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Perspectives on MaimonidesPhilosophical and Historical Studies$
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Joel L. Kraemer

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780197100714

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9780197100714.001.0001

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The Ethical Views of Maimonides within the context of Islamicate Civilization

The Ethical Views of Maimonides within the context of Islamicate Civilization

(p.13) 1 The Ethical Views of Maimonides within the context of Islamicate Civilization
(p.iii) Perspectives on Maimonides

Lawrence V. Berman

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the ethical views of Maimonides. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics had a decisive influence on Maimonides’ views, as did concepts found in biblical, talmudic, and post-talmudic literature. A major topic discussed in the Ethics is the goal for man, in general and in particular, aside from the importance of this subject for determining the kind of life the individual should pursue. A second major theme of the Ethics is the nature of the excellences or virtues of man in relation to practical activity and thinking. An underlying theme of the Ethics is that the happiness of the individual is ensured by proper laws which habituate the individual to proper behaviour in accordance with man’s nature. Maimonides’ principal works are his Commentary on the Mishnah, his Code of Jewish Law (Mishneh Torah), and his Guide of the Perplexed. In these works, which span Maimonides’ productivity over the course of his lifetime, the influence of the Ethics is marked. Thus, one sees how a central figure of Islamicate civilization, heir to the best in that civilization of an intellectual cast, was none the less receptive to the important influence of the Ethics. The chapter then discusses Maimonides’ concept of the ideal man in the light of the Ethics.

Keywords:   Maimonides, Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, laws, proper behaviour, Islamicate civilization, ideal man, Commentary on the Mishnah, Code of Jewish Law, Guide of the Perplexed

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