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Reason, Revelation, and Jewish Thought

July 28, 2014 - August 1, 2014

Course Information

Course Syllabus

Participant Bios

Is reason a sovereign authority in the realms of morality and metaphysics? Led by the prominent philosopher Moshe Halbertal, this institute will explore this question through Biblical, Rabbinic, and Medieval Jewish texts. 


In the realm of independent moral reasoning we will examine texts and traditions—mainly midrashic and Talmudic—that deal with two questions: 1. Is there recognition of independent moral obligation outside of revelation within Jewish tradition? 2. What is the role of value judgments in halakhic interpretation? Or to put it differently, in what way do values, integrated into the interpretive processes that are the heart of classical Jewish thought, impact the direction of Jewish law? 

We will address as well the realm of beliefs and metaphysics, mainly examining the different ways in which Jewish philosophy located the role of reason in shaping and orienting faith. This issue will be dealt with by reading Maimonides’ Guide, and the controversy that evolved around Maimonides positions.