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Chapter Summary

In astronomy R. Levi ben Gerson invented two new observational instruments, and on the basis of his observations he proposed a new astronomical theory as an alternative to the Ptolemaic theory with respect to the conformity of astronomy to physics, and thus earned general influence on the scholars of his day. This is highly significant also regarding his standing as a Jewish religious philosopher. In addition to Gersonides's philosophical works, he composed philosophical commentaries on all the books of the Torah and the prophets in a unique format that emphasized the moral lessons that may be derived from these books. Gersonides resolved the discrepancy between Ptolemaic astronomy and Aristotelian physics through his new astronomical theory, and thus demonstrated his independence both of Aristotle and of Maimonides. This led to a philosophical turning-point not only in the Maimonidean tradition but in general philosophy.

Keywords: Aristotelian physics; astronomical theory; Gersonides philosophical work; Maimonidean tradition; Ptolemaic theory; Torah books



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