I did some background research on the RaMBaM for my BA Thesis and remember that there has been one source that stated something quite platonic that for him having correct abstracted thought of something is to take part of it, which does not really fit into the picture of Maimonides.
It's a pity I cannot remember the source or find it again...
Can anybody think of something plausible or refer me to some possible source?

Toda rabba

EDIT FOR CLARIFYING THE RESPECTIVE BASIC PHILOSOPHY: (in simple words, for further information look up the key-words)

It all goes back to the ancient aristotelian platonic dispute about the (non-physical) structure of the cosmos, ie. ontology. Plato held that everything in the (physical) world is just an imperfect image of an perfect (non-physical) idea or form (https://philosophynews.com/the-third-man-argument-part-1/), ie. the thing below „takes part“ in the idea above. Aristotle could not see a downward emanation like this an tried to structure the comos from below upwards (https://philosophynews.com/the-third-man-argument-part-2/), ie.from the sensual perception of a thing through abstracting concepts about it, that´s why he is generally seen as the archetype rationalist. In academic circles Maimonides has mostly been seen as mere aristotelian, at least with regards to the rational faculty, while a strict dichotomy has been upheld between rationality and mysticism. Not until quite recently Maimonides has there also been interpreted in a mystical dimension (thanks to David Blumenthal and Jose Faur for example). See for example this online article: https://thelehrhaus.com/scholarship/mysticism-and-its-alternatives-rethinking-maimonides/

In Ashlagian kabbala, as to corporeal beings are separated from one another by spacial distance, two spiritual beings are separated from one another by difference of form (https://www.sefaria.org/Petichah_LeChokhmat_HaKabbalah.13.1?lang=bi). This seems to be compatible to Plato´s Theory. A quite literal reading of https://www.sefaria.org/Guide_for_the_Perplexed%2C_Part_1.68.4?lang=bi: „[the] intellect, is at the same time the intelligens, for the intellect is itself the agens which abstracts the form and comprehends it, and that is the action, on account of which it is called the intelligens; but itself and its action are identical“ and „The intellect, that which comprehends and that which is comprehended, are therefore the same, whenever a real comprehension takes place.“ suggests for Maimonides an aristotelian methodology, but rather a Platonic ontology, which could be postulated like in Ashlagian kabbala.

Can a legitimate Maimonidean Ontology of Thought be understood in this way, ie. that the correctly abstracting individual „takes part in“ (ie. becomes one with) the perfect idea (platonic) / concept (aristotelean)?

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    Hi and welcome to MY! "there has been one source that stated something quite platonic that for him having correct abstracted thought of something is to take part of it, which does not really fit into the picture of Maimonides", I'll admit, I found this sentence hard to follow - would it be possible to flesh it out a bit into digestible chunks? :) We are glad to have you with us
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 13, 2023 at 16:01
  • Thank you for having me and welcoming me here! Sure, I used the platonic terminology "to take part of it" to describe how I was understanding the source, ie. to assimilate the "form" (to use an aristotelian term) of the thing itself which knowledge is being deduced from. I took it quite Ashlagian as "spiritual beings are seperated by the difference of form" (Yehuda Ashlag: Petichah LeChockmat HaKabbalah 13 link with abstract thought being included within the extension of the term spirit. Feb 13, 2023 at 17:56
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    I was referring to an interpretation of "Guide for the Perplexed 1:68,3... Apr 11, 2023 at 19:04
  • Glad u found it. Is there any remaining question?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Apr 14, 2023 at 12:35
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    Would you agree that reading this part in the platonic, ashlagian way I described is legitimate? Apr 16, 2023 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


If all the content of this single chapter that is quite irrelevant in regard to the question (necessity vs. Will, eternality, complexity out of unity...) is being put aside I understand this to support that "being in conjunction" is to be read in a platonic way. As we are considering states and assuming theoretical concepts also the act in itself (if its direction from up downwards or from below upwards), the difference between permanent and temporary conjunction and between potential vs actual intellect seem quite irrelevant. The acquired intellect emanates on the body and in this coincides with the active intellect which is to be understood as the source of the form as "no sublunar form can emerge out of the blend of matter". But, at least in aristotelian philosophy, there is no clear boundary between form and matter (essence just being a theoretical concept abstracted from substance; all things that exist are either substance or accident; universals being aspects of individual substances which themselves can be used as matter for further abstraction; see for example Bäck, Allan: Aristotle´s Theory of Abstraction) especially if we go with creatio ex nihilo instead of creatio ex materia. So I would still think it is legitimate to read Maimonides in the way that in the actual state of being properly conceptualising the active intellect you take part at least in it, i.e. be in conjunction at least with it. The question then would be in the supralunal differences between the tenth intellect as active intellect and the other nine intellects and that´s where Ashlagian Kabbala can be considered.

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    "the actual state of being properly conceptualising the active intellect you take part at least in it, i.e. be in conjunction at least with it" At that point are you still you? The question of individuality in this context I believe is a question among scholars of the Rambam. How does that compare to "Ashlagian Kabbala" (about which I know very little)? Apr 20, 2023 at 10:26
  • @Deuteronomy: That´s exactly the point. "You" become "one" with the transcendent object you are cognizing, and consequently, one with everybody else thats cognizing it. I agree, for these implications individuality has to be a crucial point of examination for the study of the Rambam. I do neither know Aslagian Kabbala that well, it has been some time that I read some main paragraphs. I was just using this as an example for a thesis of this postulate, as I am reading his paragraphs on a superficial literal level. I am sure there are other doctrines that support such a thesis. That´s why I was n Apr 20, 2023 at 11:29
  • Please consider taking extended discussion of this topic to chat.
    – Isaac Moses
    May 1, 2023 at 20:46

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