Proofs for Eternity, Creation and the Existence of God in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy

Pages: 448
Subject: Religion: Islam, Religion: Judaism
Imprint: Oneworld Academic

Proofs for Eternity, Creation and the Existence of God in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy

Herbert A. Davidson

A comprehensive, rigorous analysis of all the significant medieval Islamic and Jewish proofs for the eternity of the world, the creation of the world, and the existence of God
Hardback
9780861542406 (7 Oct 2021)
RRP £40.00 / US$50.00

The Book

In this classic study, Herbert A. Davidson examines every medieval Arabic and Hebrew proof for the eternity of the world, the creation of the world and the existence of God which has philosophical character, disregarding only those that rest entirely on religious faith or fall below a minimum threshold of plausibility. Classifying the proofs systematically, he analyses and explains them, and traces their sources in Greek philosophy. He pursues the penetration of some of these Islamic and Jewish arguments into medieval Christian philosophy and, in a few instances, all the way into seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European philosophy.

Unique in both its classification of the proofs and its comprehensiveness, this work will once again serve medievalists, historians of philosophy and historians of ideas.

Additional Information

Subject Religion: Islam, Religion: Judaism
Pages 448
Imprint Oneworld Academic

 

About the Author

Herbert A. Davidson was Professor Emeritus of Hebrew at UCLA, where he chaired the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department from 1981 to 1987. His other books include Moses Maimonides: The Man and His Works and Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect.

Reviews

‘This book is a tour de force of real scholarship, methodical analysis, and painstaking classification… Davidson's canvas is vast. All the major Islamic and Judaic philosophers are here and the book is thus assured of a ready sale among students and scholars of both.'

- Philosophy East and West

‘Extraordinarily successful… Davidson's book is an invaluable contribution to the understanding of the history of ideas; it is also a stimulating essay of philosophical analysis.'

- Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies

‘A towering achievement. At the height of his powers here, Davidson has gone back to the sources to assemble all the significant medieval Islamic and Jewish proofs for the eternity of the world, for the creation of the world, and for the existence of God… It is most welcome to see the medieval Islamic and Jewish philosophers treated so rigorously in their own right, not merely as precursors to Aquinas, or, even worse, as puppets dangling in a history of medieval thought. This book provides as clear an indication as one could hope to have of the health and vitality of Greek wisdom before its (re)discovery in (Christian) Europe.'

- Journal of the American Oriental Society

Table of Contents

I  Introduction

1. Eternity, creation, and the existence of God

2. The present book

 

II  Proofs of Eternity from the Nature of the World

1. Proofs of eternity

2. Proofs of eternity from the nature of the physical world

3. Replies to proofs from the nature of the world

4. Summary

 

III  Proofs of Eternity from the Nature of God

1. The Proofs

2. Replies to proofs from the nature of the cause of the universe

3. Summary

 

IV  John Philoponus' Proofs of Creation and Their Entry into Medieval Arabic Philosophy

1. Philoponus' proofs of creation

2. Saadia and Philoponus

3. Kindi and Philoponus

4. Summary

 

V  Kalam Proofs for Creation

1. Proofs from the impossibility of an infinite number

2. Responses of the medieval Aristotelians to proofs of creation from the impossibility of an infinite number

3. The standard Kalam proof for creation: the proof from accidents

4. Juwayni's version of the proof from accidents

5. Proofs from composition

 

VI  Arguments from the Concept of Particularization

1. Inferring the existence of God from creation

2. Arguments from the concept of particularization

3. Particularization arguments for the existence of God without the premise of creation; particularization arguments for creation

4. Ghazali and Maimonides

5. Additional arguments for creation in Maimonides and Gersonides

 

VII  Arguments from Design

1. Cosmological, teleological, and ontological proofs of the existence of God

2. Teleological arguments

3. Summary

 

VIII  The Proof from Motion

1. Aristotle's proof from motion

2. Maimonides' version of the proof from motion

3. Hasdai Crescas' critique of the proof from motion

4. Another proof from motion

 

IX  Avicenna's Proof of the Existence of a Being Necessarily Existent by Virtue of Itself

1. First cause of motion and first cause of existence

2. The existence of God: a problem for metaphysics

3. Necessarily existent being and possibly existent being

4. The attributes of the necessarily existent by virtue of itself

5. Proof of existence of the necessarily existent by virtue of itself

6. Questions raised by Avicenna's proof

7. The version of Avicenna's proof in Shahrastani and Crescas

8. Summary

 

X  Averroes' Critique of Avicenna's Proof

1. The proof of the existence of God as a subject for physics

2. Necessarily existent by virtue of another, possibly existent by virtue of itself

3. The nature of the celestial spheres according to Averroes

4. Averroes' critique of the body of Avicenna's proof

5. Summary

 

XI  Proofs of the Existence of God from the Impossibility of an Infinite Regress of Efficient Causes

1. The proof from the impossibility of an infinite regress of causes

2. Unity and incorporeality

3. The proof from the impossibility of an infinite regress of efficient causes and the proof from the concepts possibly existent and necessarily existent

4. Resumé

5. Crescas on the impossibility of an infinite regress

6. Ghazali's critique of Avicenna's proof

7. Summary

 

XII  Subsequent History of Proofs from the Concept of Necessary Existence

1. Maimonides and Aquinas

2. The influence of Avicenna's proof

3. Proofs of the existence of God as a necessarily existent being in modern European philosophy

4. Summary

5. Concluding remark

 

Appendix A.  Two Philosophic Principles

1. The principle that an infinite number is impossible

2. The principle that a finite body contains only finite power

 

Appendix B.  Inventory of Proofs

 

Primary Sources

Index of Philosophers

Index of Terms