Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-nzrtw Total loading time: 0.281 Render date: 2022-11-30T14:29:32.262Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Appendix: A Critique of Pines's “Limitations” Article

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2018

Joshua Parens
Affiliation:
University of Dallas
Get access

Summary

Shortly after publishing the definitive English translation of the Guide of the Perplexed in 1963, Shlomo Pines, in 1968, entered on a new avenue of research on Maimonides. He began a series of articles stressing deep similarities between Maimonides and his Muslim predecessor, Alfarabi, on the one hand, and various modern authors such as Spinoza and Kant, on the other. He thereby contributed mightily to a gradual process of effacing the line between medieval or premodern and modern thought in contemporary scholarship. Pines's new approach was most evident in the thesis of his most renowned article, published in 1979, “The Limitations of Human Knowledge according to al-Fārābī, Ibn Bājja, and Maimonides.” His thesis is that Alfarabi and Maimonides maintain a view of the limitations of human knowledge highly similar to Kant's.

Pines's articles have had the cumulative effect not only of effacing the distinction between medieval and modern but also of modernizing Alfarabi and especially Maimonides. Leaving aside the bad effects this has on our historical understanding, it impedes our ability to read and benefit from these medieval thinkers. This effect has been formidable. Indeed, Pines's 1979 article may be the most influential article on Maimonides written in the last quarter of the twentieth century. As a result, many leading Maimonides scholars have defended their views on Maimonides. Although few have embraced the claim that Maimonides was as close to Kant as Pines seemed to argue, his article has contributed profoundly to the impression that there are deeper affinities between Maimonides and modern thought generally than has been recognized heretofore. Despite reservations about Pines's specific formulation about Maimonides and Kant, the general trend toward the drawing of parallels between Maimonides and various modern thinkers has grown rapidly since Pines's article. These parallels, though they may raise provocative questions of influence, are, I believe, more misleading than helpful. I offer criticisms of Pines's assimilation of Alfarabi and Maimonides to Kant. I hope thereby to clarify not only Alfarabi and Maimonides's relation to Kant and of premodern to modern thought in general but also the relation between politics and metaphysics in each of these thinkers.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×