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Maimonides the Rationalist$
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Herbert A. Davidson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113584

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113584.001.0001

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Maimonides’ Ethical Systems

Maimonides’ Ethical Systems

(p.235) Eight Maimonides’ Ethical Systems
Maimonides the Rationalist

Herbert A. Davidson

Liverpool University Press

This chapter discusses Maimonides' treatment of ethics. Shemonah perakim and Mishneh torah base their treatments of ethics on the postulate that characteristics in the human soul are the locus of virtue and vice. Although human actions and characteristics in the soul are interrelated, and the former are the instrument for inculcating the latter, it is not the actions that are virtuous or vicious. Only characteristics in the soul are. On one essential point, Maimonides is consistent and unequivocal throughout his writings. The goal of human life is to perfect the human intellect and to think intelligible thoughts concerning metaphysical matters and, most importantly, God. Ethical attainments, however construed, are means to the greater end.

Keywords:   ethics, ethical systems, metaphysical matters, ethical attainments, Shemonah perakim, Mishneh torah, human actions, human soul, virtue, vice

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