Maimonides on the Origin of the World

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Overview

Although Maimonides' discussion of creation is one of his greatest contributions - he himself claims that belief in creation is second in importance only to belief in God - there is still considerable debate on what that contribution was. Kenneth Seeskin takes a close look at the problems Maimonides faced and the sources from which he drew. He argues that Maimonides meant exactly what he said: the world was created by a free act of God so that the existence of everything other than God is contingent. In religious terms, existence is a gift. In order to reach this conclusion, Seeskin examines Maimonides' view of God, miracles, the limits of human knowledge, and the claims of astronomy to be a science. Clearly written and closely argued, Maimonides on the Origin of the World takes up questions of perennial interest.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is an excellent piece of work, easily up to the usual high standard of the author's output. The topic is a very controversial one in Jewish philosophy...so it is a major point of interest in the area. What Seeskin does well is run through the whole philosophical background to the issue in Maimonides, in so far as it it impinged on him, and this is very useful. The discussion of the whole context within which Maimonides produced his views is uniformly rigorous, balanced, and enlightening."
-Oliver Leaman, University of Kentucky

"...a brilliant book."
-Choice

"Seeskin's book is a solid contribution to the growing literature on the greatest of the medieval Jewish thinkers . . . "
-Daniel H. Frank, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"This is a lucid, learned, and valuable contribution to Maimonidean scholarship and a particularly useful book for teaching Maimonides to advance undergraduate and graduate students...Seeskin's recuperation of a more traditional Maimonides for whom divine will transcends divine wisdom has the double advantage of being interpretatively convincing while also bearing the promise of a Maimonidean phenomenology of creation as gift."
-Michael Fagenblat, Monash University, Journal of Medieval Studies

"...a forceful, learned and articulate presentation of the issue." —Alfred L. Ivry, New York University: Philosophy in Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521845533
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2005
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth Seeskin, a Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University and winner of a Koret Jewish Book Award (2001), is the author of Jewish Philosophy in a Secular Age, Maimonides: a Guide for Today's Perplexed, No Other Gods: the Modern Struggle Against Idolatry, Searching for a Distant God: The Legacy of Maimonides, and Autonomy in Jewish Philosophy. He is also the editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Maimonides.

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Table of Contents

1. God and the problem of origin; 2. Creation in the Timaeus; 3. Aristotle and the arguments for eternity; 4. Plotinus and the metaphysical causation; 5. Particularity; 6. Nature, miracles and the end of the world; 7. Aftermath and conclusion.

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