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Bidding Information
Lot #    13073
Auction End Date    1/24/2006 11:30:30 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
          
Title Information
Title (English)    Phaedon; ha-Nefesh; Ruah Hen
Title (Hebrew)    ; ;
Author    Moses Mendelssohn, (Moses of Dessau): Judah ibn Ti
City    Brno
Publisher    Josip Rosman
Publication Date    1798; 1796
          
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
          
Description Information
Physical
Description
   [6], 50; 11, [9]; [1], 32, [1] ff., octavo, 178:110 mm., nice margins, usual light age and damp staining, stamps. Very good copies bound in contemporary marbled paper boards, rubbed.
          
Detailed
Description
   Three philosophical works, two by Moses Mendelssohn, (Moses of Dessau), the third by R. Judah ibn Tibbon. The first work is Phaedon, Mendelssohn's chief philosophical work. It addresses the question of the immortality of the soul and is modeled on Plato's dialogue of the same name. As early as 1760 Mendelssohn had expressed the wish to translate and rewrite Plato's text in the light of modern psychology. He was encouraged in this project by his correspondence with Thomas Abbt (17381760), a professor at the University of Frankfort, about the destiny of man and the soul and its fate after death. Mendelssohn develops his thesis along Leibnizian lines: An infinite number of souls or monads constitutes the inner substance of the universe. Things that perish do not cease to exist; they are dissolved into their elements. The soul must be such an element or substance, rather than a compound, since it is the soul which imposes a unifying pattern on the diverse and changing elements of the body. Hence it is neither weakened by age nor destroyed by death. However, this line of argument demonstrates only that the soul is imperishable but not that it will retain its consciousness in a future state. That it will possess its consciousness is guaranteed by the goodness of God, who has implanted in man the idea that his soul is immortal. To assume that this notion is deceptive would be incompatible with God's goodness and justice. "If our souls were mortal, reason would be a dream.... We would be like animals destined only to seek food and to perish." Mendelssohn's belief in the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, though developed as doctrines of the universal religion of reason, are in harmony with the dominant views of Jewish tradition. He differs from Jewish tradition, however, in his conception of free will. Inasmuch as every act of will must have a cause or motive, human freedom, if defined as an uncaused act, is logically impossible. Man's will can be free only in the sense that it is determined or aroused by a recognition of the good. But if man is not truly free, the sinner cannot be responsible for his misdeeds; why then should he be punished? Mendelssohn answers that divine retribution is not an end in itself; it is the means of purging the sinner to prepare him for life in the world to come. Divine justice is superseded by divine goodness, which never excludes man permanently from the bliss of eternal life. Mendelssohn's general philosophical position was soon challenged by Kant and his successors, whose critical idealism negated the presuppositions of the Enlightenment philosophy.

The second work is Mendelssohns ha-Nefesh, a collection of his writings, in both Hebrew and German. The third work, by is Ruah Hen, an introductory work, commentary on and explanation of difficult terms in Maimonides Moreh Nevukhim by an anonymous author. It has been attributed to the renowned translator, R. Judah ben Saul Ibn Tibbon (c. 1120c. 1190) and to Jacob ben Abba Mari ben Samson Anatoli (13th century), also a translator of note.

          
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Reference
Description
   BE peh 556, nun 575, resh 219; EJ; CD-EPI 0300688; 0300686; 0106589
        
Associated Images
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Listing Classification
Period
  
18th Century:    Checked
  
Location
Germany:    Checked
  
Subject
Other:    Philosophy
  
Characteristic
Language:    Hebrew
  
Manuscript Type
  
Kind of Judaica