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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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Why Maimonides was not a Mutakallim

Why Maimonides was not a Mutakallim

(p.105) 5 Why Maimonides was not a Mutakallim
Perspectives on Maimonides

Warren Zev Harvey

Liverpool University Press

This chapter addresses the question of why Maimonides was not a mutakallim, or practitioner of Kalām. Maimonides took great pains to differentiate himself from the mutakallimūn (the dialectical theologians), and to explain just what he had against them. Following Alfarabi, he distinguished sharply between philosophy and kalām (dialectical theology). According to this distinction, a philosopher — like Alfarabi or Maimonides — is interested in the objective and open-minded pursuit of truth, while the mutakallim is interested in supporting religious beliefs. Maimonides argues that the mutakallim violates the rule of Themistius: instead of seeking to make his ideas conform to that which exists, he seeks to make that which exists conform to his ideas. To put the matter simply: a philosopher seeks to subject his imagination to his intellect, while the mutakallim subjects his intellect to his imagination. Maimonides quite plainly was a philosopher and not a mutakallim, for he was interested in the open-minded pursuit of truth, sought to make his ideas conform to what exists and not vice versa, and aimed to live by his intellect and not his imagination. The chapter then reflects on the relationship between the Guide of the Perplexed and the Kalām.

Keywords:   Maimonides, mutakallim, Kalām, mutakallimūn, philosophy, religious beliefs, intellect, imagination, Guide of the Perplexed, Alfarabi

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