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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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Maimonides’ Governance of the Solitary

Maimonides’ Governance of the Solitary

Chapter:
(p.33) 2 Maimonides’ Governance of the Solitary
Source:
Perspectives on Maimonides
Author(s):

Ralph Lerner

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9780197100714.003.0003

This chapter focuses on the final section of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed, which states that the pursuit of human perfection is necessarily private. According to this account, man can become fully human only by drastically separating himself from others and from their concerns. At his highest, man is not so much a political animal as a transpolitical animal. With good reason, then, did Shem Tov’s commentary to the Guide refer to the highly negative contemporary reactions to this discussion, underline its rejection of ‘political perfection’, and designate the whole section as Maimonides’ ‘governance of the solitary’. In this final section, Maimonides addresses a theme of great sensitivity and importance. It states that what the properly disposed and trained individual needs most is to be left alone to tend to his all-consuming purpose in life. If others figure at all in his consideration, it is in the respect in which ‘they are indubitably either like domestic animals or like beasts of prey’, and accordingly to be used for his advantage or warded off.

Keywords:   Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, human perfection, solitude, transpolitical animal, Shem Tov, political perfection, governance

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