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The Role of Reason in Bahya and Maimonides

Ruth Birnbaum
Shofar
Vol. 19, No. 2 (WINTER 2001), pp. 76-86
Published by: Purdue University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42943193
Page Count: 11
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The Role of Reason in Bahya and Maimonides
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Abstract

Bahya ibn Paquda, in his work The Duties of the Heart, and Maimonides, barely a century later, in his Guide of the Perplexed, proclaim that the highest worship is the intellectual comprehension of God. Only by means of this knowledge can man serve Him "with all his heart and with all his soul." These works were expressly written for the perplexed of their generation, and although both grant a superior status to intellect, they differ in the intents and purposes each assigns to reason. This is evident in the manner of their presentations. Bahya's work is written in a straightforward, systematic arrangement accessible to all. In contrast, Maimonides addresses a select segment of his kinsmen and writes with guarded circumspection. The differences, as well as the areas of convergence, of these two thinkers provide a legitimate basis for this study.

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