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The Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion is an annual collection of double-blind peer-reviewed articles that seeks to provide a broad international arena for an intellectual exchange of ideas between the disciplines of philosophy, theology, religion, cultural history, and literature and to showcase their multifarious junctures within the framework of Jewish studies. Contributions to the Review place special thematic emphasis on scepticism within Jewish thought and its links to other religious traditions and secular worldviews. The Review is interested in the tension at the heart of matters of reason and faith, rationalism and mysticism, theory and practice, narrativity and normativity, doubt and dogma. This volume features contributions by Reimund Leicht, Gitit Holzman, Jonathan Garb, Anna Lissa, Gianni Paganini, Adi Louria Hayon, Mark Marion Gondelman, and Jürgen Sarnowsky.
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Abstract

In this paper, two test-cases for examining the role of doubt in late modern Kabbalah are addressed and compared: R. Gershon Henikh Leiner (1839–1891), leader of the controversial Izbiche-Radzin school, and R. David Kohen (1887–1972), an important student of the famous R. Avraham Itzhak ha-Kohen Kook. In the former case, Leiner frames doubt, even with regard to God’s existence, as central to the existential human condition, and thus to divine worship. For Kohen, doubt was bound up in his very identity as a religious philosopher, as well as a constant companion of his often-frustrating quest for prophetic experience. He thus provides the most extensive explicit treatment of scepticism extant in kabbalistic literature. Based on these prominent examples, from adjacent yet discrete historical, cultural, and geographical settings, it is claimed that as modernity progressed, doubt occupied a more prominent and challenging place in Kabbalistic writing and experience.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 1, 2022
Author:

Abstract

The Colloquium is a conversation between seven highly educated representatives of various religions and worldviews: a supporter of natural religion (Toralba), a Calvinist (Curtius), a Muslim (Octavius), a Roman Catholic (Coroneus), a Lutheran (Fridericus), a Jew (Salomon), and a pagan (Senamus). Bodin never signed this work and it was not published during his lifetime. The new concept of religion represented by Toralba emphasises the role of reason and natural law, independent of any ecclesiastical allegiance. Here, natural religion is not conceived, as it was earlier, as being preliminary to divine revelation, but rather as a free-standing position, always distinguished from—and at times opposed to—traditional religions. Toralba’s universalism and the genealogies of natural religion that he traces distinguish his religion from Judaism even though he relies on a twofold foundation: the biblical history of primitive mankind and natural reason.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 1, 2022

Abstract

This article focuses on the impact of criticism against the church, individual priests, and clerical practices. The theme gives rise to a wide array of questions: Did it lead to general doubts concerning ecclesiastical dogmas, or did it only focus on certain aspects of popular piety? And was there a gap between the learned debates of the clergy and the criticisms of (educated or non-educated) laypeople? My analysis attempts to address these sorts of questions by drawing on three examples that concern both the clerical and the lay perspective: the reports on the so-called “holy blood” of Wilsnack, the canonisation acts for the Prussian saint Dorothea von Montau, and some pilgrims’ reports from late medieval Germany. Criticism of malpractices in the church was raised both inside and outside the clerical sphere. However, while in ecclesiastical debates, this criticism was intended to be an instrument of reform, laypeople used criticism to give reasons for their doubts about certain (often newly established) practices.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 1, 2022
Author:

Abstract

This article is an attempt to integrate the available information about Joseph ben Judah Ibn Shimʿon, Maimonides’s famous disciple and the recipient of the Guide of the Perplexed, into a synthetic view of his intellectual profile and to depict his biography in a strictly diachronic perspective. It reconstructs four distinct periods in his life, which—when taken together—are so deeply connected to the person of Maimonides both in their development and in their general outlook that they can perhaps best be described as a “Maimonidean life at the turn of the twelfth to the thirteenth century.” Joseph Ibn Shimʿon is presented as a fascinating and complex personality who was active in a dramatic period of Jewish history in the Islamicate world. His life and work deserve more systematic investigation and attention than they have received thus far.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 1, 2022

Abstract

In the Discourse of the Syncope: Logodaedalus and “Why Are There Several Arts, Not Just One?”, Jean-Luc Nancy engages with the work of Immanuel Kant in order to launch an aesthetic inquiry into the quandries of representation and the creation of worlds. In Kant’s nervous experience of the sublime and mental ailments, Nancy finds the somatic feeling of an ill philosopher whose agitation is a mode of creation without law, an abnormal creator of infinite unproductive and aporetic relations set in-between syncopated heterogeneous finites which are contingent upon the suspension of judgment and non-knowledge. Here, the unruly traits of agitation expose the eventful cacophony found in the sceptic’s suspension of judgment, unsettling the margins of art, the work of creation, and the portrait of Kant.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 1, 2022

Abstract

This article examines Abraham Miguel Cardozo’s analysis of philosophy and Kabbalah as two systems of knowledge and the limits of their knowability. Cardozo argues that Kabbalah is a more precise and exalted system of knowledge since it is based on knowledge directly received from the God of Israel rather than from human figures, such as Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle. According to Cardozo, philosophy cannot correctly comprehend the highest planes of being and consequently conflates the First Cause and the God of Israel. Moreover, philosophy claims to know the First Cause, which Cardozo deems to be absolutely unknowable. However, upon closer examination, Cardozo’s position on unknowability is very close to that of Maimonides. Based on this position, he shows that the First Cause cannot be known even through revelation and Kabbalah. Therefore, Cardozo criticises both systems of knowledge: he criticises philosophy through Kabbalah, and Kabbalah through philosophy.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 1, 2022
Author:

Abstract

Al-Ġazālī’s Aims of the Philosophers is a philosophical treatise summarising major concepts in the philosophy of al-Fārābī and Avicenna. Al-Ġazālī stated that it was written as an introductory treatise to be followed by a tractate that would prove the philosophers’ errors. Al-Ġazālī did indeed compose his Incoherence of the Philosophers, which scrutinises Muslim Neoplatonism. However, Aims of the Philosophers did not serve as an attack on philosophy. Instead, it was read as a comprehensible summary of Neoplatonic philosophy. Moses Narboni wrote a commentary on the Hebrew version of the Aims of the Philosophers. He believed that the process of writing one book explaining the philosophers’ ideas and another book contradicting them was a ruse that al-Ġazālī had conceived that would enable him to engage in philosophy despite its prohibition. The current study discusses Narboni’s analysis of Aims of the Philosophers and explains the manner in which Narboni drew on al-Ġazālī’s ideas in order to interpret biblical themes.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 1, 2022
Author:

Abstract

This article investigates the connection between scepticism and modernism in Shmuel Yosef Agnon’s novel A Guest for the Night. What is at stake here is not simply the “old-fashioned” opposition between faith and its contrary or between doubt and certainty, but rather the positioning of Agnon in the modernist literary current that is in turn characterised by uncertainty and doubt about reality and the subject.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 1, 2022

Abstract

During the middle ages and early modern period, dozens of Jewish commentaries were written on Qohelet, in Arabic and Hebrew, and representing a very full range of methods and approaches, from Karaite to Rabbanite, grammatical to pietistic, Neoplatonic, Aristotelian, and anti-Aristotelian, even kabbalistic. The purpose of this article – dedicated to the memory of Kalman Bland – is to present some experiments related to the telling of the history of medieval Jewish exegesis of Qohelet in hermeneutical context.

Open Access
In: The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy