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Maimonides' Politics, Psychology And Ethics

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Chapter Summary

Plato and Aristotle shared the common assumption that man is a political creature by nature, in the sense that he cannot survive outside society, and more especially he cannot survive as man outside society, for the highest human perfection is enlightenment, and he cannot achieve this perfection outside of society. In Maimonides's view, the laws of the Torah are applicable in an ideal sense for the community as a whole, i.e. for most of the individuals most of the time. If Maimonides tends toward Platonic views in politics, he follows Aristotle in psychology. He rejects the notion that the soul is a separate immaterial entity, forcibly attached to the body though not a part of it. He rejects the ethical conclusions which follow from such a view. Maimonides accepted the difference between mitzvot that have ethical reasons and follow from social considerations, and ritual mitzvot that lack this characteristic.

Keywords: Aristotle; ethical theory; Maimonides; Plato; political theory; psychology; ritual mitzvot; Torah



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