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Title: The unity of metaphysical vision in 'The guide for the Perplexed' : a study in Maimonides' methods of presentation
Author: Davies, Daniel Ian
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2006
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Abstract:
Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed has generated a wide variety of interpretations. By focusing on some of its central metaphysical arguments, this thesis attempts to show that Maimonides uses different registers of discourse in order to teach according to the reader’s own ability and training. Many of the dialectical features of the Guide are a result of this method of writing. Chapter one explains the background to the issues discussed in the thesis and how they are connected. Chapter two explains Maimonides’ proofs for God’s existence, unity and incorpo-reality, since those ideas are crucial to his metaphysics. Chapter three considers Maimonides’ discussion of creation, in which he employs dialectical arguments. This chapter illustrates Maimonides’ dialectical methods of presentation and also argues that the truth of his position on creation is asserted on the basis of the Law’s authority. I argue that dialectical considerations are used as evidence for a coherent worldview which Maimonides presents as the position of the Law. As part of that worldview, the Law also posits knowledge in God. This issue is discussed within the context of Maimonides’ discussion of divine attributes as a whole. Chapter four considers Maimonides’ doctrine of negative attributes, arguing that its consequences are not as extreme as sometimes thought. Because it is taken to be an extreme doctrine, scholars have suggested that it does not cohere with his statements on God’s knowledge. Chapter five explains why there is no inconsistency between Maimonides’ negative theology and his presentation of the Law’s position on God’s knowledge. The position of the Law is also the true intention of scripture. Hence this thesis stresses the fact that the Guide is a work of scriptural exegesis. Through an examination of Maimonides’ explanation of the account of the chariot, chapter six illustrates how Maimonides explains the meaning of the deepest scriptural parables. Chapter seven suggests a new under-standing of Maimonides’ exegesis which considers his interpretation to be alluding towards ideas common in his time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.598382  DOI: Not available
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