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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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Requirements, Ideals, and Moral Motivation

Requirements, Ideals, and Moral Motivation

(p.136) 5 Requirements, Ideals, and Moral Motivation
Law, Reason, and Morality in Medieval Jewish Philosophy

Jonathan Jacobs (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This is a brief discussion of some specific issues of pronounced concern to medieval Jewish thinkers. These include the relation between moral requirements and moral ideals, and also the conception of morality as based upon divine command. The discussion indicates how some of the medieval approaches to these issues differ from influential modern formulations, and it suggests some respects in which the older understandings have considerable merit. In particular, it is shown how the medievals held that a tradition could be rational even though the justifications for some elements of it are not evident to us. In contrast to much modern moral thought, these thinkers did not insist on a requirement's justification being evident as a condition for accepting it as a requirement. In their view, it is sometimes necessary to fulfil requirements in order to be able to ascertain their justifications.

Keywords:   autonomy, divine command, imitatio Dei, lifnim mishurat hadin, practical wisdom, voluntarism

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