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Maimonides on Creation, Kant’s First Antinomy, and Hermann Cohen

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image of The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy

Abstract This paper describes a “double move” made by Maimonides, Kant, and Hermann Cohen when they simultaneously dismiss and resolve the cosmological problem of the origin of the universe in time in order to represent creation as a moral issue. Maimonides claims to lack a compelling metaphysical argument regarding creation. However, a reading of Maimonides inspired by the views of Hermann Cohen finds him to be a Platonist who accepts creation from absolute privation so as to establish a moral world in which revelation establishes a correlation between humans and God. For Kant, metaphysics also cannot address the origin of the universe, but he positively describes the regress towards the origin as indeterminately large to derive the unconditioned ideal of reason that supports the regulative use of reason. Cohen, therefore, follows the precedents set by Maimonides and Kant when he claims that the Jewish concept of creation is an ethical and logical problem rather than a cosmological one, even though his account of creation presupposes his era’s dominant scientific model of the eternity of the universe.

Affiliations: 1: University of Memphis Memphis, TN


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