The Philosophy of the Talmud

Front Cover
Psychology Press, 2002 - Religion - 240 pages
This is a new presentation of the philosophy of the Talmud. The Talmud is not a work of formal philosophy, but much of what it says is relevant to philosophical enquiry, including issues explored in contemporary debates. In particular, the Talmud has original ideas about the relation between universal ethics and the ethics of a particular community. This leads into a discussion on the relation between morality and ritual, and also about the epistemological role of tradition.
The book explains the paradoxes of Talmudic Judaism as arising from a philosophy of revolution, stemming from Jewish origins as a band of escaped slaves, determined not to reproduce the slave-society of Egypt. From this arises a daring humanism, and an emphasis on justice in this world rather than on other-worldly spirituality. A strong emphasis on education and the cultivation of rationality also stems from this. Governing the discussion is a theory of logic that differs significantly from Greek logic. Talmudic logic is one of analogy, not classification and is peculiarly suited to discussions of moral and legal human situations.
This book will be of interest to those in the fields of philosophy, religion and the history of ideas, whether students, teachers and academics, or the interested general reader.
 

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Contents

1 Does the Talmud contain philosophy?
1
2 The Aggadah as a source of philosophy
17
3 The Talmud and moral theory
31
4 The Rabbinic Social Contract
43
5 Judaism and Revolution
57
6 Revolutionary Thought in the Rabbinic Writings
69
7 The Problem of Morality I
83
8 The Problem of Morality II
101
12 Rabbinic Epistemology
159
13 The Day God Laughed
173
14 Talmudic Logic
191
15 Two Modern Talmudic Thinkers
203
Appendix A Qal vachomer in Aggadah
217
Appendix B Talmudic Rectification of Abuses
221
References
225
Index of Quotations
229

9 Transgressional Sacralism
113
10 Absolute Values in Talmudic Judaism
125
11 Political Theory in Torah and Talmud
141

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About the author (2002)

Hyam Maccoby is Professor of Jewish Stuides at the University of Leeds. He has published many books and articles on rabbinic literature, Christian origins, and the origins of antisemitism.

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