Moses ben Maimon
18th-century portrait of Maimonides
30 March or 6 April 1135
Possibly born 28 March or 4 April 1138
Cordova, Almoravid Empire (present-day Spain)
|Died||12 December 1204 (aged 69)
Fostat, Egypt, or Cairo, Egypt
|School||Jewish law, Jewish ethics|
Further, there are things of which the mind understands one part, but remains ignorant of the other; and when man is able to comprehend certain things, it does not follow that he must be able to comprehend everything.
Transient bodies are only subject to destruction through their substance and not through their form, nor can the essence of their form be destroyed; in this respect, they are permanent.
Do not consider it proof just because it is written in books, for a liar who will deceive with his tongue will not hesitate to do the same with his pen.
It is thus necessary to examine all things according to their essence, to infer from every species such true and well established propositions as may assist us in the solution of metaphysical problems.
Man's shortcomings and sins are all due to substance of the body and not to its form, while all his merits are exclusively due to his form.
If the whole earth is infinitely small in comparison with the sphere of the stars, what is man compared with all these created beings!
Do not imagine that what we have said of the insufficiency of our understanding and of its limited extent is an assertion founded only on the Bible: for philosophers likewise assert the same, and perfectly understand it,- without having regard to any religion or opinion.
He, however, who begins with Metaphysics, will not only become confused in matters of religion, but will fall into complete infidelity.
If men possessed wisdom, which stands in the same relation to the form of man as the sight to the eye, they would not cause any injury to themselves or to others; for the knowledge of truth removes hatred and quarrels, and prevents mutual injuries.
Be convinced that, if man were able to reach the end without preparatory studies, such studies would not be preparatory but tiresome and utterly superfluous.
While one man can discover a certain thing by himself, another is never able to understand it, even if taught by means of all possible expressions and metaphors, and during a long period; his mind can in no way grasp it, his capacity is insufficient for it.
If a person studies too much and exhausts his reflective powers, he will be confused, and will not be able to apprehend even that which had been within the power of his apprehension. For the powers of the body are all alike in this respect.
All this is applicable to the intellectual faculties of man. There is a considerable difference between one person and another as regards these faculties, as is well known to philosophers.
Form can only be destroyed accidentally, i.e., on account of its connexion with substance, the true nature of which consists in the property of never being without a disposition to receive form.
The whole object of the Prophets and the Sages was to declare that a limit is set to human reason where it must halt.
It is necessary to bear in mind that Scripture only teaches the chief points of those true principles which lead to the true perfection of man, and only demands in general terms faith in them.
All the great evils which men cause to each other because of certain intentions, desires, opinions, or religious principles, are likewise due to non-existence, because they originate in ignorance, which is absence of wisdom.
Consequently he who wishes to attain to human perfection, must therefore first study Logic, next the various branches of Mathematics in their proper order, then Physics, and lastly Metaphysics.
No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.
However great the exertion of our mind may be to comprehend the Divine Being or any of the ideals, we find a screen and partition between Him and ourselves. Thus the prophets frequently hint at the existence of a partition between God and us.
To the totality of purposes of the perfect Law there belong the abandonment, depreciation, and restraint of desires in so far as possible.
When man possesses a good, sound body that does not overpower him nor disturb the equilibrium in him, he possesses a divine gift. In short, a good constitution facilitates the rule of the soul over the body, but it is not impossible to conquer a bad constitution by training.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
How individuals of the same species surpass each other in these sensations and in other bodily faculties is universally known, but there is a limit to them, and their power cannot extend to every distance or to every degree.
The numerous evils to which individual persons are exposed are due to the defects existing in the persons themselves. We complain and seek relief from our own faults; we suffer from the evils which we, by our own free will, inflict on ourselves and ascribe them to God, who is far from being connected with them!
The same is the case with those opinions of man to which he has been accustomed from his youth; he likes them, defends them, and shuns the opposite views.
You will certainly not doubt the necessity of studying astronomy and physics, if you are desirous of comprehending the relation between the world and Providence as it is in reality, and not according to imagination.
Now, we occupy a lowly position, both in space and rank in comparison with the heavenly sphere, and the Almighty is Most High not in space, but with respect to absolute existence, greatness and power.
You must consider, when reading this treatise, that mental perception, because connected with matter, is subject to conditions similar to those to which physical perception is subject.
One should see the world, and see himself as a scale with an equal balance of good and evil. When he does one good deed the scale is tipped to the good – he and the world is saved. When he does one evil deed the scale is tipped to the bad – he and the world is destroyed.