Two major themes run through these studies by Gad Freudenthal: science and philosophy in the medieval Hebrew tradition; and the repercussions of Greek theories of matter in the medieval Arabic and Hebrew scientific traditions. The opening essays offer a sociologically-informed picture of the acceptance or rejection of the sciences among medieval Jews in Southern France. This is followed by studies of individual figures: on Gersonides' thought; on Maimonides' and Gersonides' respective views of astrology; on al-FAcrAcbA (R)'s philosophy of geometry; and two notes (translated from Hebrew) on less well-known thinkers. The second part of the volume is thematic; a study identifying in Anaximander's theory of matter the fountainhead of a long-lasting scientific problematique is followed by five essays on its reverberations in the works of authors as different as Saadia Gaon, Avicenna, Averroes, Shem-Tov Ibn Falaqera and the author of the mystic Sefer ha-maskil. They all sought and gave accounts for the unity and persistence of the cosmos, in which metaphysics often complements physics, some echoing Stoic physics, a topic to which special attention is devoted.
Gad Freudenthal is Director of Research at the CNRS, Paris, France.
Contents: Introduction; Science in the Medieval Hebrew Tradition: Socio-Cultural Considerations: Science in the medieval Jewish culture of Southern France; Holiness and defilement: the ambivalent perception of philosophy by its opponents in the early 14th century. Maimonides, Gersonides and Some Others: Maimonides' stance on astrology in context: cosmology, physics, medicine, and providence; Levi ben Gershom (Gersonides), 1288-1344; Sauver son Acme ou sauver les phenomenes: soteriologie, epistemologie et astronomie chez Gersonide; Levi ben Gershom as a scientist: physics, astrology and eschatology; Sur la partie astronomique du Liwyat Hen de Levi ben Abraham ben Hayyim; The distinction between two R. Joseph b. Joseph Nahmias - the commentator and the astrologer; Two notes on Sefer Meyashsher 'aqob by Alfonso, alias Abner of Burgos; Al-FAcrAcbA (R) on the foundations of geometry. Reverberations of Greek Theory of Matter in Arabic and Hebrew: The theory of the opposites and an ordered universe: physics and metaphysics in Anaximander; (Al-)Chemical foundations for cosmological ideas: Ibn SA (R)nAc on the geology of an eternal world; Stoic physics in the writings of R. Saadia Gaon al-Fayyumi and its aftermath in medieval Jewish mysticism; L'Heritage de la physique stoA-cienne dans la pensee juive medievale (Saadia Gaon, les DevA'ts rhenans, Sefer ha-Maskil; The medieval astrologization of Aristotle's biology: Averroes on the role of the celestial bodies in the generation of animate bodies; Providence, astrology, and celestial influences on the sublunar world in Shem-Tov Ibn Falaquera's De`ot ha-Filosofim; Index.