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Its first manifestation took place in Egypt where Judaism came in contact with Hellenic culture, and the result was the development of an extensive speculation among the Jews of Alexandria, the most important representative of which was Philo (q.v.). With the disappearance of the Egyptian Diaspora its philosophy vanished and only slight vestiges of its teachings can be traced in the early Agadic literature.
Speculation in Jewry rose again in the ninth century in the lands of the East, particularly in Babylonia, when Judaism once more met Greek philosophy, this time dressed in Arabic garb. The philosophic tradition of the ancients transmitted through the Syrians, to the young Arabic nation created a disturbance in the minds of the devotees of the Koran who, testing its principles by the light of the newly acquired wisdom, found them often wanting. As a result, various currents of thought were set in motion. Of these, the leading was the Kalamitic or the Mutazilite philosophy, (q.v.) of several shades, the general aim ot which was both to defend doctrines of religion against heresies and also to reconcile them with the principles of reason.
On the whole, there can be distinguished two currents in the entire stream of Jewish philosophy which flowed for about five hundred years, the Oriental and the Occidental. The first was limited to the lands of the East, such as Babylonia and the neighboring countries, and the leading representatives of which were Saadia (q.v.) among the Rabbanites and Aaron ben Elijah (q.v.) among the Karaites. The second developed primarily in Spain and the Provence, and among its leading thinkers were Bahya (q.v.), Gabirol (q.v.), Maimonides (q.v.), Gersonides (q.v.) and Crescas (q.v.). Since Jewish philosophy, during a large part of its existence, was developed within the Arabic world, it consequently reflects the influence of the various systems of thought dominant within that sphere.
Almost all Jewish philosophers with the exception of Gabirol, ha-Levi, and Gersonides produce proofs for the existence of God. These proofs are based primarily on principles of physics. In the case of the Western philosophers, they are Aristotelian, while in the case of the Eastern, they are a combination of Aristotelian and those of the Mutazilites. The Eastern philosophers, such as Saadia and others and also Bahya of the Western prove the existence of God indirectly, namely that the world was created and consequently there is a creator. The leading Western thinkers, such as Ibn Daud (q.v.) and Maimonides employ the Aristotelian argument from motion, even to positing hypothetically the eternity of the world. Ha-LevI considers the conception of the existence of God an intuition with which man is endowed by God Himself. Crescas, who criticized Aristotle's conception of space and the infinite, in his proof for the existence of God, proves it by positing the need of a being necessarily existent, for it is absurd to posit a world of possibles.
The next step is to demonstrate God's unity for which various proofs are given. Saadia and the followers prove it from the conception of creator; the others, including Maimonides, deduce it from the concept of an unmoved mover from which His incorporeality is also deduced. The argument that harmony of the universe is due to one creator or one first cause is also frequently employed.
The problem of attributes gave rise to extensive discussions. In general, the attempt is made to convey some knowledge about God and yet maintain that His essence is inconceivable. The number of attributes varies with individual philosophers, from three of Bahya to eight of Ibn Daud. Saadia counts one, living, potent and wise as essential attributes; Bahya one, existent, and eternal. Ha-Levi substitutes living for existent. Ibn Daud adds to those of Saadia and Bahya three more: true, willing, and potent. Maimonides considers living, potent, wise, and willing as those agreed upon by philosophers. The difficulty, however, does not consist in the number but in their content, or in other words, how to speak of essential attributes and not to impair the simplicity of God's essence. Bahya was the first to assert that their content is negative, e.g., existent means not non-existent. He was followed in this by all others. Maimonides is especially insistent upon the negative meaning and asserts that they are to be applied to God and man in an absolute homonymic manner, i.e., there is no possible relation between God and other beings. Gersonides and Crescas, on the other hand, believe that the essential attributes are positive though we cannot determine their content. There are, of course, other attributes which are descriptive of His action, but these are not essential.
The relation of God to the world includes, as we have seen, a number of problems. The general conception of the world with almost all Jewish philosophers is mainly Aristotelian. All, not excluding Saadia, who was to a considerable degree under the influence of the Mutazilites, all except Aristotle's theory of matter and form, i.e., that all bodies are composed of two elements, the substratum or the hyle and the particular form with which it is endewed. They all speak of primal matter which was the first creation, and all accept his view of the four elements, i.e., fire, air, water, and earth which are the components of all things in the lower world. They also accept his cosmogony, namely, the division of the universe of the upper world of the spheres and the lower or sublunar world, and also posit the influence of the spheres upon the course of events in this world. On the other hand, all oppose his view of the eternity of the world and champion creation de novo with slight variations.
The differences begin when the questions of the mode of creation and mediators between God and the world are dealt with. In these matters there are to be noted three variations. Saadia rejected entirely the theory of the emanation of separate intelligences, and teaches God's creation from nothing of all beings in the sublunar and upper worlds. He posits that God created first a substratum or the first air which was composed of the hyle and form and out of this element all beings were created, not only the four elements, the components of bodies in the lower world, but also the angels, stars, and the spheres. Bahya's conception is similar to that of Saadia. The Aristotelians, Ibn Daud, Maimonides, and Gersonides accepted the theory of the separate intelligences which was current in Arabic philosophy. This theory teaches that out of the First Cause there emanated an intelligence, and out of this intelligence another one up to nine, corresponding to the number of spheres. Each of these intelligences acts as the object of the mind of a sphere and is the cause of its movement. The tenth intelligence is the universal intellect, an emanation of all intelligences which has in its care the sublunar world. This theory is a combination of Aristotelian and neo-PIatonic teachings; Ibn Daud posits, however, in addition to the intelligences also the existence of angels, created spiritual beings, while Maimonides seems to identify the angels with the intelligences, and also says that natural forces are also called angels in the Bible. As for creation, Ibn Daud asserts that God created the hyle or primal matter and endowed it with general form from which the specific forms later developed. Maimonides seems to believe that God first created a substance consisting of primal matter and primal form, and that He determined by His will that parts of it should form the matter of the spheres which is imperishable, while other parts should form the matter of the four elements. These views, however, are subject to various interpretations by historians. Gabirol and Gersonides posit the eternal existence of the hyle and limit creation to endowing it with form and organization -- a view close to the Platonic.
Divine providence is admitted by all Jewish philosophers, but its extent is a matter of dispute. The conservative thinkers, though admitting the stability of the natural order and even seeing in that order a medium of God's providence, allow greater latitude to the interference of God in the regulation of human events, or even in disturbing the natural order on occasion. In other words, they admit a frequency of miracles. The more liberal, though they do not deny the occurrence of miracles, attempt to limit it, and often rationalize the numerous miraculous events related in the Bible and bring them within the sphere of the rational order. Typical and representative is Maimonides' view of Providence. He limits its extent in the sublunar world to the human genus only on account of its possession of mind. As a result he posits a graded Providence, namely, that the one who is more intellectually perfect receives more attention or special Providence. This theory is also espoused, with certain modifications, by Ibn Daud and Gersonides. Divine providence does by no means impair human freedom, for it is rarely direct, but is exerted through a number of mediate causes, and human choice is one of the causes.
There is, however, greater difficulty in making freedom of the will compatible with divine prescience of human action. The question arises, does God know beforehand what man will do or not? If he does, it follows that the action is determined, or if man can choose, His knowledge is not true. Various answers were proposed by Jewish philosophers to this difficult problem. Saadia says that God's knowledge is like gazing in a mirror of the future which does not influence human action. He knows the ultimate result. Maimonides says that God's knowledge is so totally different from human that it remains indefinable, and consequently He may know things beforehand, and yet not impair the possibility of man to choose between two actions. Ibn Daud and Gersonides limit God's knowledge and say that He only knows that certain actions will be present to man for choice but not the way he will choose. Crescas is more logical and comes to the conclusion that action is possible only per se, i.e., when looked upon singly, but is necessary through the causes. Free will is in this case nominal and consist primarily in the fact that man is ignorant of the real situation and he is rewarded and punished for his exertion to do good or for his neglect to exert himself.
The origin, nature, and the continued existence or immortality of the soul is widely discussed in Jewish philosophy. As to origin, Saadia believes that each individual soul is created by God -- considering, of course, creation a continuous process -- and that it is of a fine spiritual substance. As to its faculties, he accepts the Aristotelian-Platonic division of the soul into three parts, namely, the appetitive, emotional, and cognitive. Ibn Daud thinks that the soul exists prior to the body potentially, i.e., that the angels endow the body with form; he further considers it a substance but says that it undergoes a process of development. The more it thinks the more perfect it becomes, and the thoughts are called acquired reason, it is this acquired reason, or being perfected which remains immortal. Maimonides does not discuss the origin of the soul, but deals more with its parts. To the three of Saadia he adds the imaginative and the conative. Gersonides' view resembles somewhat that of Ibn Daud, except that he does not speak of its origin and limits himself to the intellect. The intellect, says he, is only a capacity residing in the lower soul, and that capacity is gradually developed by the help of the Active Intellect into an acquired and ultimately into an active reason. All thinkers insist on immortality, but with Saadia and ha-Levi it seems that the entire soul survives, while the Aristotelians assert that only the intellect is immortal. Maimonides is not explicit on the subject, yet we may surmise that even the more liberal thinkers did not subscribe to Averroes' theory of unitas intellectus, and they believed that the immortal intellect is endowed with consciousness of personality. To this trend of connecting immortality with rational reflection Crescas took exception, and asserts that it is not pure thought which leads to survival, but that the soul is immortal because it is a spiritual being, and it is perfected by its love for God and the doing of good.
The view of freedom of the will and the soul influenced to a great extent the ethics of the Jewish philosophers. A large number of thinkers accepted the Aristotelian norm of the golden mean as the rule of conduct, but considered that the laws and precepts of the Torah help towards obtaining right conduct. Maimonides, however, stated that the norm of the mean is only for the average man, but that the higher man should incline towards an extreme good way in conduct. Crescas' view of the good way follows from the theory of the soul, he stresses the emotional element, namely the necessity of the love of the Good and the desire to actualize it in life.
Of the many theological doctrines included in this philosophy, there are to be noted those of the Torah and prophecy. The Torah is considered by all philosophers divinely revealed. The Sinaitic revelation was accomplished by means of a specially created voice which uttered the commandments. The Torah is therefore immutable and is eternal. Its purpose is to train men for a good life. According to Maimonides, the Torah aims at both the improvement of the soul and of the body. The first is accomplished the second by numerous laws which regulate the by inculcating right conceptions about God, and life of the individual and society.
Another means of revelation is prophecy. The authenticity of prophecy, says Saadia, is not based on the miracles by which it is demonstrated but on its intrinsic worth. Maimonides says the prophet must possess great intellectual ability, rich phantasy, and perfect ethical conduct; only then he may be called by the divine spirit.
Confucius taught that "it is man that can make truth great, and not truth that can make man great." Consequently he emphasized moral perfection, true manhood (jen), moral order (li) the Golden Mean (Chung Yung) and the superior man (chun tzu). To this end, knowledge must be directed, names must be rectified (cheng ming), and social relationships harmonized (wu lun). The whole program involved the investigation of things, the extension of knowledge, sincerity of the will, rectification of the heart, cultivation of the personal life, regulation of family life, national order, and finally, world peace. Mencius (371-289 B.C.) carried this further, holding that we not only should be good, but must be good, as human nature is originally good. True manhood (jen) and righteousness (i) are considered man's mind and path, respectively. Government must be established on the basis of benevolence (jen cheng) as against profit and force. Hsun Tzu (c 335-c 288 B.C.) believing human nature to be evil, stressed moral accumulation and education, especially through the rectification of names, music, and the rule of propriety (li). In the book of Chung Yung (Central Harmony, the Golden Mean, third or fourth century B.C.), the doctrine of central harmony is set forth. Our central self or moral being is conceived to be the great basis of existence and harmony or moral order is the universal law in the world. From then on, the relationship between man and the universe became one of direct correspondence. The idea of macrocosmos-rnicrocosmos relationship largely characterized the Confucianism of medieval China. The most glorious development of Confucianism is found in Neo-Confucianism, from the eleventh century to this day. For a summary of medieval Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism, see Chinese philosophy. -- W.T.C.
(a) The mental act of asserting (affirming or denying) an assertible content. Traditionally a judgment is said to affirm or to deny a predicate of a subject. As generalized by modern logicians this becomes affirmation or denial of a relation (not necessarily that of predication) among certain terms (not necessarily two). One classification of judgments lists them as problematic, assertoric, or apodeictic, depending on whether they are asserted as probable (or improbable or possible), true (or false), or necessary (or impossible). Since a judgment in this sense always involves a truth claim it is either correct or erroneous.
(b) That which is asserted in an act of judgment, often called a belief or a proposition. That which is judged may merely be contemplated or considered instead of being affirmed or denied. Opinions differ as to the ontological status of propositions. Some regard them as mental, some as neutral, some as verbal. -- C.A.B.