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Judaic Sources and Western ThoughtJerusalem's Enduring Presence$
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Jonathan Jacobs

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199583157

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583157.001.0001

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Torah as Political Philosophy: Maimonides and Spinoza on Religious Law

Torah as Political Philosophy: Maimonides and Spinoza on Religious Law

(p.190) 8 Torah as Political Philosophy: Maimonides and Spinoza on Religious Law
Judaic Sources and Western Thought

Edward C. Halper

Oxford University Press

Maimonides and Spinoza often discuss the Torah as a political programme, based on philosophical truths, that uses laws and institutions as ‘devices’ to secure political ends. This chapter argues that the ends are, first, character traits that allow people to live in communities and that limit those other faculties that interfere with intellectual development and, second, the proper performance of administrative positions in the community. Since character traits motivate action, Maimonides and Spinoza are each explaining how to motivate citizens and why it is necessary to do so. Each of them makes a case for using political devices by interpreting the Torah's account of Adam and Eve's expulsion from Eden as a philosophical argument. By exploring their reasoning, this chapter makes an indirect case for including motivation as an end of political philosophy and for constructing institutions so as to shape it.

Keywords:   Maimonides, Spinoza, Garden of Eden, political devices, divine law, religious commandments, moral commandments, freedom, moral agency, motivation, habituation, ḥuqqim, mishpatim

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