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Liberating Imagination and Other Ends of Medieval Jewish Philosophy

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Abstract In its treatment of imagination as understood by medieval Jewish philosophers, modern scholarship has tended to neglect the intersection of animal fables and political thought. This paper examines several Aesopian themes in Greek philosophy and medieval Jewish philosophic literature, especially the tales composed by Berakhiah ha-Naqdan, in order to highlight the attention lavished by these premoderns on the faculty of imagination. It is argued that, according to the philosophers, human perfection requires the cultivation of both intellect and imagination. It is also shown that Pierre Hadot’s notion of “spiritual exercises” as constituting philosophy is fruitfully applicable to the genre of fable.

Affiliations: 1: Duke University

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