A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy
by Isaac Husik
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"Thou art One, the first of every number, and the foundation of all structure. Thou art One, and in the mystery of the Unity all the wise in heart are astonished; for they cannot define it. Thou art One, and thy Unity can neither be lessened nor augmented; for nothing is there wanting or superfluous. Thou art One, but not such a one as is estimated or numbered; for neither plurality, nor change, form, nor physical attribute, nor name expressive of thy quality, can reach thee...."

In the same way he treats God's other attributes, existent, living, great, mighty. Then he continues:

"Thou art light, and the eyes of every pure soul shall see thee; for the clouds of iniquity alone hide thee from her sight.... Thou art most high, and the eye of the intellect desireth and longeth for thee; but it can only see a part, it cannot see the whole of thy greatness....

"Thou art God, who by thy Divinity supportest all things formed; and upholdest all creatures by thy Unity. Thou art God, and there is no distinction between thy godhead, unity, eternity or existence; for all is one mystery; and although each of these attributes is variously named, yet the whole point to one end.

"Thou art wise, and wisdom, which is the fountain of life, floweth from thee; and compared with thy wisdom, the knowledge of all mankind is folly. Thou art wise; and didst exist prior to all the most ancient things; and wisdom was reared by thee. Thou art wise; and hast not learned aught from another, nor acquired thy wisdom from anyone else. Thou art wise; and from thy wisdom thou didst cause to emanate a ready will, an agent and artist as it were, to draw existence out of non-existence, as light proceeds from the eye. Thou drawest from the source of light without a vessel, and producest everything without a tool."

Then follows a description of the constitution of the sublunar world, the terrestrial sphere consisting of part earth, part water, and being surrounded by the successive spheres of air and fire. Then follow in order the spheres of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the spheres of the fixed stars, and the outermost sphere embracing all and giving to the entire heaven the diurnal motion from east to west. He then continues:

"Who can understand thy tremendous mysteries, when thou didst exalt above the ninth orb, the sphere of the Intelligence; that is the inner temple; for the tenth shall be holy to the Lord. This is the sphere which is exalted above all the highest, and which no imagination can reach; and there is the hiding-place, wherein is the canopy for thy glory....

"O Lord! who can come near thy understanding, when thou didst place on high above the sphere of the Intelligence the Throne of thy glory, where is the glorious dwelling of the hiding-place; there also is the mystery and the foundation (matter); so far the intellect may reach and no further; for above this art thou greatly exalted upon thy mighty throne, where no man may come up to thee....

"Who can comprehend thy power, when thou didst create from the splendor of thy glory a pure lustre? From the rock of rocks was it hewn, and dug from the hollow of the cave. Thou also didst bestow on it the spirit of wisdom, and didst call it soul. Thou didst form it hewn from the flames of intellectual fire, so that its spirit burneth as fire within it. Thou didst send it forth to the body to serve and guard it; it is as fire in the midst of it, and yet doth not consume it; for from the fire of the soul the body was created, and called into existence from nothing, because the Lord descended thereto in fire."

Here we see the Intelligence spoken of as standing above the heavenly spheres. This clearly represents the cosmic Intelligence as a creation of God, "which is exalted above all the highest," hence the first product of God's light. And yet the Throne of Glory is said to be placed even above the sphere of the Intelligence. He speaks of it as the mystery and the foundation (Yesod), beyond which the intellect cannot reach. This is apparently a contradiction, but becomes clear when we learn what is meant by the Throne of Glory, and by "foundation." In the "Fons Vit" Gabirol tells us that matter receives form from the First Essence through the medium of the Will, which latter therefore, as it bestows form upon matter, sits in it and rests upon it. And hence, he says, matter is as it were the stool (cathedra) of the One. The word "yesod" (foundation) which Gabirol applies in the "Keter Malkut" (Royal Crown) to the Throne of Glory is the same that Falaquera uses for matter throughout in his epitome of the "Mekor Hayim." Hence it is clear that the Throne of Glory which is above the Intelligence is nothing else than Gabirol's matter. And we know from the "Fons Vit" that matter is really prior to Intelligence as it exists in the knowledge of God, but that in reality it never was, as a creation, without form; and that with form it constitutes the Intelligence. Finally there is also a reference in the poem to the will as emanating from God's wisdom, and like an "agent and artist drawing existence out of non-existence as light proceeds from the eye." The process of creation is thus compared with the radiation of light in the sentence just quoted, and likewise in the following: "Thou drawest from the source of light without a vessel, and producest everything without a tool."

We do not know whether Gabirol wrote any commentaries on the Bible—none are extant, nor are there any references to such works—but from his exegetical attempts in his ethical work discussed above (p. 71 ff.) and from citations by Abraham ibn Ezra of Gabirol's explanations of certain passages in Scripture, we gather that like Philo of Alexandria before him and Maimonides and a host of philosophical commentators after him, he used the allegorical method to reconcile his philosophical views with the Bible, and read the former into the latter.[105]

Thus we are told that Eden represents the presence of God, the garden planted in Eden stands for the angelic beings or, according to another interpretation, for the world of sense. By the river which flows out of Eden is meant prime matter which issues from the essence of God according to the "Fons Vit." The four divisions of the river are the four elements; Adam is the rational soul, Eve, as the Hebrew name indicates, the animal soul, and the serpent is the vegetative or appetitive soul. The serpent entices Adam to eat of the forbidden tree. This means that when the lower soul succeeds in controlling the reason, the result is evil and sin, and man is driven out of the Garden, i. e., is excluded from his angelic purity and becomes a corporeal being.

It is clear from all this that Gabirol's omission of all reference to Jewish dogma in the "Fons Vit" was purely methodological. Philosophy, and religion or theology should be kept apart in a purely philosophical work. Apologetics or harmonization has its rights, but it is a different department of study, and should be treated by itself, or in connection with exegesis of the Bible.

While it is true that Gabirol's influence on subsequent Jewish philosophy is slight—at most we find it in Moses and Abraham ibn Ezra, Abraham ibn Daud and Joseph ibn Zaddik—traces of his ideas are met with in the mysticism of the Kabbala. Gabirol's "Fons Vit" is a peculiar combination of logical formalism with mystic obscurity, or profundity, according to one's point of view. The latter did not appeal to pure rationalists like Ibn Daud or Maimonides, and the former seemed unconvincing, as it was employed in a lost cause. For Neo-Platonism was giving way to Aristotelianism, which was adopted by Maimonides and made the authoritative and standard philosophy. It was different with the Kabbala. Those who were responsible for its spread in the thirteenth century must have been attracted by the seemingly esoteric character of a philosophy which sees the invisible in the visible, the spiritual in the corporeal, and the reflection of the unknowable God in everything. There are certain details also which are common to both, such as the analogies of irradiation of light or flowing of water used to represent the process of creation, the position of the Will, the existence of matter in spiritual beings, and so on, though some of these ideas are common to all Neo-Platonic systems, and the Kabbala may have had access to the same sources as Gabirol.



All that is known of the life of Bahya ben Joseph ibn Pakuda is that he lived in Spain and had the office of "Dayyan," or judge of the Jewish community. Not even the exact time in which he lived is yet determined, though the most reliable recent investigations make it probable that he lived after Gabirol and was indebted to the latter for some of his views in philosophy as well as in Ethics.[106] So far as traditional data are concerned we have equally reliable, or rather equally unreliable statements for regarding Bahya as an older contemporary of Gabirol (eleventh century), or of Abraham ibn Ezra (1088-1167). Neither of these two data being vouched for by any but their respective authors, who lived a long time after Bahya, we are left to such indirect evidence as may be gathered from the content of Bahya's ethical work, the "Duties of the Hearts." And here the recent investigations of Yahuda, the latest authority on this subject and the editor of the Arabic text of Bahya's masterpiece (1912), force upon us the conclusion that Bahya wrote after Gabirol. Yahuda has shown that many passages in the "Duties of the Hearts" are practically identical in content and expression with similar ideas found in a work of the Arab philosopher Gazali (1059-1111). This leaves very little doubt that Bahya borrowed from Gazali and hence could not have written before the twelfth century.

To be sure, there are arguments on the other side, which would give chronological priority to Bahya over Gabirol,[107] but without going into the details of this minute and difficult discussion, it may be said generally that many of the similarities in thought and expression between the two ethical works of Gabirol and Bahya rather point in favor of the view here adopted, namely, that Bahya borrowed from Gabirol, while the rest prove nothing for either side. In so far as a reader of the "Duties of the Hearts" recognizes here and there an idea met with in Gabirol's "Fons Vit," there can scarcely be any doubt that the latter is the more original of the two. Gabirol did not borrow his philosophy or any part thereof from Bahya. Despite its Neo-Platonic character the "Fons Vit" of Gabirol is the most independent and original of Jewish medival productions. The "Duties of the Hearts" owes what originality it has to its ethics, which is the chief aim of the work, and not at all to the introductory philosophical chapter. As we shall see later, the entire chapter on the existence and unity of God, which introduces the ethical teachings of Bahya, moves in the familiar lines of Saadia, Al Mukammas, Joseph al Basir and the other Jewish Mutakallimun. There is besides a touch of Neo-Platonism in Bahya, which may be due to Gabirol as well as to Arabic sources. That Bahya did not borrow more from the "Fons Vit" than he did is due no doubt to the difference in temperament between the two men. Bahya is not a mystic. Filled as he is with the spirit of piety and warmth of heart—an attitude reflected in his style, which helped to make his work the most popular moral-religious book in Jewish literature—there is no trace of pantheism or metaphysical mysticism in his nature. His ideas are sane and rational, and their expression clear and transparent. Gabirol's high flights in the "Fons Vit" have little in common with Bahya's modest and brief outline of the familiar doctrines of the existence, unity and attributes of God, for which he claims no originality, and which serve merely as the background for his contribution to religious ethics. That Bahya should have taken a few leading notions from the "Fons Vit," such as did not antagonize his temperament and mode of thinking, is quite possible, and we shall best explain such resemblances in this manner.

As Abraham ibn Ezra in 1156 makes mention of Bahya and his views,[108] we are safe in concluding that the "Duties of the Hearts" was written between 1100 and 1156.

As the title of the work indicates, Bahya saw the great significance of a distinction made by Mohammedan theologians and familiar in their ascetic literature, between outward ceremonial or observance, known as "visible wisdom" and "duties of the limbs," and inward intention, attitude and feeling, called "hidden wisdom" and "duties of the hearts."[109] The prophet Isaiah complains that the people are diligent in bringing sacrifices, celebrating the festivals and offering prayer while their hands are full of blood. He informs them that such conduct is an abomination to the Lord, and admonishes them to wash themselves, to make themselves clean, to put away the evil of their deeds from before God's eyes; to cease to do evil; to learn to do well, to seek for justice, to relieve the oppressed, to do justice to the fatherless, to plead for the widow (Isa. 1, 11-17). This is a distinction between duties to God and duties to one's fellow man, between religious ceremony and ethical practice. Saadia makes a further distinction—also found in Arabic theology before him—between those commandments and prohibitions in the Bible which the reason itself approves as right or condemns as wrong—the rational commandments—and those which to the reason seem indifferent, and which revelation alone characterizes as obligatory, permitted or forbidden—the so-called "traditional commandments."

Bahya's division is identical with neither the one nor the other. Ethical practice may be purely external and a matter of the limbs, quite as much as sacrifice and ceremonial ritual. On the other hand, one may feel profoundly moved with the spirit of true piety, love of God and loyalty to his commandments in the performance of a so-called "traditional commandment," like the fastening of a "mezuzah" to the door-post. Bahya finds room for Saadia's classification but it is with him of subordinate importance, and is applicable only to the "duties of the limbs." Among these alone are there some which the reason unaided by revelation would not have prescribed. The "duties of the heart" are all rational. Like all precepts they are both positive and negative. Examples of positive duties of the heart are, belief in a creator who made the world out of nothing; belief in his unity and incomparability; the duty to serve him with all our heart, to trust in him, to submit to him, to fear him, to feel that he is watching our open and secret actions, to long for his favor and direct our actions for his name's sake; to love those who love him so as to be near unto him, and to hate those who hate him. Negative precepts of this class are the opposites of those mentioned, and others besides, such as that we should not covet, or bear a grudge, or think of forbidden things, or desire them or consent to do them. The common characteristic of all duties of the heart is that they are not visible to others. God alone can judge whether a person's feeling and motives are pure or the reverse.

That these duties are incumbent upon us is clear from every point of view. Like Saadia Bahya finds the sources of knowledge, particularly of the knowledge of God's law and religion, in sense, reason, written law and tradition. Leaving out the senses which are not competent in this particular case, the obligatory character of the duties of the heart is vouched for by the other three, reason, law, tradition.

From reason we know that man is composed of soul and body, and that both are due to God's goodness. One is visible, the other is not. Hence we are obliged to worship God in a two-fold manner; with visible worship and invisible. Visible worship represents the duties of the limbs, such as prayer, fasting, charity, and so on, which are carried out by the visible organs. The hidden worship includes the duties of the heart, for example, to think of God's unity, to believe in him and his Law, to accept his worship, etc., all of which are accomplished by the thought of the mind, without the assistance of the visible limbs.

Besides, the duties of the limbs, the obligation of which no one doubts, are incomplete without the will of the heart to do them. Hence it follows that there is a duty upon our souls to worship God to the extent of our powers.

The Bible is just as emphatic in teaching these duties as the reason. The love of God and the fear of God are constantly inculcated; and in the sphere of negative precepts we have such prohibitions as, "Thou shalt not covet" (Exod. 20, 17); "Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge" (Lev. 19, 18); "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart" (ib. 17); "You shalt not go astray after your own heart" (Num. 15, 39); "Thou shalt not harden thy heart nor shut thy hand from thy needy brother" (Deut. 15, 7), and many others.

Rabbinical literature is just as full of such precepts as the Bible, and is if possible even more emphatic in their inculcation. Witness such sayings as the following: "Heaven regards the intention" (Sanh. 106b): "The heart and the eye are two procurers of sin" (Jer. Berak. 1), and many others, particularly in the treatise Abot.

The great importance of these duties is also made manifest by the fact that the punishment in the Bible for unintentional misdeeds is more lenient than for intentional, proving that for punishment the mind must share with the body in the performance of the deed. The same is true of reward, that none is received for performing a good deed if it is not done "in the name of heaven."

They are even more important than the duties of the limbs, for unlike the latter the obligation of the duties of the heart is always in force, and is independent of periods or circumstances. Their number, too, is infinite, and not limited, as are the duties of the limbs, to six hundred and thirteen.

And yet, Bahya complains, despite the great importance of these duties, very few are the men who observed them even in the generations preceding ours, not to speak of our own days when even the external ceremonies are neglected, much more so the class of precepts under discussion. The majority of students of the Torah are actuated by desire for fame and honor, and devote their time to the intricacies of legalistic discussion in Rabbinic literature, and matters unessential, which are of no account in the improvement of the soul; but they neglect such important subjects of study as the unity of God, which we ought to understand and distinguish from other unities, and not merely receive parrot fashion from tradition. We are expressly commanded (Deut. 4, 39), "Know therefore this day, and reflect in thy heart, that the Eternal is the God in the heavens above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else." Only he is exempt from studying these matters whose powers are not adequate to grasp them, such as women, children and simpletons.

Moreover Bahya is the first, he tells us, among the post-Talmudical writers, to treat systematically and ex professo this branch of our religious duties. When I looked, he says, into the works composed by the early writers after the Talmud on the commandments, I found that their writings can be classified under three heads. First, exposition of the Torah and the Prophets, like the grammatical and lexicographical treatises of Ibn Janah, or the exegetical works of Saadia. Second, brief compilations of precepts, like the works of Hefez ben Yazliah and the responsa of some geonim. Third, works of a philosophico-apologetic character, like those of Saadia, Al Mukammas and others, whose purpose it was to present in an acceptable manner the doctrines of the Torah, to prove them by logical demonstration, and to refute the criticisms and erroneous views of unbelievers. But I have not seen any book dealing with the "hidden wisdom."[110]

Here we see clearly the purpose of Bahya. It is not the rationalization of Jewish dogma that he is interested in, nor the reconciliation of religion and philosophy. It is the purification of religion itself from within which he seeks to accomplish. Sincerity and consistency in our words and our thoughts, so far as the service of God is concerned, is the fundamental requirement and essential value of the duties of the heart. To be sure this cannot be attained without intelligence. The knowledge of God and of his unity is a prerequisite for a proper understanding and an adequate appreciation of our religious duties. Philosophy therefore becomes a necessity in the interest of a purer and truer religion, without reference to the dangers threatening it from without.

Having found, he continues in the introduction to the "Duties of the Hearts," that all the three sources, reason, Bible and tradition, command this branch of our religious duties, I tried to think about them and to learn them, being led from one topic to another until the subject became so large that I feared I could not contain it all in my memory. I then determined to write the subject down systematically in a book for my own benefit as well as for the benefit of others. But I hesitated about writing it on account of my limitations, the difficulty of the subject and my limited knowledge of Arabic, the language in which I intended writing it because the majority of our people are best familiar with it. But I thought better of it and realized that it was my duty to do what I could even if it was not perfect; that I must not yield to the argument springing from a love of ease and disinclination to effort; for if everyone were to abstain from doing a small good because he cannot do as much as he would like, nothing would ever be done at all.

Having decided to compose the work, he continues, I divided the subject into ten fundamental principles, and devoted a section of the book to each principle. I endeavored to write in a plain and easy style, omitting difficult expressions, technical terms and demonstrations in the manner of the dialecticians. I had to make an exception in the first section dealing with the existence and unity of God, where the sublet of the subject required the employment of logical and mathematical proofs. For the rest I made use of comparisons or similes, adduced support from the Bible and tradition, and also quoted the sages of other nations.[111]

We have already seen in the introduction that Bahya was indebted for his ideas to the ascetic and Sufic literature of the Arabs, and Yahuda, who is the authority in this matter of Bahya's sources, has shown recently that among the quotations of the wise men of other nations in Bahya's work are such as are attributed by the Arabs to Jesus and the gospels, to Mohammed and his companions, to the early caliphs, in particular the caliph Ali, to Mohammedan ascetics and Sufis.[112]

In selecting the ten general and inclusive principles, Bahya lays down as the first and most fundamental the doctrine of the deity, or as it is called in the works of the Kalam, the Unity. As God is a true unity, being neither substance nor accident, and our thought cannot grasp anything except substance or accident, it follows that we cannot know God as he is in himself, and that we can get a conception of him and of his existence from his creatures only. The second section is therefore devoted to an examination of creation. Then follow in order sections treating of the service of God, trust in God, action for the sake of God alone, submission to God, repentance, self-examination, separation from the pleasures of the world, love of God.

In his discussion of the unity of God, Bahya follows the same method as Saadia, and the Kalam generally, i. e., he first proves that the world must have been created; hence there must be a creator, and this is followed by a demonstration of God's unity. The particular arguments, too, are for the most part the same, as we shall see, though differently expressed and in a different order. The important addition in Bahya is his distinction between God's unity and other unities, which is not found so strictly formulated in any of his predecessors, and goes back to Pseudo-Pythagorean sources in Arabian literature of Neo-Platonic origin.

In order to prove that there is a creator who created the world out of nothing we assume three principles. First, nothing can make itself. Second, principles are finite in number, hence there must be a first before which there is no other. Third, every composite is "new," i. e., came to be in time, and did not exist from eternity.

Making use of these principles, which will be proved later, we proceed as follows: The world is composite in all its parts. Sky, earth, stars and man form a sort of house which the latter manages. Plants and animals are composed of the four elements, fire, air, water, earth. The elements again are composed of matter and form, or substance and accident. Their matter is the primitive "hyle," and their form is the primitive form, which is the root of all forms, essential as well as accidental. It is clear therefore that the world is composite, and hence, according to the third principle, had its origin in time. As, according to the first principle, a thing cannot make itself, it must have been made by some one. But as, in accordance with the second principle, the number of causes cannot be infinite, we must finally reach a first cause of the world before which there is no other, and this first made the world out of nothing.

Before criticising this proof, from which Bahya infers more than is legitimate, we must prove the three original assumptions.

The proof of the first principle that a thing cannot make itself is identical in Bahya with the second of the three demonstrations employed by Saadia for the same purpose. It is that the thing must either have made itself before it existed or after it existed. But both are impossible. Before it existed it was not there to make itself; after it existed there was no longer anything to make. Hence the first proposition is proved that a thing cannot make itself.

The proof of the second proposition that the number of causes cannot be infinite is also based upon the same principle as the fourth proof in Saadia for the creation of the world. The principle is this. Whatever has no limit in the direction of the past, i. e., had no beginning, but is eternal a parte ante, cannot have any stopping point anywhere else. In other words, we as the spectators could not point to any definite spot or link in this eternally infinite chain, because the chain must have traversed infinite time to reach us, but the infinite can never be traversed. Since, however, as a matter of fact we can and do direct our attention to parts of the changing world, this shows that the world must have had a beginning.

A second proof of the same principle is not found in Saadia. It is as follows: If we imagine an actual infinite and take away a part, the remainder is less than before. Now if this remainder is still infinite, we have one infinite larger than another, which is impossible. If we say the remainder is finite, then by adding to it the finite part which was taken away, the result must be finite; but this is contrary to hypothesis, for we assumed it infinite at the start. Hence it follows that the infinite cannot have a part. But we can separate in thought out of all the generations of men from the beginning those that lived between the time of Noah and that of Moses. This will be a finite number and a part of all the men in the world. Hence, as the infinite can have no part, this shows that the whole number of men is finite, and hence that the world had a beginning.

This proof is not in Saadia, but we learn from Maimonides ("Guide of the Perplexed," I, ch. 75) that it was one of the proofs used by the Mutakallimun to prove the absurdity of the belief in the eternity of the world.

The third principle is that the composite is "new." This is proved simply by pointing out that the elements forming the composite are prior to it by nature, and hence the latter cannot be eternal, for nothing is prior to the eternal. This principle also is found in Saadia as the second of the four proofs in favor of creation.[113]

We have now justified our assumptions and hence have proved—what? Clearly we have only proved that this composite world cannot have existed as such from eternity; but that it must have been composed of its elements at some point in time past, and that hence there must be a cause or agency which did the composing. But there is nothing in the principles or in the demonstration based upon them which gives us a right to go back of the composite world and say of the elements, the simple elements at the basis of all composition, viz., matter and form, that they too must have come to be in time, and hence were created out of nothing. It is only the composite that argues an act of composition and elements preceding in time and by nature the object composed of them. The simple needs not to be made, hence the question of its having made itself does not arise. It was not made at all, we may say, it just existed from eternity.

The only way to solve this difficulty from Bahya's premises is by saying that if we suppose matter (or matter and form as separate entities) to have existed from eternity, we are liable to the difficulty involved in the idea of anything having traversed infinite time and reached us; though it is doubtful whether unformed matter would lend itself to the experiment of abstracting a part as in generations of men.

Be this as it may, it is interesting to know that Saadia having arrived as far as Bahya in his argument was not yet satisfied that he proved creation ex nihilo, and added special arguments for this purpose.

Before proceeding to prove the unity of God, Bahya takes occasion to dismiss briefly a notion which scarcely deserves consideration in his eyes. That the world could have come by accident, he says, is too absurd to speak of, in view of the evidence of harmony and plan and wisdom which we see in nature. As well imagine ink spilled by accident forming itself into a written book.[114] Saadia also discusses this view as the ninth of the twelve theories of creation treated by him, and refutes it more elaborately than Bahya, whose one argument is the last of Saadia's eight.

In the treatment of creation Saadia is decidedly richer and more comprehensive in discussion, review and argumentation. This was to be expected since such problems are the prime purpose of the "Emunot ve-Deot," whereas they are only preparatory, though none the less fundamental, in the "Hobot ha-Lebabot," and Bahya must have felt that the subject had been adequately treated by his distinguished predecessor. It is the more surprising therefore to find that in the treatment of the unity of God Bahya is more elaborate, and offers a greater variety of arguments for unity as such. Moreover, as has already been said before, he takes greater care than anyone before him to guard against the identification of God's unity with any of the unities, theoretical or actual, in our experience. There is no doubt that this emphasis is due to Neo-Platonic influence, some of which may have come to Bahya from Gabirol, the rest probably from their common sources.

We see, Bahya begins his discussion of the unity of God, that the causes are fewer than their effects, the causes of the causes still fewer, and so on, until when we reach the top there is only one. Thus, the number of individuals is infinite, the number of species is finite; the number of genera is less than the number of species, until we get to the highest genera, which according to Aristotle are ten (the ten categories). Again, the causes of the individuals under the categories are five, motion and the four elements. The causes of the elements are two, matter and form. The cause of these must therefore be one, the will of God. (The will of God as immediately preceding universal matter and form sounds like a reminiscence of the "Fons Vit".)

God's unity is moreover seen in the unity of plan and wisdom that is evident in the world. Everything is related to, connected with and dependent upon everything else, showing that there is a unitary principle at the basis.

If anyone maintains that there is more than one God, the burden of proof lies upon him. Our observation of the world has shown us that there is a God who made it; hence one, since we cannot conceive of less than one; but why more than one, unless there are special reasons to prove it?

Euclid defines unity as that in virtue of which we call a thing one. This means to signify that unity precedes the unitary thing by nature, just as heat precedes the hot object. Plurality is the sum of ones, hence plurality cannot be prior to unity, from which it proceeds. Hence whatever plurality we find in our minds we know that unity precedes it; and even if it occurs to anyone that there is more than one creator, unity must after all precede them all. Hence God is one.

This argument is strictly Neo-Platonic and is based upon the idealism of Plato, the notion that whatever reality or attributes particular things in our world of sense possess they owe to the real and eternal types of these realities and attributes in a higher and intelligible (using the term in contradistinction to sensible) world in which they participate. In so far as this conception is applied to the essences of things, it leads to the hypostatization of the class concepts or universals. Not the particular individual whom we perceive is the real man, but the typical man, the ideal man as the mind conceives him. He is not a concept but a real existent in the intelligible world. If we apply it also to qualities of things, we hypostatize the abstract quality. Heat becomes really distinct from the hot object, existence from the existent thing, goodness from the good person, unity from the one object. And a thing is existent and one and good, because it participates in Existence, Unity and Goodness. These are real entities, intelligible and not sensible, and they give to our world what reality it possesses.

Plotinus improved upon Plato, and instead of leaving these Ideas as distinct and ultimate entities, he adopted the suggestion of Philo and gathered up all these intelligible existences in the lap of the universal Reason, as his ideas or thoughts. This universal Reason is in Philo the Logos, whose mode of existence is still ambiguous, and is rather to be understood as the divine mind. In Plotinus it is the first stage in the unfoldment of the Godhead, and is a distinct hypostasis, though not a person. In Christianity it is the second person in the Trinity, incarnated in Jesus. In Israeli, Gabirol and the other Jewish Neo-Platonists, it occupies the same place as the Nous in Plotinus. In Bahya, whose taint of Neo-Platonism is not even skin deep, there is no universal Reason spoken of. But we do not really know what his ideas may have been on the subject, as he does not develop them in this direction.

To return to Bahya's arguments in favor of the unity of God, we proceed to show that dualism would lead to absurd conclusions. Thus if there is more than one creator, they are either of the same substance or they are not. If they are, then the common substance is the real creator, and we have unity once more. If their substances are different, they are distinct, hence limited, finite, composite, and hence not eternal, which is absurd.

Besides, plurality is an attribute of substance, and belongs to the category of quantity. But the creator is neither substance nor accident (attribute), hence plurality cannot pertain to him. But if he cannot be described as multiple, he must be one.

If the creator is more than one, it follows that either each one of them could create the world alone, or he could not except with the help of the other. If we adopt the first alternative, there is no need of more than one creator. If we adopt the second, it follows that the creator is limited in his power, hence, as above, composite, and not eternal, which is impossible. Besides, if there were more than one creator, it is possible that a dispute might arise between them in reference to the creation. But all this time no such thing has happened, nature being always the same. Hence God is one. Aristotle also agrees with us, for he applies in this connection the Homeric expression, "It is not good to have many rulers, let the ruler be one" (Iliad, II, 204; Arist., Metaphysics, XII, ch. 10, p. 1076a 4).[115]

So far as Bahya proves the unity of God he does not go beyond Saadia, some of whose arguments are reproduced by him, and one or two of a Neo-Platonic character added besides. But there is a decided advance in the analysis which follows, in which Bahya shows that there are various kinds of unity in our experience, and that the unity of God is unique.

We apply the term one to a class, a genus, a species, or an individual. In all of these the multiplicity of parts is visible. The genus animal contains many animals; the species man embraces a great many individual men; and the individual man consists of many parts and organs and faculties. Things of this sort are one in a sense and many in a sense.

We also apply the term one to an object in which the multiplicity of parts is not as readily visible as in the previous case. Take for example a body of water which is homogeneous throughout and one part is like another. This too is in reality composed of parts, matter and form, substance and accident. It is in virtue of this composition that it is subject to genesis and decay, composition and division, union and separation, motion and change. But all this implies plurality. Hence in both the above cases the unity is not essential but accidental. It is because of a certain appearance or similarity that we call a thing or a class one, which is in reality many.

Another application of the term one is when we designate by it the basis of number, the numerical one. This is a true one, essential as distinguished from the accidental referred to above. But it is mental and not actual. It is a symbol of a beginning which has no other before it.

Finally there is the real and actual one. This is something that does not change or multiply; that cannot be described by any material attribute, that is not subject to generation and decay; that does not move and is not similar to anything. It is one in all respects and the cause of multiplicity. It has no beginning or end, for that which has is subject to change, and change is opposed to unity, the thing being different before and after the change. For the same reason the real one does not resemble anything, for resemblance is an accident in the resembling thing, and to be possessed of accidents is to be multiple. Hence the true one resembles nothing. Its oneness is no accident in it, for it is a purely negative term in this application. It means not multiple.[116]

We have now shown that there is a creator who is one, and on the other hand we have analyzed the various meanings of the term one, the last of which is the most real and the purest. It remains now to show that this pure one is identical with the one creator. This can be proved in the following way. The world being everywhere composite contains the one as well as the many—unity of composition, plurality of the parts composed. As unity is prior by nature to plurality, and causes do not run on to infinity (see above, p. 87), the causes of the world's unity and multiplicity cannot be again unity and multiplicity of the same kind forever. Hence as multiplicity cannot be the first, it must be unity—the absolute and true unity before which there is no other, and in which there is no manner of multiplicity. But God is the one cause of the universe, as we have shown, hence God and this true unity are the same.

We can show this also in another way. Whatever is an accidental attribute in one thing is an essential element in some other thing. Thus heat is an accidental attribute in hot water. For water may lose its heat and remain water as before. It is different with fire. Fire cannot lose its heat without ceasing to be fire. Hence heat in fire is an essential element; and it is from fire that hot water and all other hot things receive their heat. The same thing applies to the attribute of unity. It is accidental in all creatures. They are called one because they combine a number of elements in one group or concept. But they are really multiple since they are liable to change and division and motion, and so on. Hence there must be something in which unity is essential, and which is the cause of whatsoever unity all other things possess. But God is the cause of the universe, hence he is this true and absolute unity, and all change and accident and multiplicity are foreign to him.[117]

This unity of God is not in any way derogated from by the ascription to him of attributes. For the latter are of two kinds, "essential" and "active." We call the first essential because they are permanent attributes of God, which he had before creation and will continue to have when the world has ceased to be. These attributes are three in number, Existing, One, Eternal. We have already proved every one of them.

Now these attributes do not imply change in the essence of God. They are to be understood in the sense of denying their opposites, i. e., that he is not multiple, non-existent or newly come into being. They also imply each other as can easily be shown, i. e., every one of the three implies the other two. We must understand therefore that they are really one in idea, and if we could find one term to express the thought fully, we should not use three. But the three do not imply multiplicity in God.

The "active" are those attributes which are ascribed to God by reason of his actions or effects on us. We are permitted to apply them to him because of the necessity which compels us to get to know of his existence so that we may worship him. The Biblical writers use them very frequently. We may divide these into two kinds: First, those which ascribe to God a corporeal form, such as (Gen. 1, 27), "And God created man in his image," and others of the same character. Second, those attributes which refer to corporeal movements and actions. These have been so interpreted by our ancient sages as to remove the corporeality from God by substituting the "Glory of God" for God as the subject of the movement or act in question. Thus, (Gen. 28, 13) "And behold the Lord stood above it," is rendered by the Aramaic translator, "and behold the glory of God was present above it." Saadia deals with this matter at length in his "Emunot ve-Deot," in his commentary on Genesis, and on the book "Yezirah." So there is no need of going into detail here. We are all agreed that necessity compels us to speak of God in corporeal terms so that all may be made to know of God's existence. This they could not do if the prophets had spoken in metaphysical terms, for not everyone can follow such profound matters. But having come to the knowledge of God in this simpler though imperfect way, we can then advance to a more perfect knowledge of him. The intelligent and philosophical reader will lose nothing by the anthropomorphic form of the Bible, for he can remove the husk and penetrate to the kernel. But the simple reader would miss a very great deal indeed if the Bible were written in the language of philosophy, as he would not understand it and would remain without a knowledge of God.

Despite its predominant anthropomorphism, however, the Bible does give us hints of God's spirituality so that the thoughtful reader may also have food for his thought. For example, such expressions as (Deut. 4, 15), "Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of form on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire," and many others are meant to spur on the discriminating reader to further thought. The same applies to all those passages in which the word "name" is inserted before the word God as the object of praise to indicate that we do not know God in his essence. An example of this is, "And they shall bless the name of thy glory" (Neh. 9, 5). For the same reason the name of God is joined in the Bible to heaven, earth, the Patriarchs, in such phrases as the God of the heavens, the God of Abraham, and so on, to show that we do not know God's essence but only his revelation in nature and in history. This is the reason why after saying to Moses, "I am sent me unto you" (Ex. 3, 14), he adds (ib. 15), tell them, "the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob sent me unto you." The meaning is, if they cannot understand God with their reason, let them know me from history and tradition.[118]

In Bahya's treatment of the divine attributes we already have in brief the main elements which Maimonides almost a century later made classic, namely, the distinction between essential and active attributes, and the idea that the former are to be understood as denying their opposites, i. e., as being in their nature not positive but negative. The outcome therefore is that only two kinds of attributes are applicable to God, negative and those which are transferred or projected from the effects of God's activity as they are visible in nature. Saadia had already made the distinction between essential and active attributes, but it was quite incidental with him, and not laid down at the basis of his discussion, but casually referred to in a different connection. Al Mukammas speaks of negative attributes as being more applicable to God than positive, as Philo had already said long before. But the combination of these two, negative and active, as the only kinds of divine attributes is not found in Jewish literature before Bahya.

It is worth noting also that Bahya does not lay down the three attributes, Power, Wisdom and Life as fundamental or essential in the manner of the Christians, the Arab Mutakallimun, and the Jewish Saadia. Bahya, as we have seen, regards as God's essential attributes, existence, unity, eternity. Herein, too, he seems to anticipate Maimonides who insists against the believers in essential attributes that the attributes, living, omnipotent, omniscient, having a will, are no more essential than any other, but like the rest of the qualities ascribed to God have reference to his activity in nature.[119]

We have now gone through Bahya's philosophical chapter giving us the metaphysical basis of his ethico-religious views. That his purpose is practical and not theoretical is clear from his definition of what he calls the "acknowledgment of the unity of God with full heart," not to speak of the title of the book itself, the meaning of which we explained at the beginning of this section, and the nine chapters in Bahya's work following upon the first, which constitute its real essence and purpose. To acknowledge the unity of God with full heart means, he tells us, that one must first know how to prove the existence and unity of God, to distinguish God's unity from every other, and then to make his heart and his tongue unite in this conception.[120] It is not a matter of the intellect merely, but of the heart as affecting one's practical conduct. The adequacy of the conception is destroyed not merely by thinking of God as multiple, or by worshiping images, sun, moon and stars; it is made null and void likewise by hypocrisy and pretence, as when one affects piety before others to gain their favor or acquire a reputation. The same disastrous result is brought about by indulging the low physical appetites. Here the worship of the appetites is brought into competition and rivalry with devotion to the one God.[121]

Our object being to trace the philosophical conceptions in medival Jewish literature, we cannot linger long in the study of the rest of Bahya's masterpiece, which is homiletical and practical rather than theoretic, and must content ourselves with a very brief rsum of its principal contents.

In studying the nature and attributes of God we reached the conclusion that while a knowledge of him is absolutely necessary for a proper mode of life, we cannot form an idea of him as he is in himself, and are left to such evidence as we can gather from the world of which he is the author. It becomes our duty, therefore, to study nature, as a whole and in its parts, conscientiously and minutely, in order to realize clearly the goodness and wisdom of God as exhibited therein. For various reasons we are apt to neglect this study and miss the insight and benefits arising therefrom. Chief among these hindering circumstances are our excessive occupations with the pleasures of this world, and the accidents and misfortunes to which mortal is heir, which blind him to his real good, and prevent him from seeing the blessing in disguise lurking in these very misfortunes.

But it is clear that man has a duty to study the divine goodness and wisdom as exhibited in nature, else of what use is his faculty of reason and intelligence, which raises him above the beast. If he neglects it, he places himself below the latter, which realizes all the functions of which it is capable. Bible and Talmud are equally emphatic in urging us to study the wonders of nature.

The variety of natural phenomena and the laws they exhibit give evidence of the personality of God and the existence of his will. A being without will, acting by necessity of nature, acts with unswerving uniformity.

Heaven and earth, plant and animal, all creatures great and small, bear witness, in their structure and relations, in their functions and mutual service and helpfulness, to the wisdom and goodness of God. Above all is this visible in man, the highest of earthly beings, the microcosm, the rational creature, the discoverer and inventor of arts and sciences. In the laws and statutes which were given to him for the service of God, and in the customs of other nations which take the place of our divine law, we see God's kindness to man in securing his comfort in this world and reward in the next.

Pride is the great enemy of man, because it prevents him from appreciating what he owes to God's goodness. Pride makes him feel that he deserves more than he gets, and blinds him to the truth.[122]

We all recognize the duty of gratitude to a fellow man who has done us a favor, although all such cases of benefit and service between man and man, not excepting even the kindness of a father to his child, will be found on examination to be of a selfish nature. The benefit to self may not in all cases be conscious, but it is always there. It is a father's nature to love his child as part of himself. Moreover, these human favors are not constant, and the person benefited stands comparatively on the same level of existence and worth as his benefactor. How much greater then is the duty incumbent upon us to appreciate God's favors which are not selfish, which are constant, and which are bestowed by the greatest of all beings upon the smallest of all in respect of physical strength.

The only way in which man can repay God for his kindness, and show an appreciation thereof is by submitting to him and doing those things which will bring him nearer to God. In order to realize this it is necessary to abandon the bad qualities, which are in principle two, love of pleasure and love of power. The means enabling one to obtain this freedom are to abstain from too much eating, drinking, idling, and so on, for the first, and from too much gossip, social intercourse, and love of glory for the second. It may be difficult to do this, but one must make up one's mind to it, like the invalid who is ready to lose a limb in order to save his life.

The problem of free will is perplexing indeed and interferes with the proper attitude toward God and his worship. The best way out of the difficulty is to act as if we were free, and on the other hand to have confidence in God as the author of everything.

We have seen that the reason bids us recognize our duty to God in return for his goodness to us. At the same time we are not left to the suggestions and promptings of the reason alone. We have a positive law prescribing our conduct and the manner and measure of expressing our gratitude to God. This is made necessary by the constitution of man's nature. He is a composite of body and spirit. The former is at home in this lower world and is endowed with powers and qualities which tend to strengthen it at the expense of the spirit, a stranger in this world. Hence the necessity of a positive law to cure the spirit from the ills of the body by forbidding certain kinds of food, clothing, sexual indulgence, and so on, which strengthen the appetites, and commanding such actions as prayer, fasting, charity, benevolence, which have the opposite tendency of strengthening the reason.

The positive law is necessary and useful besides because it prescribes the middle way, discouraging equally the extremes of asceticism and of self-indulgence. It regulates and defines conduct, and makes it uniform for old and young, intelligent and unintelligent. It institutes new occasions of worship and thanksgiving as history reveals new benefactions of God to his people in various generations. The law also contains matters which the reason alone would not dictate, and of which it does not understand the meaning. Such are the "traditional commandments." The reason why the law prescribes also some of the principles of the "rational commandments" is because at that time the people were so sunk in their animal desires that their minds were weakened, and there was need of putting both classes of commandments on the same level of positive prescription. But now the intelligent person observes them in accordance with their distinct origin, whereas the masses simply follow the law in both.

The admonition of the positive law serves as an introduction to the suggestions of our own reason and prepares the way for the latter. The first is absolutely necessary for the young, the women and those of weak intellectual power. To worship God not merely because the law prescribes it, but because reason itself demands it denotes a spiritual advance, and puts one in the grade of prophets and pious men chosen of God. In this world their reward is the joy they feel in the sweetness of divine service; in the next world they attain to the spiritual light which we cannot declare or imagine.[123]

One of the duties of the heart is to trust in God. Apart from the Bible which commands us to have trust in God, we can come to the same conclusion as a result of our own reflection. For in God alone are combined all the conditions necessary to confidence. He has the power to protect and help us, and the knowledge of our needs. He is kind and generous and has a love for us and an interest in our welfare, as we have shown in a previous discussion. Trust in God is of advantage religiously in giving a person peace of mind, independence and freedom to devote himself to the service of God without being worried by the cares of the world. He is like the alchemist who changes lead into silver, and silver into gold. If he has money he can make good use of it in fulfilling his duties to God and man. If he has not, he is grateful for the freedom from care which this gives him. He is secure against material worries. He does not have to go to distant lands to look for support, or to engage in hard and fatiguing labor, or to exploit other people. He chooses the work that is in consonance with his mode of life, and gives him leisure and strength to do his duty to God and man.

The suffering of the good and the prosperity of the bad, which apparently contradicts our conclusion, is a problem as old as the world, and is discussed in the Bible. There is no one explanation to cover all cases, hence no solution is given in the Bible. But several reasons may be brought forward for this anomaly. The righteous man may suffer by way of punishment for a sin he has committed. He may suffer in this world in order that he may be rewarded in the next. His suffering may be an example of patience and goodness to other people; especially in a bad generation, to show off their wickedness by contrast with his goodness. Or finally the good man may be punished for not rebuking his generation of evil doers. In a similar way we may explain the prosperity of the wicked.

Trust in God does not signify that one should neglect one's work, be careless of one's life, health and well-being, or abandon one's effort to provide for one's family and dependents. No, one must do all these things conscientiously, at the same time feeling that if not for the help of God all effort would be in vain. In the matter of doing one's duty and observing the commandments, whether of the limbs or the heart, trust in God can apply only to the last step in the process, namely, the realization in practice. He must trust that God will put out of the way all obstacles and hindrances which may prevent him from carrying out his resolutions. The choice and consent must come from a man's own will, which is free. The most he may do is to trust that God may remove temptations.

While it is true that good deeds are rewarded in this world as well as in the next, a man must not trust in his deeds, but in God. It may seem strange that there is no reference in the Bible to reward in the hereafter. The reasons may be the following. Not knowing what the state of the soul is without the body, we could not understand the nature of future reward, and the statement of it in the Bible would not have been a sufficient inducement for the people of that time to follow the commandments. Or it is possible that the people knew by tradition of reward after death, hence it was not necessary to specify it.

As knowledge of nature and of God leads to trust in him, so ignorance leads away from it. It is as with a child, who develops in his manner of trusting in things; beginning with his mother's breast and rising gradually as he grows older and knows more, until he embraces other persons and attains to trust in God.[124]

We said before (p. 83) that the duties of the limbs are imperfect unless accompanied by the intention of the heart. A man's motive must be sincere. It must not be his aim to gain the favor of his fellowmen or to acquire honor and fame. The observance of the prescribed laws must be motived by the sole regard for God and his service. This we call the "unity of conduct." The meaning is that a man's act and intention must coincide in aiming at the fulfilment of God's will. In order to realize this properly one must have an adequate and sincere conception of God's unity as shown above; he must have an appreciation of God's goodness as exhibited in nature; he must submit to God's service; he must have trust in God alone as the sole author of good and evil; and correspondingly he must abstain from flattering mankind, and must be indifferent to their praise and blame; he must fear God, and have respect and awe for him. When he is in the act of fulfilling his spiritual obligations, he must not be preoccupied with the affairs of this world; and finally he must always consult his reason, and make it control his desires and inclinations.[125]

Humility and lowliness is an important element conducive to "unity of conduct." By this is not meant that general helplessness in the face of conditions, dangers and injuries because of ignorance of the methods of averting them. This is not humility but weakness. Nor do we mean that timidity and loss of countenance which one suffers before a superior in physical power or wealth. The true humility with which we are here concerned is that which one feels constantly before God, though it shows itself also in such a person's conduct in the presence of others, in soft speech, low voice, and modest behavior generally, in prosperity as well as adversity. The truly humble man practices patience and forgiveness; he does good to mankind and judges them favorably; he is contented with little in respect to food and drink and the needs of the body generally; he endures misfortune with resignation; is not spoiled by praise, nor irritated by blame, but realizes how far he is from perfection in the one case, and appreciates the truth of the criticism in the other. He is not spoiled by prosperity and success, and always holds himself under strict account. God knows it, even if his fellowmen do not.

Humility, as we have described it, is not, however, incompatible with a certain kind of pride; not that form of it which boasts of physical excellence, nor that arrogance which leads a man to look down upon others and belittle their achievements. These forms of pride are bad and diametrically opposed to true humility. Legitimate mental pride is that which leads a person blessed with intellectual gifts to feel grateful to God for his favor, and to strive to improve his talents and share their benefits with others.[126]

Humility is a necessary forerunner of repentance and we must treat of this duty of the heart next. It is clear from reason as well as from the Law that man does not do all that is incumbent upon him in the service of God. For man is composed of opposite principles warring with each other, and is subject to change on account of the change of his mental qualities. For this reason he needs a law and traditional custom to keep him from going astray. The Bible also tells us that "the imagination of the heart of man is evil from his youth" (Gen. 8, 21). Therefore God was gracious and gave man the ability and opportunity to correct his mistakes. This is repentance.

True repentance means return to God's service after having succeeded in making the reason the master of the desires. The elements in repentance are, (1) regret; (2) discontinuance of the wrong act; (3) confession and request for pardon; (4) promise not to repeat the offence.

In respect to gravity of offence, sins may be divided into three classes: (1) Violation of a positive commandment in the Bible which is not punished by "cutting off from the community." For example, dwelling in booths, wearing fringes, and shaking the palm branch. (2) Violation of a negative commandment not so punished. (3) Violation of a negative commandment the penalty for which is death at the hands of the court, and being "cut off" by divine agency; for example, profanation of the divine name or false oath. In cases of the first class a penitent is as good as one who never sinned. In the second class he is even superior, because the latter has not the same prophylactic against pride. In the third class the penitent is inferior to the one who never sinned.

Another classification of offences is in two divisions according to the subject against whom the offence is committed. This may be a human being, and the crime is social; or it may be God, and we have sin in the proper sense of the term. Penitence is sufficient for forgiveness in the latter class, but not in the former. When one robs another or insults him, he must make restoration or secure the pardon of the offended party before his repentance can be accepted. And if the person cannot be found, or if he died, or is alive but refuses to forgive his offender, or if the sinner lost the money which he took, or if he does not know whom he robbed, or how much, it may be impossible for him to atone for the evil he has done. Still if he is really sincere in his repentance, God will help him to make reparation to the person wronged.[127]

Self-examination is conducive to repentance. By this term is meant taking stock of one's spiritual condition so as to know the merits one has as well the duties one owes. In order to do this conscientiously a man must reflect on the unity of God, on his wisdom and goodness, on the obedience which all nature pays to the laws imposed upon it, disregard of which would result in the annihilation of all things, including himself. A man should review his past conduct, and provide for his future life, as one provides for a long journey, bearing in mind that life is short, and that he is a stranger in this world with no one to help him except the goodness and grace of his maker. He should cultivate the habit of being alone and not seek the society of idlers, for that leads to gossip and slander, to sin and wrong, to vanity and neglect of God. This does not apply to the company of the pious and the learned, which should be sought. He should be honest and helpful to his friends, and he will get along well in this world. All the evils and complaints of life are due to the fact that people are not considerate of one another, and everyone grabs for himself all that he can, more than he needs. One should examine anew the ideas one has from childhood to be sure that he understands them in the light of his riper intellect. He should also study again the books of the Bible and the prayers which he learned as a child, for he would see them now in a different light. He must try to make his soul control his body, strengthening it with intellectual and spiritual food for the world to come. These efforts and reflections and many others of a similar kind tend to perfect the soul and prepare it to attain to the highest degree of purity, where the evil desire can have no power over her.[128]

In self-examination temperance or abstemiousness plays an important rle. Let us examine this concept more closely. By abstemiousness in the special sense in which we use it here we do not mean that general temperance or moderation which we practice to keep our body in good order, or such as physicians prescribe for the healthy and the sick, bidding them abstain from certain articles of food, drink, and so on. We mean rather a more stringent abstemiousness, which may be called separation from the world, or asceticism. We may define this to mean abstention from all corporeal satisfactions except such as are indispensable for the maintenance of life.

Not everyone is required to practice this special form of temperance, nor is it desirable that he should, for it would lead to extinction of the human race. At the same time it is proper that there shall be a few select individuals, ascetic in their habits of life, and completely separated from the world, to serve as an example for the generality of mankind, in order that temperance of the more general kind shall be the habit of the many.

The object of God in creating man was to try the soul in order to purify it and make it like the angels. It is tried by being put in an earthy body, which grows and becomes larger by means of food. Hence God put into the soul the desire for food, and the desire for sexual union to perpetuate the species; and he made the reward for the satisfaction of these desires the pleasure which they give. He also appointed the "evil inclination" to incite to all these bodily pleasures. Now if this "evil inclination" gets the upper hand of the reason, the result is excess and ruin. Hence the need of general abstemiousness. And the ascetic class serve the purpose of reinforcing general temperance by their example.

But in the asceticism of the few there is also a limit beyond which one should not go. Here too the middle way is the best. Those extremists who leave the world entirely and live the life of a recluse in the desert, subsisting on grass and herbs, are farthest from the middle way, and the Bible does not approve of their mode of life, as we read in Isaiah (45, 18) "The God that formed the earth and made it; he that hath established it,—not in vain did he create it, he formed it to be inhabited." Those are much better who without leaving for the desert pass solitary lives in their homes, not associating with other people, and abstaining from superfluities of all kinds. But the best of all are those who adopt the mildest form of asceticism, who separate from the world inwardly while taking part in it outwardly, and assisting in the ordinary occupations of mankind. These are commended in the Bible. Witness the prayer of Jacob (Gen. 28, 20), the fasting of Moses forty days and forty nights on the mount, the fasting of Elijah, the laws of the Nazirite, Jonadab ben Rechab, Elisha, prescriptions of fasting on various occasions, and so on.[129]

The highest stage a man can reach spiritually is the love of God, and all that preceded has this as its aim. True love of God is that felt toward him for his own sake because of his greatness and exaltation, and not for any ulterior purpose.

The soul is a simple spiritual substance which inclines to that which is like it, and departs from what is material and corporeal. But when God put the soul into the body, he implanted in it the desire to maintain it, and it was thus affected by the feelings and desires which concern the health and growth of the body, thus becoming estranged from the spiritual.

In order that the soul shall attain to the true love of God, the reason must get the upper hand of the desires, all the topics treated in the preceding sections must be taken to heart and sincerely and conscientiously acted upon. Then the eyes of the soul will be opened, and it will be filled with the fear and the love of God.[130]



It had been known for a number of years that there was a manuscript treatise in Arabic on the soul, which was attributed on the title page to Bahya. In 1896 Isaac Broyd published a Hebrew translation of this work under the title "Torot ha-Nefesh," ("Reflections on the Soul").[131] The original Arabic was edited by Goldziher in 1907.[132] The Arabic title is "Ma'ani al-Nafs," and should be translated "Concepts of the soul," or "Attributes of the soul."

There seems little doubt now that despite the ascription on the title page of the manuscript, the treatise is not a work of Bahya. It is very unlikely that anything written by so distinguished an author as Bahya, whose "Duties of the Hearts" was the most popular book in the middle ages, should have been so thoroughly forgotten as to have left no trace in Jewish literature. Bahya as well as the anonymous author refer, in the introductions to their respective works, to their sources or to their own previous writings. But there is no reference either in the "Duties of the Hearts" to the "Attributes of the Soul," or in the latter to the former. A still stronger argument against Bahya as the author of our treatise is that derived from the content of the work, which moves in a different circle of ideas from the "Duties of the Hearts." Our anonymous author is an outspoken Neo-Platonist. He believes in the doctrine of emanation, and arranges the created universe, spiritual and material, in a descending series of such emanations, ten in number. The Mutakallimun he opposes as being followers of the "Naturalists," who disagree with the philosophers as well as the Bible. Bahya, on the other hand, is a strict follower of the Kalam in his chapter on the "Unity," as we have seen (p. 86), and the Neo-Platonic influence is very slight. There is no trace of a graded series of emanations in the "Duties of the Hearts."[133]

The sources of the "Attributes of the Soul" are no doubt the various Neo-Platonic writings current among the Arabs in the tenth and eleventh centuries, of which we spoke in the Introduction (p. xx) and in the chapter on Gabirol (p. 63 f.). Gabirol himself can scarcely have had much influence on our author, as the distinctive doctrine of the "Fons Vit" is absent in our treatise. The reader will remember that matter and form, according to Gabirol, are at the basis not merely of the corporeal world, but that they constitute the essence of the spiritual world as well, the very first emanation, the Universal Intelligence, being composed of universal matter and universal form. As we shall see this is not the view of the "Attributes of the Soul." Matter here occupies the position which it has in Plotinus and in the encyclopdia of the Brethren of Purity. It is the fourth in order of emanations, and the composition of matter and form begins with the celestial sphere, which is the fifth in order. Everything that precedes matter is absolutely simple. At the same time it seems clear that he was familiar with Gabirol's doctrine of the will. For in at least two passages in the "Attributes of the Soul" (chs. 11 and 13)[134] we have the series, vegetative soul, spheral impression, [psychic power—omitted in ch. 13], universal soul, intellect, will.

The "Categories" of Aristotle is also clearly evident in the "Attributes of the Soul." It is the ultimate source of the definition of accident as that which resides in substance without being a part of it, but yet in such a way that without substance it cannot exist.[135] The number of the species of motion as six[136] points in the same direction. This, however, does not prove that the author read the "Categories." He might have derived these notions, as well as the list of the ten categories, from the writings of the Brethren of Purity. The same thing applies to the statement that a spiritual substance is distinguished from a corporeal in its capacity of receiving its qualities or accidents without limits.[137] This probably goes back to the De Anima of Aristotle where a similar contrast between the senses and the reason is used as an argument for the "separate" character of the latter. The doctrine of the mean in conduct[138] comes from the ethics of Aristotle. The doctrine of the four virtues and the manner of their derivation is Platonic,[139] and so is the doctrine of reminiscence, viz., that the soul recalls the knowledge it had in its previous life.[140]

Ibn Sina is one of the latest authors mentioned in our work; hence it could not have been written much before 1037, the date of Ibn Sina's death. The terminus ad quem cannot be determined.

As the title indicates, the anonymous treatise is concerned primarily with the nature of the soul. Whatever other topics are found therein are introduced for the bearing they have on the central problem. A study of the soul means psychology as well as ethics, for a complete determination of the nature of the soul necessarily must throw light not only upon the origin and activity of the soul, but also upon its purpose and destiny.

The first error, we are told, that we must remove concerning the soul, is the doctrine of the "naturalists," with whom the Mu'tazilites among the Arabs and the Karaites among the Jews are in agreement, that the soul is not an independent and self-subsistent entity, but only an "accident" of the body. Their view is that as the soul is a corporeal quality it is dependent for its existence upon the body and disappears with the latter. Those of the Mu'tazilites who believe in "Mahad" (return of the soul to its origin), hold that at the time of the resurrection God will bring the parts of the body together with its accident, the soul, and will reward and punish them. But the resurrection is a distinct problem, and has nothing to do with the nature of the soul and its qualities.

The true opinion, which is that of the Bible and the true philosophers, is that the soul is a spiritual substance independent of the body; that it existed before the body and will continue to exist after the dissolution of the latter. The existence of a spiritual substance is proved from the presence of such qualities as knowledge and ignorance. These are opposed to each other, and cannot be the qualities of body as such, for body cannot contain two opposite forms at the same time. Moreover, the substance, whatever it be, which bears the attributes of knowledge and ignorance, can receive them without limit. The more knowledge a person has, the more capable he is of acquiring more. No corporeal substance behaves in this way. There is always a limit to a body's power of receiving a given accident. We legitimately conclude, therefore, that the substance which bears the attributes of knowledge and ignorance is not corporeal but spiritual.[141]

To understand the position of the soul and its relation to the body, we must have an idea of the structure and origin of the universe. The entire world, upper as well as lower, is divided into two parts, simple and composite. The simple essences, which are pure and bright, are nearer to their Creator than the less simple substances which come after. There are ten such creations with varying simplicity, following each other in order according to the arrangement dictated by God's wisdom. As numbers are simple up to ten, and then they begin to be compound, so in the universe the ten simple substances are followed by composite.

The first of these simple creations, which is nearest to God, is called in Hebrew "Shekinah." The Torah and the Prophets call it "Name" (Exod. 23, 21), also "Kabod," Glory (Is. 59, 19). God gave his name to the nearest and first of his creations, which is the first light, and interpreter and servant nearest to him. Solomon calls it "Wisdom" (Prov. 8, 22); the Greeks, Active Intellect. The second creation is called by the Prophets, "the Glory of the God of Israel" (Ezek. 8, 9); by the Greeks, Universal Soul, for it moves the spheres through a natural power as the individual soul moves the body. The soul partakes of the Intelligence or Intellect on the side which is near to it; it partakes of Nature on the side adjoining the latter. Nature is the third creation. It also is an angel, being the first of the powers of the universal soul, and constituting the life of this world and its motion.

These three are simple essences in the highest sense of the word. They are obedient to their Creator, and transmit in order his emanation and the will, and the laws of his wisdom to all the worlds. The fourth creation is an essence which has no activity or life or motion originally, but only a power of receiving whatever is formed and created out of it. This is the Matter of the world. From it come the bodies which possess accidents. In being formed some of its non-existence is diminished, and its matter moves. It is called "hyle," and is the same as the darkness of the first chapter in Genesis. For it is a mistake to suppose that by darkness in the second verse of the first chapter is meant the absence of the light of the sun. This is accidental darkness, whereas in the creation story the word darkness signifies something elemental at the basis of corporeal things. This is what is known as matter, which on account of its darkness, i. e., its imperfection and motionlessness, is the cause of all the blemishes and evils in the world. In receiving forms, however, it acquires motion; its darkness is somewhat diminished, and it appears to the eye through the forms which it receives.

The fifth creation is the celestial Sphere, where for the first time we have motion in its revolutions. Here too we have the first composition of matter and form; and the beginning of time as the measure of the Sphere's motion; and place. The sixth creation is represented by the bodies of the stars, which are moved by the spheres in which they are set. They are bright and luminous because they are near the first simple bodies, which were produced before time and place. The last four of the ten creations are the four elements, fire, air, water, earth. The element earth is the end of "creation." What follows thereafter is "formation" and "composition." By creation is meant that which results through the will of God from his emanation alone, and not out of anything, or in time or place. It applies in the strictest sense to the first three only. The fifth, namely the Sphere, already comes from matter and form, and is in time and place. The fourth, too, enters into the fifth and all subsequent creations and formations. Still, the term creation is applicable to the first ten, though in varying degrees, until when we reach the element earth, creation proper is at an end. This is why in the first verse in Genesis, which speaks of heaven and earth, the term used is "bara" (created), and not any of the other terms, such as "yazar," "'asah," "kanah," "pa'al," and so on, which denote formation.

From earth and the other elements were formed all kinds of minerals, like rocks, mountains, stones, and so on. Then plants and animals, and finally man.

Man who was formed last bears traces of all that preceded him. He is formed of the four elements, of the motions of the spheres, of the mixtures of the stars and their rays, of Nature, of the Universal Soul, the mother of all, of the Intellect, the father of all, and finally of the will of God. But the order in man is reversed. The first two creations, Intellect and Soul, appear in man last.

The soul of man, embracing reason and intellect, is thus seen to be a divine emanation, being related to the universal soul and Intellect. On its way from God to man it passes through all spheres, and every one leaves an impression upon her, and covers her with a wrapper, so to speak. The brightness of the star determines the ornament or "wrapper" which the soul gets from it. This is known to the Creator, who determines the measure of influence and the accidents attaching to the soul until she reaches the body destined for her by his will. The longer the stay in a given sphere the stronger the influence of the sphere in question; and hence the various temperaments we observe in persons, which determine their character and conduct. For at bottom the soul is the same in essence and unchangeable in all men, because she is an emanation from the Unchangeable. All individual differences are due to the spheral impressions. These impressions, however, do not take away from the soul its freedom of will.[142]

In the rest of his psychology and ethics the anonymous author follows Platonic theories, modified now and then in the manner of Aristotle. Thus we are told that the soul consists of three powers, or three souls, the vegetative, the animal and the rational. We learn of the existence of the vegetative soul from the nourishment, growth and reproduction evidenced by the individual. The animal soul shows its presence in the motions of the body. The existence of the rational soul we have already shown from the attributes of knowledge and ignorance.

The vegetative soul comes from certain spheral influences, themselves due to the universal soul, and ultimately to the will of God. It is the first of the three to make its appearance in the body. It is already found in the embryo, to which it gives the power of motion in its own place like the motion of a plant or tree. Its seat is in the liver, where the growth of the embryo begins. Its function ceases about the twentieth year, when the growth of the body reaches its limit.

The animal soul springs from the heart. Its functioning appears after birth when the child begins to crawl, and continues until the person loses the power of locomotion in old age. The rational soul resides in the middle of the brain. She knows all things before joining the body, but her knowledge is obscured on account of the material coverings which she receives on her way down from her divine source.[143]

The virtue of the vegetative soul is temperance; of the animal soul, courage; of the rational soul, wisdom. When these are harmoniously combined in the individual, and the two lower souls are controlled by the higher, there results the fourth virtue, which is justice, and which gives its possessor the privilege of being a teacher and a leader of his people. In Moses all these qualities were exemplified, and Isaiah (11, 1-4) in describing the qualities of the Messianic King also enumerates these four cardinal virtues. "The spirit of wisdom and understanding" represents wisdom, "the spirit of counsel and strength" stands for courage; "the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord" denotes temperance; and justice is represented in the phrase, "and he will judge the poor with righteousness."[144]

Virtue is a mean between the two extremes of excess and defect, each of which is a vice. Thus an excess of wisdom becomes shrewdness and cunning and deceit; while a defect means ignorance. The true wisdom consists in the middle way between the two extremes. Similarly courage is a mean between foolhardiness and rashness on the side of excess, and cowardice on the side of defect. Temperance is a mean between excessive indulgence of the appetites on one side and utter insensibility on the other. The mean of justice is the result of the harmonious combination of the means of the last three. If the rational soul has wisdom and the two other souls are obedient to it through modesty and courage, their substance changes into the substance of the rational soul, i. e., their bad qualities are transformed into the four virtues just mentioned. Then the two lower souls unite with the rational soul and enjoy eternal happiness with it. On the other hand, if the rational soul follows the senses, its wisdom changes into their folly, its virtues into their vices, and it perishes with them.[145]

The immortality of the soul is proved as follows. Things composed of elements return back to their elements, hence the soul also returns to its own origin. The soul is independent of the body, for its qualities, thought and knowledge, are not bodily qualities, hence they become clearer and more certain after the soul is separated from the body than before, when the body obscured its vision like a curtain. The fact that a person's mind is affected when his body is ill does not show that the soul is dependent in its nature upon the body; but that acting as it does in the body by means of corporeal organs, it cannot perform its functions properly when these organs are injured.

Since death is a decree of God, it is clear that he has a purpose in changing the relations of body and soul. But if the soul comes to an end, this change would be a vain piece of work of which he cannot be guilty. Hence it follows that the destruction of the body is in order that we may exist in another similar form, similar to the angels.[146]

The purpose of the soul's coming into this world is in order that she may purify the two lower souls; also that she may know the value of her own world in comparison with this one, and in grieving for having left it may observe God's commandments, and thus achieve her return to her own world.

In the matter of returning to their own world after separation from the body, souls are graded according to the measure of their knowledge and the value of their conduct. These two conditions, ethical and spiritual or intellectual, are requisite of fulfilment before the soul can regain its original home. The soul on leaving this world is like a clean, white garment soaked in water. If the water is clean, it is easy to dry the garment, and it becomes even cleaner than it was before. But if the water is dirty, no amount of drying will make the garment clean.

Those souls which instead of elevating the two lower souls, vegetative and animal, were misled by them, will perish with the latter. Between the two extremes of perfection and wickedness there are intermediate stages, and the souls are treated accordingly. Those of the proud will rise in the air and flying hither and thither will not find a resting place. Those which have knowledge, but no good deeds, will rise to the sphere of the ether, but will be prevented from rising higher by the weight of their evil deeds, and the pure angels will rain down upon them arrows of fire, thus causing them to return below in shame and disgrace. The souls of the dishonest will be driven from place to place without finding any rest. Other bad souls will be punished in various ways. Those souls which have good deeds but no knowledge will be placed in the terrestrial paradise until their souls recall the knowledge they had in their original state, and they will then return to the Garden of Eden among the angels.[147]

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