Maimonides on Divine Knowledge—Moses of Narbonne's Averroist Reading

In various writings Maimonides claims that God’s knowledge encompasses sublunar things, including human affairs, that we are incapable of understanding the nature of this knowledge, and that the term “knowing” is equivocal when said of God and of humans. In the fourteenth century these claims were given widely divergent interpretations. According to Levi ben Gershom (Gersonides, 1288–1344), Maimonides was compelled by religious considerations to maintain that God knows sublunar particulars in all their particularity, and to adopt a position that was diametrically opposed to the Aristotelian one. By contrast, Moses of Narbonne (Narboni, d.1362) found Maimonides’ views on divine knowledge to be identical with those of the “ancient philosophers,” that is to say, the Peripatetics, as presented by Averroes. Whether ultimately convincing or not, Narboni’s Averroist interpretation forces the reader to admit that Maimonides shares a great deal more in common with Averroes on this topic than is often thought. By examining briefly the view of Maimonides and Averroes on these matters I hope to make Narboni’s interpretation appear less far-fetched
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy  Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 1051-3558
DOI 10.5840/acpq200276129
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