Astral magic and specific properties (Segullot) in medieval Jewish thought non-Aristotelian science and theology

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Two basic paradigms dominated medieval science. The Aristotelian tradition sought to explain the behavior of substances in the sublunar world solely on the basis of their four elementary qualities (hot, cold, dry, and wet) and the theory of natural places. As Aristotle saw it, there was only one external influence on the material world that was necessary to explain the changes that took place within it: It derived from the sun's changing position with respect to the earth as a result of its motion in its annual orbit. Generation after generation of Aristotelian philosophers subscribed to this framework of scientific ideas. However, Aristotelian tradition was opposed by other traditions that posited the reality of various kinds of natural powers, such as the influences of the stars on matter and human beings, various magical powers, and the like. These non-Aristotelian traditions concentrated their attention on phenomena (both real and imagined) that could not be attributed to the qualities of matter; in that sense they were supernatural. There was little or no communication between these traditions and the Aristotelian, for the Aristotelians denied the very reality of the powers that were at the core of the non-Aristotelian explanatory schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScience in Medieval Jewish Cultures
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780511976575
ISBN (Print)9781107001459
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2011.


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