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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 True Perplexity: The Guide of the Perplexed Part II, Chapter 24

The True Perplexity: The Guide of the Perplexed Part II, Chapter 24

(p.159) 8 The True Perplexity: The Guide of the Perplexed Part II, Chapter 24
Perspectives on Maimonides

Tzvi Langermann

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on part II, Chapter 24 of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed, which discusses the incompatibility of the models used by professional astronomers with the basic tenets of the Aristotelian world-view. On the one hand, the epicycles and eccentrics employed by astronomers seem to violate the principle that the motion of the heavenly bodies be uniform, circular, and about a fixed centre. On the other hand, the results achieved through the use of these very devices are startlingly precise. This, Maimonides says, is the ‘true perplexity’. The chapter then looks at three aspects of this true perplexity. It also compares the views expressed in the Guide with the rules laid down in the third chapter of the ‘Laws Concerning the Basic Principles of the Torah’, which forms the first section of the Mishneh Torah. It is particularly concerned with two questions: did Maimonides consider the true configuration of the heavens to be inscrutable? And can a close reading of both texts offer any clues about this true configuration? Finally, the chapter considers the views of some of Maimonides’ followers on these questions.

Keywords:   Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, astronomers, Aristotelian world-view, heavenly bodies, true perplexity, Mishneh Torah

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