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Maimonides’ Philosophic Mysticism

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Chapter Summary

In Maimonides' teaching on the true spiritual life, there are three levels of spiritual life after the initial level of meticulous observance of the commandments: (1) intellectual apprehension of God, also called "love" of God (2) intellectual contemplation of God, also called "worship" of God and "passion" for God and (3) continuous contemplation of God, characterized by such words as "always" and "intense pleasure". This hierarchy of the spiritual life shows beyond all doubt that, for Maimonides, metaphysics was only the penultimate stage in spiritual development; that rational work was only the bridge to a more spiritual stage of living; and that it was this sustained being-in-the-presence of God after intellectual effort that was the raison d'être of humanity. For Maimonides, philosophy was the handmaiden of mysticism. Maimonides' thought is fully rooted in the Islamic rationalist philosophic tradition.

Keywords: God; Islamic rationalist philosophic tradition; Maimonides' teaching; metaphysics; philosophic mysticism; spiritual life

10.1163/9789004279759_006
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