Religion and Philosophy

Religion and Philosophy - RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY IN...

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© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2002 Medieval Encounters 8,2-3 Also available online – www.brill.nl RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY IN MAIMONIDES, AVERROES, AND AQUINAS JOSEPH A. BUIJS St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta ABSTRACT On the problem of religion and philosophy, there are a number of points in com- mon among Maimonides, Averroes, and Aquinas. They all attempt to incorporate Aristotelian philosophy into their respective religious framework and thus link faith closely to reason, to the rational justiŽcation o V ered by philosophy. Nevertheless, on the precise relationship between religion and philosophy, between faith and rea- son, Maimonides di V ers signiŽcantly from both Averroes and Aquinas. His approach is shown to be less rational than that of Averroes and yet more rational than that of Aquinas. Maimonides’ approach is distinctive among his medieval counterparts and of interest to the contemporary debate concerning religion and science. A central problem throughout medieval thought is that of the relation- ship between religion and philosophy. Alternative formulations see the problem as a conict between faith and reason, tradition and specula- tion, mysticism and rationalism—or, to mention its twentieth-century version, as a conict between religion and science. 1 I wish to elucidate 1 For a brief, introductory outline of medieval positions see Etienne Gilson, Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages (New York: Charles Schribner’s Sons, 1954). For a dis- cussion in its Islamic context see A. J. Arberry, Revelation and Reason in Islam (London: Allen and Unwin, 1957). For more detailed textual discussions see, for instance, Harry A. Wolfson, Philo: Foundations of Religious Philosophy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1962), 1:143-63; and his The Philosophy of the Church Fathers , vol. I: Faith, Trinity, Incarnation , 2nd ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964), 1-140. For an informative overview of the problem among later thinkers see Donald A. Wells, God, Man, and the Thinker: Philosophies of Religion (New York: Dell Publishing, 1962), 194-225; and also Brand Blanshard, Reason and Belief (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1974). For a discussion of related issues in its twentieth cen- tury context see, for instance, Ian G. Barbour, Issues in Science and Religion (Englewood Cli V s, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1966); A. R. Peacocke, ed., The Sciences and Theology in the Twentieth Century (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981); Derek Stanesby, Science, Reason and Religion (London: Croom Helm, 1985); and Fraser Watts, ed., Science Meets Faith (London: SPCK, 1998).
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the approach of Maimonides (1135-1204). It is, I believe, distinctive among medieval thinkers and instructive for the contemporary debate. Among medieval thinkers the problem arose as a result of recogniz-
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Religion and Philosophy - RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY IN...

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