How Satisfactory is Maimonides’ Solution to the Problem of Evil?

in European Judaism
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  • 1 Leo Baeck College
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Abstract

This article explores and critiques Maimonides’ doctrine on the problem of evil. The article questions whether the solution is satisfactory in relation to The Guide for the Perplexed itself, the Guide’s audience and for Maimonides himself. The article begins by discussing key principles of Maimonides’ doctrine: the concept of evil as privation, the corruptive nature of matter, Maimonides’ classification of evil, divine providence and the perfection of the intellect. An investigation of Rambam’s solution to the problem of evil reveals fundamental principles underlying the Guide and highlights the radical nature of his philosophy. Whilst Maimonides’ doctrine may not be wholly satisfactory, the work was an intensely personal one, allowing him not only to deal with his particular tragedies, but to offer his people a way of coping with a time of immense suffering and potentially transcending the evil of their time.

Contributor Notes

Student Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen (Leo Baeck College) was educated in Manchester and Cambridge. She has worked as a human rights lawyer and helped establish Tzelem: The Rabbinic Call for Social and Economic Justice in the UK.

European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe

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