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23.9.12

 Neo Platonic thought in Jewish thinkers Maimonides and the Duties of the Heart.
 and the problem of how to reconcile Plotinus with Jewish  thought.
It is hard for me to not see a strain of the thought of Plotinus in Maimonides . I think that we can all admit that Plotinus is much more in agreement with the Torah.[note 1]
My thoughts:
(1) We see Neoplatonic thought often in Maimonides. As a  support we can see that Maimonides considered knowledge of Physics and Metaphysics as the path to attachment and knowledge of God. This is a powerful and clear a statement of a Neo Platonic belief system.
(2) To the Rambam  knowing creates connection with the known. "Knowledge and the knower and the known are one." This is straightforward Plotinus. Otherwise there is no reason to expect that since I know anything about an orange that that should make me an orange.
(3) Maimonides:  one's portion in the next world depends on "sechel hanikne" שכל הנקנה [acquired intelligence]  and expands on it to include the idea that one must know this acquired intelligence with one "yedia" (ידיעה)[one act of knowing]. This is a move of Christian Mediaeval thinkers that tried to get Plotinus's multiplicity of ideas to fit into the oneness of the Creator. They had thought that they had successes in this, but it seems to me that Maimonides and Aquinas must have felt the lack of logical rigor in this attempt, and so made the move towards a more radical Aristotelian approach.

(4) Maimonides  has a rigorous self consistent system (With the Rambam at least we know he had a system This is easy to see when we consider Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and his work on the Rambam's Mishna Torah. It is too bad he did not do the same thing with the Guide but at least we can know that in potential such a thing is possible)


But it is my personal belief that both of these thinkers could be shown to be rigorous if someone would spend the time and effort to show it like Chaim Soloveitchik did with the Mishna Torah of Maimonides.


This has seemed irrelevant for most people for about two hundred years since reason itself has been under attack. But if Reason ever regains its prestige [as it seems to be doing in modern day philosophers like Kelly Ross and Michael Huemer] then the issues that were burning intense issues of metaphysics will become  in the future also burning and relevant issues. The nice thing will be that there will be Kant and  and later thinkers like Otto, and Nelson  to help create a consistent logical Torah approach.

I mean philosophers have spend plenty of time trying to make adolescent-rage philosophers like Nietzsche logical and rigorous. It is not time to give Maimonides?

[note 1] The trouble with the Divine Mind also is troublesome for Quantum Mechanics. No one can know the state of the electron before it is measured,--even the Divine Mind.  We know Schopenhauer was going with the Ding An Sich [singular] as the Will and I was pretty happy about that