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Permitting and Forbidding Open Inquiry in 12-15th Century Europe and North Africa
Author:
Winner of the 2022 Goldstein-Goren Book Award from the Goldstein-Goren International Center for Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Yehuda Halper examines Jewish depictions of Socrates and Socratic questioning of the divine among European and North African Jews of the 12th-15th centuries. Without direct access to Plato, their understanding of Socrates is indirect, based on legendary material, on fragmentary quotations from Plato, or on Aristotle. Out of these sources, Jewish authors of this period formed two distinct views of Socrates: one as a wise, ascetic, monotheist, and the other as a vocal skeptic. The latter view has its roots in Plato's Apology where Socrates describes his divine mandate to question all knowledge, including knowledge of the divine. After exploring how this and similar questions arise in the works of Judah Halevi and the Hebrew Averroes, Halper traces how such open-questioning of the divine arises in the works of Maimonides, Jacob Anatoli, Gersonides, and Abraham Bibago.
Editor:
Aryeh Motzkin was an extraordinary thinker and writer. Much of his work appeared in small academic journals despite the fact that it is often quite accessible, even to non-experts. This volume assembles his most important published papers along with several unpublished papers. They all have a single theme: the encounter between the Jewish tradition and philosophy as discovered by Plato and Aristotle. The book’s first group of essays deal with the way medieval Jewish thinkers understood the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. The second group deals with how these same medieval thinkers were themselves interpreted by modern thinkers, beginning with Spinoza. A recurring issue in all the essays is the difficulty inherent in any encounter between philosophia perennis and the changing history of Judaism.
In: Philosophy and the Jewish Tradition
In: Philosophy and the Jewish Tradition
In: Philosophy and the Jewish Tradition
In: Philosophy and the Jewish Tradition
In: Philosophy and the Jewish Tradition
In: Philosophy and the Jewish Tradition
In: Philosophy and the Jewish Tradition
In: Philosophy and the Jewish Tradition