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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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Neoplatonic Currents in Maimonides’ Thought

Neoplatonic Currents in Maimonides’ Thought

(p.115) 6 Neoplatonic Currents in Maimonides’ Thought
Perspectives on Maimonides

Alfred L. Ivry

Liverpool University Press

This chapter investigates Maimonides’ relationship to Neoplatonic thought, which can be discerned through a comparison of his writings with those of his contemporaries in both the Islamic and Jewish worlds. This would include philosophers as well as theologians and mystics, both those who lived when and where Maimonides did, as well as those who preceded him, in Egypt and elsewhere, whose writings were current and influential in twelfth-century Egypt. Some of this work has been charted by Shlomo Pines. Pines points to the probable presence of some Ismāʻīlī influence on Maimonides’ thought, though less than that found in Judah Halevi. Maimonides’ formulation of the doctrine of negative attributes in the Guide of the Perplexed, in which the method of negation is viewed as a kind of affirmation, is located in the work of the Ismāʻīlī theologian Hamīd al-Dīn al-Kirmānī; while Alfarabi, suspected of harbouring ‘Ismāʻīlī proclivities’, is apparently viewed as a possible conduit for Shīʻī influence upon Maimonides’ political philosophy. The limited number of these examples does not betoken a major influence of Ismāʻīlī doctrine upon Maimonides’ thought, but does point the way to future research in this direction.

Keywords:   Maimonides, Neoplatonic thought, Egypt, Shlomo Pines, Ismāʻīlī, Guide of the Perplexed, Alfarabi, Shīʻīsm, political philosophy

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