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Between Tradition and Silence: Maimonides and Crescas on God - PHI00086M

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Owen Hulatt
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This module will look at Maimonides’s Moreh Nebukim, or Guide for the Perplexed, and the criticisms of it offered by Chasdai Crescas in his Or Hashem, or Light of the Lord. Maimonides’ account of negative knowledge ultimately leads us to silence as the chief means of worshipping and knowing God; Crescas argues in contrast that God is largely knowable, and that tradition has an ongoing value in determining that knowledge. In examining the relationship between their work we gain insight into the unique assumptions and preoccupations of the Jewish philosophical tradition, which often defined itself through opposition to the Greek roots which have helped frame Western philosophy. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

The aim of this module is to familiarize students with a non-Western school of Philosophical thought, and develop their ability to engage and debate with it. In particular, students will become acquainted with Jewish Philosophy and halachic philosophy, as well as their relationship to questions of free will, ethics, and philosophy of religion.

 

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should be able to understand a range of texts from the Jewish philosophical tradition. They should be able to critically adjudicate its relationship to perennial issues in ethical philosophy and philosophy of religion. They should be able to engage with a different philosophical tradition and put it into conversation with their own philosophical training.

 

Module content

Week 2 -  Introduction to ‘Jewish philosophy’. Potted history from Torah, to Hellenistic period, to Spinoza.

Week 3 – Onkelos and Maimonides on analogical and equivocal predication applied to God

Week 4 – Crescas contra Maimonides – argument for univocity of predicates applied to God

Week 5 – Maimonides and Crescas on free will

Week 6 – Creation, Emanation, and Evil

Week 7 – Maimonides and Crescas on Infinity

Week 8 – Maimonides vs Crescas on the Good

Week 9 – Iconoclasm, Monism, and Atheism

Week 10 - Tutorials

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay (4000 words)
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

The formative essay plan will be submitted in Week 7 of the Autumn Term.

The summative essay will be submitted on Monday, Week 2 of the Spring Term.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay (4000 words)
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive formative feedback in the form of a tutorial.

Students will receive summative feedback 4 weeks after submission.

 

 

Indicative reading

Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed (Moreh Nebukim) 

Chasdai Crescas Light of the Lord  (‘Or Hashem)



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.