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Maimonides’ Ethics

The Encounter of Philosophic and Religious Morality

In this book Raymond L. Weiss examines how a seminal Jewish thinker negotiates the philosophical conflict between Athens and Jerusalem in the crucial area of ethics. Maimonides, a master of both the classical and the biblical-rabbinic traditions, reconciled their differing views of morality primarily in the context of Jewish jurisprudence. Taking into consideration the entire corpus of Maimonides’ writings, Weiss focuses on the ethical sections of the Commentary on the Mishnah and the Mishneh Torah, but also discusses the Guide of the Perplexed, the letters of Maimonides, and his medical works.

The gulf between classical philosophy and the Torah made the task of Maimonides extraordinarily difficult. Weiss shows that Maimonides subtly preserves the tension between those traditions while producing a practical accommodation between them. To explain how Maimonides was able to accomplish this twofold goal, Weiss takes seriously the multilevel character of Maimonides’ works. Weiss interprets Maimonides as a heterodox thinker who, with utter integrity, faces the Law’s encounter with philosophy and gives both the Torah and philosophy their due.

234 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1991

Philosophy: Ethics

Religion: Judaism

Table of Contents

Abbreviations and a Note on the Text
I. The Commentary on the Mishnah
1. Eight Chapters: The Adaptation of Philosophic Ethics to the Jewish Community
2. The Religious Morality: Piety
3. Philosophic Ethics and the Commandments
II. The Mishneh Torah
4. Introduction to the Ethics of the Code
5. The "Laws Concerning Character Traits" (Hilkhot De’ot): Philosophic Ethics and Piety
6. The Commandments in the "Laws Concerning Character Traits"
7. Additional Moral and Religious Teachings in the Code
III. The Guide of the Perplexed
8. Some Ethical Issues in the Guide
Towards an Overview: Theoria and Praxis
Appendix 1: Torah and Mitsvah
Appendix 2: The Noahidic Commandments
Select Bibliography
Index of Maimonidean Passages
General Index

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