A bad recommendation by Maimonides in the Guide for the Perplexed

Essay by garimanitaria November 2006

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The sections from the reader on the Guide for the perplexed form a very bad letter of recommendation from an established name in Metaphysics to a young aspirant of Metaphysics. This is established by the fact that Maimonides does not necessarily say that metaphysical truths are unknowable or dangerous, but only that it is dangerous to begin with this branch in philosophy at a stage when the aspirant is not prepared for it.

A reference has been made to an attempt of understanding similes and prophecies. While the latter refers to some Jewish laws or customs, the former can be connected with Plato?s allegory of the cave itself, which was a representation of the philosopher ruler, who after gaining the metaphysical wisdom enters the cave where due to false beliefs or opinions, the inmates are oblivious to the truth. The reason why Plato?s philosopher ruler re-enters the cave is simply that ?people may need help but will attack you if you help them, help them anyways.?

Maimonidies does not necessarily denies that for he suggests that the young and the less intelligent need to be initiated to follow the path of perfection gradually and eventually in light of proof and logical argumentation. He, however, who begins with Metaphysics, will not only become confused in matters of religion, but will fall into complete infidelity for the same. He is like a weak child who cannot digest the food despite its benefits. What makes Maimonides a neo Platonist is that he enunciates Plato's the reason for the scheme of education of a philosopher ruler where selection and curriculum reveals the study of mathematics and science, dialectic followed by 15 years practical experience which leads to the qualification of a Philosopher Ruler after successfully passing these tests at the age of 40-45. There...