PHILOSOPHY. In his article on the Jewish involvement in philosophy in the Dictionnaire des sciences philosophiques, written over a century ago, Solomon Munk pointed out that the Jewish mission to know God and to make Him known to the world was not basically involved with philosophy. After surveying the part played by Jews in philosophy, he concluded that "the Jews, as a nation, or as a religious society, play only a secondary role in the history of philosophy." As a nation or as a religious society this may be true, but even when Munk wrote it was not the case that Jewish participation in philosophy had been insignificant. Since his day the participation of Jews in philosophical activities has become extremely important.
It used to be said that the peculiarly Jewish role in philosophy had been that of middleman, transmitting the ideas of one culture to another, as some Jewish scholars had done in Spain, translating Arabic thought into forms available to Christian Europe. This, of course, was only part of the Jewish involvement in philosophy in the Middle Ages. Since the Renaissance many thinkers of Jewish origin have made central contributions to philosophy, and have played seminal roles in the development of modern Western thought. Some have played roles as Jews; others, who are of Jewish descent, have functioned as individual intellectuals, or sometimes as Christian thinkers.
14th to 17th Centuries
It may have been because they could not function within the Jewish nation or the Jewish religious society that many intellectuals of Jewish origin from Spain and Portugal, functioning in Iberia, Italy, France, and Holland, developed crucial philosophical views. Being spiritually dispossessed, and forced into an alien Christian intellectual world, the Marrano intellectuals may have been led into a more profound philosophical examination of their situation, and through it to a new evaluation of man's place in the cosmos. The drama of the forced conversions, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, and the terror of the Inquisition created a class of Marrano thinkers trying to find their place in the world, trying to find meaningful values, and trying to use the intellectual tools of the Christian world they found themselves in to justify their appreciation of the nature and destiny of man. In Spain and Portugal, the efforts of many Jewish Conversos now went into explorations of theology and philosophy to find a viable and significant theory. From the time of Paul of Santa Maria (converted in 1390), until well into the 17th century at least, Iberian intellectuals of Jewish origin were in the forefront in developing creative interpretations of the human scene, trying to define a Christian view that they could participate in. Most of the novel theories developed during Christian Spain's Golden Age were the product of this group. Spanish scholasticism, with its emphasis on universal law and natural rights, started from the views of Francisco de Vitoria, and was developed by the humanists, Las Casas and Alonzo de la Vera Cruz. Spanish Erasmianism, with its emphasis on liberal Christianity, Christianity without theology, and a Christianity based on moral teachings rather than doctrines, was mainly a convert view. The Jesuit obedience theory was set forth by Diego Lainez, a theologian of Jewish ancestry. Christian kabbalism as a justification of the position of the New Christians was developed by Luis de Leon, showing the role of Jewish Christians in an apocalyptic age.
Outside of Spain, exile thinkers of Jewish origin played an important role in philosophical thought. Judah Abrabanel in Italy provided a major statement of Renaissance Platonism that was influential all over Europe. Juan Luis Vives in the Lowlands was one of the chief exponents of humanism. It has been suggested that Montaigne's closest friend, the French humanist Etienne de la BoMtie (1530–1563) was of Marrano origin. His Discours de la servitude voluntaire (1576; Eng. Anti-Dictator, 1942) is a plea for human freedom and dignity against the tyranny of rulers and is the first modern statement of nonviolence as a means of protest.
The Marranos who settled in Amsterdam in the 17th century had been trained in Christian philosophy, and debated their problems in terms of European philosophical thought. Manasseh Ben Israel, known as the Hebrew philosopher, provided the main perspective through which philosophers like Mersenne, Grotius, and Cudworth, saw Jewish ideas in philosophical terms. Within the Jewish community of Amsterdam, Marrano intellectuals like Uriel da Costa and Juan de Prado raised basic philosophical challenges not only to Judaism, but to the whole framework of revealed religion. Coupled with the radical biblical criticism of Isaac La PeyrIre, their criticisms led to the formulation of a new basic metaphysical ideology for a naturalistic nonreligious world in the theory of Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza, starting from issues raised by heretical thinkers within the Jewish world in Holland, quickly developed a rationalistic, scientific metaphysics to explain the cosmos in terms of logic, psychology, and the 'new science.' Spinoza's naturalism soon became one of the fundamental presentations of the ideology of modern man, greatly affecting the materialists of the Enlightenment, the German idealists, and other movements. Spinoza has become the symbol of the pure modern philosopher, persecuted by religious orthodoxy, but preserving his philosophical ideals and mission. One of his opponents, Orobio de Castro, tried to provide a philosophical defense of Judaism against Prado, Spinoza, Catholicism, and the liberal Christianity of Limborch and John Locke. Orobio de Castro, originally a professor of metaphysics in Spain, played a significant role in late 17th-century thought, influencing Locke, Bayle, and FMnelon.
18th to 19th Centuries
Philosophical activity in Amsterdam died out in the 18th century. The last thinker of note was Isaac de Pinto who challenged Voltaire's anti-Semitism, and Enlightenment atheism. His most influential work was in proposing the theory of modern capitalism against Hume and Mirabeau. He was one of the very first to understand the role of credit and circulation in the modern economic world.
The Enlightenment world, starting in Germany, led to another level of Jewish participation in philosophy. As Jewish intellectuals were emancipated and could participate in the full range of gentile society, they began to apply themselves to philosophical problems, especially of an ethical and general religious nature. The first to make his entry into the general philosophical scene in Germany was Moses Mendelssohn. His writing on aesthetics, psychology, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion made him a central figure in Enlightenment thought, influencing his close friends, Theodor Lessing and Immanuel Kant. Mendelssohn sought to show that 18th-century Deism, the universal religion of reason, was the same as essential Judaism. In the spirit of the Enlightenment, he advocated religious toleration and equality for the Jews. Mendelssohn became a symbol in the general philosophical world of the enlightened and liberated Jew, who could contribute greatly to the mainstream of culture.
A Jewish doctor, Marcus Herz, a friend of both Kant and Mendelssohn, played an important role in the development of Kant's philosophy. He was Kant's official "advocate," and discussed the latter's theories with him as they were being formed. Lazarus Bendavid, at the end of the 18th century, became one of the major expositors of Kant's philosophy. One of the first, and most important, critics of Kant's views was the Lithuanian emigrM, Solomon Maimon, who came to Germany, learned philosophy, and offered a skeptical critique of Kant. Kant considered Maimon's views to be the most astute of any of his opponents, and some of his theories regarding the creative function of the mind became important in the development of German idealism.
People of Jewish origin only begin to play a role in the course of the development of 19th-century German thought around the middle of the century. Moses Hess and Karl Marx redirected German idealism into a materialistic socialist ideology. Julius Frauenstadt became Schopenhauer's main follower, exponent, and editor of his writings. Adolf Lasson was one of the very few advocates of Hegelianism. One of the founders of neo-Kantianism, Otto Liebmann, attacked the various metaphysical theories after Kant, and urged a return to the master. As a result of his efforts the neo-Kantian movement developed, and one of its most important leaders was Hermann Cohen, head of the Marburg school. Cohen emphasized a panlogistic transcendental version of Kant's thought, as opposed to some of the speculative metaphysical interpretations. Cohen stressed the objective side of Kant, and sought to justify a priori knowledge of nature and values. He also tried to identify Kantian ethics with liberal socialism. Cohen played a very significant role in the development of German philosophy. One of his students, Arthur Liebert, edited the journal Kantstudien, in which many of the discussions of neo-Kantianism took place.
In the course of the 19th century, Jews were gradually able to attend the universities and hold positions in them (often only if they were converts). They began to participate in the full range of intellectual activities. Jacob Freudenthal of Breslau became one of the foremost scholars of ancient thought, both Greek and Hebrew, as well as one of the most important Spinoza scholars. Adolphe Franck in France, the first Jewish professor at the CollIge de France, a follower of Victor Cousin, made important contributions in the history of thought, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of law. Xavier LMon founded the Revue de mMtaphysique et de morale to combat positivism and encourage speculative philosophy. The reform rabbi, Felix Adler, started the Ethical Culture movement, and played an important role in formulating and advocating a humanistic nonreligious ethical view.
By the end of the 19th century secularization and assimilation had proceeded to the point where large-scale participation by Jews in philosophy was possible since anti-Semitic barriers were gradually being removed. Jewish intellectuals could devote their energies to trying to give philosophical interpretations of man's situation and his achievements. Many of the most original theories in 20th-century philosophy are the products of thinkers of Jewish origin, who have come to play a larger and larger role in European thought.
Starting with Henri Bergson at the end of the 19th century, some of the major speculative philosophers have been Jews. Bergson's Creative Evolution and Samuel Alexander's Space, Time and Deity have been two of the most prominent efforts to develop metaphysical systems in terms of modern knowledge. Vladimir JankMlMvitch in Paris, starting from Bergsonism, continued to try to find metaphysical meaning in human existence. LMon Brunschvicg devoted himself both to historical scholarship and to maintaining the idealistic tradition in France. Karl Joel developed a system called "the new idealism" in Germany. In America Paul Weiss has been developing an original metaphysics influenced by Whitehead, and Mortimer Adler has been advocating neo-Thomism. Nathan Rotenstreich, in Jerusalem, has been setting forth a theory about human nature and the bases of values. The neo-Kantian movement in its many forms was led by Jewish thinkers, the most prominent of whom were Ernst Cassirer and Leonhard Nelson. Cassirer set forth a developmental Kantianism. Nelson, founder of the New Fries School, emphasized the psychological side of Kantianism. Other major figures who came out of the neo-Kantian movement were Emil Lask, Franz Rosenzweig, Samuel Hugo Bergman, and Fritz Heinemann. The phenomenological movement, which has been so important in 20th-century thought, was started by Edmund Husserl. Seeking an unshakable foundation for human knowledge, he developed his phenomenological method and transcendental phenomenology. Max Scheler applied the phenomenological approach to Catholic doctrines and to social psychology. Edith Stein (who became a nun), influenced by Scheler, combined Thomism with phenomenology and existentialism. Aron Gurwitsch has emphasized the application of phenomenology to psychology, Adolf Reinach to the philosophy of law, and Moritz Geiger to aesthetics. Herbert Spiegelberg wrote the history of the phenomenological movement, and was a leading exponent of it in America along with Fritz Kaufmann. Emanuel Levinas, one of those who introduced phenomenology into France, played an important creative philosophical role in the contemporary European scene. Jewish thinkers, and some of Jewish origin, have played important parts in the existentialist movement. Jean Wahl in France was a leading spokesman and theoretician. Martin Buber was one of the most important figures in religious existentialism. The writings of Simone Weil have played a significant role in postwar Christian existentialism. George Simmel was one of the most important figures in the naturalistic movement, both for his biological and Darwinian interpretation of Kant, and for his theory of sociology. Wilhelm Jerusalem followed out some of the implications of pragmatism, Darwinism, and positivism. In America, Morris Raphael Cohen, Horace Kallen, and Sidney Hook have developed some of the naturalistic ideas of James and Dewey.
In radical philosophy some of the major figures have been Jewish thinkers who have developed new interpretations of Hegel and Marx. Gyorgy Lukacs, Ernst Bloch, and Walter Benjamin set forth creative versions of Marxism, extending its insights into many cultural fields. Alexandre KojIve has played a most important role in reinterpreting Hegel's thought. Herbert Marcuse has combined Freud's and Marx's views, including those of the early Marx, into a powerful critique of modern society that has been very influential on New Left thinkers. On the other side, two thinkers of Jewish origin have been leaders of Russian Orthodox thought in Russia. Semyon Frank, originally a Marxist, developed a metaphysical defense of Christianity. Lev Shestov was a leading anti-rationalist fideist. Among non-Marxist social philosophers and social critics, Jewish thinkers have also made significant contributions. Julien Benda criticized the role of the intellectuals. Elie HalMvy wrote against the tyrannies of fascism and communism. Hannah Arendt analyzed the bases and nature of totalitarianism, and the nature of political freedom. Chaim Perelman has done important work on the nature of justice.
In the analytic philosophical movement, which has been important in the English-speaking world, philosophers of Jewish origin have been in the forefront. One of the first proponents of linguistic analysis was Fritz Mauthner. Leaders of the logical positivist movement included Herbert Feigl, Philipp Frank, and Friedrich Waismann. The work of the logician Alfred Tarski has also been most important in this movement. Among the important American analytic philosophers are Max Black, Nelson Goodman, Arthur Pap, and Morton White. Thinkers of Jewish origin have played basic roles in 20th-century work in the philosophy of science and logic. Emile Meyerson developed a philosophical view of the world based on modern science. Sir Karl Popper has been one of the most important in evaluating the nature of science and the problems involved in gaining scientific knowledge.
In the area of historical studies and interpretations of philosophy, Jewish scholars have been in the forefront throughout this century. They have developed the best of European scholarship and have provided some of the most important ways of understanding various philosophical traditions, as well as editing some of the basic texts. Raoul Richter wrote an important history of skepticism from antiquity onward. George Boas wrote on Greek philosophy and on French thought. Hans Jones, through his demythologizing method, helped in the understanding of Gnosticism. Richard Waltzer examined the transition of Greek thought into Arabic philosophy. Shlomo Pines wrote on Arabic and Jewish medieval philosophy. Harry Austryn Wolfson examined the religious philosophical tradition from Philo, through the Church Fathers and medieval Islamic, Jewish, and Christian thought up to Spinoza. Raymond Klibansky was influential in medieval and Renaissance studies. Paul O. Kristeller was a leading figure in the many areas of Renaissance studies. One of Ernst Cassirer's contributions was a monumental study of the development of the modern problem of knowledge from the Renaissance onward. He also wrote on English Platonism and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Alexandre KoyrM was a leading figure in the study of the history of science from the Renaissance onward, as well as an important Descartes scholar. Leon Roth wrote important interpretations of Descartes and Spinoza and showed their relationship to Maimonides' thought. R. H. Popkin wrote on the history of skepticism from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. David Baumgardt did important work on the philosophy of Jeremy Bentham, and Elie HalMvy wrote the basic study of British philosophical radicalism.
The historical scholarship done on German thought from Kant onward is too copious to mention in detail. Neo-Kantians, especially, have studied the development of German philosophy extensively, and much of the basic work on Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling, has been done by scholars of Jewish origin.
Participation in philosophy by Jews has grown rapidly, especially in this century. Jewish concern with fundamental issues about man and the world has, no doubt, contributed to this, as has the growing toleration in academic-intellectual circles, especially in the West. The decline of Christianity as a central factor in European philosophy has also made it more possible for Jews to play a role in this area. At the present time in America, and to a lesser extent in England and France, among younger philosophers there are many important figures of Jewish origin who will probably play a most significant role in the decades to come. In Central Europe there are few Jewish intellectuals left, and in Eastern Europe they are being driven from their positions.
[Richard H. Popkin]
Also: Thought, Jewish
PHILOSOPHY, JEWISH. 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. 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.
BIBLICAL AND RABBINIC ANTECEDENTS
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 (erez), air (ru'ah), water (mayim), and fire (hoshekh—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). 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 Hanina said "God, the great, the valiant and the tremendous, the powerful, the strong, and the mighty." Rabbi Hanina 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.
HELLENISTIC JEWISH PHILOSOPHY
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 is 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 of Alexandria
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. Wolfson, 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. Wolfson 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.
GOD, LOGOS, AND THE WORLD
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 unnameable; 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.
KNOWLEDGE AND PROPHECY
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.
ETHICS AND POLITICS
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 relation 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.
Sources and Translations
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 neoplatonic 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-Kindi Al-Razi, Al-Farabi, Avicenna (Ibn Sina), Al-Ghazali, Avempace (Ibn Bajja), 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 Mutazilite branch of the Kalam, 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.
Mutazilite Kalam 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, Mutazilites 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 Mutazilites 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. Mutazilites also addressed themselves to more theological problems, such as the nature of different kinds of sinners and the afterlife. Since the Mutazilites' 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 Mutazilite 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 Mutazilites, a more orthodox kind of Kalam, known as Asharite (founded by Al-Ashari, d. 935), arose. While Asharite Kalam was known to Jewish philosophers and is cited by them, it appears that there were no Jewish Asharites. The Asharites 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.
Aristotlelianism 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. Sublunar 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 are 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.
CRITICS OF ARISTOTELIANISM
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 metyphysics, 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 Mutazilites and relying on Platonic, Aristotelian, and Stoic notions, he undertook to formulate a Jewish Kalam. His major philosophic work, which, in Mutazilite 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; Kitab al-Amanat wa al-ltiqadat), but his philosophical opinions are also found in his commentary on Sefer Yezirah, his commentary on the Bible, and in his polemics against Hiwi al-Balkhi. 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 Mutazilite 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 Mutazilite 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.
Other Rabbanite Followers of Kalam
Although Saadiah remained the major Jewish exponent of Mutazilite Kalam, 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, Kalam provided the dominant philosophy throughout the Middle Ages. David ibn Marwan al-Mukammi\, probably an older contemporary of Saadiah, combined kalamic, Platonic, Aristotelian, and Neoplatonic teachings in his Ishrun Maqalat ("Twenty Treatises"), a work only partially preserved. His views are also cited in Judah b. Barzillai al-Bargeloni's commentary on Sefer Yezirah. Al-Mukammi\ 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 Mutazilites, 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 Mutazilite 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 Mutazilite 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 philosophers were stricter in their adherence to the principles of Mutazilite Kalam than the Rabbanite followers of that school. In the 11th century the outstanding Karaite philosophers were Joseph b. Abraham al-Ba\ir and his disciple Jeshua b. Judah, whose views were similar. Their rationalism goes beyond that of Saadiah, as can be seen from their opinion that rational knowledge of God must precede belief in revelation. In their view, 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. These two philosophers argue with great subtlety for the creation of the world, but unlike Saadiah, they accept the kalamic doctrine that everything is ultimately composed of atoms. In the late Middle Ages Aaron ben Elijah of Nicomedia, author of Ez Hayyim ("Tree of Life," written in 1346), is the outstanding Karaite thinker. Though his work appeared some 150 years after Maimonides' Guide, he was still adhering to the philosophy of the Kalam. In fact, his work is a kind of Kalam critique of the Guide. Aaron held that kalamic doctrines are in accord with biblical teachings, while Aristotelianism, pagan in origin, conflicts with biblical teachings on many points. Against Maimonides, Aaron argues that the Kalam proofs for the creation of the world are valid, that God can be described by positive attributes, that providence extends not only to man but also to animals, that evil is not merely a privation of good, and that the soul, not only the acquired intellect, is immortal (for Maimonides' views see below). Following Maimonides, he distinguishes the prophecy of Moses from that of other prophets. He is critical of the kalamic doctrines that God created the world by means of the "created will" and that animals will be rewarded in the hereafter, and also of kalamic conceptions of law.
Neoplatonism in Jewish philosophy appeared at the same time that Kalam 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-Kindi and various Neoplatonic writings, he composed Kitab al-Hudud (Sefer ha-Gevulim; "Book of Definitions"), Kitab al-Jawahir ("Book of Substances"), Sefer ha-Ru'ah ve-ha-Nefesh ("Book on Spirit and Soul"), Sha'ar ha-Yesodot ("Chapter on the Elements"), and Kitab al-Ustuqu\\at ("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'ah), and speech (dibbur). Many of Israeli's ideas are cited and developed in the commentary on Sefer Yezirah by his disciple, Dunash ibn Tamim.
Solomon ibn Gabirol
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 Hayyim ("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 Hayyim 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 Hayyim 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 Hayyim, 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.
Bahya ibn Paquda
Toward the end of the 11th century, Bahya b. Joseph ibn Paquda wrote his Sefer Torat Hovot ha-Levavot ("Guide to the Duties of the Hearts"; Kitab al-Hidaya ila Farai$d al-Qulub), a devotional manual which achieved great popularity among Jews. The work was influenced by Neoplatonism, Kalam, the hermetic writings, and Sufi literature, and Bahya readily quoted stories and sayings from Islamic, as well as Jewish, sources. Bahya's work rests on a distinction between "duties of the limbs" (hovot ha-evarim), religious commandments that require overt actions, and "duties of the hearts" (hovot 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. Bahya defines and describes these traits and provides practical guidance for their attainment. Using a Kalam distinction, Bahya divides the duties of the limbs into rational and traditional commandments, while the duties of the hearts are all rational. Although Bahya'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, Bahya 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 Bahya's discussion of abstinence, one of the most extensive in Jewish philosophic literature. Bahya 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, Bahya's asceticism is moderate. Disapproving of those who separate themselves from the world or confine themselves to their homes, Bahya 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 Bahya 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 Kitab Maani al-Nafs ("On the Nature of the Soul") was attributed to Bahya (Pseudo-)), 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 bar Hiyya
Abraham b. Hiyya (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-Azuvah ("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. Hiyya 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 Hegyon ha-Nefesh, Abraham b. Hiyya 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. Hiyya 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 Hiyya's explanation of the election of Israel, though he does not deny that there may also be righteous persons among the gentiles.
Joseph ibn Zaddik
Joseph ibn Zaddik 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, Bahya, Pseudo-Bahya, and Ibn Gabirol, though he does not mention them, and he attempts to refute opinions of the Karaite Al-Ba\ir. 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 Zaddik 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-Ba\ir'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 Kalam 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 Zaddik's account of the soul's fate after death is derived from Israeli (see above).
Moses and Abraham ibn Ezra
Moses ibn Ezra (c. 1055–after 1135) was important mainly as a poet and critic, but he presented some philosophic opinions in his al-Maqala bi al-Hadiqa fi Mana al-Majaz wa al-Haqiqa (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 Hayyim (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 Kitab al-Hujja wa al-Dalil fi Na\r al-Din al-Dhalil ("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-Ghazali, 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 haver, 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 haver convinces the king to convert to Judaism (2:1). Most of the five treatises of Judah Halevi's book are devoted to the haver's explanation of the Jewish religion.
Judah Halevi's point of view emerges from the haver'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 haver whether he should not have begun with such speculative principles as "God is the creator and governor of the world," the haver 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 (l: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 Halevi 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 Erez Israel or (to account for prophets who prophesied outside Erez Israel) the content of the prophecy, at least, must be about Erez 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 Kalam'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).
ATTITUDE TOWARD PHILOSOPHY
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 Yezirah, 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 haver explains the principles of Aristotelian philosophy and of the Kalam (treatise 5), but he points out once again the superiority of revelation. The haver also discusses human free will (5:20), and at the end of the book (5:22ff.) he declares his intention to go to Erez Israel.
Hibat Allah Abu al-Barakat al-Baghdadi (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 Kitab al-Mutabar ("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-Fayyumi (d. about 1165; flourished in Egypt or Yemen) composed a work entitled Bustan al-Uqul ("Garden of Intellects"), which attempts to introduce doctrines of the Islamic Isma'iliyya sect into Jewish thought.
Abraham ibn Daud
By the middle of the 12th century Jewish philosophy entered its next phase and, under the influence of the Islamic philosophers, Al-Farabi, 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-Aqida al-Rafi'a ("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 (Dalalat al-Ha$irin; Moreh Nevukhim). In formulating his views he drew on Aristotle and his Hellenistic commentators, and on the Muslims Al-Farabi, 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 Kalam'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 l and 10 (3:1–7).
EVIL AND DIVINE PROVIDENCE
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 Asharites that there is only individual providence, extending even to animals and minerals; and the Mutazilites 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).
ANALYSIS OF THE TORAH
Rejecting the Mutazilite 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 (hukkim) 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 tranquillity 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.
Hebrew Translators of the 13th Century
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 influencial 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 century and into the early 14th. 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, Tibb al-Nufus al-Salima wa Mualajat al-Nufus al-Alima ("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 Kalam. 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 Kitab Kifayat al-Abidin ("Comprehensive Guide for the Servants of God"), he advocates a Sufi-like Jewish pietism.
SAMUEL IBN TIBBON
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 BEN JOSEPH FALAQUERA
Shem Tov b. Joseph 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'ah, 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 Hayyim from Arabic into Hebrew.
JOSEPH IBN KASPI
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 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 ben Samuel
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-Ghazali's Maqa\id al-Falasifa (a compendium of the teachings of Avicenna) into Hebrew and presented his own views in a commentary on the work entitled Tikkun ha-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.
Abner of Burgos and Isaac Pollegar
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 Minhat 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-Ghazali's Maqa\id al-Falasifa, 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 of Narbonne
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-Ghazali's Maqa\id) 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-Farabi 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-Vehirah, 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 ben Gershom
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 Milhamot 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 Milhamot 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. Milhamot 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 terrestial 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.
PREDESTINATION AND DIVINE PROVIDENCE
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 Milhamot with a discussion of miracles and prophets, which reflects his general rationalistic temper.
Judah Halevi and Hibat Allah Abu al-Barakat al-Baghdadi had criticized the doctrines of the Aristotelians, but the most significant critique within the mainstream of Jewish philosophy was that of Hasdai Crescas (d. 1412?). Although Crescas was critical of certain Aristotelian notions, he was not against 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-Nozerim ("Refutation of the Dogmas of the Christians").
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF JUDAISM
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.
SPACE AND INFINITY
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.
EXISTENCE OF GOD
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.
PROVIDENCE AND FREEDOM
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.
Simeon ben Zemah Duran
After the period of Crescas, medieval Jewish philosophy declined. It became more eclectic and most philosophers accepted a more orthodox religious position. Simeon b. Zemah 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).
Shem Tov Family, Abraham Shalom, and Isaac Arama
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 Yizhak.
Isaac and Judah Abrabanel
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), but, 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 Averroes, 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.
Influences on Christian Thought
Two Jewish philosophers, Gabirol and Maimonides, influenced Christian thought extensively through Latin translations of their major works. Gabirol's Mekor Hayyim 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.
Christian Scholastic Influences on Jewish Thought
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 Hasdai Crescas and his Predecessors, 1967).
Although as in earlier periods emphasis remained on the critical editing of texts, translations of texts, and monographic studies of authors and issues, a number of new trends and emphases emerged. These fall under a number of headings: (a) a growing number of scholars (e.g., N. Samuelson, S. Feldman, W. Z. Harvey) began reading medieval Jewish philosophical texts in their own right, examining them in terms of internal coherency and philosophical validity. Seeking to stimulate this attempt to go beyond straightforward historical studies, N. Samuelson, D. Bleich, and D. Silverman founded the Association for Jewish Philosophy in the U.S. (1979); (b) Other scholars (e.g., J. Levinger, D. Lasker, M. Kellner) have approached these medieval philosophers as Jews, in an attempt to see what medieval Jewish philosophers did to Judaism; (c) interest has also grown in philosophical hermeneutics, expressed in the writings of S. Klein-Braslavy and S. Rosenberg on Maimonides; (d) the research of D. R. Blumenthal as published in works such as The Commentary of R. Hoter ben Shelomo to the Thirteen Principles of Maimonides (1974) and The Philosophic Questions and Answers of Hoter ben Shelomo (1981) have shed light on the hitherto wholly unexplored field of Jewish philosophic activity in medieval Yemen.
The publication of research in the field was stimulated by the founding of a number of journals: AJS Review (Association for Jewish Studies, USA), Da’at (Bar-Ilan University), Studies in Jewish Philosophy (Academy for Jewish Philosophy, USA), and Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought (Hebrew University). The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization (London) published translations of a number of texts: Abraham Bar Hiyya’s Hegyon ha-Nefesh (G. Wigoder), Bahya’s Hovot ha-Levavot (M. Mansoor), and Isaac Abrabanel’s Rosh Emunah (M. Kellner). Many editions of important texts appeared in Israel: Albalag’s Sefer Tikkun ha-De’ot (G. Vajda, 1973), Narboni’s Ma’amar Bi-Shelemut ha-Nefesh (A. Ivry, 1977), Hillel of Verona’s Sefer Tagmulei ha-Nefesh (G. Wigoder, 1971), and selections from Bibago’s Derekh Emunah (H. Fraenkel-Goldschmidt, 1978). Rabbi Y. Kafah published Hebrew translations of Bahya’s Hovot ha-Levavot, Saadiah’s Emunot ve-De’ot, and Maimonides’ Moreh Nevukhim. The Arabic text of Judah Halevi’s Kuzari was edited by D. H. Baneth and the work translated into Hebrew by Y. Even-Shmuel.
Shlomo Pines (Hebrew University) and Alexander Altmann (Brandeis University) retired from active teaching. Pines published an important collection of essays, Bein Mahshevet Yisrael le-Mahshevet ha-Amim (1977). Altmann published Essays in Jewish Intellectual History (1981) and was honored with two festschriften: Studies in Jewish Religious and Intellectual History (1979) and Mystic Philosophers and Politicians (1982).
Two centers—Jerusalem and Boston—dominated scholarly activity during the period surveyed here. The Hebrew texts listed above all appeared in Jerusalem. Members of the faculty of the Hebrew University contributed many studies of importance during this period. In addition to the work of Pines mentioned above, particular note may be taken of David Hartman’s Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest (1976) and the on-going studies of G. Sermonetta on Renaissance Jewish Thought, of Shalom Rosenberg on medieval Jewish Logic, of Aviezer Ravitzky on Maimonides’ commentators, and of Warren Zev Harvey on Maimonides and Crescas. Hartman’s book, published both in English and in Hebrew, aroused a great deal of interest. He argues against a widely accepted trend in favor of a unified view of Maimonides which sees no radical discontinuities between Maimonides the halakhist and Maimonides the philosopher.
Boston’s importance as a center of scholarship devoted to medieval Jewish philosophic texts was a tribute to the work of H. A. Wolfson, A. Altmann, I. Twersky, A. Ivry, M. Fox, and their students. A number of important works by Wolfson (who died in 1974) appeared posthumously: Philosophy of the Kalam (1976), Repercussions of the Kalam in Jewish Philosophy (1979), and two volumes of Studies in the History of Philosophy and Religion (1973 and 1977). Isadore Twersky, Wolfson’s successor at Harvard, published his Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah) in 1980. This massive work contains an important section on “Law and Philosophy” which demonstrates the subtle interplay between these two areas of Maimonides’ thought and writing and which argues convincingly for their essential congruity. Twersky also published Studies in Jewish Law and Philosophy (1982); due to his publication of a valuable series of collections of studies and monographs.
Many studies of Gersonides (Levi ben Gershom) appeared. N. Samuelson published nearly a dozen essays on Gersonides’ thought, culminating in his Gersonides on God’s Knowledge (1977), a translation of Milhamot Adonai III with introduction and extensive commentary. Samuelson’s main interest is philosophical, not historical, and it is his confrontation with Gersonides as philosopher and not simply as historical figure which lends his book its greatest interest. J. Staub published The Creation of the Work According to Gersonides (1982), a translation of Milhamot Adonai VI, ii, 1–8, with introduction and extensive commentary. Staub analyzes Gersonides’ argument for his position on creation and argues for its internal coherence; of particular interest is Staub’s exploration of Gersonides’ Aristotelian reading of the Torah. Charles Touati’s magisterial La pensMe philosophique et thMologique de Gersonide (1973) presented a synthetic reading of the entire range of Gersonides’ thought, a reading which gives some evidence of having been influenced by contemporary trends in continental philosophy. Series of essays on Gersonides were published by M. Kellner and S. Feldman; the latter completed his English translation of Milhamot Adonai.
Other important studies produced during the period surveyed here include D. Lasker’s Jewish Philosophical Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages (1977) which shows how philosophy was used for polemical purposes, how philosophers were driven to adopt inconsistent philosophical positions for polemical purposes, and how philosophical arguments were often derived from Christian sources. S. Klein-Braslavy’s study, Perush ha-Rambam le-Sippur Beri’at ha-Olam (1978) sensitively examines those texts of Maimonides dealing with the creation account of Genesis, in the light of the author’s interpretation of Maimonides’ overall hermeneutical approach. Mention must also be made of the contribution of L. E. Goodman whose many valuable studies of medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy explored the interplay between the two, of the work of Avraham Nuriel whose philological studies of Maimonides’ usages in the Guide contributed greatly to the understanding of that work, and of the many essays on Judah Halevi published by Y. Silman. Note also should be taken of one of the few books in the field published in Germany: Studien zum jcdischen Neuplatonismus: die Religionsphilosophie des Abraham ibn Ezra by H. Greive (1973). Significant contributions to the study of medieval Jewish philosophy have also been made by N. Arieli, L. Berman, K. Bland, H. Davidson, A. Hyman, R. Jospe, L. Kaplan, B. Kogan, A. Lazaroff, A. Melamed, T. Rudavsky, S. Schwarzschild, and C. Sirat.
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 anti-Semitism. In the case of some Jewish thinkers (Hermann Cohen is a notable example) it was anti-Semitism that aroused their interest in Jewish thought. Anti-Semitism 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 Erez 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, 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 nasve (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 PalingMnMsie 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. 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.
Kant, Schelling, Hegel
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 too 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 he held 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), while 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.
S. D. Luzzatto
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 higher and 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.
S. L. Steinheim
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 is an 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 greater and 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, Hasidism, 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.
This account of Jewish philosophy has come to an end with thinkers who were active in Europe in the first part of the 20th century. (Buber is an exception since he went to Erez Israel in 1938 and there produced a portion of his work.) There should be added A. I. Kook (1865–1935), first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, who developed a mystical philosophy in a variety of works, chief among them Orot ha-Kodesh (3 vols., 1963–642). Some of the main themes of Kook's thought are: God's immanence in all beings (however, he does not identify God with reality); the unity and harmony of all reality; the notion that diversity is only apparent; the notion that individual and cosmic repentance are means of bringing man and the world closer to God; and the notion that "holy" and "profane" are not antithetical concepts—the "profane" can become "holy" and, in the eyes of God, is holy. The Jewish philosophic tradition continues in the United States and Israel to the present day. Of later thinkers there should be mentioned Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881– ), Abraham J. Heschel (1907– ), and J. B. Soleveichik (1903– ). Mention must also be made of a number of outstanding historians of Jewish philosophy: I. Husik (1876–1939), J. Guttmann (1880–1950), H. A. Wolfson (1887– ), L. Strauss (1899– ), A. Altmann (1906– ), S. Pines (1908– ), and G. Vajda (1908– ). It is probably fair to say that the current temper of Jewish philosophy is existentialist. From the 1960s, some Jewish thinkers investigated the implication of the Holocaust for Jewish thought ("post-Auschwitz" theology).
Developments in the 1970s
THE JEWISH PEOPLE
The focus of Jewish philosophy in the period under review has been 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.
Two Diaspora Thinkers
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 has 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, Mc Gill University, Montreal, 1974.)
In France, Emmanuel LMvinas published a revised edition of his Difficile LibertM (1976). This second edition contains several new essays, and omits some dated material. LMvinas' 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, LMvinas 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.
LMvinas'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 LMvinas (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.
Five Israeli Thinkers
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 (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 Sabbatianism" 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 hardnosed 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—has published over the past half-dozen years three books on contemporary Jewish issues: Al ha-Kiyyum ha-Yehudi ba-Zeman ha-Zeh (On Contemporary Jewish Existence, 1972); Iyyunim ba-Ziyyonut ba-Zeman ha-Zeh (Studies in Contemporary Zionism, 1977); and Iyyunim ba-Mahashavah 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 indispensible? 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 Ahad 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 birth right; 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.
Over the past half-dozen years, Schweid—now associate professor of Jewish Thought 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-Mahashavah ha-Yehudit ba-Et ha-Hadashah ("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 recently been investigating the history of modern Orthodox thought. He believes that he has found an example of openness to modernity and halakhic audacity in Hayyim 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, AndrM 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 fiancMe, 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 anti-Semitic 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 Ahad 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" (BiTefuzot 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 halfdozen 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 now teaches Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 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. XVI, 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 of Soloveitchik, and now head of the Har-Ezion 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 ean be made toward the "modest renaissance" called for by Rotenstreich.
MAN’S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
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 Hasidism and existentialism. One of the most popular and compelling of those Jewish philosophers to write under the influence of Hasidism and existentialism was Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–72). Himself a descendant of distinguished hasidic rabbis, Heschel developed an exciting philosophy of Judaism rooted in hasidic mysticism and Kierkegaardian existentialism. His writings ranged over Bible, rabbinics, medieval Jewish philosophy, Kabbalah, Hasidism, 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 hasidic 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 hasidic 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 Hasidism, and the Kotzker (1787–1859). The Kotzker, he writes, was both the climax and the revolutionary antithesis of the hasidic 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 Stren 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 Keirkegaard, 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]