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Law, Reason, and Morality in Medieval Jewish PhilosophySadia Gaon, Bahya ibn Pakuda, and Moses Maimonides$
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Jonathan Jacobs

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542833

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542833.001.0001

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Jewish Moral Thought and Practical Wisdom

Jewish Moral Thought and Practical Wisdom

Chapter:
(p.107) 4 Jewish Moral Thought and Practical Wisdom
Source:
Law, Reason, and Morality in Medieval Jewish Philosophy
Author(s):

Jonathan Jacobs (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542833.003.0005

This chapter discusses the main points of comparison and contrast between Jewish thought and the practical wisdom approach to ethics, with Aristotle's conception of it as the guiding example. The issue of ‘the reasons of the commandments’ is crucial to Jewish thought and it has a central role in this chapter. The issue concerns the extent to which rational justifications of the commandments can be ascertained, and also the justificatory status of those commandments for which the justifications are opaque or inscrutable. It is shown that there are some important points of likeness between the practical wisdom approach to ethical theory and the views of some of the Jewish philosophers but there are reasons not to interpret their views of ‘the reasons of the commandments’ and moral knowledge as indicative of a practical wisdom approach to ethics.

Keywords:   codification, demonstration, habituation, halakha, hukkim, mishpat, practical wisdom

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