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Grant number: FS-250796-16

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CUNY Research Foundation, John Jay College (New York, NY 10019-1007)
Jonathan A. Jacobs (Project Director: February 2016 to present)

Will, Commandment, and Human Perfection in Medieval Jewish Philosophy

A four-week seminar for sixteen college and university teachers to study key ideas on the will and moral agency in Saadia Gaon and Moses Maimonides.

This is an in-depth exploration of key ideas concerning the will, moral agency, and moral epistemology in two key figures in medieval Jewish philosophy Saadia Gaon and Moses Maimonides. Saadia largely set the agenda for medieval Jewish philosophy and Maimonides is its most influential thinker—his influence continuing to today. Their views of volition, relations between reason and revelation, and the role of tradition in transmitting moral knowledge are relevant to enduring debates in moral epistemology. Though they discuss many of the same fundamental issues their methods differ and Maimonides is critical of Saadia’s conception of the rational justification of revealed law. Their respective conceptions of “the reasons for the commandments” are key elements of their views and there are important contrasts with conceptions of natural law. Aquinas’ “Questions on Law” will be discussed, to highlight diverse views of the rational justification of moral requirements.

Project fields:
Ethics; History of Philosophy

Seminars for College Teachers

Education Programs

Total amounts:
$118,937 (approved)
$118,937 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2016 – 9/30/2018