Jewish philosophy

JewishphilosophyJewish philosopherJewish philosophersphilosophicalphilosopherJewish thoughtJewish philosophicalMedieval Jewish Philosophytheologian
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The philosophy was generally in competition with Kabbalah.
Kabbalah (, literally "reception, tradition" or "correspondance") is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought of Judaism.


Jewish philosophy includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or in relation to the religion of Judaism.
Whereas Jewish philosophers often debate whether God is immanent or transcendent, and whether people have free will or their lives are determined, Halakha is a system through which any Jew acts to bring God into the world.

Jewish Kalam

In 219 CE, the Sura Academy (from which Jewish Kalam emerged many centuries later) was founded by Abba Arika.
Jewish Kalam was an early medieval style of Jewish philosophy that evolved in response to the Islamic Kalam, which in turn was a reaction against Aristotelian philosophy.

Judeo-Islamic philosophies (800–1400)

Jewish philosopherJewish philosophiesJewish thinkers
Borrowing from the Mutakallamin of Basra, the Karaites were the first Jewish group to subject Judaism to Muʿtazila.
This article covers the influence of Jewish and Islamic philosophy on each other, focusing especially on the period from 800–1400 CE.


philosophicalphilosopherhistory of philosophy
Jewish philosophy includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or in relation to the religion of Judaism.
Jewish philosophy and Christian philosophy are religio-philosophical traditions that developed both in the Middle East and in Europe, which both share certain early Judaic texts (mainly the Tanakh) and monotheistic beliefs.

David ibn Merwan al-Mukkamas

David Ibn Marwan al-MukammasDavid ibn Merwan
David ibn Merwan al-Mukkamas was author of the earliest known Jewish philosophical work of the Middle Ages, a commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah; he is regarded as the father of Jewish medieval philosophy.
David (abu Sulaiman) ibn Merwan al-Mukkamas al-Rakki (داود إبن مروان المقمص translit.: Dawud ibn Marwan al-Muqamis; died c. 937) was a philosopher and controversialist, the author of the earliest known Jewish philosophical work of the Middle Ages.

Saadia Gaon

SaadiaRabbi Saadia GaonSaadiah
Saadia Gaon, son of a proselyte, is considered the greatest early Jewish philosopher.
Known for his works on Hebrew linguistics, Halakha, and Jewish philosophy, he was one of the more sophisticated practitioners of the philosophical school known as the "Jewish Kalam".


Ibn Gabirol was one of the first teachers of Neoplatonism in Europe.
In the Middle Ages, Neoplatonic ideas were studied and discussed by Islamic, Christian, and Jewish thinkers.


The Kuzarihis bookKitab al Khazari
In particular, in a work written in Arabic Kitab al-Ḥujjah wal-Dalil fi Nuṣr al-Din al-Dhalil, translated by Judah ben Saul ibn Tibbon, by the title Kuzari he elaborates upon his views of Judaism relative to other religions of the time.
It is regarded as one the most important apologetic works of Jewish philosophy.

Abraham bar Hiyya

Abraham bar ChiiaAbraham bar Hiyya Ha-Nasibar Hiyya, Abraham
Abraham bar Hiyya, of Barcelona and later Arles-Provence, was a student of his father Hiyya al-Daudi and one of the most important figures in the scientific movement which made the Jews of Provence, Spain and Italy the intermediaries between Averroism, Muʿtazila and Christian Europe.
He also wrote several original works on mathematics, astronomy, Jewish philosophy, chronology, and land surveying.

Teleological argument

argument from designdesign argumentteleological
A midrash describes how Abraham understood this world to have a creator and director by comparing this world to "a house with a light in it", what is now called the argument from design.
An example of the teleological argument in Jewish philosophy appears when the medieval Aristotelian philosopher Maimonides cites the passage in Isaiah 40:26, where the "Holy One" says: "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number:" However, Barry Holtz calls this "a crude form of the argument from design", and that this "is only one possible way of reading the text".

The Guide for the Perplexed

Guide for the PerplexedMoreh NebukimGuide
Maimonides wrote The Guide for the Perplexed — his most influential philosophic work.
Since many of the philosophical concepts, such as his view of theodicy and the relationship between philosophy and religion, are relevant beyond strictly Jewish theology, it has been the work most commonly associated with Maimonides in the non-Jewish world and it is known to have influenced several major non-Jewish philosophers.


Medieval re-discovery of ancient Greek philosophy among the Geonim of 10th century Babylonian academies brought rationalist philosophy into Biblical-Talmudic Judaism.
The most notable author among the Geonim was Saadia Gaon, who wrote Biblical commentaries and many other works: he is best known for the philosophical work Emunoth ve-Deoth.


Levi ben GershonLevi ben GersonRalbag
Rabbi Levi ben Gershon was a student of his father Gerson ben Solomon of Arles, who in turn was a student of Shem-Tov ibn Falaquera.
As in the case of the other medieval Jewish philosophers little is known of his life.

Solomon ibn Gabirol

Ibn GabirolAvicebronGabirol
Solomon ibn Gabirol was born in Málaga then moved to Valencia.
Solomon ibn Gabirol (also Solomon ben Judah; שלמה בן יהודה אבן גבירול Shlomo Ben Yehuda ibn Gabirol, ; أبو أيوب سليمان بن يحيى بن جبيرول Abu Ayyub Sulayman bin Yahya bin Jabirul, ) was an 11th-century Andalusian poet and Jewish philosopher with a Neo-Platonic bent.

Ancient Greek philosophy

Greek philosopherGreekGreek philosophers
Medieval re-discovery of ancient Greek philosophy among the Geonim of 10th century Babylonian academies brought rationalist philosophy into Biblical-Talmudic Judaism.
The spread of Christianity throughout the Roman world, followed by the spread of Islam, ushered in the end of Hellenistic philosophy and the beginnings of Medieval philosophy, which was dominated by the three Abrahamic traditions: Jewish philosophy, Christian philosophy, and early Islamic philosophy.

Abraham ibn Daud

Abraham Ibn Da’udAbraham ben DavidAbraham ibn David
Abraham ibn Daud was a student of Rabbi Baruch ben Yitzhak Ibn Albalia, his maternal uncle.
Ibn Daud was the first to introduce the phase of Jewish philosophy which is generally attributed to Maimonides and which differs from former systems of philosophy mainly in its more thorough systematic form derived from Aristotle.

Isaac Albalag

al-Ghazâlî's Intentions of the Philosophers (De'ôt ha-Fîlôsôfîm or Kavvanôt ha-Fîlôsôfîm) was one of the most widespread philosophical texts studied among Jews in Europe having been translated in 1292 by Isaac Albalag.
Isaac Albalag was a Jewish philosopher of the second half of the 13th century.

Isaac Abarbanel

AbravanelIsaac ben Judah AbravanelRabbi Isaac Abrabanel
Isaac Abravanel, statesman, philosopher, Bible commentator, and financier who commented on Maimonides' thirteen principles in his Rosh Amanah.
A student of the rabbi of Lisbon, Joseph Chaim, he became well versed in rabbinic literature and in the learning of his time, devoting his early years to the study of Jewish philosophy.


RambamMoses MaimonidesMaimonidean
Maimonides wrote The Guide for the Perplexed — his most influential philosophic work. Samuel ibn Naghrillah, Hasdai ibn Shaprut, and Moshe ben Hanoch founded the Lucena Yeshiva that produced such brilliant scholars as Isaac ibn Ghiyyat and Maimon ben Yosef, the father of Maimonides.
Moses ben Maimon, commonly known as Maimonides ( ; Moses Maimonides), and also referred to by the acronym Rambam (, for Rabbeinu Mōšeh bēn Maimun, "Our Rabbi Moses, son of Maimon"), was a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages.

Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Joseph SoloveitchikJoseph Ber SoloveitchikRabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Orthodox rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and Conservative rabbis Neil Gillman and Elliot N. Dorff have also been described as existentialists.
Joseph Ber Soloveitchik ( Yosef Dov ha-Levi Soloveychik; February 27, 1903 – April 9, 1993) was a major American Orthodox rabbi, Talmudist, and modern Jewish philosopher.


Philo of AlexandriaPhilo JudaeusPhilo Judaeus of Alexandria
Philo attempted to fuse and harmonize Greek and Jewish philosophy through allegory, which he learned from Jewish exegesis and Stoicism.

Emmanuel Levinas

LevinasLévinasE. Lévinas
The French philosopher and Talmudic commentator Emmanuel Levinas, whose approach grew out of the phenomenological tradition in philosophy, has also been described as a Jewish existentialist.
Emmanuel Levinas (12 January 1906 – 25 December 1995) was a French philosopher of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry who is known for his work related to Jewish philosophy, existentialism, ethics, phenomenology and ontology.

Alan Mittleman

Conservative rabbis Alan Mittleman of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Elliot N. Dorff of American Jewish University also see themselves in the rationalist tradition, as does David Novak of the University of Toronto.
Alan Mittleman (born 1953) is a professor of Jewish philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.


Within all monotheistic faiths many answers (theodicies) have been proposed.
Following the Holocaust, a number of Jewish theologians developed a new response to the problem of evil, sometimes called anti-theodicy, which maintains that God cannot be meaningfully justified.