Free eBook The Guide for the PerplexedAuthor Maimonides – Z55z.co

This is the full, unabridged text of one of the greatest philosophic works of all time Written by a th century thinker who was equally active as an original philosopher and as a Biblical and Talmudic scholar, it is both a classic of great historical importance and a work of living significance today The Guide for the Perplexed was written for scholars who were bewildered by the conflict between religion and the scientific and philosophic thought of the day It is concerned, basically, with finding a concord between the religion of the Old Testament and its commentaries, and Aristotelian philosophy After analyzing the ideas of the Old Testament by means of homonyms, Maimonides examines other reconciliations of religion and philosophy the Moslem rationalists and then proposes his own resolution with contemporary Aristotelianism The Guide for the Perplexed was at once recognized as a masterwork, and it strongly influenced Jewish, Christian, and Moslem thought of the Middle Ages It is necessary reading for any full comprehension of the thought of such scholastics as Aquinas and Scotus, and indispensable for everyone interested in the Middle Ages, Judaism, medieval philosophy, or the larger problems which Maimonides discusses


10 thoughts on “The Guide for the Perplexed

  1. India Marie Clamp India Marie Clamp says:

    As we all are beings living in the sublunary microcosm of life this book is acroamatic gift from the 12th century by a philosopher, physician Saladin , astrologer and judge Maimonides Evidence inside is revealed in the clandestine symphonies that are well hidden like chambers of the nautilus shell Maimonides wrote his first book at the age of 16 in Arabic The Guide for the Perplexed required 15 years of his life and focus.Though one comes to approach any read by RaMBaM with such reverence As we all are beings living in the sublunary microcosm of life this book is acroamatic gift from the 12th century by a philosopher, physician Saladin , astrologer and judge Maimonides Evidence inside is revealed in the clandestine symphonies that are well hidden like chambers of the nautilus shell Maimonides wrote his first book at the age of 16 in Arabic The Guide for the Perplexed required 15 years of his life and focus.Though one comes to approach any read by RaMBaM with such reverence and humility this irradiates to a degree one is not accustomed to Delving into The Guide for the Perplexed or in Hebrew Moreh nevukhim illuminates the symphonic intermingling of Aristotelian law, physics and measures of the stars, spheres and incorporeal corporeal manifestations and their attributions Yet all these things have no reality and are mere fictions Abunazar Alfarabi in criticizing this proposition, has exposed all its weak points, as you will clearly perceive, when you study his book on the changeable beings earnestly and dispassionately These are the principal arguments of the Mutakallimin in seeking to establish the creatio ex nihilo Moses ben Maimon Maimonides Rabbi Moshe ben MaimonVia erudition from an Aristotelian magnifying glass there is variation in the composition of things formed In the spheres all act at different levels and velocities Abu nasr confounds us given his revelation of the unconformity between the stars and spheres Gently we are maneuvered to gaze upward with our body, mind and spirit Velocity is another key that reveals position as well as size as to the nature of a thing.Arcadian with candor only evident when written under inspiration of the incorporeal Those on the ladder described by Abraham, Jacob and Man are intellects of the spheres numbering four emanating from a primal cause Nature and the study of such provides a vehicle championed by loving kindness, righteousness and justice as known to Elijah Much time is required to fully absorb the concepts within Read, ponder and reflect 1615RaMBaM


  2. Roy Lotz Roy Lotz says:

    This treatise has as its principal object to clarify the meaning of certain terms in the Bible. Moses Maimonides, born in 1135, was and remains the most famous Jewish theologian in history, and this is his most influential book Well, this is a part of his most influential bookspecifically, this is about a quarter of the whole work, the other three quarters having been pruned away by the editors of this volume This was ideal for me, dabbler that I am, especially considering that the a This treatise has as its principal object to clarify the meaning of certain terms in the Bible. Moses Maimonides, born in 1135, was and remains the most famous Jewish theologian in history, and this is his most influential book Well, this is a part of his most influential bookspecifically, this is about a quarter of the whole work, the other three quarters having been pruned away by the editors of this volume This was ideal for me, dabbler that I am, especially considering that the abridgement, so far as I can tell, was made with taste and skill The first striking aspect of this book is its accessibility Maimonides writes simply and directly indeed, sometimes I found the tone a bit pedestrian The sentence I quoted above, the first sentence of the book, is quite typical of Maimonides The work is written in the form of a very long letter to a perplexed pupil, broken into bite sized chapters for easy comprehension The only technical terms are those derived from Aristotle essence, form, matter, etc which posed no problem for me The second striking aspect of The Guide is how similar Maimonides s intellectual approach is to that of Thomas Aquinas Indeed, the aim of both thinkers wasor less the same to provide a rational defense and systemization of their respective faiths Both lean heavily on Aristotle for this task, adopting his doctrines, terms, arguments, and philosophical style.Of course this isn t a coincidence The attempt to harmonize Greek thought, specifically Aristotle, with religious thinking originated, I believe, with Muslim philosophers, and later spread to Europe Maimonides himself was born in Muslim Spain Al Andalus , wrote in Arabic, and was clearly well read in Islamic philosophy Later on, the works of Aristotle, translated from Greek into Arabic, entered Europe through Toledo, where they were translated from Arabic into Latin so that people like Aquinas could read them Aquinas also read Maimonides, by the way Thus the three Abrahamic religions were engaged in almost the same philosophical project during this time But of course, being of different faiths, the thinkers reached different conclusions For example, Maimonides s conception of God is strikingly different from Aquinas s Instead of expounding on all the different perfections of God, as does Aquinas his omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, necessary existence Maimonides holds that God s essence cannot be described in any satisfactory way In fact, Maimonides s conception of God strongly reminded me of, and was perhaps influenced by, the Neo Platonist conception of The One, the mystical, mysterious, ineffable fountainhead of all existence Like Plotinus says of The One, Maimonides asserts that we cannot even attribute existence to God, since he holds that existing things are always composite, while there is nothing composite about God But for me, Maimonides s most interesting opinion was his explanation of rituals, worship, and animal sacrifices As he points out, what is the purpose of His worship, since God s perfection is not increased even if everything He has created worships Him and apprehends Him to the utmost possible degree, nor is it at all diminished if there is nothing in existence beside Him For Maimonides the purpose of religious practice is not to please God through worship, but to know Him by training the mind and purifying the soul The reason that God commanded rituals and sacrifices was only because the original Chosen People were still accustomed to idolatry, and thus they would not have accepted the true religion if they were not allowed to practice their religious customs The rituals were, therefore, a kind of transitional device, allowing the people to turn their thoughts from idols to the true God I found this explanation remarkable, since it anticipates the modern, historical approach to religion, while remaining within the bounds of orthodoxy Maimonides insists that the exterior forms of a ceremony are totally irrelevant if the practitioner is not thinking of God It is the mental state of the worshipper, not their ritual actions, that are essential This doctrine also reminded me of Neo Platonic mysticism, wherein the final goal is a direct knowledge of the The One through mental discipline But Maimonides is not so straightforwardly mystical as Plotinus, as he places muchemphasis on rational argument and the holding of the correct metaphysical and theological opinions This book was obviously not intended for me, since I am a nonbeliever, and Maimonides considers nonbelievers beneath contempt and not even worth responding to Thus this book was of purely historical interest for me This is, of course, not a bad thing, and indeed as a historical document it is rewarding But I cannot say I found it an exhilarating read, since I not only disagreed with Maimonides s conclusions but with his methods and his premises Nevertheless, I am very glad to have read the book, if only because I have been intending to ever since my trip to C rdoba, his birthplace, and stood next to his statue in the Jewish district of that old city Just like walking through those crooked, cobblestone streets, reading this book is a voyage in time


  3. Matt Matt says:

    Looking to reconcile Aristotelian philosophy and Jewish theology, Moses Maimonides wrote The Guide for the Perplexed A three part letter to his student, the book was influential not only to Jewish thought but Christian and Islamic thought throughout the Middle Ages while still giving those in the 21st Century insights to consider.The first part focuses on Maimonides arguing against the anthropomorphism of God, basically stating God is incorporeal, and all references in the Bible to God doing ph Looking to reconcile Aristotelian philosophy and Jewish theology, Moses Maimonides wrote The Guide for the Perplexed A three part letter to his student, the book was influential not only to Jewish thought but Christian and Islamic thought throughout the Middle Ages while still giving those in the 21st Century insights to consider.The first part focuses on Maimonides arguing against the anthropomorphism of God, basically stating God is incorporeal, and all references in the Bible to God doing physical things are essentially figurative language to allow the human mind to understand the works of God This leads into a discussion by Maimonides that states that God cannot be described in positive terms only negative conceptions because while positive terms put limits on God, the negative does not This leads into a discussion of philosophy and mysticism of various kinds The second part begins on Maimonides expounding on the physical structure of the universe, an essentially Aristotelian world view, which eventually leads into a debate on if the universe is eternal or created Though Maimonides admits that Aristotle s arguments for an eternal universe are better, Divine Revelation decides the matter Maimonides then expounds on the Creation presented in Genesis and theories on the possible end of the world The last part is explained as the climax of the whole work as Maimonides expounds on the mystical passage of the Chariot found in Ezekiel, which isn t supposed to be directly taught only hinted at though over time direct instruction has become the normal This is followed by analysis of the moral aspects of the universe and explaining the reasons for the 613 laws in the Torah Maimonides ends the book with how God is worshipped correctly, through wisdom.The comparison of and thesis of complimenting of long held Jewish theological thought and Aristotelian philosophy by Maimonides could have been hard to follow, the text wasthan readable and thus the arguments very understandable While his arguments and logic are insight and enlightening, Maimonides is yet another religious individual who has married pagan philosophy with divine revelation to the determinant of the latter like many of his Christian contemporaries were doing and their predecessors before them and many would do after This is the book s biggest flaw, but instead of being a reason not to read it is the main one to read it and thus understand the arguments of those who want to merge two separate worldviews into one The Guide for the Perplexed was intended by Maimonides for learned individuals to give his view on philosophythan theology, however the two could not be connected within the text While I do not adhere to the vast majority of the thoughts the author expounded upon, the insight into medieval thought were invaluable and insightful


  4. Gary Beauregard Bottomley Gary Beauregard Bottomley says:

    Lepers are not deserving of entering the temple or receiving blessings since they deservedly have received their affliction due to committing slander and a goat should be sacrificed as vicarious compensation and red heifers are best of all for vicarious redemption otherwise Menstruating women need to be avoided, and circumcision is not only necessary after the eighth day of birth as part of the Abrahamic covenant since it deadens the desire for sex beyond procreation and we all know that is for Lepers are not deserving of entering the temple or receiving blessings since they deservedly have received their affliction due to committing slander and a goat should be sacrificed as vicarious compensation and red heifers are best of all for vicarious redemption otherwise Menstruating women need to be avoided, and circumcision is not only necessary after the eighth day of birth as part of the Abrahamic covenant since it deadens the desire for sex beyond procreation and we all know that is for the best, besides some women will say non circumcised men such as the Sabaeans prolong sex past the point of acceptability, damn those Sabaeans they caused the Israelites to have a lot of those what seem foolish to us today 1150 CE esoteric rituals and practices because of their idolatry and almost nothing is worse than idolatry , they are almost as troublesome as the Egyptians and with their moon worshipping and their other silly superstitions, why can t they be rational in their irrationality as Maimonides thinks he is.Everything makes sense when one starts off with non negotiable etch in stone starting premises and while all contradictions are explained by homonyms Apparently an incorporeal God doesn t like three things idolatry a major no, no , adultery unless you happen to be a king and legitimize it by saying kings are special and are entitled to harems, or in order to make adultery evenmuddled you also have different taboos for your mother s brother s kids than for your father s sister s kids , or murder God must be loved and feared and only a fool in his heart can think that God is anything but not corporeal Maimonides tells one what God is not and won t get at what He is Here s the thing, I really enjoyed this book Rational thought excites me and in Maimonides superstitious craziness there is rationality Logic never creates knowledge or justified true beliefs about the world, it can only preserve truth up to as good as the starting premises were Our beliefs need a ground that must stand in relation to what we believe else wise Maimonides knows the Kalam Cosmological proof for the existence of God is silly and only those who are fools in their heart would say otherwise He s convinced that the universe was created out of nothing but mostly can only assert that since he has read it somewhere Humans are special and every kind species of animal knows their place and oxen and horses should not plow together and it takes a special designer to create humans and the organs can t work by themselves without a creator steering the creation A quick definition for a scholastic would be one who uses Aristotle to defend ones understanding of one s own understanding about their place in the world St Thomas Aquinas, Spinoza and Maimonides are scholastics, and they all overlap in their thought and rationality processes When I got lost with what Maimonides was saying I would find my orientation by asking what Aquinas or Spinoza thought about that and then that would bring me back to what Maimonides was getting at God s essence is His existence according to Aquinas and Maimonides His complete knowledge makes Him absolute Maimonides and Aquinas put reason before faith and by doing that they open up a window for science that will later embrace the systematic use of logic, empirical observation, analysis and a compelling story in order to thrive To read Aquinas one feels the echoes of Maimonides and both are similarly re working Aristotle such that they are preserving their necessary universe with an all knowing and all powerful incorporeal God who is His own cause but all awhile opening up a window to the world to embrace the real instead of the imaginary incorporeal entity and really what is an incorporeal entity except a cleverly worded oxymoron they believe in, after all Maimonides does prove that a corporeal God is nonsense while angels are real since they are intelligences from the quintessential heavens and of the spheres and both will say that angels are of a species and not sui generis unlike Duns Scotus who will show they are one of a kind There was a surprising amount of Plotinus, a neo Platonist within this book, of all the books for those with a mystical streak, I would recommend Plotinus Enneads


  5. ♥ Ibrahim ♥ ♥ Ibrahim ♥ says:

    Maimonides is surprisingly modern in his outlook Apart from great and long recognized influence on Christian theology deserves to be regarded as the greatest Jewish interpreter of the Scripture Christians get stuck and stagnant in one one box of Scripture interpretation But it is the Jews who gave us the Bible and who better than Jewish commentators can interpret their Scriptures for us To Maimonides Judaism owes as much, actually , than Western Christianity owes to St Thomas Acquinas Maimonides is surprisingly modern in his outlook Apart from great and long recognized influence on Christian theology deserves to be regarded as the greatest Jewish interpreter of the Scripture Christians get stuck and stagnant in one one box of Scripture interpretation But it is the Jews who gave us the Bible and who better than Jewish commentators can interpret their Scriptures for us To Maimonides Judaism owes as much, actually , than Western Christianity owes to St Thomas Acquinas His great Summa, which he called The Guide for the Perplexed, was written with the express intention of reconciling the truths of revealed religion with the findings of philosophy In the middle of this book he devotes some 17 chapters to the study of prophecy, preparing the way by a discussion of the meaning of the words The Lord spoke unto X Thus he says that when we read that God spoke to the prophets we are to understand only that prophets attained a knowledge of divine will, and that what they said comes to us from God, and is not the product of their own minds It is is of no moment whether the Divine thought or will becomes known to man by a voice which he hears or by other means of inspiration for speech, thought, and will, predicated of God, are simply accommodations to the modes human thought As you can see, here is a Jew, a very fine one and very brilliant one at that, is presenting us with an intelligent and reverent explanation of revelation it is the Divine will, you see, acting through human personality, informing but not suppressing it Compare that with the view held by Christian Fundamentalists who believe in mechanical dictation and repeat phrases such as If God said it, blah, blah, blah The Christian people would do well to fall back on their Jewish roots in order for their faith to make sense in a highly sophisticated and modern world You can download the book from


  6. Chelsea Lawson Chelsea Lawson says:

    I ll start with something good If you are interested in linguistics then this book is for you Hebrew is such a fascinating language where, unlike English, almost any word is up to interpretation Maimonides explores its countless homonyms in passages that have been written about God and presents many interesting angles that I would not have thought of Other than that though, I had problems with the book As much as he acknowledges that we can never find absolute answers or understand the grea I ll start with something good If you are interested in linguistics then this book is for you Hebrew is such a fascinating language where, unlike English, almost any word is up to interpretation Maimonides explores its countless homonyms in passages that have been written about God and presents many interesting angles that I would not have thought of Other than that though, I had problems with the book As much as he acknowledges that we can never find absolute answers or understand the greatness of God, this acknowledgement usually comes off as empty and he seems to think he has indeed found the answers which I suppose is why he feels he is in a position to guide the perplexed Worse, he presents BELIEFS. which is what they are. about God and the universe etc as these logical proofs that ought to be indisputable.For example, he talks at length analogizing the human body to the universe It s interesting But later he specifies that while the faculty of thinking is a force inherent in the body, not separated from it, God is not a force inherent in the body of the universe How God rules the universe and provides for it is a complete mystery man is unable to solve it For, on the one hand, it can be proved that God is separate from the universe, and in no contact with it but, on the other hand, His rule and providence can be proved to exist in all parts of the universe, even in the smallest Praised be He whose perfection is above our comprehension What are you talking about, proved He does have an earlier proof that he s talking about but you can gather its weakness Why can t God be a part of the universe the way our intellect is part of our body Above our comprehension indeed


  7. Philip Jordan Philip Jordan says:

    To find this amazing book was an interesting adventure The finding was almost as intense as the wisdom gained therein For those that wish to derive a better understanding of the Torah, and its spiritual, literal and metaphysical interpretations, then this is the read for you You may just open the doors to YOUR relationship with God, Society Yourself.Moses Maimonides, a Cordova born rabbi of the 12th Century AD, can be considered the greatest Jewish thinker of the middle ages if not of al To find this amazing book was an interesting adventure The finding was almost as intense as the wisdom gained therein For those that wish to derive a better understanding of the Torah, and its spiritual, literal and metaphysical interpretations, then this is the read for you You may just open the doors to YOUR relationship with God, Society Yourself.Moses Maimonides, a Cordova born rabbi of the 12th Century AD, can be considered the greatest Jewish thinker of the middle ages if not of all time He was inspired by the rationalism of Aristotle and felt that the modern philosopher must learn all of the natural sciences before they can truly dive into the concept of God via the Torah.Plan to read some of the 1 2 page chapters over and over again, because those fleeting paragraphs are jam packed with hidden truths and amazing wisdom


  8. Peter Peter says:

    This work appears on several recommended classics lists, and since I was perplexed, I decided to delve into it Alas, I am still perplexed The hard cover sells for textbook prices I recommend the soft cover or a used version there is no need to pay top dollar for what turns out to be, in addition to some metaphysical insight, a collection of Talmud interpretations, a summary of Jewish Law and nearly one hundred pages of medieval chemistry and physics SPOILER ALERT Much is cleared away at This work appears on several recommended classics lists, and since I was perplexed, I decided to delve into it Alas, I am still perplexed The hard cover sells for textbook prices I recommend the soft cover or a used version there is no need to pay top dollar for what turns out to be, in addition to some metaphysical insight, a collection of Talmud interpretations, a summary of Jewish Law and nearly one hundred pages of medieval chemistry and physics SPOILER ALERT Much is cleared away at the outset of this tome, primarily by this bunker buster God is incorporeal He does not have locomotion or voice, He cannot be seen with the human eye, He does not have hands or feet, He does not sit on a throne, and He does not have any human imperfections including the need to rest or eat, or emotions, including, of course, anger, love, angst, jealousy, or the need for revenge One might add by this logic that God has no gender either, so really should be referred to as It or The Force rather than He or perhaps, following the tradition, not even be referred to at all So why does the Torah Old Testament include all these human characteristics of God, why is it written in the language of man so that paraphrasing only a bit youth, women and common people can understand it.You may well ask, if God does not have human imperfections such as emotion, why the anger and jealousy about idolators Answer because it seems God has a purpose after all But, and here is my first perplexity, isn t the will to a purpose a form of human imperfection I have found in raising children that the fastest path to anger is impatience Impatience about what Impatience about the lack of movement toward MY expectations, the lack of progress to realizing MY plans I think God would be smarter than this But of course smart also being a human characteristic so it never ends And we find in reading that even Maimonides, after his strong refutation of an anthropomorphic divinity, still cannot resist the pull of the anthropomorphic Next issue Does God have a hand in the world or not The answer to this question is elided by Maimonides there is a system of merits there must be in order for this world religious view to have some practical purchase , but the logic of the system, i.e., the mind or purpose of God, is admittedly unknowable On unknowability, much ink is spilled The story of Job is the primary teaching exhibit The importance of secrecy in teaching about God and His ways is restated multiple times, e.g Even the traditional Law, as you are well aware, was not originally committed to writing, in conformity with the rule to which our nation generally adhered, Things which I have communicated to you orally, you must not communicate to others in writing With reference to the Law, this rule was very opportune for while it remained in force it averted evils which happened subsequently, viz., great diversity of opinion, doubts as to the meaning of written words, slips of the pen, dissensions among the people, formation of new sects, and confused notions about practical subjects Care having been taken, for the sake of obviating injurious influences, that the Oral Law should not be recorded in a form accessible to all, it was but natural that no portion of the secrets of the Law i.e., metaphysical problems would be permitted to be written down or divulged for the use of all men These secrets, as has been explained, were orally communicated by a few able men to others who were equally distinguished Hence the principle applied by our teachers, The secrets of the Law can only be entrusted to him who is a councillor, a cunning artificer, etc Nothing but a few remarks and allusions are to be found in the Talmud and the Midrashim, like a few kernels enveloped in such a quantity of husk, that the reader is generally occupied with the husk, and forgets that it encloses a kernel Maimonides channels the you must feel it in your heart of Martin Luther, but with a clubbier, only smart people can see it In the section on Jewish Law we see one aspect of the Law that made Jesus angry at the Pharisees and Scribes tribalism According to this interpretation of the Law, while followers are under a general encouragement to be merciful to slaves and the poor, and be fair in dealing with workers, there is a clearer obligation to take care of your in group your family and the people who have done you favors in the past people you have a relationship with To this, Christ practically yells If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to youIf you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you Luke And of course, there is the story of the Good Samaritan.The most saddening discovery for me was finding the strains of the Prosperity Gospel here in medieval folds of the anti Gospel Their mind Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was so identified with the knowledge of God, that He made a lasting covenant with each of them and that in the same measure was Divine Providence attached to them and their descendants When we therefore find them also, engaged in ruling others, in increasing their property, and endeavoring to obtain possession of wealth and honor, we see in this fact a proof that when they were occupied in these things, only their bodily limbs were at work, whilst their heart and mind never moved away from the name of God I think these four Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob reached that high degree of perfection in their relation to God, and enjoyed the continual presence of Divine Providence, even in their endeavors to increase their property, feeding the flock, toiling in the field, or managing the house, only because in all these things their end and aim was to approach God as much as possible Those who are perfect in their perception of God, whose mind is never separated from Him, enjoy always the influence of Providence And from there it s just a few twists of logic to God wants you to be rich and happy


  9. James Violand James Violand says:

    You must keep this in mind concerning this addition the font is so small that each page is equivalent to 3 or 4 standard pages The true book length would be between 1200 1400 pages Do you want to commit yourself to reading this difficult book Difficult in that one must have read the works of the philosophers and theologians who preceded him and the Old Testament The first section concerns homonyms and is used, as necessary in philosophy, to settle on definitions before progressing to the You must keep this in mind concerning this addition the font is so small that each page is equivalent to 3 or 4 standard pages The true book length would be between 1200 1400 pages Do you want to commit yourself to reading this difficult book Difficult in that one must have read the works of the philosophers and theologians who preceded him and the Old Testament The first section concerns homonyms and is used, as necessary in philosophy, to settle on definitions before progressing to thesis Here, Maimonides is concerned with disabusing a primitive mind of its anthropomorphic concepts of God Some literalists will be appalled This is a good thing God has no dimension because He is limitless Therefore, He has no face, feet, arms, etc Nor, does He figuratively pass by anything This vital section of M s work is by necessity boring to those of a higher understanding One must endure this in order to arrive at theenjoyable sections It is enjoyable to read his blistering destruction of the Kalam Islamic scholastic theology.The second section compares and contrasts the various philosophical works with those espoused by the sages of Jewish theology Obviously, Maimonides s position is espoused and seems irrefutable until Thomas Aquinas nails his objections.The third section explains the enlightened Jewish position for perplexing problems posed in the Torah Very insightful If you can concentrate on philosophical theological arguments, your mind will become elevated beyond the mundane world and you will enjoy a form of bliss only attained by very few God is


  10. Kevin Kevin says:

    Third most dense tome I ve ever tried to slog my way through.