In the intro to his commentary to Mishnayot the Rambam writes

אך על דרך כלל יש לדעת, שכל הנמצאים שתחת גלגל הירח נמצאו בשביל האדם לבדו. וכל מיני החיות, יש מהם למאכלו, כצאן ובקר וזולתם, ויש מהם לתועלתו בזולת המאכלים, כמו החמור, לשאת עליו, מה שלא יוכל להוליך בידו, והסוסים, להגיע בהם מהלך דרך רחוקה בימים מועטים. ומהם מינים שלא נדע להם תועלת, ויש בהם תועלת לאדם, ולא יכיר אותם

The Rambam here asserts that animals were created solely for mankind.

However, if we read the Moreh (3:13) carefully i think a very different picture emerges,

ובגלל הדבר הזה הדעת האמיתי אצלי, לפי האמונות התוריות והנאות לדעות העיוניות, הוא, שלא יאמן בנמצאות כולם שהם מפני מציאות האדם, אבל יהיו גם כן שאר הנמצאות כולם מכוונות לעצמם, לא מפני דבר אחר ותבטל גם כן שאלת התכלית בכל מיני הנמצאות, ואפילו לפי דעתנו בחידוש העולם שאנחנו נאמר, כל חלקי העולם המציאם ברצונו - ומהם מכונים לעצמם ומהם מפני דבר אחר, האחר ההוא מכון לעצמו

I consider therefore the following opinion as most correct according to the teaching of the Bible, and best in accordance with the results of philosophy; namely, that the Universe does not exist for man's sake, but that each being exists for its own sake, and not because of some other thing. Thus we believe in the Creation, and yet need not inquire what purpose is served by each species of the existing things, because we assume that God created all parts of the Universe by His will; some for their own sake, and some for the sake of other beings, that include their own purpose in themselves.

Maimonides, Moses. The Guide for the Perplexed (p. 231). Translated from the original Arabic text By M. Friedländer.

This seems to contradict what has been said before that everything under the heavens was created solely for the man. The only exception to this rule are plants to which he clearly states (in the same chapter) that they only exist to serve the animals (since they cannot live without it). But since the animals are not included in this list, it is reasonable to assume that they too exist for their own sake (since they are all part of the universe. Am i being too analytical here?), thus contradicting what he wrote in his commentary to Mishnayot!

How do we reconcile these contradictory sayings?

  • He is generally thought to have changed his position. Are you only looking for those who claim a reconciliation, however forced, or are you also looking for commentators he view this as a retraction? – mevaqesh Jun 18 '17 at 22:12
  • 2
    @mevaqesh any sources on this is fine. I'm happy to hear that others noticed this too! – Bach Jun 18 '17 at 22:13
  • Could he not be distinguishing between that which is under the lunar sphere and that which is above? – Loewian Jun 19 '17 at 18:08

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