Quaestio 15:299-308 (2015)

Edward Halper
University of Georgia
Maimonides’ claim, in Guide of the Perplexed I.68, that our intellect, like God’s, becomes one with the object it knows would seem to be at odds with his injunction to his readers to set their “thought to work on the first intelligible” and to “rejoice in what [it] apprehends”. The former passage supposes that we grasp individual essences by themselves, whereas the latter supposes that such essences are known only through their first cause. Since we cannot grasp the first cause, God, we cannot, apparently, grasp anything else or rejoice in it. After briefly sketching the solutions of Aristotle and Avicenna, this paper argues that Maimonides resolves these issues by distinguishing the metaphysical grasp of a single essence from the grasp of its relations - due to God’s will - with other essences and, more specifically, the metaphysical grasp of our own human essence from the grasp of ourselves through our physical and moral relations with the world. Insofar as we know ourselves by knowing everythi...
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DOI 10.1484/J.QUAESTIO.5.108605
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