Volume 17, 1992
Metaphysical Explanation and “Partcularization” in Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed
Within The Guide of the Perplexed Maimonides presents an argument that is intended to render probable the temporal creation of the cosmos. In one of these arguments Maimonides adopts the Kalamic strategy of arguing for the necessity of there being a “particularizing” agent. Maimonides argues that even one who grants Aristotelian science can still ask why the heavenly realm is as it is, to which there is no reply forthcoming but “God so willed it.” The argument is effective against the Arabic Neoplatonic Aristotelians, but not against Aristotle himself. Aristotle’s response to Maimonides would be that the latter is in effect asking, “Why are there the essences there are?”, a question that Aristotle would take to be fundamentally misplaced, since he holds that the existence of the theoretical primitives of every science is to be assumed. Nevertheless, Maimonides’ challenge has force for those who recognize a demand for a metaphysical explanation for there being those kinds of things posited as primitive by the natural sciences.