Is Maimonides' ideal person austerely rationalist?

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Maimonides is regularly thought to have seen the ideal human as nothing more than a rational animal. In this essay I show that this picture of Maimonides is insufficiently nuanced and reflects a notion of intellectualism thinner and more pallid than that actually held by him. But first I adduce evidence for the standard view from Maimonides' positions on perfected and imperfected human beings, and from his discussions of immortality, morality, providence, prophecy, and the distinction between humans and animals. Maimonides' universalism and his messianic vision are also shown to reflect his intellectualism. In the second half of the essay I argue that Maimonides holds that knowledge is transformative. Through an analysis of his discussions of human perfection, prophecy, and love of God, it is shown that learning carried out properly transforms the learner into a new kind of person.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-143
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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