ABRAHAM BAR HIYYA
Abraham bar Hiyya, the Prince, as he is called, lived in Spain in the first half of the twelfth century. He also seems to have stayed some time in southern France, though we do not know when or how long. His greatest merit lies not in his philosophical achievement which, if we may judge from the only work of a philosophical character that has come down to us, is not very great. He is best known as a writer on mathematics, astronomy and the calendar; though there, too, his most important service lay not so much in the original ideas he propounded, as in the fact that he was among the first, if not the first, to introduce the scientific thought current in the Orient and in Moorish Spain into Christian Europe, and especially among the Jews of France and Germany, who devoted all their energies to the Rabbinical literature, and to whom the Arabic works of their Spanish brethren were a sealed book.
So we find Abraham bar Hiyya, or Abraham Savasorda (a corruption of the Arabic title Sahib al-Shorta), associated with Plato of Tivoli in the translation into Latin of Arabic scientific works. And he himself wrote a number of books on mathematics and astronomy in Hebrew at the request of his friends in France who could not read Arabic. Abraham bar Hiyya is the first of the writers we have treated so far who composed a scientific work in the Hebrew language. All the others, with the exception of Abraham ibn Ezra, wrote in Arabic, as they continued to do until and including Maimonides.
The only one of his extant works which is philosophical in content is the small treatise "Hegyon ha-Nefesh," Meditation of the Soul. It is a popular work, written with a practical purpose, ethical and homiletic in tone and style. The idea of repentance plays an important rle in the book, and what theoretical philosophy finds place therein is introduced merely as a background and basis for the ethical and religious considerations which follow. It may be called a miniature "Duties of the Hearts." As in all homiletical compositions in Jewish literature, exegesis of Biblical passages takes up a good deal of the discussions, and for the history of the philosophic movement in medival Judaism the methods of reading metaphysical and ethical ideas into the Bible are quite as important as these ideas themselves.
The general philosophical standpoint of Abraham bar Hiyya may be characterized as an uncertain Neo-Platonism, or a combination of fundamental Aristotelian ideas with a Neo-Platonic coloring. Thus matter and form are the fundamental principles of the world. They existed potentially apart in the wisdom of God before they were combined and thus realized in actuality. Time being a measure of motion, came into being together with the motion which followed upon this combination. Hence neither the world nor time is eternal. This is Platonic, not Aristotelian, who believes in the eternity of motion as well as of time. Abraham bar Hiyya also speaks of the purest form as light and as looking at and illuminating the form inferior to it and thus giving rise to the heavens, minerals and plants. This is all Neo-Platonic. And yet the most distinctive doctrine of Plotinus and the later Neo-Platonists among the Arabs, the series of emanating hypostases, Intellect, Universal Soul, Nature, Matter, and so on, is wanting in the "Hegyon ha-Nefesh." Form is the highest thing he knows outside of God; and the purest form, which is too exalted to combine with matter, embraces angels, seraphim, souls, and all forms related to the upper world. With the exception of the names angel, seraphim, souls, this is good Aristotelian doctrine, who also believes in the movers of the spheres and the active intellect in man as being pure forms.
To proceed now to give a brief account of Abraham bar Hiyya's teaching, he thinks it is the duty of rational man to know how it is that man who is so insignificant was given control of the other animals, and endowed with the power of wisdom and knowledge. In order to gain this knowledge we must investigate the origins and principles of existing things, so that we may arrive at an understanding of things as they are. This the wise men of other nations have realized, though they were not privileged to receive a divine Torah, and have busied themselves with philosophical investigations. Our Bible recommends to us the same method in the words of Deuteronomy (4, 39), "Know therefore this day, and reflect in thy heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else." This means that if you understand thoroughly the order of things in heaven above and the earth beneath, you will at once see that God made it in his wisdom, and that he is the only one and there is no one beside him. The book of Job teaches the same thing, when it says (19, 26) "And from my flesh I shall behold God." This signifies that from the structure of the body and the form of its members we can understand the wisdom of the Creator. We need not hesitate therefore to study the works of the ancients and the wise men of other nations in order to learn from them the nature of existence. We have the permission and recommendation of Scripture.
Starting from a consideration of man we see that he is the last of created things because we find in him additional composition over and above that found in other creatures. Man is a "rational animal." "Animal" means a body that grows and moves and at last is dissolved. "Rational" refers to the power of knowledge, of inferring one thing from another, and discriminating between good and evil. In this man differs from other animals. Descending in the scale of existence we find that the plant also grows and dies like the animal, but it does not move. Stones, metals and other inanimate bodies on the earth, change their forms and shapes, but unlike plants they have no power of growing or increasing. They are the simplest of the things on the earth. They differ from the heavenly bodies in that the latter never change their forms. Proceeding further in our analysis, we find that body, the simplest thing so far, means length, breadth and depth attached to something capable of being measured. This definition shows that body is also composed of two elements, which are theoretically distinct until God's will joins them together. These are "hyle" (matter)—what has no likeness or form, but has the capacity of receiving form—and form, which is defined as that which has power to clothe the hyle with any form. Matter alone is too weak to sustain itself, unless form comes to its aid. Form, on the other hand, is not perceptible to sense unless it clothes matter, which bears it. One needs the other. Matter cannot exist without form; form cannot be seen without matter. Form is superior to matter, because it needs the latter only to be seen but can exist by itself though not seen; whereas matter cannot exist without form. These two, matter and form, were hidden in God, where they existed potentially until the time came to produce them and realize them in actu.
Matter is further divided into two kinds. There is pure matter, which enters into the composition of the heavens, and impure matter, forming the substance of terrestrial bodies. Similarly form may be divided at first into two kinds; closed and sealed form, too pure and holy to be combined with matter; and open and penetrable form, which is fit to unite with matter. The pure, self-subsistent form gazes at and illuminates the penetrable form, and helps it to clothe matter with all the forms of which the latter is capable.
Now when God determined to realize matter and form in actu, he caused the pure form to be clothed with its splendor, which no hyle can touch. This gave rise to angels, seraphim, souls, and all other forms of the upper world. Not all men can see these forms or conceive them in the mind, because they do not unite with anything which the eye can perceive, and the majority of people cannot understand what they cannot perceive with their corporeal senses. Only those who are given to profound scientific investigations can understand the essence of these forms.
The light of this pure form then emanated upon the second form, and by the word of God the latter united with the pure matter firmly and permanently, so that there is never a change as long as they are united. This union gave rise to the bodies of the heavens (spheres and fixed stars) which never change their forms. Then the form united with the impure matter, and this gave rise to all the bodies in the sublunar world, which change their forms. These are the four elements, and the products of their composition, including plants.
So far we have bodies which do not change their places. Then a light emanated from the self-subsisting form by the order of God, the splendor of which spread upon the heaven, moving from point to point, and caused the material form (i. e., the inferior, so-called penetrable form) to change its place. This produced the stars which change their position but not their forms (planets). From this light extending over the heaven emanated another splendor which reached the body with changing form, giving rise to the three species of living beings, aquatic, aerial and terrestial animals, corresponding to the three elements, water, air, earth; as there is no animal life in fire.
We have so far therefore three kinds of forms. (1) The pure self-subsistent form which never combines with matter. This embraces all the forms of the spiritual world. (2) Form which unites with body firmly and inseparably. These are the forms of the heavens and the stars. (3) Form which unites with body temporarily. Such are the forms of the bodies on the earth. The forms of the second and third classes cannot exist without bodies. The form of class number one cannot exist with body. To make the scheme complete, there ought to be a fourth kind of form which can exist with as well as without body. In other words, a form which unites with body for a time and then returns to its original state and continues to exist without body. Reason demands that the classification should be complete, hence there must be such a form, and the only one worthy of this condition is the soul of man. We thus have a proof of the immortality of the soul.
These are the ideas of the ancient sages, and we shall find that they are drawn from the Torah. Thus matter and form are indicated in the second verse of Genesis, "And the earth was without form (Heb. Tohu) and void (Heb. Bohu)." "Tohu" is matter; "Bohu" [Hebrew: Bohu = Bo hu] signifies that through which matter gains existence, hence form. "Water" (Heb. Mayim) is also a general word for any of the various forms, whereas "light" (Heb. Or) stands for the pure subsistent form. By "firmament" (Heb. Rakia') is meant the second kind of form which unites with the pure matter in a permanent and unchangeable manner. "Let there be a firmanent in the midst of the waters" (Gen. 1, 6) indicates that the "firmament" is embraced by the bright light of the first day, that is the universal form, from which all the other forms come. "And let it divide between water and water" (ib.) signifies that the "firmament" stands between the self-subsistent form and the third kind of form above mentioned, namely, that which unites with body and gives rise to substances changing their forms, like minerals and plants. The "luminaries" (Heb. Meorot) correspond to the second light mentioned above. We shall find also that the order of creation as given in Genesis coincides with the account given above in the name of the ancient sages.
It would seem as if the self-subsisting form and the two lights emanating from it are meant to represent the Intellect, Soul and Nature of the Neo-Platonic trinity respectively, and that Abraham bar Hiyya purposely changed the names and partly their functions in order to make the philosophical account agree with the story of creation in Genesis.
With regard to the intellectual and ethical condition of the soul and its destiny, the speculative thinkers of other nations, arguing from reason alone and having no divine revelation to guide or confirm their speculations, are agreed that the only way in which the soul, which belongs to a higher world, can be freed from this world of body and change is through intellectual excellence and right conduct. Accordingly they classify souls into four kinds. The soul, they say, may have health, sickness, life, death. Health signifies wisdom or knowledge; sickness denotes ignorance. Life means the fear of God and right conduct; death is neglect of God and evil practice. Every person combines in himself one of the two intellectual qualities with one of the two ethical qualities. Thus we have four classes of persons. A man may be wise and pious, wise and wicked, ignorant and pious, ignorant and wicked. And his destiny after death is determined by the class to which he belongs. Thus when a man who is wise and pious departs this world, his soul by reason of its wisdom separates from the body and exists in its own form as before. Owing to its piety it will rise to the upper world until it reaches the pure, eternal form, with which it will unite for ever. If the man is wise and wicked, the wisdom of the soul will enable it to exist without body; but on account of its wickedness and indulgence in the desires of this world, it cannot become completely free from the creatures of this world, and the best it can do is to rise above the sublunar world of change to the world of the planets where the forms do not change, and move about beneath the light of the sun, the heat of which will seem to it like a fire burning it continually, and preventing it from rising to the upper light.
If the man is ignorant and pious, his soul will be saved from body in order that it may exist by itself, but his ignorance will prevent his soul from leaving the atmosphere of the lower world. Hence the soul will have to be united with body a second, and a third time, if necessary, until it finally acquires knowledge and wisdom, which will enable it to rise above the lower world, its degree and station depending upon the measure of intellect and virtue it possesses at the time of the last separation from the body. The soul of the man who is both ignorant and wicked cannot be saved from the body entirely, and dies like a beast.
These are the views of speculative thinkers which we may adopt, but they cannot tell us what is the content of the terms wisdom and right conduct. Not having been privileged to receive the sacred Law, which is the source of all wisdom and the origin of rectitude, they cannot tell us in concrete fashion just what a man must know and what he must do in order to raise his soul to the highest degree possible for it to attain. And if they were to tell us what they understand by wisdom and right conduct, we should not listen to them. Our authority is the Bible, and we must test the views of the philosophers by the teaching of the Bible.
If we do this we find authority in Scripture also for belief in the immortality of the soul. Thus if we study carefully the expressions used of the various creations in the first chapter of Genesis, we notice that in some cases the divine command is expressed by the phrase, "Let there be...," followed by the name of the thing to be created; and the execution of the command is expressed by the words, "And there was...," the name of the created object being repeated; or the phrase may be simply, "And it was so," without naming the object. In other cases the expression "Let there be" is not used, nor the corresponding "And there was."
This variation in expression is not accidental. It is deliberate and must be understood. Upon a careful examination we cannot fail to see that where the expression "Let there be" is used, the object so created exists in this world permanently and without change. Thus, "Let there be light" (Gen. i, 3). If in addition we have the corresponding expression, "And there was," in connection with the same object and followed by its name, it means that the object will continue its everlasting existence in the next world also. Hence, "And there was light" (ib.). In the creation of the firmament and the luminaries we have the expression, "Let there be"; the corresponding expression at the end is in each case not, "And there was...," but, "And it was so." This signifies that in this world, as long as it lasts, the firmament and luminaries are permanent and without change; but they will have no continuance in the next world. In the creation of the sublunar world we do not find the phrase, "Let there be," at all, but such expressions as, "Let the waters be gathered together" (ib. 9), "Let the earth produce grass" (ib. 11), and so on. This means that these things change their forms and have no permanent existence in this world. The phrase, "And it was so," recording the realization of the divine command, signifies that they do not exist at all in the next world.
The case is different in man. We do not find the expression, "Let there be," in the command introducing his formation; hence he has no permanence in this world. But we do find the expression, "And the man became (lit. was) a living soul" (ib. 2, 7), which means that he will have permanent existence in the next world. The article before the word man in the verse just quoted indicates that not every man lives forever in the next world, but only the good. What manner of man he must be in order to have this privilege, i. e., of what nation he must be a member, we shall see later. This phase of the question the speculative thinkers cannot understand, hence they did not investigate it. Reason alone cannot decide this question; it needs the guidance of the Torah, which is divine.
Consulting the Torah on this problem, we notice that man is distinguished above other animals in the manner of his creation in three respects. (1) All other living beings were created by means of something else. The water or the earth was ordered to produce them. Man alone was made directly by God. (2) There are three expressions used for the creation of living things, "create" (Heb. bara), "form" (Heb. yazar), and "make" (Heb. 'asah). The water animals have only the first (ib. 1, 21), as being the lowest in the scale of animal life. Land animals have the second and the third, "formed" and "made" (ib. 1, 25; 2, 19). Man, who is superior to all the others, has all the three expressions (ib. 26, 27; 2, 7). (3) Man was given dominion over the other animals (ib. 1, 28).
As man is distinguished above the other animals, so is one nation distinguished above other men. In Isaiah (43, 7) we read: "Every one that is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory; I have formed him; yea, I have made him." The three terms, created, formed, made, signify that the reference is to man; and we learn from this verse that those men were created for his glory who are called by his name. But if we inquire in the Bible we find that the nation called by God's name is Israel, as we read (ib. 1), "Thus said the Lord that created thee, O Israel, Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine," and in many other passages besides. The reason for this is their belief in the unity of God and their reception of the Law. At the same time others who are not Israelites are not excluded from reaching the same degree through repentance.
There is no system of ethics in Abraham bar Hiyya, and we shall in the sequel select some of his remarks bearing on ethics and pick out the ethical kernel from its homiletical and exegetical husk.
Man alone, he tells us, of all animal creation receives reward and punishment. The other animals have neither merit nor guilt. To be sure, their fortune in life depends upon the manner in which they respond to their environment, but this is not in the way of reward and punishment, but a natural consequence of their natural constitution. With man it is different, and this is because of the responsible position man occupies, having been given the privilege and the ability to control all animal creation.
The psychological basis of virtue in Abraham bar Hiyya is Platonic in origin, as it is in Pseudo-Bahya, though we do not find the four cardinal virtues and the derivation of justice from a harmonious combination of the other three as in the Republic of Plato, to which Pseudo-Bahya is ultimately indebted.
Man has three powers, we are told, which some call three souls. One is the power by which he grows and multiplies like the plants of the field. The second is that by which he moves from place to place. These two powers he has in common with the animal. The third is that by which he distinguishes between good and evil, between truth and falsehood, between a thing and its opposite, and by which he acquires wisdom and knowledge. This is the soul which distinguishes him from the other animals. If this soul prevails over the lower two powers, the man is called meritorious and perfect. If on the other hand the latter prevail over the soul, the man is accounted like a beast, and is called wicked and an evil doer. God gives merit to the animal soul for the sake of the rational soul if the former is obedient to the latter; and on the other hand imputes guilt to the rational soul and punishes her for the guilt of the animal soul because she did not succeed in overcoming the latter.
The question of the relative superiority of the naturally good who feels no temptation to do wrong, and the temperamental person who has to sustain a constant struggle with his passions and desires in order to overcome them is decided by Abraham bar Hiyya in favor of the former on the ground that the latter is never free from evil thought, whereas the former is. And he quotes the Rabbis of the Talmud, according to whom the reward in the future world is not the same for the two types of men. He who must overcome temptation before he can subject his lower nature to his reason is rewarded in the next world in a manner bearing resemblance to the goods and pleasures of this world, and described as precious stones and tables of gold laden with good things to eat. On the other hand, the reward of the naturally perfect who is free from temptation is purely spiritual, and bears no earthly traces. These men are represented as "sitting under the Throne of Glory with their crowns on their heads and delighting in the splendor of the Shekinah."
His theodicy offers nothing remarkable. He cites and opposes a solution frequently given in the middle ages of the problem of evil. This is based on the assumption that God cannot be the cause of evil. How then explain the presence of evil in the world? There is no analysis or classification or definition of what is meant by evil. Apparently it is physical evil which Abraham bar Hiyya has in mind. Why do some people suffer who do not seem to deserve it? is the aspect of the problem which interests him. One solution that is offered, he tells us, is that evil is not anything positive or substantial. It is something negative, absence of the good, as blindness is absence of vision; deafness, absence of hearing; nakedness, absence of clothing. Hence it has no cause. God produces the positive forms which are good, and determines them to stay a definite length of time. When this time comes to an end, the forms disappear and their negatives take their place automatically without the necessity of any cause.
Abraham bar Hiyya is opposed to this solution of the problem, though he gives us no philosophic reason for it. His arguments are Biblical. God is the cause of evil as well as good, and this is the meaning of the word "judgment" (Heb. Mishpat) that occurs so often in the Bible in connection with God's attributes. The same idea is expressed in Jeremiah (9, 23) "I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth." Loving kindness refers to the creation of the world, which was an act of pure grace on the part of God. It was not a necessity. His purpose was purely to do kindness to his creatures and to show them his wisdom and power. Righteousness refers to the kindness of God, his charity so to speak, which every one needs when he dies and wishes to be admitted to the next world. For the majority of men have more guilt than merit. Judgment denotes the good and evil distributed in the world according to the law of justice. Thus he rewards the righteous in the next world, and makes them suffer sometimes in this world in order to try them and to double their ultimate reward. He punishes the wicked in this world for their evil deeds, and sometimes he gives them wealth and prosperity that they may have no claim or defence in the next world. Thus evil in this world is not always the result of misconduct which it punishes; it may be inflicted as a trial, as in the case of Job. Abraham bar Hiyya's solution is therefore that there is no reason why God should not be the author of physical evil, since everything is done in accordance with the law of justice.
JOSEPH IBN ZADDIK
Little is known of the life of Joseph ben Jacob ibn Zaddik. He lived in Cordova; he was appointed Dayyan, or Judge of the Jewish community of that city in 1138; and he died in 1149. He is praised as a Talmudic scholar by his countryman Moses ibn Ezra, and as a poet by Abraham ibn Daud and Harizi, though we have no Talmudic composition from his pen, and but few poems, whether liturgical or otherwise. His fame rests on his philosophical work, and it is this phase of his career in which we are interested here. "Olam Katon" or "Microcosm" is the Hebrew name of the philosophical treatise which he wrote in Arabic, but which we no longer possess in the original, being indebted for our knowledge of it to a Hebrew translation of unknown authorship. Maimonides knew Joseph ibn Zaddik favorably, but he was not familiar with the "Microcosm." In a letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon, the translator of his "Guide of the Perplexed," Maimonides tells us that though he has not seen the "Olam Katon" of Ibn Zaddik, he knows that its tendency is the same as that of the Brothers of Purity (cf. above, p. 60). This signifies that its trend of thought is Neo-Platonic, which combines Aristotelian physics with Platonic and Plotinian metaphysics, ethics and psychology.
An examination of the book itself confirms Maimonides's judgment. In accordance with the trend of the times there is noticeable in Ibn Zaddik an increase of Aristotelian influence, though of a turbid kind; a decided decrease, if not a complete abandonment, of the ideas of the Kalam, and a strong saturation of Neo-Platonic doctrine and point of view. It was the fashion to set the Kalam over against the philosophers to the disadvantage of the former, as being deficient in logical knowledge and prejudiced by theological prepossessions. This is attested by the attitude towards the Mutakallimun of Judah Halevi, Maimonides, Averroes. And Ibn Zaddik forms no exception to the rule. The circumstance that it was most likely from Karaite writings, which found their way into Spain, that Ibn Zaddik gained his knowledge of Kalamistic ideas, was not exactly calculated to prepossess him, a Rabbanite, in their favor. And thus while we see him in the manner of Saadia and Bahya follow the good old method, credited by Maimonides to the Mutakallimun, of starting his metaphysics with proofs of the world's creation, and basing the existence of God, his unity, incorporeality and other attributes on the creation of the world as a foundation, he turns into an uncompromising opponent of these much despised apologetes when he comes to discuss the nature of God's attributes, of the divine will, and of the nature of evil. And in all these cases the target of his attack seems to be their Karaite representative Joseph al-Basir, whose acquaintance we made before (p. 48 ff.).
He laid under contribution his predecessors and contemporaries, Saadia, Bahya, Pseudo-Bahya, Gabirol; and his sympathies clearly lay with the general point of view represented by the last, and his Mohammedan sources; though he was enough of an eclectic to refuse to follow Gabirol, or the Brethren of Purity and the other Neo-Platonic writings, in all the details of their doctrine; and there is evidence of an attempt on his part to tone down the extremes of Neo-Platonic tendency and create a kind of level in which Aristotelianism and Platonism meet by compromising. Thus he believes with Gabirol that all things corporeal as well as spiritual are composed of matter and form; but when it comes to defining what the matter of spiritual things may be, he tells us that we may speak of the genus as the matter of the species—a doctrine which is not so Neo-Platonic after all. For we do not have to go beyond Aristotle to hear that in the definition of an object, which represents its intelligible (opposed to sensible) essence, the genus is like the matter, the difference like the form. Of the universal and prime matter underlying all created things outside of God, of which Gabirol says that it is the immediate emanation of God's essence and constitutes with universal form the Universal Intelligence, Ibn Zaddik knows nothing. Nor do we find any outspoken scheme of emanation, such as we see in Plotinus or with a slight modification in the cyclopoedia of the Brethren of Purity, or as it is presupposed in the "Fons Vit" of Gabirol. Ibn Zaddik does refer to the doctrine of the divine Will, which plays such an important rle in the philosophy of Gabirol and of the Pseudo-Empedoclean writings, which are supposed to have been Gabirol's source. But here, too, the negative side of Ibn Zaddik's doctrine is developed at length, while the positive side is barely alluded to in a hint. He takes pains to show the absurdity of the view that the divine will is a momentary entity created from time to time to make possible the coming into being of the things and processes of our world—a view held by the Mutakallimun as represented by their spokesman al-Basir, but when it comes to explaining his own view of the nature of the divine will, and whether it is identical with God or not, he suddenly becomes reticent, refers us to the writings of Empedocles, and intimates that the matter is involved in mystery, and it is not safe to talk about it too plainly and openly. Evidently Ibn Zaddik was not ready to go all the length of Gabirol's emanationism and Neo-Platonic mysticism.
The Aristotelian ideas, of which there are many in the "Microcosm," are probably not derived from a study of Aristotle's works, but from secondary sources. This we may safely infer from the way in which he uses or interprets them. An Aristotelian definition is a highly technical proposition in which every word counts, and requires a definition in turn to be understood. In the Aristotelian context the reader sees the methodical derivation of the concept; and the several technical terms making up the definition are made clear by illustrative examples. Aside from the context the proposition is obscure even in the original Greek. Now conceive an Arabic translation of an Aristotelian definition taken out of its context, and you do not wonder that it is misunderstood; particularly when the interpreter's point of view is taken from a school of thought at variance with that of Aristotle. This is exactly what happens to Ibn Zaddik. He quotes approvingly Aristotle's definition of the soul, and proceeds to interpret it in a manner not intended by the author of the "De Anima." If he had read the context he could not have misunderstood the definition as he did.
Unlike his predecessors, Ibn Zaddik did not confine himself to a special topic in philosophy or to the metaphysical aspects of Judaism. Isaac Israeli and Gabirol discuss special questions in Physics and Metaphysics without bringing them into relation with Judaism or the text of the Bible. Saadia takes cognizance of philosophical doctrine solely with a view to establishing and rationalizing Jewish dogma, and only in so far as it may thus be utilized. Bahya and Abraham bar Hiyya confine their philosophical outlook within still narrower limits, having Jewish ethics as their primary concern. All of the latter make a feature of Biblical interpretation, which lends to their work the Jewish stamp and to their style the element of homeliness and variety. To this they owe in a measure their popularity, which, however, cannot be said for Abraham bar Hiyya, whose "Hegyon ha-Nefesh" was not printed until the second half of last century. The "Microcosm" of Ibn Zaddik is the first compendium of science, philosophy and theology in Jewish literature. And yet it is a small book; for Ibn Zaddik does not enter into lengthy discussions, nor does he adorn his style with rhetorical flourishes or copious quotations from Bible and Talmud. The "Olam Katon" is clearly meant for beginners, who require a summary and compendious view of so much of physics, psychology, metaphysics and ethics as will give them an idea of the position of man in the world, and his duties, theoretical and practical, in this life, that he may fulfil his destiny for which he was created. It is very possible that Ibn Zaddik modelled his work on the Encyclopdia of the Brethren of Purity, leaving out all that he regarded as unessential or objectional and abridging the rest.
Accordingly, the "Microcosm" is divided into four parts. The first part treats of what is called in the Aristotelian classification of the sciences Physics, i. e., the principles and constitution of the corporeal world and its processes. The second treats of man, including anthropology and psychology. The third is devoted to a discussion of the existence, unity, incorporeality and other attributes of God, based upon the doctrine of the creation of the world. This bears the stamp of the Kalam, and is indebted to the writings of Saadia, Bahya and Joseph al-Basir. It covers the topics usually treated by the Mutakallimun in the division of their works, known by the name of "Bab al Tauhid," treatise on Unity. The fourth part corresponds to the "Bab al Adi" of the Kalam, i. e., the second division of Kalamistic works devoted to theodicy, or vindication of God's justice in his dealings with mankind. Hence it includes theological questions of an ethical nature, like freedom of the will, reasons for divine worship, the nature of reward and punishment, and so on.
The book was written, Ibn Zaddik tells us, in answer to the question of a pupil concerning the meaning of such terms as "perfection" and "permanent good," used by philosophers. They are not of this world these men say, and yet every man of intelligence should seek them. This is a very difficult subject, made more so by the small number of persons engaged in its study. Particularly in our own generation is this true, that the value of knowledge and investigation is not recognized. People are Jews in name only, and men only in outward appearance. Former ages were much superior in this regard.
Two fundamental requisites are necessary for the knowledge of our subject. They are the knowledge of God, and performance of his will. For this purpose we must understand the works of the philosophers. But these in turn require a knowledge of the preliminary sciences of arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy, and logic. This takes a long time and is likely to weary the student, especially the beginner. I have therefore made it my purpose to show how a man can know himself, for from a knowledge of self he will come to a knowledge of all. Man is called "Microcosm," a world in miniature, because he has in him represented all the elements of the universe. His body resembles the corporeal world; his rational soul the spiritual world. Hence the importance of knowing himself, and hence the definition of philosophy as a man's knowledge of himself. Philosophy is the science of sciences and the end thereof, because it is the path to a knowledge of the Creator.
Here we see at the outset Ibn Zaddik's Neo-Platonic tendency to make a short cut to knowledge through the study of man instead of the painful and laborious mastery of the preliminary sciences. And so it was that the Neo-Platonists added little to Aristotle's study of nature, concentrating their attention upon the intelligible or spiritual world.
The first thing we must do then is to show that the human body is similar to the corporeal world. This will require an analysis of the structure of the latter. But before examining the objects of knowledge, we must say a word about the process of knowing. Man perceives things in two ways—through sense and through intellect. His senses give him the accidents of things, the shell or husk, so to speak. He perceives color through sight, sound through hearing, odor through smell, and so on. It takes reason to penetrate to the essence of an object. Take as an example a book. The sense of sight perceives its color, and through the color its form. This is then apprehended by the power of imagination or representation. The latter in turn hands it over to the cogitative power of the rational soul, from the reflection of which results the spiritual reality of the object, which is its knowledge. So we see that the reason knows the essence and reality of a thing, whereas the senses know only its husk and its accidents. This same thing is stated by the philosopher in another form. The senses, he says, know only the particular, the universal can be known by the intellect only. This is because the soul is fine and penetrating, while the body is gross, and can reach the surface only.
We may also classify knowledge from another point of view as necessary (or immediate), and demonstrated (or mediate). Necessary knowledge is that which no sane man can deny. Such knowledge may be of the senses, as the sight of the sun or the sound of thunder; or it may be of the reason, such as that the whole is greater than its parts. We may then enumerate four kinds of things known directly without the help of other knowledge, (1) The percepts of the senses. (2) Truths generally admitted by reason of their self-evidence. (3) Traditional truths, i. e., truths handed down by a reliable and wise man, or by a community worthy of credence. (4) First principles or axioms. These four can be easily reduced to two; for traditional truths ultimately go back to the testimony of the senses; while first principles or axioms are included in self-evident propositions. We thus have two kinds of necessary or immediate knowledge, the data of sense, and self-evident propositions. The latter kind is superior to the former, because man shares sense knowledge with the lower animals; whereas rational propositions are peculiar to him alone.
Demonstrated knowledge is built upon necessary knowledge, and is derived from it by means of logical inference.
We may now proceed to discuss the principles of the corporeal world. Matter is the foundation and principle of a thing. All things, natural as well as artificial, are composed of matter and form. Wood is the common matter of chair and bed. Their forms are different. So the common matter of the four elements is the prime matter endowed with the form of corporeality, i. e., with the capacity of filling place. This form of corporeality makes the prime matter corporeal substance. Matter is relative to form, form is relative to matter.
Spiritual things also have matter and form. In corporeal artificial things like ring or bracelet, the matter is gold, the form is the form of ring or bracelet, the efficient cause is the art of the goldsmith, the final cause or purpose is the adornment. In spiritual things we may compare genus to matter, species to form, specific difference to efficient cause, the individual to the final cause.
Everything exists either by itself (per se) or in something else. Matter exists by itself, form exists in something else, in matter. Matter is potentially substance; after it assumes a form it becomes actual substance. In reality there is no matter without form, but in thought we can remove the form and leave the matter.
Substance may be described as that which bears opposite and changing qualities. No substance can be the opposite of another substance through its substantiality, but through its accidents; for opposition resides in quality. Matter receiving form is substance. Absolute substance is simple and spiritual, for it cannot be perceived through the five senses. When the philosophers say that all body is substance, and that the individual is a substance, they use substance in contradistinction to accident, meaning that the individual exists by itself, and needs not another for its existence, unlike accidents, which must have something to exist in.
This absolute substance, which is simple and spiritual, seems to be identical with Gabirol's "substantia qu sustinet decem prdicamenta," the substance which supports the ten categories. Gabirol means by it that which remains of a corporeal substance when we take away from it everything that qualifies it as being here or there, of a particular nature or size, in a given relation, and so on.
The expression corporeal world includes the celestial spheres and all which is under them. To be sure, the body of the sphere is different from the other bodies in matter and form and qualities. It consists of a fifth nature, different from the four elements. It is not cold, or it would move downward like earth and water. It is not warm, or it would move upward like air and fire. It is not wet, for it would then roll like the waves of the sea. Nor is it dry, for it would condense and not move at all. Not being any one of these qualities, which constitute our four elements, the sphere is not a composite of them either; for the simple is prior to the composite, and we cannot regard the elements of the sublunar world as prior and superior to the spheres.
The sphere is neither light nor heavy. For light and heavy are relative terms. An object is heavy when out of its natural place, light when in its natural place. Thus a stone is heavy when it is away from the earth, which is its natural place, but is light when it comes to rest where it belongs. The sphere is never out of its place or in its place, as it moves constantly in a circle. Hence it is neither light nor heavy.
Ibn Zaddik's definition of light and heavy as being relative, and dependent on the relation of the object to its natural place is peculiar, and would lead him to say that fire and air are also heavy when out of their natural place, which is outside of, and above earth and water. But this does not seem in consonance with the Aristotelian use of these terms. According to Aristotle an object is heavy if its tendency is to move to the centre of the world; it is light if it moves away from the centre to the circumference. Hence earth and water are heavy, fire and air are light. The natural place of a body or element is that to which it has a tendency to move, or in which it has a tendency to rest, when left to itself. Hence a body will always move to its natural place when away from it and under no restriction; and its heaviness or lightness does not change with its position.
To continue, the sphere moves in a circle, the most perfect of all motions, having neither beginning nor end. It is more perfect than all bodies, and the knowledge of God is not hidden from it as it is hidden from us. Whatever moves in a circle must move around a body at rest; for if it moves around another moving body, this second body must have another body around which it moves, and this third body another, and so on ad infinitum, which is impossible. Hence the sphere moves around a body at rest. This is the earth.
The four elements of the sublunar world are, fire, air, water, earth. In their purity these elements have neither color nor taste, nor odor nor any other sensible property. For the elements are simple bodies, whereas the sensible qualities are the result of the composition of the elements. If air had color, we should see it as we see all colored things; and all other things would appear to us in the color of air, as is the case when we look through a colored glass. The same argument applies to water.
The elements change into each other. We see water changing under the effect of heat into vapor, and the vapor condenses again under the influence of cold and changes back to water, namely, rain. Air changes into fire when flint strikes iron. Fire cannot exist here unless it has something to take hold of; otherwise it changes into air. Earth and water change into each other very slowly, because earth is hard to change.
The basis of the four elements is a substance filling place as a result of its assuming the form of corporeality, i. e., extension in three directions. Filling place, it moves; moving, it becomes warm. When its motion is completed, it necessarily comes to rest and becomes cold. Heat and cold are the active powers, wet and dry are the passive qualities, wet being associated with heat, dry with cold. The mixture of these qualities with the corporeal basis results in the four elements.
The three natures, mineral, plant, animal are composed of the four elements. When a seed is put in the ground it cannot grow without water, and sunshine and air. These form its food, and food is assimilated to the thing fed. Our bodies are composed of the four elements, because they are nourished by plants. The general process of the sublunar world is that of genesis and dissolution. The genesis of one thing is the dissolution of another. The dissolution of the egg is the genesis of the chicken; the dissolution of the chicken is the genesis of the four elements; for in the living being the elements are potential, and they become actual when the animal dies. This continuous process of genesis and dissolution proves that this world is not permanent, for the basis of its processes is change.
The human body corresponds to the corporeal world, and is similar to it in its nature and matter. Man's body is subject to genesis and decay like other objects. It is composed of the elements and returns to them. It has in it the nature of minerals, plants and animals. It has the power of growth, sustenance and reproduction like plants. Man is like animal in having motion and sensation. He has the spirited power and the appetitive like other animals. His body is perfect because it has resemblances to all kinds of plants and animals. His body as a whole resembles great trees, his hair is like grass and shrubs. Animals have various qualities according to the relation of the animal soul to the body. Thus the lion has strength, the lamb meekness, the fox shrewdness, and so on. Mankind includes all of these qualities. In the same way various animals have various instincts resembling arts, such as the weaving of the spider, the building of the bird and the bee, and so on. They also subsist on various foods. Man alone combines all arts and all kinds of food.
The human body has three dimensions like inanimate bodies. It is also similar to the bodies of plants and animals, and at the same time is distinguished alone among animals by its erect position. This is due to the fact that man's nature is proportionate, and his body is purer and finer than other bodies. Thus we see when oil is pure, its flame rises in a straight line; when the oil is impure the flame is not straight. Another thing proving that man's nature is superior to that of other animals is that the latter live in that element which is akin to their constitution—fish in water, birds in air, quadrupeds on land. Man alone can inhabit all three. Another reason for man's erect position is that he is a plant originating in heaven. Hence his head, which is the root, faces heaven.
Man has three souls, a plant soul, an animal soul and a rational soul. He must have a plant soul to account for the fact that man grows like other plants and dies like them. For if he can grow without a plant soul, plants can do the same. And if this too is granted, then there is no reason why mountains and stones should not grow also. Again, if man can grow without a plant soul, he can live without an animal soul, and know without a rational soul, which is absurd.
The faculty of the vegetative soul is the appetitive power, whose seat is in the liver. Its subordinate powers are those of nutrition and growth. Through it man feels the need of food and other natural desires. He has this in common with the lower animals. It is the first power that appears in man while he is still in his mother's womb. First comes the power which forms the combined seed of the male and the female into a human being in its proper form and nature. In doing this it requires the assistance of the "growing" power, which begins its activity as soon as the first member is formed, and continues until the period of youth is completed. This power in turn needs the assistance of the nourishing power, which accompanies the other two from the beginning of their activity to the end of the person's life. All this constitutes the plant soul, and it must not be supposed that these powers are separated from one another, and that one is in one place and another in another place. They are all spiritual powers derived from the universal powers in the upper world.
When the form of the being is complete, the animal soul makes its appearance. This soul is carried in the spirit of the animal or man, which is found in the pure blood of the arteries. There are two membranes in every artery, making two passages, one for blood and the other for the spirit or wind. The seat of the animal soul is in the heart, and it is borne in the pure red blood. This is why we see in the heart two receptacles; in one is spirit, in the other, blood. Hence after death we find congealed blood in the one, while the other is empty. Death happens on account of the defective "mixture" of the heart. This means that the four humors of which the body is composed, namely, blood, yellow and black gall and phlegm, lose the proper proportionality in their composition, and one or other of them predominates. An animal does not die unless the mixture of the heart is injured, or the heart is wounded seriously. Death is also caused by disease or injury of the brain. For the brain is the origin of the nerves which control the voluntary activities by means of contraction and expansion. If the chest does not contract, the warm air does not come out; if it does not expand, the cold air does not come in; and if the air does not come in or out, the heart loses its proportionality, and the animal dies. The functions of the animal soul are sensation and motion. This motion may be active as well as passive. The active motions are those of the arteries, and the expansion and contraction of the chest which results in respiration. The passive motions give rise to the emotions of anger, fear, shame, joy, sorrow.
Anger is the motion of the spirit within the body toward the outside, together with the blood and the humors. This is found in animals also. Fear is the entrance of the soul within, leaving the surface of the body, and causing the extremities to become cold. Shame is a motion inward, and forthwith again outward. Sorrow is caused in the same way as fear, except that fear is sudden, while sorrow is gradual. This is why fear sometimes kills when the body is weak. Joy is motion outward. Joy may kill too, when it is very great, and the person is weak and without control. Joy is of the nature of pleasure, except that pleasure is gradual, while joy is sudden.
Pain is that feeling we have when we are taken out of our natural state and put into an unnatural. Pleasure is felt when we are restored to the natural. Take, for example, the heat of the sun. When a person is exposed to it, the sun takes him out of his natural state. Heat is then painful, and pleasure is produced by the thing which restores him to his natural state; in this case a cold spring and a drink of cold water. Similarly a person walking in the snow and cold air feels pain by reason of the cold taking him out of his natural state. Heat then gives him pleasure by restoring him. The same thing applies to hunger and thirst, sleeping and waking, and other things which give us pleasure and pain. Without pain there is no pleasure, and the pleasure varies in accordance with the antecedent pain.
Life is the effect of the animal soul. The disappearance of the effect does not necessarily involve the disappearance of the cause, as the disappearance of the smoke does not require the cessation of the fire. Death means simply the separation of the soul, not the destruction thereof. It does not follow because the human soul remains after the death of the body, that the soul of the ox and the ass continues likewise, for the two souls are different. Animals were created for the sake of man, whereas man exists for his own sake. Moreover, man's life is ultimately derived from his rational soul. For if the animal soul of man were the ultimate source of life, the rational soul too would be dependent for its life upon the former, and hence would be inferior to it, which is absurd. It remains then that the rational soul gives existence to the animal soul in man.
Sleep is the rest of the senses, as death is their entire cessation. The purpose of sleep is to give the brain rest so that the "spirit" of the soul should not be dissolved and the "mixture" of the body injured suddenly and cause death. The heart rests continually between contraction and expansion, hence it needs no special rest at night. Waking is the activity of the senses and the exercise of their functions to satisfy the desires of the body. The motions of the soul in the waking state are in the interest of the needs of the body. During sleep the soul looks out for itself, for its better world, being then free from the business of the body. If it is pure and bright, and the body is free from the remnant of food, and the thought is not depressed by sorrow and grief—then the soul is aroused in its desire for the future, and beholds wonderful things.
No one can deny that man has a rational soul because speech is an attribute which man has above all other animals. The soul is not a corporeal thing, for if it were it would have to occupy place like body, and would have color and form and other qualities like body. Moreover, it would require something else to give it life like body. In other words, the soul would require another soul, and that soul another soul, and so on ad infinitum, which is impossible. Hence the soul is not a corporeal thing.
Nor can we say that the soul is in the body. For if it were, it would itself be body; since only body can fill the empty place in another body, as water fills a jar.
The soul is a substance and not an accident. An accident is a quality which makes its appearance in something else, and has no permanence. If then the rational soul is an accident of the body, it has no permanence, and man is sometimes rational and sometimes not. This is absurd, for in that case there could be no purpose in giving him commandments and statutes.
There are inseparable accidents to be sure, like the color of the Ethiopian's skin. But in that case we know the color is an accident despite its inseparability, from the fact that in other things color is an accident and may be removed. This will not apply to the reason. For we do not find anything in which reason is a removable accident. The moment you remove reason, you remove man, for reason is essential to man. The fact that as a result of an injury a man may lose his reason is no argument against us, for this happens only when an injury is inflicted on the brain, which is the reason's instrument. This accounts for the fact, too, that men in good health if given henbane to drink lose their reason, because the drink affects the brain. On the other hand, we see that those afflicted with a certain disease of the intestines, which causes their death, are more rational and brighter at the time of death than ever before, showing that the soul cannot be an accident depending upon the "mixture" of the body.
To regard the soul as an accident, while the body is a substance, would make the soul inferior to the body. This is absurd. For we have the body in common with the beasts; whereas it is in virtue of the reason that we are given commandments, and reward and punishment in the world to come.
If the soul is neither a corporeal thing nor an accident of body, it must be a spiritual substance. And the best definition of the soul is that of Aristotle, who says it is a substance giving perfection to a natural organic body, which has life potentially. Every phrase in this definition tells. "Substance" excludes the view that the soul is an accident. "Giving perfection" signifies that the soul is that which makes man perfect, bringing him to the next world, and being the purpose not merely of his creation and the composition of his body, but of the creation of matter as well. "Natural organic body" indicates that the body is an organon, or instrument in the function of the soul, the latter using the body to carry out its own purposes. The rational soul is like a king; the animal soul is like an official before the king, rebuking the appetitive soul.
In the discussion of the last paragraph we have a good example of the uncritical attitude of Ibn Zaddik toward the various schools of philosophical thought, particularly those represented by Plato and Aristotle. This attitude is typical of the middle ages, which appealed to authority in philosophy as well as in theology, and hence developed a harmonistic attitude in the presence of conflicting authorities. Aided by their defective knowledge of the complete systems of the ancient Greek philosophers, by the difficulties and obscurities incident to translations from an alien tongue, and by the spurious writings circulating in the name of an ancient Greek philosopher, the precise demarcation of schools and tendencies became more and more confused, and it was possible to prove that Plato and Aristotle were in entire agreement. Thus Ibn Zaddik has no scruple in combining (unconsciously, to be sure) Platonic and Neo-Platonic psychology with the Aristotelian definition representing quite a different point of view. The one is anthropological dualism, regarding the soul as a distinct entity which comes to the body from without. The other is a biological monism, in which the soul is the reality of the body, the essence of its functioning, which makes the potentially living body an actually living body. We cannot enter here into a criticism of the elements of the Aristotelian definition of the soul as rendered and interpreted by Ibn Zaddik, but will merely say that it misses completely the meaning of Aristotle, and shows that Ibn Zaddik did not take it from the "De Anima" of Aristotle, but found it without its context in some Arabic work.
To return from our digression, the three souls, Ibn Zaddik tells us, are spiritual powers; every one of them is a substance by itself of benefit to the body. The rational soul gets the name soul primarily, and the others get it from the rational soul. The Intellect is called soul because the rational soul and the Intellect have a common matter. And hence when the soul is perfected it becomes intellect. This is why the rational soul is called potential intellect. The only difference between them is one of degree and excellence. The world of Intellect is superior, and its matter is the pure light, Intellect in which there is no ignorance, because it comes from God without any intermediate agency.
Here we see just a touch of the Neo-Platonic doctrine of emanation, of which the Universal Intellect is the first. But it is considerably toned down and not continued down the series as in Plotinus or the Brethren of Purity.
The accidents of the soul are spiritual like the soul itself. They are, knowledge, kindness, goodness, justice, and other similar qualities. Ignorance, wrong, evil, and so on, are not the opposites of those mentioned above, and were not created with the soul like the others. They are merely the absence of the positive qualities mentioned before, as darkness is the absence of light. God did not create any defect, nor did he desire it. Evil is simply the result of the incapacity of a given thing to receive a particular good. If all things were capable of receiving goods equally, all things would be one thing, and the Creator and his creatures would be likewise one. This was not God's purpose.
There is a tacit opposition to the Mutakallimun in Ibn Zaddik's arguments against the view that the soul is an accident, as well as in his statement in the preceding paragraph that the bad qualities and evil generally are not opposites of the good qualities and good respectively, but that they are merely privations, absences, and hence not created by God. This is a Neo-Platonic doctrine. Pseudo-Bahya, we have seen (p. 108 f.), and Abraham bar Hiyya (p. 123 f.) adopt the Kalamistic view in the latter point, and solve the problem of evil differently.
The function of the rational soul is knowledge. The rational soul investigates the unknown and comprehends it. It derives general rules, makes premises and infers one thing from another. Man alone has this privilege. It is in virtue of the rational soul that we have been given commandments and prohibitions, and become liable to reward and punishment. Brute animals have no commandments, because they have no reason. The soul has reason only potentially, and man makes it actual by study. If the reason were actual originally in the soul, there would be no difference between the soul's condition in its own world and in this one; and the purpose of man, which is that he may learn in order to choose the right way and win salvation, would have no meaning.
The existence of many individual souls, all of which have the soul character in common, shows that there is a universal soul by virtue of which all the particular souls exist. This division of the universal soul into many individual souls is not really a division of the former in its essence, which remains one and indivisible. It is the bodies which receive the influence of the universal soul, as vessels in the sun receive its light according to their purity. Hence the existence of justice and evil, righteousness and wrong. This does not, however, mean to say that the reception of these qualities is independent of a man's choice. Man is free to choose, and hence he deserves praise and blame, reward and punishment.
The rational soul is destined for the spiritual world, which is a pure and perfect world, made by God directly without an intermediate agency. It is not subject to change or defect or need. God alone created this spiritual world to show his goodness and power, and not because he needed it. The world is not like God, though God is its cause. It is not eternal a parte ante, having been made out of nothing by God; but it will continue to exist forever, for it cannot be more perfect than it is. It is simple and spiritual. This applies also to the heavenly spheres and their stars.
Man is obliged to reason and investigate, as all nations do according to the measure of their capacities. No animal reasons because it has not the requisite faculty. But if man should neglect to exercise the power given him, he would lose the benefit coming therefrom and the purpose of his existence. There would then be no difference between him and the beast.
The first requisite for study and investigation is to deaden the animal desires. Then with the reason as a guide and his body as a model, man acquires the knowledge of the corporeal world. From his rational soul he comes to the knowledge of the existence of a spiritual world. Finally he will learn to know the Creator, who is the only real existent, for nothing can be said truly to exist, which at one time did not exist, or which at some time will cease to exist. When a man neglects this privilege which is his of using his reason, he forfeits the name man, and descends below the station of the beast, for the latter never falls below its animal nature.
It is very important to study the knowledge of God, for it is the highest knowledge and the cause of human perfection. The prophets are full of recommendations in this regard. Jeremiah says (31, 33), "They shall all know me, from the least of them even unto their greatest." Amos (5, 6) bids us "Seek for the Lord and you shall live." Hosea likewise (6, 3) recommends that "We may feel it, and strive to know the Lord."
The first loss a man suffers who does not study and investigate is that he does not understand the real existence of God, and imagines he is worshipping a body. Some think God is light. But this is as bad as to regard him body. For light is an accident in a shining body, as is proved by the fact that the air receives the light of the sun, and later it receives the shadow and becomes dark. And yet these people are not the worst by any means, for there are others who do not trouble to concentrate their minds on God, and occupy their thoughts solely with the business and the pleasures of this world. These people we do not discuss at all. We are arguing against those who imagine they are wise men and students of the Kalam. In fact they are ignorant persons, and do not know what logic is and how it is to be used.
Before giving our own views of the nature and existence of God, we must refute the objectionable doctrines of these people. Joseph al-Basir in a work of his called "Mansuri" casts it up to the Rabbanites that in believing that God descends and ascends they are not true worshippers of God. But he forgets that his own doctrines are no better. Anyone who believes that God created with a newly created will and rejects by means of a newly created rejection has never truly served God or known him. Just as objectionable is their view that God is living but not with life residing in a subject, powerful but not with power, and so on. We shall take up each of these in turn.
The Mutakallimun refuse to believe that God's will is eternal, for fear of having a second eternal beside God. And so they say that whenever God wills, he creates a will for the purpose, and whenever he rejects anything he creates a "rejection" with which the objectionable thing is rejected. But this leads them to a worse predicament than the one from which they wish to escape, as we shall see. If God cannot create anything without having a will as the instrument in creating, and for this reason must first create a will for the purpose—how did he create this will? He must have had another will to create this will, and a third will to create the second, and so on ad infinitum, which is absurd. If he created the first will without the help of another will, why not create the things he wanted outright without any will? Besides, in making God will at a given time after a state of not willing, they introduce change in God.
As for the other dictum, that God is "living but not with life," "powerful but not with power," "knowing but not with knowledge," and so on; what do they mean by this circumlocution? If they say "living" to indicate that he is not dead, and add "but not with life," so as to prevent a comparison of him with other living things, why not say also, "He is body, but not like other bodies"? If the objection to calling him body is that body is composite, and what is composite must have been composed by someone and is not eternal, the same objection applies to "living." For "living" implies "breathing" and "possessed of sensation," hence also composite and created. If they reply, we mean life peculiar to him, we say why not also body peculiar to him? You see these people entangle themselves in their own sophisms, because they do not know what demonstration means.
Having disposed of the errors of the Mutakallimun, we must now present our own method of investigation into the nature of God. To know a thing, we investigate its four causes—material, formal, efficient and final. What has no cause but is the cause of all things, cannot be known in this way. Still it is not altogether unknowable for this reason. Its essence cannot be known, but it may be known through its activities, or rather effects, which suggest attributes. We cannot therefore know concerning God what he is, nor how he is, nor on account of what, nor of what kind, nor where, nor when. For these can apply only to a created thing having a cause. But we can ask concerning him, whether he is; and this can best be known from his deeds.
We observe the things of the world and find that they are all composed of substance and accident, as we saw before (p. 131). These are correlative, and one cannot exist without the other. Hence neither precedes the other. But accident is "new" (i. e., not eternal), hence so is substance. That accident is new is proved from the fact that rest succeeds motion and motion succeeds rest, hence accidents constantly come and go and are newly created.
Now if substance and accident are both new there must be something that brought them into being unless they bring themselves into being. But the latter is impossible, for the agent must either exist when it brings itself into being, or not. If it exists it is already there; if it does not exist, it is nothing, and nothing cannot do anything. Hence there must be a being that brought the world into existence. This is God.
God is one, for the cause of the many must be the one. If the cause of the many is the many, then the cause of the second many is a third many, and so on ad infinitum; hence we must stop with the one. God is to the world as unity is to number. Unity is the basis of number without being included in number, and it embraces number on all sides. It is the foundation of number; for if you remove unity, you remove number; but the removal of number does not remove unity. The one surrounds number on all sides; for the beginning of number is the one, and it is also the middle of number and the end thereof. For number is nothing but an aggregate of ones. Besides, number is composed of odds and evens, and one is the cause of odd as well as even.
If there were two eternal beings, they would either coincide in all respects, and they would be one and not two. Or they would differ. In the latter case, the world is either the work of both or of one only. If of both, they are not omnipotent, and hence not eternal. If of one only, then the other does not count, since he is not eternal, and there is only one.
By saying God is one we do not mean that he comes under the category of quantity, for quantity is an accident residing in a substance, and all substance is "new." What we mean is that the essence of God is true unity, not numerical unity. For numerical unity is also in a sense multiplicity, and is capable of multiplication and division. God's unity is alone separate and one in all respects.
God is not like any of his creatures. For if he were, he would be possessed of quality, since it is in virtue of quality that a thing is said to be like another, and quality is an accident contained in a substance.
God is self-sufficient and not in need of anything. For if he needed anything at all, it would be first of all the one who created him and made him an existent thing. But this is absurd, since God is eternal. We might suppose that he needs the world, which he created for some purpose, as we sometimes make things to assist us. But this, too, is impossible. For if he were dependent upon the world for anything, he could not create it. It is different with us. We do not create things; we only modify matter already existing.
Again, if God created the world for his own benefit, then either he was always in need of the world, or the need arose at the time of creating. If he was always in need of the world, it would have existed with him from eternity, but we have already proved that the world is not eternal. If the need arose in him at the time of creation, as heat arises in a body after cold, or motion after rest, then he is like created things, and is himself "new" and not eternal. To say the need was always there, and yet he did not create it until the time he did would be to ascribe inability to God of creating the world before he did, which is absurd. For one who is unable at any given time, cannot create at all. It remains then that he does not need anything, and that he created the world by reason of his goodness and generosity and nothing else.
The question of God's will is difficult. The problem is this. If God's will is eternal and unchanging, and he created the world with his will, the world is eternal. If we say, as we must, that he created the world after a condition of non-creation, we introduce a change in God, a something newly created in him, namely, the will to create, which did not exist before. This is a dilemma. My own view is that since God's creating activity is his essence, and his essence is infinite and eternal, we cannot say he created after a condition of non-creation, or that he willed after a condition of non-willing, or that he was formerly not able. And yet we do not mean that the world is eternal. It was created a definite length of time before our time. The solution of the problem is that time itself was created with the world; for time is the measure of motion of the celestial sphere, and if there are no spheres there is no time, and no before and after. Hence it does not follow because the world is not eternal that before its creation God did not create. There is no before when the world is not.
We objected to the view of the Mutakallimun (p. 142), who speak of God creating a will on the ground that if he can create a will directly he can create the world instead. Our opinion is therefore that God's will is eternal and not newly created, for the latter view introduces creation in God. There is still the difficulty of the precise relation of the will to God. If it is different from God we have two eternals, and if it is the same as God in all respects, he changes when he creates. My answer is, it is not different from God in any sense, and there is no changing attribute in God. But there is a subtle mystery in this matter, which it is not proper to reveal, and this is not the place to explain it. The interested reader is referred to the book of Empedocles and other works of the wise men treating of this subject (cf. above, p. 64).
God created the world out of nothing, and not out of a pre-existent matter. For if the matter of the world is eternal like God, there is no more reason for supposing that God formed a world out of it than that it formed a world out of God.
The world is perfect. For we have repeatedly shown that its creation is due entirely to God's goodness. If then it were not perfect, this would argue in God either ignorance or niggardliness or weakness.
Most of the ancients avoided giving God attributes for fear of making him the bearer of qualities, which would introduce plurality and composition in his essence. The proper view, however, is this. As God's essence is different from all other essences, so are his attributes different from all other attributes. His attributes are not different from him; his knowledge and his truth and his power are his essence. The way man arrives at the divine attributes is this. Men have examined his works and learned from them God's existence. They then reflected on this existent and found that he was not weak; so they called him strong. They found his works perfect, and they called him wise. They perceived that he was self-sufficient, without need of anything, and hence without any motives for doing wrong. Hence they called him righteous. And so on with the other attributes. All this they did in order that people may learn from him and imitate his ways. But we must not forget that all these expressions of God's attributes are figurative. No one must suppose that if we do not say he has life, it means he is dead. What we mean is that we cannot apply the term living to God literally, in the sense in which we apply it to other living things. When the Bible does speak of God as alive and living, the meaning is that he exists forever. The philosopher is right when he says that it is more proper to apply negative attributes to God than positive.
Taking a glance at Ibn Zaddik's theology just discussed in its essential outlines, we notice that while he opposes vigorously certain aspects of Kalamistic thought, as he found them in al-Basir, the Karaite, his own method and doctrine are not far removed from the Kalam. His proof of the creation of the world from its composite character (substance and accident) is the same as one of Saadia, which Maimonides cites as a Kalamistic proof. We have already spoken of the fact that the method of basing one's theology upon the creation of the world is one that is distinctive of the Kalam, as Maimonides himself tells us. And this method is common to Saadia, Bahya and Ibn Zaddik. In his discussion of the attributes Ibn Zaddik offers little if anything that is new. His attitude is that in the literal and positive sense no attribute can be applied to God. We can speak of God negatively without running the risk of misunderstanding. But the moment we say anything positive we do become thus liable to comparing God with other things; and such circumlocutions as the Kalamistic "Living without life," and so on, do not help matters, for they are contradictory, and take away with one hand what they give with the other. The Biblical expressions must be taken figuratively; and the most important point to remember is that God's essence cannot be known at all. The manner in which we arrive at the divine attributes is by transferring them from God's effects in nature to his own essence. All this we have already found in Bahya much better expressed, and Bahya is also without doubt the source of Ibn Zaddik's discussion of God's unity.
We must now review briefly the practical part of Ibn Zaddik's philosophy as it is found in the fourth part of the "Microcosm." In the manner of Bahya he points out the importance of divine service and obedience to the commandments of God, viewing man's duties to his maker as an expression of gratitude, which everyone owes to his benefactor. Like Bahya he compares God's benefactions with those of one man to another to show the infinite superiority of the former, and the greater duty which follows therefrom.
The commandments which God gave us like the act of our creation are for our own good, that we may enjoy true happiness in the world to come. As it would not be proper to reward a person for what he has not done, God gave man commandments. The righteous as well as the wicked are free to determine their own conduct, hence reward and punishment are just.
Like Saadia and Bahya before him, Ibn Zaddik makes use of the distinction (or rather takes it for granted) between rational and traditional commandments; pointing out that the latter also have a cause and explanation in the mind of God even though we may not know it. In some cases we can see the explanation ourselves. Take for instance the observance of the Sabbath. Its rational signification is two-fold. It teaches us that the world was created, and hence has a Creator whom we worship. And in the second place the Sabbath symbolizes the future world. As one has nothing to eat on the Sabbath day unless he has prepared food the day before, so the enjoyment of the future world depends upon spiritual preparation in this world.
In his conduct a man must imitate God's actions by doing good and mercy and kindness. Without the knowledge of God a person's good deeds are of no account and no better than the work of idolaters. In fact it is not possible to do good deeds without a knowledge of God, for he is the source of all good, and there is no true good without him. When a fool is seen with good qualities such as mercy and benevolence, they are due to the weakness of his animal soul, the spirited part of his nature. Similarly if this fool abstains from pleasures, it is because of the weakness of his appetitive soul.
Thus we see that knowledge comes first in importance; for knowledge leads to practice, and practice brings reward in the world to come. As the purpose of man's creation is that he may enjoy the future life, wisdom or knowledge is the first requisite to this great end.
The four principal qualities constituting goodness or virtue are (1) knowledge of God's attributes; (2) righteousness or justice; (3) hope; (4) humility. All other good qualities are derived from these. Jeremiah names some of them when he says (9, 23), "I am the Lord who exercise kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." Similarly Zephaniah (2, 3) bids us, "Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, who have fulfilled his ordinances; seek righteousness, seek meekness."
The four qualities of wisdom or knowledge, righteousness, hope and humility are without doubt modified descendants of the four Platonic virtues, wisdom, courage, temperance and justice, which we still find in their original form and in their Platonic derivation and psychological origin in Pseudo-Bahya (cf. above p. 111).
Reward and punishment of the real kind, Ibn Zaddik thinks, are not in this world but in the next. In this way he accounts for the fact of the prosperity of the wicked and the sufferings of the righteous. Another proof that this world cannot be the place of final reward and punishment is that pleasure in this world is not a real good, but only a temporary respite from disease. Pain and pleasure are correlative, as we saw before (p. 136). In fact pleasure is not a good at all; for if it were, then the greater the pleasure, the greater the good, which is not true. Reward in the next world is not a corporeal pleasure at all.
The evil which happens to the righteous in this world is often a natural occurrence without reference to reward and punishment, and may be compared to the natural pleasures which men derive from the sense of sight and the other senses, and which have nothing to do with reward and punishment. Sometimes, too, this evil is inflicted upon the good man to forgive his sins. Real reward and punishment are in the future life, and as that life is spiritual, the reward as well as the punishment is timeless.
The Mutakallimun think that animals and little children are also rewarded in the next world for ill treatment, suffering and death which are inflicted upon them in this world. So we find in Joseph al Basir's Mansuri. But this is absurd. If the killing of animals is a wrong, God would not have commanded us to do it, any more than he ordered us to kill human beings in order that he may reward them later. Moreover, we should then deserve punishment for killing animals if that is wrong, and there would follow the absurdity that God commanded us to do that for which we deserve punishment. Besides, if the animals deserve reward and punishment, they should have been given commandments and laws like ourselves. If this was not done because animals are not rational, reward and punishment are equally out of place for the same reason.
When the soul leaves the body in death, if she exercised her reason in the pursuit of knowledge, she will continue her existence forever in the upper world. This is her happiness, her reward and her paradise, namely, to cleave to her own world, and to shine with the true light emanating from God directly. This is the end of the human soul. But if she did not exercise her reason and did not pursue right conduct, she will not be able to return to the spiritual world, for she will have lost her own spirituality. She will be similar to the body, desiring this world and its pleasures. Her fate will be to revolve forever with the sphere in the world of fire, without being able to return to her world. Thus she will be forever in pain, and homeless.
When the Messiah comes, the pious men of our nation, the Prophets, the Patriarchs and those who died for the sanctification of the name, i. e., the martyrs, will be brought back to life in the body, and will never die again. There will be no eating and drinking, but they will live like Moses on the mountain basking in the divine light. The wicked will also be joined to their bodies and burned with fire.
In Judah Halevi the poet got the better of the rationalist. Not that Judah Halevi was not familiar with philosophical thinking and did not absorb the current philosophical terminology as well as the ideas contained therein. Quite the contrary. He shows a better knowledge of Aristotelian ideas than his predecessors, and is well versed in Neo-Platonism. While he attacks all those views of philosophers which are inconsistent to his mind with the religion of Judaism, he speaks in other respects the philosophic language, and even makes concessions to the philosophers. If the reason should really demand it, he tells us, one might adopt the doctrine of the eternity of matter without doing any harm to the essence of Judaism. As for the claims of reason to rule our beliefs, he similarly admits that that which is really proved in the same absolute manner as the propositions in mathematics and logic cannot be controverted. But this opinion need cause one no difficulty as there is nothing in the Bible which opposes the unequivocal demands of the reason. He cannot consistently oppose all philosophy and science, for he maintains that the sciences were originally in the hands of the Jews, and that it was from them that the Chaldeans borrowed them and handed them over to the Persians, who in turn transferred them to Greece and Rome, their origin being forgotten. At the same time he insists that philosophy and reason are not adequate means for the solution of all problems, and that the actual solutions as found in the writings of the Aristotelians of his day are in many cases devoid of all demonstrative value. Then there are certain matters in theory as well as in practice which do not at all come within the domain of reason, and the philosophers are bound to be wrong because they apply the wrong method. Revelation alone can make us wise as to certain aspects of God's nature and as to certain details in human conduct; and in these philosophy must fail because as philosophy it has no revelation. With all due respect therefore to the philosophers, who are the most reliable guides in matters not conflicting with revelation, we must leave them if we wish to learn the truth concerning those matters in which they are incompetent to judge.
This characterization of Judah Halevi's attitude is brief and inadequate. But before proceeding to elaborate it with more detail and greater concreteness, it will be well to sketch very briefly the little we know of his life.
Judah Halevi was born in Toledo in the last quarter of the eleventh century. This is about the time when the city was taken from the Mohammedans by the emperor Alphonso VI, king of Leon, Castile, Galicia and Navarre. At the same time Toledo remained Arabic in culture and language for a long while after this, and even exerted a great influence upon the civilization of Christendom. The Jews were equally well treated in Toledo by Mohammedan emir and Christian king. The youth of Halevi was therefore not embittered or saddened by Jewish persecutions. It seems that he was sent to Lucena, a Jewish centre, where he studied the Talmud with the famous Alfasi, and made friends with Joseph ibn Migash, Alfasi's successor, and Baruh Albalia, the philosopher. A poet by nature, he began to write Hebrew verses early, and soon became famous as a poet of the first order in no manner inferior to Gabirol. His living he made not from his verses, but like many others of his day by practicing the art of medicine. Later in life he visited Cordova, already in its decline through the illiberal government of the Almoravid dynasty. The rulers were strict religionists, implicit followers of the "fukaha," the men devoted to the study of Mohammedan religion and law; and scientific learning and philosophy were proscribed in their domains. Men of another faith were not in favor, and the Jews who, unlike the Christians, had no powerful emperor anywhere to take their part, had to buy their lives and comparative freedom with their hard earned wealth. Here Halevi spent some time as a physician. He was admitted in court circles, but his personal good fortune could not reconcile him to the sufferings of his brethren, and his letters give expression to his dissatisfaction. He wrote a variety of poems on subjects secular and religious; but what made him famous above all else was his strong nationalism, and those of his poems will live longest which give expression to his intense love for his people and the land which was once their own. That it was not mere sentiment with Judah Halevi he proved late in life when he decided to leave his many friends and his birthplace and go to Palestine to end his life on the soil of his ancestors. It was after 1140 that he left Spain for the East. Unfavorable winds drove him out of course to Egypt, and he landed at Alexandria. From there he went to Cairo at the invitation of his admirers and friends. Everywhere he was received with great honor, his fame preceding him, and he was urged to remain in Egypt. But no dissuasion could keep him from his pious resolve. We find him later in Damietta; we follow him to Tyre and Damascus, but beyond the last city all trace of him is lost. We know not whether he reached Jerusalem or not. Legend picks up the thread where history drops it, and tells of Judah Halevi meeting his death at the gates of the holy city as with tears he was singing his famous ode to Zion. An Arab horseman, the story goes, pierced him through with his spear.