Natural Philosophy, Jewish

Tzvi Langermann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


After a period of ingestion, when Jewish thinkers came to grips with a large and variegated body of scientific literature, mainly written in the Arabic, comprehensive philosophies of nature were developed. The most systematic and influential thinker in this field as in so many others was Moses Maimonides. A fixed and permanent natural order was an important feature of his philosophy. Though in conception and in most details it was an Aristotelian philosophy of nature, in fact Maimonides asserts that an unchanging natural order is a key and requisite feature of his religious philosophy that recognizes a Creator God above nature. However, Maimonides’ seemingly wholesale acceptance of “Greek” science irked many later thinkers, most especially Moses Nahmanides' who proffered a particularist philosophy. If nature has a role here, it is only as a lower order system; if they behave properly, Jews can insert themselves in a higher order, in which they come under the direct control of God.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy
Subtitle of host publicationPhilosophy Between 500 and 1500
EditorsHenrik Lagerlund
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4020-9729-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-4020-9728-7
StatePublished - 2011


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