Moses Maimonides' Skeptical Philosophy: The Matter and Form of The Guide of the Perplexed


ACLS Fellowship Program


Philosophy, Committee on Jewish Studies


This study of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed ties together three themes in his philosophy: his skeptism about human knowledge of metaphysics, his use of the parable as a mode of philosophical writing to express incomplete knowledge, and the role he gives to various exercises in achieving a happy life without the possibility of intellectual perfection. Underlying these three themes are assumptions about the tension between matter and form, or body and intellect, which precludes the possibility of becoming a perfectly actualized, or acquired, intellect. Weaving together critical exposition of Maimonides’ arguments with his use of parables, this study explores the symbiotic relation between his two styles of philosophical writing.