Tranquility and Toil: Maimonides on the Ultimate Perfection of Human Intellect


Location: via Zoom

PLEASE NOTE: Indicated event times are Eastern Daylight Time: 8:30am - 10:30am, Rome | 2:30pm - 4:30pm, Beijing

The great 12th-century Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides mentions in the introduction of the Guide of the Perplexed the rest of the soul and the ease of body as the ends of the process of relieving the perplexities. For Maimonides, the tranquility of the soul is achieved by refraining from the futile inquiry on questions beyond the ken of human reason. In light of his epistemological reading of the parable of Adam’s fall, the rest of the body from toil and labor indicates the suspension of the bodily faculties (perception and imagination) in probing the metaphysical realm. The same condition appears in Maimonides’ description of the extra effort the philosophers need to make to attain the ultimate perfection represented by the prophets. The latter attain the knowledge of God’s governance of the world in conjunction with the Agent Intellect. In order to guarantee the function of this intellectual intuition, the interference of imagination should be suppressed by spiritual exercises.

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This lecture is the third and final installment of the "Western Medieval Philosophy Lecture Series" organized by the Beijing Global Gateway, the Jacques Maritain Center at Notre Dame, and the Thomistic Institute at the Angelicum in Rome. It will be conducted virtually in Chinese. The lecture will be recorded and all registrants will receive the recording after the event. Learn more about this lecture series.


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Xiuyuan Dong Cropped

Dr. Xiuyuan Dong, Associate Professor, Qingdao Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shandong University. In 2014 he received his Ph.D. from Shandong University. The topic of his doctoral thesis is Maimonides’ Thought on Cosmogony. His research interests lie in Medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy, particularly on cosmology and its epistemological and metaphysical foundations. His recent publications include the Chinese translations of al-Farabi’s al-Madīna al-Fādila (The Principles of Opinions of the Citizens in the Virtuous State, Shanghai: East China Normal University Press, 2016), and Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah: Sefer ha-Madda (The Code of Maimonides: the Book of Knowledge, Jinan: Shandong University Press, 2015).

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