By Colette Sirat
This booklet surveys the massive physique of medieval Jewish philosophy, devoting plentiful dialogue to significant figures reminiscent of Saadiah Gaon, Maimonides, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Judah Halevi, Abraham Ibn Daoud, and Gersonides, in addition to proposing the ancillary texts of lesser identified authors. Sirat charges little-known texts, offering statement and situating them inside of their historic and philosophical contexts. A finished bibliography directs the reader to the texts themselves and to contemporary stories.
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Extra resources for A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages
He emigrated to Tunisia and became doctor to alMahdi, founder of the Fatimid dynasty in North Africa. He lived to a great age, was never married, had no children, and died perhaps before 932 (but other indications suggest that he lived until 955). ' He was famous as a physician and the Imam al-Mahdi held him in high esteem; according to Abraham Ibn Hasdai, translator of the Book on the Elements; 'The Madhi raised him above all his scholars and all his people, and at his command he wrote all his books and composed his treatises.
Thine are the two worlds between which Thou didst set a limit, the first for works and the second for requital. Thine is the reward which Thou hast set aside for the righteous and hidden, and Thou sawest that it was good, and hast kept it hidden. (The Kingly Crown, trans. B. Lewis, pp. 27-8) At the end of the first part of the poem we find, concentrated in several lines, the philosophical subjects treated in the Fountain of Lij2: God and His Wisdom, whose existence alone can be known to man; the first entity that can be known to man: will; matter (which is non-being, nothingness, since without form it does not exist) and form (which is being, light); and the conjunction of the two, which form all of creation.
At the very beginning of the Fountain of Life Gabirol makes various statements, of the kind constantly found in neoplatonic treatises: (I) Knowledge is the supreme aim of human life and its reason for existing; (2) The science of the soul, that is, the knowledge that man has of his soul, opens up to him the knowledge of the world and of God, for man is a microcosm. The knowing part being the best of man, that which man must seek is knowledge. What he must especially seek to know is himself, in order to arrive at knowledge of the other things that are not himself; for his essence comprehends all the things and penetrates them, and all the things are subject to his power.