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Maimonidean Ethics Revisited: Development and Asceticism in Maimonides?

In: The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
Author: Joshua Parens
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Abstract

Most recent interpreters of Maimonides argue that his ethical views develop from support of the mean in Eight Chapters to support of asceticism in "Laws Concerning Character Traits" and the Guide. This article challenges that interpretation: first, through a reconsideration of Aristotle's views on the mean and the relation of the ethically virtuous life to the contemplative life, and, second, through a reconsideration of Maimonides' texts. One riddle recommends we not jump to conclusions about Maimonides' views: In Eight Chapters he appears to advocate the mean, on the basis of Aristotelian sources. In the Guide he ascribes his most ascetic recommendations to Aristotle.

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