited by them, it appears that there were no Jewish Ashʿarites. The Ashʿarites were known for their insistence on the absolute omnipotence and omniscience of God, which led them to deny the existence of laws of nature and human free will. However, to safeguard God's justice and man's responsibility, they formulated the doctrine of "acquisition," according to which man, while not causing his acts, can do them willingly or unwillingly.
Neoplatonism was characterized by the doctrine of emanation, which states that the world and its parts emanated from a first principle, God, in a manner analogous to the emanation of rays from the sun or streams of water from a living fountain. To safeguard the absolute unity of God, Neoplatonists posited a first emanation, identified by some with wisdom (logos) and by others with will, which was between God and the world. Drawing on an analogy between man, the microcosm, and the world, the macrocosm, Neoplatonists posited a number of spiritual substances, such as intellect, soul, and nature, between the first emanation and the world. Some Neoplatonists also held that the spiritual world, no less than the visible, is composed of matter and form. Neoplatonism is marked by the insistence that God is completely above the created order and thus can be described only by negative attributes. Some Neoplatonists held that the world proceeds by necessity from God and is contemporaneous with Him, while others, making concessions to Scripture, affirmed that the world is the product of God's will and is posterior to Him. In their conception of man, Neoplatonists subscribed to the duality of body and soul. The soul originates in the upper region and in some way is forced to join the body. It is man's purpose in life to free the soul from the body, thus making it possible for it to rejoin the upper region from which it came. This "purification" is accomplished through practice of the moral virtues and through philosophic speculation. Neoplatonic ethics generally are ascetic.
*Aristotelianism was based on the premises that the world must be known through observation and that this knowledge is gained through study of the various speculative and practical sciences. The speculative sciences, which deal with the nature of reality, are divided into physics, mathematics, and metaphysics; the practical sciences, which deal with human conduct, are divided into ethics, economics, and politics. Logic is the prerequisite instrument of all the sciences. The physics of the Aristotelians is based on an analysis of the many changes taking place in the world. These changes are explained through the four causes – the material, efficient, formal, and final causes. The world is divided into the celestial and the sublunar regions. The sublunar world is one of generation and corruption, and everything in it is ultimately reducible to the four elements – earth, water, air, and fire. Sub-lunar beings are divided into minerals, plants, animals, and rational beings, and all of them are composed of matter and form. By contrast, the celestial region, not subject to generation and corruption, is immaterial, and the only motion occurring within it is the locomotions of the celestial spheres. The celestial region is made up of its own element – the so-called fifth element. It consists of the various celestial spheres in which are set the sun, moon, planets, and fixed stars. Each sphere consists of a body governed by an incorporeal soul and intelligence. The earth is fixed at the center of the universe and the celestial spheres revolve around it. All organic beings – plants, animals, and human beings – are governed by an internal principle of motion called a soul. In man, the most complex organic being, the soul possesses nutritive, sensory, appetitive, imaginative, and rational faculties, or powers. The highest faculty is the rational, and to develop it is the purpose of human life. The rational faculty starts as the potential intellect and through exercise becomes the actual intellect and, finally, the acquired intellect. The agent in the production of human knowledge is the active intellect, which in the Islamic and Jewish traditions is identified with the lowest of the celestial intelligences. The active intellect also produces prophecy in men who have the required preparation. While there are some variations in particulars, Islamic and Jewish philosophers subscribe to this general scheme. Metaphysics is viewed as the study of being qua being, that is, of the highest categories, and also as a study of the incorporeal beings, that is, of God and the incorporeal intelligences, which are identified with the angels of Scripture. Morality is viewed as the acquisition of the moral and intellectual virtues. The moral virtues, which, generally speaking, consist of following the mean, are acquired by habituation and thereby become second nature. They are a prerequisite for the attainment of the intellectual virtues, the final goal. While in their ethics Aristotelians followed the traditions of Aristotle, in their political philosophy they followed Plato. They accepted the notion Plato set forth in the Republic, that mankind may be divided into three classes – men of gold, men of silver, and men of bronze – and identified the first class with the philosophers, who can understand by means of demonstration, and the other two classes with those who can only follow arguments of persuasion. For Plato, the state is founded by a philosopher-king, who in the Islamic and Jewish traditions is identified with the legislative prophet.
The critical reaction to philosophy was marked by the attempt to show, on philosophic grounds, that philosophers had not made good their claim to have discovered physical and metaphysical truths. The fact that philosophers could not agree on these truths was taken as evidence that they had failed. However, while the critics rejected physics and metaphysics, they accepted the principles of Aristotelian logic.
The first Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages was *Saadiah Gaon (882–942), head of the rabbinical academy of Sura (near Baghdad). Influenced by the Muʿtazilites and relying on Platonic, Aristotelian, and Stoic notions, he undertook to formulate a Jewish Kalām. His major philosophic work, which, in Muʿtazilite fashion, is divided into a section on divine unity and a section on divine justice, is his Book of Opinions and Beliefs (Emunot Ve-De'ot; Kitāb al-Amānāt wa al-lʿtiqādāt), but his philosophical opinions are also found in his commentary on Sefer Yeẓirah, his commentary on the Bible, and in his polemics against Hiwī al-Balkhī. Saadiah wrote his Book of Opinions and Beliefs to rescue his contemporaries from the doubts that had befallen them and to lead them from being men whose beliefs were based on religious authority alone to becoming men whose beliefs were also confirmed by arguments of reason. Since these were his goals, he began with a methodological preface devoted to an analysis of doubt and how it may be remedied, a definition of belief (the opposite of doubt), and a description of sources of knowledge – sense perception, self-evident first principles, inference, and reliable tradition – which enable one to distinguish true from false beliefs. In typical Muʿtazilite fashion, Saadiah began the book proper (treatise 1) with four proofs for the creation of the world; from the finiteness of the world, from its composition, from accidents, and from the nature of time. Typical of these proofs is the one from finiteness. According to this argument, the finite nature of the universe requires a finite force preserving it, and everything possessing a finite force must have a beginning in time. Saadiah goes on to show that from the creation of the world it follows that it was brought into being by a creator who is distinct from it, and that this creator made it out of nothing. It was part of Saadiah's method to refute current opinions which differed from his own, and thus he adds the refutation of 12 other cosmogonic theories which he considered wrong. Saadiah next demonstrates that God is one (treatise 2). However, despite His unity, God is described by a multiplicity of attributes, such as life, power, and knowledge. According to Saadiah, these attributes only serve to explicate the divine nature and do not suggest that any multiplicity exists in God. God must be described by many attributes because human language cannot find one word describing them all. In his discussion Saadiah takes issue with dualistic and trinitarian conceptions of God. God's kindness toward His creatures requires that He provide them with a law, adherence to which will guide them to earthly happiness and to eternal bliss (treatise 3). This law, the Torah, contains commandments of two kinds: rational, such as the prohibitions against murder and theft, which reason can also discover on its own, and traditional, such as the Sabbath and dietary laws, which must be revealed through the will of God. Rational commandments are general and require particular traditional commandments for their implementation; and traditional commandments upon examination are also found to have certain reasons. The promulgation of the divine precepts requires the existence of prophets, whose mission is confirmed by the miracles they perform. However, the prophecy of Moses is confirmed not only by miracles but also by the reasonableness of the law he brought. This law is unchanging and cannot be abrogated.
Man, Saadiah held, is the goal of creation, and divine justice requires that he be free. He offers two kinds of arguments for the existence of human choice: first, man experiences himself to be free, and there is no evidence that his acts are compelled; second, holding man responsible for his acts requires that he be free. Since man is free, God justly rewards and punishes him. God's foreknowledge is compatible with human freedom, for to foreknow something is different from causing it. Invoking Muʿtazilite models again, Saadiah (treatise 5) discusses different categories of righteous and wicked men. Among them is the penitent, who accomplishes repentance in four steps: renunciation of sin, remorse, the quest for forgiveness, and the assumption of an obligation not to sin again. The sufferings of the righteous are explained as "sufferings of love" (yissurin shel ahavah), that is, their sufferings in this world will be compensated by the reward they will receive in the next. (Maimonides later attacked this doctrine.) Man's soul originates at the time of the formation of the body, and its place of origin is the human heart (treatise 6). The substance of the human soul is akin to that of the celestial sphere. The latter section of the Book of Opinions and Beliefs is devoted to eschatological issues, and Saadiah's discussion follows traditional Jewish lines. He accepts the doctrine of the resurrection of the body and offers numerous arguments in its support (treatise 7). The resurrection will occur after Israel has been redeemed. The redemption (treatise 8) may take place in two ways. If the time appointed for the Exile passes before Israel repents, God will first send the Messiah from the house of Joseph. Great calamities will befall the Jews, but in the end they will be redeemed by the Messiah from the house of David. Should Israel repent before the completion of the appointed time, the Messiah from the house of David may come right away. In the messianic era, Israel will return to its land and the Temple will be rebuilt. The Christian claims that the Messiah has already come are false. The final stage is the world to come (treatise 9), in which the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked punished. Man's body and soul will remain together in the world to come, and life in that world is eternal. Saadiah concludes his book with an appendix (treatise 10) describing how man should conduct himself in this world.
Although Saadiah remained the major Jewish exponent of Muʿtazilite Kalām, other Jewish philosophers made use of kalamic teachings. In Rabbanite circles, kalamic influences were evident until the rise of Aristotelianism in the 13th century, while among Karaites, Kalām provided the dominant philosophy throughout the Middle Ages. David ibn Marwān *al-Mukammiṣ, probably an older contemporary of Saadiah, combined kalamic, Platonic, Aristotelian, and Neoplatonic teachings in his ʿIshrūn Maqālāt ("Twenty Treatises"), a work only partially preserved. His views are also cited in *Judah b. Barzillai al-Bargeloni's commentary on Sefer Yeẓirah. Al-Mukammiṣ cites the kalamic formula: "God is knowing, but not with knowledge; living, but not with life," interpreting it to mean that God's attributes are identical with each other and with His essence. Following the Neoplatonists, he adds that God's attributes must be understood as negations. Kalamic and Greek philosophic influences are also found in the Bible commentary (extant in fragments) of *Samuel b. Hophni (d. 1013), head of the academy of Sura. He also held that God's attributes are identical with His essence, and, again following the Muʿtazilites, he teaches that only prophets can work miracles. *Nissim b. Jacob b. Nissim ibn Shahin of Kairouan, a younger contemporary of Samuel b. Hophni, uses Muʿtazilite doctrines at the beginning of his introduction to his commentary on the Talmud. *Hai Gaon (d. 1038), last head of the academy of Pumbedita, was also acquainted with Muʿtazilite doctrines, but took issue with some of them. For example, he criticized Samuel b. Hophni for limiting miracles to prophets, holding that pious persons can also perform them.
Karaite speculative thought has generally mirrored Rabbanite speculative thought, and discussions of philosophical interest can be found both in treatises fully devoted to the subject, of which there are not many, as well as in works belonging to other genres, such as exegesis, law, and poetry. The first Karaites generally did not formulate clearly their theological views, and there is some indication that some objected to rationalism. By the 10th century, Karaites came under the influence of Muʿtazilite Kalām, and both the legalist, Yaʿqub al-Qirqisani, and the exegete, Japheth ben Eli, incorporated Kalamic ideas into their works. Only in the late 10th and early 11th century did Karaites write separate speculative treatises incorporating fully the ideas and terminology of the Basran Muʿtazilites, most notably Abd al-Jabbar. In the 11th century, the outstanding Karaite philosophers were Joseph b. Abraham al-*Baṣīr (author of Kitab al-Muhtawi and Kitab al-Mansuri) and his disciple *Jeshua b. Judah, whose views were similar. They believed that rational knowledge of God precedes belief in revelation; only after it has been established that God exists, that He is wise, and that He is omnipotent, is the truth of revelation guaranteed. A similar rationalism is manifest in their conception of ethics: they maintained that various specific moral principles are self-evident upon reflection, e.g., that good should be done and evil avoided, that one should be grateful, and that one should tell the truth. This awareness is independent of revelation, since even those who deny God and revelation adhere to these principles. The moral law is binding not only for man but also for God, a point which is central to their theodicy. They also adopted the Kalamic view that the world is composed of atoms, and the atomic theory can be used to prove the creation of the world, and, thereby, the existence of God.
Al-Baṣīr's influence among Karaites remained strong for almost 300 years, kept alive by Byzantine Hebrew translations of his works and a number of independently written Hebrew treatises, which propounded his ideas. In the late 13th century, Maimonidean Aristotelianism began making inroads into Karaite thought. The main figure to attempt an accommodation between the Karaite tradition of Kalām and Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed was *Aaron ben Elijah of Nico-media, author of Eẓ Ḥayyim ("Tree of Life," written in 1346). Although he ostensibly objected to Greek philosophy as undermining Judaism, he incorporated many Aristotelian ideas (form and matter, separate intellects, causality) into his work. Aaron defended the intellectual honesty of his Karaite predecessors, against Maimonides' assertion that those Jews who adopted Kalām did so for theological, not scientific, reasons, but on many issues, such as prophecy and theodicy, he followed Maimonides' lead. Like some Rabbanite post-Maimonideans, Aaron also criticized Maimonides for positions which he felt were too radical, such as negative theology and the assertion that creation of the world cannot be demonstrated. By the late 15th century, Karaite Kalām had all but disappeared from Byzantine Karaite thought, but traces of it remained in more popular Karaite presentations of theology.
Karaite thinkers also engaged in dogmatics, generally listing ten articles of faith. The first such list was written by Judah *Hadassi (fl. 1149); a similar, but eventually more authoritative, list was presented by Elijah *Bashyazi (Bashyatchi; d. 1490). Dogmatics was especially important since ritual slaughterers were obligated to hold clear conceptions of Karaite theology in order for their meat to be ritually acceptable.
[Daniel J. Lasker (2nd ed.)]
Neoplatonism in Jewish philosophy appeared at the same time that Kalām did. The first Neoplatonist was the renowned physician Isaac b. Solomon *Israeli (c. 855–c. 955), who flourished in Kairouan. Influenced by the Islamic philosopher al-Kindī and various Neoplatonic writings, he composed Kitābal-Hudūd (Sefer ha-Gevulim; "Book of Definitions"), Kitāb al-Jawāhir ("Book of Substances"), Sefer ha-Ru'ah ve-ha-Nefesh ("Book on Spirit and Soul"), Sha'ar ha-Yesodot ("Chapter on the Elements"), and Kitāb al-Ustuquṣṣāt ("Book on the Elements"). In Latin translations some of these works influenced Christian scholastic thought. According to Israeli, God, the Creator, in His goodness and love created the world in time and out of nothing. The means of creation were His power and His will, which for Israeli are attributes of God, not separate hypostases. Two simple substances, first matter and first form, or wisdom, come directly from God. It appears that these two principles combine to form the next hypostasis, intellect; but Israeli also affirms that first matter and form have no separate existence but exist only in the intellect. Intellect is followed by three distinct hypostases of soul – rational, animal, and vegetative. The next hypostasis is nature, which Israeli identifies with the sphere or heaven. This hypostasis is the last of the simple substances and holds a position intermediate between these substances and the perceptible world. The four elements of the lower world are produced from the motion of the sphere or heavens. Israeli distinguished three stages in the creation of the world: creation proper, which produces only first matter, first form, and intellect; emanation, which produces the four spiritual substances; and causality of nature, which produces the world below the heavens. Israeli's philosophy of man is based on the Neoplatonic notion of the human soul's return to the upper world from which it came. The soul's ascent proceeds in three stages: purification, which consists of turning away from appetites and passions; illumination by the intellect, which produces wisdom defined as knowledge of eternal things; and union with, or adherence to, supernal wisdom (not God), at which stage the soul becomes spiritual. Union with supernal wisdom can be accomplished even in this life. Israeli identifies union with the religious notion of paradise, and he holds that the punishment of sinners is that their souls cannot ascend to the upper region but are caught in the fire extending below the heavens. Israeli distinguishes between philosophy, which is the quest for wisdom, and wisdom, which is the final goal. Discussing the prophet, Israeli sees no sharp distinction between him and the philosopher: both are concerned with the ascent of the soul and with guiding mankind toward truth and justice. Israeli distinguishes three kinds of prophecy, which are in ascending order: voice (kol), spirit (ru'aḥ), and speech (dibbur). Many of Israeli's ideas are cited and developed in the commentary on Sefer Yeẓirah by his disciple, *Dunash ibn Tamim.
The most important Jewish Neoplatonist was Solomon ibn *Gabirol (c. 1020–1057, possibly 1070); beginning with him the setting of Jewish philosophy shifted to Spain. Also an important Hebrew poet, Ibn Gabirol presented his philosophy in Mekor Ḥayyim ("The Source of Life"; Fons Vitae), Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh ("The Improvement of the Moral Qualities"), and his Hebrew philosophical poem, Keter Malkhut ("The Kingly Crown"). The Arabic original of Mekor Ḥayyim is no longer extant, but the work was preserved in a full Latin translation and in a Hebrew paraphrase of the 13th century by Shem Tov b. Joseph *Falaquera. The Latin translation was circulated widely in Christian scholastic circles, and, possibly because the work was a pure philosophic treatise lacking biblical and rabbinic citations, its author, known as Avicebron or Avemcebrol, was considered a Muslim or an Arab Christian. Divided into five treatises, Mekor Ḥayyim deals mainly with different aspects of the principles of matter and form, though it also contains incidental accounts of other aspects of Ibn Gabirol's thought. It reveals influences of Neoplatonic writings as well as of the pseudo-Empedoclean writings. Ibn Gabirol's conception of God is Neoplatonic in that it emphasizes that God is beyond the world and can be known only through negations. According to Mekor Ḥayyim, from God, called First Substance, emanates the divine will or wisdom (logos); but, according to Keter Malkhut, wisdom and will as successive emanations are distinct. Next come universal matter and form. According to some passages, universal matter emanates from God, and universal form, from the will; according to others, both principles emanate from the divine will. Three spiritual substances, intellect, soul, and nature, and then the perceptible world follow. According to some interpreters, Ibn Gabirol introduced the notion of the will to give a voluntaristic complexion to the doctrine of emanation, while according to others, he subscribed to the view that emanation proceeds by necessity from God. Another characteristic doctrine of Ibn Gabirol is the notion that all beings other than God, including the spiritual substances, are composed of matter and form. Ibn Gabirol's account of matter and form is ambiguous. There are passages in which he accepts the Aristotelian notion that matter is the substratum for change, while form determines the essence; but there are other passages in which he maintains that the essence of something is determined by its matter, while the forms produce differences between substances having the same material principle. In typical Neoplatonic fashion, Ibn Gabirol presents the goal of human life as the soul's return to the upper sphere, which is accomplished through proper conduct and philosophic speculation. In his Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh, he discusses 20 moral qualities (four for each of the five senses) and tries to relate them to the four humors of the human body. Ibn Gabirol's philosophic views influenced later kabbalistic thought.
Toward the end of the 11th century, *Baḥya b. Joseph Ibn Paquda wrote his Sefer Torat Ḥovot ha-Levavot ("Guide to the Duties of the Hearts"; Kitāb al-Hidāya ilā Farāiʾḍ al-Qulūb), a devotional manual which achieved great popularity among Jews. The work was influenced by Neoplatonism, Kalām, the *hermetic writings, and Sufi literature, and Baḥya readily quoted stories and sayings from Islamic, as well as Jewish, sources. Baḥya's work rests on a distinction between "duties of the limbs" (ḥovot ha-evarim), religious commandments that require overt actions, and "duties of the hearts" (ḥovot ha-levavot), those commandments which require specific beliefs and inner states (intentions). He holds that the latter are commanded by the Torah no less than the former. In the ten chapters of his work he discusses the following duties of the hearts: belief in God's unity; examination of created beings, which leads to an understanding of the divine goodness and wisdom manifest in nature; service of God; trust in God; sincerity in serving God; humility; repentance; self-examination; abstinence; and, finally, love of God. Baḥya defines and describes these traits and provides practical guidance for their attainment. Using a Kalām distinction, Baḥya divides the duties of the limbs into rational and traditional commandments, while the duties of the hearts are all rational. Although Baḥya's work is largely practical, he also insists on theoretical knowledge, holding that knowledge of God is a necessary prerequisite for practicing the other duties of the hearts. Hence, he devotes the first chapter of his work to kalamic proofs (based on Saadiah) demonstrating the creation of the world and the existence and unity of God. Of the proofs for the creation of the world, Baḥya prefers the one from composition. God's unity, he holds, is different from all other unities, and His essential attributes (existence, unity, and eternity) are to be considered as descriptions of God's actions. Similar views were later expressed by Maimonides. Of special interest is Baḥya's discussion of abstinence, one of the most extensive in Jewish philosophic literature. Baḥya acknowledges that there is a general abstinence for all mankind that is practiced to improve man's physical, moral, and political conditions, but maintains that there is also a special abstinence required of the adherents of the Torah. This special abstinence requires the rejection of everything that is not necessary for the satisfaction of man's natural desires and has as its goal the control of man's desires and the subsequent development of his intellect. However, Baḥya's asceticism is moderate. Disapproving of those who separate themselves from the world or confine themselves to their homes, Baḥya recommends that one participate in the social endeavors of his fellow men and restrict asceticism to his personal life. The final goal is the love of God, which Baḥya defines as the soul's turning to God so that it may cleave to His upper light. The soul is a simple spiritual substance, which was implanted by God in the body, but which wants to free itself from bodily desires and pain in order to attain a spiritual state.
A work written between the middle of the 11th and 12th centuries entitled Kitāb Maʿānī al-Nafs ("On the Nature of the Soul") was attributed to (Pseudo-)*Baḥya, but it is not by him. Influenced by Neoplatonic and hermetic (Gnostic) teachings, the work describes the origin of the world by emanation and the nature of the soul. The soul is a spiritual substance, independent of the body, which comes from the upper world to which it wants to return. In its descent, the soul acquires influences from the various regions through which it passes, and they account for differences between the souls. It is also polluted by the body in which it inheres. Return to the upper world is accomplished by practicing moral virtues and acquiring knowledge. The book contains a description of the afterlife, including the punishments of various kinds of sinners.
*Abraham b. Ḥiyya (first half of the 12th century), who lived in Spain and was the author of works on mathematics and astronomy, was the first to write philosophical works in Hebrew. His philosophic ideas, influenced by Neoplatonism and Aristotelianism, are found in his Hegyon ha-Nefesh ha-Aẓuvah ("Meditation of the Sad Soul") and in his messianic treatise Megillat ha-Megalleh ("Scroll of the Revealer"). Central to the former work is a discussion of repentance; in general, his interests are more ethical and theological than philosophic. Abraham b. Ḥiyya subscribes to the doctrine of emanation, but, differing from earlier Neoplatonists, he interposes a world of light and a world of dominion between God and the three spiritual substances. His conception of matter and form is Aristotelian: he holds that these principles exist only in the corporeal world, not in that of the simple substances. In Hegyonha-Nefesh, Abraham b. Ḥiyya divides the fates of souls after death into four categories: souls that have acquired intellectual and moral perfection will ascend to the upper world; souls that have acquired intellectual, but not moral, perfection will ascend only to the sphere below the sun, where they will be afflicted by the sun's fire; souls that have acquired moral, but not intellectual, perfection transmigrate to other bodies until they have acquired knowledge; and souls that have neither perfection will perish with their bodies. However, in Megillat ha-Megalleh, he denies the transmigration of the soul and makes the afterlife more dependent on moral perfection. In Megillat ha-Megalleh, Abraham b. Ḥiyya formulates a theory of history reminiscent of Judah Halevi's theory and of Christian speculation. The history of the world can be divided into six periods corresponding to the six days of creation. There is also an analogue to the Christian notion of original sin: God created Adam with three souls, rational, appetitive, and vegetative. Before Adam sinned the rational soul existed independently of the other two souls, but afterwards it became dependent on them. After the flood, God freed the rational soul from its dependence on the vegetative soul, but not from its dependence on the appetitive soul. However, in each generation the rational soul of one man achieved independence, and this was the state of affairs until the time of Jacob. In Jacob the rational soul was so pure that all of his descendants, first his 12 sons and later all of Israel, received a rational soul independent of the lower two souls. This is Abraham bar Ḥiyya's explanation of the election of Israel, though he does not deny that there may also be righteous persons among the gentiles.
*Joseph Ibn Ẓaddik of Cordova (d. 1149) was the author of Sefer ha-Olam ha-Katan ("Book of the Microcosm"), an eclectic Neoplatonic work with Aristotelian and kalamic influences, apparently written as a handbook for beginners. In the four parts of the work he discusses the principles of the corporeal world and its constitution, the nature of man and the human soul, the existence of God (derived from the creation of the world) and His attributes, and human conduct and reward and punishment. His thought shows similarities to that of Saadiah, Israeli, Baḥya, Pseudo-Baḥya, and Ibn Gabirol, though he does not mention them, and he attempts to refute opinions of the Karaite Al-Baṣīr. With Ibn Gabirol, he affirms that spiritual beings are composed of matter and form, but he defines the matter of spiritual beings as the genus of a species rather than as a distinct principle. However, he does not mention Ibn Gabirol's universal matter and universal form. Like Ibn Gabirol, Ibn Ẓaddik mentions the divine will, but for him, it appears to be identical with the essence of God rather than a separate hypostasis. He criticizes Al-Baṣīr's notion that the divine will is a substance that God creates from time to time. For his proof of the creation of the world he selects the Kalām proof from accidents, but he describes God in Neoplatonic fashion as an absolute unity beyond the world and as incomprehensible. Yet, he also holds that God can be described by attributes that are identical with His essence. These attributes in one respect describe God's actions, and in another, His essence; as describing His essence, they must be understood as negations. The attributes of action are important for providing models for human conduct. For example, as God is good and merciful, so man should be good and merciful. A similar orientation is found in his account of human happiness. He begins by saying that the knowledge of the supernal world and God is the goal of human life; but then he seems to consider this knowledge only as preliminary to proper conduct. Ibn Ẓaddik's account of the soul's fate after death is derived from Israeli (see above).
Moses *Ibn Ezra (c. 1055–after 1135) was important mainly as a poet and critic, but he presented some philosophic opinions in his al-Maqāla bi al-Ḥadīqa fi Maʿnā al-Majāz wa al-Ḥaqīqa (partially translated into Hebrew as Arugat ha-Bosem). Ibn Ezra was fond of quoting sayings (often incorrectly attributed) of such authorities as Pythagoras, Empedocles, Socrates, and Aristotle, and he preserved some Arabic quotations from Ibn Gabirol's Mekor Ḥayyim (see S. Pines, in Tarbiz, 27 (1957–58), 218–35). His orientation was Neoplatonic, and he employs the notions that man is a microcosm and everything in the upper world has its counterpart in man; the soul's knowledge of itself leads to the knowledge of the Creator; God is a unity above all unities, and, unknowable as He is in Himself, He can only be known by metaphors; the rational soul is a substance which must take care of the body; and others.
Abraham *Ibn Ezra (c. 1089–1164) was important as a grammarian, as an author of works on arithmetic and astronomy (including astrology), and as a biblical commentator. He was the author of Sefer ha-Shem and Yesod Mora, on the names of God and on the commandments, but his philosophic views are scattered throughout his biblical commentaries. He often presented his opinions in enigmatic language. Ibn Ezra was profoundly influenced by Neoplatonic doctrines, which in his formulation have at times a pantheistic ring; for example "God is the One; He made all and He is all." Like Ibn Gabirol, he held that everything other than God is composed of matter and form, and he alludes as well to the divine will. Speaking of creation, Ibn Ezra affirmed that the world of the intelligences and angels, as well as that of the celestial spheres, is coeternal with God, and only the lower world was created (through emanation). The human soul comes into being from the spiritual substance known as the universal soul, and, if worthy, it can become immortal by being reunited with that soul and being absorbed by it. Destruction is the punishment of unworthy souls. Like the Islamic Aristotelians, Ibn Ezra held that God's knowledge extends only to species, not to individuals. God's providence, also general, is transmitted through the influences of the heavenly bodies, but individuals who have developed their souls and intellects can foresee evil influences caused by the celestial spheres and avoid them.
*Judah Halevi (before 1075–1141), ranking with Ibn Gabirol as one of the two most important Hebrew poets of the Middle Ages, wrote a philosophic work whose full title is Kitāb al-Ḥujja wa al-Dalīl fi Naṣr al-Dīn al-Dhalīl ("The Book of Argument and Proofs in Defense of the Despised Faith"); but it is popularly known as Sefer ha-Kuzari. Like the Islamic philosopher al-Ghazālī, with whom he seems to have shared a common source, he is critical of Aristotelian rationalism. (By Judah Halevi's time, Aristotelianism was important in Islamic philosophy, but not yet in Jewish philosophy.) For Judah Halevi, historical experience, rather than physical and metaphysical speculations, is the source of truth, and religious practices are more important than beliefs and dogmas. Composed as a narrative, Judah Halevi's book has as its subject the conversion of the king of the Khazars to Judaism in the first half of the eighth century. Judah Halevi's views emerge in a dialogue between the king and the ḥaver, a Jewish scholar who acts as the author's spokesman. Judah Halevi relates that the king had a dream in which an angel appeared to him telling him that his intentions were pleasing to the Creator, but not his deeds. At first the king interpreted the dream to mean that he should be more zealous in his observance of the Khazar religion; but when the angel appeared with the same message a second time, he understood that he was to look for a new way of life. He invited an Aristotelian philosopher, a Christian, and a Muslim; only after he had found their presentations unsatisfactory did he feel compelled to invite the Jew, a member of the "despised faith" (Kuzari, 1:10). His conversation with the ḥaver convinces the king to convert to Judaism (2:1). Most of the five treatises of Judah Halevi's book are devoted to the ḥaver's explanation of the Jewish religion.
Judah Halevi's point of view emerges from the ḥaver's opening statement that Jews believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who publicly performed many miracles for them and who gave them the Torah. When the king asks the ḥaver whether he should not have begun with such speculative principles as "God is the creator and governor of the world," the ḥaver replies that to begin with such principles bring one to a rational religion, which is subject to many doubts. Only a religion based on the experience of God's manifestation in historical events is certain and free from doubt (1:11–29).
Closely related to his conception of God is Judah Halevi's account of prophecy and the nature of the Jewish people. Unlike Neoplatonists and Aristotelians, who tended to describe prophecy as a natural activity of the rational faculty or of the rational and imaginative faculties combined, Judah Halevi views prophecy as the activity of a separate faculty beyond the natural faculties of man (1:31–43). God created Adam with this faculty, and it was transmitted by heredity first to individuals such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; then to the 12 sons of Jacob and their descendants; and, finally, to the Jewish people as a whole (1:95). Possession of the prophetic faculty is the distinguishing feature of Israel's election, and even a convert, though equal to the born Jew in all other respects, cannot attain the prophetic gift (1:27). A sign of the inadequacy of philosophy is that no prophets were found among the philosophers (1:99). While for Judah Ḥalevi prophecy is primarily a gift of God and not the result of natural processes, he attaches two conditions to its attainment: prophecy can be attained only in Ereẓ Israel or (to account for prophets who prophesied outside Ereẓ Israel) the content of the prophecy, at least, must be about Ereẓ Israel; and only those who observe the divine commandments can be prophets (2:8–14).
Piety is the main theme of Judah Halevi's philosophy of man. Man does not attain closeness to God, his goal in life, by pursuing philosophic speculations, but by faithfully adhering to the commandments of God. Accepting the Kalām's distinction between rational and traditional (divine) commandments, Judah Halevi holds that all men must observe the former; however, in his view they have only a preliminary function, and true guidance to human happiness is provided only by the latter (2:45–48). The servant of God is like a ruler: he apportions to each part of his body and soul its due (3:1ff.). While Judah Halevi advocates moderation in eating and drinking and control of appetites, his outlook is not ascetic. Man's joy on the Sabbath and the festivals is no less pleasing to God than his affliction on fast days (2:50). Prayer is the nourishment which sustains the soul from one prayer time to the next (3:5).
Judah Halevi is against philosophy as a way of life, but he is not against philosophic speculations altogether. It has already been noted that he accepts the philosophic notion of rational commandments. Philosophic distinctions appear also in his discussion of God. As yhwh, God can be known only through revelation, but as Elohim, the ruler and guide of the universe, He can be discovered also through philosophic speculation (4:1–3). Like the philosophers, Judah Halevi holds that anthropomorphic and anthropopathic terms applied to God must be interpreted, and he states that divine attributes must be understood as negations, relations, or attributes of action (2:2). Judah Halevi holds that philosophy was known among Jews in ancient times, as can be seen from Sefer Yeẓirah, which tradition attributed to Abraham; but Abraham wrote this book before he received his revelation (2:66; 4:24–25). At the request of the king, the ḥaver explains the principles of Aristotelian philosophy and of the Kalām (treatise 5), but he points out once again the superiority of revelation. The ḥaver also discusses human free will (5:20), and at the end of the book (5:22ff.) he declares his intention to go to Ereẓ Israel.
*Ḥibat Allah Abu al-Barakāt al-Baghdādī (second half of 11th century–first half of 12th century; flourished in Baghdad), whose philosophy has only recently been studied by S. Pines, was the author of a commentary on Ecclesiastes and of a philosophic work Kitāb al-Muʿtabar ("The Book of What Has Been Established By Personal Reflection"). He converted to Islam at the age of 60, but the two works mentioned seem to have been written while he was still a Jew. Subjecting the doctrines of the Aristotelian philosophers to a critical review, he presents novel notions of his own on physical, psychological, and metaphysical questions.
*Nethanel al-Fayyūmī (d. about 1165; flourished in Egypt or Yemen) composed a work entitled Bustān al-ʿUqūl ("Garden of Intellects"), which attempts to introduce doctrines of the Islamic Ismāʿīliyya sect into Jewish thought. It is notable in particular for its unusual pluralistic views of religion (Ch. 6).
By the middle of the 12th century Jewish philosophy entered its next phase and, under the influence of the Islamic philosophers, Al-Fārābī, Avicenna, and Avempace, turned toward Aristotelianism. Abraham b. David ha-Levi *Ibn Daud (c. 1110–1180), was the first Jewish Aristotelian. He wrote his major philosophical work, al-ʿAqīda al-Rafiʿa ("Sublime Faith," translated into Hebrew as Ha-Emunah ha-Ramah, and a second time as Ha-Emunah ha-Nissa'ah, 1161) to explain the doctrine of free will to a friend; but, in fact, he discusses a variety of philosophical and theological topics. The work was strongly influenced by Avicenna and highly critical of Ibn Gabirol. Asserting that Judaism and philosophy are identical in their essence, Ibn Daud begins with an explanation of Aristotelian metaphysical, physical, and psychological notions (treatise 1). Having explained these notions philosophically, he cites scriptural verses that in his view allude to these notions. He proceeds to use them for an exposition of six topics: the existence of God, His unity, divine attributes, God's actions (including creation), prophecy, and the allegorical interpretation of terms comparing God to creatures (treatise 2). The work concludes with a brief discussion of ethical matters (treatise 3). To prove the existence of God, Ibn Daud uses the Aristotelian proof from motion and the Avicennian proof from necessity and contingency. According to the first proof, the analysis of motion in the world leads to a prime mover; according to the second, the contingent character of the world leads to a being necessary through itself. God, as necessary existent, is one both in the sense of being unique and of being simple. The attributes applied to God cannot have any positive meaning, but must be understood as negations or relations. Following Aristotle he holds that every change or process requires an underlying matter, but differing from Aristotle (for whom the world is eternal), he holds that God created a first matter, out of which he subsequently created the world. In a different vein, he cites aspects of the doctrine of emanation to explain the creation of the world, insisting, however, that emanation occurs not by necessity but by the free will of God. In psychology, Ibn Daud, like Avicenna, taught that the human intellect is an individual substance, not just a corporeal predisposition, as other Aristotelians believed. It is this substance as a whole that becomes immortal, not only that part known as the acquired intellect. The active intellect, the lowest of the celestial intelligences, is a cause for the actualization of the human mind, and it is also the effect of the active intellect on the mind of man that enables him to prophesy. Unlike Maimonides, who assigns to the imagination the important role in the prophetic inspiration, Ibn Daud, like Judah Halevi, restricts prophecy to the Jewish people and limits it to the land of Israel. Most difficult from the theological point of view is Ibn Daud's account of the knowledge of God: in order to safeguard man's freedom of choice, he willingly admits that God's knowledge is limited.
Ibn Daud was soon overshadowed by Moses *Maimonides (1135–1204), the greatest Jewish Aristotelian and the most prominent figure of medieval Jewish thought. Maimonides discusses his philosophy in popular fashion in parts of his halakhic works, his commentary on the Mishnah and Mishneh Torah, and in some treatises; but he reserves its technical exposition for his Guide of the Perplexed (Dalālat al-Ḥāʾirīn; Moreh Nevukhim). In formulating his views he drew on Aristotle and his Hellenistic commentators, and on the Muslims Al-Fārābi, Avicenna, and Avempace. Maimonides wrote his Guide for a faithful Jew, who, having studied philosophy, was perplexed by the literal meaning of biblical anthropomorphic and anthropopathic terms applied to God and by parables appearing in the Bible. Maimonides shows this person that his perplexities can be resolved by correct interpretation. Hence, the Guide is devoted in part to the philosophic interpretation of the Bible, but beyond that, to revealing the inner, i.e., philosophic, meaning of the Torah – as Maimonides puts it, to "the science of the Law in its true sense," or to the "secrets of the Law." Maimonides believed that the philosophic content of the Bible should be revealed only to an intellectual elite, not to the masses, and thus he wrote his work in an enigmatic style (Guide, 1: Introd.).
In accord with his exegetical program, Maimonides begins his Guide (1:1–49) with an interpretation of difficult biblical terms, showing that even such terms as "to sit," "to stand," and "to eat" (applied in the Bible to God) have a spiritual sense. From exegesis he proceeds to exposition, selecting as his first topic the attributes of God (1:50–60). Medieval philosophers held that attributes applied to substances are of two kinds: essential, such as existence and life, which are closely related to the essence; and accidental, such as anger and mercifulness, which are incidental to the essence. The Avicennian tradition, which Maimonides followed, maintained, in addition, that both kinds of attributes are distinct from the substances to which they are applied, and, hence, introduce multiplicity into that which they describe. How, then, can attributes be applied to God, Who is one in the sense of being simple? After considering a number of possibilities of how attributes may be applied, Maimonides comes to the conclusion that essential attributes in the case of God must be understood as negations and accidental attributes as descriptions of His actions.
Before presenting his own views concerning the existence, unity, and incorporeality of God and the creation of the world, Maimonides offers a summary and critique of the Kalām's discussion of these four topics (1:71–76). His exposition rests on Aristotelian physical and metaphysical principles (2: Introd.), and he sets down four proofs, current in his day, for the existence of God: the proofs from motion, from the composition of elements, from necessity and contingency, and from potentiality and actuality (casuality). All of them start with some observable property of the world and conclude that a prime mover, a necessary existent, or a first cause (all of which are identified with God) must exist. These proofs for the existence of God lead in turn to proofs for His unity and incorporeality (2:1).
Maimonides next discusses the incorporeal intelligences, which he identifies with the biblical angels, the celestial spheres (2:2–12), and then the creation of the world (2:13–26). A good part of his exposition is devoted to showing that the Aristotelian arguments for the eternity of the world are not conclusive demonstrations; they only attempt to show that eternity is more plausible than creation. Maimonides' own position is that the human mind is incapable of conclusively demonstrating the eternity of the world or its creation and can only present plausible arguments for either view. An examination of these arguments reveals that those for creation are more plausible, and on this basis Maimonides accepts the doctrine of creation ex nihilo as his own. He finds additional support for his opinion in the teachings of Scripture. Although the world has a beginning in time, it will not have an end (2:27–29).
In the introduction to the Guide Maimonides incidentally discussed the nature of the prophetic experience, likening it to intellectual illumination; in the present section (2:32–48) he is interested in the psychology of prophecy and in its political function. Prophecy, for Maimonides, appears to be a natural phenomenon occurring when man's psychological faculties, particularly his intellect and imagination, have reached a certain perfection. God's role is limited to keeping someone who has met all the prerequisites from becoming a prophet. The prophet requires a well-developed imagination, because besides being a philosopher, he is also a statesman who brings a law, as in the case of Moses, or admonishes the people (who must be persuaded by arguments of the imagination) to adhere to a law, as in the case of the other prophets. Moses as a prophet is singular and so is his law, since through it one can attain intellectual as well as moral perfection. Maimonides concludes the portion of the Guide devoted to physical and metaphysical topics with an interpretation of the divine chariot (merkavah) described in Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10 (3:1–7).
The first topic of practical philosophy is the existence of evil (3:8–12), which Maimonides defines as the absence or privation of good. There is more good than evil in the world; of the three kinds of evil – natural evil, such as earthquakes, political, such as wars, and moral, such as the various vices – the majority, i.e., political and moral evils, can be remedied by man. Closely related to the question of evil is that of divine providence (3:16–21). Maimonides rejects the opinions of the Epicureans that everything is due to chance; the Aristotelians that there is no individual providence; the Ashʿarites that there is only individual providence, extending even to animals and minerals; and the Muʿtazilites that individual providence includes animals but not minerals; and he presents instead the views of the Torah. All Jews are agreed that God is just, that man is free, and that individual providence extends only to man. According to Maimonides' understanding of the Jewish view, individual providence depends on the development of the human mind, that is, the more a man develops his mind the more he is subject to the providence of God. Maimonides also holds that any suffering in this world is punishment for some prior sin, rejecting the doctrine of yissurin shel ahavah, according to which God may afflict man in this world in order to reward him in the next. Maimonides interprets the Book of Job in the light of his discussion of providence, showing how the characters of the book symbolize the various viewpoints about providence that he had discussed (3:22–24).
Rejecting the Muʿtazilite distinction between commandments produced by reason (mitzvot sikhliyyot) and those coming from the will of God (mitzvot shimiyyot), Maimonides maintains that all the commandments of the Torah are the result of the wisdom of God. Hence, all are intelligible, some (mishpatim) easily, others (ḥukkim) with difficulty. However, Maimonides adds that particular commandments, which by their very nature are not subject to reason, were stipulated by the will of God. The Torah has two purposes: the well-being of the soul (intellect) and the well-being of the body, by which he means man's political and moral well-being. The well-being of the soul is achieved through assent to true beliefs, such as the existence and incorporeality of God, which are true in themselves. However, there are also necessary beliefs, such as that God gets angry at those who disobey Him, whose main function is to motivate men to obey the Law. Reasons for moral laws can easily be found, but it is more difficult to explain the numerous ritual laws found in the Bible. Maimonides explains many of them, for example, the biblical prohibition against wearing garments made of wool and linen combined, as reactions to ancient pagan practices (3:25–50). He concludes his Guide with a supplementary section on the perfect worship of God and man's perfection (3:51–54).
Maimonides barely refers to eschatology in the Guide, but he develops his views on the subject in other works. The Messiah is an earthly king descended from the House of David, who will bring the Jews back to their country, but whose main task will be to bring peace and tranquility to the world, thereby facilitating the full observance of the Law. The Messiah will die of old age; he will be succeeded by his son, and the latter, by his son, and so on. No cataclysmic events will take place in messianic times; the world will continue in its established order. In that time the dead will be resurrected with body and soul united, but later they will die again. The central notion of Maimonides' eschatology is olam ha-ba ("the world to come"), where the intellect will exist without the body and contemplate God.
When, after the period of Maimonides, the setting of Jewish philosophy shifted to Christian countries and its language became Hebrew (see above), the philosophic literature produced by Jews during the preceding period was translated from Arabic into Hebrew, as were many scientific and philosophic works written by Muslims (see Steinschneider, Uebersetzungen). Among the translators of this vast literature were Judah, Samuel, and Moses ibn Tibbon, Jacob Anatoli, Jacob ben Makhir, and *Kalonymus ben Kalonymus. Maimonides' Guide was the most influential work translated; next in importance were Averroes' commentaries on the works of Aristotle. Of the 38 commentaries that Averroes composed, 36 were translated into Hebrew (see H.A. Wolfson, in: Speculum, 38 (1963), 88–104). Under Averroes' influence, Jewish philosophy turned toward a more extreme rationalism (for details see below), and some Jewish philosophers attempted to harmonize the opinions of Maimonides and Averroes on topics on which these two philosophers differed.
Maimonides' attempt to formulate a rationalistic account of Judaism produced controversies between his followers and their opponents that lasted throughout the 13th and into the early 14th century. The controversy reached such intensity that the two sides excommunicated each other, and they even went so far as to call in the Church authorities, who burned the Guide and Sefer ha-Madda in 1232. Another highlight was the ban of Solomon b. Abraham *Adret, issued in 1305, which prohibited the study of physics and metaphysics before the age of 25 (for an account of these controversies, see *Maimonidean Controversy). During the early 13th century, some philosophers were still active in the Islamic world. Joseph b. Judah ibn *Aknin (flourished in Morocco), Maimonides' younger contemporary, composed a number of talmudic and philosophic works, among them a commentary on the Song of Songs, a commentary on Avot, and a work on moral philosophy, Ṭibb al-Nufūs al-Salīma wa Muʿālajat al-Nufūs al-Alīma ("The Hygiene of the Healthy Souls and the Therapy of Ailing Souls"), which contains an interesting account of the content and order of religious and secular studies among Jews. Joseph b. Judah ibn Sham'un (d. 1226), the disciple for whom Maimonides wrote his Guide, composed a small metaphysical work on the necessary existent, how all things proceed from it, and on creation. The early portion of the work follows Avicennian Aristotelianism, and the latter portion, the teachings of Kalām. It is likely that the kalamic section predated Ibn Sham'un's acquaintance with Maimonides. *Abraham b. Moses b. Maimon (1186–1237), Maimonides' only son, followed the teachings of his father and defended them against opponents. However, in his Kitāb Kifāyat al-ʿAbidīn ("Comprehensive Guide for the Servants of God"), he advocates a Sufi-like Jewish pietism.
In southern France, Samuel ibn *Tibbon, the translator of the Guide and other works, composed Perush me-ha-Millot ha-Zarot, a philosophical glossary for the Guide, philosophical commentaries on Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs, and Ma'amar Yikkavu ha-Mayim (on Gen. 1:9), devoted to physical and metaphysical topics. He favored the allegorical interpretation of the Bible, and is said to have held that the Bible was primarily for the masses.
Jacob *Anatoli (13th century), active as a translator at the court of the emperor Frederick II, wrote Malmad ha-Talmidim, a philosophical commentary on the Pentateuch. In this work he quotes the Christian scholar Michael Scot (he even cites the emperor), and he shows acquaintance with Christian literature and institutions. He followed the allegorical interpretation of Scripture and preached philosophical sermons publicly. This earned him the anger of the anti-Maimonists.
Shem Tov b. Joseph ibn *Falaquera (c. 1225–c. 1295), translator and author of many works devoted largely to ethics and psychology, also wrote Moreh ha-Moreh, a commentary on Maimonides' Guide. In this commentary he corrects Ibn Tibbon's translation of the Guide on the basis of the Arabic original, and he cites parallel passages from the works of Islamic philosophers, particularly from Averroes. In his Iggeret ha-Vikku'aḥ, a dialogue between a philosopher and an opponent of philosophy, he justifies the study of philosophy. In his Sefer ha-Nefesh he follows Avicenna, but in his encyclopedic work De'ot ha-Pilosofim he follows Averroes. He translated and condensed Ibn Gabirol's Mekor Ḥayyim from Arabic into Hebrew.
Joseph ibn *Kaspi (c. 1279–c. 1340), prolific author of biblical commentaries, lexicographic works, and books on philosophy, wrote a commentary on the Guide, consisting of an exoteric and esoteric part entitled, respectively, Ammudei Kesef and Maskiyyot Kesef. This commentary was influenced by that of Shem Tov b. Joseph ibn Falaquera and in turn influenced later commentaries on the Guide. He accepts doctrines associated with the teachings of Averroes, such as the identity of religion and philosophy, the eternity of the world, and the natural interpretation of miracles, but he tries to modify these doctrines in a way that distinguishes him from such extreme rationalists as Moses of Narbonne and Levi b. Gershom.
*Hillel b. Samuel (c. 1220–1295), one of the first Jewish philosophers in Italy, translated from Latin to Hebrew the Neoplatonic work Liber de causis and composed Tagmulei ha-Nefesh ("The Rewards of the Soul"). Since he knew Latin, he was able to draw on the opinions of Christian scholastics, particularly those of Thomas Aquinas. In Aristotelian fashion, Hillel defined the soul as the entelechy of a natural organic body, but, following Avicenna and the Neoplatonists, he held that the soul is a substance that emanates from God through the intermediacy of the supernal soul. He also cites Averroes' opinion that there is only one universal soul for all men, from which individual souls emanate like rays from the sun. However, on the question of the material or potential intellect he criticizes Averroes, using arguments offered by Aquinas. Averroes had argued that there exists only one such intellect for all men, but Hillel argued that each person has his own material intellect. On the question of the active intellect, Hillel accepts the opinion of the Islamic and Jewish Aristotelians, for whom the active intellect was the lowest of the celestial intelligences; in this he differed from Aquinas, who held that each person has his own active intellect. According to Hillel, only the rational part of the soul is immortal, and its ultimate happiness consists in union with the active intellect. In its immortal state the soul retains its individuality. Hillel also composed a commentary on the 26 propositions appearing at the beginning of the second part of Maimonides' Guide.
Isaac *Albalag (second half of 13th century, probably lived in Spain) translated Al-Ghazālī's Maqāṣid al-Falāsifa (a compendium of the teachings of Avicenna) into Hebrew and presented his own views in a commentary on the work entitled Tikkunha-De'ot. A follower of Averroes, who accepted such doctrines as the eternity of the world, he has also been described as a proponent of the theory of the "double truth," advocated by Latin Averroists. Like the Latin Averroists he distinguished between two coexistent independent truths, philosophic truth and prophetic truth, and he held that the two can contradict one another. However, he does not cite in his work any instance of such contradiction (see G. Vajda, Isaac Albalag (1960), 251ff.). His outlook is not completely clear, but it seems that his own view on a given topic is always that of philosophy. He maintained that speculative truths are the province of philosophy, not of Scripture. The Torah has as its sole purpose the moral and political guidance of the masses and contains no speculative truths, even by implication. Nevertheless, Albalag offers philosophic interpretations of the Bible; for example, he explained the story of creation in accordance with the doctrine of the eternity of the world. In a somewhat different vein, he states that if philosophic and prophetic truths contradict each other, both should stand, and one should say that the prophetic truth is unintelligible.
The first half of the 14th century saw a debate concerning the freedom of the will initiated by *Abner of Burgos. Abner, who converted to Christianity, presented his views in Minḥat Kena'ot; although the work was written after his conversion, it seems clear that he held the same views when he was still a Jew. Following Avicenna, whose opinions he knew through their summary in al-Ghazālī's Maqāṣid al-Falāsifa, he held that human acts no less than natural occurrences are causally determined. Although the will has the ability to choose between alternatives, any given choice is determined, in fact, by causes influencing the will. Causal determination of the will is also required by God's omniscience and omnipotence: were human actions undetermined until the moment of decision, God could not foreknow them, and, also, His power would be limited. Abner tried to justify the existence of divine commandments and reward and punishment: divine commandments can be among the causes affecting the will, and reward and punishment are necessary consequences of human actions. Abner viewed biblical and rabbinic statements affirming freedom of the will as concessions to the understanding of the masses. Isaac *Pollegar, who knew Abner personally, attacked his determinism in his Ezer ha-Dat. According to Pollegar's solution, which contains difficulties of its own, there is a correlation between the divine and human wills, such that at the moment man wills to do a certain act, God also wills that it be accomplished. In willing that the act be accomplished, God also knows it. Yet, although this knowledge begins in time, there is no change in God. Whatever the difficulties of this position, it is clear that Pollegar tried to defend the freedom of the will by limiting God's foreknowledge. Levi b. Gershom (see below) solved the problem in a more radical fashion. Holding that God's knowledge extends only to species and not to individuals, he excluded man's action from God's knowledge, thereby safeguarding human freedom.
Moses b. Joshua of Narbonne (d. after 1362) was another participant in the debate. He wrote commentaries on works by Averroes and other Muslim philosophers (including al-Ghazālī'sMaqāṣid) and also an important commentary on Maimonides' Guide. Although he held Maimonides in high esteem, he criticized a number of his doctrines, which under the influence of Al-Fārābi and Avicenna had a Neoplatonic complexion; he opposes these doctrines with the more strictly Aristotelian teachings of Averroes. His critique of Abner is found in Ha-Ma'amar bi-Veḥirah, and he also discusses human freedom in other works. However, his position is not completely clear. In some passages he holds in agreement with Maimonides that God's knowledge extends to particular human acts without determining these acts; in others he holds that God knows only species, not individuals. The latter opinion was probably Moses' real view.
*Levi b. Gershom (1288–1344), also known as Gersonides, mathematician, astronomer, and biblical commentator, wrote supercommentaries on many of Averroes' commentaries on Aristotle (still unpublished) and was the author of a philosophic work, Sefer Milḥamot Adonai ("The Book of the Wars of the Lord"). The most important Jewish Aristotelian after Maimonides, he was influenced by Averroes, though he is also critical of some of his views (see below). In Milḥamot Levi discusses in great detail and with scholastic subtlety topics that in his view Maimonides had not discussed sufficiently or had solved incorrectly. In the six parts of his work he deals with immortality of the soul; foretelling the future; God's knowledge of individual contingent beings; the celestial bodies, their movers, and God; and the creation of the world. Milḥamot is formally devoted to these six topics, but, together with his other works, it indicates Levi's general philosophy.
Levi begins his discussion of immortality (treatise 1) with an extensive review and critique of various theories concerning the intellect. The Aristotelian philosophers had distinguished between the material or passive intellect, the active intellect, and the acquired intellect. Rejecting Themistius' and Averroes' opinions concerning the passive intellect, Levi accepts an opinion close to that of Alexander of Aphrodisias, namely, that the passive intellect is a predisposition inhering in the sensitive soul and comes into being with each individual man. Under the influence of the active intellect, the lowest of the incorporeal intelligences, the passive intellect is actualized and becomes the acquired intellect. While the passive intellect dies with the body, the acquired intellect is immortal. Differing from Averroes, for whom immortality was collective, Levi holds that each acquired intellect retains its individuality in its immortal state.
The ability to foretell the future was accepted as an established fact by the adherents of religion and philosophers alike, and Levi set out to explain this fact (treatise 2). Maintaining that there is a continuity between the celestial and terrestrial world, Levi holds that terrestrial events, particularly those related to man, are caused by the celestial spheres. Since the events of human life are thus ordered, it is possible that there are certain individuals who can foretell them. However, Levi is not a complete determinist. Discussing the problem of celestial (astrological) influences from another perspective, he holds that man is free in choosing his actions and that those who understand the laws of the celestial spheres can avoid the evil influences they may have. Since the active intellect both actualizes the human intellect and is a cause in the production of sublunar substances and events, it also causes knowledge of the future. In men who have strongly developed intellects the active intellect produces prophecy; in men who have strongly developed imaginations it causes (indirectly) divination and true dreams.
Discussing God's knowledge of individuals in the sublunar world (treatise 3), Levi is critical of Maimonides. Maimonides held that God knows particulars and met the objection that this seems to introduce a change in God by holding that God's knowledge is completely different from ours. Levi took this objection seriously and denied that God knows particular individuals. God only knows the order of nature. Closely related to God's knowledge of individuals is the question of providence (treatise 4). Levi rejected the theories that God's providence extends only to the species or that it extends equally to all men; he maintained that it extends only to those individuals who have developed their intellect. Like Maimonides, he held that the more an individual develops his intellect, the more he is subject to providence.
Levi's account of the celestial spheres, their movers, and God (treatise 5) need not detain us, except for one aspect of his account of God, namely divine attributes (5:2, 12; see also 3:5). Maimonides, following Avicenna, had denied that attributes applied to God can have any positive meaning. Levi, following Averroes, accepted the alternative that Maimonides had rejected. Holding that essential attributes are identical with the essence to which they belong, Levi maintained that to understand such attributes positively does not introduce a multiplicity into God. He also held that such attributes (life, knowledge, and so on) whether applied to God or man have the same meaning, though they are applied to God primarily and to creatures derivatively.
In his account of creation (treatise 6), Levi agrees with Maimonides that Aristotle's proofs for the eternity of the world are not conclusive arguments, though Aristotle's arguments are the best offered so far. However, against Aristotle, Levi presents a number of arguments designed to show that the world is created, among them one from the finiteness of time and motion. (Levi also rejects the Neoplatonic theory of emanation.) However, Levi differs from Maimonides and most Jewish philosophers in denying creation ex nihilo, holding that the world was created out of a formless matter coexistent with God, though this matter is not a principle paralleling God. He concludes his Milḥamot with a discussion of miracles and prophets, which reflects his general rationalistic temper.
Judah Halevi and Ḥibat Allah Abu al-Barakāt al-Baghdādī had criticized the doctrines of the Aristotelians, but the most significant critique within the mainstream of Jewish philosophy was that of Ḥasdai Crescas (d. 1412?). Although Crescas was critical of certain Aristotelian notions, he did not oppose philosophic speculations altogether; in fact, he proposed philosophic notions of his own to replace the Aristotelian notions he rejected. Nevertheless, in his conception of Judaism he emphasized observance of commandments and love of God rather than intellectual accomplishments. His critique of Aristotle as well as his own philosophy are found in Or Adonai ("The Light of the Lord"); he also wrote a work in Spanish criticizing Christianity, which has been preserved in Hebrew as Bittul Ikkarei ha-Noẓerim ("Refutation of the Dogmas of the Christians").
Maimonides' formulation of 13 principles of Judaism sparked a lively debate in the late Middle Ages. Taking issue with Maimonides, Crescas uses his own account of such principles as the framework of his book. According to Crescas, the basic principles of all religions are the existence, unity, and incorporeality of God (treatise 1). These are followed by six principles required for a belief in the validity of the Torah: God's knowledge of existing things, providence, divine omnipotence, prophecy, human freedom, and purpose in the Torah and the world (treatise 2). Next come eight true beliefs, which every adherent of the Torah must accept, and a denial of which constitutes heresy: creation of the world, immortality of the soul, reward and punishment, resurrection of the dead, eternity of the Torah, superiority of the prophecy of Moses, efficacy of the Urim and Thummim (worn by the high priest) in predicting the future, and the coming of the Messiah (treatise 3). The book concludes with 13 questions on topics ranging from whether there exists more than one world to the existence of demons.
Crescas' critique of Aristotle is found largely in an exposition and critical evaluation of the 26 physical and metaphysical propositions with which Maimonides had begun the second part of his Guide (see H.A. Wolfson, Crescas' Critique of Aristotle, 1929). Of special interest are Crescas' conception of space and infinity. The Aristotelians had defined place (rather than space) as the inner surface of a surrounding body; they had argued that there are no empty spaces (vacuum) in the world, and that the universe is finite and unitary. They also had held that an actual infinite cannot exist. Taking issue with them, Crescas set out to show that empty space without bodies can exist (it is identical with extension), that a vacuum can and does exist, that space beyond our world exists, and that there can be more than one world. He also differed from the Aristotelians in maintaining that an actual infinite (space, quantity, magnitude, time) can exist.
Crescas' acceptance of the existence of an actual infinite raised questions concerning the Maimonidean (Aristotelian) proofs of the existence of God. Since the proofs rested on the proposition that an actual infinite is impossible, Crescas rejected them. However, he retains the proof from necessity and contingency, which to his mind is independent of the disputed principle. In view of difficulties, he also substitutes proofs of his own for the unity and incorporeality of God. Against Maimonides, Crescas affirms the possibility of positive attributes applied to God.
God's knowledge, according to Crescas, extends to particulars; He knows the nonexistent and He knows future contingents without removing their contingent character. Crescas also upholds individual providence and states that man's true reward or punishment, dependent on obedience or disobedience of God's will, is given in the hereafter. A similar attitude also determines Crescas' conception of prophecy. God can inspire whomever he wishes, but the one chosen for prophecy is someone who follows the Torah and loves God. Of special interest is Crescas' conception of human freedom. While Maimonides and Levi ben Gershom in different ways safeguarded the freedom of human actions, Crescas' solution is more deterministic. He holds that everything in the world is the result of prior causes and affirms that God's omniscience requires that the object of His foreknowledge come to pass. Human actions are caused by a will determined by other causes, not by an undetermined will. Crescas tried to mitigate this position by stating that commandments, training, and other factors are among the causes influencing the will and that, despite being determined, the will in its own nature is contingent. Crescas' anti-Aristotelian stance is also apparent in his doctrine of man. In place of development of the intellect as the main purpose of human life is the observance of God's commandments; not philosophic speculation but the love and fear of God bring immortality to man. It is the soul that is immortal, not the acquired intellect.
After the period of Crescas, medieval Jewish philosophy declined. It became more eclectic and most philosophers accepted a more orthodox religious position. Simeon b. Ẓemaḥ *Duran, talmudist and author of a philosophic theological work, Magen Avot, generally followed the moderate rationalism of Maimonides, though, like Crescas, he maintained that divine attributes can have a positive meaning, that immortality comes through observance of the commandments, and that divine providence extends to all men. In the introduction to his commentary on Job, entitled Ohev Mishpat, Duran also contributes to the discussion of dogmas. Emphasizing the centrality of a belief in revelation, Duran listed three dogmas, the existence of God, revelation, and reward and punishment, which became the foundations of Joseph Albo's philosophy.
Joseph *Albo (15th century), a student of Crescas, presented his views in Sefer ha-Ikkarim ("Book of Principles"), an eclectic, popular work, whose central task is the exposition of the principles of Judaism. Albo, following Duran, held that there are three basic principles (ikkarim) necessary for the existence of a divine law: the existence of God, revelation, and reward and punishment. From these principles follow eight derivative principles (shorashim): from the existence of God there follow God's unity, incorporeality, timelessness, and perfection; from revelation, God's omniscience and prophecy and authentication of the prophet; from reward and punishment, individual providence. The denial of these principles, no less than the denial of the first three, makes one a heretic (kofer). There are, furthermore, six branches (anafim): creation ex nihilo, the superiority of Moses as a prophet, immutability of the Torah, guarantee of immortality through the observance of any one commandment, resurrection of the dead, and the coming of the Messiah. Although it is proper that every Jew accept these branches, and although their denial makes him a sinner, it does not make him a heretic. Albo also criticizes the opinions of his predecessors concerning principles of Judaism. Sefer ha-Ikkarim is divided into four treatises. The first deals with the general principles of laws, the three ikkarim, and how a genuine divine law can be distinguished from a spurious one; each of the other three treatises is devoted to an exposition of a basic principle and of the principles derived from it. In his preliminary discussion (Ikkarim, 1:7ff.) Albo distinguishes three kinds of law: natural, conventional, and divine. Natural law is the same for all persons, times, and places; conventional law is ordered by a wise man in accord with reason; divine law is given by God through a prophet. It is only divine law that can lead man to true happiness and immortality. Albo's work contains explicit and implicit polemics against Christianity (for example 3:25), which are very likely the result of his participation in the debates at Tortosa and San Mateo (1413–14).
The tension of the age is well illustrated by the Shem Tov family. Shem Tov b. Joseph *Ibn Shem Tov (c. 1380–1441), a kabbalist and opponent of Greek philosophy, attacked in his Sefer ha-Emunot, not only such extreme rationalists as Albalag and Levi ben Gershom, but even more fiercely Maimonides himself. His son Joseph b. Shem Tov *Ibn Shem Tov (d. c. 1480), who greatly admired Aristotle and Maimonides, tried to rehabilitate philosophy by improving its rapport with religious Orthodoxy. He attempted to show that Aristotle really believed in individual providence, and that when Aristotle stated that man's happiness comes through contemplation, he had in mind only happiness in this world, leaving room for happiness in the next dependent on the observance of the Torah. Shem Tov b. Joseph *Ibn Shem Tov, who bore the same name as his grandfather, continued his father's philosophical interest in a commentary on Maimonides' Guide (composed 1488), in which he defends Maimonides against the attacks of Crescas. His contemporary, Abraham *Shalom, in his work Neveh Shalom, also defended Maimonides against Crescas. Isaac b. Moses *Arama (1420–1494) wrote a philosophic-homiletical commentary on the Pentateuch, entitled Akedat Yiẓḥak.
The last Jewish philosopher in Spain was the statesman Isaac *Abrabanel (1437–1508), who went into exile with his fellow Jews in 1492. He admired Maimonides greatly (he wrote a commentary on the Guide); nevertheless he opposed the rationalistic interpretation of Judaism. Thus he held, for example, that prophecy was caused by God Himself, not by the active intellect. His attitude also emerges in his work Rosh Amanah, in which he defends Maimonides' 13 principles with great subtlety against all those who had taken issue with them; but in the end he states that only the commandments of the Torah count. Abrabanel's account of history and political life was novel. In his commentary on the beginning of Genesis he held that God willed that man be satisfied with what nature provides and concentrate on cultivation of his spirit. However, men were dissatisfied and produced civilizations to gain further possessions. These civilizations distracted them from their true goal. Abrabanel had a similar attitude toward the state. Man's condition, as ordained by God, was to live in loose associations, but as man's desires increased, he organized states. States are evil in themselves, since they detract man from his true goal. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Jewish philosophy continued in Italy, where it had begun in the 13th century. Abrabanel, in fact, wrote his most important works in Italy. His son Judah *Abrabanel, known as Leone Ebreo (c. 1460–after 1523), under the influence of Renaissance Platonism, wrote a general philosophic work entitled Dialoghi di Amore ("Dialogues of Love"). Earlier, an Italian Jew, *Judah b. Jehiel (Messer Leon; 15th century), had written a work on rhetoric in Hebrew, which drew on Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintillian. He also wrote on logic.
Elijah *Delmedigo (c. 1460–1497), born in Crete, lived for a time in Italy, where he exchanged views with Christian Platonists. He had lectured at the University of Padua, and at the request of *Pico della Mirandola he translated works by Averroes from Hebrew into Latin. He also wrote independent works on philosophic topics, including Behinat ha-Dat ("The Examination of Religion"), a work based on a treatise by Aver-roes, in which he investigated the relation of philosophy and religion. Like Averroes, he held that the masses must accept Scripture literally, while philosophers may interpret it. However, he denied philosophers the right to interpret the basic principles of Judaism. Like the Latin Averroists, he envisaged religion and philosophy as independent disciplines that may be mutually contradictory. If this should happen, the philosopher must accept the teachings of religion. He modified this position by maintaining that it is permissible to interpret philosophically doctrines which do not affect a basic principle and by affirming that, in fact, basic principles do not conflict with reason.
Joseph Solomon *Delmedigo (1591–1655), a descendant of Elijah, was influenced by the theories of Galileo; but he did not free himself completely from certain medieval notions. He accepted the heliocentric theory of the universe and also denied that there is any distinction between the celestial and terrestrial realm. He criticized the Aristotelian notion of form, holding that material substance and its qualities are adequate to explain the world. He also rejected the Aristotelian notion that incorporeal movers of the spheres exist. His conception of the soul follows the Platonic notion that the soul is a substance joined to the body, and his view of the active intellect follows Aquinas' view that it is located within the individual human soul. In addition to defending these philosophic views, Delmedigo also defended the Kabbalah, though he mocked its superstitions.
Two Jewish philosophers, Gabirol and Maimonides, influenced Christian thought extensively through Latin translations of their major works. Gabirol's Mekor Ḥayyim was translated into Latin as Fons Vitae in the middle of the 12th century; Maimonides' Guide was translated as Dux (Director) Neutrorum (Dubitantium, Perplexorum) about a century later. Gabirol's Fons Vitae, together with the writings of Augustine and of Islamic philosophers, molded the Neoplatonic component of Christian scholastic thought. *William of Auvergne, while disagreeing with some of his views, described Gabirol as "one of the noblest of all philosophers," and he identified Gabirol's (divine) will with the Christian logos. Gabirol is also considered a proponent of the doctrine of the multiplicity of forms, according to which several substantial forms exist within a given substance. However, by far the best known of Gabirol's teachings was his notion that spiritual substances (the angels and the human soul), no less than corporeal substances, are composed of matter and form. This doctrine became the subject of a lively debate among scholastics. Among those who accepted Gabirol's view were *Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure, and *Duns Scotus; among those who rejected it were *Albertus Magnus and Thomas *Aquinas. In general the Franciscans accepted this doctrine, the Dominicans rejected it. Among Christian scholastics who were influenced by Maimonides were Alexander of Hales, William of Auvergne, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Meister *Eckhart, and Duns Scotus. Aquinas, for example, was influenced by Maimonides in his account of the relation of faith and reason, in his proofs for the existence of God, and in his opinion that the creation of the world in time cannot be demonstrated by philosophic arguments. However, he polemicized against Maimonides' opinion that all essential attributes applied to God must be understood as negations, against his description of the celestial movers, and against his identifying angels with the incorporeal intelligences.
Islamic philosophy and its Greek antecedents provided the foundations for medieval Jewish philosophy during its two phases. There were also Christian scholastic influences on Jewish philosophers who knew Latin: for example, Hillel b. Samuel was influenced by Aquinas and Albalag, by the Latin Averroists. But even those Jewish philosophers who did not know Latin had, in time, access to scholastic thought through Hebrew translations. As was to be expected, the works translated dealt with philosophical rather than theological topics. Among the scholastics from whose works translations were made were Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Aegidius Romanus, Peter of Spain, and William of Ockham. Among the translators were Judah *Romano, Elijah *Habillo, and Abraham Shalom. S. Pines has advanced the view that, while Jewish philosophers do not cite works by late medieval scholastics, they were familiar with the problems they discussed. He has argued that physical and metaphysical notions of Duns Scotus, Buridan, Oresme, Albert of Saxony, and William of Ockham influenced Jedaiah ha-Penini Bedersi, Levi b. Gershom, Joseph ibn Kaspi and Hasdai Crescas (S. Pines, Scholasticism after Thomas Aquinas and the Teachings of Ḥasdai Crescas and his Predecessors, 1967).
Modern Jewish philosophy shared with Hellenistic and medieval Jewish philosophy a concern for relating general philosophy to Judaism, and it discussed some of the same problems that had been discussed in earlier Jewish philosophy; but, at the same time, it differed from Hellenistic and medieval Jewish philosophy in several respects. For one thing it differed in its conception of Jewish tradition. For Hellenistic and medieval Jewish philosophers, Judaism, with its Oral and Written Law, was the revealed word of God which was binding in its totality for all times. While there were modern Jewish thinkers who accepted the traditional position, most of them considered Judaism a creation of human thought, intuition, or feeling, which had developed in history and, which, while containing a perennial core, also contained parts which could be discarded in modern times. Then again, it differed in its conception of science and philosophy. Hellenistic and medieval Jewish philosophers accepted the notion of a geocentric universe with a sharp distinction between its terrestrial and celestial parts – a universe that manifests design and purpose. Modern Jewish philosophers accepted the notion of a heliocentric universe with no distinction between its terrestrial and celestial parts, a universe governed by the necessary laws of nature. Moreover, pre-modern Jewish thinkers saw no sharp distinction between science and philosophy, had strong metaphysical interests, and emphasized that the development of the human mind was the purpose of human life and morality was only a prerequisite for the fulfillment of this goal. Modern Jewish philosophers saw science as distinct from philosophy, and while those following the idealist tradition retained metaphysical interests and emphasized the primacy of intellectual cognition, there were many who denied the possibility (or at least the importance) of metaphysics, emphasizing instead the study of ethics and the centrality of proper conduct for attaining the goal of human life. It can readily be seen that it was easier to reconcile pre-modern philosophy with Jewish teachings than modern philosophy. The Enlightenment and the Emancipation also had a significant impact on modern Jewish thought. For example, the Enlightenment notion of a religion of reason which, consisting of rational beliefs and practices, was addressed to all men, was adopted by a number of Jewish philosophers of the modern period. Some, Mendelssohn for example, accepted this notion and investigated to what extent historical Judaism was identical with the religion of reason and to what extent different. Others, such as Hermann Cohen, went so far as to maintain that Judaism was the ideal embodiment of the religion of reason. The process of secularization initiated by the Enlightenment also had its impact on Jewish thought. While modern Jewish philosophy was still largely a religious philosophy, there arose Jewish thinkers who attempted to formulate secular philosophies of Judaism, and for whom Judaism was a culture or a social philosophy rather than a religious tradition (see also *Haskalah).
The impact of the Emancipation was felt in Western rather than in Eastern Europe, for in the East the Jewish community retained its social (even its political) identity into the 20th century. The progressive political and social emancipation of the Jews posed special problems for Jewish thinkers, one of these being the nature of the Jewish group. While pre-modern Jewish thinkers had no difficulty in accepting the notion that the Jews were a people, many modern Jewish thinkers considered Judaism a religion and the Jews a religious society (Religionsgemeinschaft), thereby emphasizing that only their religion distinguished Jews from other citizens. The Emancipation also influenced the concept of the Messiah. Whereas in classical Jewish thought the Messiah was a king from the House of David who would bring the Jews back to their own land, most modern Jewish thinkers gave up the belief in a personal Messiah, speaking instead of messianic times when all mankind would be united in justice and righteousness.
Another factor that influenced modern Jewish philosophy was the emergence of distinct religious groups within Judaism. While in former times, too, there were different groups within Judaism, e.g., Sadducees and Pharisees, and Rabbanites and Karaites, Jewish philosophy for the most part moved within the mainstream of classical rabbinic tradition. However, in the 19th century there developed three distinct groups within Judaism, each of which had its philosophers. *Neo-Orthodoxy upheld the classical formulation of Judaism but attempted to make modern culture relevant to Jewish concerns. The positive-historical school (which was to become in the United States in the 20th century the *Conservative movement) was committed to classical Jewish tradition but at the same time studied Judaism from a historical-critical perspective, maintaining that Judaism was subject to evolutionary development. Liberal (*Reform) Judaism was committed to a program of change, holding that the core of Judaism was ethics (ethical monotheism) and that ritual was subject to abrogation and change.
One further factor was the rise of modern antisemitism. In the case of some Jewish thinkers (Hermann Cohen is a notable example) it was antisemitism that aroused their interest in Jewish thought. Antisemitism also produced in certain thinkers a despair of the promise of emancipation, which, together with the emergence of modern nationalism and classical Jewish messianic expectations, produced Zionism which advocated the reestablishment of a Jewish state, preferably in Ereẓ Israel. In its philosophic component modern Jewish thought followed the main currents of modern and contemporary Western philosophy, rationalism, Kantianism, idealism, existentialism, and pragmatism. There were also influences derived from British empiricism and positivism. Whereas medieval Jewish philosophy consisted of movements which had a certain continuity and structure, modern Jewish thought represents mainly the efforts of individual thinkers. In Western Europe the language of Jewish philosophy was the language of the country in which the philosopher lived, while in Eastern Europe its language was largely Hebrew.
Baruch (Benedict) *Spinoza (1632–1677) has sometimes been described as the first modern Jewish philosopher, but he cannot be considered part of the mainstream of the Jewish philosophic tradition. When in his Theologico-Political Treatise he set out to separate philosophy from religion (Introd., ch. 7, 14), he denied the possibility of a religious philosophy of any kind. Moreover, the pantheistic system of his Ethics, with its identity of God and nature, cannot be said to be in harmony with Jewish beliefs. Nevertheless, there are good reasons for including him in an account of Jewish philosophy: his ideas were influenced by medieval Jewish philosophers, particularly Maimonides and Crescas; he polemicized against the medieval understanding of such ideas as prophecy and miracles; modern Jewish philosophers discussed his ideas (pro and con); and his biblical criticism became one of the foundations of the liberal interpretation of Judaism to which many modern Jewish philosophers subscribed. From his medieval predecessors Spinoza accepted the distinction between a philosophic elite which can understand through reason and the masses which can understand only through imagination. Spinoza wrote his Ethics for philosophers, its object being to show that the good life and human happiness can be attained through reason without recourse to historical religion. (In the five parts of the Ethics he discusses God (1), mind (2), passions (3, 4), and human freedom (5).) Spinoza rejects the notion of a personal God who acts by will and design. Instead, God is an impersonal being who acts out of the necessity of His (Spinoza often retains theistic language) own nature and determines everything through His infinite power. God possesses an infinity of attributes, of which thought and extension are known to man; He also possesses modes. Everything that exists appears to be an aspect of God. The world and man lack any purpose other than to function in accordance with their necessary causes. Man also lacks free will. The greatest obstacle to the good life is enslavement to the passions, but man can free himself from this enslavement by understanding and controlling the passions. Philosophic understanding is the goal of human life, and Spinoza describes its highest form as "the intellectual love of the mind toward God." In his Theologico-Political Treatise Spinoza manifests a twofold interest in religion. He attempts, on the one hand, to show that philosophy is independent of religion, and, on the other, to show the ruler that he may enforce religious practices while granting the philosopher the freedom to philosophize. To show philosophy's freedom from religion, Spinoza develops a new method for interpreting the Bible. Holding that the Bible is a human document composed by different authors, at different times, and under different circumstances (a critical view he attributes to Abraham ibn Ezra), he maintains that it must be interpreted in accordance with ordinary canons of historical and literary exegesis. The new method brings him to the conclusion that the Bible is intellectually rather naïve (a product of the imagination rather than of reason), so that one should not expect to find any philosophical profundities in it. In spite of this evaluation, Spinoza does not reject the Bible altogether. While he held that the biblical religions had sunk to the level of superstition, and while he maintained that most of the biblical precepts could be discarded, he also stated that the Bible contains a viable core useful for the instruction of the masses. The Bible in its noblest core teaches "obedience to God in the singleness of heart and the practice of justice and charity." The Bible also contains seven dogmas of universal faith – God's existence, unity, omnipresence, power and will, man's obligation to worship God, salvation, and repentance – belief in which leads the masses to proper actions. While some of the dogmas reflect philosophic notions discussed in the Ethics, Spinoza presents them in the Treatise as products of the imagination. Spinoza applies his critical method primarily to the Hebrew Bible, but it can be applied to Christian Scripture as well. It appears that he considered Christianity a better embodiment than Judaism of the purified biblical religions which he favored. Jewish ceremonial law, political in its function, lost its validity with the destruction of the Jewish kingdom and hence was no longer obligatory. In passing he envisages the possibility that under the right conditions the Jews may once again establish their state.
Moses *Mendelssohn (1729–1786), champion of Jewish emancipation, translator of the Pentateuch into German, and biblical commentator, is generally considered the first Jewish philosopher of the modern period. Born in Dessau, where he was trained in traditional Jewish learning, he came to Berlin in 1743 and there acquired, through private study, knowledge of classical and modern languages, mathematics, and modern philosophy. His traditional training provided him with extensive familiarity with the medieval Jewish philosophers (whom he cites in his writings), and his modern training acquainted him with the thought of Locke, Leibniz, and Christian Wolff. As philosopher, Mendelssohn followed the pre-Kantian German Enlightenment, sharing with it the conviction that metaphysical knowledge is possible. He wrote on metaphysics, psychology, aesthetics, and also literary criticism. His main philosophical works were Phaedon (patterned after Plato's dialogue of the same name; 1767) and Morgenstunden (1785). In the former work he offered arguments for the immortality of the soul, and in the latter he discussed proofs for the existence of God.
Mendelssohn might never have presented his views on Judaism had it not been for the challenge of the Swiss theologian Johann Kaspar Lavater. In 1769 Lavater published his German translation of Charles Bonnet's La Palingénésie philosophique under the title Untersuchung der Beweise fuer das Christenthum, and in his introduction he challenged Mendelssohn to refute Bonnet's arguments or accept Christianity. Mendelssohn, who was not given to polemics, reluctantly accepted the challenge and in his reply professed his unshakable belief in Judaism and pointed out that Judaism tolerantly held that salvation is possible for all men, while Christianity limited salvation to its adherents. Mendelssohn presented his views on religion and Judaism more fully in his Jerusalem (1783), a work influenced by Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise. Like Spinoza, Mendelssohn (in the first part of the work) advocated the separation of state and church, holding that, while both contribute to human happiness, the state governs man's relation to his fellow man and the church man's relation to God. Ideally, the state should govern by educating its citizens, but practically it must compel them to obey the laws. The church should not possess secular power or own property and should promote its teachings only through instruction and admonition. Religion is a personal matter, and both state and church must guarantee freedom of conscience. In the second part of Jerusalem, Mendelssohn discusses the nature of religion and Judaism. Religion, for him, is the Enlightenment religion of reason which consists of rational and moral truths discoverable by all men. It is inconceivable to Mendelssohn that a benevolent God should restrict salvation to the adherents of a particular historical religion; salvation must be available to all men. Judaism, then, is not a revealed religion but revealed legislation. Insofar as it is a religion it is the religion of reason. However, whereas Spinoza had held that Jewish law had lost its validity with the cessation of the Jewish kingdom, Mendelssohn maintained that it was still binding for Jews; what has changed since the destruction of the Temple and the ancient Jewish state is only Jewish law's political enforceability, not its inherent divine authority. If there were to be changes, only a new revelation from God could make them. It is the purpose of Jewish law to preserve pure religious concepts free from idolatry, and it still fulfills this purpose in the modern world. It also serves to keep the Jewish community together. The Law compels man to action but also stimulates him to contemplation. Judaism consists of three parts: religious truths about God, His rule, and His providence, addressed to man's reason (but these are not presented as compelled beliefs); historical truths disclosing the purposes of the Jew's existence; and laws, precepts, commandments, and rules of conduct, the observance of which will bring happiness to individual Jews as well as to the Jewish community as a whole.
The two most important general philosophic influences on 19th- and (to some extent) 20th-century Jewish thought were the critical philosophy of *Kant and the idealistic philosophies of *Schelling and *Hegel. Kant was important for his denial of speculative metaphysics; for his sharp distinction between theoretical and practical (moral) philosophy; for making God, freedom, and immortality postulates of practical reason; for his account of duty, the categorical imperative, and the autonomy of the will; and for closely connecting ethics and religion. The idealist philosophers were important for affirming the spiritual nature of all reality and for their notion that history presents the progressive self-realization of spirit. Jewish philosophers used these philosophies in varying ways and combinations, holding that Judaism is the best embodiment of the religion of reason (Kant) or the religion of spirit (idealists).
Solomon *Formstecher (1808–1889), rabbi and leader of the Reform movement, developed his philosophy in Die Religion des Geistes (1841), a work combining idealist philosophy with a special concern for ethics. From Schelling he accepted the notion of a world soul which is manifest in the phenomena of nature; but, whereas for Schelling the world soul was bound to nature, Formstecher emphasized its transcendence and identified it with God. However, there is another manifestation of the world soul, and that is spirit, whose main characteristics are self-consciousness and freedom. When spirit becomes conscious of nature it produces physics; when it becomes conscious of itself it produces logic. There exists an ideal for spirit in each realm: aesthetic contemplation in nature; moral action in the realm of spirit. Corresponding to the two realms there are two forms of religion: the religion of nature, which considers the world as containing divine forces or which identifies nature with God; the religion of the spirit, which considers God as transcendent. There are also two corresponding goals for human life: for religion of nature it is to become one with God; for religion of the spirit it is to become like Him through moral actions. Historically, paganism embodied the religion of nature, Judaism, the religion of spirit. There exist two kinds of revelation: prehistoric revelation which consists of the ideal that spirit can attain, and historical revelation which is the gradual attainment of this ideal. Historical revelation occurs in natural religion as well as in the religion of the spirit; but in natural religion it comes to an end with the cognition of a God bound to nature, while in spiritual religion it tends toward the cognition of the transcendent God. The religion of the spirit is identical with absolute truth. (Formstecher does not succeed very well in harmonizing the idealist notion that man's final goal is understanding, with his emphasis on ethics.) The religion of the spirit is the religion of the Jews, but it had a historical development. Since Judaism developed in a pagan world, the religion of the spirit had to be the religion of a specific people. However, as Judaism progressed from objectivity to subjectivity (which consisted in the spirit's becoming more and more conscious of itself), it gained greater universalism. This occurred at first through the destruction of Jewish national life. However, since the world was still hostile, Judaism had to maintain its identity, but now as a theocracy of law. Formstecher maintained that the process of becoming more and more universal was about to come to an end in the modern world which was marked by the emancipation of the Jews, and the absolute truth of spiritual religion was about to emerge.
But spiritual religion also had to penetrate natural religion, and this occurred through Christianity and Islam. Since Christianity addressed itself to the pagan world, it combined the religion of the spirit with the thought of paganism. The history of Christianity is the struggle between Jewish and pagan elements. As Christianity developed historically, it freed itself more and more from its pagan elements. Since Christianity, even in the modern world, has not completely freed itself from these accretions, there is still room for Judaism as a separate religion. However, both religions strive toward the realization of the religion of the spirit. Judaism can prepare itself by stripping itself of its particularistic elements and its ceremonial law.
Samuel *Hirsch (1815–1889), rabbi and Reform leader, presented his views in Die Religionsphilosophie der Juden (1842), a work influenced by Hegel. Hirsch considered it the task of philosophy to transform the content of religious consciousness into the content of spirit (mind), and for him religious and philosophic truth are identical. Central to Hirsch's thought is the notion of freedom. Man, by understanding himself as an "I" standing over against nature, becomes aware of his freedom. However, this freedom is abstract and must be given content. One such content is natural freedom, his ability to do whatever he desires. Hegel held that abstract and natural freedom were in conflict and that this conflict was ingrained in man. Not so Hirsch. He tried to preserve abstract freedom for man by holding that alternate courses of action are open to him. Man may sacrifice his freedom to nature, or he may control nature by means of his freedom. These courses of action have as their concomitants two kinds of awareness of God. According to both, God is the giver of freedom, but according to the first view nature becomes the divine principle; according to the second view God transcends nature. Understanding nature as divine produces paganism; understanding God as transcendental produces Judaism. Hirsch now analyzes the history of religion in a manner reminiscent of Formstecher. But whereas for Formstecher, paganism, being the partial recognition of spirit, has some redeeming features, for Hirsch, it does not. Whatever development paganism has, it is only to show its nothingness. Judaism also had a development, but only because it originated in a pagan world (Abraham lived in that world); but once it had become free by recognizing that the true nature of religion is moral freedom, no further development was necessary. In early times Judaism required prophecy and miracles to show that God is master of nature; but once the threat of paganism had passed these were no longer necessary. The only miracle still apparent is the continuous existence of the Jewish people. There is, however, a kind of development in Judaism, for once one has discovered the truth of ethical freedom for oneself one wants to spread it to others. This Judaism attains, not by missionizing but by bearing witness to its faith. There existed, however, a tendency to bring Jewish beliefs to the pagan world in an active fashion, and Jesus made this his task. Jesus still moved within the world of Judaism, but a break came with Paul. When Paul formulated a doctrine of original sin and redemption through Jesus, Christianity severed its ties with Judaism. Only when the work of Paul is undone will Christianity be able to fulfill its true mission. When Christianity reaches that stage it will be essentially identical with Judaism. However, even in messianic times, when Israel will become one with all mankind, it will retain a structure of its own.
Nachman *Krochmal (1785–1840), a representative of the East European Haskalah, presented his philosophy in his posthumously published (1851) Hebrew work Moreh Nevukhei ha-Zeman ("Guide of the Perplexed of the Time"). In this work Krochmal does not present his views in any great detail, and a good portion of the work is devoted to an analysis of Jewish history and literature, but his thought may be gathered from the introductory chapters (1–8) and from his discussion of the philosophy of Abraham ibn Ezra (ch. 17). Krochmal was influenced by German idealism, but scholars have debated whether the primary influence was Hegel or Schelling. He differed from Formstecher and Hirsch by emphasizing the speculative rather than the ethical content of religion, and he also differed from them in not accepting the distinction between nature and spirit, and between the religion of nature and the religion of spirit. For Krochmal all religions are concerned with the self-realization of human consciousness and all religions accept a belief in spiritual powers. Even the idolator does not worship the physical likeness but the spiritual power it represents. All religions are religions of the spirit and they differ only in degree. Yet there is a distinction between Judaism and other religions: Judaism is concerned with infinite "absolute spirit" (Krochmal's term is "the absolute spiritual"), while other religions are only concerned with finite spiritual powers. Krochmal affirms the identity of religious and philosophical truth, the only difference between them being that religion presents this truth in the form of representation, while philosophy presents it in conceptual form. There is, however, a distinction between Judaism and the other religions: Judaism had an awareness of absolute spirit from its beginnings, while the other religions were only aware of partial spiritual powers. Judaism underwent development; but this development was only a progression from a representational understanding of the absolute spirit to a conceptual understanding of it. The world for Krochmal is a world of spirit, and even inanimate nature is only a concretization of spirit. Since all existence is spirit, and since true existence can only belong to absolute spirit, i.e., God, the world is said to exist in God. This gives a decidedly pantheistic complexion to Krochmal's thought. He mitigates it somewhat by affirming that the world is descended (emanated) from God. This descent is the true meaning of the biblical account of creation. God creates the world by limiting Himself, thereby separating Himself from the world; nevertheless, His being, as has been noted, still permeates the world. The act of divine self-limitation appears to be a spontaneous act. Krochmal also interprets prophecy within the framework of his thought. Prophecy is the connecting of the human spirit with the divine and it can exist in all men; those in whom the connection exists strongly become prophets in actuality. The prophets also have the ability to predict the future, but they can only predict the future close to their own time. Thus Krochmal denies that the second part of Isaiah was written by the same prophet as the first; the author of the first was too far removed in time from the events described in the second part. He also professes a belief in miracles in the sense of direct divine intervention, but how this can be reconciled with the rest of his philosophy is not too clear.
Corresponding to his general philosophy, Krochmal also develops a philosophy of history. Each of the historical nations is subject to a spiritual power which determines its history and its culture. The gods in which each nation believes are an embodiment of this spiritual principle. Each nation undergoes a three-stage development: growth, maturity, and decline. Decline sets in when desire for luxury and power increases. Once a nation has declined, it ceases to exist and another nation comes to the fore. The accomplishments of the nation which has ceased to exist are often absorbed by the nation which takes its place (for example, the accomplishments of Greece by Rome); however, the Jewish nation manifests the triad – growth, maturity, and decline – it is the eternal people, exempt from extinction. Once a triadic period has come to an end a new one begins. Israel is exempt from the fate of other nations, because it had a belief in absolute spirit from the beginning. This belief makes Israel the teacher of all mankind and this is Israel's mission in the world. The spirit of the Jewish people flows from absolute spirit, and it is said that God dwells in Israel and that God's spirit rests on Israel. Krochmal divides Jewish history into four periods: the first extended from the period of the Patriarchs to the Babylonian Exile; the second from the Babylonian Exile to the revolt of Bar Kokhba; the third, which is not too clearly described, ended in the 17th century; and the fourth cycle was still going on in Krochmal's time.
While Formstecher, Hirsch, and Krochmal attempted to harmonize idealism and Judaism, Samuel David *Luzzatto (1800–1865), translator of the Bible into Italian and biblical commentator, was an outright opponent of philosophic speculation. He agreed with Mendelssohn that Judaism possesses no dogmas, but, unlike Mendelssohn, he affirmed that moral action leading to righteousness is the purpose of all (even the ritual) commandments. While he does not hold that Judaism lacks beliefs altogether, he considers it the function of religious beliefs to induce moral actions. It is conceivable to him that some religious beliefs may be false. Ethical activity, according to Luzzatto, springs from the feelings of honor and pity. In his Yesodei ha-Torah ("Foundations of the Torah," published posthumously in 1880) he enumerates three principles of Judaism: the feeling of pity, reward and punishment, and the election of Israel. The first of these is the basic principle; the other two have only an auxiliary function. A belief in reward and punishment is necessary because without it man would be governed by the evil part of his nature; the election of Israel is important for motivating Jews to ever higher ethical practices. Luzzatto distinguishes between Judaism, which aspires to moral action, and "Atticism," which has understanding as its goal. He maintains that cognition of God lies beyond the capacities of man, but he also holds that the existence of God can be demonstrated philosophically.
Solomon Ludwig *Steinheim (1789–1866), physician, poet, and philosopher, was also an outright opponent of philosophic rationalism. In his Offenbarung nach dem Lehrbegriff der Synagogue (4 vols., 1835–65) he defended the thesis that religious truth is only given through revelation. This meant to him not only that reason is inferior to revelation, but that when reason examines the contradictions contained within its content, it must recognize its own insufficiency. Revelation is not the product of human consciousness but comes from without, from God. (Steinheim does not deny that religion possesses cognitive content; but this content can only come through revelation, not through rational processes.) The truth of revelation is not confirmed by external signs but by reason, which clearly recognizes the superiority of revelation, and also that revelation meets human needs better than philosophy. Philosophy differs from religion in that philosophy conceives of all reality in terms of necessity, while religion understands it in terms of freedom. Corresponding to these approaches are two kinds of religion: natural religion which conceives of God as subject to the necessity of His own nature and as dependent on the matter on which he acts; revealed religion which understands God as the Creator Who, unbounded by necessity, creates the world freely and out of nothing. Creation, according to Steinheim, is the first principle of revelation; other principles are freedom, immortality of the soul, and (very likely) the unity of God. Steinheim applies the two conceptions of religion to the historical religions: paganism is the embodiment of natural (philosophical) religion; Judaism is the embodiment of revealed religion; and Christianity is a mixture of the two. As revealed religion, Judaism emphasizes, besides the cognitive principles mentioned before, human freedom and moral activity. Hence in his conclusions concerning the content of the Jewish religion, Steinheim differs little from Formstecher and Hirsch; but whereas the latter two philosophers saw Judaism grounded in reason, Steinheim sees it grounded in revelation.
Moritz *Lazarus (1824–1903), writer on psychology and philosophy, devoted Die Ethik des Judentums (The Ethics of Judaism; vol. i, 1898; vol. ii, published posthumously, 1911) to the philosophic interpretation of Jewish ethics. The avowed purpose of the work is to use philosophy to give a structured account of Jewish ethics; but he also uses philosophic concepts to analyze its content. He derives his main notions from Kant, but he gives these notions a psychological interpretation. From Kant, Lazarus accepts the notion of the autonomy of ethics, but to Lazarus this only meant that the sphere of ethics is independent. Whereas for Kant the autonomy of ethics further implied that ethics is independent of the emotions, Lazarus maintained that ethics is grounded in the emotions of duty and obligation. Religious ethics differs from philosophical ethics in that it recognizes God as the author of ethical imperatives. However, if ethical imperatives are given by God, ethics is no longer autonomous but heteronomous. Lazarus tries to solve this difficulty by stating that God is also subject to ethical imperatives. What God commands is right, but not because He commands it: rather He commands it because it is right. Judaism is essentially religious ethics, and even the ritual commandments have an ethical purpose. Jewish ethics are ethics for the individual, but even more for society. Lazarus also interprets the idea of holiness. God is holy, not because He is mysterious or remote but because he represents moral perfection. Man becomes holy through ever increasing moral activity.
Hermann *Cohen (1842–1918), founder of the Marburg school of neo-Kantianism, presented his views on religion in Der Begriff der Religion im System der Philosophie (1915) and his views on Judaism in Die Religion der Vernunft aus den Quellen des Judentums (published posthumously in 1919). While, in accordance with the development of his thought, Cohen's works on religion and Judaism were written only after he had retired from the University of Marburg (where from 1873–1912 he had a distinguished career) and had moved to Berlin (1912), he had strong Jewish loyalties throughout his life. As the title of Cohen's last work shows, he considered Judaism as the religion of reason, that is, in the Kantian sense, of practical reason; but, as will be seen, he tried to introduce into this conception the more personal aspects of the religious life. During the Marburg years Cohen wrote works commenting on the philosophy of Kant and also systematic works of his own. In his views on ethics, he followed Kant in holding that ethics is only concerned with the general category of man as a moral being, not with individual man in his singularity. In Cohen's Marburg system there is no room for religion as an independent sphere; it is merely a primitive form of ethics which will disappear once ethics has developed sufficiently. While Cohen always maintained that Judaism should preserve its religious identity, during the early years at Marburg he found little difference between it and liberal Protestantism. While Cohen left no special place for religion in his early thought, he did speak of God. God, for him, is not a metaphysical substance but an idea bridging the gap between morality and nature. Man's moral reason tells him that his ethical task is unending, but he has no guarantee that nature is eternal, so that he can fulfill this task. The idea of God provides this guarantee. Cohen is well aware that this conception of God has little to do with the scriptural notion of a personal God, but he praises the Hebrew prophets for contributing to the progress of mankind through their non-mythological conception of God, through their concern for ethics, and through their belief in the coming of the Messiah, which for Cohen is the symbol for mankind's advance toward ever greater moral perfection. Cohen conceived of ethics more as social ethics than personal ethics.
Cohen's conception of religion underwent a marked change. Whereas in his previous writings he had denied the independence of religion, in his Begriff der Religion he assigns to religion a separate domain. Ethics only knows humanity (moral man), but it does not know individual man. Yet the individual's feeling of sin and guilt possesses a reality of its own, and this feeling must be removed, so that man may recapture his moral freedom. Religion accomplishes this task by teaching that man can free himself from sin through remorse and repentance and by fostering a belief in a merciful God who is ready to forgive. Cohen emphasizes that atonement is gained through human efforts and not, as in Christianity, through an act of grace on the part of God. He praises the latter prophets, primarily Ezekiel, for having formulated these religious truths. Cohen's conception of God underwent a change as well. Whereas in his early thought he had described God as an idea, he now identifies God as being. In fact only God is being; the finite changing world standing over against Him, is becoming. Though being and becoming, God and the world, always remain distinct, there exists between them a relation, described by Cohen as "correlation." The world cannot exist without God; but God also has no meaning without the world. Cohen considers God as the origin of the world and man, and he uses this thought to explain creation and revelation. Creation refers to the dependence of the world on God (Cohen does not conceive of creation in temporal terms); and revelation refers to the dependence of the human mind on God. (Redemption refers, as has already been seen, to mankind's progress toward the ethical ideal.) Cohen's notion of "correlation" is well illustrated by his understanding of the "holy spirit." He rejects the Christian belief that the holy spirit is a separate substance, describing it instead as a relation between man and God. God's holiness is the model for human action, and man becomes holy by imitating God. "Correlation" is also illustrated by the saying that man is God's partner in the work of creation. In his final work Cohen applies all these distinctions to an interpretation of Jewish beliefs and practices which combines a concern for ethics and the unity of God (ethical monotheism) with the more personal elements of religion which have been described.
The first half of the 20th century saw the emergence of Jewish *existentialism, whose major proponents were Buber and Rosenzweig. Franz *Rosenzweig (1886–1929) studied the philosophy of Hegel as part of his university education, and his doctoral dissertation was a substantial scholarly work entitled Hegel und der Staat ("Hegel and the State"). However, even during his student days Rosenzweig became dissatisfied with the rationalism of Hegel and looked for the meaning of life in the existence of the concrete individual and in religious faith. He contemplated converting to Christianity, but resolved to remain a Jew (1913) and embarked upon the intensive study of Jewish sources which he continued throughout his life. (During the year that followed he came under the influence of Hermann Cohen.) During the first World War he fought in the German army, and during those years he sent his philosophic reflections home on postcards to his mother. These became the basis for his major work Der Stern der Erloesung (1921; The Star of Redemption, 1971). In 1921 he was struck by a disabling disease, but he continued a creative life until his death. Rosenzweig formulated his philosophy in opposition to Hegelian rationalism. According to Hegel thought preceded being, and humanity was more important than the individual man. By contrast Rosenzweig maintained that being (existence) was primary, and that the concrete individual was of supreme importance. He advocated a "new thinking" which, standing between theology and philosophy, began, not with abstract concepts, but with the suffering, anxiety, and the longing of the individual man. Philosophy, Rosenzweig states, had claimed to still man's fear of death; but death is still real and man is still afraid. Philosophy up to Hegel, according to Rosenzweig, had attempted to describe the world as a unitary whole, trying to show that the three elements given in human experience – God, the world, and man – share one essence. The various periods of philosophy differed in that ancient philosophy derived God and man from the world, medieval philosophy, the world and man from God, and modern philosophy, God and the world from man. All these attempts to unify the world, according to Rosenzweig, have failed, and the three elements of experience remain distinct. But while none of these elements is reducible to one of the others, reflection discloses that they stand in relation. God's relation to the world is creation, God's relation to man is revelation, and man's relation to the world is redemption. In creation, which for Rosenzweig is not a unique but an ongoing event, God shows that He is not a hidden God; in revelation He shows His love for man, which, in turn, leads man to a love of his fellowman; and man's love for his fellow leads to the redemption of the world. While Rosenzweig thought of redemption as occurring at the end of time, he also held that redemption may be experienced in the here and now. The three elements of experience, which so far have been discussed without reference to the historical religions, also provide the substance of these religions. In paganism God, man, and the world remain distinct, but in the scriptural religions they stand in relation. When speaking of the scriptural religions, Rosenzweig has in mind Judaism and Christianity, both of which are in his view valid. They differ, however, in that Judaism is conceived as the "eternal life," Christianity as the "eternal way." The Christian is born a pagan, who, through baptism, becomes a Christian. He is joined to other Christians through a common faith and he must go out to convert the world to his belief. The Jew is born a Jew, and it is his task to lead the "eternal life" of his people. Whereas the Christian is immersed in history, the Jew is beyond it. At present, Judaism and Christianity possess only partial truth, but God's full truth will be revealed at the end of time. While the relation between God and man is marked by love, for the Jew this relation is also governed by law. Rosenzweig advocates that the Jew must study the traditional body of law with seriousness and respect, but he does not demand blind obedience to it. He upholds the right of the individual to decide which laws to obey, maintaining that each Jew must appropriate of the Law whatever he can; however, his criterion should not be ease of life. (It is interesting to note that throughout his life Rosenzweig observed more and more of traditional Jewish law.)
Martin *Buber (1878–1965) is perhaps best known for his philosophy of dialogue, a form of existentialism. In formulating his philosophic views he drew on his extensive knowledge of the Bible, Ḥasidism, and comparative religion, and he applies his philosophic findings to contemporary social and political issues. His dialogical philosophy is described in his Ich und Du (1923; I and Thou, 1937). Buber begins by holding that man has two attitudes toward the world, and these two attitudes are determined by two "primary words" – I-Thou and I-It, which refer to relations, not to their component parts. An I-Thou relation is one between two subjects (persons) and is marked by reciprocity and mutuality. An I-It relation is one between a subject (person) and an object (thing) and is one in which the subject dominates and uses the object. Buber also envisages that there can be I-Thou relations between men and animals and even inanimate beings; while I-Thou relations between men often deteriorate into relations of I-It. In fact, Buber considers human life dynamic: I-Thou relations deteriorate into I-It relations, and a new effort is required to make them I-Thou relations once more. Buber also evaluates critically much of modern social and economic life; for in the modern world human relations have often sunk to the level of I-It. While human I-Thou relations cannot be sustained continually, there is one I-Thou relation that suffers no deterioration: it is the relation between man and the Eternal Thou, God. Buber does not attempt to demonstrate by philosophic proof that there is an Eternal Thou, for the Eternal Thou can only be recognized by one who is sensitive to it. God, the Eternal Thou, is not hidden but is present in every dialogic situation and speaks through it; He is not encountered in supernatural occurrences but in the events of everyday life. Buber finds this view of the Eternal Thou in Hasidism. The dialogue between man and God is not accomplished in isolation from life, but is best attained in the life of a community. To establish a community is a central Jewish task. Judaism is to be the community within which God dwells and it is to be the bearer of the kingdom of God. Buber's dialogic stance can also be seen in his account of revelation. He rejects the traditionalist view according to which the biblical account of revelation is literally true; but he also rejects the critical view according to which it is only symbolic. Revelation contains both history and symbol; it is the record of the meaning that the historical event had to the one experiencing and reporting it. Perhaps one of the most problematic parts of Buber's thought is his attitude toward Jewish law, on which he exchanged letters with Rosenzweig. As has been seen, Rosenzweig requires the serious study of Jewish law and the appropriation of as much of it as possible. Buber sees no such necessity. Since man's existential response to any given situation is primary, he can refer to a particular commandment if it speaks to that situation; but in itself the commandment has no special claim. Buber also differs from Rosenzweig in his conception of Christianity. Whereas Rosenzweig considered Judaism and Christianity parallel, Buber cannot accept the Christian claim. That the Messiah should have come, as Christianity claims, is inconceivable to the Jew; just as the Jew's stubborn refusal to believe that the Messiah has already come is unintelligible to the Christians.
The focus of Jewish philosophy in the late 20th century was neither God nor the individual, but the Jewish people. A generation after the Holocaust and the proclamation of the State of Israel, Jewish thinkers – in the Diaspora and in Israel – are urgently inquiring into the meaning and purpose of Jewish peoplehood.
In North America Emil *Fackenheim published a bold programmatic work, Encounters Between Judaism and Modern Philosophy: a Preface to Future Jewish Thought (1973). In it he charges that modern Western philosophy – in its British empiricist, Kantian, Hegelian, and existentialist traditions – has, despite its aim of universality and impartiality, been prejudiced in favor of Christianity and against Judaism. To liberate Judaism from such Christian prejudices, Fackenheim stages a series of merciless encounters between Judaism and modern philosophy. The result of these encounters is not only a critique of modern Western philosophy, but an indictment of modern Western civilization. Fackenheim vigorously turns the tables on modern Western civilization, which had assumed that it could fairly judge Judaism. "Ever since the Nazi Holocaust," he declares, "it is Western civilization that is on trial" (p. 5).
Fackenheim argues, among other things, that modern Western philosophy has generally failed to recognize that Judaism, unlike Christianity, is a religion not of individuals but of a people, and that unlike Christianity its driving eschatological hope is not the salvation of souls in the hereafter but the Messianic redemption in history. The faith of the Jewish people, he emphasizes, has its stake in history.
It is precisely on the grounds of history that Fackenheim launches his frontal attack on modern Western philosophy. He contends that modern Western philosophy, with its notions of "enlightenment" and "progress," has been unable to come to terms with modern history: it has been wholly unable to comprehend the radical evil of Nazism. Even Hegel, "the greatest modern Christian philosopher" (p. 81), left no room in his description of the modern world for the appearance of radical anti-Spirit (p. 157).
Judaism, however, with its biblical and rabbinic categories, can recognize Nazism for what it is: idolatry, the idolatry of Volk and Führer, "the most horrendous idolatry of modern time and, perhaps, of all times" (p. 175). Citing the rabbinic dictum, "one who repudiates idolatry is as though he were faithful to the whole Torah," Fackenheim describes Judaism as the "uncompromising opposition to idolatry" (pp. 173, 189). It follows for him that the radical manifestation of idolatry in Nazi Europe demands one clear Jewish response: a radical commitment to remain a Jew, which constitutes a witness against modern idolatry. According to Fackenheim, such a post-Holocaust commitment to remain a Jew, whether "secular" or "religious" demands a secular self-reliance in the face of God's inaction and silence, but it also demands a religious hope, if not in the traditionally awaited Messianic redemption, then at least in a future in which no second Holocaust will occur. The faith of the Jewish people thus continues to have its stake in history. Fackenheim further argues that the "commingling of religiosity and secularity" today characterizes not only the individual Jew, but also the State of Israel, which is "collectively what the survivor is individually" (p. 167).
In a number of passionate lectures and essays, Fackenheim elaborated on his conviction that the Jewish response commanded by the Holocaust is the commitment of the Jewish people to life, a commitment whose chief expression is the existence of the State of Israel, and whose theme is "I shall not die but live, and declare the works of God" (Ps. 118:17). (See "Israel and the Diaspora or The Shofar of Rabbi Yitzchak Finkler of Piotrkov," The Yaacov Herzog Memorial Lecture, McGill University, Montreal, 1974.)
In France, Emmanuel *Lévinas published a revised edition of his Difficile Liberté (1976). This second edition contains several new essays and omits some dated material. Lévinas' discussion of the place of Judaism in contemporary society is similarly connected with a severe judgment on modern western civilization. He speaks of "a crisis of humanism" in the West brought on by the inhuman events of our century. Post-Hitlerian man, in his desire for autonomy, has indiscriminately sought liberty everywhere, until he has finally liberated himself from responsibility to others and has fallen into a lawless, egoistic anti-humanism. Judaism, by contrast, is the "extreme humanism of a God who demands much of man." This humanism of Judaism is founded on the biblical doctrine of "the irreducibility and the supremacy" of man, and on the difficult liberty "engraved on the Tablets of the Law" (see Avot 6:2). Judaism, Lévinas insists, is intransigently ethical and social. "Jewish man [unlike Heidegger!] discovers man before he discovers landscapes…": he first encounters Being when he encounters the naked human face of the other (pp. 40, 45, 364–65). Understood so, Judaism represents a defiant challenge to contemporary anti-humanism.
Lévinas's focus on ethics and society leads him to emphasize the significance of Jewish peoplehood. Judaism, he explains, does not mean a spiritualized or interiorized "humanism without nation" or "idealism without danger" (p. 288); rather, it is the destiny, the responsibility, the obligation of the Jewish people. The State of Israel, built out of the passion to recommence after all had been consumed, bears witness to the will of Jews to expose themselves to danger, and to sacrifice themselves, in order to confront their responsibility and obligation. "The Zionist dream – which issued from the most faithful, the most durable, and the most improbable of nostalgias – went back to the very sources of Revelation, and was an echo to the highest expectations" (p. 286).
Judaism, concedes Lévinas (p. 42), may today refer to a "culture" or even to a faint "sensibility," but he insists that in its foundation Judaism remains a religion, whose divine – and therefore humanistic! – Law, the Torah, is making supreme ethical and social demands, here and now on the individual Jew, on the Jewish people, and on the State of Israel.
In Israel, several thinkers emerged, addressing themselves mainly to questions concerning Jewish peoplehood in general, and Zionism in particular.
The book which caused the most controversy was Yeshayahu *Leibowitz' Yahadut, Am Yehudi, u-Medinat Yisrael ("Judaism, Jewish People, and The State of Israel," 1975), a collection of essays and topical lectures from 1943 to 1974. Leibowitz, whose approach to Judaism is heavily influenced by Maimonides, has argued consistently throughout the years that Judaism knows only one value: the service of God out of love, as expressed in the Torah and the commandments. It therefore follows, for him, that the Jewish state is not a value in itself. He even goes so far as to contend that "seeing the state as a value is the essence of the fascist conception" (pp. 181, 243, 270). To his mind, no state should ever be considered as more than an instrument. Similarly, he argues, the Jewish people should not be considered a value in itself. He thus freely criticizes "the sacred cow of national unity" (pp. 188, 273), noting that the Jewish religion – that is, the Torah and the commandments – has always divided the Jewish people (prophets vs. kings, pietists vs. Hellenists, Rabbinites vs. Karaites, religionists vs. secularists).
Zionism, as understood by Leibowitz, is a political, not a religious phenomenon. Its aim was to liberate the Jewish nation from the rule of the Gentiles and to achieve for it independence in its Land. This political aim having been spectacularly achieved, the only meaning today of Zionism lies in the strengthening of the bonds between the independent nucleus of the Jewish people and the majority of the people who still live dispersed among the nations (pp. 245–48). Zionism, according to Leibowitz, cannot be considered a religious phenomenon, since its adherents – many of whom were heretics or atheists – were not as a whole motivated by the intention of serving God. Religious significance, he stresses, presupposes intention, and thus cannot be assigned retroactively (p. 404). Denying religious significance to Zionism, he also denies Messianic meaning to the State of Israel. Time and again he quotes Maimonides' admonition (Hilkhot Melakhim 12:2) that one ought not to preoccupy himself with the rabbinic homilies concerning the Messiah since "they lead neither to fear [of God] nor to love [of Him]." He ferociously polemicizes against the "modern Sabbateanism" of those who turn religion into a means to justify nationalistic interests (e.g., the claim to all of Judea and Samaria), and for whom the "nation has become God, and the homeland Torah" (p. 271).
Yet, notwithstanding his denial of religious significance to Zionism and of Messianic significance to the State of Israel, Leibowitz declares that the renewal of Jewish independence in the Land of Israel has brought about a religious revolution. The religious significance of the Jewish state lies not in the political fact of its existence, but in the task with which it confronts and challenges the Jewish nation. He explains that in the Diaspora the Jews were not responsible for the political, social, and economic factors of the world in which they lived, and so the Torah did not have the opportunity to deal with the fundamentals of actual human existence. "Now – and only now, with the attainment of the independence of the Jewish nation – will Judaism be tested, as to whether indeed it has a 'Torah of life' in its hand" (p. 96).
For Leibowitz, therefore, the religious significance of the State of Israel lies in the fact that it provides a framework for the struggle on behalf of the Torah. It is the struggle, not the state, which has intrinsic value. "Certainly there is no guarantee … that the struggle on behalf of the Torah within the framework of the state will be crowned with success, but even so we are not free to desist from it, for this struggle is itself a supreme religious value, independent of its results" (p. 208).
Detesting Messianic euphoria, Leibowitz teaches a hard-nosed political Zionism, and a heroic, infinitely demanding Judaism.
Another book which has roused wide discussion in Israel on the question of Jewish peoplehood and Zionism is Devarim Bego ("Explications and Implications," 1975), a potpourri of essays written over a span of more than half a century by Gershom G. *Scholem, the world-renowned expert in the history of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism. Among these essays are not only erudite studies on various aspects of Jewish thought, but also recent original enquiries into the meaning of Judaism and Zionism. Some of the essays appeared also in an important English collection, On Jews and Judaism in Crisis (1976).
In "Israel and the Diaspora" (which appears in both volumes), Scholem asks whether Zionism ought to be seen as a rebellion against the previous life of the Jewish people, or as the historical continuation of that life. His answer is that though Zionism is both, its most important aspect is that of continuation. "We [Israelis] are first and foremost Jews, and we are Israelis as a manifestation of our Judaism." He calls for "a synthesis between tradition and the new values growing out of the reality of the Jewish people in Israel." As a corollary to his giving precedence to Jewish peoplehood over Israeli nationhood, he sees Israel and the Diaspora as "two partners," and he pleads for the building of bridges between them. The strongest bond today between them, he believes, is not tradition or religion, but the unfathomable trauma of the Holocaust. It follows that the "common denominator" of Israel and the Diaspora is education, which must create a living Judaism, the synthesis of tradition and reality.
In "Reflections on Jewish Theology" (also included in both books), Scholem explores what such a "synthesis" would mean. Traditional Judaism, as he sees it, unfolded in three stages: The Bible, the rabbinic tradition, and the Kabbalah. He pointedly does not include the philosophic tradition (e.g., Saadiah, Maimonides, Crescas, Mendelssohn) which he considers to be merely "apologetic." According to him, Judaism is characterized by "religious concepts" like Creation, Revelation, and Redemption, and by "moral concepts" like the love and fear of God, humility, and sanctity. These "moral concepts" underlie the commandments of the Torah and constitute religious ethics. Secularization conflicts not only with the "religious concepts" but also with the "moral concepts," the latter being based on – or at least related to – the former. For example, sanctity has no secular meaning, for it points to "a teleology of Creation."
The implication of Scholem's analysis is that the decision for or against secularism determines whether it is possible to retain the traditional "religious ethics" of Judaism. Moreover, according to him, it also determines whether the goal of Zionism should be for Jews to be "a nation like all the nations" or "a holy nation." Scholem's position is unequivocal; he decides for religion against secularism; he argues in favor of retaining the religious ethics; and he champions a Zionism whose goal is "a holy nation" (cf. On Jews, pp. 36, 55).
Scholem, to be sure, does not advocate any current Orthodoxy, nor does he believe that the "religious concepts" of Creation, Revelation, and Redemption – which must be given meaning if Jewish religious ethics is to be founded – can be sustained today on the basis of the Bible, the rabbinic tradition, or even the Kabbalah. However, he seems to suggest that a fourth stage of Judaism is possible. This stage would come about in Zion out of the dialectic between Judaism and the secularized world. Judging from hints in Sholem's' writings, this stage will be a new – previously unimaginable – kind of mysticism, which will be able to re-interpret audaciously the "religious concepts" for tomorrow even as the Kabbalah had audaciously reinterpreted them for yesterday.
Scholem's Zionism is revolutionary in its vision of a new kind of holy community in Zion, while it is conservative in that the religious ethics of that community will at root be those of traditional Judaism. His Zionism is, indeed, fundamentally the historical continuation of the previous life of the Jewish people, but it is still in a meaningful sense a rebellion against that life. In his works on the Kabbalah, Scholem has shown how the great Kabbalists conservatively maintained the traditional religious concepts while reinterpreting them with a radical novelty which bordered on heresy. What he has found to have happened in the Kabbalah, he hopes will happen once again in Zion.
If Leibowitz's discussion of the fateful national questions confronting Jews today is propelled and guided by a mighty religious vision derived from Maimonides, and if Scholem's is propelled and guided by one derived from the Kabbalah, Nathan *Rotenstreich's – in sharp contrast – is controlled by sobriety, cautiousness, and a determination to avoid one-sidedness or tendentiousness. An eminent Kantian scholar and for many years recognized as one of the most serious Zionist theorists, Rotenstreich – always a prolific writer – published in the 1970s three books on contemporary Jewish issues: Al ha-Kiyyum ha-Yehudi ba-Zeman ha-Zeh (On Contemporary Jewish Existence, 1972); Iyyunim ba-Ẓiyyonut ba-Zeman ha-Zeh (Studies in Contemporary Zionism, 1977); and Iyyunim ba-Maḥashavah ha-Yehudit ba-Zeman ha-Zeh (Studies in Contemporary Jewish Thought, 1978).
At the center of Rotenstreich's discussions is the desire to understand the relationship between Jewish tradition and present Jewish existence. In order to do this, he seeks in On Contemporary Jewish Existence to clarify just what is Jewish tradition. Defining "tradition" as the network of beliefs, ideas, and lifestyles which precede the man living in the present, Rotenstreich notes the danger that, the more man identifies with tradition, the more he denies independent meaning to his present. Modern secular Judaism, including Zionism, is according to Rotenstreich a reaction against the dominance of the religious tradition in the Jewish community: it is an attempt to free the present from the domineering religious past, and to assert the present as an active independent historical factor. However, he argues, this reaction was an overreaction, for the religious elements in the Jewish tradition cannot be wholly denied if one wishes fully to participate in Jewish culture. Indeed, according to Rotenstreich, merely speaking Hebrew and living in the Land of the Bible force the modern Israeli to confront the Jewish religious tradition. But what elements in this tradition are indispensable? What meaning can this tradition have today for would-be "secular" Jews in the Diaspora and, more especially, in Israel?
In his Studies in Contemporary Jewish Thought, Rotenstreich tries to throw light on these questions by examining the approaches of several modern Jewish thinkers, including such major Orthodox figures as Abraham Isaac Kook, Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, and Yeshayahu Leibowitz. Ultimately, Rotenstreich – like Scholem – speaks about a dialectic between the religious past and the secular present. However, the weight he gives to the religious past is not nearly as great as that given it by Scholem. Rotenstreich speaks about "a modest, not a total, Renaissance of Judaism" (p. 37). He calls for an examination of the traditional Jewish sources in order to determine what elements in them are "relevant" to present Jewish existence. Since the determination of relevance to present Jewish existence presupposes an understanding of that existence, Rotenstreich maintains that the task of modern Jewish philosophy cannot be only, as in the past, the interpretation of the Jewish sources, but also the interpretation of present Jewish existence.
This interpretation of present Jewish existence is the purpose of Studies in Contemporary Zionism. Directing his attention to the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, Rotenstreich argues that the brute facts of contemporary Jewish existence in the 1970s render problematic the time-worn metaphor of Israel's "centrality." From the cultural point of view, he explains, it is not clear that Israel is the center of the Jewish world, and in any case it has not become the ideal "spiritual center" envisioned by Aḥad Ha-Am. More significantly, he argues, Diaspora Jews in liberal democratic societies like the United States, who enjoy freedom and material comfort, and who on the whole have no desire to leave their homes and to immigrate to Israel, have – especially since the Yom Kippur War – come more and more to see their relationship to Israel as being based on their support for their brethren in distress. These Jews, notes Rotenstreich, are identifying not with the State of Israel, but with the plight of the Jews in Israel. They are, in other words, increasingly coming to think that Israel needs the Diaspora as a support more than the Diaspora needs Israel as a cultural center. Instead of the unrealistic metaphor of centrality, Rotenstreich advocates that of the birthright; Israel's right to priority over the Diaspora is not dependent on whether or not it happens to be seen as the cultural center but on the unequivocal fact that it alone represents the great effort of Jews to reenter history as a collective. Rotenstreich contends that the metaphor of the birthright is closer to classical Herzlian Zionism than that of centrality, because it stresses the significance of national sovereignty. Immigration to Israel, he concludes, is to the advantage even of the free and prosperous Western Jews, "if they want to serve the historical existence, and to prefer the struggle for the place of the Jewish people in the world over their own everyday existence" (pp. 50–51).
No holds are barred in Rotenstreich's thought, and classical Zionism is forced to grapple both with the traditional Jewish past and the difficult Jewish present.
Leibowitz, Scholem, and Rotenstreich, born in Europe, had formed their basic ideas on Judaism and Zionism before they arrived in the Land of Israel. Eliezer Schweid, on the other hand, is a sabra, and he has given eloquent and thoughtful expression to the crisis in Jewish identity which is acutely experienced by many native-born Israelis.
Schweid, who taught Jewish philosophy for years at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, published numerous essays and books, among them: Le'umiut Yehudit ("Jewish Nationalism," 1972); Ha-Yehudi ha-Boded ve-ha-Yahadut ("Judaism and the Solitary Jew," 1974); Beyn Ortodoksiah le-Humanizm Dati ("Orthodoxy and Religious Humanism," 1977); Toledot ha-Maḥashavah ha-Yehudit ba-Et ha-Ḥadashah ("A History of Jewish Thought in Modern Times: Nineteenth Century," 1977); and Demokratiah ve-Halakhah ("Democracy and Halakhah," 1978).
In Judaism and the Solitary Jew, Schweid describes the predicament of the modern Jew who – like most Israelis – has been given a secular education and is largely ignorant of traditional Judaism. A typical modern man, the modern Jew is at first happy to be an individual, an atom in and of himself. He seeks freedom from external limitations, from commitments to his family, to his nation, to his past, to his Jewishness. His atomism, however, is soon undermined by such existential questions such as, "How shall I educate my children?" He then realizes that his break with his Jewishness has caused him to be limited by a lack of cultural plenitude, which in turn limits his freedom, his creativity, and his self-respect. He realizes, in short, that in his striving to free himself from limitations, he has paradoxically been limiting himself!
It is, thus, the awareness of cultural deprivation which, according to Schweid, leads the modern Jew to reject individualism, and to seek out the Jewish community. He discovers, however, that there is today no one Jewish community, but many fragmented communities, none offering the cultural wealth he needs. Frustrated in his vital search for community, the modern Jew – no longer happy to be an individual – experiences dire alienation, and becomes "the solitary Jew."
In trying to recover his national identity, the modern solitary Jew, according to Schweid's analysis, finds himself in at least one respect in a better position than his modern solitary European counterpart. For his Jewish nationalism, like other ancient nationalisms, is rooted in religion, that is, it is essentially cultural and spiritual; while European nationalisms (having been deprived of their distinctive religious content by the supra-national medieval Church) are rooted in nothing but the state. However, just because it is essentially religious, Jewish nationalism poses a problem for the modern solitary Jew which European nationalism does not pose for the modern solitary European. The modern Jew seeks to embrace his Jewish national tradition, but finds it beyond reach, because it is a religious tradition, and he – as modern man – has no faith. The existential predicament of the modern solitary Jew thus turns into a problem of faith in God. Here, however, Schweid argues dramatically that the very decision of the solitary Jew to break out of his individualism and to affirm his familial, communal, and national commitments is already an expression of faith in God because it is an expression of faith in life in its totality, and the beginning and the end of all true faith is itself faith in God!
Having argued that religion is possible for the modern solitary Jew, Schweid now finds himself faced with the same question posed by Scholem and Rotenstreich: What is Judaism? His answer is: "Judaism is Scripture, Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, medieval scriptural and rabbinic exegesis, the responsa literature, the philosophic and kabbalistic speculative literature, and even modern literature in all its genre, including the belletristic, to the extent that it is based on the previous sources and related to them"(p. 91). All these sources are, for Schweid, "Torah," and Judaism is, in one word, Torah.
It is a fact, however, contends Schweid, that the Torah and the national life have in modern times been tragically ripped asunder. To reunite them requires audacious innovation, no less audacious than the innovation of the Mishnah over against the Bible, or of the Gemara over against the Mishnah, or of the medieval speculative literature over against biblical and rabbinic literature. His call for an audacious revival of Judaism is thus similar to Scholem's (but without the kabbalistic bias), and in obvious contrast to Rotenstreich's measured call for "a modest renaissance."
But whence is this audacity to come? Orthodoxy, Schweid laments, has not been sufficiently open to the new life of the Jewish nation, and thus has been incapable of the audacity requisite for renewing the Torah. In an attempt to understand whether such audacity might be possible, Schweid has investigated the history of modern Orthodox thought. He believes that he has found an example of openness to modernity and halakhic audacity in Ḥayyim *Hirschensohn, whose views he analyzes in Democracy and Halakhah.
Schweid's thought, which begins with modern secular individualism and moves through secular nationalism toward a yet unrealized religious nationalism, poses a powerful challenge both to the Jewish secularist and to the Jewish religionist.
If Schweid raises questions of Judaism and Zionism from the point of view of a sabra, André Neher's U-ve-khol Zot: Nevertheless (1977) raises them from that of a recent immigrant. Nevertheless is the first Hebrew collection of essays published by the noted French-Jewish existentialist, who immigrated to Israel after the Six-Day War. It contains analyses of biblical and contemporary themes and reflections on his aliyah.
In France, he remarks, he had loved Jerusalem from afar, as one dreams of a distant fiancée, but now he has joyously consummated the marriage (p. 216). Having left the rich universal culture of France, Neher asks whether the move to Jerusalem might not cut him off from humanity as a whole and harness him to "the particularism of the solitary Jew" (p. 218). His reply, citing Judah Halevi, is that the Jewish people is the heart of universal human history, and Jerusalem the heart of the Jewish people. In Jerusalem, where God is worshipped by Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the utopian, Messianic, universalistic vision of Isaiah is being realized every day: "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples" (Isa. 56:7). The culture of France is a universal one, but that of Jerusalem is much more so!
Neher's discussions of contemporary Israel are permeated with a powerful consciousness of Jewish history and vocation. In immigrating to Israel, he chose to go up on the King's highway, "the highway of the God who acts in world history and in the history of the Jewish people" (p. 57). According to him, the Six-Day War – preceded by days of anxiety and concluded with victory – wrought a revolution in modern Jewish existence by uniting Jews and strengthening their ties to Judaism. Again, according to him, the Yom Kippur War – which began when Israel's enemies, after the old antisemitic pattern, struck on the holiest of Jewish days, and throughout which Israel stood in dreadful isolation, and which in all this recalled the horror of the Holocaust – painfully emphasized that the State of Israel must be seen in the perspective of "the metaphysics of Jewish history." However, the awareness that in Jewish history holiness has often been bound up with tragedy does not, for Neher, mean that hope should give way to fatalism. We, the builders of the Third Commonwealth, must, like our forefathers who built the Second Commonwealth, affirm "Nevertheless" (Neh. 10:1), and apply ourselves to our task in faith (p. 19).
Neher does not think that any good will come of the current attempts to find a definition of Jewishness. Judaism cannot be defined, because it points to the infinite. "I am a Jew not only in accordance with how I see myself. Nor only in accordance with how I am seen by others. I am a Jew in accordance with how I am seen by God!" (pp. 29, 45).
Common to the thought of Leibowitz, Scholem, Rotenstreich, Schweid, and Neher is the conviction that Israeli nationhood has meaning only within the framework of Jewish peoplehood. This conviction, moreover, seems to reflect popular feeling in Israel today. Israelis seem more and more to be defining themselves as "Jews first, Israelis second." The once fashionable slogan "I am an Israeli not a Jew" is rarely heard today. Israelis now generally see their future as tied not to that of their Arab neighbors but to that of Diaspora Jewry. The Aḥad Ha-Amian vision of Zionism as the evolutionary continuation of previous Jewish history and traditional Jewish values seems to have almost completely obscured the Berdyczewskian vision of Zionism as the revolutionary break with previous Jewish history, the transvaluation of Jewish values, and the creation of something radically new. Over the past half-dozen years, there hardly has been any serious effort to argue the primacy of Israeli nationhood over Jewish peoplehood. One notable exception is A.B. Yehoshua's essay, "A Return to Ideology" (Bi Tefuẓot ha-Golah, Winter 1975). Needless to add, the Canaanite movement of Yonatan Ratosh has today no appreciable following. It is not yet clear whether the growing assimilation of Israeli nationhood to Jewish peoplehood is to be understood as a negative or a positive phenomenon. It may, of course, be understood as a sign of Israeli insecurity and weakness, that is, as failure of nerve, whose etiology is in the trauma of the Holocaust, but which was aggravated by the awful days of isolation before the Six-Day War, and which was brought to a critical state by the shock of the Yom Kippur War. However, it may also be understood as a sign that the Jews in the Land of Israel, having achieved political independence, are now ready to recapture and to renew their ancient, sacred heritage.
A second question which, after that of Jewish peoplehood, has occupied Jewish philosophers over the past half dozen years, is that of Jewish law, the halakhah. To some extent, the current interest of Jewish philosophers in the halakhah has itself grown out of their interest in Jewish peoplehood. Rotenstreich, for example, was led by his analysis of Jewish peoplehood to examine some problems concerning the halakhah in his Studies in Contemporary Jewish Thought, and Schweid was led by his analysis of Jewish peoplehood to write his Democracy and Halakhah. However, it would surely be an exaggeration to say that the current philosophic interest in the nature of the halakhah is entirely the product of a prior philosophic interest in the nature of Jewish peoplehood. In recent years, particularly in North America, there has been a growing interest among many Jews in the spiritual significance of the halakhah. This interest has manifested itself even in the Reform camp, where various attempts are now being made to create a "Reform halakhah."
Recent philosophic discussion concerning the nature of the halakhah has been largely inspired by the work of Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Yeshayahu Leibowitz. Soloveitchik has sought to describe the halakhah as a conceptual system which, analogous to mathematical physics, is both related to the world and yet self-contained, and he has sought to describe the halakhist as autonomous, creative, and free (see e.g., Lawrence Kaplan, "The Religious Philosophy of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik," Tradition, vol. xiv, Fall 1973). Leibowitz has sought to distinguish the halakhah from other phenomena, particularly from ethics and secular civil law.
One stimulating contribution to the philosophic discussion of the halakhah is Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest (1976), by David Hartman, a student of Soloveitchik, who served for 15 years as a rabbi in Montreal and then taught Jewish philosophy at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, during which time he also founded and headed the Shalom Hartman Institute. His book, ostensibly about Maimonides, is better seen as a new Maimonidean attempt to recapture the spiritual sensitivity of the halakhah. According to Hartman's Maimonidean analysis, the halakhah is based on the universal human aspirations of the love and knowledge of God, and seeks to create a moral, historically conscious community in which these aspirations may be realized. The halakhah is thus seen as operating simultaneously on spiritual and political levels. Hartman believes that the philosophic analysis of the halakhah has particular significance in the light of the political renaissance of the Jewish people in the land of Israel and expresses the hope that his book "will encourage renewed discussion on the political implications of halakhic thought" (p. x). He has pursued the themes of halakhah and community in several essays (see, e.g., his "Halakhah as a Ground for Creating a Shared Spiritual Language," Tradition, vol. 16, Summer 1976).
However, philosophizing about halakhah has not been confined to its advocates. In his highly polemical Teokratiah Yehudit ("Jewish Theocracy," 1976), Gershon Weiler, professor of philosophy at Tel Aviv University, and a zealous secularist, argued that the halakhah is in irreconcilable opposition to the modern state, and that consequently the Jewish religion is subversive to the State of Israel. Not surprisingly, Weiler's book roused violent antagonism among religionists, who charged that Weiler, who has no formal training in rabbinics, should never have written a book about a subject of which he is flagrantly ignorant. Criticism of the book, unfortunately, became in the main a hunt for errors of fact, misunderstandings of texts, and other mistakes, and thus avoided confrontation with Weiler's main thesis. Yet it cannot be denied that Jewish Theocracy is – despite its author's intent – an invitation to renew discussion on the political implications of halakhic thought.
Recent philosophic interest in the halakhah has also been connected with new developments in the discipline of the philosophy of law, which in the past two decades has been given increasing attention, especially in Britain and America, but also on the continent. Several young Jewish philosophers, involved in the fruitful work going on in this discipline, have begun to apply its methodology to the study of the halakhah. They are raising questions concerning obligation, responsibility, rights, intention, freedom, justice, fairness, equity, and so on (see, e.g., Yehuda Melzer's essay and Yeshayahu Leibowitz's reply to it in Iyyun, 23 (Oct. 1975)). Mention should be made here of the excellent work being carried out in the clarification of legal concepts of the halakhah by Aharon Lichtenstein, an eminent disciple (and son-in-law) of Soloveitchik and head of the Har-Eẓion Yeshivah in Israel (see, e.g., his essay in Marvin Fox, ed., Modern Jewish Ethics, 1975). Yet the analysis of the halakhah in terms of the philosophy of law remains an almost virgin field. Perhaps it will have to be plowed before any progress can be made toward the audacious renaissance of Judaism called for by Scholem and Schweid, or maybe even before any progress can be made toward the "modest renaissance" called for by Rotenstreich.
With Jewish philosophic activity focused primarily on the question of Jewish peoplehood and secondarily on that of Jewish law, the existential questions concerning man's relationship with God have during the past half-dozen years receded into the background. Yet it has been precisely these questions which until recently have most occupied 20th century Jewish philosophers, and which indeed have most enriched 20th-century Jewish philosophy. Ever since Martin Buber's early publications more than 70 years ago, modern Jewish philosophy has been in large measure under the dual influence of Ḥasidism and existentialism. One of the most popular and compelling of those Jewish philosophers to write under the influence of Ḥasidism and existentialism was Abraham Joshua *Heschel (1907–72). Himself a descendant of distinguished ḥasidic rabbis, Heschel developed an exciting philosophy of Judaism rooted in ḥasidic mysticism and Kierkegaardian existentialism. His writings ranged over Bible, rabbinics, medieval Jewish philosophy, Kabbalah, Ḥasidism, Yiddish culture, religious existentialism, and Zionism. Yet it may be that there is no more suitable introduction to his lifework than his two posthumous publications: Kotzk: In Gerangl far Emesdikeit ("Kotzk: The Struggle for Integrity," 1973), a two-volume study in Yiddish of the mysterious ḥasidic master, Rabbi Menahem Mendl of Kotzk, known as "the Kotzker"; and A Passion for Truth (1973), an English condensation of the Yiddish study. In these works, Heschel recalls the ḥasidic teachings which he had learned as a youth, and which underlie his mature thought. It seems proper to conclude this summary of the past half-dozen years of Jewish philosophy with a discussion of Heschel's portrait of the Kotzker.
Heschel speaks of a struggle which has raged within him since his youth between the Ba'al Shem Tov (c. 1690–1760), the founder of Ḥasidism, and the Kotzker (1787–1859). The Kotzker, he writes, was both the climax and the revolutionary antithesis of the ḥasidic movement (A Passion, p. 10). To Heschel, the Ba'al Shem Tov meant love, while the Kotzker meant truth. The Ba'al Shem Tov meant "emphasized love, joy, and compassion for this world," while the Kotzker "demanded constant tension and unmitigated militancy" and "insisted … that to get to the truth a man must go against himself and society" (pp. 10–11). The Ba'al Shem Tov "dwelled in my life like a lamp, while the Kotzker struck like lightning" (p. xv). The Kotzker reminded Heschel of the Prophets of Israel (pp. 10, 15, 307–10), or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the example of the Kotzker taught Heschel how to appreciate the Prophets. The image of the Kotzker which arises from Heschel's study is similar to the image of the prophet which arises from his celebrated work, The Prophets. The Kotzker was "anti-social, shocking, an enemy to all established convention and propriety"; he sought "to jolt minds out of their complacency … to unsettle, to question accepted habits of thought"; he "held moral cowards in contempt"; he was ruthless in his demand for honesty and justice; he was disgusted by egoism and had no patience for those who sought in religion their own personal salvation; and he insisted that "man was created to exalt Heavens!" (pp. 263–67, 310–11), In The Prophets, Heschel had written of the phenomenon of "moral madness," and he reverts to this theme. He explains that the man of moral and religious sensitivity, who refuses to ignore the mendacity and cruelty of society, and who seeks to bring about radical social change, lives under unbearable tensions, and finds it impossible to be comfortable and happy while others are suffering and oppressed. Moral and religious sensitivity, argues Heschel, may thus cause madness, a madness which might be the only normal reaction to "the madness that has overtaken so-called normal society" (pp. 205–08, 313).
Heschel also compares the Kotzker with his contemporary, the Danish Christian existentialist Søren Kierkegaard. He observes that both took the concrete existence of individual man as the basis of their approach to reality; both gave the will predominance over the intellect; both "knew that faith constituted a demand rather than a consolation or comfort; both held that the goal and requirements of faith must not be adapted to the weakness of human nature, but that human nature must be raised to a level of greatness; and both contended that "the essence of religion is warfare … against spiritual inertia, indolence, callousness" (pp. 108, 120, 124–25, 183). Heschel also calls attention to differences between the Kotzker and Kierkegaard, and argues that these are mostly due to differences between Judaism and Christianity. For example, while both suffered intense agony, the Christian Kierkegaard's agony was rooted in a sense of guilt due to Original Sin, while the Jewish Kotzker – who, of course, did not accept the dogma of the Original Sin – was "plagued by a more radical agony, the awareness that God was ultimately responsible for the hideousness of human mendacity" (p. 256). Heschel seems here to be suggesting that the doctrine of Original Sin prevents the Christian from radically confronting existence, and thus true religious existentialism is impossible in Christianity, but possible in Judaism. Throughout all his writings, Heschel has presented a Judaism which teaches man to love life and to rejoice in the world, but which at the same time exposes him to existence in all its agony and sublimity. Judaism, for Heschel, is at one and the same time the Ba'al Shem Tov and the Kotzker.
A Passion for Truth, like Heschel's other English works, is written in an aphoristic, poetic style, whose easy readability contrasts with the difficult, sometimes frightful, thoughts it expresses. The two-volume Yiddish work is written in a beautiful Yiddish, rich in rabbinic Hebrew elements, and is an expression of Heschel's love for the language and his desire to contribute to its philosophic literature.
[Warren Zev Harvey (2nd ed.)]
Gender has not been considered relevant to Jewish philosophy, even though Jewish philosophers held strong beliefs about women and some philosophers employed "the feminine" as a central trope of their philosophy of Judaism. Under the impact of feminism, however, new attention has been paid to gendered language in Jewish philosophy, its hidden philosophical assumptions, and socio-cultural implications. The new research has documented the extent to which philosophy contributed to the negative perception of women, thereby adding to the marginalization of women in traditional Jewish society. In addition to exposing the gender inflection of Jewish philosophy, a few feminist Jewish philosophers have also proposed new approaches to halakhah that call for inclusion of women in the interpretative process and prescribe egalitarianism. Despite these innovative efforts, a systematic engagement of Jewish philosophy with feminist philosophy is still in its early stages, and only time will tell if feminist philosophy will enrich Jewish philosophy as an academic discipline and as a constructive endeavor.
Interestingly, gender stood at the foundation of the Jewish philosophical tradition, because in the Bible wisdom (ḥokhmah) was personified as a female. Feminine wisdom is the ideal which the male lover of wisdom seeks to obtain through the devotion to learning. Given the gender difference between the pursuer of wisdom and his goal, the pursuit of wisdom was couched in erotic terms and obtaining wisdom was expressed in metaphors of conjugal union. The feminization of wisdom reflected a certain social reality of patriarchy in ancient Israel as much as it prescribed certain social norms and attitudes. Because the pursuit of wisdom was perceived as masculine activity, in ancient Israel the learned elites of priests, scribes, and sages comprised men only.
The origins of the feminine portrayal of Wisdom cannot be determined with certainty. It is very possible that the Egyptian belief in Maat, the cosmic order of the universe which was identified with the goddess Isis, was the immediate source of Proverbs 8 and Ben Sira 24, because the cult of Maat/Isis was very popular in the Ptolemaic period during which the biblical canon received its final form. However, Ben Sira gave it a Jewish coloration when he equated Wisdom, who was with God at the creation of the world, with the Torah of the sacred tradition. In the Wisdom of Solomon, Lady Wisdom was depicted as a principle of order that "reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and She orders all things well" (8:1). In a language that suggests familiarity with Neo-Pythagoreanism and Middle Platonism, the author turns wisdom into a hypostasis, an emanation of God's glory that acts as His agent in creation, pervading the entire cosmos while remaining intimately close to God (7:24; 8:1, 3). Wisdom is identical with the divine mind through which God acts (9:9) and contains the paradigmatic patterns of all things (9:8). In this sense, Wisdom is identical with divine providence over the created cosmos. Because Wisdom is personified as a female, the male lover of wisdom makes her his "bride" and "spouse," enjoying intimate kingship with her (8:9; 7:28; 8:16). Since Wisdom is an attribute of God, intimacy with her entails a mystical union with God. Earthly women, however, could either hamper the attainment of this lofty goal or assist it. Thus Proverbs 7:6–21 depicts the "strange woman" as a seductive female who steers the young student of wisdom away from the "straight path," while her antagonist, the "woman of virtue" (Pr. 31:10–31), represents the diligent woman with good managerial skills who frees her husband to study Torah and devote life to the pursuit of wisdom. These negative and positive stereotypes of women were perpetuated throughout the Jewish philosophical tradition in commentaries written on Proverbs during the Middle Ages.
*Philo of Alexandria (15 b.c.e.–ca. 50 c.e.) drew on Jewish Wisdom tradition while being immersed in Greek and Hellenistic philosophy. Philo was the first to offer a systematic allegorical interpretation of the Bible in light of Greek philosophy. With Philo began the allegorical reading of the creation narrative in Genesis whose inner meaning was understood in psychological categories: biblical "Adam" and "Eve" represent the powers of the human soul (Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis, ii, 18.37; Sarah Pessin "Loss, Presence, and Gabirol's Desire: Medieval Jewish Philosophy and the Possibility of a Feminist Ground," in Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy (2004), pp. 34–38). For Philo, "Adam" is a figurative expression of the rational part of the soul, whereas "Eve" represents sense perception that gives rise to the passion, hence she is referred to as "the mother of passion." The main passion, pleasure, is symbolized by the serpent (naḥash), who is the main obstacle for the pursuit of wisdom. For Philo both sense and passion are irrational aspects of the soul that must be subordinated to reason, whose activities are portrayed in masculine terms. As ruler, the reasoning aspect of the soul emerges as authoritarian and controlling, the "husband" and "father" who as lord of the household must keep the wife and children in line, namely Eve and her daughters, the passions.
According to Philo not only is the pursuit of wisdom the exclusive domain of men, reason itself is masculine in contrast to the feminine aspects of humanity, sensation and desire. These gender paradigms pertain not only to the powers of the human soul but also to society: reason belongs to the intellectual few, whereas the passions are associated with the vulgar masses. As much as the philosophical life necessitates the control of the (feminine) passions by (masculine) reason, so do the masses need to be controlled by the philosopher-ruler, because they are prone to fall under the sway of the passions. All hierarchical relations (in the individual, the society, and the cosmos) are expressed in gender categories where the ruler is always male and masculine traits constituted the ideal, and, conversely, the ruled is always female and feminine traits are viewed necessarily as short of the ideal. Despite these hierarchies, and almost against his will, Philo discusses an actual egalitarian community of Jewish contemplatives, the Theraputae of Lake Mareotis in which women devoted themselves to the life of wisdom alongside men (The Contemplative Life, viii: 68–69).
While Jewish philosophers in the Middle Ages did not have direct access to Philo's works, they perpetuated many of the themes and assumptions of his gendered metaphysics and anthropology. When Jewish philosophers reflected about the human species they referred to it by the universal 'Man,' taking for granted that the male of the species is the standard of the human species as a whole. The female of the human species was deemed to be less than the male on account of her defective rationality. Whether the perception of women as intellectual inferior was caused by the exclusion of women from Torah study in rabbinic Judaism, or rather by the influence of Greek and Hellenistic philosophy (for example, Aristotle in Generation of Animalsi, 20:727a 15; ii, 4:737a 25; Politicsi, 13:1260a 12–14) cannot be easily determined. Nevertheless, even though medieval Jewish philosophers assumed that the philosophical life is for men only, their use of gender categories, "femininity" and "masculinity," was rather flexible. A given entity could be regarded as "feminine" in one context and as "masculine" in another, determined by its function: whatever was active was considered to be "masculine," while that which was passive, or being acted upon, was considered "feminine." This gendered metaphysics was presupposed by all medieval Jewish philosophers, whether they endorsed a Neoplatonic schema or an Aristotelian one.
In the Neoplatonic strand of Jewish philosophy gender configured in psychological theories. Since the seeker of wisdom was always male, it is no coincidence that the human soul of the male philosopher was always referred to as female. This gendered language was further exacerbated by the fact that in Hebrew all nouns referring to the soul (i.e., nefesh, ruaḥ, and neshamah) are feminine terms. Nonetheless, even though the human soul was always taken to be female, it could function in "masculine" or "feminine" ways: toward the body, the soul acts as a masculine power, ruling it and governing it so as to ensure proper behavior. By contrast, vis-à-vis the (masculine) God of Israel, the human soul in a "feminine" way when she receives the divine efflux by virtue of which one acquires knowledge and wisdom. Not surprisingly, Neoplatonic Jewish philosophers such as Moses *Ibn Ezra, *Solomonibn *Gabirol, and *Judah Halevi, who developed systematic philosophical anthropology, also produced powerful religious poetry that expresses the yearning of the feminine soul to unite with God. However, in regard to corporeal women, Neoplatonic Jewish philosophers saw them as a class to be intellectually deficient. For example, *Bahya ibn Pakuda explains the revelation of the Law as follows: the revealed Law is necessary for the "education and management [of Man] to help him overcome his desires until he grows up and his mind strengthens. The same is true of women and the weak-minded among men, both of whom cannot be easily managed by the mind because its rule is impotent over them. They need a moderate rule, one they can bear without being impossible for them to grasp." (Duties of the Heart, ed. Menachem (1973), p. 187) For Bahya, and Saadiah Gaon before him, all women are intellectually deficient and require divine revelation to make known truths that are beyond their limited intellectual competence.
In medieval Jewish Aristotelian philosophy the binary relationship between the active vs. passive principles was given a general abstract formulation in the metaphysics of matter and form. All existents are comprised of matter and form, where matter signifies that a thing is, namely its corporeality, and form signifies what a thing is, namely, its essence. By identifying form with male and matter with female, the Jewish Aristotelians made gender categories more rigid, shaping an entire range of gender stereotypes. Matter was believed to be inherently unstable and unable to exist by itself without form, and in turn, form was said to give matter its identity. When this gendered metaphysics was applied to men and women, it lent support to the claim that men must rule over women and that marriage is the ideal institution for the social relations between the sexes.
*Maimonides was the first Jewish philosopher to apply this gendered metaphysics to Scriptural interpretation, beginning with the creation narrative of Genesis. Reading Scripture allegorically, Maimonides identifies "Adam" as the form of the human species, whereas "Eve" stands for matter. Prior to the sin of disobedience Adam was engaged in contemplation of truth, but the separation between matter and form in the sin entailed an epistemic shift to moral distinction between good and bad (Guide i, 2; i, 6; i, 17). "Eve," the material dimension of the first being represents the cause of the sin and, more broadly, the life governed by passions which is characteristic of ordinary human beings. In Guide ii, 30 Maimonides elaborated on his philosophical anthropology identifying the imagination with femaleness. Reading the Genesis narrative in light of Genesis Rabbah 8:1 and Midrash Pirqey Eliezer 13, Maimonides suggests that the "serpent" is the appetitive power that was controlled by the imagination (represented in the Midrash as Samael), that tempted Eve (i.e., matter) to irrationally desire and even lust after the fruit of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil (Sarah Klein-Braslavy, Maimonides' Interpretation of the Adam Stories (1986), pp. 209–26). In Maimonides' interpretation of Genesis, when Eve was separated from Adam, the power of imagination was no longer controlled by reason. As a result, Adam shifted away from contemplation of truth to moral knowledge of good and bad, which is of lower epistemic level. The goal of human life, therefore, is to regain the form of the human species, which had been lost in the sin of disobedience, by perfecting the human intellect through the study of philosophy. The resulting intellectual perfection ensures entry into the "world-to-come," a cognitive state of contemplation.
While all human beings are born with the capacity to reason, which Maimonides identified with the "image of God" (Gen. 1:26), not all humans actualize that capacity. Those who do not cannot be considered fully human. On the intellectual capacity of women, however, Maimonides' left for posterity an ambiguous legacy. On the one hand, he states categorically that women possess a "feeble mind" (Guideiii, 37) that makes them more prone to be governed by the emotions and desires, but, on the other hand, he included the prophetess Miriam among the very few who reached intellectual perfection (Guideiii, 51). Maimonides was equally ambiguous on the question of women's education: on the one hand, he treats women as a group whose rationality, like that of children, is defective and excludes them from the performance of certain mitzvot (Mishneh Torah, Talmud Torah 1:1; Keriat Shema 4:1; Berakhot 5:6; Sukkah 6:1; Edut 9:1). But, on the other hand, he envisions a situation in which women study Torah and even teach Torah (Talmud Torah 1:13), even though they should not be compensated for it. Mainly Maimonides was concerned with women in the context of the institution of marriage whose primary purpose was reproduction. Within the marital institution, sex should be carefully regulated according to the strictures of halakhah, because sexuality and sensual pleasures in general are obstacles for the attainment of the ultimate end of human life, the contemplation of God (Guideiii, 33). While sexual intercourse between husband and wife must be free of coercion, between husband and wife there is no equality: he must rule over her and the children, and she must strive to function as the ideal "woman of virtue."
In post-Maimonidean philosophy the association of women with matter, the belief that they are rationally inferior, and their exclusion from the study of philosophy were further accentuated, resulting in full blown misogyny. A typical example was Shem Tov ibn *Falaquera whose Sefer ha Mevakesh (The Book of the Seeker) used the trope of the young seeker of wisdom to introduce the reader to the various sciences, as well as to promote the values of the philosophical life. The characters in the novels stand for specific professions (e.g., merchant, soldier, artisan, physician, rabbi, or poet), and all of them are men. Similarly, the persons who represent various intellectual disciplines (e.g., ethics, grammar, poetry, arithmetic, geometry, optics, astronomy, music, logic, physics and metaphysics) are all men. Falaquera's allegorical tale accurately represents the social reality of his time: these professions were not practiced by women, who were largely excluded from the public spheres and from cultural pursuits. But Falaquera further contributes to the denigration of women by portraying them as the cause of men's sins and transgressions. Under the influence of ibn Bajja, Falaquera depicted the perfect man as a solitary philosopher who is estranged from society and who attains intellectual perfection because he subdues his appetites, controls his emotions, and lowers his human interaction to the necessary minimum. In his philosophical reflections on human perfection, Sefer ha-Ma`alot, and Sefer Shelemut ha-Ma`asim, Falaquera made clear that attainment of moral perfection does not constitute the ultimate end of human life (Raphael Jospe, "Rejecting Moral Virtue as the Ultimate Human End," in: Studies in Islamic Judaism Traditions (1986), pp. 185–204). Even if women attain such perfection, they are categorically excluded from the final perfection of the intellect.
The negative perception of women was further developed in the semi-philosophical literature written in rhymed prose for the amusement of men. Written in rhymed prose, the literary debate on the merits and demerits of women portrayed the woman as either totally beautiful or utterly ugly; perfectly virtuous, or vicious and hateful; loyal and nurturing wife or a licentious seductress, a facilitator of the pursuit of wisdom or an obstacle to it (Talyah Fishman, "A Medieval Parody of Misogyny: Judah ibn Shabetai's Minhat Yehuda Sone ha-Nashim," in: Prooftexts 8 (1988), 89–111). The grotesque depiction of women highlights negative traits such as greed, possessiveness, vanity, foolishness, fickleness, and untrustworthiness. Designed to produce comic relief, for which purpose it employed exaggerations and distortions, Hebrew rhymed prose treated the woman as the rejected Other, thereby expressing the fears, anxieties and aspiration of Jewish men in a Christian-dominated society. In Christian polemical literature of the Middle Ages, circumcised Jewish men were viewed as feminized aberrations of nature and were even said to menstruate (Joshua Trachetenberg, The Devil and the Jews (Philadelphia, 1941), pp. 50, 149). The feminization of a group was just one way of denigrating and invalidating it.
A similar dynamic operated during the *Maimonidean Controversy of the 13th century about the legitimacy of philosophy within traditional Jewish society. Especially during the last phase of the controversy (1303–06), when the question was no longer whether or not to study philosophy but rather how to define the appropriate relationship between traditional Jewish topics and the various branches of philosophy in the context of the Jewish curriculum (Gad Freudenthal, "Holiness and Defilement: The Ambivalent Perception of Philosophy by Its Opponents in the Early Fourteenth Century," in: Micrologus, 9 (2001) (= The Jews and the Sciences) (Florence, 2001), pp. 169–93). In a male-dominated society, where women were the ever-present "Other within," both sides of the controversy imaged philosophy as a "foreign woman," and both framed the relationship between Torah and philosophy in terms of power relations between a mistress and her female servant. Philosophy is commonly referred to as an "alien women" and the students of philosophy as the "children of alien women" (Abba Mari of Lunel, Minhat Qenaot (Pressburg, 1838)). It follows that a Jew who studies philosophy is like one who enters an illicit sexual union with a foreign woman. The offspring of this form of idolatry offspring must not be allowed to enter the community. The idolatrous nature of the study of philosophy is conveyed most forcefully by images taken from the prophecy of Hosea, in which Israel is likened to a disloyal licentious wife, who whores after other men and whose shame is exposed by the prophet "in front of her lovers" (Hos. 2:12). Studying philosophy is portrayed as a sexual sin as well as a sin of disobedience and betrayal of God. Less severe are the pronouncements that portray philosophy as Hagar, the boastful concubine of Sarah, who improperly challenged the lawful wife, Sarah, and was forced to flee from Sarah's justified wrath. In this imagery, there is nothing wrong with philosophy per se, but with the brazen character of the philosophers who challenge the proper hierarchy between philosophy and Torah.
The Maimonidean Controversy ended with a ban on the study of philosophy under the age of 25, but the study of philosophy continued unabated as philosophy became more technical. In the 14th century, gender categories continued to inform Jewish philosophy especially in biblical philosophical commentaries that followed the guidelines of Maimonides' hermeneutics. Commentaries on the Song of Songs (e.g., by Moses ibn *Tibbon, *Immanuel ben Solomon of Rome, and *Levi Ben Gershom) identified the female beloved not with the community of Israel but with the human soul. For Gersonides, for example, the Song of Songs was a philosophical parable about the pursuit of ultimate felicity that culminates in the knowledge of God (Menachem Kellner (ed. and trans.), Commentary on Song of Songs: Levi ben Gershom (Gersonides) (1998), pp. xv–xxxi). The biblical text is understood as two simultaneous dialogues: one between the human material intellect and the Active Intellect, and the other between the faculties of the soul and the material intellect. The two dialogues are connected: as the material intellect desires to conjoin with the Active Intellect it must enlist the aid of the other faculties of the soul in this quest. In these hierarchical relations, that which is superior ontologically or epistemologically is always masculine, and that which is inferior always feminine.
From the 13th to the 16th centuries Jewish philosophers (e.g., Zerahiah She'altiel *Gracian Hen, Judah *Romano, *Immanuel of Rome, Levi ben Gershom, *Shemariah ben Elijah of Crete, Benjamin ben Judah ben Joab of Rome, Isaac ben Moses *Arama, David *Ibn Yahya and others) perpetuated the dichotomy between the "strange woman" and the "woman of virtue" in their commentaries on Proverbs. Lady Wisdom was identified with theoretical wisdom, whose knowledge (by the male philosophers) led to the immortality of the soul; the perfect wife illustrated practical reasoning and the cultivation of moral virtues, necessary for the attainment of theoretical knowledge, and the "strange woman" symbolized the desires of the body and other material pursuits that hinder the lover of wisdom (Julia Schwartzmann, "Gender Concepts of Medieval Jewish Thinkers and the Book of Proverbs," in: Jewish Studies Quarterly, 7 (2000), 183–200). The philosophical commentaries on Proverbs perpetuated the view of women as intellectually imperfect and inferior to men and made normative the subordination of women to their husbands. A marked departure from this negative perception was Judah *Abrabanel's Italian best-seller, Dialogi di amore, in which the female protagonist, Sophia, engages in a philosophical dialogue with the male protagonist, Philo, acting as a teacher of wisdom. Abrabanel's positive portrayal of a female seeker of wisdom reflects both the conventions of Renaissance courtier literature as well as a new social reality in which patrician women had greater access to education in the liberal arts (Merry E. Wiesner, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (20002), 143–74).
Ironically, it was the very otherness of philosophy in traditional Jewish society that enabled a few Jewish women to study the liberal arts (in preparation for the study of philosophy) long before they were allowed to study halakhic texts. In Renaissance Italy, women of merchant-bankers families received such learning, and some of them functioned as patronesses of learning. To one such woman, Laura, the wife of Jehiel of Pisa, David ben Judah Messer *Leon composed his commentary on Proverbs, Shevaḥ Nashim (Praise of Women). After his forced departure from Naples in 1494 he asked her to provide for his livelihood in Constantinople. To make his plea effective, he praised her along with other illustrious women of Greek and Roman mythologies and Dante's beloved, Beatrice, and identified her with the industrious and generous Proverbial "woman of virtue" (Hava Tirosh-Rothschild, Between Worlds: The Life and Thought of Rabbi David ben Judah Messer Leon (1991), pp. 73–77). A more famous patroness of learning was ex-converso Doña Garcia *Nasi, who supported many educational institutions in the Ottoman Empire. In eulogizing her and other illustrious women, Moses Almosnino praised female learning and had no qualm asserting that the departed soul of these women will enter the "world-to-come" (Me'ameẓ Ko'aḥ, Venice 1588). Contrary to Maimonides, for whom inclusion in the "world-to-come" was predicated solely on attainment of intellectual perfection, Almosnino posited the perfection of the will as a condition of religious perfection. Although women lacked formal philosophical training, they could experience religious perfection, because it was predicated not on the intellect but on the will and on acts of faith.
With the dawn of modernity and the Emancipation of the Jews in the 19th century, Jewish society and culture underwent profound transformation through processes of acculturation and assimilation. As Jews acquired the basic markers of the larger society such as language, dress, and values, they gradually dissolved their minority status through intermarriage or conversion (Paula E. Hyman, Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History: The Roles and Representations of Women (1995). Modernity offered the Jewish female greater access to secular education, entry into the liberal professions and the sciences, and participation in political movements such as socialism and communism (Harriet Freidenreich, Female, Jewish, Educated: The Lives of Central European University Women (2002). While women in traditional Jewish society of Eastern Europe remained relatively uneducated, in western and central Europe daughters of assimilated Jewish families enrolled in the philosophy faculty of secular universities, and very few of them (e.g., Edith *Stein, Simone *Weil, and Hannah *Arendt) became professional philosophers. However, it is debatable whether these philosophically-trained Jewish women composed Jewish philosophy: Edith Stein and Simone Weil converted to Catholicism, and Hannah Arendt, who was committed to Zionism, was also deeply critical of traditional Judaism.
Arendt's case in particular illustrates the complexity of defining Jewish philosophy. On the one hand, she grew up in an assimilated Jewish home and had little knowledge of Judaism, but when she began her philosophical career she was concerned about "how to do [philosophy] if one is a Jewish woman." Defining herself as a political theorist rather than a philosopher, she regarded her Jewishness as a matter of ethnicity rather than religion. On the other hand, Arendt developed her distinctive method of doing philosophy through storytelling as a critique of western philosophy. Her biography of Rahel Levin *Varnhagen (1771–1809), a Jewish woman who converted to Christianity and held an intellectual salon in Berlin, was a deliberate attempt to philosophize in a new way (Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of Jewess (1957)). While Arendt did not produce a philosophy of Judaism, she was a Jewish philosopher. Yet, for most Jewish women in the first half of the 20th century, to be Jewish and educated in Jewish philosophy was a contradiction in terms. This was the case at least until Jewish Studies began to flourish as an academic discipline first in the State of Israel and later in North America. Several women (e.g., Sara Heller-Willensky, Rivkah Schatz-Uffenheimer, Rivkah Horwitz, Collette Sirat, and Edith Wyschogrod) helped establish Jewish philosophy as academic field, but, with the exception of Wyschogrod, they wrote history of Jewish philosophy rather than constructive philosophy.
While Jewish philosophy remained the exclusive domain of men until the end of the 20th century, at least two of them – Franz Rosenzweig and Emmanuel Lévinas – made the category of "the feminine" central to their philosophical project. These philosophers were either closely associated with Martin Buber (i.e., Rosenzweig) or deeply influenced by Buber (i.e., Lévinas), and all three philosophers took for granted the bourgeois model of female domesticity which dominated Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Against this cult of domesticity it is not surprising to find that early 20th century Jewish philosophers use the category of "the feminine" in their analysis of Judaism and in their reflections on the human condition. More intriguingly, the three Jewish philosophers employed the category of "the feminine" as a Jewish critique of Western philosophy, which is both Christian and masculine. Buber, Rosenzweig, and Lévinas proposed a new approach to philosophy (Das Neue Denken), which challenged the universalizing and totalizing tendencies of western philosophy and offered an alternative, dialogical philosophy. In this regard, their philosophy parallels that of Hannah Arendt.
Buber's alternative was philosophy as an art of living a life of dialogue through an I-Thou relationship. The philosophy of dialogue rejects all forms of objectification, abstraction, or logical constructs, characteristic of traditional philosophy. By contrast, scientific knowledge, including metaphysical knowledge, is typified as an I-It relation, but it falls short of grasping reality because the Thou escapes rational inquiry. Since Buber's philosophy rejected objectification, his dialogical philosophy could not recognize gender differences. I-Thou relationship is not limited to men, and in fact it often occurs in heterosexual love relationship, although this relationship too reverts to I-It mode. In a philosophy of dialogue there is room for women as equal partners of dialogue, as persons who must never be objectified and treated as the means to an end. Socially speaking, the ideal arrangement is the egalitarian communities of the early kibbutzim in which men and women were (in theory at least) equal. Notwithstanding his egalitarian vision, Buber's language to describe relational self was carried out in androcentric terms: the "interhuman" was "between man and man" and the "I" in the I-Thou relations was always "a man who needs the other in order to be himself." Gender differences were subsumed under the category of "the human" expressed in masculine language.
Buber's colleague and co-translator of the Bible, Franz Rosenzweig, creatively built on medieval poetry of Judah Halevi, medieval commentaries of Song of Songs, and Western philosophy to articulate a novel philosophy of Judaism. In Star of Redemption, Part ii, Book Two, Rosenzweig applied the category of "the feminine" to the Jewish people as a whole (Leora Batniztky, "Dependency and Vulnerability: Jewish and Feminist Existentialist Constructions of the Human," in: Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy, pp. 127–52, esp. 138–42). The Jewish collectivity, like real women, has a special ontological share in revelation: as an eternal people the Jews have one task only, to worship God in prayer. Unlike other nations that are still moving toward the accomplishment of this goal, the Jewish People has already achieved it, because, like the "most feminine woman," they are naturally disposed to revelation. As much as a woman is a-priori ready for eternity (a view for which Rosenzweig can offer no empirical proof), so are the Jewish people a-priori eternal. In the case of both actual women and the actual Jewish People, the "natural" provides a kind of transcendental condition for the supernatural. As a woman embodies a natural openness to the supernatural realm of love, so the Jews embody in their blood God's revelation to them. Rosenzweig constructs Judaism as the feminized rootless Other that has contributed to the creation of Christian masculine culture. Batnitzky shows that for Rosenzweig, "Judaism is not just 'feminine,' but in remaining 'homeless,' she, namely, Judaism, makes Christianity and the nations of the world more 'feminine.' By not allowing Christianity to become totalitarian, Judaism forces Christianity to remain somewhat rootless and thereby more 'feminine', Jewish and ethical" (ibid, p. 142).
The category of "the feminine" is even more central in the philosophy of Lévinas, who was deeply indebted to Buber and Rosenzweig but attempted to go beyond them. For Lévinas the relation to the Other is irreducible to comprehension; it takes place in acts of speech, in a face-to-face relation with the Other. To learn to acknowledge what one cannot know and to respect the separateness of the other person is to acknowledge the transcendent of the other person. The task of ethics is the fundamental obligation to the Other. Lévinas's ethics is genderized because he identified the feminine with radical alterity. The feminine is presented as an exemplar or ideal figure of alterity; she is the Other par excellence. This claim means first that the feminine is not defined in terms of its opposition to the masculine; it has its own positive essence, and second that this positive essence is alterity. Lévinas did not sufficiently distinguish between these two meanings of alterity, but he definitely presented the alterity of the feminine as irreducible and absolute; it cannot be bridged or diminished; it cannot be negated or reduced. Lévinas defines the very mode of being of the feminine as "withdrawal into mystery" as "hiding" and "modesty" (Time and the Other, trans. Richard Cohen (1987), p. 87) The relation to the feminine is a relation with what "slips away from the light" with what escapes comprehension and understanding. The Other escapes knowledge or understanding because the recognition that the relation to the Other (a form of transcendence) is irreducible to comprehension.
Lévinas's celebration of the feminine has generated a lot of attention among feminist (mostly non-Jewish) philosophers, while also posing a challenge to feminists. Should feminists endorse it because Lévinas privileges the feminine and gives her a certain priority, or should feminists note that his portrayal of the feminine functions in a way that ultimately re-inscribes feminine in a traditional trope that benefits men more than it does women? Or perhaps feminists should reject Lévinas's appeal to feminine alterity as too much mystification? The feminist engagements with Lévinas are not conclusive on this point. Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex, trans. H.M. Parshley (1952) and later Luce Irigaray ("Questions to Emmanuel Lévinas, in: The Levinas Reader, ed. Margaret Whitford (1991), pp. 178–89; "The Fecundity of the Caress: A Reading of Lévinas, Totality and Infinity, 'Phenomenology of Eros,'" in Feminist Interpretations of Emmanuel Lévinas, ed. Tina Chanter (2001), pp. 119–44) took Lévinas to task precisely because he posited the woman as the paradigm of the Other. These feminist critics argued that his analysis of the Woman and his use of the feminine as a trope in his philosophy of the Other perpetuated the negative perception of women in traditional patriarchal society, considering them always as an object rather than a subject and viewing them as that which the (male) Self is not. To construe the woman as the "absolute Other" was no bonus to women but a continuation of patriarchy; the Self is always defined by men who speak from their located perspective but universalize it as the norm of humanity.
Recently some philosophers, such as Tina Chanter, Catherine Chalier, and Clair E. Katz, have offered more positive readings of Lévinas showing how Lévinas' philosophy of the Other could be useful to feminist thinking. Contrary to many feminist readers of Lévinas who ignore his Jewishness, Claire E. Katz argues that knowledge of Lévinas' Jewish sources (biblical, rabbinic, and philosophical) is necessary if one is to correctly understand how the feminine functions in his philosophy. According to Katz, Lévinas "uses the feminine as a transcendental structure. The feminine creates the dwelling, the welcoming, and habitation, thus providing the means of enjoyment and sensuality that are interrupted by the ethical" ("Reinhabiting the House of Ruth: Exceeding the Limits of the Feminine in Levinas," in: Feminist Interpretations of Levinas, p. 147). Elsewhere Katz explains why Lévinas chose the trope of maternity as the epitome of ethical relations which goes beyond the eros of philosophy, uniting enjoyment and responsibility ("From Eros to Maternity: Love, Death, and 'the Feminine' in the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas," in: Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy, pp. 153–75). Lévinas's ethics, with its focus on maternity, was a Jewish alternative to Western philosophy's conception of life as being-toward-death, exemplified by the philosophy of Heidegger. Katz concludes that Lévinas did not exclude woman (or women) from ethical relationship. In fact it was "his Hebrew roots [that] give him profound insight into the obligation and responsibility of the Other, for those who are most vulnerable. And yet it is his Judaism that precisely allows his inadequate view of women to merge and take hold." Lévinas's project, therefore, is of use to feminists but not in a straightforward and simplistic manner. He offers feminists "an opportunity to see feminist concerns in a different light and to see a wider range of what those concerns might be" (ibid., p. 171).
Lévinas's philosophy of the Other has generated as well non-feminist philosophical engagements by two female Jewish philosophers, Catherine Chalier and Edith Wyschogrod. By juxtaposing Lévinas and Kant, Chalier implicitly endorses Lévinas's critique of Kant's understanding of the moral subject and moral autonomy on the basis of the Jewish sacred tradition (What Ought I To Do?: Morality in Kant and Levinas, trans. Jane Marie Todd (2002)). Lévinas' ethics as first philosophy arose from his personal experience of the barbarism and savagery of the 20th century manifested "through nuclear, chemical and biological warfare, through death camps, through concentration and labor camps and by means of conventional weapons," which Edith Wyschogrod appropriately labeled as the "death event" (Saints and Postmodernism: Revisioning Moral Philosophy (1990), p. xiv). She responded to the "new historical horizon" not only by subjecting the modern "kingdom of death" to close philosophical analysis in her Spirit in Ashes: Hegel, Heidegger, and Man-Made Mass Death (1985), but also by articulating a postmodern ethics that is grounded in the lives of saints. Deliberately moving away from moral theory into the specific "pathways" or "journeys" of saints' lives, Wyschogrod's narrative philosophy, which is informed by literary theory and comparative literature, offers "a three pronged critique of theory: a pragmatic criticism of moral theory; an ontological criticism of its infrastructure; and a criticism of normative reason as belonging to the philosophy of reflection" (Saints and Postmodernism, p. xxv). While Wyschogrod's philosophy engages mostly non-Jewish philosophical and literary texts and includes no hermeneutics of Jewish sacred texts, her philosophical project emerges from the problematics of the Shoah, making her the most important post-Holocaust female Jewish philosopher.
During the last two decades of the 20th century, Judaism and Jewish philosophy were transformed by the rise of feminism, including Jewish feminism. Jewish women demanded and largely received an end to centuries of discrimination and exclusion and gained access to formal religious education, communal leadership roles, and participation in public ritual. At the forefront of feminist Jewish thought stood the theologian Judith Plaskow who insisted, contrary to other Jewish feminists, that the problem of women in Judaism is primarily theological rather than sociological. She charged that Judaism is a male-centered tradition because women were deliberately excluded from the process of interpretation. The sacred texts of Judaism do not express the will of God, but rather the interpretation of the will of God by men who deliberately excluded women from the process of interpretation. In order to address the injustice done to women by the Jewish tradition itself, Plaskow re-envisioned Judaism when women take their rightful place in the community of interpreters and offer new readings of Scriptures and the rabbinic tradition (Standing Again at Sinai (1981)). Plaskow's feminist critique of traditional Judaism was indebted to non-Jewish feminist theologians, to Liberal Christian theologians such as Paul Tillich, and to Buber's dialogical philosophy. However, precisely because Plaskow construed the Jewish feminist critique as a theological and midrashic discourse, Jewish philosophers did not take her critique to be sufficiently philosophical and did not engage her philosophically.
In the 1980s and 1990s Jewish feminist theologians (e.g., Ellen Umansky and Laura Levitt) followed Plaskow's lead, engaging the Jewish tradition both critically and constructively. Early feminist writings reexamined biblical and rabbinic sources, highlighted the presence of women that the tradition ignored, explored the historical development of the tradition in regard to perceptions of women, and constructed their own feminist Midrashim in which women were the main actors. Although this work articulates a distinctive Jewish feminist discourse that changed the practice of Judaism (especially in North America), scholars of Jewish philosophy regarded feminism as a political ideology that has little to do with Jewish philosophy. The reluctance to engage feminist philosophy reflects a deeper debate about the meaning of philosophy as an intellectual inquiry in the postmodern age and about the discipline of Jewish philosophy within Jewish Studies (Hava Tirosh-Rothschild, "'Dare to Know': Feminism and the Discipline of Jewish Philosophy," in: Lynn Davidman and Shelly Tenenbaum (eds.), Feminist Perspectives on Jewish Studies (1994), 94–117). Only a handful of (male) Jewish philosophers (e.g., Kenneth Seeskin, Steven Katz, Michael Oppenheim) recognized the merits of feminist philosophy and its implication to the future of Jewish philosophy.
Two feminist thinkers, Rachel Adler and Tamar Ross, articulated a systematic theology of Judaism informed by philosophical models. Rachel Adler's Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics (Boston, 1998) engages Judaism from the perspective of philosophy of law. Inspired by the work of the legal theorist, Robert Culver, Adler seeks to articulate a theory of halakhah that includes women and honestly deals with the historical development of Judaism over time. For Adler, the task of "engendering Judaism," namely, of honoring gender differences as equal in value, will have to engage men and women cooperatively, and its primary mode is the narrative. She endorses the values of "equal respect, inclusivity, diversity and pluralism," and not only re-reads rabbinic sources in light of them but also proposes new rituals that reflect them. As a Liberal Jew who is committed to halakhic life, Adler defines the task for feminist praxis and theory as an articulation of "a world of legal meaning in which the stories, dreams, and revelations of Jewish women and men are fully and complexly integrated" (p. 35). This task includes not only new readings of revelatory stories but also new rituals to inculcate equality between men and women.
Tamar Ross shares Adler's goal but offers philosophical arguments for it within the boundaries of Orthodox Judaism. Inspired by Wittgenstein's philosophy of language, Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism (2004) presents a theory of revelation as "cumulative." For Ross, revelation is a product of an interpretative community that selectively treats the received tradition. It is the community that determines which meaning is normative and/or authoritative, and it is the entire community that determines what the will of God is. Halakhah is not the mechanical application of eternal pre-existing legal principles to changing conditions, but the ever-changing interplay between texts, social reality, and shifting hermeneutic and moral assumptions. Community practice and social reality are thus part of the process by which the collective negotiates its normative consensus (Yoel Finkelman, "A Critique of Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism by Tamar Ross," in: The Edah Journal, 4:2 (2004): 1–10). Ross calls on contemporary Orthodox feminists to gradually alter not only the place of women in Orthodoxy but the very texture of interpretation and religious life. Feminists can help forge a new religious language that is less biased, but to do so they must become learned in every area of sacred tradition. As women make their voices and concerns more central as the interpretive community, they will gradually rewrite the ground rules by which Orthodox Jewry plays the language game of Torah and mitzvot.
While feminist Jewish philosophy is still in its infancy, the number of women who study, teach, and construe Jewish philosophy is quite impressive, including Francesca Alberitini, Leora Batnitzky, Ruth Birenbaum, Almut Bruckstein, Jean Cahan, Catherine Chalier, Idit Dobbs-Weinstein, Amirah Eran, Barbara E. Gali, Resianne Fontaine, Yudit K. Greenberg, Ruth Glassner, Hannah Kasher, Claire Katz, Sarah Klein-Braslavy, Gitit Holtzman, Nancy K. Levene, Diana Lobel, Sandra M. Lubarsky, Sarah Pessin, Heidi Ravven, Randi Rashkover, Tamar Ross, T.M. Rudavsky, Susan Shapiro, Julia Schwartzmann, Suzanne Last Stone, Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Edith Wyschogrod, and Laurie Zoloth. Some of these scholars (especially in Israel) define themselves strictly as historians of Jewish philosophy and attest little interest in or even hostility to feminist philosophy, while others (especially those who focus on modern Jewish philosophy in the U.S.) engage feminist philosophy in their own work as constructive Jewish philosophers. A recent anthology, Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy, edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson (2004), includes many of the women listed above. Retaining a critical posture toward Jewish philosophy as well as toward feminist philosophy, the participants of the volume demonstrate the possibility of a fruitful dialogue between Jewish philosophy and feminist philosophy. The volume engages past Jewish philosophers (e.g., Philo, Ibn Gabirol, Maimonides, Gersonides, Baruch Spinoza, Hermann Cohen, Buber, Rosenzweig, and Lévinas) and the sub-disciplines of philosophy (e.g., epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, political theory, philosophy of law, and theology) in light of feminist philosophy. Without reaching consensus about Judaism, Jewish philosophy, and feminism, the volume demonstrates that when women are allowed to philosophize they can and do enrich Jewish philosophy.
[Hava Tirosh-Samuelson (2nd ed.)]
For information concerning editions of texts, translations, and books, monographs, and articles dealing with topics in the thought of a particular philosopher, see entry on that philosopher. bibliography: J. Kaplan, 2000 Books and More: an Annotated and Selected Bibliography of Jewish History and Thought (1983). histories of jewish and general philosophy: A. Altmann, "Jewish Philosophy," in: S. Radhakrishnan (ed.), History of Philosophy, Eastern and Western, 2 (1953), 76–92; S.H. Bergman, Faith and Reason (1961); J.L. Blau, The Story of Jewish Philosophy (1962); F. Copelston, A History of Philosophy, 8 vols. (1950–66); T. De Boer, The History of Islam (1903); M. Fakhry, A History of Islamic Philosophy (1970, 1983); D.H. Frank and O. Leaman (eds.), History of Jewish Philosophy – Routledge History of World Philosophies, vol. 2 (1997); D.H. Frank, O. Leaman, and C.H. Manekin, The Jewish Philosophy Reader (2000); E. Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (1955) incl. bibl.; R. Goldwater (ed.), Jewish Philosophy and Philosophers (1962); Guttmann, Philosophies; Husik, Philosophy; M. Horten, Die Philosophie des Islam (1924); A. Jospe (ed.), Studies in Jewish Thought: An Anthology of German Jewish Scholarship (1981); R. Jospe, Filosofyah Yehudit bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim, 1: Yesodot (2005); idem, Filosofyah Yehudit bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim, 2: Ma'avarim (2006); idem, Filosofyah Yehudit bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim, 3: Rambam (2006); idem, What Is Jewish Philosophy? (1988; 1990); idem (ed.), Paradigms in Jewish Philosophy (1997); E. Fackenheim and R. Jospe (eds.), Jewish Philosophy and the Academy (1996); R. Jospe and S. Wagner (eds.), Great Schisms in Jewish History (1981); I. Kajon (ed.), La Storia della Filosofia Ebraica (1993); A. Kilcher and Otfried Fraisse, Metzler Lexikon Juedischer Philosophen (2003); Munk, Mélanges; S.H. Nasr and O. Leaman (eds.), History of Islamic Philosophy, vols. 1 and 2 (Routledge History of World Philosophies, vol. i (1996); S. Pines, "Jewish Philosophy," in: Enyclopedia of Philosophy, 4 (1967), 261–77; N. Rotenstreich, Jewish Philosophy in Modern Times (1968); M.M. Sharif (ed.), A History of Muslim Philosophy, 2 vols. (1963–66), incl. bibl.; B. Geyer (ed.), Die patristische und scholastische Philosophie (1928, repr. 1951); R. Walzer, "Islamic Philosophy," in: S. Radhakrishnan (ed.), History of Philosophy, Eastern and Western, 2 1953), 120–48; repr. in: R. Walzer, Greek into Arabic (1962); idem, in: A.H. Armstrong (ed.), Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy (1967), 643–69; W. Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology (1962); J. Weinberg, A Short History of Medieval Philosophy (1964); G. Vajda, Introduction à la penseé juive du moyen âge (1947), incl. bibl.; idem, Juedische Philosophie (1950); N. Samuelson, Introduction to Modern Jewish Philosophy (1989); idem, Jewish Philosophy: An Historical Introduction (2003); E. Schweid, Toledot ha-Hagut ha-Yehudit ba-Et ha-Ḥadashah: Ha-Meah ha-19 (1977); idem, Jewish Thought in the Twentieth Century: An Introduction (1992); K. Seeskin, Jewish Philosophyin a Secular Age (1990); C. Sirat, A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages (1985); idem, La Philosophie Juive Médiévale en Pays de Chrétienté (1988); idem, La Philosophie Juive Médiévale en Terre d'Islam (1988); idem, in: P. Wilpert (ed.), Die Metaphysik im Mittelalter (1963), 126–1135 (bibliographic information on medieval Jewish philosophy between 1950 and 1960). For the current literature the reader is referred to Kirjath Sepher, bibliographic journal. studies: A. Altmann, Studies in Religious Philosophy and Mysticism (1969); I. Efros, The Problem of Space in Medieval Jewish Philosophy (1917); idem, Ha-Pilosofyah ha-Yehudit bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim: Munaḥim u-Musagim (1969); idem, Ha-Pilosofyah ha-Yehudit bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim: Shitot ve-Sugyot (1965); J. Guttmann, Das Verhaeltnis des Thomas von Aquino zum Judentum und der juedischen Litteratur (1891); idem, Die Scholastik des dreizehnten Jahrhunderts in ihren Beziehungen zum Judenthum und zur juedischen Literatur (1902); J. Guttmann, Dat u-Madda (1955); idem, in: mgwj, 78 (1934), 456–64; I. Heinemann, Die Lehre von der Zweckbestimmung des Menschen im griechisch-roemischen Altertum und im juedischen Mittelalter (1926); idem, Ta'amei ha-Mitzvot be-Sifrut Yisrael, 2 vols. (1954–56); S. Horovitz, Die Psychologie bei den juedischen Religionsphilosophen des Mittelalters von Saadia bis Maimuni, 4 vols. (1898–1912); A. Hyman and J. Walsh, Philosophy in the Middle Ages: The Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Traditions (1967) incl. bibl.; A. Hyman, in: Arts libéraux et philosophie du moyen âge (1969), 99–110; D. Kaufmann, Geschichte der Attributenlehre in der juedischen Religionsphilosophie des Mittelalters von Saadia bis Maimuni (1877); idem, Die Sinne: Beitraege zur Geschichte der Physiologie und Psychologie im Mittelalter (1884); M. Kellner, Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought (1986); idem, Must a Jew Believe Anything? (1999); D. Lasker, Jewish Philosophical Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages (1977); R. Lerner and M. Mahdi, Medieval Political Philosophy (1963); A. Melamed, Philosopher-King in Medieval and Renaissance Jewish Political Thought (2003); S. Pines, Beitraege zur islamischen Atomenlehre (1936, 19462); idem, Nouvelles études sur Awhad al-Zamān Abu'l Barakāt al-Baghdādī (1955); idem, "Translator's Introduction," in: Guide of the Perplexed (1963); A. Ravitzky, Al Da'at Ha-Makom: Meḥkarim ba-Hagut ha-Yehudit u-ve-Toledoteha (1991); idem, Dat u-Medinah be-Maḥshevet Yisrael (1998); idem, Derashat ha-Pesaḥ le-Hasdai Crescas (1988); idem, History and Faith: Studies in Jewish Philosophy (1996); idem, Iyyunim Maimoniyim (1996); idem, Ḥerut al ha-Luḥot (1999); E. Rosenthal, Griechisches Erbe in der juedischen Religionsphilosophie des Mittelalters (1960); Scholem, Mysticism: On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism (1965); idem, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism and Talmudic Tradition (1960, 19652); M. Schreiner, Der Kalām in der juedischen Literatur (1895); D. Schwartz, Ha-Ra'ayon ha-Meshiḥi ba-Hagut ha-Yehudit bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim (1997); idem, Setirah ve-Hastarah ba-Hagut ha-Yehudit Bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim (2002); idem, Astrologya u-Magya ba-Hagut ha-Yehudit bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim (1999); idem, Yashan be-Kankan Ḥadash: Mishnato ha-Iyyunit shel ha-Ḥug 'a-Neoaplatoni be-Filosofya ha-Yehudit ba-Meah ha-14 (1996); idem, Kame'ot, Segulot u-Sikhaltanut ba-Hagut ha-Yehudit Bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim (2004); idem, Emunah u-Tevunah (2001); idem, Studies on Astral Magic in Medieval Jewish Thought (2005); M.B. Shapiro, The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised (2004); C. Sirat, Les théories des visions surnaturelles dans la penseé juive du Moyen-Âge (1969); L. Strauss, Philosophie und Gesetz (1935); idem, Persecution and the Art of Writing (1952); idem, Spinoza's Critique of Religion (1965); G. Vajda, L'amour de Dieu dans la théologie juive du Moyen Age (1957); idem, Recherches sur la philosophie et la Kabbale dans la pensée juive du Moyen Age (1962); E.E. Urbach, Ḥazal–Pirkei Emunot ve-De'ot (1969; Eng., The Sages, their Concepts and Beliefs, 1975).), incl. bibl.; H.A. Wolfson, Philo Foundations of Religious Philosophy in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (1947); idem, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, vol. 1 (1956; 19642); idem, Religious Philosophy (1961); idem, The Philosophy of Spinoza (1934); idem, The Philosophy of the Kalam (1976); idem, Repercussions of the Kalam in Jewish Philosophy (1979); Harry Austryn Wolfson Jubilee Volume (1965), Eng. section, 39–46. For publications in the field of Jewish philosophy by S. Pines, E. Schweid, J. Sermoneta see Reshimat ha-Pirsumim ha-Maddaiyyim shel Ḥavrei ha-Makhon le-Madda'ei ha-Yahadut (1957–68). add. bibliography: J.B. Agus, Jewish Identity in an Age of Ideologies (1978); E. Alexander, The Jewish Idea and its Enemies: Personalities, Issues, Events (1988); A. Altmann, Essays in Jewish Intellectual History (1981); E. Berkovits, Major Themes in Modern Philosophies of Judaism (1974); idem, Crisis and Faith (1977); E.B. Borowitz, Renewing the Covenant: a Theology for the Postmodern Jew (1991); A. Cohen and P. Mendes-Flohr (eds.), Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought: Original Essays on Critical Concepts, Movements, and Beliefs (1986); E.L. Fackenheim, Encounters between Judaism and Modern Philosophy: a Preface to Future Jewish Thought (1973); idem, To Mend the World: Foundations of Future Jewish Thought (1982); M.A. Fishbane, Judaism: Revelation and Traditions (1987); S. Freedman, Life as Creation: a Jewish Way of Thinking about the World (1993); J. Neusner, E.S. Frerichs, N. Sarna (eds.), From Ancient Israel to Modern Judaism: Intellect in Quest of Understanding; Essays in Honor of Marvin Fox, 4 vols. (1989); N. Gillman, Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew (1990); R. Gordis, The Dynamics of Judaism: a Study in Jewish Law (1990); B. Greenberg, On Women and Judaism: a View from Tradition (1981); B. Herring, Jewish Ethics and Halakhah for Our Times: Sources and Commentary, 2 vols. (1984–1989); A. Green (ed.), Jewish Spirituality: From the Sixteenth Century Revival to the Present (1988); I. Twersky and B. Septimus (eds.), Jewish Thought in the Seventeenth Century (1987); S.T. Katz, Historicism, the Holocaust, and Zionism: Critical Studies in Modern Jewish Thought and History (1992); W.E. Kaufman, Contemporary Jewish Philosophies,(1975); H. Kushner, To Life!: a Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking (1993); L. Kushner, The Book of Words: Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk (1993); D. Marmur, The Star of Return: Judaism after the Holocaust (1991); N.N. Glatzer (ed.), Modern Jewish Thought: A Source Reader (1978); R. Link-Salinger (ed.), Of Scholars, Savants, and their Texts: Studies in Philosophy and Religious Thought: Essays in Honor of Arthur Hyman (1989); R. Patai, The Jewish Mind (1977); G. Rose, Judaism and Modernity: Philosophical Essays (1993); D.B. Ruderman, Jewish Thought and Scientific Discovery in Early Modern Europe (1990); J. Sacks, Tradition in an Untraditional Age: Essays on Modern Jewish Thought (1990); N.M. Samuelson, Judaism and the Doctrine of Creation (1994); Z. Schachter-Shalomi, Paradigm Shift: From the Jewish Renewal Teachings of Reb Zalman Schachter-ShalomiI (ed. by Ellen Singer; 1993); K. Seeskin, Jewish Philosophy in a Secular Age (1990); R.M. Seltzer, Jewish People, Jewish Thought: The Jewish Experience in History (1980); D.S. Shapiro, Studies in Jewish Thought (1975); E. Starobinski-Safran, Le Buisson et la Voix: Exegese et Pensée Juives (1987). woman and gender: A. Brenner (ed.), Feminist Companion to Wisdom Literature (1993); C.V. Camp, Wisdom and the Feminine in the Book of Proverbs (1985); C. Chalier, Figures du feminine: lecture d'Emmanuel Lévinas (1982); idem, La perseverance du mal (1987); I. Dobbs-Weinstein, "Matter as Creature and as the Source of Evil: Maimonides and Aquinas," in: L.E. Goodman (ed.), Neoplatonism and Jewish Thought (1992), 217–35; E.C. Katz, Levinas, Judaism and the Feminine: The Silent Footsteps of Rebecca (2004); M. Kellner, "Philosophical Misogyny in Medieval Jewish Philosophy – Gersonides vs. Maimonides," in: Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought (= Sermoneta Jubilee Volume, 1998), 113–28; A. Melamed, "Maimonides on Women: Formless Matter or Potential Prophet?" in: A. Ivry, E.R. Wolfson, and A. Arkush (eds.), Perspectives on Jewish Thought and Mysticism … dedicated to the memory … of Alexander Altmann (1998), 99–134; A. Nye, Philosophia: The Thought of Rosa Luxemburg, Simone Weil, and Hannah Arendt (1994); M. Peskowitz and L. Levitt (eds.), Judaismsince Gender (1997); M. Oppenheim, "To Notice the Color of Her Eyes: Facing the Feminist Jewish Critique," in: idem, Speaking/Writing of God: Jewish Philosophical Reflections on the Life with Others (1999), 53–82; J. Plaskow, "Jewish Feminist Thought," in: D.H. Frank and O. Leaman (eds.), History of Jewish Philosophy (1997), 885–94; H. Ravven, "Creating a Jewish Feminist Philosophy," in: Anima, 12:2 (1986):, 99–112; G. Rose, The Broken Middle: Out of Our Ancient Society (1992); T.M. Rudavsky, Gender and Judaism: The Transformation of Tradition (1995); S.E. Shapiro, "A Matter of Discipline: Reading for Gender in Jewish Philosophy," in: M. Peskowitz and L. Levitt (eds.), Judaism since Gender (1997), 158–78; J. Schwartzman, "Was She Created in the Image of God Too? The Medieval Philosophical Interpretation of the Creation of Woman," in: Da`at 39 (1997), 79–82 (Heb.); J.E. Taylor, "The Women 'Priests' of Philo's De Vita Contemplativa," in: J. Schaberg, A. Bach, and E. Fuchs (eds.), On the Cutting Edge: The Study of Women in Biblical Worlds: Essays in Honor of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (2004), 102–22; E. Umansky, J. Plaskow, and C.P. Christ (eds.), "Creating Jewish Feminist Theology," in: Weaving the Visions: New Patterns of Feminist Spirituality (1989); E. Wyschogrod, An Ethics of Remembering: History, Heterology, and the Nameless Others (1998); idem, Emmanuel Levinas: The Problem of Ethical Metaphysics (2000); N. Yavneh, "The Spiritual Eroticism of Leone's Hermaphrodite," in: J.R. Brink, M.C. Horowitz, and A.P. Coudert (eds.), Playing with Gender: A Renaissance Pursuit, 85–98.
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