Many commentators and researchers point to the great influence that the Greek, Christian, and Islamic thinkers had on Rambam's theological, philosophical and scientific views, for example, in Hilchos Yesodey Hatorah: God's ultimate transcendence, four classical elements, the pursuit of the average in human traits and more.

Did Rambam himself reflect on this fact?

  • Think Philon of Alexandria AKA Yedidyah HaKohen Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 2:48
  • Yes, Rambam was influenced by the Greeks and Islamic thought, especially Aristotle. But if I remember correctly, I think he said that the Greeks were ultimately influenced by the Jews. I think he called Aristotle a prophet and that Aristotle read from the Torah. Ultimately, Aristotelianism derives from Moses and the Torah since Rambam felt that the prophets were Aristotelian philosophers.
    – Turk Hill
    Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 6:17
  • In The Guide for the Perplexed Rambam himself cites Plato (אפלטון) and Aristotle (אריסטו) many times. Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 12:47
  • On the fact itself, plato.stanford.edu/entries/maimonides-islamic Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 23:06
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    @TurkHill, when explaining the relationship between da'as (knowledge, but I thought the Hebrew translation uses "da'as" because it also has connotations of intimacy) and prophecy, the Rambam calls Aristo but one step below a prophet. (And that when it comes to the physical world, Aristo got things more right than Yechezqeil!) I also don't think it was the Rambam who says the Greeks learned from us. I believe that's the Qabbalists, who need to explain why their metaphysics sounds so Platonic or Neoplatonic. The Rambam simply says "accept the truth from whomever days it." Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 23:11

1 Answer 1


In his introduction to Eight Chapters Rambam writes:

וְדַע, שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר אֹמַר בִּפְרָקִים אֵלּוּ וּבְמַה שֶּׁיָּבֹא מִן הַפֵּרוּשׁ, אֵינָם דְּבָרִים שֶׁבְּדִיתִים מֵעַצְמִי, וְלֹא פֵרוּשִׁים שֶׁחִדַּשְׁתִּים. אָמְנָם הֵם עִנְיָנִים לִקַּטְתִּים מִדִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים בְּמִדְרָשׁוֹת וְתַלְמוּד וְזוּלָתָם מֵחִבּוּרֵיהֶם; וּמִדִּבְרֵי הַפִּילוֹסוֹפִים גַּם כֵּן הַקַּדְמוֹנִים וְהַחֲדָשִׁים, וּמֵחִבּוּרֵי הַרְבֵּה בְנֵי אָדָם - וּשְׁמַע הָאֱמֶת מִמִּי שֶׁאֲמָרָהּ.

Know, however, that the ideas presented in these chapters and in the following commentary are not my own invention; neither did I think out the explanations contained therein, but I have gleaned them from the words of the wise occurring in the Midrashim, in the Talmud, and in other of their works, as well as from the words of the philosophers, ancient and recent, and also from the works of various authors, as one should accept the truth from whatever source it proceeds.

(Gorfinkle translation)

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    @alberko Is there any need to add a Hebrew translation to an English language site?
    – Joel K
    Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 16:21
  • Of course, 1. many of the users are Israelis and/or Hebrew speakers. 2. The source is always better than the translation
    – Al Berko
    Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 16:48
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    @AlBerko that’s my point. The source is in Arabic
    – Joel K
    Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 16:52
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    Speaking of translations, I should point out that, contrary to what many assume, the Rambam knew only Arabic and Hebrew. He did not know Greek or Latin or Spanish or any other language. He says: "It seems to me that there does not remain in the world any work on this subject that I have not read, if it has been translated into Arabic from other languages." [Rambam, Letter on Astrology] Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 18:36
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    @AlBerko If you are going to add a translation please note whose translation it is. If you emphasize something not emphasized in source you are copying from please note that it is your emphasis.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 21:15

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