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Beyond Human Perception: From "The Guide for the Perplexed" by Maimonides (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

2021-07-02
Limba:English

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Maimonides, also known as HaRambam, or Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, was a notable medieval Jewish philosopher, astronomer, physician, and intellectual figure. Famous works by Maimonides include “Mishneh Torah,” a commentary on the Talmud, and “The Guide for the Perplexed,” philosophical discussions regarding theological matters. We will now read a selection from Part 1, Chapters 27 and 31, in Rabbi Moses ben Maimon’s book “The Guide for the Perplexed.” The Rabbi elaborates on the corporeality and manifestation of the Divine, as well the comprehension ability of the human mind.

“Know that, for the human mind there are certain objects of perception which are within the scope of its nature and capacity; on the other hand, there are, amongst things which actually exist, certain objects which the mind can in no way and by no means grasp: the gates of perception are closed against it. Further, there are things of which the mind understands one part, but remains ignorant of the other; and when man is able to comprehend certain things, it does not follow that he must be able to comprehend everything. This also applies to the senses: they are able to perceive things, but not at every distance; and all other powers of the body are limited in a similar way. How individuals of the same species surpass each other in these sensations and in other bodily faculties is universally known, but there is a limit to them, and their power cannot extend to every distance or to every degree.”

“While one man can discover a certain thing by himself, another is never able to understand it, even if taught by means of all possible expressions and metaphors, and during a long period; his mind can in no way grasp it, his capacity is insufficient for it.”

“Alexander Aphrodisias said that there are three causes which prevent men from discovering the exact truth: first, arrogance and vainglory; secondly, the subtlety, depth, and difficulty of any subject which is being examined; thirdly, ignorance and want of capacity to comprehend what might be comprehended. These causes are enumerated by Alexander. At the present time there is a fourth cause not mentioned by him, because it did not then prevail, namely, habit and training. We naturally like what we have been accustomed to, and are attracted towards it.”

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