Absalom's revolt and value-neutral advice in Profiat Duran

History of Political Thought 30 (1):60-74 (2009)
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Abstract

This article discusses Profiat Duran's views on the ideal advisor as set forth in this Ma'aseh Efod (1403) and their possible sources. It will focus on 's use of the story of Absalom's revolt as a starting point for this account of the qualities of the exemplary advisor as personified by Ahitophel. By placing a distinct stress on the ability to find the proper means for reaching a certain end regardless of ethical considerations as the hallmark of a good advisor for a prince, Duran stands on common ground with Nicole Oresme, who maintains that the function of advice consists of finding the meanings for arriving at a certain end. I argue that Oresme might have had a direct influence on Duran's political ideas in view of the fact that the latter belonged to the circle of Hasdai Crescas, who had access to Oresme's works. Duran's account of the ideal prince can be regarded as a combination of Moses Maimonides' notion of the relative character of good and bad and Oresme's views about the function of advice

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